WEEK OF JUNE 28 THROUGH JULY 4
Turkey & Jordan Preparing Buffer Zones inside Syria, Putin Issues Warning
June 30….(DEBKA) The Turkish and Jordanian armies were reported on June 30 to be getting ready to cross into Syria for the first time since war engulfed that country in 2011, and set up security buffer zones. Both are impelled to fight ISIS, oppose the Assad regime and anxious to stem the flow of refugees, but there are also differences in their objectives and it is not clear if they are coordinated.
Turkey has prepared 18,000 troops to carve out a buffer zone in northern Syria and use its air force to impose a no-fly zone against Syrian flights. Middle East sources report that the Jordanian army is also on the ready to cross into southern Syria. Jordan and Israel are reported to be planning joint air cover and the creation of a parallel no-fly zone in the south.
These preparations prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to pledge his support for the Assad regime. On Monday, June 29, Putin summoned Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem to his Kremlin office from a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to tell him that Russia’s "policy to support Syria, the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people remains unchanged." Putin has repeatedly warned Western governments against military intervention in the Syrian war or any attempt to oust Bashar Assad, warning that if foreign troops go into Syria, Moscow will respond in kind. The Russians have not spelled out what action is contemplated, but they have options: they maintain naval and marine forces in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions able to reach Syria at short notice. South Russian air force bases are also close enough to interfere with no-fly zones being setup over Syria.
Possible outside military intervention in Syria was the dominant topic in the phone call the Russian president put through to President Barack Obama on June 26. The communiqués in Moscow and Washington both referred to the “dangerous situation” in Syria. The two presidents also discussed the prospects of the nuclear accord shaping up with Iran, and the two issues may have been linked. The White House later stated that President Obama had stressed the need for the world powers to hold to a united stand in the negotiations with Iran.
Sources in Ankara claim that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already given Turkish units their orders to go into Syria, although this is not confirmed. Others use the term “Western intervention,” suggesting that US and NATO are involved in the Turkish initiative. This may refer to US Air Force squadrons based in southern Turkey possibly providing air cover. Western and Middle East sources report that the Jordanian plan entails a joint operation with Syrian rebel forces to carve out a security zone in southern Syria running from Jabal Druze and Suwayda in the east running west through the town of Deraa and up to the intersection of the Jordanian-Syrian-Israeli borders. Fierce fighting has been raging in this part of Syria in recent days as the rebels battle Syrian-Hizballah forces in an attempt to push them out and capture southern Syria. So far they have not made it. The never-ending refugee problem from Syria is a major headache for the two governments. Turkey hosts some two million refugees and Jordan more than a million and a half. Stemming this flow is not the least of the goals of their buffer zone plans.
US Retreats on Inspections of Nuclear past, Speeds up Sanctions Relief
Obama and Kerry upbeat over concessions to Iran
June 30….(DEBKA) Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday, June 28: “We are seeing a clear retreat from the red lines that the world powers set recently and publicly." Addressing the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem and later the Knesset, he added: “There is no reason to rush to sign this bad agreement which is getting worse every day.” Netanyahu was referring to three major concessions approved by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in the final stage of negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear accord with Iran. They are outlined here by debkafile:
1. After barring International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of suspect sites for years, Tehran will now be allowed to submit a paper with answers to queries about its past clandestine activities at those military sites, such as suspected tests of nuclear bomb detonators and explosives. That document would effectively draw a line on Iran’s suspect past. Iran has submitted countless documents to the IAEA, none of which gave specific replies to specific questions. The UN Security Council accordingly passed a number of resolutions requiring Tehran to come clean on the military aspects of its nuclear program. Tehran ignored them. Now Obama and Kerry are letting Tehran off the hook on its past secrets.
2. Obama and Kerry have withdrawn the “anytime, anywhere” stipulation for snap inspections of suspect nuclear facilities, as mandated by the Additional Protocol signed by Iran. They now agree that international monitors must first submit a request to an “Iranian Committee” (not even a joint US-Iranian committee) for advance permission to inspect nuclear facilities. This would leave Tehran free to approve, deny, or delay permission for inspections.
3. Washington has backed down on its insistence on predicating sanctions relief on Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the final accord. After Tehran countered with a demand for the sanctions to be lifted immediately upon the signing of the accord, the Obama administration agreed to remove them in three stages:
a) Straight after the deal is signed.
b) After ratification of the accord by the US Congress and Iranian Majlis.
This process is expected to take place by the end of 2015, and so Iran will win two multibillion windfalls this year without being required to meet any obligations beyond its signature. Obama counts on the support of 34 US senators. In any case, Congress is not empowered to reject or delay the deal
c) All remaining sanctions will be lifted when implementation of the accord begins. Nothing is therefore left of the original US pledges to link sanctions relief to Iran’s compliance with its commitments or President Obama’s solemn vow to “snap back” sanctions any time for any Iranian violations. The IAEA is virtually left without teeth.
WEEK OF JUNE 21 THROUGH JUNE 27
Statement on the Supreme Court Decision
David Barton - 06/27/2015
The Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that established homosexual marriage as national policy is unambiguously wrong on at least three crucial levels: Moral, Constitutional, and Structural.
On the Moral Level
The Court’s decision violates the moral standards specifically enumerated in our founding documents. The Declaration of Independence sets forth the fundamental principles and values of American government, and the Constitution provides the specifics of how government will operate within those principles. As the U. S. Supreme Court has correctly acknowledged:
The latter [Constitution] is but the body and the letter of which the former [Declaration of Independence] is the thought and the spirit, and it is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. 
The Declaration first officially acknowledges a Divine Creator and then declares that America will operate under the general values set forth in “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” The framers of our documents called this the Moral Law, and in the Western World it became known as the Common Law. This was directly incorporated into the American legal system while the colonies were still part of England;  following independence, the Common Law was then reincorporated into the legal system of all the new states to ensure its uninterrupted operation;  and under the federal Constitution, its continued use was acknowledged by means of the Seventh Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Numerous Founding Fathers and legal authorities, including the U. S. Supreme Court, affirmed that the Constitution is based on the Common Law,  which incorporated God’s will as expressed through “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” 
Those constitutional moral standards placed the definition of marriage outside the scope of government. As acknowledged in a 1913 case:
Marriage was not originated by human law. When God created Eve, she was a wife to Adam; they then and there occupied the status of husband to wife and wife to husband. . . . It would be sacrilegious to apply the designation “a civil contract” to such a marriage. It is that and more – a status ordained by God. 
Because marriage “was not originated by human law,” then civil government had no authority to redefine it. The Supreme Court’s decision on marriage repudiates the fixed moral standards established by our founding documents and specifically incorporated into the Constitution.
On the Constitutional Level
The Constitution establishes both federalism and a limited American government by first enumerating only seventeen areas in which the federal government is authorized to operate,  and then by explicitly declaring that everything else is to be determined exclusively by the People and the States (the Ninth and Tenth Amendments).
Thomas Jefferson thus described the overall scope of federal powers by explaining that “the States can best govern our home concerns and the general [federal] government our foreign ones.”  He warned that “taking from the States the moral rule of their citizens and subordinating it to the general authority [federal government] . . . . would . . . break up the foundations of the Union.”  The issue of marriage is clearly a “domestic” and not a “foreign” issue, and one that directly pertains to the State’s “moral rule of their citizens.” But the Supreme Court rejected these limits on its jurisdiction, and America now experiences what Jefferson feared:
[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another. 
By taking control of issues specifically delegated to the States, the Court has disregarded explicit constitutional limitations and directly attacked constitutional federalism.
On the Structural Level
The Constitution stipulates that “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government” (Article IV, Section 4). A republican form of government is one in which the people elect leaders to make public policy, with those leaders being directly accountable to the people. More than thirty States, by their republican form of government, had established a definition of marriage for their State. The Supreme Court decision directly abridges the constitutional mandate to secure to every state a republican form of government.
To believe that the Judiciary is an independent and neutral arbiter without a political agenda is ludicrous. As Thomas Jefferson long ago observed:
Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. 
Judges definitely do have political views and personal agendas; they therefore were given no authority to make public policy. The perils from their doing were too great. As Jefferson affirmed, the judges’ “power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.”  He therefore warned:
[T]o consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. . . . The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal.  The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please. 
The Supreme Court’s decision is a direct assault on the republican form of government that the Constitution requires be guaranteed to every State.
The Road Ahead
The Supreme Courts decree on marriage will become a club to bludgeon the sincerely-held rights of religious conscience, especially of those in the several dozen States who, through their republican form of government, had enacted public policies that conformed to both the Moral Law and the traditional Common Law.
While the Supreme Court decision paid lip service to the rights of religious people to disagree with its marriage decision, history shows that not only does this acknowledgment mean little but also that it will be openly disregarded and ignored, particularly at the local level. After all, there are numerous Supreme Court decisions currently on the books – including unanimous Court decisions – protecting the rights of religious expression in public, including for students. Yet such faith expressions continue to be relentlessly attacked by school and city officials at the local and city levels. (See www.religioushostility.org for thousands of such recent examples.)
Even before this decision was handed down, numerous States were already punishing dissenting people of faith, levying heavy fines on them or closing their businesses – not because those individuals attacked gay marriage but rather because they refused to personally participate in its rites. These governmental actions were initiated by complaints of homosexuals filed with civil rights commissions – and all of this was already occurring without a Supreme Court decision on which they could rely. Now that such a decision does exist, expect a tsunami of additional complaints to be filed against Christian business owners, and both the frequency and the intensity of the penalties to be increased.
Now is the time to display stand-alone courage on the issue of marriage as well as the judicial activism of the Court – now is the time to stand up and be counted, regardless of whether anyone else stands with you. Now is the time for individuals to broadly voice support for traditional marriage (which will likely cause you to be verbally berated or attacked by its opponents) as well as for the rights of religious conscience of dissenters (which will cause you to be charged with defending bigots and haters). Good people can no longer be silent and allow themselves to be intimidated by the mean-spirited attacks that occur when you begin to speak out on this issue.
It will soon become obvious that this decision opened a Pandora’s Box that will initiate a series of policy changes affecting everything from hiring practices to college athletics, from non-profit tax-exempt status to professional licensing standards. So the battle is not over; it is literally just beginning. We have a duty to let our voice be heard.
Strikingly, duty was the character trait of Jesus. He loved us because it was the right thing to do; He went to the cross because it was the right thing to do; He forgave us because it was the right thing to do. It was His duty. Our Founders repeatedly praised that character trait, and noted the numerous spiritual blessings that came from its performance:
The man who is conscientiously doing his duty will ever be protected by that Righteous and All-Powerful Being, and when he has finished his work, he will receive an ample reward.  Samuel Adams,signer of the declaration
All that the best men can do is to persevere in doing their duty . . . and leave the consequences to Him who made it their duty, being neither elated by success (however great) nor discouraged by disappointment (however frequent and mortifying).  John Jay,original chief justice of the u. s. supreme court, author of the federalist papers
The sum of the whole is that the blessing of God is only to be looked for by those who are not wanting in the discharge of their own duty. John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration
People of faith need to regain the concept of duty, and we would do well to adopt the motto that characterized the efforts of Founding Father John Quincy Adams: “Duty is ours, results are God’s.”  Now is the time for people of faith to be silent no more.
Proclaiming the soon return of Jesus Christ
Americans Believe God Has Granted US 'Special Role' in Human History
June 26….(Christian Post) People unfurl an American Flag at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, November 9, 2014. The flag ceremony was part of the 9/11 Memorial's Salute to Service, a five day tribute to veterans for Veterans Day. A new Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Survey poll has found that while the majority of Americans believe that God has granted the US a "special role" in human history, there's a large disagreement among age groups on whether being a Christian is important for national identity. The survey found that six in 10, or 62 percent of respondents, believe in American exceptionalism, while 33 percent disagree. Support for such a view mostly came from conservatives, at 80 percent, while only 45 percent of liberals agreed.
The survey also asked Americans what characteristics they find important for US national identity. While 77 percent of the 65+ age group said believing in God is very or somewhat important, only 52 percent of the 18-29 group agreed. When the question specifically asked whether being Christian is important, 66 percent of the 65+ group agreed, but only 35 percent of the 18-29 year-olds said the same. There was also disagreement on whether being born in America is important for being truly American, 67 percent of the 65+ group said yes, only 45 percent of the 18-29 group said the same. Both age groups heavily agreed that being able to speak English is important, however, with 96 percent of the 65+ group affirming the statement, along with 81 percent of the 18-29 group.
Among denominations, 75 percent of white evangelical Protestants, 69 percent of non-white Protestants, 55 percent of Roman Catholics, and 54 percent of white mainline Protestants said that being Christian is important for American national identity. On the other hand of the scale, only 29 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans agreed with the statement. The same question also drew division among political lines, with 69 percent of Republicans saying that being a Christian is an important part of being American, while only 46 percent of Democrats agreed. The poll was conducted between June 10-14 from a random sample of 1,007 US adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. A major Pew Research Center poll from May separately found that Christians are declining sharply in America in terms of population share, while the nones, or religiously unaffiliated, now make up a larger share than American Catholics. Pew said that Christians in the country now stand at 70 percent, while people without a religious affiliation have increased to 22.8 percent.
