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Palestinians Mourn Execution of Saddam

(Former Iraqi dictator mourned in West Bank, Gaza: Seen as steadfast ally, mourned as martyr)
Dec. 30….(YNET) The execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein sent many Palestinians into deep mourning Saturday as they struggled to come to terms with the demise of perhaps their most steadfast ally. Unlike much of the rest of the world, where Saddam was viewed as a brutal dictator who oppressed his people and started regional wars, in the West Bank and Gaza he was seen as a generous benefactor unafraid to fight for the Palestinian cause, even to the end. Purportedly, Saddam's final words were, "Palestine is Arab." "We heard of his martyrdom, and I swear to God we were deeply shaken from within," said Khadejeh Ahmad from the Qadora refugee camp in the West Bank. "Nobody was as supportive or stood with the Palestinians as he did." During the first Gulf War in 1991, the Palestinians cheered Saddam's missile attacks on Israel, chanting "Beloved Saddam, strike Tel Aviv," as the Scud missiles flew overhead. Saddam further endeared himself to the Palestinians during the recent intifada with Israel by giving USD 25,000 to the family of each suicide bomber and USD 10,000 for each Palestinian killed in fighting. The stipends amounted to an estimated USD 35 million. His support for the Palestinians was at least partially aimed at gaining widespread support throughout the Arab world. Saddam's downfall was seen as a great tragedy by Palestinians, who lionized Saddam and praised his willingness to stand up to America and Israel. "Saddam was a person who had the ability to say, 'No' in the face of a great country," said Hosni al Ejel, 46, from the al Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. "He wanted the Palestinian people to have a state and a government and to be united. But God supports us, and we pray to God to punish those who did this," said Ghanem Mezel, 72, from the town of Saeer in the southern West Bank. Others were happy to hear of Saddam's alleged final words, believing that his support for them remained unshakable until the end. Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem opened a "House of condolences" where people can gather to mourn Saddam. The organizers hung Iraqi flags, pictures of Saddam and broadcast Iraqi revolutionary songs. Mohammed Barghouti, the minister of labor in the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet, said that although his Islamic group was often at odds with the secular Saddam, his execution was wrong. "The Palestinians had bonded with Iraqis in brotherhood," he said. In Israel, where Saddam was seen as an enemy, there was little sadness. But Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh expressed concerns about Iraq's path in the post-Saddam era. According to Sneh, Israel was concerned about the strengthening of Iranian influence in the Shiite sections of southern Iraq and in the central government. Iraq had also become a regional "power station" for terror that could spread chaos throughout the Middle East, he said. "We have to be worried about what is going to happen now," he said.



Saddam Hussein to be Executed Tonight

imageDec. 29….(Breitbart) The official witnesses to Saddam Hussein's impending execution gathered Friday in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, as state television broadcast footage of his regime's atrocities. The Iraqi government readied all the necessary documents, including a "red card," an execution order introduced during Saddam's dictatorship. As the hour of his death approached, Saddam received two of his half brothers in his cell on Thursday and was said to have given them his personal belongings and a copy of his will. Najeeb al-Nueimi, a member of Saddam's legal team in Doha, Qatar, said he too requested a final meeting with the deposed Iraqi leader. "His daughter in Amman was crying, she said 'Take me with you,'" al-Nueimi said late Friday. But he said their request was rejected. An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saddam would be executed before 6 a.m. Saturday, or 10 p.m. Friday EST. Also to be hanged at that time were Saddam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, the adviser said. The time was agreed upon during a meeting Friday between US and Iraqi officials, said the adviser, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media. "Saddam will be handed over shortly before the execution," the official said. The physical transfer of Saddam from US to Iraqi authorities was believed to be one of the last steps before he was to be hanged. Saddam has been in US custody since he was captured in December 2003.



Christians Flee Iraq, Find Syria 'Ruthless'

(Ministries say believers have no Mideast refuge)

Dec. 29….(WND) Christians may be fleeing war-torn Iraq and the fighting Islamic factions there to Syria, but that nation also holds "ruthless" positions against Christianity which range from life in prison for talking about your beliefs to death for a Muslim who converts, according to a ministries working there. "It's better than Iraq, but it's no bed of roses there for sure," Jim Jacobson, president of Christian Freedom International told WND. "The Christians (there) are stuck between a rock and a hard place." While Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Middle East nations are well-known for persecuting Christians, Syria's actions are of a lower profile. But it is listed among those nations around the world that persecute Christians by everyone from Jacobson's organization to the US government. In Syria, the constitution requires the president to be a Muslim and specifies that Islamic jurisprudence is a principal source of legislation. And sharing your Christian faith with someone, anyone, is discouraged as "posing a threat to the relations among religious groups" and carries a penalty of up to life in prison, he said. "For Christians, one of the core tenets is the ability to share your faith, but in Syria that can lead to arrest (and) persecution," Jacobson said. "We list Syria as one of the top countries where Christians are facing real persecution." "Syria isn't Saudi Arabia, but it's one of the big untold stories out there," he said. For those who want to convert from Islam to Christianity, "you're disowned by your family, if the local mosque issues a death threat, no one is going to do anything about it, you'll just end up dead. Nothing is done, no police action, that's just understood. "If you convert you'd better leave the country," he said. For those who already are Christian, the government allows them to practice their religion, but within harsh and restrictive guidelines. A Christian is not allowed to proselytize, ever. And churches who want to hold an extra service must get a government permit. Sermons are routinely monitored, as is church fundraising. He said the issue for Iraqi Christians is the choice of being dead soon in Iraq, or taking your chance in Syria and so they are flooding into Syria. An Iraqi population of Christians estimated at 1.2 million before the war now is holding at about 500,000, he said, with a good many traveling to Syria. The status of Christianity in Syria reached the headlines recently as Pastor Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose-Driven Life," visited there and described it for the Syrian media and on a video as a moderate nation. "It's a tragic, tragic, tragic situation. We're very concerned about the future of Christians in the region. When people are choosing to go to Syria, which certainly is no friend of Christians at all, it's a pretty bad situation," said Jacobson. He said one project his organization has been developing is to encourage the United States and other nations to be willing to accept as refugees many of those fleeing Iraq, Syria and other Mideast nations. "If you're going to a place like Syria, it's really because you've got no place to go," he said. He said the government in Syria uses a lot of "window dressing" such as formal recognitions of Easter and Christmas and the like, to give the impression of an open and tolerant atmosphere. However, that's common from a lot of the "brutal regimes" whose agendas include the destruction of Christians. For example, North Korea offers tours of "Christian" churches operating within its borders. "The treatment on the ground is far different," Jacobson said. "If you're a Christian, you don't talk about it. If you try to share your faith, distribute Christian literature, distribute a Bible, something any religion should be allowed to do, you're going to get arrested and asked to leave the country. You can't do that there." The group International Christian Concern said Syria has some of the same characteristics, regarding its treatment of Christians as North Korea, Vietnam, Egypt and China. And a special report from The Voice of the Martyrs listed Syria among three dozen or more nations where Christians face "arrest, imprisonment, physical torture and death. He said the fact that Syria has become what appears to be a "home base" for a number of terrorist organizations also is a "destabilizing factor.



US Abandoning Israel?

Dec. 29….(Hal Lindsay) The recommendations issued by the Iraq Study Group and the way they are being received suggest a US shift in a new direction, in favor of the Muslims. I believe the factor that most influenced this change is the presence of co-chairmen James Baker and Lee Hamilton on the panel. Their report accepts the Saudi contention that the conflicts in the Middle East are really the result of Israel not giving the Palestinians what they're asking for. You know, this would be humorous if it were not so serious. All Israel is asking for, in order to give the Palestinians what they want, is for them to stop attacking them. And I believe it was Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's intention, before he had the tragic stroke, to withdraw from Gaza to demonstrate that statehood wouldn't bring peace. And it hasn't. Instead, it brought an avalanche of highly trained terrorists with lethal weapons into Gaza and a non-stop barrage of outgoing missiles into civilian population centers in Israel. I believe it may well have been Prime Minister Sharon's plan to say, "Now in the light of that, why should we give them control over the West Bank and pull out and give them a state there when that didn't bring peace in Gaza. So why do we expect it to bring peace in the West Bank?" It forces the conclusion, and I'm sure that this was his strategic intention, that the Palestinians don't want a Palestinian state beside Israel. They want a Palestinian state instead of Israel. In Palestinian schools, children learn there is no such thing as a state of Israel. It's just a "Zionist entity." None of their maps show the existence of Israel. All of Israel is labeled "Palestine." So with the US administration now actively pressing for Palestinian statehood, it is forcing Israel into an utterly indefensible position. If we force Israel to accept a state dedicated to its destruction in its very heartland, it will find itself with no sanctuary. With highly-trained terrorists armed with sophisticated weapons coming from the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the heartland of Israel is almost indefensible now. The escalation of terror will grow exponentially, as it has grown in Gaza. I believe the United States needs to take very careful heed to what God said. I believe God has blessed the United States, for reason, because of America's unflagging support for Israel. But if we back away, then God's promise to them will fall on us. He said in Genesis 12:3, to the descendants of Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you, I will curse." Let's all pray for wisdom for America's leaders before America feels the weight of that curse.



Strategic Trends By Koinnia House

Dec. 28….(Chuck Missler/KHouse) Throughout the year we have been monitoring ten specific global, social, political, and economic trends that we believe are significant to our nation, as well as the Body of Christ. We regularly examine these Strategic Trends on our website and in our various publications. Today we would like to briefly review each of these trends and take a look back over some of 2006's major milestones.

Weapons Proliferation

The acquisition of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons by both terrorists and rogue nations is perhaps one of the greatest threats to our national security. This past year the international community has focused its attention on Iran and North Korea in their attempts to stifle weapons proliferation. US intelligence officials have also kept a close watch on Russia and China, key suppliers of technology, components, and weaponry. This past year Iran's uranium enrichment program has continued to be the subject of intense international scrutiny. Iran's president has boasted that his country will have obtained full nuclear capabilities by March. He also vowed to install up to 60,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium. With troops already deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush appears, at least for the time being, to be committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the standoff. Some experts have speculated that Israel may be planning a pre-emptive strike, although military action would most likely be used as a last resort. In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor when it believed Saddam Hussein was close to producing a nuclear bomb. If Israel does attack Iran it would undoubtedly bring about a firestorm in the Middle East. Unfortunately we are running out of time, and neither Israel nor the United States are willing to accept the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. If diplomacy continues to fail, military action may be our only option. On October 9th, 2006, North Korea carried out its first-ever nuclear weapons test, officially joining the nuclear club. Experts suspect that North Korea currently possesses between six and eight nuclear weapons. However a June report from the Institute for Science and International Security said North Korea had enough radioactive material to build as many as 13 bombs. North Korea is the most unstable member of the nuclear club, and experts have expressed fear that the test may trigger an Asian arms race.
The Rise of the Far East

The geopolitical situation in Asia has grown increasingly unstable. At the same time, China has significantly increased military spending. China's military buildup seems specifically designed to fit a conflict scenario involving US air and naval forces. The Chinese military is preparing for a war with the United States, a war which its commanders believe is inevitable. Recently US defense officials revealed that a Chinese diesel-powered attack submarine came within firing range of US naval ships without being noticed. According to the Washington Times, a submarine tailed the USS Kitty Hawk undetected, surfacing within five miles of the aircraft carrier before being spotted during surveillance flights. In November China's foreign currency reserves passed the 1 trillion dollar mark, setting a new record for the world's largest currency reserves and sparking a debate over China's economic policies. China's currency reserves have been growing at a rate of nearly 30 million dollars per hour, fueled primarily by its large trade surplus, which tripled last year to 102 billion dollars. China's red hot economy has been growing even faster than analysts predicted. The Chinese economy is now expected to grow by more than 10 percent this year.