Vatican Grants Statehood Recognition to PA
June 26….(Jerusalem Post) The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" on Friday, calling for "courageous decisions" to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a two-state solution. Israel expressed disappointment last month at the Vatican’s announcement that it reached the outline of an agreement with the Palestinians and at the Holy See’s use of the term “State of Palestine” for the first time in an official document. The agreement, according to a Vatican statement, “deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine.” Both parties, according to the statement, “agreed that the work of the Commission on the text of the Agreement has been concluded, and that the agreement will be submitted to the respective authorities for approval ahead of setting a date in the near future for the signing.”
Israel expressed “regret” at the Vatican's decision to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a state and the signing of the accord, hinting it could have implications for future cooperation between Israel and the Vatican. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the PA to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The statement said that Israel also regrets “the one sided texts in the agreement which ignore the historic rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and the places holy to Judaism in Jerusalem.” Israel, the statement read, “cannot accept the unilateral determinations in the agreement which do not take into account Israel's essential interests and the special historic status of the Jewish people in Jerusalem.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that the Palestinians are continuing to act unilaterally, and as such are pushing away any chance for direct dialogue. “It is unfortunate that the Vatican decide to give a hand to this time of action and to blatantly ignore the history of the Jewish people in Israel and Jerusalem,” she said. “All attempts by the Palestinians and other factors to undermine our historic rights to Jerusalem and Israel will be met with fierce opposition from us.” Israel and the Vatican have themselves been unable, after some 16 years of glacial negotiations, to sign an agreement that would deal with matters such as the status of the Catholic Church in Israel, the issue of sovereignty over some 21 sites in the country, and taxation and expropriation issues.
America Goes Gay!!!!!!!!!
June 26….(Drudge) The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage. The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court's previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.
The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.
FOJ Note…..It is a dark day in American history. This day will go down in infamy, and the day of no return for America. Today, America stands squarely in the crosshair of God’s judgement, and there is no hope to reverse!
US Military Forces Helping Iran
June 24….(Bloomberg) The US military and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are getting closer and closer in Iraq, even sharing a base, while Iran uses those militias to expand its influence in Iraq and fight alongside the Bashar al-Assad regime in neighboring Syria. Two senior administration officials confirmed to us that US soldiers and Shiite militia groups are both using the Taqqadum military base in Anbar, the same Iraqi base where President Obama is sending an additional 450 US military personnel to help train the local forces fighting against the Islamic State. Some of the Iran-backed Shiite militias at the base have killed American soldiers in the past.
Some inside the Obama administration fear that sharing the base puts US soldiers at risk. The US. intelligence community has reported back to Washington that representatives of some of the more extreme militias have been spying on US operations at Taqqadum, one senior administration official told us. That could be calamitous if the fragile relationship between the US military and the Shiite militias comes apart and Iran-backed forces decide to again target US troops.
American critics of this growing cooperation between the US military and the Iranian-backed militias call it a betrayal of the US personnel who fought against the militias during the 10-year US occupation of Iraq. “It’s an insult to the families of the American soldiers that were wounded and killed in battles in which the Shia militias were the enemy,” Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain told us. “Now, providing arms to them and supporting them, it’s very hard for those families to understand.”
The US is not directly training Shiite units of what are known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which include tens of thousands of Iraqis who have volunteered to fight against the Islamic State as well as thousands of hardened militants who ultimately answer to militia leaders loyal to Tehran. But the US is flying close air support missions for those forces. The US gives weapons directly only to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Security Forces, but the lines between them and the militias are blurry. US weapons often fall into the hands of militias like Iraqi Hezbollah. Sometimes the military cooperation is even more explicit. Commanders of some of the hard-line militias sit in on US military briefings on operations that were meant for the government-controlled Iraqi Security Forces, a senior administration official said.
This collaboration with terrorist groups that have killed Americans was seen as unavoidable as the US marshaled Iraqis against the Islamic State, but could prove counterproductive to US interests in the long term, this official said. The militias comprise largely Shiite volunteers and are headed by the leader of the Iraqi Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. He was sanctioned in 2009 by the Treasury Department for destabilizing Iraq. Al-Muhandis is a close associate of Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian Quds Force commander, who has snapped selfies with the militia leader at key battles. Other militias that have participated in the fighting against the Islamic State include he League of the Righteous, which in 2007 carried out a brutal roadside execution of five US soldiers near Karbala. The group to this day boasts of its killing of US soldiers. In an interview in February, a spokesman for the militia defended the killings and said his militia had killed many more American soldiers. Members of these groups have also been deployed by Iran to defend the Assad regime in neighboring Syria. James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, confirmed in a June 3 letter to seven Republican senators, which we obtained, that "Iran and Hezbollah have also leveraged allied Iraqi Shiia militant and terrorist groups, which receive training in Iran, to participate in pro-Assad operations."
The Washington Institute in 2013 identified three militias, the League of the Righteous, Iraqi Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, as sending elite fighters to Syria to fight for Assad. All three help to lead the popular mobilization committees that fight the Islamic State in Iraq. These militias also stand accused of gross human rights abuses and battlefield atrocities in Sunni areas where they have fought. The State Department heavily criticized Iran’s support for the Iraqi militias and those militias’ behavior in its annual report on worldwide terrorism, released late last week. “Despite its pledge to support Iraq’s stabilization, Iran increased training and funding to Iraqi Shia militia groups in response to ISIL’s advance into Iraq. Many of these groups, such as Iraqi Hezbollah, have exacerbated sectarian tensions in Iraq and have committed serious human rights abuses against primarily Sunni civilians,” the State Department reported. “Similar to Hezbollah fighters, many of these trained Shia militants have used these skills to fight for the Assad regime in Syria or against ISIL in Iraq.”
Accounts of the number of Iraqi Shiite fighters at Taqqadum vary. One senior administration official told us there are “only a few” militia representatives at the base, to coordinate with Iraqi Security Forces, while the bulk of the popular mobilization forces are deployed in the field, mostly around Ramadi, which is held by the Islamic State. A different senior administration official told us that there were hundreds of Shiite militia fighters at the base recently and that they flow in and out of the base for operations in the area. The US government has sought and received formal assurances from the government of Iraq that the Shiite militias on the base would not interfere with American military personnel. But there’s widespread skepticism that the politicians in Baghdad exert any real control over the hard-line militias. So far, in the 11 months since US special operations forces have been in Iraq, Iranian-supported militias in Iraq and US personnel have not clashed while fighting a common enemy. “There’s no real command and control from the central government,” one senior administration official said. “Even if these guys don’t attack us, Iran is ushering in a new Hezbollah era in Iraq, and we will have aided and abetted it.”
With the deadline approaching for a nuclear deal that would place up to $150 billion in the hands of Iran, the US is now openly acknowledging in its annual report on international terrorism that Iran is supporting a foreign legion, comprising Afghans, Iraqis and Lebanese fighters, to defend ranian interests throughout the Middle East. But the US response to this is inconsistent. In Iraq, America is fighting alongside Iranian-backed militias. In Syria, US-supported forces are fighting against these same militias. The tragedy of this policy is that the Islamic State has been able to hold and expand its territory in Iraq and Syria, while Iran has been able to tighten its grip on Baghdad.
President Obama: A Secret Member of Muslim Brotherhood?
June 24….(The Blaze) An Egyptian newspaper has front page headline claiming Obama as full-on member of Muslim Brotherhood international. “Newspaper also claims that son of MB leader threatened Obama w- release of ‘papers’ revealing his MB membership,” writes Shadi Hamid of Brookings. One could hardly come up with a more explosive allegation about a US president than secret membership in an Islamist group. And if that weren’t enough, the newspaper also claims that President Obama’s half-brother Malik is allegedly an Al Qaeda activist.
Jonathan Spyer, senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center and an Arabic speaker, tells TheBlaze that the newspaper, Al-Wafd specifically accuses Obama of being a member of the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood. The article goes on to say that Obama originally embraced the thought of the Brotherhood while living in Indonesia, per Spyer, and further alleges that the son of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater had threatened to expose a document revealing the secret membership. But Syper says such allegations are the result of an angry Egyptian populace expressing frustration. According to him, the publication of this kind of conspiracy is rooted in the ongoing dissatisfaction on the Egyptian street with the Obama administration’s policy which some have viewed as pro-Muslim Brotherhood. This was seen clearly during the summer demonstrations calling for then-President Mohammed Morsi to step down. Among the crowds, signs were held deriding President Obama and then US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson. They expressed frustration at what those Egyptians perceived to be Obama’s failure to articulate clear criticism of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. “The forces that overthrew Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, namely the Egyptian army and the large civilian demonstrations that supported it, regard the current US administration as a supporter of the deposed Morsi. They offer US delays in arms deliveries and pressure to release Morsi as evidence of this,” Spyer tells TheBlaze. “There is some degree of justification in their accusations. There is also a large degree of paranoid anti-American and anti-western sentiment in Egypt. As a result, the anger against the Administration has rapidly and predictably turned into conspiracy theories according to which Obama’s admittedly astonishingly naive and misguided attitude toward the Muslim Brotherhood can in fact be explained by the claim that he is a secret member of it,” Spyer explains.
Eric Trager, an Egypt scholar at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy tells TheBlaze, “This sort of conspiracy theorizing is sadly common within the Egyptian media. It reflects Egyptians’ inability to take responsibility for the choices that they’ve made in the past few years, specifically, their choice to elect the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in the June 2012 presidential election.” “Many Egyptians blame the United States for allegedly supporting the Brotherhood, when in fact we simply worked with the government that they elected, and some in the Egyptian media have repeated ugly conspiracy theories about President Obama to depict American policy as subversive,” he says. “It is also a sign that fascistic tendencies are hardening in Egyptian politics, since fascists always need an external enemy to justify their support for, or execution of, repressive policies,” Trager adds. “Newspapers have run more and more bizarre and farcical stories over the last few months, but this one indeed seems to be the oddest story to have yet been printed,” writes Middle East Monitor. “The American president could indeed be accused of many things, but being a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood would be the least probable accusation one could level at him.” It adds that the media have “planted rounds of false stories in the press to tarnish the image of, not only the Brotherhood, but also their supporters or even those who may not be supporters, but are simply calling for a return to democratic legitimacy. And it seems that the media will go to any lengths to smear those who do not fall in line with them.”
The Al-Wafd newspaper is in fact affiliated with the liberal party bearing the same name. Brookings’ Hamid quipped, “The sheer, unbridled creativity of Egyptian media knows no bounds. This sort of outside-the-box thinking bodes well for #Egypt’s transition.” Despite dissatisfaction with American policy voiced in secularist corners, the Muslim Brotherhood could also complain about some of the Obama administration’s actions, including the White House’s refusal to label the ousting of President Morsi a coup.
Tensions Build as Supreme Court Readies Blockbuster Rulings
June 23….(Reuters) Tensions are building inside and outside the white marble facade of the US Supreme Court building as the nine justices prepare to issue major rulings on gay marriage and President Barack Obama's healthcare law by the end of the month. Of the 11 cases left to decide, the biggest are a challenge by gay couples to state laws banning same-sex marriage and a conservative challenge to subsidies provided under the Obamacare law to help low- and middle-income people buy health insurance that could lead to millions of people losing medical coverage. Many legal experts predict the court will legalize gay marriage nationwide by finding that the US Constitution's guarantees of equal treatment under the law and due process prohibit states from banning same-sex nuptials. The four liberal justices are expected to support same-sex marriage, and conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, the expected swing vote, has a history of backing gay rights.
In three key decisions since 1996, Kennedy has broadened the court's view of equality for gays. The most recent was a 2013 case in which the court struck down a federal law denying benefits to married same-sex couples. During oral arguments in the gay marriage case on April 28, Kennedy posed tough questions to lawyers from both sides but stressed the nobility and dignity of same-sex couples.
The healthcare decision is tougher to call. Chief Justice John Roberts, the swing vote when the court upheld Obamacare in 2012, said little during the March 4 oral argument to indicate how he will vote. The court will issue some rulings on Monday, with more likely later in the week. For the justices, the pressure is on to have the rulings ready. That can be difficult as the cases in which they are closely divided are generally the ones left until the end. Outside the court, those with a stake in the outcome of the rulings are left anxiously waiting.
James Obergefell, one of the plaintiffs in the gay marriage case, said he will be at the court for all the remaining decision days. Obergefell sued Ohio, challenging its ban on same-sex marriages, after the state refused to acknowledge his marriage to John Arthur on Arthur's death certificate. They were married in Maryland, a state that allows gay marriages, just months before Arthur died in 2013. The Supreme Court does not announce in advance which rulings will be issued on any given day. "It's nerve-racking, it's exciting, but it's also scary," Obergefell said while waiting in line to enter the courtroom on Thursday.
On the other side of the issue, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group that opposes gay marriage, will have at least two attorneys in the courtroom, spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. As for the closed-door deliberations at the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hinted during a June 12 speech at the turmoil to come. "Sharp divisions, one can confidently predict, will rise in the term's final weeks," Ginsburg said.
Prior to June 15, the court was split 5-4 in only seven of the 46 cases decided at that point. But last week alone, four of the nine rulings were 5-4 decisions. In the rulings, several justices wrote separate opinions in which they aimed pointed comments at their colleagues.
WEEK OF JUNE 14 THROUGH JUNE 20
Pope Calls For World Government
June 19….(End Times) Pope Francis and the Vatican State are ready to launch a summer-long campaign which will reach its zenith in an unprecedented tour of America. Pope Francis has been working on his “sermon” all year, and it’s one that will thoroughly delight Bible prophecy watchers. Francis is going to preach on the need to massively reduce the world’s population, stopping climate change, and having a One World Government to rule the planet.
To deal with climate issues, he has also called for an “Earth Constitution that would transcend the UN Charter” along with the creation of a “Global Council, elected by all the people on Earth” and a “Planetary Court, a transnational legal body open to appeals from everybody, especially with respect to violations of the Earth Constitution.” The two main issues of “protecting the earth” are climate change and global depopulation. The 192-page document is Pope Francis’ first major teaching letter on climate change and its effects on the planet’s poor. Hailed by some as the “pope of the poor,” Francis’ linkage of environmental and economic issues puts the Vatican out front on a closely watched topic.
Make no mistake about it, Pope Francis has a full-on political agenda, and he is going to use his pulpit to advance it. He is not content to merely be the Pope of the world’s Catholics, he craves raw political power as well. Revelation 17 and 18, talking about the Vatican and the Catholic Church, clearly show her to also be a political force that reigns over the world’s kings. Francis is doing his best to bring that about here and now.
Obama/Kerry “Fixated” on Iran Nuclear Deal
June 18….(DEBKA) US Secretary of State John Kerry remarked Wednesday that the “US and its negotiating partners are not fixated on the issue of so-called possible military dimensions [of the Iranian nuclear program] because they already have a complete picture of Iran’s past activities.” This comment was a compendium of contradictions and untruths. Debkafile lists five instances to demonstrate the US has been in the dark over Iranian nuclear activities - past and present:
1. Iran’s military complex at Parchin remains a closed book despite repeated international demands to check on the nuclear detonation tests reported to have been conducted there. The US and Israel are left with suspicions, no facts, although Kerry declared: “We know what they did.”
2. At the Fordo underground site, all that is known for sure is that the Iranians are enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges, which they admitted after they were found out. But nothing is known about activities in other parts of the subterranean facility.
3. Iran is known to be operating secret sites. Once again, strong suspicions are not supported by solid evidence which remains out of reach.
4. US intelligence has not gained a full picture of Iran’s nuclear collaboration with North Korea or their shared plans for the development of ballistic missiles. Every now and then, delegations of nuclear scientists pay reciprocal visits to each other’s facilities, but no one has got to the bottom of the secret transactions between them. The question is why does this collaboration continue if Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon? And how far as it got? There are no answers to either of these questions.
5. Neither the US nor the international inspectors have gained direct access to the Iranian scientists employed on military nuclear projects, aside from the information reaching the US and Israel from Iranian defectors. All applications to interview these scientists were either turned away or ignored by Tehran.
So when Kerry claims that the negotiators “already have a complete picture of Iran’s past activities,” he is in fact letting Iran off the hook for providing information or even opening up its suspect facilities to international monitors, least of all the “intrusive inspections” promised by President Barack Obama. For the sacred goal of getting a final nuclear deal signed with Iran by the June 30 deadline, it is permissible to brush these embarrassing “details” under the carpet and ignore troubling questions.
On June 15, Republican Sen. Bob Corker, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to President Obama saying: “It is breathtaking to see how far from your original goals and statements the P5+1 have come during negotiations with Iran.” He went on to say that negotiators “have moved” from trying to strike a 20-year agreement to a 10-year one and "seem ready to let Tehran continue to develop its ballistic missile effort and maintain research and development for advanced nuclear centrifuges.” Senator Cork concludes: “The stakes here are incredibly high and the security implications of these negotiations are difficult to overstate.”
However, the Obama administration’s concessions to buy a deal do not stop there. They go still further. debkafile’ sources reveal that Washington is preparing to give way on the snap inspections mandated by the Additional Protocol, and agree to limit inspections to facilities unilaterally designated “nuclear” by Tehran and only after two weeks' notice. But President Obama has made his most substantial concession yet, by accepting Tehran’s demand to divide the final accord into two parts. The first would be made public and the second, carrying the technical protocols, would be confidential. The senior US negotiator Undersecretary Wendy Sherman fought hard to have both parts of the accord released, explaining that the president could not otherwise get it through Congress. But she was overruled. The US president has employed the same stratagem on the issue of sanctions. While declaring that they will not be lifted until Iran complies with its commitments, he has allowed American companies to enter into business negotiations with Iranian firms.
The 50 pages of the nuclear accord’s practical annexes embody the adage that the devil is in the detail. But president Obama has chosen to keep it secret from Congress, the American public and US allies, while Iran is given free rein to pursue its objectives.
Southern Baptists: Supreme Court is not Final Authority on Gay Marriage
June 18….(Fox News) The president of the Southern Baptist Convention has a message regarding the looming Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage: We will not obey. “The Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority nor is the culture itself,” declared Ronnie Floyd, the elected leader of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. “The Bible is God’s final authority about marriage and on this book we stand.” Dr. Floyd’s powerful and provocative comments were met with thunderous applause and standing ovations from thousands of Southern Baptist messengers meeting in Columbus, Ohio. “America – we stand believing that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime,” he said in a thundering speech. “We have believed this and do believe this and will continue to believe this as a convention of churches. We stand for biblical and traditional marriage.”
Dr. Floyd reminded the gathering of something German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” “This is a Bonhoeffer moment for every pastor in the United States,” Floyd said, warning ministers that the time has come for every minister to stand strongly and clearly – regardless of the cost. “That’s what Bonhoeffer did,” he said.
The pending decision over gay marriage weighed heavily on the minds of many Southern Baptists and messengers will consider a resolution calling on all Christians to stand firm on the biblical definition of marriage. “Resolved, that Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God’s definition of marriage; and be it further resolved no matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage,” the resolution reads in part.
Evangelical Christians across America fear that a decision legalizing same-sex marriage will have a devastating impact on religious liberty. A growing number of Christians have already faced persecution because of their objections to gay marriage. Public workers have lost their jobs, private business owners have been slapped with lawsuits and complaints and private citizens have been bullied and harassed for signing pro-traditional marriage petitions. It’s not exactly clear how the Southern Baptist Convention’s defiance will manifest itself, but Floyd revealed his personal plan. “I declare to everyone today as a minister of the Gospel – I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies,” he said. “I completely refuse.”
Dr. Floyd stood resolute, ready to face of what I am sure will be national attacks from intolerant bullies and the radical speech police. There is no doubt he will be called a homophobic bigot. I’m sure some will label his remarks as hate speech.I urge you to ignore them and truly listen to this brave man of God’s words, his call to “love and respect those who do not agree with us.” “And while we affirm our love for all people, including those struggling with same-sex attraction, we cannot and will not affirm any behavior that deviates from God’s design for marriage,” he said. The issue facing Southern Baptists is one that will face every person of faith in the United States – do you follow God or the government? “Our first commitment is to God and His Word – nothing else and no one else,” Dr. Floyd said matter-of-factly.
Franklin Graham To Obama: Get Abedini Released!
· June 18….(World Watch) Sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence nearly three years ago and behind bars in Iran ever since, calls urging Barack Obama to secure American pastor Saeed Abedini’s release continue. Western Journalism covered remarks Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, made at CPAC earlier this year. She said her husband has been abused and her family torn apart while the current administration remains inactive. “What message are we sending to the world?” she asked. “When we don’t speak, we are doing the same thing the persecutors are doing to my husband.”
The latest to weigh in on Abedini’s behalf was prominent evangelist Franklin Graham. In a recent open letter to Obama, he explained the imprisoned pastor “suffered another severe beating” by fellow inmates last week. The letter went on to lament the fact that the Obama White House worked to free an Egyptian-American accused of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood while not intervening to assist Abedini. “Mr. President,” Graham concluded, “I hope you’ll do the same to help Saeed Abedini – who is guilty of nothing, was sentenced to 8-years in prison, and whose only affiliation is with the Lord Jesus Christst.”
Syrian Rebel Force Launches Offensive
June 18….(DEBKA) Jaysh Hermon (the Army of Hermon) Wednesday, June 17, launched a broad offensive on Syrian army forces in the Quneitra and Hermon sectors bordering on Israel. Its objective is to capture the Syrian army’s 68th Brigade headquarters at Khan al-Shih which commands the main Quneitra-Damascus highway. This would clear the rebels’ path to the southern suburbs of Damascus up to Western Ghouta, from which they would encircle the government troops defending the capital. If the Army of Hermon achieves this goal, and replicates the May success of the rebel Army of Conquest in capturing much of the northern province of Idlib, the Syrian civil war would enter a new phase.
debkafile’s military sources report that this feat could be brought off suddenly or entail protracted combat. Syrian government forces showed no signs of folding at the onset of the fresh onslaught. Our sources reveal that two new rebel armies have surfaced in recent weeks on the northern and southern warfronts. Their tactics are clearly stage-managed with a view to driving the Syrian army toward Damascus. debkafile names the hand guiding the northern rebel force as coming from a joint command based in the big Turkish air base of Dyabakir. It is composed pf US, Saudi, Turkish and Qatari officers. The southern rebel front is managed from US Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan, which is quartered north of Amman and run jointly by American, Jordanian, Saudi, Qatari and British officers. This command center collected eight oddly assorted rebel militias to build the Jaysh Hermon. Some were chosen reluctantly out of need despite their undesirable proclivities. Our sources name them as: The Syrian Free Army, the Sayf al-Sham Brigade; the Jesus Christ Brigade (Muslims respect Jesus as one of their prophets); the Nusra Front (Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate); Ahrar al-Sham (an extremist group linked to Nusra and ISIS); and Ajnad al-Sham (whose fighters took part in the battle to conquer Idlib). The Jordan-based command running the rebel effort provides them with arms, supplies, wages and their military plans of action. Its leverage to prevent them stepping out of line consists of threats to deprive them of arms or cut their wages.
In the past week, a group of these militias captured parts of Al-Thala near the Jabal Druze capital of Suweida. The threat facing the half a million Druze inhabitants suddenly topped Israel’s agenda as pressure built up from its Druze citizens to intercede. It was then that the Jordan-based command warned the rebel militias that they would lose half their monthly wage if they did not back off. The penalty worked. And the wild rumors of a Druze massacre at the village of Khader were dispelled. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott have taken personal charge of the Syrian Druze situation and are keeping a close watch on events on the other side of the border. They are holding their breath for the Jordan command to stay in control of the rebel militias, so that no Druze comes to harm in the course of the fighting in areas around their villages and close to the Israeli border. Keeping them safe is vital if Israel is to avoid a mass Druze stampeded on its border. However, there is no guarantee that unprofessional militias like the Hermon Army, each governed by its own ideals and methods, will be disciplined enough to stick to any rules.
Israel’s leaders are therefore braced for nasty shocks. They will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief when, and if the rebel coalition scoops up the territory between Quneitra and Mt. Hermon and heads up the main road to Damascus, away from its borders and the Druze mountain, without causing harm. But if the rebel offensive is stalled, their Jaish Hermon breaks up and out-of-control militias go it alone, Israel may have to contend with a very tough problem.
Russia puts US on notice: Steer clear of Poland
(Moscow threatens to build up weaponry on EU borders)
June 17….(WND) Russia responded to reports of America adding to its military equipment presence in Poland, telling US leaders in a telephone call: If you put more tanks on our western border, we’ll put more weapons on the European Union’s border. General Yuri Yakubov said Russia was viewing America’s rumored military plans to put tanks and heavy arms in Poland as “the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War,” the Daily Mail reported. “Russia,” he said, “will have no option but to build up its forces and resources on the western strategic front.”
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson declined to comment on the unofficial US report. But t Yakubov said if America does bolster its allies in the Baltics, the ensuing tensions could lead to a “major war,” the Daily Mail said. Putin would undoubtedly order more troops “along the whole perimeter of Russia’s western border, including new formations of tank, artillery and aviation units,” he said. His words were echoed by at least one pro-Putin separatist in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, who warned: “We are actually on the brink of a big war right now,” he said.
In late 2014, the United States deployed about 700 soldiers and 20 tanks to three Baltic States and Poland as a show of force against Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Poland shortly after expressed interest in receiving even more US military assistance.e.e.
Defeat ISIS or Establish Safe Zones for Christians
June 15….(WND) A leading Iraqi prelate has called on the US and its allies to double down on their efforts to defeat ISIS militarily, and, if that is not possible, to rescue Iraq’s 120,000 exiled Christians and grant them asylum in the West. Marking the first anniversary of the Islamic State’s capture of Mosul, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Mouche called on “people who have the responsibility” to come to the rescue of the ousted Christian communities, whose people long to go home, the archbishop said in a phone interview with John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity. Since the fall of Mosul into ISIS’s hands last summer, the city has been emptied of the thousands of Christians who once resided there.
The archbishop told Pontifex that military action is the “best solution” to restore the land and property that has been stolen from Christians in Mosul and other Iraqi cities. “We ask everyone to put pressure on the people who have the responsibility to free the [towns and villages] as soon as possible so the people can come back and live in peace in their homes and continue their lives there,” he told the Catholic charity. The archbishop’s comments reflect the frustration felt by many Middle Eastern Christian clergy, not only Catholic but also Orthodox and Protestant, about what they perceive as the West’s reluctance to commit to a full-scale intervention to confront and defeat Islamic extremism in the region. Until recently many Catholic clergy had opposed such a move, but as the situation has grown more desperate, so have their pleas for help. Many Christians have fled to safe havens in Kurdish-controlled areas and some have taken up arms, fighting alongside Kurdish soldiers.