The Struggle for Jerusalem

In January of this year the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was thrown into turmoil when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke and subsequently fell into a coma. A few weeks later the Palestinians held their much-delayed parliamentary elections, in which the terrorist group Hamas was handed a landslide victory. Hamas won 76 of 132 seats in parliament. Fatah, which was founded by the late Yasser Arafat and has controlled Palestinian politics for the last four decades, won only 43 seats, plunging the region into a period of uncertainty. In July, Lebanese terrorists from Hezbollah crossed the border into Israel seized two soldiers, and killed at least seven others. The raid triggered a month long war in which Israel attempted to target Hezbollah's strongholds in Beirut and southern Lebanon. During the conflict Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets into northern Israel. This past year found Israel battling on two fronts. In addition to the war in Lebanon, Israel has carried out a counter-terrorist offensive in Gaza. Tensions in the region have grown increasing fragile, and violence threatens to consume the entire Middle East. Tensions between Israel and its enemies in Syria and Iran have continued to mount. Furthermore, in recent weeks concerns have emerged that Syria, Iran, and the terrorist group Hezbollah may attempt to over through the fragile Lebanese government.
The Magog Invasion

Many experts believe that a large-scale confrontation between Israel and its neighbors could be on the near horizon. Which has made Syria’s growing relationship with nations such as Iran and Russia more concerning. Russia has been carefully cultivating ties with Turkey, Iran and Syria. After losing the Mid-East foothold provided by Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the Russians have been building a new axis of power based on those three key countries. These developments could be a sign that the famed battle prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is on our near horizon. It is during this battle, that God will directly intercede to protect Israel from Magog and its allies. In recent years Russia has repeatedly expressed its desire to play a larger role in the Middle East. Russia is a key player in world energy markets and it has reaped huge economic benefits from rising energy prices. In the past year Russia has also demonstrated its willingness to use energy as a political tool. Russia holds the world's largest natural gas reserves, the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. Russia is also the world's largest exporter of natural gas. Statistics published this year by the oil cartel OPEC show that Russia has, for the first time, surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer. Traditionally, Russia has had to settle for second place. But in recent years Russia has re-nationalized and modernized much of its energy industry and that policy now appears to be paying off. In the past year Russia has increased its military shipments to nations like Iran and Venezuela, not to mention potential US adversaries like China. Russia now supplies the bulk of Iran’s conventional arms. In the past three years the value of arms shipments between Russia and Iran has risen from $300 million to $1.7 billion. That includes a proposed air-defense system that could serve as a deterrent against any American or Israeli strike on its nuclear installations. Russia's arms sales to Iran have added more tension to already-strained US-Russian relations. To make matters worse, evidence suggests that Iran may be funneling arms from Russia to terrorist groups. During the recent war in Lebanon, Israel found Russian-made anti-tank missiles capable of destroying Israel's heavily armored Merkava tanks. This weapon turned out to be one of the terrorist's most effective weapons. According to one report, it was responsible for the deaths of 50 of the 118 Israeli soldiers who died in the 34-day war. The growing partnership between Iran and Russia has greatly hindered UN efforts to put a stop to Iran's nuclear ambitions. As a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, Russia has thus far resisted any efforts to pass sanctions against Iran.

The Rise of Islam

The Muslim faith is becoming an increasingly volatile catalyst in today's international scene. Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion, and it is second in size only to Christianity. As Islam grows and spreads throughout the world, Muslim extremists have sought to shift the balance of power in many regions of the world. Muslim groups have seized power in various regions of Asia and Africa. For example, armed militiamen have taken control of much of southern Somalia in recent months where they have begun to enforce strict Islamic law. Just last week officials in a southern Somalia town warned residents that anyone who does not pray five times a day will be beheaded.
Muslim populations in
Russia and the European Union continue to grow rapidly. Russia's Muslim population has increased by 40 percent since 1989, to about 25 million. Experts say that if current trends continue, nearly one third of Russia's population will be Muslim by the mid-century. Growing ethnic tensions in Russia have begun to mirror those of its European neighbors. Much like Russia, Islam has become significant part of the cultural and political landscape of Europe. There are between 9 and 15 million Muslims living throughout Europe today, and Islam has become the largest religious minority. Considering current population trends, it is likely that the number of Muslims in Europe will continue to grow exponentially.

The Rise of a European Super-state

Over the last few years we have watched closely as the European Union has emerged as a growing world power. Bulgaria and Romania are set to join the EU in January of 2007 and both Croatia and Turkey have begun negotiations for membership. In recent months there has been growing disillusionment with the progress of Turkey's entry bid. Before Turkey can be admitted to the EU it must meet a long list of requirements. Even then, its acceptance into the European community is not assured. When the EU began accession talks with Turkey last October opinion polls indicated that nearly 70 percent of Turkish citizens wanted to join the European Union. However over the past six months that statistic has changed dramatically. It seems that the optimism felt at the onset of negotiations has waned. A new poll, conducted by the EU, indicates that the percentage of Turks who look on the EU favorably has dropped to only 43 percent. The on-going disagreement over Cyprus is undoubtedly one of the biggest hindrances to Turkey's EU membership. Unless Turkey resolves the issue soon, the EU may halt negotiations.
Global Government

As we examine the events of this past year we must acknowledge the growing influence of the United Nations. The UN is often seen as the future embodiment of global government, and in recent months the world body has continued on a path toward broad reform. Government reinvention is frequently an effort to avoid the consequences of failed policies in the past, or to justify a government's continued expansion by posing solutions to the problems it has created. Historically, government never downsizes voluntarily; it always increases its power and minimizes accountability to its citizens. Over the last decade, the United Nations has unabashedly pushed for what it calls "global governance." The UN is positioning itself for global power, no doubt it will use the scandal and the ensuing "reforms" to advance closer to that goal.

Global Religion

It may seem difficult to imagine the world united under one ruler and one religion, especially with the bloody ethnic battles taking place in the world today. However, the violence caused by religious and cultural conflicts could in fact be the catalyst that brings about drastic change. The desire for world peace, the deterioration of moral values in the Western world, the restriction of religious freedom in America, and the continued persecution of Christians in other parts of the world could all pave the way for the emergence of a global religion.

The Decline of the US

This year the United States has faced growing threats to its security, both from abroad and from within our borders. The blood shed on September 11, 2001 became the catalyst in the war on terrorism. That tragic event briefly united Americans in a common cause, however that unity has splintered. National tragedy may have amalgamated the masses, but growing differences in values and philosophy have driven a wedge down the middle of American society. Americans are fighting a battle both in foreign lands and here at home. In the war against terrorism our enemy is easily defined, however the domestic battle lines are more muddled. It would seem that, as a nation, we have begun to abandon the faith and values of our founding fathers. Controversial topics like same-sex marriage, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and teaching intelligent design in public school classrooms have continued to divide the populace. Unlike the war on terror, however, this confrontation has primarily taken place in courtrooms rather than on battlefields.



Russia Playing Energy/Weapons Cards In High Stakes World Domination Game

Dec. 28….(Bill Wilson/KIN) As the New Year approaches all eyes should be trained on Russia, a country seeking to dominate the world political scene by renewing old Soviet Union alliances with Middle East Islamic nations and bridging the gap between capitalism and communism with shrewd, but unethical, business deals and totalitarian political moves. Russia has been the main mover and shaker behind the billion dollar-plus development of Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, Russia has created deals throughout the Middle East for oil and natural gas exploration, often in exchange for economic packages that include Russia’s prominent manufactured export, weapons and weapons systems. Meantime, Russia steadily has been gaining control of natural gas supplies and fields by breaking agreements with multinational oil companies and nationalizing their efforts under the state-owned energy company, Gazprom. After forcing Shell Oil Company into a subordinate position once it invested time and money in successful gas exploration in Siberia, Russia has set its targets now on British Petroleum in an effort to nationalize its holdings in the Russian gas fields. Russia is threatening to cut off gas supplies to former Soviet bloc countries, like Belarus, if Belarus does not pay double or triple for gas or allow Russia’s Gazprom to have controlling ownership in the Belerus gas company Beltransgaz. Syria was in Moscow last week with some half a billion dollars worth of Iranian money for weapons and weapons technology. It was reported earlier this year that Russia intends to build a strategic nuclear submarine base in a Syrian port. Russia has also made energy deals with Saudi Arabia, and has supplied Algeria, Jordan, Syria, and Iran with top of the line military equipment and technology. Russia has blocked any strong actions by the United Nations Security Council against Iran’s nuclear program, even though Moscow agreed to what amounts to a toothless, pre-sanction deal with the Security Council before Christmas. During wars in 1967 and 1972, Israel defeated Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan handily, but both wars were encouraged by the Soviet Union, who supplied weapons, technology and advisors. Russia always has been cagey about its attacks on Israel and the United States, choosing to do them through surrogates. Soon, however, Russia will not be able to hide its desires—in this past summer’s Hezbollah war against Israel, Russian weaponry played a very public role. The Lord said of Russia in Ezekiel 39:2-4, “I will turn you around and lead you on…and bring you against the mountains of Israel…You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and all the peoples who are with you.”



Between Wars, US Toughening Up on Israel

Dec. 28….(Arutz) Quoting "Israeli and US sources," MENL reports that the State Department has blocked the transfer of weapons and technology to Israel over the past three months, reflecting deteriorating relations between the two countries since the war in Lebanon in August of this year. The unofficial suspension of US arms deliveries, beginning in late September, halted the airlift of air-to-ground and other munitions that had been ongoing since the war, despite Israel's continuing need for them. Israel says it needs the equipment in order to replenish munitions and other stocks in preparation for a larger war that might include Syria in mid-2007. "Nobody will say openly that there is a problem," a government source said. "But there is a serious problem that reflects the marginalization of Israel in US strategy. The administration has not rejected any Israeli request. Instead, the State Department and Defense Department have said that all requests must be examined." Military cooperation between the two countries has also been hampered in other areas. The State Department recently prevented Northrop Grumman from providing Israel with details of its Skyguard laser weapon, which the company wanted to sell Israel. In turn, Israel suspended negotiations to procure the system, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets and missiles. Two reasons have been given for the deterioration in relations. One is the perceived Israeli loss, or at least non-victory, in the war with Hizbullah, which has undermined US confidence in Israel's military and government. In addition, the US may be trying to assuage Saudi Arabia, whose help the US seeks in Iraq. "There's nothing like stopping the weapons flow to Israel to show the Saudis that the United States means business," a diplomatic source told MENL.



Millions of Muslims Making Hajjj

imageDec. 28….(FOJ) This picture shows a general view of Muslim pilgrims praying at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca. Around two million Muslims will began the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca amid increased safety measures aimed at preventing stampedes which each year claim scores of lives. The Kaaba, or black cube in the center of the mosque compound is the object of worship for millions of Muslims.