West should ‘open its doors’ to Christian refugees
Archbishop Mouche said if the West is unable or unwilling to expand its military against ISIS, then it should open its doors to Christians and other minorities seeking asylum. “I am calling on the international community: if they cannot protect us, then they must open their doors and help us start a new life elsewhere,” he said. But “we would prefer to remain in Iraq and be protected here,” he added. Speaking of his own hardship, the prelate said: “I am like someone who is dreaming or drunk. I can’t understand what is going on around me. It is a nightmare.” He noted the monastery of St. Behnam, which dates back to the fourth century AD. The monastery is believed to have been at least partially destroyed by ISIS, which has also desecrated numerous Christian cemeteries. “We have no news about our churches and monasteries, because we have no one left in Mosul to report on it,” the archbishop said.
UN assigns mostly Muslims for resettlement in West
The United States, which accepts the majority of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers, has taken in 119,210 refugees from Iraq since 2008, but 72,983 or 61 percent of those have been Muslims and only 42,000 or 35 percent have been Christian, according to U.S. State Department data. As for the other major Middle Eastern source of refugees, Syria, the numbers are even more slanted toward Muslims. Among the nearly 850 Syrian refugees sent to the US for permanent resettlement since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, 92 percent have been Muslim and less than 6 percent Christian.
Iraq is home to some of the world’s earliest Christians. St. Thomas the apostle evangelized the Assyrians and Chaldeans living in the Nineveh plain of ancient Mesopotamia, part of modern-day northern Iraq, shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. About 4.7 million Christians lived in Iraq as of 1947, despite the numerous jihads launched against them by the 14th century warlord Tamerlane, who slaughtered 70,000 Christians at Tikrit, by the Ottoman Turks and later by al-Qaida.
Many Christians have fled while others converted to Islam. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein, about 1.5 million Christians still lived in the country. That number has now dwindled to about 125,000, with most of those remaining living in Baghdad, Basra, and in the Kurdish cities of Kirkuk and Erbil. Yet, instead of pushing for these Christians to be allowed into the US and other Western countries, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and much of the refugee resettlement industry has lobbied instead for the relocation of Syrian refugees, 90 percent of whom are Muslims.s.
The US Congress, led by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, has expressed grave concerns about the security risks of accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees, the ranks of which ISIS has vowed to infiltrate. As WND reported June 3, between five and 10 of the 1,000 Syrian refugees slated by the UN for resettlement in Norway were recently found to have connections to either ISIS or the al-Nusra Front, according to Norway’s Police Security Service. Also previously reported by WND in February, the FBI’s deputy director of counter-terrorism, Michael Steinbach, testified before the House Homeland Security committee that his agency was unable to screen the Syrian refugees because the U.S. has no access to reliable law enforcement records in the “failed state” of Syria. McCaul said he feared Syria’s Muslim refugees would become a “jihadi pipeline” into the United States.
Christians abandoned by Western governments
Christians pose no security risks, yet they have been largely abandoned in the face of vicious persecution, said Joel Richardson, a Christian author and filmmaker who recently visited Iraq on a missions trip. “There’s no question we need to open our doors to the Christians of Iraq,” he told WND. “There’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence that within Congress and the various departments and channels that oversee US immigration that for some mysterious reason we’re putting up these roadblocks that prevent these Christians from coming to the US when we’re morally obligated to let them in, particularly in light of the fact that there is zero security risk and most of their plight can be attributed to the foreign policy blunders of the US State Department under Barack Obama that was led by Hillary Clinton.” The refugee issue will not be going away anytime soon, said Richardson, author of the New York Times-bestseller “The Islamic Antichrist,” and director of the film “End Times Eyewitness.” “We have to get this issue down and established because the refugee crisis is only going to continue to explode as Libya falls into chaos as a result of (Obama’s) blunders there,” Richardson said. “It’s important to recognize what is the responsibility of the US government but right now the Church needs to recognize that as chaos continues to envelope the earth, the mission field of Christ is opening up and expanding, and we are to be the first responders who will be there for the refugees who are in crisis.”
While the Christian refugees of Iraq pose no security risk, the loudest voices in the refugee resettlement industry, such as former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband, who now heads the International Rescue Committee, have lobbied in recent months almost exclusively on behalf of the Syrian refugees. Miliband and others have said the US needs to take in at least 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. This same demand — for the US to accept 65,000 Syrian refugees, has been echoed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and by the Refugee Council USA. RCUSA is the main lobbying arm of the nine agencies that do the resettlement work under contract for the US government. That demand was taken up last month by 14 Democratic US Senators, led by Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, D-Minn. and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., who signed a letter calling on President Obama to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the US That was enough to earn the 14 senators the title of “the Jihad Caucus” by Refugee Resettlement Watch author Ann Corcoran, who has been following the refugee movement since 2007
WEEK OF JUNE 7 THROUGH JUNE 13
June 13….(Algemeiner) In only four months, the Islamic State (IS) has captured territory larger than the country of Britain, a march unprecedented in modern history, according to journalist and documentary filmmaker Itai Anghel. And IS fighters are closer to Israel than people think, he said. “I’m talking about the Peninsula of Sinai,” he said. “A large percentage of the Sinai calls itself IS. From the mainland of Egypt, they are afraid to go in.”
Anghel addressed the HonestReporting Mission on Tuesday to discuss how IS formed, and how it operates. He learned the lessons firsthand reporting across Iraq and Syria, where he interviewed captured IS fighters as well as Kurdish soldiers – the only group that’s turned back the IS advance to date. During one of his forays into Syria last year, news broke that a colleague of his, James Foley, had been captured and beheaded by IS. At the time, Anghel was only a mile away. He later interviewed a captured IS fighter who said he intentionally used dull knives for the beheadings he carried out to increase the pain. Anghel said he was forced to pause in the interview for a few minutes as he thought about the tragedy of his friend Foley.
Anghel said IS has every intention of pushing well beyond Syria and into Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel – also known as The Levant – with the goal of establishing a Caliphate in the entire region. The red line for Israel, he said, is the fall of Jordan to IS. “Once Jordan becomes IS, it becomes Israel’s problem,” he said. According to Anghel, the rise of IS can be traced to the American invasion of Iraq, and the American failure to establish a functional army to replace U.S. soldiers. He noted that the members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist forces were excluded from the new post-Saddam army, and their anger, along with rivalries between the remaining Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish forces has contributed to the Iraqi Army’s failure. He showed a picture of IS forces executing a large number of Arabs in civilian clothes. He said the executed people were members of the Iraqi army who hoped to escape by shedding their uniforms and blending in among the locals. “When they encountered IS, they ran away. They say, why should I as a Sunni fight when everyone is running away,” he said. “And the tragedy is, not only are they running away, but they are leaving behind all the sophisticated heavy weaponry the United States gave them in order to be the strongest in the region. All these weapons are falling into the hands of IS. And IS is very rich because its conquest campaign happened to take place, deliberately, in the region where you have the most oil in Iraq.”
Meanwhile, the Middle East is in an irreversible state of change. “Iraq doesn’t exist anymore, Syria doesn’t exist anymore. No one will be able to control those territories completely, even if (Syrian President Bashar) Assad manages to hold on,” he said.
American pastor beaten in Iranian prison
June 12….(WND) An American pastor imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith was left “black and blue” after a beating by fellow inmates, according to a legal team supporting him. The American Center for Law and Justice said Wednesday that pastor Saeed Abedini was attacked and injured while he was leaving his cell. “Unprovoked, fellow prisoners attacked pastor Saeed as he attempted to leave his cell, punching him in the face near his left eye and nose,” said the ACLJ report posted by Jordan Sekulow. “In addition to physically beating the persecuted pastor, prisoners demolished a small table pastor Saeed used to study and read.’
ACLJ said, as he was attacked, Abedini called out for help. “Iranian prison guards did intervene and prevent further injury,” the report said. “However, pastor Saeed suffered injuries to his face – his eyes beaten black and blue. He was able to be seen briefly by a prison doctor, and thankfully he did not receive any broken bones.” The case has finally drawn the attention of President Obama, who met with Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, after her husband had been imprisoned for two years. Many of Abedini’s supporters have asked why his release isn’t included in any diplomatic agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program. Accused of setting up a network of Christian house churches, Abedini was jailed in 2012 for “crimes against the national security of Iran.” The Obama administration stated recently that Iran should release Abedini unconditionally. ACLJ said the most recent beating, a week ago, wasn’t the first time for Abedini. “Over the course of his nearly three years in prison, he has suffered numerous beatings, including from prison guards,” ACLJ said. “He has sustained internal injuries that require surgery. With each beating, his condition worsens.”
ACLJ said that even before this most recent beating, Naghmeh testified of the toll it has taken on him. “I’m not just worried about his physical pain, but his psychological [pain],” she said. “It is heartbreaking to me and my family that Saeed was again beaten in prison.” She said her husband’s life is “continuously threatened not only because he is an American, but also because he is a convert from Islam to Christianity.” “It’s time to get Saeed home before it is too late,” she said.
ACLJ said the “renewed violence is a vivid reminder of the need to do all we
can as a nation to bring pastor Saeed and the other Americans wrongfully held in
The organization noted
a petition on behalf of Abedini already has collected nearly 940,000 signatures.
Last month, Iranian authorities increased their pressure on Abedini
Last month, Iranian authorities increased their pressure on Abediniby threatening to keep in prison indefinitely while leveling new charges. “They have said, ‘Don’t think you’ll get out after eight years. We’ll add additional reasons to keep you,’” Tiffany Barrans, the international director for the ACLJ, said at the time. Last September, human rights leaders joined with Abedini’s wife at a White House prayer vigil to mark the two-year anniversary of his imprisonment. She said nothing less than a miracle is needed in his case.
In a statement, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said Abedini was facing new threats to his safety “as ISIS militants imprisoned in the same jail are threatening his life.”
WND reported last August that Rajai Shahr prison inmates who were affiliated with ISIS were making death threats against the American pastor.
Mideast’s Worst Case: A ‘Big War’ Pitting Shia Muslims Against Sunni
June 12….(McClatchy) The Middle East crisis that peaked one year ago Wednesday when the Islamic State captured Mosul may result in the breakup of Iraq and an indefinite continuation of a war in Syria that’s already out of control, analysts say. Yet still worse things could happen. “The conditions are very much like 1914,” says Michael Stephens of the Royal United Service Institute in London. “All it will take is one little spark, and Iran and Saudi Arabia will go at each other, believing they are fighting a defensive war.”
Hiwa Osman, an Iraqi Kurdish commentator, was even more blunt: “The whole region is braced for the big war, the war that has not yet happened, the Shiite-Sunni war.” US and foreign experts say the US still has not developed a strategy for dealing with the Sunni extremists who now hold more territory Iraq and Syria than one year ago. President Barack Obama on Monday acknowledged that the US strategy in Iraq was a work in progress. “We don’t have, yet, a complete strategy, because it requires commitments on the part of Iraqis as well,” Obama said at the close of the G-7 summit in Germany. “The details are not worked out.” The experts criticize America’s detachment from the four wars now under way in the region. And they say the Obama administration is banking on Iran to stabilize the region, a very dubious course.
Obama: Iraqi Commitments Needed for 'Complete' ISIS Strategy
President Barack Obama at the G-7 summit on Monday said he needs the Pentagon and the Iraqis to form a strategy to ramp up training of Iraqi troops to take on ISIS after the terror group’s recent gains. “We’re reviewing a range of plans for how we might do that,” Obama said. “When a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people. … We don’t yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well.” The remark comes nearly a year after the president said he didn’t yet have a strategy to defeat ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL, and weeks after the White House denied Obama was considering changing his strategy.
“We really don’t have a strategy at all. We’re basically playing this day by day,” Robert Gates, a former secretary of defense, told MSNBC last month. The one conflict where the US has poured money, weapons and military advisers is Iraq, but the outlook after the Sunni city of Ramadi fell to the Sunni extremists is for a long, drawn-out conflict.
John Allen, the former retired Marine Corps general who serves as US envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State, told an audience in Qatar last week that it “will be a long campaign” and defeating its ideology will take “a generation or more.” Allen laid out five areas for cooperation against the Islamic State – denying “safe haven” to its forces, disrupting the flow of foreign fighters, curbing access to foreign finances, providing humanitarian relief and responding to group’s propaganda. But he made no mention of addressing the political causes that allowed the Islamic State to take root in Iraq – disaffection by Sunnis with their treatment by the Shiite-led central government. “IS cannot be ended by Kurds, Shiites, Americans or Iran. It has to be done by Sunni Arabs,” said Osman. “You need to present them with a deal for the day after IS is defeated. And no one has managed to articulate that vision for them,” he said.
Conceivably, that would be a federal system that ends Shiite domination of the security services, but most importantly secures reconciliation with Baathists, members of the party that ruled Iraq under the late dictator Saddam Hussein. Baathists are said to comprise a great many of the top positions in the Islamic State military apparatus. “I am extremely pessimistic” about the future of Iraq, said Toby Dodge, a leading scholar on Iraq who teaches at the London School of Economics. He said he doubted that Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, “a very decent man, a smart man,” could save Iraq. But “he’s hostage to his own constituency, radical Shiite Islamism. What he needs is to appeal to the disenfranchised Sunnis of the northwest.” He said an Iraqi civil war “is almost unavoidable.” Some Iraq scholars argue that the country can be saved. Decentralization of power, reconciliation with Baathists and other concessions that would motivate Sunnis to oust the Islamic State are “feasible, absolutely,” says Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. But he said the administration is not making the effort. “I believe it is negligence,” he said. “They continue to insist we can’t want this more than the Iraqis. This is historical nonsense. If you leave it to the Iraqis, they won’t do the right thing even if they want to.”
The other big issue left out of Allen’s presentation was a strategy for Syria, where the Islamic State has its headquarters. Pro-Western rebel forces are willing to fight the Islamic State but insist on also taking on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which has permitted the Islamic State to seize and hold territory, mostly without a fight.
Last week, when Islamic State forces advanced on the country’s biggest city, Aleppo, the regime bombed rebels, not Islamic State forces. In response to rebel pleas, the US mounted one airstrike Sunday against the Islamic State, but it didn’t coordinate it with fighters on the ground. This has raised suspicions that US won’t block the Islamic State from advancing on Aleppo. I just don’t think they care,” said Pollack. What worries scholars and expert observers the most is the seeming US detachment from the region’s wars, in Syria and Iraq, from Yemen, where Saudi forces are bombing pro-Iranian insurgents, and from Libya, where Egypt has mounted airstrikes against Islamic State -linked insurgents. Everyone agrees that the international system is very different from 1914, when the two competing European alliances went to war. But there are similarities. That was “a crisis nobody wanted to have. When it came, it would be over in a few months’ time. It would end all wars. Everybody knows what happened,” said Thorbjorn Jagland, a Norwegian politician and secretary general of the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog body. “I don’t want to call the leaders today sleepwalkers, but maybe they have entered into a situation that nobody intended or wanted,” he said. “There are too many actors and too many unknowns. Everyone seems to be stuck in his own way,” said Altay Cengizer, director of policy planning at the Turkish Foreign Ministry. He warned of the dangers of a prolonged crisis. “We are playing with fire,” he said. “You cannot all day long play with fire. A fire will start.”
ISIS May be Building a Dirty Bomb
June 11….(The Australian) The ISIS militant group has seized enough radioactive material from government facilities to suggest it has the capacity to build a large and devastating “dirty” bomb, according to Australian intelligence reports.
ISIS declared its ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction in the most recent edition of its propaganda magazine Dabiq, and Indian defense officials have previously warned of the possibility the militants could acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan.
According to the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, NATO has expressed deep concerns about the materials seized by Isis from research centres and hospitals that would normally only be available to governments. The growing concerns about Isis’s development of weapons of mass destruction come at a time when experts fear the militant group will be “more active than ever” to mark the start of Ramadan and the one-year anniversary of its declaration of a “caliphate”.
Rumsfeld: Bush Was Wrong on Democracy Expectations in Iraq
June 10….(Jerusalem Post) Former President George W. Bush erred in seeking to institute democracy in Iraq over a decade ago, his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said earlier this week. In an interview with The Times of London, Rumsfeld openly broke with his former boss, telling the newspaper that he was apprehensive over the administration’s plans following the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. “I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories,” Rumsfeld told The Times. “The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words.”
Rumsfeld also told the newspaper that the Obama administration was failing to show global leadership, thus opening the door for Russian expansionism. He said President Obama has fueled the rise of ISIS by failing to properly address the savagery. The former defense secretary added that the West made a mistake in removing Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya, a move that contributed to the destabilization of the Middle East.
Rumsfeld also expressed concern that the international community did not possess the tools to deal with Islamic extremism, a problem that will become more acute as the nation-state system collapses. “The movement for a caliphate, the movement against nation states is central and fundamental,” he said. “And no one’s talking about it. Have you ever heard anyone at the UN begin to think about that concept?”
Netanyahu: Iran is a Five-Fold Threat
June 10….(YNET) Iran poses Israel in particular and the world at large a five-layered threat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday evening in his speech at the Herzliya Conference. The main threat from Tehran is its nuclear program, a threat which will not be alleviated by the nuclear deal currently being negotiated between the Islamic Republic and world powers, Netanyahu said. The sanctions relief the agreement offers, the prime minister said, would give Iran "no less than $150 billion," money it desperately needs. "As soon as sanctions are removed, they will get hundreds of billions of dollars, which will bolster Iran's aggression," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also asserted that whether Iran breaks the agreement or not, it will still pose as a threat. "Iran insists on not having real supervision because it is being left with the infrastructure to enrich uranium," enabling it to break the agreement, he said.
On the other hand, if it does not break the agreement, "within 10-12 years it could build an infrastructure of hundreds of centrifuges, with international approval." Those centrifuges, the prime minister said, would be 25 times more effective than Tehran's existing centrifuges.
Another threat Iran poses is by arming its allies with advanced weapons, "some of which are aimed at us," Netanyahu said.
A third threat is posed by Iran's ally Hezbollah, whose agents operate in over 30 countries around the world.
Tehran also poses a cyber threat to Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia.
The fifth threat, Tehran produces advanced weaponry like drones, satellites and submarines. "Their work is impressive," Netanyahu said. "They take a project and finish it in record speed."
Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not willing to talk. "The Palestinians have a trick in which they refuse to talk every time, and then turn to ask for a boycott against Israel and submit demands to the UN Security Council and say we are refusing to renew talks," he said. "I've been going to talk to Abbas for six and a half years and I had to do things that were difficult for me, settlement freeze for almost a year, and on the tenth month he agreed to meet. We met for three hours in Sharm el-Sheikh and three hours in Jerusalem, and he had one demand, continue settlement freeze," the prime minister went on to say. "I called on him to renew negotiations without preconditions." "He can make international moves without talking and then accuse Israel of being unwilling to talk," Netanyahu added. He said Palestinian efforts to force a peace deal on Israel through proposals by world powers would be counter-productive. "The idea of imposing peace from the outside doesn't work," Netanyahu stressed.
Netanyahu said he hoped Arab states could press the Palestinians to return to talks. "There might be an opening because some of the Arab states silently agree with (my position) ... (and) they might be in a position to influence the Palestinians to adopt a more conciliatory and positive approach," he said.
He also stressed the need to ensure Israel's security in any future agreement. "The problem in Gaza is not arms smuggling, because there is not a lot of that - there's self-production. They are producing pipes with accurate aiming capabilities and this is because we are not there," he said. "This doesn't happen in Ramallah because when you need a security regime, it's Israel's security abilities." "We must ensure a long-lasting and stable security regime," Netanyahu stressed. "This is not an excuse, there are real things and that is why we need to negotiate the recognition of two national states with real security arrangements."
Iran to Russia: Restore Military Aid to Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
June 10….(WND) Amid reports of Russia scaling back military support for the Syrian regime, Moscow has responded to an Iranian request to re-establish assistance, with Russian experts traveling to Damascus to advise the embattled regime regarding strategy for counterattacks, informed Middle East defense officials told WND.
Last week, Asharq al Aswat, a popular Arabic language newspaper published in London, reported Russia was reducing its diplomatic staff in Damascus and removing advisers and strategic personnel.
According to the Arabic newspaper, Russian technicians also ceased upholding an agreement with Bashar al-Assad’s regime to help maintain the country’s fleet of Russian-made Sukhoi aircraft, which have been central to Syria’s war against the rebels seeking to depose the regime. The reported Russian about-face comes as the rebels, including ISIS, have made dramatic gains, taking up to 50 percent of Syria’s territory. Asharq al Aswat reported the Russian withdrawals had prompted an unscheduled visit to Iran by Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij, who was said to have petitioned Tehran to urge Russia to rescind its move.
Middle East defense officials told WND the Iranian appeal has worked, at least somewhat. They say Russian military advisers are being resent to Syria to rebuild a common war room in the coming two to three weeks capable of advising on counter-attacks against the rebels. The Russian advisers may find themselves working directly against the US military.
Israel Laments, Palestinians Celebrate US Ruling on Jerusalem
FOJ Note: In what can be considered a dangerous, precedent-setting ruling, the US Supreme Court declared that the United States does not recognize Jerusalem – both the Eastern and Western parts of the city – as the capital of the state of Israel.
June 10….(Israel Today) The US Supreme Court ruling on Monday that Americans born in Jerusalem could no longer list their country of birth as “Israel” in US passports had the Jewish state fuming, while the Palestinian Authority celebrated the decision as a justification of its narrative regarding the holy city. The ruling invalidated a 13-year-old congressional law that stipulated Americans born in Jerusalem could list “Israel” as their country of birth. In a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court determined that Congress had overstepped its authority in enacting the law, and had encroached on the President’s power to set foreign policy.
Justice Antonin Scalia, one of those to vote against the motion, said it was a “leap worthy of the Mad Hatter” to suggest that putting “Israel” on the passports of those born in Jerusalem would prejudge the outcome of Middle East peace talks.
The Israeli government issued no formal response to the ruling, but Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat noted that “just as Washington is the capital of the US, London is the capital of England, and Paris is the capital of France, Jerusalem was and will always be the capital of Israel, but more than that, it’s the heart and soul of the Jewish nation.”
Israeli legal expert Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner told Arutz Sheva radio that the ruling was “a real kick in the face of every Israeli citizen, that such a great friend of Israel’s does not recognize its rights.” But more than that, Darshan-Leitner warned that the Supreme Court had handed the White House and State Department a major victory in the battle over who sets the foreign policies of the United States.
While the overwhelming majority of Americans and their representatives in Congress are supportive of the Jewish state, the White House and State Department are typically seen as being much less so. Giving full authority over foreign relations to the administrative branch without allowing for checks and balances by the legislative could spell trouble for Israel.
Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian Authority was thrilled with the ruling. Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, viewed the ruling as a “very important decision” and “a clear message to the Israeli government that its decisions and measures in occupying and annexing Jerusalem are illegal and void and that it should immediately stop these measures because it’s a clear violation of the international law.”
The Obama administration expressed satisfaction with the ruling. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the decision simply confirmed the president’s longstanding authority in foreign affairs and added, “We remain committed” to the policy of neutrality on the sovereignty of Jerusalem.
FOJ Note: US policy has long refrained from recognizing any nation’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and has held that the city’s status be resolved through negotiations between the parties. Congress has for years tried to push the US administrations, whether Republican or Democrat, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In 1995, Congress passed the “Jerusalem Embassy and Relocation Act,” which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. To date, a promise to move the embassy has not been fulfilled, due to opposition from the State Department and US presidents who have used their waiver authority. Each American president since Bill Clinton has signed a presidential waiver every six months in order to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, citing concerns that a move to Jerusalem could hinder the peace process, and threaten America’s national security!
Islamic State Threatens to Seize Israel-Syria Border
June 9….(Israel Hayom) Islamic State fighters are advancing in southern Syria and are now located within several dozen kilometers of the border with Israel in the Golan Heights. "Within a few days, we will conquer the Syrian border with Israel," an Islamic State member threatened over the weekend.
Meanwhile, in a speech broadcast on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station on Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denied Arab media reports that Hezbollah has suffered heavy losses in recent fighting in Syria, where the Lebanese terrorist group is fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Nasrallah also used the opportunity to threaten Israel, saying "millions" of Israelis would be displaced and turned into "refugees" if a new war erupted between Israel and Hezbollah. Referring to the Homefront Command drill held in Israel last week, Nasrallah said, "In Israel, they are aware of Hezbollah's power, and recently they conducted exercises that showed their concern about Hezbollah's ability to strike their homefront strongly and defeat them."
ISIS Stealing Hamas Rockets to Fire Into Israel
June 9….(DEBKA) Islamic State operatives in the Gaza Strip have been helping themselves to Hamas rockets in recent weeks after furtively penetrating the factory teams operating the group’s production and assembly lines, Debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal. The jihadis then secretly passed the stolen rockets to their squads for launching against Israel. By this device, ISIS newly arrived in Gaza has overcome its immediate deficiencies:
1. They are tapping a local manufacturing source to steal rockets, instead of having to smuggle them in from afar through Egyptian Sinai. As the ISIS presence in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave expands, so too will the intensity of its rocket fire against Israel.
2. The Islamists count on acquiring more advanced longer-range missiles by the same means as soon as they are developed by Hamas’ manufacturing plants.
It is hard to determine how this ominous reality relates to the comments the IDF OC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Sammy Turjman, made to the heads of the local communities around the Gaza Strip Sunday night, June 7, to calm their fears over the resumption of rocket fire in the last two weeks. “In the Southern Command we have noticed that Hamas is making an effort to stop the rocket fire, although we don’t absolve the organization of responsibility and will respond accordingly,” the general said. He added: “Because of a few rockets exploding on empty ground, the IDF won’t embark on an operation in the Gaza Strip and jeopardize the gains we achieved [last summer].”