Hitler's Many Mideast Helpers

Dec. 27….(Max Boot) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has an impeccable sense of timing. Just a week after the Iraq Study Group recommended a heart-to-heart with him, the president of Iran convened a conference in Tehran to examine whether the Holocaust really occurred. The answer from such "scholars" as David Duke, the notorious former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, was a resounding no. On one level, Ahmadinejad's embrace of Holocaust denial might seem surprising. A man who has repeatedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" surely has no problem with the murder of Jews. You might expect him to adopt the position espoused by the Egyptian newspaper Al Akhbar, which a few years ago ran an editorial praising Adolf Hitler and complaining only that "his revenge on (the Jews) was not enough." Or you might expect Ahmadinejad to take the far more common line in the Muslim world, which is to admit that, sure, some Jews died but it was a lot fewer than 6 million and, anyway, what's the big deal? A lot of Gentiles died, too. What makes these Yids so special? This is the position taken by Arab "moderates" such as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose doctoral dissertation pooh-poohed the figure of 6 million dead Jews while expressing great concern that "the German people sacrificed 10 million," implying that the killers suffered more than their victims. Ahmadinejad does not hide behind such equivocations. He flatly calls the Holocaust a myth. But he is hardly a model of consistency. At the same time that he denies the Holocaust, Iran's president claims that Israel was established by the Europeans as penance for the Holocaust. But why atone for something that didn't occur? Never mind. Ahmadinejad says that "if the Europeans are honest" in their claims about the Holocaust, "they should give some of their provinces in Europe to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe." This is the crux of the matter. In Ahmadinejad's view, shared by countless others across the Middle East, whatever the Nazis did is no business of theirs, so why inflict the "Zionist entity" on their region? It is only a small step from this position to claiming that Israel's destruction is justified. Pointless though it may be to argue with a madman, it is worth noting that Muslims were not as blameless in the genocide of the Jews as Ahmadinejad and his ilk would have it. Arab States and leaders were cheerleaders and enablers of the Final Solution. The most famous example was Haj Amin Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem (and uncle of Yasser Arafat), who took refuge in Berlin in World War II. A rabid Nazi, he personally lobbied Hitler to kill as many Jews as possible and even helped out by recruiting Bosnian Muslims to serve in the Waffen SS. Robert Satloff, one of the world's smartest Arabists, reveals other links between the Arabs and the Holocaust in his groundbreaking new book, "Among the Righteous: Lost Stories From the Holocaust's Long Reach Into Arab Lands." He shows how the Nazis set up the machinery of death in North Africa. Although "only" 4,000 to 5,000 Jews died before the Allies liberated the area in 1943, many more were consigned to forced labor camps in hellish conditions. "Arabs played a role at every level," Satloff wrote. "Some went door to door with the Germans, pointing out Jews for arrest. Others led Jewish workers on forced marches or served as overseers at labor camps." The picture is not entirely one-sided because, although most Arabs were either apathetic or sympathetic to the Nazis, a small number helped their Jewish neighbors. Satloff uncovered lost tales of "righteous Gentiles," such as the wartime rulers of Morocco and Tunisia. And on the whole, he found that Arabs behaved no worse under German occupation than did Europeans. But that isn't saying much because almost every country on the continent was heavily complicit in the extermination of their Jewish populations. Satloff's research makes a mockery of Ahmadinejad's protestations that the Holocaust, if it occurred, was someone else's responsibility. Individual Muslims were complicit in the horrors of the 1940s even if, under foreign rule, they were not the primary culprits. Worse, while Europe has disowned its terrible history, the Nazis continue to be glorified in the Middle East. ("Mein Kampf" is a perennial best-seller in the region.) Nowhere else in the world is Holocaust denial so prevalent. Ahmadinejad deserves thanks for calling the world's attention to this pervasive sickness. (Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "War Made New: Technology, Warfare and the Course of History, 1500 to Today)

FOJ Note: Most Arab leaders of the post WWII era lamented that Hitler was a total failure because he left the Final Solution uncompleted!



Hamas Rejects Bush's Plan for Palestinian State

Dec. 27….(YNET) The PA Hamas government has already turned down the American (Bush Administration) proposal to form a Palestinian state in two years with temporary borders. The PA government under chairmanship of premier Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday declared its rejection of the American proposal to establish a Palestinian state with temporary borders within two years," the official Hamas website said. It added that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh "described such plans as an unacceptable intervention in Palestinian internal affairs." Haniyeh was reported as saying "that Washington should recognize the Palestinian people's legitimate rights including the establishment of a fully-sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of all prisoners and the return of refugees." According to recent reports, the US State Department is weighing a proposal to form a Palestinian state with interim borders by 2007, as part of a renewed US peace drive in the Middle East. Meanwhile, according to the Hamas website, Haniyeh welcomed the Jordanian initiative that aims to bring him together with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, and stressed the brotherly relations between the Palestinian and Jordanian peoples. It also added that Haniyeh will "leave Gaza on Wednesday for Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. (pilgrimage) The site added that Saudi Arabia planned to distribute USD 400,000 to Palestinian pilgrims attending the Hajj.



Palestinians Moving Towards Civil War

Dec. 27….(David Dolan) The shaky ceasefire between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip held more or less during December, due mainly to Israeli restraint in the face of dozens of unprovoked Kassam rocket attacks upon Israeli civilian communities. At the same time, violent clashes escalated between supporters of the PLO Fatah party and the militant Hamas movement. This came as international pressure grew upon Israel to hand over more land to the Palestinians, despite the fact that they are obviously engaged in a substantial domestic struggle for power, and therefore can hardly be trusted as reliable peace partners under such tumultuous circumstances. All this was played out against the intensifying Iranian nuclear program that threatens to engulf the entire Middle East in a major war in 2007. Tensions between rival Palestinian factions exploded into full-scale street fighting mid-month after an assassination attempt was launched against Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on December 14.  Although the senior Hamas official was not wounded in the attack, at least one other member of his traveling entourage was slain, Haniyeh’s personal bodyguard. Many were wounded, including the Prime Minister’s son. Reports said scores more were injured in fierce firefights that followed the assault. Hamas leaders immediately blamed Fatah gunmen for the assassination attempt, although Fatah officials denied any involvement. The armed attack, at the Gaza Strip Rafah border crossing into Egypt, sparked widespread street clashes that went on for several days, leaving dozens more Palestinian gunmen and innocent bystanders dead or wounded.  Palestinian and international media outlets said the fighting grew so intense, it appeared that the long-anticipated civil war showdown had begun between Islamic militants, feeling quite powerful in the wake of the Hizbullah-Israel battle last July and August, and more moderate Fatah supporters. While things appeared to have clamed down a bit by Christmas, that seemed to be mainly because the rival Palestinian factions were once again more focused on attacking their common Israeli adversaries instead of attempting to settle any of the significant issues dividing them. In a related development, the Haaretz newspaper reported that Haniyeh’s recent visit to Iran had sealed a significant strategic relationship between the Sunni Palestinian group and the Shiite theocratic dictatorship ruling from Tehran. Citing unnamed senior security sources, the report said that Hamas has now joined the radical Hizbullah militia in Lebanon as a virtual extension of the Iranian regime, receiving most of its operational orders and funding from Iran. Senior Israeli military officials later confirmed the report, adding that hundreds of Hamas activists had recently been flown to Iran to receive military and terrorist training from Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who also oversee Hizbullah fighters operating in Lebanon. Several Israeli military analysts said the growing Shiite Persian-Sunni-Palestinian alliance was another ominous sign of Iran’s apparent intention to launch a major regional war against Israel in the coming months, involving Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas to supplement its own powerful military arsenal.  They say such a conflict would be mainly designed to counter growing international pressure against Iran’s illegal uranium enrichment program, which is likely to end with the extremist rogue state possessing scores of nuclear weapons in the not too distant future if not halted by either UN sanctions or Western or Israeli military action. Iranian officials again demonstrated their contempt for world opinion by totally rejecting the unanimous approval of UN sanctions by the 15-nation Security Council on Christmas Eve. The vote came after the scope of penalties proposed by the UK, France and the US was significantly watered down by Russia, backed by China and Qatar. Analysts noted that the Kremlin continues to build a nuclear reactor for Iran in the south of the country, and therefore has a vested interest in Iran’s nuclear program, while China purchases most of its oil supplies at favorable prices from Iran.



Israel Balks At Iraq Report

Dec. 27….(David Dolan) Israeli officials were not terribly surprised when the special American panel set up to examine the controversial war in Iraq put forward several proposals considered harmful to Israel. That was because the Iraq Study Group was co-chaired by James Baker, the senior George Bush’s Secretary of State who is considered by many in Israel as a borderline anti-Semite. The report hinted that Washington’s image has been seriously eroded in the Muslim world due to its strong backing for Israel, and this contributes to the anti-American violence raging in Iraq. Therefore, reducing US support for the Jewish-run state will presumably decrease attacks upon beleaguered US forces. As part of a “new way forward,” the Iraq panel recommended that the White House co-sponsor a new Middle East peace conference patterned on the one convened by the first President Bush in Madrid in October 1991. That conference led to the Oslo peace accords two years later, which were quickly crushed by resurgent Palestinian terrorism supported by Syria, Iran and Iraq. Despite that fact, the proposed new Mideast peace conference should include Syria and Iran, said the Study Group, and aim to get Israel to abandon more land, especially the vital Golan Heights and at least most of Judea and Samaria, in exchange for additional written promises of lasting peace from the Palestinians, the Syrians and others. British Premier Tony Blair enthusiastically endorsed the new peace conference proposal while meeting with the current President Bush at the White House in early December. However, the American leader sounded more guarded about the Study Group proposal, saying he would welcome Syrian peace conference participation “if the Assad government takes its hands off of Lebanon and stops supporting Hizbullah.” He likewise endorsed Iranian involvement if the ruling mullahs “halt their illegal nuclear program.” Israeli officials were encouraged by Bush’s sane conditions, saying off the record it signaled that the current US administration would not simply rush into a potentially fruitless new peace conference for the sake of “forward momentum,” at least without insuring first that the conditions for potential success are actually in place. The Study Group report was released just after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Jerusalem to help unthaw the frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process. She urged further Israeli land evacuations from Judea and Samaria in compliance with the international Road Map peace plan. This prompted Ehud Olmert to announce his willingness in principal to carry out further territorial withdrawals (after dropping the idea in the wake of the controversial war against Hizbullah forces in Lebanon). This resurrected the pledge he made when running for Premier in early 2006 to carry out further unilateral evacuations of up to 60,000 Jews from their homes in Israel’s biblical heartland. However Olmert also made clear that such evacuated land could not be transferred to a Hamas-dominated PA government, given that the radical group continues to officially call for Israel’s total destruction and replacement with an Islamic extremist Palestinian state.



Opposition Group: Iran Behind 80% of World’s Terror Attacks

Dec. 27….(YNET) Iran is behind 80 percent of terror attacks around the world, and uses its elite Qods Force to export and coordinate attacks, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a brief released Tuesday. The NCRI is an umbrella group of Iranian opposition groups in exile, and its stated goal is to overthrow the Iranian government of Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In 2003, the US State Department added the NCRI to its list of banned terrorist organizations, and froze the organization's assets. In its brief, the NCRI claimed to disclose the locations of central bases within Iran of the Qods Force, such as the "Imam Ali Training base," described as "one of the most important training bases." The location was given as "north of Tehran, in Alborz Kouh Street." Another alleged location given in the brief is the "Khomeini Training base," said to be "located on Khavaran-Semnan highway, before reaching Pakdasht Township. Col. Rezai is the commander of the base, where a large number of foreign forces from Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine are being currently trained." In its statement, the NCRI said that "Tehran has the most extensive terror network in the world. It is responsible for some 80 percent of all major terror attacks, directly or indirectly, in the past two decades. Tehran has by far been the most sophisticated, well-funded state-sponsor of terrorism in the world." Iran's Qods (Jerusalem) Force was the Islamic Republic's vehicle for exporting attacks around the world, the NCRI added. "The Qods Force is the most secretive, elite, and skilled unit of the Iranian regime's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Formed in 1990, it is now responsible for all the extraterritorial activities of the Iranian regime, namely all terror attacks abroad," the NCRI said. According to the brief, Qods Force commander, "Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, directly reports to the regime's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei." The brief included detailed alleged operational information on how Iranian embassies around the world are being used to coordinate Qods Force activities and terrorist operations. "Final coordination of the Qods Force's activities around the world and provision of the appropriate diplomatic or other cover for its agents, the use of diplomatic facilities and immunities that facilitate receiving supplies and messages, weapons and military equipment for its terrorist agents fall within the responsibilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tehran's embassies," the NCRI said. Formed with the aim of creating "an international Islamic army," the Qods Force "has 12 directorates, as well as "International Affairs Units" in "Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Middle East, Russia, Africa, and Europe," the brief added. It said the force also "trains non-Iranian terrorist forces from Pakistan, Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and other Middle East countries. The training is provided to groups of 40 to 50 persons. The Force has dozens of garrisons across Iran in which it trains its non-Iranian operatives. The Qods Force has six major garrisons along Iran's borders with other countries. They are tasked with following up terrorist operations in the neighboring countries.



Iranian Officers take Command of Palestinian Gaza Missile Front

Dec. 27….(DEBKA) The Olmert cabinet decision yesterday ordered the IDF to stick to attacking missile crews and refrain from breaching the month-long “ceasefire,” in the course of which the Palestinians fired 70 missiles from Gaza at Israeli civilian locations. An Israeli appeal went out to the (non-functioning) Palestinian Authority to halt the six-year old barrage. Translation by DEBKAfile’s military experts: Sderot and its neighbors will continue to live under daily missile harassment. Until the latest attack, the army was constrained on the prime minister’s order, and against its will, to hold its fire against the daily assaults, although they could clearly see the assailants in Gaza. Our military sources report that the IDF does not accept the Iran-sponsored Jihad Islami’s claim to have shot the missile which wounded the schoolboys because since Monday, Dec. 25, two changes were detected in the Palestinian offensive: A new type of homemade missile called Al Buraq 2 (after the Western Wall Jewish shrine in Jerusalem), and a new unit, calling itself the Mujahiddin Brigades, identified by military experts as the first Palestinian terrorist unit set up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ al Quds Brigades. This group’s first action was to fire the new missiles at Kibbutz Nahal Oz Monday. They were diagnosed at first as mortars, but the fragments did not match any ordnance seen before. It was then discovered that the Mujahiddin Brigades units, consisting of Hamas, Jihad Islami, Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Popular Resistance Committees operatives, are commanded by an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer. Such direct Iranian command of front-line Palestinian missile units is another innovation; it did not occur even on the Hizballah side of the of July-August Lebanon war. Monday, too, the Americans disclosed the capture in Baghdad of Iranian officers, members of the same RG al Quds Brigades, on another front line: against Iraqi and coalition forces. It looks as though the Islamic Republic has gone into action in Iraq and Gaza in reprisal for the tepid sanctions the UN Security Council imposed Saturday, Dec. 23, for its continuing pursuit of uranium enrichment.



Is Russia an Ally of Iran?

imageDec. 27….(Jerusalem Post) Russia's stubborn refusal to impose even mild UN sanctions against Iran resulted in a substantially watered-down resolution that is altogether unlikely to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The resolution exempts a nuclear reactor project supported by Russia, even though it could eventually supply plutonium for nuclear weapons. Complicating matters further, Russian-supplied air defenses surround Iranian nuclear facilities. At the same time, Moscow has claimed on several occasions that it objects to an Iranian nuclear weapons capability. Who’s kidding who? Which side is Russia on? What's Putin trying to achieve? Vladimir Putin is playing a double game, and a transparent one at that. With words, he is sending soothing signals to the West, suggesting that Russia is opposed to Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. But his deeds demonstrate otherwise. Russia is clearly on Russia's side, and no one else's. They see an opportunity to stick it to the Americans by assisting their long-time foe Iran, while also making a fast ruble or two by selling the ayatollahs the technology and military hardware that they desire. In addition, the Russians almost certainly reached some type of understanding with Teheran regarding Iranian non-interference among Russia's restive Muslim population, which has long been a source of concern to the Kremlin. Hence, in one fell swoop, Mr. Putin has been able to strengthen his position at home, while also bringing in some much-needed hard currency to his nation's coffers. This act of treachery, however, can not be allowed to stand, and it is time for the West to speak out and expose Mr. Putin for what he is: a deceitful authoritarian ruler whose dubious methods have not only circumscribed basic freedoms at home, but have compromised international security as well. Attempts to moderate Russia by granting it trade benefits and inviting it to participate in various international organizations have clearly proven to be a failure, as Putin's stance on Iran clearly indicates. So instead of continuing to toss the Russian bear some more carrots, it might very well be time to take a tougher approach. Moscow sees the world from its own perspective. Its goal is to advance its own power and influence. Iran may be a dangerous client/ally for a country that has its own Islamic threat to deal with. But if preventing Teheran from being defeated thwarts American interests, then it serves the interests of Russia and its new would-be Tsar to back it up. Moscow is seeking to re-assert itself as a world power in the Middle East. That doesn't mean it is or will be necessarily be as implacably hostile to Israel as the Soviet Union was. But there is little doubt that a region in which Russian influence becomes more pronounced will be more perilous for the Jewish State. Small states must always tremble when large powers play for high stakes in the "great game,"as Kipling described it a century ago, of geo-strategic influence. What is most needed here is American resolve to face down both Putin and his Iranian "friends." Their fundamental weakness will lead them to fold if the United States has the political will to persist and insist upon Iran's renunciation of nuclear ambitions. But whether or not the United States has such a will, in the wake of the floundering war in Iraq and political defeats for President Bush, is the question that has yet to be answered. Ultimately, if the West stays within the limits of a Russian veto, Iran will obtain nuclear weapons. So far, the US has refrained from accusing Russia of striving to produce such an outcome, so Russia is paying no price for its behavior. By acting as Iran's agent in the Security Council, Russia is endangering itself, the United States, Israel, and international peace and security. The purpose of multilateralism, as embodied by the UN Charter, should be to act together to defend against common threats to international peace and security, not to commit joint suicide. Europe will not, by itself, stand up for these principles. The United States, then, must start leading the way, or watch as the future of the world is defined by rogue states, terrorist organizations and their effective allies in Moscow and Beijing.



US finally Admits Arafat Murdered American Officials

(State Department declassifies report on 1973 terror attack in Khartoum)

Dec. 27….(WND) After 33 years of secrecy, the US State Department has finally declassified a document admitting it knew the late Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, plotted and supervised the murders of two US diplomats in Sudan in 1973, a cover-up first exposed by WND in January 2001.

The document, released earlier this year, with no fanfare, makes it clear the Khartoum operation "was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval" of Arafat, a frequent visitor to the White House throughout the 1990s who died in 2004. In the attack March 1, 1973, eight members of the Black September terrorist organization, part of Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum on Arafat's orders, taking US Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d'Affaires George Curtis Moore and others hostage, and one day later, killing Noel, Moore and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid. The admission comes 33 years after James J. Welsh, then the National Security Agency's Palestinian analyst, saw a communication intercepted from Arafat to his terrorist commandos in Sudan. Within minutes, Welsh told WND, the director of the NSA was notified and the decision was made to send a rare "FLASH" message, the highest priority, to the US Embassy in Khartoum via the State Department. But the message didn't reach the embassy in time. Somewhere between the NSA and the State Department, someone decided the warning was too vague. The alert was downgraded in urgency. The next day, eight members of Black September, part of Arafat's Fatah organization, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, took Noel, Moore and others hostage. A day later, on March 2, 1973, Noel, Moore and Eid were machine-gunned to death, all, Welsh had insisted for years, on the direct orders of Arafat. Welsh, who left the Navy and NSA in 1974, spoke to WND about the incident in 2001 after years of attempting to get answers from his own agency and the State Department. He became particularly troubled about the cover-up of Arafat's role in the murders of American officials when President Clinton invited the PLO leader to the White House for direct negotiations on the Middle East. Ever since, he had been on a personal one-man mission to uncover the tape recordings and transcripts of those intercepts between Arafat and Fatah leader Salah Khalaf, also known as Abu-Iyad, in Beirut and Khalil al-Wazir in Khartoum. "I have decided that my oaths of secrecy must give way to my sense of right and wrong," he told WND. "I was particularly outraged as I had spent four years following these individuals and, at the moment of our greatest intelligence coup against them, an uninformed GS level had pooh-poohed our work and cost the lives of two US diplomats," he recalls. Welsh has continued to research the Arafat murders continually and stumbled upon the 2006 State Department document during a routine Internet search. The document goes on to say that Fatah leaders never expected their hostage-taking to result in the freeing of the captives. A primary goal of the attack, it says, "was to strike at the United States because of its efforts to achieve a Middle East peace settlement which many Arabs believe would be inimical to Palestinian interests." The report also said the Khartoum operation demonstrated the ability of the Black September organization to strike where least expected and warned the US was at risk of future attacks from the group and its Fatah allies. Welsh believes the initial cover-up of the communications breakdown and the role of Arafat was launched to prevent embarrassment to the State Department and White House. President Nixon, he points out, was in the death throes of the Watergate scandal at the time. The last thing he needed, Welsh speculates, was an international scandal to deal with on the front page of the Washington Post. Later, after Nixon was gone, Welsh believes the whole matter of the Arafat tapes was kept quiet to protect the future viability of signals intelligence intercepts of this kind. And, finally, he said, the cover-up persisted to foster Arafat's role as a "peacemaker" and leader of the Palestinian cause. After the deadly attack in Khartoum, Arafat ordered the eight gunmen to surrender peacefully to the Sudanese authorities. Two were released for "lack of evidence." Later, in June 1973, the other six were found guilty of murdering the three diplomats. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and released 24 hours later to the PLO. Before surrendering, the Khartoum terrorists demanded the release of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, as well as others being held in Israeli and European prisons. Nixon refused to negotiate.



US Presidents Overlooked Arafat's Killing of Ambassador

Dec. 27….(JNEWSWIRE) Recently declassified US State Department documents have confirmed the long-held (but largely ignored) belief that a man who, apart from being responsible for the deaths of numerous US citizens, calmly ordered the cold-blooded murder of two senior American diplomats, was welcomed, embraced, championed and loudly applauded in the capital of the very country whose men he had killed.image Yasser Arafat the terrorist, was a man a number of US administrations tried to package as a statesman, and whose demands for a country built on another nation’s land was not only sanctioned, but actively supported by at least four American presidents, was long known to have been directly responsible for the March 2, 1973 killing in Khartoum, the Sudan, of Ambassador Cleo Noel and Charge d'Affaires George Curtis Moore. But presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all chose to overlook Arafat’s brazen butchery of American men in order to help him achieve statehood for his people – on ancient Jewish lands. The reason for this official government misrepresentation and protection of Arafat was that it was best to shore up this leader of “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” against the other “more radical” terrorist individuals and organizations. Put simply, Arafat was the best hope for peace in the Middle East. Everything went into strengthening and preparing him for it. Yes, Arafat was viewed as someone America could do business with, as long as it was prepared to overlook his small discretion in Khartoum.



Palestinian State To Be Established in 2 Years

(New American Mideast policy revealed for first time)

Dec. 26….(YNET) According to the US, Olmert's little goodwill gestures only comprise the first steps on a path aimed at realizing America's new plan for the Middle East that is being revealed here for the first time. The final destination is the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders within two years, before the end of President Bush's term in office. The implications of this are that the US is significantly boosting its involvement in the Israeli Palestinian conflict and will implement a series of measures that would embolden the Fatah movement and weaken Hamas, including measures that would ultimately bring about the demise of the Hamas government. Last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a seminar attended by the US State Department's top political brass involved in the Middle East. It included US ambassadors to countries in the region and General Dayton, who is currently acting on behalf of the State Department in the region. According to Israeli sources, Rice asked this group of experts to come up with fresh and creative ideas with the purpose of consolidating a new policy for the Mideast. This policy is set to serve, among other things, as an alternative for the Baker-Hamilton report, in which the ideas suggested did not meet those of the Bush Administration. The first part of the plan talks about measures carried out by Israel as part of the process of strengthening Mahmoud Abbas and creating an atmosphere that would allow for an upgrade in the ties between the two sides. In fact, this boils down to a series of Israeli goodwill gestures. The meeting between Olmert and Abbas Saturday evening, say political sources in Jerusalem, fits the first part of the plan: At the end of the meeting a series of goodwill gestures was concluded, which primarily included easing Palestinian movement and providing direct economic assistance to the Palestinian president. Incidentally, the lion's share of the funds the cabinet is set to "release" to Abbas will in fact remain in Israel as payment of debts to Israeli suppliers such as the Israel Electric Corporation and petrol providers. The remaining part of the funds will be used to strengthen the presidential guard. The second phase of the plan comprises measures aimed at strengthening Abbas' Fatah movement. At this stage experts at the State Department are talking about the internal Palestinian rift, including the possibility of an armed clash that would ultimately result in, or so they hope, the establishment of a Palestinian state that would recognize Israel. The third stage would be talks between Abbas and Israel. The outcome of the talks would be put to a referendum in the territories, and in its wake a Palestinian state would be established within temporary borders. Political sources in Jerusalem estimate that the American plan will be presented shortly, most likely by delegates of the State Department who will come to the region ahead of Rice's visit.