The problem with these platitudes, say Debkafile’s military analysts, is that they represent a repeat of the mistake Israel made on its northern front, by letting the Hizballah terrorists pile up a huge arsenal of up to 100,000 rockets and missiles, all pointing one way, south. Hamas may indeed be trying very hard to prevent rockets being fired against Israel from the Gaza Strip, but it has not been able to keep ISIS undercover agents out of its manufacturing plants or from stealing the rockets. Gen. Turjman does not say how the Islamists managed to creep into the Hamas factories or whether they have been able to invade other parts of the Palestinian military organization.
The point is not how many rockets should be fired before the IDF goes to war in the Gaza Strip, but for how long Israel’s leaders can afford to pretend to make naught of the dangerous situation building up there. ISIS uses such make-believe to fuel its policy of expansion.
Israel, Egypt and Hamas are in fact working together, out of their respective interests, to put a stop to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Egypt has been blowing up smuggling tunnels; Hamas contingents are out there trying to nab the rocket teams; Israel and its armed forces, acting on orders from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, without informing the public, are marking out a broad anti-rocket sterile zone, stretching from the Gaza border to encompass the communities and towns in the south and up to the international airport to the north. Since Hamas and Islamic Jihad alone possess rockets capable of reaching Rehovot, some 30 km southeast of Tel Aviv and the same distance from the Ben Gurion international airport, it is now obvious that the Islamists have got hold of them, notwithstanding the efforts made by Israel, Egypt and Hamas. ISIS’s ability to stealthily invade Hamas poses them all with their most daunting problem.
Does ISIS Threat Loom for Damascus
FOJ Note: The following is offered as food for thought
June 8….(WND) The greatest crisis for the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad since the civil war started in 2011 is looming now as rebel groups, including ISIS, continue to accumulate territory and could soon approach the capital, Damascus. While the future of the Assad regime draws the world’s attention, several religious teachers are focusing on the city itself, because its destruction is prophesied in Scripture.
Talk-radio host, pastor and author Carl Gallups says the ISIS advance dramatically increases the likelihood Damascus will face annihilation. “According to most reliable reports, Syria is now about 50 percent under the control of the ISIS brand of militant Islam, and Iraq is not far behind it. The dragon-beast of ISIS is seeking to devour everything in its path,” he said. “And now, Islamic State fighters have made monumental advances towards the Syrian capital, Damascus. These advances have been accomplished in spite of the continual air strikes leveled upon them by the Syrian government. The Islamic State victory over the city of Palmyra, which guards a strategic route to Damascus, is the first time ISIS has taken over a city that was directly controlled by the Syrian army.y.
Gallups said that when all of the those facts “are weighed against the prophecies of Isaiah 17, which foretells the ultimate ruin and downfall of Damascus in the last days, just before the return of the Lord, one can understand why so many prophecy watchers are wondering if we might not be rapidly approaching (and at least in the edges of) those prescient days.”.”.”
Gallups is not alone in speculating Assad’s end is near. Ehud Yaari, an Arab affairs analyst in Israel, concludes Assad is facing certain defeat unless Iran dramatically increases its military assistance. Reports also indicate Russia is backing away from its support of Assad’s regime as ISIS and other opposition groups gain territory.
Assad has claimed Western nations will eventually realize he is the only one who can stop radical Islamists. However, this week the American embassy in Damascus accused Syria of acting as de facto allies of ISIS by launching air strikes only against other rebel groups. The development could lead to the United States taking stronger action against Assad’s regime. But Assad maintains his hold on Damascus and territory along the Mediterranean, and the Iranian President Hassan n Rouhani recently swore Iran would support Assad “to the bitter end.”
United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, who said in February Assad would be “part of a solution” in Syria, is now demanding he leave. Such a scenario increases the chances Assad will be forced into a last stand in his capital, as his avenues for compromise and retreat are being cut off.
Joel Richardson, a human rights activist, director of the documentary “End Time Eyewitness” and a New York Times bestselling author of books including “Mideast Beast” and “When a Jew Rules the World,” says he understands why people may believe Scripture is about to be fulfilled. However, Richardson says the destruction of the city as described in Scripture is linked to greater events and will only take place near the end of the Great Tribulation many Christians believe will take place during the end times. Analyzing Isaiah 17, Richardson explains: “First, Damascus will be removed from being a city as well as all of ‘Aram.’ Aram speaks of the greater region of southern Syria. Second, ‘the cities of Aorer’ will be so adversely affected by the Isaiah 17 judgment, that they also will be ‘forsaken.’ Aorer is a reference to the region of modern day Jordan including the capitol city of Amman. Third, ‘Ephraim,’ which speaks of the ancient northern kingdom of Israel, pointing to modern day northern Israel, will also become virtually desolate.”
Richardson believes the Scripture foretells the depopulation of Israel as well as the destruction of Damascus. He observes: “Despite the fact that the prophecy speaks not only of the destruction of Damascus, but also of a major desolation of all of Israel, in none of the popular discussions of this text does anyone ever bring attention to Israel’s desolation. It is as if they read only the first verse and ignore the remainder of the passage! “I would argue that a responsible reading of this passage would not lead us to see an imminent desolation of Damascus. Isaiah 17 is simply one piece of the larger section of Isaiah’s prophecy (chapters 13-23) which speaks of judgment not only against Israel, but all of her adversarial Gentile neighbors. “So when will all of this occur? If one examines this larger portion of Isaiah’s prophecy in its proper context, rather pulling out a single verse here or there, then it is clear that its ultimate context is the Day of the Lord, the judgment against the nations, and the return of Jesus.”.”
But Pastor Mark Biltz, discoverer of the “Blood Moons phenomenon” and the author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,” suggests events in Syria will drive a greater war resulting in more Jews returning to Israel. “There is a prophecy that God will first send the fishers to fish them back then the hunters to chase them back! People always blame the victim so when Israel protects itself, you will see terrorist attacks all over the world and people will blame the Jews rather than the suicide bombers. They will want to kick all the Jews out of their countries, blaming them for causing the attacks because they defended themselves,” Biltz said. “You never have a peace without a war. Also I believe this war comes first. This will be the driving force to get the rest of the Jews to Israel as they are persecuted worldwide for Israel destroying the other nations that attacked them.”
The security situation for Israel to its north is currently good, as Assad was perceived as a threat to the Jewish state. However, no one knows what kind of government will replace Assad’s, and Israel likely will confront new threats. Israel may also be forced to accept Druze refugees fleeing Islamic terrorists if the Assad regime can no longer protect them, forcing Israel to become more involved in a conflict it is trying to avoid.d.d.
Gallups believes many of the key geopolitical actors in the region are being driven by their own religious and eschatological motivations, regardless of what the West thinks. And he believes the situation in Syria and the Middle East is strong evidence the current generation is living in prophetic times. “Think of the world in which we are now living. In our historical lifetime, Israel is back, and it is a formidable force in world politics. Furthermore, Israel is (prophetically) surrounded by enemies who seek to utterly destroy her,” he said. “Also, only in our historical lifetime, we now see Jerusalem under a returned Israel’s domain of authority. Now we are watching, on each night’s evening news, the beginnings of the prophesied alignment of the Ezekiel 38 nations, with their boldly stated purpose of destroying the returned Israel. These facts of current geopolitical happenings are now the centerpieces of the world’s political and military concerns.
Gallups said that with Turkey “falling deeper into militant Islam, the rise of ISIS and other things, regardless of one’s specific eschatological leanings, true students of the Word of God and astute observers of current geopolitical affairs would have to admit that obviously prophetic implications are boiling in the pot right now, and right before our eyes, and apparently Turkey, Iraq, and Syria are right in the middle of the pot.”
“And the most important thing to remember in all of this,” he said, “is that while we may not have all the pieces of the puzzle figured out yet, the Lord is on His throne – everything is in His hands.”.”
Obama’s Connections to The Muslim Brotherhood Exposed
June 8….(WND) The White House isn’t commenting on the exposure of a secret presidential directive, but critics tell WND it confirms what they feared: The Obama administration has an official policy of backing so-called “moderate Islamists,” including the jihadist group the Muslim Brotherhood. A source familiar with the document told the Washington Times the “policy of backing the Muslim Brotherhood is outlined in a secret directive called Presidential Study Directive-11, or PSD-11.”
The governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates officially consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, but the presidential directive reportedly shows the White House considers the group a “moderate” alternative to ISIS and al-Qaida. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who has written extensively on the subject, told WND the Muslim Brotherhood “is not moderate” and “there is no such thing as a moderate Islamist.”
The identical response was given to WND by Iran specialist Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy. “The Muslim Brotherhood is a jihadist organization, from the day of its founding and remains so to this day,” she said. Whether violent or not, she said, all jihadists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, seek the same two things: “Islamic governance and enforcement of Islamic law, or Shariah.”
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who tried to launch an inquiry three years ago into Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the federal government, told WND, “It confirms the questions I originally asked of the inspector generals of five agencies.” “The recent discovery of an Obama administration document evidencing support for the Muslim Brotherhood is unsurprising,” she said. “It merely confirms the consistent position of the White House’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood since Obama’s election.”
Frank Gaffney, former assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration, and president of the Center for Security Policy, said PSD-11 was part of a series of mistakes that “were the consequences of embracing, legitimating, funding and even arming the Muslim Brotherhood.” “They will prove to be among President Obama’s worst security policy legacies — and that’s saying something!”!”!”
Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan went a step further than saying there are no moderate Islamists; he stated there is not even a moderate Islam. A tweet from a supporter quoted Farrakhan as saying, “What is moderate Islam? There is no such thing,” during a speech at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC, on June 1.
Andrew McCarthy is a New York Times bestselling author, Fox News analyst, contributing editor at National Review and a former adviser to the deputy secretary of defense. As chief assistant US attorney in New York, he successfully prosecuted the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing. cCarthy told WND, “The Muslim Brotherhood is not moderate, not in its theoretical orientation and, as we’ve seen in Egypt, not in practice when it has a chance to govern. “And it is simply a fact that many of the world’s most violent and influential jihadists got their start in the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a gateway to violent jihadism, not in all cases, but in many.” McCarthy has described non-violent jihad as just as great a threat as violent jihad, because they are both means to overthrow Western governments and install strict Islamic law, or Shariah. He drolly observed: “Obviously, we prefer non-violent Islamists to violent Islamists. We’d also rather have pneumonia than cancer, that doesn’t make pneumonia desirable.”
“Consequently, it is not ‘moderate.’ A person with extreme, anti-Western views is not a moderate, regardless of whether he is willing to commit acts of terrorism to impose his views on society.”
Lopez, who honed her analytical acumen during 20 years of service as a CIA field operative, and who served as an instructor for military intelligence and Special Forces students, described the difference between violent and non-violent Islamic extremism as merely a difference in timing and tactics. “ISIS, al-Qaida and Boko Haram for example, tend to stage violent attacks in an effort to destroy the will to resist among the enemy and also to punish the enemy, or infidel, for refusing to accept or implement or follow Islam faithfully.” “On the other hand, ” she said, “the Muslim Brotherhood tends to take a longer-term approach that works patiently to infiltrate and subvert a target government, whether infidel or ‘unfaithful Muslim,’ from within.” Lopez insisted it doesn’t make sense to work with any Islamist groups, “when all are jihadis and all want to destroy our civilization & subjugate us to Shariah.”
Bachmann referred to the Muslim Brotherhood document seized in an FBI raid on suspected terrorists “delineating their plan to destroy the ‘miserable house of the US from within civilization through jihad.’” “Obama officials have intentionally sought to ally with Islamic supremacists, even those connected to terrorist organizations, on the harebrained theory that these Islamists will promote stability — i.e., they will work with us against jihadist organizations like al-Qaida, even though they share al-Qaida’s Shariah ideology and hostility toward the West.”
Frank Gaffney told WND that “such a policy shift was the predictable consequence of having individuals associated with the Brotherhood holding positions of influence in the Obama administration and/or serving as advisers to several of its senior members, including the President, himself.” He said examples of such individuals could be found in a course on his center’s website, along with a detailed treatment of the policy repercussions of such penetration.
The problem of increasing Islamist influence in America has been compounded, critics say, by the Obama administration’s policy of admitting tens of thousands of poorly vetted Muslims from countries where Islamism is prevalent. Making the problem even worse, she said, was how former secretary of state “Hillary Clinton embraced members of the Muslim Brotherhood by issuing visas to enter the US to members of the Muslim Brotherhood and to other terrorist organizations, even though the US Government listed them with terrorist affiliations.”
WEEK OF JUNE 1 THROUGH JUNE 6
Iran Sentences 18 Christians to Prison for Crime of Being a Christian
June 5….(Christian Post) Iran's revolutionary court is believed to have sentenced 18 Christian converts to prison for their faith in a new crackdown on Christianity in the Islamic Republic, a report said. Fox News noted that the charges include evangelism, propaganda against the regime, and creating house churches to practice their faith. It added that the total sentences come close to 24 years, but it's not known how many years each individual received, due to the lack of transparency in Iran's judicial system. "The cruelty of Iran's dictatorial leaders knows no limits," said Saba Farzan, the German-Iranian executive director of Foreign Policy Circle, a strategy think tank in Berlin. A number of the imprisoned Christians were arrested in 2013, and sentenced in accordance with Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, which penalizes threats to Iran's clerical leaders.