Merry Christmas

Dec. 25….(FOJ) [Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.] The Lord God indeed sent his Son 2000 years ago. His coming was a gift to all of humanity, the gift of eternal life, if we simply choose to accept it. The zeal of the LORD will also send His Son back to the earth in the Last Days! Are you ready for him?



US Military set to Strike at Tehran’s Meddling in Baghdad

Dec. 25….(DEBKA) Washington reveals capture of Iranian military agents red-handed, just two days after UN passes mild sanctions against Tehran. The New York Times of Dec. 24 disclosed the capture of a group of Iranians in Baghdad. This, according to our military sources, is an opening shot in the Baghdad salvation operation at the center of the revised strategy for Iraq which President George W. Bush promised to unveil in the New Year. DEBKA-Net-Weekly 283, reporting on this operation on Dec. 22, disclosed that two of its key elements are a crackdown on Shiite militias and death squads and cleansing the capital of Iran’s military and intelligence presence. According to The New York Times , the American military in Baghdad is holding at least four Iranians, including senior military officials, seized in two raids last week in central Baghdad, in circumstances highly embarrassing to top Iraqi leaders. Two Iranian diplomats in the group were turned over to the Iraqi authorities and released to the Iranian embassy; a number of suspected members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards al Quds force remain in custody and under US interrogation. They were captured with people involved in terrorist attacks. Al Quds is responsible for Tehran’s training projects for Hizballah and other terrorists groups. One of the US raids took place in the Baghdad compound of the powerful Shiite SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who visited the White House three weeks ago. At least two of the captured Iranians were invited by Iraqi president the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani during a visit to Tehran earlier this month. An official in Washington said the US military, acting on information that the people detained in Baghdad had been involved in attacks on Iraqi security and coalition forces, did not know what they were going to find. The arrests in Hakim’s compound were made inside the house of Hadi al-Ameri, chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s security committee and leader of SCIRI’s armed wing, the Badr Organization. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that these were not the first Iranian RG and intelligencer officers caught by US forces in Iraq, only the first time that such detentions have been published. This indicates that the Bush administration has decided finally to crack down on years of Iranian subversion in Baghdad. According to our Iranian sources, officials in Tehran were so preoccupied with firing off derisive comments on the UN Security Council sanctions against their nuclear program that they were caught unawares. The ayatollahs had not bargained on a swift US second-strike action in Baghdad. Now, they must now decide whether to pick up the American gauntlet or let it ride until an opportunity presents itself in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Our Washington sources reveal too that the White House has changed Iraqi partners for its new strategy. Instead of the present political incumbents in Baghdad, the US has brought on board the most influential Shiite and Sunni religious leaders for the effort to stabilize the capital and end sectarian warfare. The White House’s hopes rest now with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Najef, and more controversially with the noted Sunni authority, Sheik Harith al-Dari, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars (also called the Muslim Ulema Council), from which the Sunni insurgency derives its religious legitimacy. With backing of this caliber, US forces finally staged a raid, previously unthinkable, on the SCIRI leader’s compound in Baghdad. According to the latest information reaching DEBKAfile from Iraq, US forces are in intensive preparations for the Baghdad offensive. Military sources report Iraqi forces are in the process of rotation: two divisions of 20,000 men are being brought into the capital from other parts of the country, to replace the military and police which are heavily infiltrated by Shiite militias. American reinforcements are also streaming into Baghdad. Altogether, an extra 50,000 Iraqi and US troops are planned for the Baghdad clean-up operation.



Ahmadinejad Says “Issuers” of UN Sanctions Against Iran “will Soon Pay”

Dec. 24….(DEBKA) He called the sanctions resolution the Security Council carried unanimously Saturday, Dec. 23, against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment “trash paper”. Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator said Iran will begin installing 3,000 centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plan at Natanz from Sunday and drive it with full speed. Shortly before the vote, the US and Russian presidents conferred by telephone to overcome last-minute snags. The price of a unanimous vote was an emasculated sanctions motion which leaves the US and Israel minus a policy or defense for Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The final version contains little that should inconvenience Tehran, and no word on the clandestine military nuclear activities systematically concealed from UN inspectors. While banning imports and exports of dangerous materials and technology relating to nuclear enrichment, reprocessing, ballistic missile programs and heavy water reactors, such as the one in Arak, the resolution omits to block the far larger reactor the Russians are building at Bushehr, even though it will be able to produce plutonium for making a weapon. Moscow has also got away with forcing Western members to drop the proposed travel ban and financial freeze against 11 individuals and 12 organizations from Iran which associated with nuclear programs, to prevent them from buying dangerous materials. Although Israel is the most directly and explicitly threatened by an Iranian nuclear bomb, its leaders, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, have clung to reliance on the “international community” for pulling its irons out of the fire in Tehran. For years, they blindly followed the European engagement course of President George W. Bush and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, even as Washington fell back in the face of Russian, Chinese and Qatari pressure to render sanctions meaningless. Other Council members wanted the resolution over and done with before the New Year and a new Security Council composition, when the whole Iran sanctions process would have had to go back to square one. Moscow and Tehran were the winners of this haste.







Bush Signs Law Banning Aid to Hamas Government

Dec. 22….(Ha Aretz) President Bush on Thursday signed into law legislation restricting aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority until it recognizes Israel's right to exist, makes financial reforms and takes other steps.  The US House of Representatives approved the bill in May, by a majority of 361 to 37, with 9 abstentions. The objective of the bill is to dry the Hamas government of funds, thus leading to a breakdown of the government or a change in its stance. This legislation reflects our continued concern over the failure of the current government to renounce violence and terror, recognize Israel and respect its previous agreements and obligations," a White House official said. In order for the Palestinian Authority to receive funding, the president must declare to Congress that the following conditions have been met: Firstly, no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas, unless Hamas has publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel's right to exist and "committed itself and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the United States Government, with the Government of Israel, and with the international community," including the Road Map. Secondly, that the Hamas-controlled PA has made "demonstrable progress" toward purging individuals with ties to terrorism from its security services, dismantling all terrorist infrastructure with its jurisdiction, confiscating unauthorized weapons, arresting and bringing terrorists to justice, destroying unauthorized arms factories, thwarting and preempting terrorist attacks, and fully cooperating with Israel's security services. Under this clause, they must also halt "anti-American and anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Authority-controlled electronic and print media and in schools, mosques, and other institutions it controls, and (replace) educational materials, including textbooks, with materials that promote peace, tolerance, and coexistence with Israel."  Likewise, they must ensure democracy, the rule of law and an independent judiciary, as well as adopting democratic reforms such as financial transparency and accountability of government ministries and operations.  The United States, the European Union and others who regard Hamas as a terrorist group, have already cut off official direct aid to the government.  Despite this ban, the United States has been able to bypass the Hamas government and provide $468 million in humanitarian aid, primarily delivered by non-governmental organizations. The new law Bush signed on Thursday does permit the continued flow of humanitarian aid for Palestinians and groups not linked to Hamas, like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party.



Syria Building 'Death Trap' Villages To Lure Israel Into War

Dec. 22….(Jerusalem Post) Warning that Israel may face a "Syrian intifada," a high-ranking officer in Northern Command has told The Jerusalem Post that villages recently built by Syria along the border are planned to be used as "death traps" for IDF troops in Hizbullah-inspired attacks. Since this summer's war in Lebanon, Syria, the officer revealed, has invested large amounts of money in replicating Hizbullah military tactics, particularly in establishing additional commando units and fortifying its short- and long-range missile array. The idea is to draw Israel into an asymmetric war, the officer said, like the warfare the IDF encounters in combat against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as against Hizbullah in Lebanon. Over the past two years, Syria has built a number of villages along the border with Israel, some inhabited and some not. At first, the IDF was not sure of their purpose. But now, following the war, the officer said, it was understood. "Syria drew motivation from Hizbullah's surprise success this summer," the high-ranking officer said. "They now want to copy that type of guerrilla warfare." While for years it was assumed that Israel had a major edge against Syria's military with regard to a conventional war, tank versus tank, jet versus jet, in an urban setting, the Syrian military would be able, the officer said, to wreak havoc against IDF infantry and armored units like Hizbullah did. According to the officer, Syria has drawn three major lessons from the war and has begun to implement them. The first is that rockets - 4,000 struck northern Israel during the 33-days of fighting - can paralyze the home front. The second is that antitank missiles can penetrate the Merkava tank and force infantry units to abandon armored personnel carriers and trek into enemy territory by foot. And the third is that in villages and cities the Israeli Air Force's abilities are limited and IDF ground forces can be defeated. During the war, the IDF fell into several deadly ambushes in southern Lebanese villages; one in Bint Jbail killed eight soldiers from Battalion 51 of the Golani Brigade. The Syrian military, the officer said, was conducting urban warfare exercises in preparation for the possibility of a war with Israel. The IDF has also dramatically increased its training regiments and has, at all times, between two-to-three brigades training in the Golan Heights. Lacking clear intelligence regarding Syrian intelligence, the officer said that the Northern Command's "working assumption" was that there was a possibility of war and there was a need to prepare accordingly. While defense officials have crisscrossed in recent weeks concerning the sincerity of Syrian President Bashar Assad's offer of peace, the top officer said that, according to "all the signs," Syria was preparing for war with Israel. The Syrian military has beefed-up forces along the Golan Heights and Israel has done the same. In the Hermon, for instance, the IDF has doubled the number of troops. "The feeling is unfortunately that another round is needed before we will be able to engage in a dialogue or peace talks with Syria," the officer said. "It is like with the Egyptians. The war in 1973 was what made it partially possible for [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat to come to Israel." Syria, the officer said, has since the war ended, transferred truckloads of weapons and missiles to Hizbullah. Due to the convoys, Hizbullah, he said, was almost back at its full strength where it was before the war with Israel.



Hamas Threatens Attacks on US

Dec. 22….(WND) Members of Hamas are debating whether to carry out attacks against the United States and may hit American targets if the US continues to support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' call for new elections, Hamas leaders told WND in a series of interviews. "There is no doubt that Abu Mazen (Abbas) was encouraged to decide early elections after receiving American promises to support him politically and military," Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, the group's declared "resistance" department, told WND. The terror leader accused the US of instigating a Palestinian civil war. "Here the Americans did not support the elections, they actually gave their support and their encouragement to a Palestinian civil war. It is our duty to prove to the Americans that they chose the wrong policy exactly like it is the case in Iraq," said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' so-called military wing. Abu Abdullah told WND Hamas has not yet decided to attack the US, "but one cannot guarantee that this will be the situation if the conspiracy of chasing our government succeeds." Asked which US targets Hamas would hit, Abu Abdullah replied, "Do you think that I can give you an answer to this question? I can say that the Middle East is full of American targets and the world has had the occasion to learn what are the weapons of the anti-American forces in the region." In a move widely seen as an attempt to dismantle the Hamas-led government, Abbas' this past weekend called for new Palestinian elections, prompting violent clashes in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah party. Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in January, has threatened to boycott the proposed new elections, calling them "illegitimate." Hamas-Fatah clashes in Gaza have killed at least 16 Palestinians the past five days. According to multiple reports, the US has been arming and training Fatah militants to bolster them in clashes against Hamas. A number of Hamas members, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, have claimed in recent days Abbas' call for new elections was orchestrated with the US. Several Hamas leaders told WND meetings were held in recent weeks in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to discuss the possibility of targeting the US due to its perceived support of Fatah against Hamas. While the latest Hamas threats warned of attacks against American interests in the region, some terrorism experts and senior security officials warn that Hamas has cells inside the US that are technically capable of attacking within the country. "We have information Hamas agents have been on U.S. soil the past few years and that the group may currently have up to 100 agents operating inside America," an FBI counterterrorism agent in New York told WND last October. The comments reaffirm earlier testimony to the US Senate in which FBI Director Robert Mueller stated, "Although it would be a major strategic shift for Hamas, its United States network is theoretically capable of facilitating acts of terrorism in the United States." Intelligence sources said the FBI believes Hamas' current US network includes trained jihadists capable of carrying out advanced attacks.



Nations Aligning May Point Toward The End of Damascus and the Beginning of the End

Dec 21—(Bill Wilson/KIN) Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared that his country’s scientists have mastered the nuclear cycle making Iran a legitimate nuclear power. At the same time, al Qaeda has signaled its disapproval of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement for elections, leading counter-terrorist analysts to believe the terror group has its sites set on Israel as it arms Islamic fighters from Lebanon, Iraq and Gaza. In addition, security analyst DEBKAfile reports that Syrian president Bashar Assad is in Moscow seeking arms to bolster his army and Hezbollah terrorist. Assad has a reported half a billion dollars of Iranian money to buy the weapons from Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Middle East axis of Russia, Iran and Syria spells nothing but trouble for Europe, the United States, and especially, Israel. Iran is boldly following its plan to develop nuclear technology. Ahmadinejad knows that there will be no effective sanctions from the United Nations Security Council because Russia and China, both allies and multi-billion dollar business partners with Iran, will veto any attempt to shut down the Iranian nuclear program. Russia, in the meantime, has sold Iran sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles in hopes of protecting the Iranian nuclear facilities from an attack by the US or Israel. All the while, Syria, Iran’s military and security partner in the Middle East, is seeking more Russian weaponry to arm the terrorists that are deployed by Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is reported that al Qaeda, which is also housed and funded in part by Iran, has secretly transferred hundreds of armed Palestinians from Syria to Lebanon and is building mixed units of Palestinians and Arab fighters from Iraq for planting on two Israeli borders, South Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. These would eventually mix with the Hamas fighters that have been armed by a quarter of a million dollars from Iran. Israel is being surrounded by hostiles equipped, funded and trained by Iran with the aid of Russia. Meantime, the West, led by Britain and the United States, is pressuring Israel to restart the so-called “peace process.” Ancient prophecies in the Bible point to two events that will signal the apocalyptic end times; Isaiah 17:1 says, “Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” The other is Ezekiel 38 where it is said that Gog, Magog, Persia, Ethiopia and Libya will come against Israel and be defeated. These are widely thought to be Russia, Iran, Northern Africa and the former Persian Empire. The aligning of these nations is occurring stronger each day and the end result seems to point toward war against Israel. Watch and pray.



US Middle East Commander Gen. John Abizaid Request for Another Carrier in Gulf as Warning to Syria and Iran

Dec. 21….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s military sources report that this request, revealed by a senior Pentagon official, is the first time in four years that an American general has asked for a special force as a deterrent for Syria and Iran. Our Washington sources interpret the publication of Gen. Abizaid’s request during the visit to Iraq of the new defense secretary Robert Gates’ and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace as indicating that the Bush administration is heading for a major operation against the two key threats to Iraq’s stability: the Sunni insurgents supported by Syria and the Shiite militias, which receive arms, intelligence and funding from Tehran. In its latest quarterly report, the defense department accused Iran and Syria of undermining the Iraqi government by providing both active and passive support to anti-government and anti-coalition forces. The application to deploy a third carrier in the Gulf in late March 2007 is a pointer to the projected timeline of this operation. It will confront Tehran and Damascus with the option of direct intervention to rescue their Iraqi allies, or standing aside. President George W. Bush is officially reported to have not yet decided on the coming steps in Iraq. However the central command’s application for another carrier suggests that the decision is more or less final. The carrier Eisenhower and its strike group are already in the Gulf region accompanied by guided missile destroyers and the nuclear assault submarine USS Newport, as is the USS Boxer Strike Group. Another sign of an impending US operation came from Gates’ talks with US generals and soldiers Wednesday. Whereas the soldiers did not propose a pull-out from Iraq and urged him to send reinforcements, the generals argued against a surge. Their reluctance stems from the fear that more manpower will result in a higher casualty score. The generals also calculate that in a withdrawal from the country, the bigger the force the more cumbersome and sluggish the evacuation. US troops on the other hand explained to the new defense secretary that with a heavier US presence on the ground, the insurgents could be held off long enough to train the Iraqi army. They said training Iraqis is a challenge because of their sectarian ties to militias - police officers more than army personnel.



Senators Kerry, Dodd Meet with Syria’s Assad

Dec. 21….(AP) US Senators John Kerry and Christopher Dodd met with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday and discussed the need for Damascus to cooperate with efforts to maintain the unity and stability of war-ravaged Iraq, state media reported. The US Embassy in Damascus said the meeting, which lasted two and a half hours, covered "a full-range of topics relating to US-Syrian relations and regional issues." "I feel quite confident in saying this was a conversation worth having and that the (Bush) administration ought to pursue it," Kerry said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from Jerusalem where he traveled after the meeting with Assad. "I feel very strongly about that. It's worth following up on a number of avenues." Kerry said he told Assad the new Democratic-controlled Congress has serious concerns about issues such as the flow of "money, weapons and terrorists" through Syria into Iraq and Lebanon. Kerry has criticized the Bush administration for refusing to engage with Syria and Iran, a move that was recommended by the recently released Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel. The Democratic senators, both prospective 2008 presidential candidates, and Assad "reviewed the situation in Iraq and stressed the importance of supporting the current political process to arrive at setting a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops," SANA said. Talks also dealt with ways of stopping the escalating violence in the Palestinian territories, the agency said. The Bush administration has accused Kerry, Dodd and other senators who have met with Assad of sending mixed signals and has insisted that the US will not make concessions to Damascus to win its help in Iraq. "We discourage the travel of members of Congress to Syria because we believe it undermines the cause of democracy in the region and particularly" Lebanon's government, White House spokesman Blair Jones said Wednesday night. Syrian-US relations have been strained for several years. The US government has expressed reluctance to seek help from Damascus on Iraq until the Syrians curb their support to radical Palestinian groups and to the Lebanese Hezbollah and reduce their influence in Lebanon. The two American lawmakers arrived in Damascus on Tuesday as part of a Middle East tour to investigate Syria's readiness to help bring about stability and security to neighboring Iraq.



Palestinian Journalist: 'Refugees' Were Ordered to Leave by Arab Leaders

imageDec. 20….(Israel Insider) Arab residents of Palestine in 1948 were not expelled by Israeli officials or military forces, as many claim, but were actually ordered to leave by local Arab leaders, says Palestinian journalist Mahmud Al-Habbash who writes for the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. Al-Habbash writes in his column, "The Pulse of Life," that Arab residents were explicitly instructed by their local Arab leaders to leave their homes when the 'Catastrophe' (the establishment of the State of Israel) occurred in 1948. While creating a false but effective political problem for Israel, the Arabs leaders' instructions for residents to leave their homes has bred internal resentment and anger. Says Al-Habbash: "The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the 'Catastrophe' in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those false promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events." Other Palestinians have noted that the local Arab leaders used tactics of intimidation and public scorn to motivate residents to leave. My father and grandfather told me that during the 'Catastrophe' our district officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon, Southern Israel] is a traitor. Today, the official Palestinian historical narrative vigorously claims that Arab residents were forced to leave by Israeli forces. Much of the justification behind Palestinian terror organization’s resides in the claim that Arab residents were forced to leave, and so have legal refugee status and a legitimate claim to the right of return. Claims to the contrary, especially coming from within the Palestinian establishment, could prove damaging to the Palestinian refugee status and demands for right of return since, according to international law, if Palestinians left by their own will or under orders from their own leaders they would not necessarily qualify for refugee status. Palestinian refugee status is a hotly contested issue. The main UN refugee organization, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR), which has successfully aided millions of refugees to return to a relatively normal life, does not service the Palestinian refugee population. For unknown reasons, the UN established a separate refugee organization, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), devoted solely to Palestinians, something not done for any other refugee population in the world.



Jesus, Mahdi Coming, Says Iran's Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appearing at "The World Without Zionism" conference Oct. 26, 2005

Dec. 20….(WND) In a greeting to the world's Christians for the coming new year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he expects both Jesus and the Shiite messianic figure, Imam Mahdi, to return and "wipe away oppression." "I wish all the Christians a very happy new year and I wish to ask them a question as well," said Ahmadinejad, according to an Iranian Student News Agency report cited by YNET news. "My one question for the Christians is: What would Jesus do if he were present in the world today? What would he do before some of the oppressive powers of the world who are in fact residing in Christian countries? Which powers would he revive and which of them would he destroy?" asked the Iranian leader. "If Jesus were present today, who would be facing him and who would be following him?" Ahmadinejad then made a connection between Jesus and the Imam Mahdi, believed by Shiites to have disappeared as a child in AD 941. When the Mahdi returns, they contend, he will reign on earth for seven years before bringing about a final judgment and the end of the world. "All I want to say is that the age of hardship, threat and spite will come to an end someday and, God willing, Jesus would return to the world along with the emergence of the descendant of the Islam's holy prophet, Imam Mahdi, and wipe away every tinge of oppression, pain and agony from the face of the world," Ahmadinejad said. Ah,adinejad has been urging Iranians to prepare for the coming of the Mahdi by turning the country into a powerful and advanced Islamic society and by avoiding the corruption and excesses of the West. He sees his main mission, as he recounted in a Nov. 16, 2005, speech in Tehran, as to "pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance." With Iran's continued development of nuclear technology in defiance of the West, some analysts fear Ahmadinejad's intent is to trigger the kind of global conflagration he envisions will set the stage for the end of the world.



Iran Bankrolling Three Civil Wars in the Middle East

Dec. 19….(FOJ) The Iranian regime is manufacturing four civil wars in the Middle East now and may finance some more in future. The violence in Iraq has now reached the point where many experts believe that it is a civil war, a war being financed by Shiite Iran. The Shias of Iraq have been trained, financed and armed by the Iranian government to cleanse the Iraqi Sunnis from the major cities and force them out of their country so that the Shias will be the great majority of Iraq with a very small Sunni minority that could be controlled and subjugated very easily. The new Iraqi army has been dominated by the Shias (as directed by Iran). Nobody has a doubt that it is the Iranian regime who has manufactured the violence in Iraq and it is directing it towards a full civil war to create the right conditions for creating an Iraq that the Shias can manipulate and control, in spite of the theory proposed by the ISG that Iran has a vested interest in stabilizing the region. The leader of Iraq's most powerful and violent Shiite militia, Muqtada al-Sadr, is a mirror-image of Iran’s Hezbollah, perhaps hoping for the same opportunity in Iraq as it has taken in Lebanon. According to the report from the high-level Iraq Study Group, "Several observers remarked to us that Sadr was following the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon: building a political party that controls basic services within the government and an armed militia outside of the government. Iran is financing all Iraqi Shia militia, and the cost of maintaining Mahdi Army is estimated at more than 100 million dollars a month, all paid by the Iranian government. It is estimated that the Iranian regime is spending something like $500 million dollars a month in Iraq to finance different political, cultural and militant groups. The US is spending about $1 billion dollars a week to establish law and yet it is a dismal failure. The deputy leader of Hezbollah announced recently that his organization has received $300 million dollars from Iran to reconstruct the Shia parts of Lebanon, which were damaged during Israel-Hezbollah war. This amount does not include the cost of maintaining Hezbollah which is estimated at $600 million dollars a year. If you add the cost of present Hezbollah campaign against the Lebanese government it is estimated that the Iranian regime is investing something like 1 billion dollars a year for preparing Hezbollah for a civil war which according to many analysts, is about to happen. Then there is Palestine and Gaza, and Syria. Iran has donated 500,000 million dollars to Syria to purchase weapons from Russia to use against Israel. How much is Iran spending on Hamas? There, Iran is financing a kind of civil war against Fatah in order to dissect the PA out of Western influences. Iran gave $250 million dollars to Hamas last week, and is paying the salaries of 100,000 unemployed workers. If you calculate the salaries of 100,000 unemployed workers at a rate of $1000 that will amount to something like $100 million dollars per month. As we see in Iraq, the cost of sectarian violence is devastating. If Palestine and Lebanon fall in the trap the Iranian government has planned for them, they face the same fate the Iraqis are facing now. The Iranian regime is manufacturing and financing each of these civil wars in the Middle East.