Morad Mokhtari, an Iranian convert to Christianity who fled the Islamic Republic in 2006, added: "Iranian religious authorities prefer that they [converts to Christianity] leave Iran because the authorities can't control them," Mokhatari said. "Just their name is evangelism. Imagine someone says he's a Christian and has a Muslim name."
Christians in Iran make up a tiny minority of the 78 million-strong population, and often face persecution from the government. Watchdog group Open Doors lists the country at No. 7 on its World Watch List of nations where Christians are most heavily targeted for their faith.
Open Doors points out on its website that almost all Christian activity in Iran is considered illegal, "especially when it occurs in Persian languages, from evangelism to Bible training, to publishing Scripture and Christian books or preaching in Farsi." It added: "In 2014, at least 75 Christians were arrested. More Christians were sentenced to prison and pressure on those detained increased, including physical and mental abuse."
Iran's human rights record has faced great scrutiny, especially in light of a historic nuclear deal it reached earlier this year with the US and other Western nations, which promises to lift international sanctions on Iran in exchange for restricting its nuclear program.
The American Center for Law and Justice and other groups have said that the deal should not be finalized until Iran shows clear signs it is willing to improve its treatment of Christians, and release the American Christians it currently holds in its prisons, including pastor Saeed Abedini.
US Senator Mark Kirt, R-Ill., has added in a statement: "The Iranian regime's systematic persecution of Christians, as well as Baha'is, Sunni Muslims, dissenting Shiite Muslims, and other religious minorities, is getting worse not better," Kirt said. "This is a direct consequence of President Obama's decision to de-link demands for improvements in religious freedom and human rights in Iran from the nuclear negotiations."
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Ready to Intervene in Syria to Save Assad.
FOJ Note: Expect major events in Syria Soon!
June 4….(DEBKA) Tehran is believed to be preparing to dispatch a substantial Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) special operations unit to Syria to tackle the separate rebel and ISIS advances closing in on the Assad regime, Western and Arab intelligence sources report. They say the Syrian army is already setting aside an area in northern Syria for the Iranian troops to take up position.
If this happens, Debkafile’s military sources note that it would be the Revolutionary Guards first direct intervention in the nearly five-year Syrian war. Up until now, Tehran has carefully avoided putting Iranian boots on the ground in both Syria and Iraq. The only place where Iranian forces are directly engaged in battle is at Iraq’s main refinery town of Baiji, where small infantry and artillery units have been trying, without success thus far, to dislodge ISIS forces from the refinery complex.
In the other Syrian and Iraqi war arenas, and elsewhere, Tehran follows the practice of using local Shiite militias as surrogates to fight its wars, providing them with training and arms. The Guards have also brought Shiite militias over from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
That Tehran is about to change course to save Bashar Assad was indicated in a surprise statement Tuesday, June 2 by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, supreme commander of Iranian forces fighting outside the country. After urgent consultations in Damascus with President Assad and his military chiefs, the Iranian general said enigmatically that “major developments” are to be expected in Syria “in the next few days.” Another source quotes him more fully as saying: “In the next few days, the world will be pleasantly surprised [by the arrangements] we [the IRGC] working with Syrian military commanders are currently preparing."
Debkafile, which Sunday, May 31, exclusively disclosed Soleimani’s post-haste arrival in Damascus, now reports from its military sources that Hizballah military chiefs were summoned to Damascus to attend those consultations. On his way to the Syrian capital, those sources also reveal that the Iranian general stopped over at the Anbar warfront in western Iraq near the Syrian border.
The IRGC expeditionary force, according to Gulf sources, will have to initial objectives to recover Jisr al-Shughour in northwestern Syria and Palmyra. The first has been taken over by Syrian rebels of the Army of Conquest, a band of Sunni militias sponsored by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar; the second was captured by the Islamic State last month. The recovery of the two cities and their return to Syrian government control would deflect the immediate threats posed by opposition and Islamist forces to the highways from Homs to Damascus and the Mediterranean port of Latakia. This, in turn, would relieve the Assad regime of much of the military pressure threatening its survival.
Iran's Military Mastermind Promises a 'Big Surprise' in Syria
June 4….(Business Insider) Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani has vowed that upcoming developments in Syria will soon “surprise” the world, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported. “The world will be surprised by what we and the Syrian military leadership are preparing for the coming days,” the state Islamic Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) quoted him as saying, according to the London-based daily.
The Quds Force commander’s comment comes after a recent visit to Syria where he toured the Latakia region, which has come under threat from rebels after they seized the nearby Idlib province last week following months of sweeping victories against the regime.
Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Soleimani “began his trip in Jourin, which lies on the contact point with the opposition forces that form the Army of Conquest.” The town, which lies a little over 40 kilometers east of Latakia, is not far from rebel lines in the Al-Ghab Plain, where regime forces have begun to bolster defense lines ahead of an expected insurgent attack.
A number of pro-regime outlets reported on Soleimani’s trip over the weekend, including pro-Hezbollah Mulkak news which said the Iranian military commander met with the Syrian army’s chief of staff as well as top field commanders and Hezbollah officials during his secret visit. “An agreement was reached [during the meetings] that will be translated onto the [battlefield],” the outlet claimed.
Meanwhile, a defected National Defense Force militiaman told Al-Quds al-Arabi that Soleimani’s trip aimed to formalize the “entry of Iranian officers to supervise and aid the battles in coastal Syria for the first time since the outbreak of Syrian uprising.”
Israel Fears Breakup of Syria
Israeli experts are cautious about predicting events in Syria, but concede that Hezbollah might attack Israel unexpectedly from the Lebanese border.
June 4….(US News) Israeli Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, who previously headed the Northern Command, addressed a Tel Aviv University conference June 1 to mark 30 years since the Israel Defense Forces' establishment of the security zone in southern Lebanon. He said, "From a strategic perspective, our situation in the northern arena may be better than ever." On the other hand, Golan added that Hezbollah now possesses formidable, unparalleled capabilities that no other terrorist organization ever had, and is capable of threatening all of Israel's population centers. Oh, and that the Islamic State could develop into a "disturbing future threat." He added, "The Syrian army has, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist."
Golan's statements come on the heels of a string of harsh setbacks for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from the various insurgents in Syria. There are clear, perhaps unprecedented signs that the Syrian regime may actually fall in the foreseeable future. Does ISIS loom for Israel to the north?
Barack Obama Praises Caitlyn Jenner
June 4….(Time) “It takes courage to share your story,” the @BarackObama Twitter
account posted in response to Jenner’s second-ever tweet. Obama, who has a
personal account at @POTUS, had been the record-holder for fastest to reach 1
million Twitter followers before Jenner bested the president on Monday. In
addition to the praise, Obama also directed people to share their own stories in
the fight for LGBT rights at the Organizing for Action website.
Why Saudi Arabia Is Vulnerable to the Islamic State
(Recent Islamic State attacks on Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia, have further exposed the kingdom's vulnerabilities)
June 3….(US News) The Islamic State (IS) is targeting the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide in Saudi Arabia to create discord and undermine the royal family's rule. The kingdom is vulnerable to sectarian strife given the family's intimate connections to the Wahhabi Sunni clerical establishment, years of suppression of Shiite Saudis and the war in Yemen. The first IS terrorist attack on Saudi Shiites took place in November. This month there have been two suicide attacks on Shiite mosques on successive Fridays. The first killed 21 worshippers inside a mosque, the second bomber was stopped outside the mosque before blowing himself up, killing four.
Caliph Ibrahim, or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has publicly called for the downfall of the House of Saud. IS claims it has already established an underground infrastructure in what it calls the "vilayet of the Nejd." Saudi authorities have arrested dozens of Saudis accused of belonging to IS cells. By attacking Shiite mosques and other soft targets, IS hopes to fan sectarian tensions and exploit Sunni hatred for Shiites to build a cadre inside the kingdom. The Saudi family has condemned the attacks and promised to destroy IS cells inside the country. King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has promised swift punishment.
Hundreds of Saudis have gone to Iraq and Syria to join IS despite a government ban on supporting the terrorist group. This exile community provides IS with a cadre of potential suicide bombers and links to family members and associates back at home. Shiites compose between 10-15% of the Saudi population, or roughly 3 million people. They reside in two main areas: Eastern Province along the Persian Gulf (home to the kingdom's oil wealth) and the southwest region along the Yemeni border. They are not a homogenous community; different strands of Shiite beliefs are present. So far, all the IS operations have been in Eastern Province.
Eastern Province has experienced violent unrest for decades, ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979. The Arab Spring led to an upsurge in protests and demonstrations calling for an end to discrimination against Shiites in the kingdom. The governor, Prince Saud bin Nayef, is the older brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. Both have well-established reputations for their tough responses to protests and terrorism.
Decades of discrimination and repression undermine government attempts to show support and sympathy for the community now that it is under attack from IS fanatics. Too often, legitimate Shiite protests have been labeled Iranian subversion by Riyadh in the past. Iran openly expresses sympathy for the Shiites in the kingdom and has backed anti-regime violence. Iran and Hezbollah were involved in the 1996 attack on the US Khobar barracks that killed 19 American airmen in Eastern Province and injured hundreds of Saudis.
The Wahhabi faith believes Shiism is a deviation from Islam and has treated Shiites as infidels for 2½ centuries. The late King Abdullah tried to ease Sunni-Shiite tensions in his reign and to encourage greater tolerance but with only limited success. Prince Saud bin Nayef worked closely with Abdullah on this effort. Hard-core Sunni propaganda against Iran and Shiites is widespread in Saudi Arabia, often blessed by senior clerics.
The war in Yemen adds to the combustible mix. The Saudi campaign to oust the Houthi Zaydi Shiite rebels from Sanaa and other Yemeni cities has an inherent sectarian element. By accusing the Zaydis of being Persian pawns, the Saudis and their allies play to underlying sectarian passions. Pakistan, which has its own deep sectarian problem, warned the Saudis that the war in Yemen would fan sectarian tensions across the Islamic world.
The Saudis have a large counter-terrorist and internal security community led by Crown Prince Nayef with a track record of getting results. The Ministry of the Interior and the Saudi National Guard have an extensive presence in Eastern Province and the southwest. But repressing anti-Shiite violence while curbing Shiite protests in the midst of an external war against a Shiite enemy backed by Iran is a delicate and complex task that will test the crown prince and National Guard commander Prince Mitab bin Abdullah. For its part, IS will probably try to expand its sectarian war into Saudi Arabia's allies Bahrain and Kuwait. If the caliphate can attack Shiite targets in Bahrain and Kuwait, the wave of violence will spread even further into Arabia. The caliphate is ambitious and searching for more victims.
ISIS Issues Dire Warning to Israel
June 3….(WND) Supporters of ISIS in the Gaza Strip provided WND with a video they say proves they launched a rocket from the Gaza Strip that hit central Israel last week. The video, with an ISIS flag on the upper left banner, shows a rocket and launcher burrowed in sand. The next scene contains footage of the rocket being launched followed by Arabic news reports about the attack.
Israeli defense officials surmised the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad may have been behind the attack as part of an internal dispute. Tuesday, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, citing additional reporting from the Associated Press and Reuters, reported “supporters of Islamic State claimed responsibility for (a) rocket attack on Israel last week.” The video, sent to WND by a senior Salafist leader tied to ISIS, was produced under the banner of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which represents ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula. The authenticity of the rocket launch in the video as well as the ISIS allies’ claim of responsibility for the attack could not be immediately verified. If the ISIS supporters were behind last week’s rocket attack on Israel, it would mark an escalation of the militant capabilities of ISIS-aligned ideologues in Gaza who oppose Hamas rule.
The ISIS allies in Gaza further provided WND with a statement about the attack. “We declare our responsibility for the bombing of the occupied city of Ashdod with a ‘Grad’ missile at exactly nine o’clock in the evening on Tuesday. Thanks to Allah Almighty alone missile hit its target; the Jewish enemy confessed to a number of injuries as a result of terror.”
The ISIS ideologues see Hamas as pro-Western and believe the group sold out by holding elections and carrying out dialogue with members of the international community. They may be seeking to embarrass Hamas and demonstrate their capabilities with the Hamas-ruled Gaza. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, the group that produced the video provided to WND, also released a statement on Sunday claiming responsibility for assassinating a senior Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip, leading to a major Hamas crackdown on ISIS supporters in Gaza.
The ISIS supporters today gave Hamas a 48-hour deadline to halt its crackdown on them. Hamas ignored the ultimatum and pressed ahead with its offensive, killing one militant, Youssef al-Hatar, 27, described as a locally known Salafist leader possibly affiliated with ISIS.