US May Have Expected Israel to Attack Syria To Save Iraq

Dec. 19….(FOJ) The now oft described US quagmire in Iraq was supposed to have received a helping hand this summer when Israel retaliated against Hezbullah in Lebanon, or at least that is the idea some Middle East strategists suggest. The theory is that America, having lost the momentum of its sweep into Iraq, and failing to train an exile Iraqi government and Iraqi military force, and then hand over the rule to them immediately, planned to carry the war-on-terror into Syria, and thus isolate it from the Teheran Axis. Apparently, the original Iraq plan called for sealing the borders of Iran and Syria, keeping the Shia’s out of Iraq so that a thrust could then be made either into Syria or Iran. Failing to accomplish that goal, and failing to get the strategy beyond the design-table, Iraq became the mess it is today because of political infighting, both in Washington and in Baghdad. Thus, the post-Iraq strategy became intertwined with the Lebanon strategy against Hezbollah. Washington apparently hoped that Israel would overwhelm Hezbollah, drawing Syria into the war, and enable Israeli and US forces to squeeze Syria out of Lebanon, and away from its alliance with Iran and Russia. (FOJ reported early on that Syria and Russia conspired together to relocate the infamous disappearing Iraqi weapons of mass destruction out of Iraq before the US invaded. He Bush Administration allowed this fact to go unreported because it didn’t want to alienate fellow Security Council member, Russia, and perhaps lose Russian support in the war-on-terror.) Now the Bush Administration is faced with the bi-partisan recommendations of the ISG, and the fact that Russia is heavily involved in equipping Syria and aiding Iran. Two years ago the Bush Administration was orchestrating a plan with Ariel Sharon to open up a backdoor front against Syrian insurgents filtering into Iraq, by coordinating an Israeli-led campaign against Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria. This scenario came close to fruition this summer, but the US became very frustrated over the way in which Israel embarked on the war against Hizbullah, and on the way it returned from it. The perception in the UN and other capitols was that Hizbullah defeated Israel in the summer war, and thus the geo-political pressure on President Bush and the Defense Department became insurmountable. Internally, the US became embarrassed and angry over the fact that Israel did not destroy Hezbollah nor engage the Syrians. Instead of Israel fighting against Hizbullah, many parts of the American Administration believed that Israel should have fought against the real enemy, which is Syria and not Hizbullah. Privately, the Bush Administration hoped Israel would open that front, as it would have served both the American and Israeli interests in the overall Middle East scheme. The so-called neocons, that the Democratic Party lambasted, were responsible for the fact that Israel got a certain amount of time and space to defang the forces in the North. It became an obvious strategy tactic that it was impossible to fight directly against Iran, (because of Russian support) but the idea was that its strategic and important ally should be hit, as it is difficult for Iran to export its Shiite revolution without Syrian complicity. In the final outcome, Israel did not do it. Instead of a strategic war that would serve Israel's objectives, as well as the US objectives in Iraq, the rebellion in Iraq became all the more worse, and the political pressure came back on the US to withdraw from Iraq. Thus, today, we find many of our politicians traveling to Syria, and many more signaling that we pow-wow with Iran!



West May be Too Late to Save Weakened Abbas

Dec. 19….(IHT) Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain dropped by Ramallah on Monday to show his support for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in his conflict with the radical Islamic Hamas movement. Blair, like President Bill Clinton before him, wants to push along the Middle East peace process before his retirement from politics. Blair argued that the West must strengthen Abbas and support his call for early presidential and parliamentary elections, because the West can deal only with those who are prepared, unlike Hamas, to recognize Israel's right to exist and accept a permanent two-state solution. But Abbas today is a weak reed, with little power to implement his decrees or his will. Two years after his election to the presidency, following the death of Yasser Arafat, Abbas is perceived by a majority of Palestinians in opinion polls to be a great disappointment, having brought little reform to Fatah or improvement to people's lives while appearing to carry water for the Israelis and Americans. It may be too late for Abbas, and for Fatah, to be bolstered very effectively, even by a new US and British aid effort of the kind Blair seemed to foretell. On Saturday, before a crowd of Fatah supporters at the Ramallah muqata, where a large mosque and mausoleum are being built for Arafat, Abbas made great drama out of announcing these early elections. But it seems unlikely they will be held. Abbas is standing on shaky constitutional principles: It seems clear that he has no legal right to dissolve Parliament without its consent, not that constitutional principles are so holy here. But Abbas also lacks the power to implement what he has decreed. Hamas has promised to boycott and disrupt legislative elections, seeing them as an attempted coup. A Hamas boycott would make any form of voting hollow. At the same time, Hamas would welcome the resignation of Abbas, which would mean an early presidential election, letting the movement try to defeat him and take full control of the Palestinian Authority. "He's declared elections, but we all know that to implement them won't be easy," said Khaled Duzdar, a Palestinian political analyst. "Without Hamas's acceptance they won't happen." Palestinians, who have a deep aversion to civil war when they believe the real opponent is the Israeli occupation, hope that Hamas and Fatah will come to a political agreement and form a unity government based roughly on a reconciliation document, already negotiated, that would allow their lives to continue in some safety and even improve. Mouin Rabbani, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, an independent research group on foreign policy, argues against backing one Palestinian faction against another, and says that progress will only be possible based on political consensus, even if the West does not love the result. "The international community may have preferences, but this practice of trying to make progress on the basis of divisions in the Palestinian national movement has backfired spectacularly," he said. Yet even Abbas's own, relatively moderate formula for a final peace settlement with Israel is, by all accounts, unacceptable to this Israeli government, as it was to the last one. On Monday, Abbas again called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel to enter peace talks with him. Olmert says he respects Abbas but does not think that he can deliver. So Abbas's other main responsibility and path to credibility, chief negotiator with Israel, has also proven to be hollow. Progress on even small matters has been blocked since June, when Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit. Olmert has insisted that he will not meet substantively with Abbas until Shalit is released. But by doing so, Olmert has given Hamas a handy veto over any progress between Israel and the Palestinians. Why should Hamas and its allies, Iran and Syria, which have no interest in Israeli-Palestinian peace or in helping Abbas, let Shalit go? Eventually, of course, they will. And when they choose to do so, in return for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, it will be to suit the interests of Hamas, and Hamas will use it to try to prove, once again, that Israel only responds to Palestinian "resistance," not to the kind of nonviolence and patient negotiation that the stubborn Abbas counsels so bravely and forlornly.


Bush Delays Move of US Embassy to Jerusalem, Again

Dec. 19….(Jerusalem Post) President Bush has delayed for another six months moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, citing national security interests, the White House said Monday. Congress enacted legislation in 1995 calling for the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but the president can postpone the move every six months due to national security interests. The waiver has been used every six months since the law was passed. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel considers the entire city as its "undivided and eternal capital." There are no embassies in Jerusalem. El Salvador and Costa Rica were the last countries to transfer their embassies to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, announcing their decisions in August. "My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," Bush said in a memorandum to the secretary of state dated Dec. 15. "Moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem now would complicate our ability to help Israelis and Palestinians advance toward peace and the president's two-state vision," a White House official said on condition of anonymity.


Fatah to Israel: ´Only Your Full Surrender Can Save Us´

Dec. 19….(Arutz) (Abu Mazen’s declaration of early elections, seemingly a pressure tactic on Hamas, is in fact an attempt to induce Israel to declare a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, including Jerusalem) Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was set to meet Sunday with members of the Palestinian Central Election Commission, signaling he is serious about calling a do-over on the previous elections. Abbas’s Fatah movement, inherited from Yassir Arafat and seen as selling out Palestinian interests for money, was trounced by the revolutionary Jihadist Hamas movement in the January elections. Hamas officials say Abbas, who holds the figurehead position of President of a country that has yet to be declared, has no authority to call for new elections and say the move is a call for civil war. Indeed clashes have erupted throughout PA-administered areas between Fatah militias, trained by the US, and Hamas cells, trained and funded by Iran. But behind the scenes, Fatah officials have begun pointing to Israel and the US, blaming them for the PA's Arabs' affinity for Hamas's no-compromise stance and leveraging the situation in an attempt to induce Israel to cross its final red line, a full return to the pre-1967 borders and a return of Arab refugees. The officials, quoted anonymously in a Yediot Acharonot report, insisted: "The key is still in the Israelis' hands. Without a serious diplomatic agreement, we will not be able to fight against Hamas." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he refuses to allow Israel to be dragged into the internal PA debate, though his government approved a transfer of arms to Abbas’s forces in June. At the same time, reports from Damascus have Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal forming a new PLO umbrella group with anti-Western Fatah chief Farouk Kaddoumi, Abbas’s exiled rival for Fatah leadership and filling Yassir Arafat’s shoes. Abbas’s emissaries say this is the last chance to bolster the Fatah leader, who cannot set a date until the election commission informs him how long it will take to prepare for the balloting. Abbas’s chief of staff, former Arafat aide Saeb Erekat, said it would be impossible to hold the elections before mid-2007 due to the bureaucratic process. In the meantime, aides concede that Abbas’s elections move was not expected to have any effect on its standing opposite Hamas unless Israel provides the mother of all confidence-building measures: turning back the clock to 1947, before a Jewish state was established in Israel. "The choice is a just solution based on the '67 borders, or alternatively, a reality in which Israel finds itself with a strong Hamas and a crushed Fatah,” the Fatah sources said. “Without a real diplomatic solution, we will not be able to fight against Hamas, which will be happy to claim that recognizing Israel did not get them anywhere." The demanded withdrawal would mean the eviction and compensation of more than half a million Jews from Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount. It entails the removal of the billion-dollar Partition Wall and the repatriation of not only the new Jewish refugees but the literal return of all Arabs who left Israel in 1948 as well as their relatives. The proposed plan fits perfectly with the PLO’s 1974 plan, commonly known as the "Phased Plan," which was adopted at the 12th Session of the Palestinian National Council in Cairo, June 9, 1974. It calls for the PLO to work toward attaining statehood on parts of Israel while using those areas as bases for further attacks until all-out war to destroy Israel becomes a possibility. Thus,  the 67-Borders plan is back on the Table. Bolstered by the stance of the recently-published US Baker-Hamilton Report that recommends a full Israeli withdrawal for the sake of US strategy in Iraq, Israel’s Labor Party officials have met in recent weeks with PA officials to pledge their allegiance to the pre-1967 borders. The Saudi Initiative, introduced by American Jewish New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2002, lists the exact same demands for full withdrawal and a return of Arab refugees and has been brought back to the headlines recently by Baker-Hamilton and Israel’s own government, which previously rejected it out of hand. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met the Saudis to discuss it in recent weeks and Defense Minister Amir Peretz mentioned it explicitly Sunday, saying it should be used “as a basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”


Assad Visits Moscow: (Iran Donates 500 Million Dollars) to Upgrade Syrian Army


Russian President Vladimir Putin, listens to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad during a meeting in Moscow's Kremlin, Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad for talks focusing on tensions among the Palestinians, Lebanon's political standoff and the stalled Middle East peacemaking , part of Moscow's efforts to bolster its role in the region.