Obama: Israel Losing Credibility: Not Serious About Peace
(Obama says Netanyahu ‘predisposed to think that peace is naïve,’ warns Israel ‘can’t only be driven by danger,’ says it’s getting hard to defend Israel internationally)
June 3….(Times of Israel) US President Barack Obama said that he cannot see the current Israeli and Palestinian leaderships reaching even a framework deal on peace, and warned that there is a danger of Israel losing even more credibility in an international community that doesn’t believe Israel is serious about a two-state solution. Obama made the comments during an in-depth interview with Channel 2 reporter Ilana Dayan at the White House that was broadcast on Israeli television Tuesday. “I don’t see the likelihood of a framework agreement,” he said when asked about the chances for peace talks during his remaining year and a half in office.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said, had not done enough to explore the “politics of hope.” Obama warned that this could make it more difficult for the US to defend Israel on the international stage. The president recalled a statement by Netanyahu made the day before national elections in March in which the Israeli leader declared that a Palestinian state would not be established during his term. “Subsequently his statements have suggested that there is a possibility of a Palestinian state, but it has so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions will be met anytime in the near future,” the president said. “The danger is that Israel as a whole loses credibility,” Obama added. “Already the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about the two-state solution.” When Netanyahu does talk about a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “we talk about peace in the abstract. It’s always tomorrow, it’s always later,” Obama complained. “Up until this point we have pushed away European efforts or other efforts against Israel at the UN,” he said. But “if in fact there is no prospect of a peace process, if nobody believes there is a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned with settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation,” Obama said, intimating the US may no longer block resolutions criticizing Israel, but stopping short of announcing support for any concrete proposals.
Asked about his low popularity in Israel, Obama said there was a gap in communication between him and Israelis. “There are a lot of filters between me and the Israelis,” he said, adding that Israelis were “not receiving” the president’s messages directly from him. But he emphasized his commitment to Israel’s security. “It’s a solemn commitment that I’ve made. It’s not conditioned on any policy. I consider it a moral obligation for us to support a Jewish homeland.”
Early in the interview Obama spoke of the “moral imperative” behind both the establishment of Israel and independence for the Palestinians. The moral claims of “a Palestinian family in Ramallah” that suffers restrictions of movement “have a claim on us, they have a claim on me.” Touching on the deeply uneasy relationship between Obama and Netanyahu on the Iranian issue, Dayan asked the president about the possibility of Israel striking Iran without informing the US in advance. “I won’t speculate on that,” he said. “What I can say is, to the Israeli people: I understand your concerns and I understand your fears.” “Given that incredible turmoil chaos that’s taken place in the Middle East, the hope of the Arab spring that turned into disaster of places like Syria, the rise of ISIL [an acronym for the Islamic State], the continuing expressions of anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment in so much of the Arab world, the rockets coming in from Gaza, the buildup of weapons from Hezbollah, all those things justifiably make Israelis concerned about security, and security first,” he said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is somebody who’s predisposed to think of security first, to think perhaps that peace is naïve, to see the worst possibilities as opposed to the best possibilities of Arab partners and Palestinians partners.”
Ambassador Bolton Says Israel Must Strike Iran Soon
(Clock running out as Iran marches to nuclear arsenal with 'legitimization' of deal, which is part of Obama's 'wrong ideology.')
June 2….(Arutz) While negotiations between Iran and world powers have reached an interim agreement ahead of a June 30 deadline for a final deal, Bolton predicts that the Iran negotiations are "doomed to failure." "I don't think Iran has any intention of giving up its efforts to get deliverable nuclear weapons," said the former ambassador. "Even if a deal is signed sometime in the summer I think the ayatollahs will violate it even before the ink is dry." Lending credence to those suspicions, top Iranian officials have said they will start using advanced IR-8 centrifuges that are 20 times as effective as standard ones as soon as a deal is reached, even as the US asserts a deal will limit the usage of advanced centrifuges.
According to Bolton, the West doesn't have enough knowledge about Iran's covert nuclear program, nor does it possess any sufficient mechanism to monitor possible violations of a future deal, meaning such a deal will only "legitimize Iran's path to nuclear weapons." So why is US President Barack Obama so earnestly pressing for a deal with Iran?
In Bolton's estimation his actions stem from a belief that negotiations can change the nature of the hostile Islamic regime, because Obama "is driven by an ideology that sees American influence as part of the problem, and if he can show the ayatollahs that we are no threat to them that they will happily give up their 30-year pursuit of nuclear weapons. I just think that's flatly wrong." Faced with the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, Israel will have to choose whether to strike Iran's nuclear facilities based on estimations that within the next 20 months Iran will be able to produce a nuclear arsenal.
Israel must decide soon, he added, because once Iran has the bomb, "any attack would risk nuclear retaliation." In the case of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites, the Jewish state will have Congressional pressure to help it against Obama's antagonism to such a development, according to Bolton. Ahead of such a strike it will need to stress how the attack is part of its legitimate right to self-defense, and after the strike it will need to resupply with US aid.
ISIS Has Arrived in Gaza
June 2….(DEBKA) Followers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were spotted for the first time in the Gaza Strip this week, Debkafile’s military sources report. Their arrival on Israel's border was confirmed as a division-strength IDF force launched its large-scale “Turning Point 2015” exercise for repelling Islamist cross-border incursions. The Islamist group which has established a substantial anti-Hamas presence in the Gaza Strip is Ansar al Dawa al-Islamia, renamed “Supporters of the Islamic State of Jerusalem.” Israeli, Egyptian and Hamas’ military sources are all concerned to make light of this development. When asked, they say that the group’s nature and scope have not yet been evaluated. Western and Middle East governments took the same tack two years ago, when ISIS first embarked on its calamitous course in Syria. Debkafile’s military sources point to eight signs of the ISIS presence in the Gaza Strip:
1. In the last 48 hours, Hamas security authorities have suddenly set up scores of roadblocks across the Strip, including Gaza City.
2. They acted after senior Hamas security officer Sabah Siam was murdered Saturday, May 30, by a gang of five gunmen sporting ISIS insignia. Hamas tried pretending that the officer died in a bomb planted in his vehicle by a local rival faction. But the attack was too public to be concealed. The ISIS gunmen burst into a shop owned by the officer’s family in the center of Gaza City while he was visiting. They cut him down in front of his relatives and dozens of passersby, none of whom made any move to stop them as they made off in two vehicles. The terrorists later issued a communiqué saying: “Sabah Siam was liquidated because he was a partner in a war declared against religion and against Muslims working for the heretical government in the Gaza Strip.” In a declaration of war, ISIS warned the Palestinian Hamas to “end its war against religion in Gaza or face the consequences.”
3. Israeli and Egyptian security services, most likely in conjunction with Hamas, set up a tight ring of bodyguards to protect German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier against possible assassins when he visited Gaza Monday, June 1. He insisted on going through with his visit in the face of the internecine Islamist fighting which had erupted in the Palestinian-ruled territory.
4. On the day of the visit, Ansar al Dawa al-Islamia posted a social media notice calling on Gazans to discontinue their cooperation with the “heretical Hamas regime.”
5. The same group also claimed responsibility for a string of bombings outside Hamas headquarters and offices in Gaza during the month of May.
6. On May 8, the ISIS Sinai branch Ansar Bait Maqdis shelled the Hamas facility in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.
7. On May 28, ISIS-Sinai threatened to “target Eilat Port in the coming days,” as a joint project with the ISIS wing in the Gaza Strip, which would also attack Hamas’s military arm, Ezz e-din Al-Qassam, and take control of the Gaza Strip.
8. Debkafile’s counter-terror sources report that Ansar al Dawa is preparing to declare the Gaza Strip a province of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Iran Weighs Turning Hizballah’s Anti-Israel Missiles Against ISIS
June 1….(DEBKA) Hizballah’s General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah frequently brags that his 80,000 missiles can reach any point in Israel. He may have to compromise on this. His masters in Tehran are casting about urgently for ways to save the Assad regime in Damascus and halt the Islamic State’s’ inexorable advance on Baghdad and the Shiite shrine city of Karbala. According to debkafile’s Gulf sources, Iran is eyeing the re-allocation of the roughly 1,000 long-range rockets in Hizballah’s store for warding off these calamities. Some would be fired from their pads in Lebanon, exposing that country to retaliation, after Beirut rebuffed Hizballah’s demand for the Lebanese army to join in the fight for Assad.
Iran has not so far approved the plan. But if it does go through, Iranian spy drones operating over the war zones would feed with targeting data on ISIS and rebel positions and movements to the Hizballah rocket crews manning the mobile batteries of Fajr-5s, range 400-600 km; Zelzal-2s, range 500 km; Fateh-110s -range 800 km; and Shaheen 2s, 800-900 km.
Discussions in Tehran on this option took on new urgency Thursday, May 28, when White House spokesman Josh Earnest declared that the United States “would not be responsible for securing the security situation in Iraq. Our strategy is to support the Iraqi security forces, back them on the battlefield with coalition military air power as they take the fight to ISIS in their own country,” he said.
Tehran took this as confirmation that the US was quitting the war on the Islamic State in Iraq although the Obama administration’s decision was coupled with a free hand for the Baghdad government to do whatever it must to deal with the peril, including calling on external forces for assistance in defending the country. In the Iraqi arena, Iran has thrown into the fray surrogate Shiite militias grouped under “The Popular Mobilization Committee.” It is led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who turns out to be an Iranian, not an Iraqi, and working under cover as the deputy of the Al Qods Brigades Commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. This grouping is too shady for President Barack Obama to accept as worthy of US air support. Therefore, the entire anti-ISIS campaign has been dumped in Iran’s lap. Loath to expose its own air force planes to the danger of being shot down over Iraq, Iran is looking at the option of filling the gap with heavy missiles. In the Syrian arena, Tehran is under extreme pressure:
1. The Assad regime can’t last much longer under fierce battering from the rebel Nusra Front, freshly armed and funded with massive assistance from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. To disguise this group’s affiliation with al Qaeda, the Saudis have set up a new outfit called “The Muslim Army of Conquest.” In a few days it was joined by 3,000 Nusra adherents.
2. The Syrian army has lost heart under this assault and many of its units are fleeing the battlefield rather than fighting, with the result that Bashar Assad is losing one piece of territory after another in all his war sectors. Soon, he will be left without enough troops for defending Damascus.
3. Although Hizballah’s leaders proclaim their determination to fight for Assad in every part of Syria, the fact is that the Shiite group is too stretched to support a wide-ranging conflict in Syria and defend its own home base in Lebanon at one and the same time.
4. Tehran is also considering rushing through a defense pact with Damascus to enable Assad to call on Iranian troops to come over and rescue him.
5. Saudi Arabia has singled out leaders of top Hizballah leaders for sanctions. This week, Riyadh impounded the assets and accounts of Khalil Harb and Muhammad Qabalan in Gulf banks. This act was taken in Tehran as a major provocation.
The names don’t mean much outside a small circle in the region. However, Harb is Hizballah’s supreme chief of staff whose military standing is comparable to that of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Ali Jaafary, while Qabalan is the organization’s senior intelligence and operations officer and responsible for orchestrating Hizballah’s terrorist hits outside Lebanon. The Iranians are not about to let this affront go by without payback, which could come in the form of missile attacks by Hizballah on Saudi-backed groups in Syria.
Is Russia Abandoning Assad as Syria Regime Collapses Further
(Moscow has pulled military experts from Assad's war room in Damascus)
June 1….(YNET) Russia is pulling away from its relationship with embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and withdrawing key personnel from Damascus, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday, citing senior Gulf and Western officials. "The Kremlin has begun to turn away from the regime," the newspaper said. The report also quoted Syrian opposition sources as saying that Hezbollah and Iranian military experts have left Assad’s war room in Damascus, along with Russian experts. There have been increasing signs in recent days that the Assad regime is disintegrating, four years into the civil war that has engulfed Syria. Last week, the Syrian president lost control of another province, which comes on the heels of previous reports that Islamic State already controls more than 50% of the country.
According to the same Gulf and Western sources, the change in the Russian position takes place against the backdrop of negotiations between the Gulf states and Moscow, a Russian response to economic sanctions imposed on it due to the war in Ukraine. Syrian opposition sources told Asharq that Russia has evacuated 100 of its senior officials and their families from Syria via the airport in Latakia. They said that those leaving include experts who worked in the war room in Damascus, along with the Iranian experts and Hezbollah officials. According to the report, they have not been replaced. According to Asharq al-Awsat, Russia has in the last three months also cut down the number of employees at its embassy in Damascus, leaving only essential staff. Opposition forces have also claimed that Russia has not been abiding by the maintenance contracts with Syria for the Sukhoi aircraft, leading to a rare visit to Tehran last month by Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij, who was forced to ask Iran to intervene with Russia on this matter.
The newspaper, which is notably supportive of the Saudi regime, also quoted an apparently surprising response by the head of the Russian delegation at a meeting last month, when asked by the Western Europe security chiefs for Moscow’s perspective on Syria’s future. "What matters to Russia is maintaining its strategic interests and ensuring the future of the minorities, the unity of Syria and the struggle against extremists," the delegation chief said. Western diplomatic sources at the meeting said the unprecedented statement brings to an ends years of the Russian official line that there is no alternative to Assad. At the same time, there have been growing Arab media reports of a more serious dialogue than ever before between Russia and the United States on an agreement regarding the crisis in Syria. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar quoted diplomatic sources in Geneva on Sunday as saying that the two sides are seeking an arrangement that will take into account the interests of regional and international parties, in particular Turkey, Iran and the Gulf states.
On Thursday, senior diplomatic sources told Al-Hayat that there has been a noticeable change in the Russian position toward Syria that Moscow is for the first time willing to discuss with the Americans the exact details of a transition period for the country, and even raise the names of individual military and political officials to oversee it.
Another sign of Assad’s difficulties comes from the Turkish news agency Anatolia, which cited opposition sources as saying that after four years of war, the regime controls less than 8% percent of the country’s oil and gas fields, while Islamic State controls more than 80% percent.