Dec. 19….(DEBKA) Syrian president Bashar Asad arrived in Moscow Monday night, Dec. 18, with two items for his host, President Vladimir Putin: A shopping list for weapons and half a billion dollars put up by Iran, in cash if needed, to purchase Russian arms. In recent months, Tehran has been dispensing colossal sums to its Middle East allies and pawns, mostly to stock up on war materiel and upgrade their military strength. (The Palestinian Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya alone was awarded quarter of a billion dollars for his war chest when he visited Tehran last week.) Putin and Russian defense minister Sergey Lavrov received Assad to wind up negotiations on the arms transaction. The groundwork is in place. A week ago, a large Russian military delegation ended a 10-stay in Damascus where its members studied Syria’s requests for Russian systems and checked to see if they matched the requirements of the Syrian army. Damascus was advised in advance that certain surface systems on request would available. But the transaction would include sophisticated Tor-M1 systems, supplies of which began reaching Iran last month, together with thousands of AT-14 anti-tank and SA 5 Gammon anti-air missiles. Damascus also wants to commission Russian military industry to upgrade all 4,500 of its outdated Soviet-era T-62, T-72 and T-80 tanks. Israel’s head of research in AMAN-military intelligence, Brig-Gen Yossi Baidetz was referring to this huge Russian-Syrian arms deal bankrolled by Iran when he warned ministers Sunday Dec. 10, that Assad was preparing his army for a summer war against Israel. However, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz preferred to keep the details of the transaction dark and play down the Syrian threat, while refraining from taking Assad up on his pressing demands for peace talks. According to DEBKAfile’s military experts, Assad’s generals have drawn fully on the lessons of Hizballah’s war against Israel in July and August and made fitting adjustments. The Syrian army is in the process of being rearmed with large quantities of anti-tank rockets and tactical changes have been introduced in the armed forces 12 divisions. Before the Lebanon war, only one company in every Syrian brigade was equipped with anti-tank rockets and anti-air shoulder-borne missiles. Since then, thousands of these missiles are being distributed to every Syrian unit. Our military sources report that all five Syrian divisions stationed on the Golan frontier with Israel have been issued with these anti-tank and anti-air rockets. The Kornet or AT-14 anti-tank rocket is wire-guided to hit targets with high precision at a distance of up to 3.5 kilometers as the crow flies. It can pierce 1,100-1,200 mm of armor. In the Lebanon war, Hizballah deployed the Kornet delivered by the Syrian army with great effectiveness against the Israeli Chariot tanks, inflicting a high level of casualties. Moscow has strenuously denied letting the Kornet missiles sold to Syria reach Hizballah’s hands. Officials there refused to admit that the rockets which struck Israel tanks in the war were Russian made, even after an Israeli military delegation headed by Ilan Mizrahi, director of the national security council brought to Moscow exhibits of Kornet missile parts collected from the battlefield and photographs in support Israel’s complaint. The Americans had their first experience of the Russian Kornet in Iraq in 2003 when it knocked US Abrams M1 tanks out of action. They are now widely used by Iraq’s Sunni i



Saudi Study Says Iran Creating Shi'ite 'State Within State' in Iraq

Dec. 18….(Ha Aretz) Iran has effectively created a Shi'ite "state within a state" in Iraq providing both logistical support of armed groups and funds for social programs, The Washington Times reported on Monday citing a security report commissioned by the Saudi government. The 40-page report says Iranian military forces are providing Shi'ite militias with weapons and training and that Tehran is actively supporting pro-Iranian Iraqi politicians, the newspaper said. "Where the Americans have failed, the Iranians have stepped in," it said, quoting the report. The findings were submitted to the Saudi government in March but have not been publicly distributed, The Washington Times said. The report described the Badr organization, the armed wing of the biggest party in Iraq's government SCIRI, as the "key vehicle Iran is using to achieve its military security and intelligence aims," the newspaper said. In details on the Sunni insurgency, the report cites Iraqi tribal leaders as saying that it is run mainly by former commanders and high level-military officers of the dismantled Iraqi Ba'athist government. The assessment concludes that, given historical ties, "Saudi Arabia has a special responsibility to ensure the continue welfare and security of Sunnis in Iraq," the Times reported. It recommends that the Saudi government prepare a strategy to deal with the worst-case scenario of full-blown civil war and to share the report with the United States, the article said. The study was compiled by the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, a group commissioned to provide security and intelligence assessments to the Saudi government, the newspaper said. The article said the report was directed by Nawaf Obaid, who recently was fired after writing an opinion piece in The Washington Post that suggested the Saudi kingdom would back Iraq's Muslim Sunnis in the event of a wider sectarian conflict.



Blair Meets With Abbas: The Next Weeks Are Critical

imageDec. 18….(Ha Aretz) British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the West Bank to push for a resuscitation of moribund Middle East peace talks, on Monday praised Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' call for new elections, saying the next few weeks would be a critical time for the region. During the joint press conference Blair called on the international community to support Abbas. “Your people are suffering,” he told Abbas. “We don’t want anything to stand in the way of helping the Palestinian people.” Blair added that he would do what he can in coming weeks to deliver support to Abbas and the Palestinians. “I will not rest for a single moment,” he said. Blair said the UK would not negotiate with Hamas, but added that the group is welcome to take part in the diplomatic process. At the center of Blair's meetings will be the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the building of government institutions that could function in a future Palestinian state. Blair is of the view that the international community needs a Palestinian government with which it can engage. The British prime minister is convinced that the opportunity that has been created following the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinians should not be allowed to slip by. Blair said that the Palestinians are faced with a crucial decision: forming a government of national unity or an interim government that will lead them to elections. The British leader said the international community should not diverge from the Quartet's conditions put before the Palestinian government: recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept all previous agreements between the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and Israel. Blair vowed to cooperate with any Palestinian government that accepts the three preconditions set by the international community and offer it assistance. Saying that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was one of his priorities, Blair said that during his last visit to the region, in September, he was convinced that all sides would like to see progress and that a continued conflict only strengthened extremist elements in the Middle East.


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, left, flashes the V-sign as Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan looks on after their meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Blair on Monday praised Mahmoud Abbas' call for new Palestinian elections and urged the international community to mobilize in support of the Palestinian president.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday he is pushing ahead with early elections, despite factional fighting that intensified after his initial call for a poll, and appealed for international help in restarting peace talks with Israel. Abbas said he is ready to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert anytime. "We need each other," he said, adopting a much warmer tone than in the past. Abbas hopes a peace breakthrough with Israel can persuade his people to support him in a showdown with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls parliament and the Cabinet. Abbas said Saturday he is seeking new presidential and parliamentary elections to end months of deadlock with Hamas, whose refusal to moderate has isolated the Palestinians internationally and driven them deeper into an economic crisis. Hamas has accused Abbas of trying to illegally topple its government, and already raging fighting between Hamas and Abbas-allied security forces in Gaza worsened after Abbas' announcement. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said Abbas' insistence on holding elections amounted to a "coup against sovereignty and democracy."



Mossad Chief: Syria Not Moving Toward Peace, But to War

Dec. 18….(YNET) Mossad Chief Meir Dagan said Monday in his briefing of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, "There is no indication at the moment of actualization of Syrian positions or that the country is moving toward peace." According to him, Syria is arming itself and Hizbulah at a rapid pace, is trying to topple Siniora's government, and is undermining American presence in Iraq. "Hizbullah is still in southern Lebanon, hasn't disarmed, is in agreement with the Lebanese army about its presence in southern Leabnon, and there are places that the Lebanese army cannot enter. Hizbullah is unabatedly being armed with missiles, some of which they have installed north of the Litani. Hizbullah is using all its strength to nullify Resolution 1701." The conditions for opening a dialogue with Damascus are clear to the Syrians . They have already been conveyed to the by Colin Powell during the term of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Unfortunately, the Syrians are not even implementing the minimal steps they could implement. In such a situation, there is no reason in the world for Israel to hold a dialogue or negotiations with the Syrians, and certainly not against the position of (US President) George Bush, Israel's greatest friend," said the official. Mossad Chief Meir Dagan added that a strategic change is in effect in Syria, and it will now respond to any Israeli provocation. "Israel's military deterrence was damaged in the war. Therefore, Assad's self-confidence grew. They are prepared to take more steps toward war than in the past,"



Hamas Threatens to Resume Suicide Bombings

(Terror group warns if government toppled, 'all options open')

Dec. 18….(WND) Hamas is debating whether to resume suicide bombings inside the Jewish state and may allow its so-called military wing to openly engage in anti-Israeli attacks if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is aided in his calls for new Palestinian elections, Hamas members told WND. "If the Israelis or the Americans and international community interferes in Palestinian affairs and encourages Abu Mazen (Abbas) to go on with elections, this will lead to internal Palestinian clashes, but the fighting will not just remain internal," said Abu Abdullah, who is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. Abu Abdullah warned if the Hamas government falters the terror group "will use all tools it has, including coming back to suicide attacks inside Israel." Abbas this weekend called for new Palestinian elections in a move widely scene as an attempt to dismantle the Hamas-led PA. Hamas has said it would boycott any new ballots. As Palestinian president, Abbas has the authority to abolish the PA and order new elections held. Hamas won a majority of Palestinian parliamentary seats in elections earlier this year. Since his call for new ballots, Hamas and militants from Abbas' Fatah faction have been engaging in heavy fighting. Yesterday, the convoy of Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar came under fire as it passed through Gaza City. Members of Hamas accused Fatah of trying to assassinate al-Zahar. Hours later, Hamas assaulted a Force 17 base in the Gaza Strip just outside Abbas' office and Gaza residence. Abbas was in the West Bank at the time. A presidential guard official denounced the Hamas attack as an assault on the "symbol of Palestinian legitimacy." Hamas members also reportedly opened fire at a major political rally in Gaza last night held in support of Fatah. Three people were wounded at the gathering, Palestinian security officials said. An estimated 100,000 Fatah supporters participated in the rally. Hamas sources told WND the terror group is debating whether to publicly reintroduce its "military wing" and carry out attacks against Israel. "It is only a matter of a political decision before we restart attacks and put our military wing into effect," said a top Hamas source. The last Hamas suicide bombing inside Israel took place in 2004. In November, a Palestinian woman attempted a suicide attack on behalf of Hamas against Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip. The woman blew herself up prematurely after being identified by Israeli soldiers. Hamas largely has refrained from openly carrying out attacks against Israel since it took over the Palestinian government, although the terror group took part in the raid of an Israeli military station in June in which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. Israeli security officials say Hamas members have participated in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip aimed at nearby Jewish cities. Also, Israel says Hamas facilitates attacks by the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella of terror organizations operating in Gaza. Still, Hamas' "military wing" has reportedly been active. Abu Abdullah previously told WND Hamas has been preparing in the Gaza Strip for attacks against Israel. "In the last fifteen months, even though the fighters of Hamas kept the cease-fire, we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level. In the future, after Hamas is obliged to stop the cease-fire, the world shall see our new military capabilities," Abu Abdullah said.







Hamas: Abbas Has Declared War on Allah

Dec. 15….(AP) Chairman of the Hamas faction in parliament Khalil al-Haya, told a crowd of tens of thousands at a Hamas rally in Gaza Friday that "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared war on Allah and on the will of the Palestinian people." "We warn before it's too late that we shall strike with an iron fist all those involved in hurting our leaders and members, and those responsible for the attempt to assassinate the prime minister," he added. Al-Haya accused the members of the Presidential Guard of launching the attack against Haniyeh, and referred to Abbas' anticipated speech Saturday: "We will fight with force for the voter's choice against those who want to bring about a coup."  Abbas' speech has caused much turmoil in the PA, as the president is expected to announce the dismissal of the government, and holding a referendum or early elections. During the rally, Hamas speakers said that any proposal promoted by Abbas will be met with opposition.





“North American Union” Leader says Merger Just A Crisis Away

Leading intellectual force behind effort toward EU-style unity looks at future

American Univ. Prof. Robert Pastor

Dec. 15….(WND) Robert Pastor, a leading intellectual force in the move to create an EU-style North American Community, told WND he believes a new 9/11 crisis could be the catalyst to merge the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Pastor, a professor at American University, says that in such a case the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, launched in 2005 by the heads of the three countries at a summit in Waco, Texas, could be developed into a continental union, complete with a new currency, the Amero, that would replace the US dollar just as the euro has replaced the national currencies of Europe.  Pastor believes that another national crises can force decisions that otherwise would not be made. "The 9/11 crisis made Canada and the United States redefine the protection of their borders," Pastor explained. "The debt crisis in Mexico forced the government to adapt a new economic model. The crises oblige the governments to make difficult decisions." This was the first time WND had found a major intellectual leader behind the push to integrate North America suggesting that a crisis of 9-11 proportions might be just what was needed to advance the process toward establishing a North American Union and the Amero. Pastor was careful to distinguish that his proposals were designed to create a North American Community and that he never has proposed to create a North American Union as an EU-style regional government. Pastor affirmed he favors globalism. I believe," he explained to WND, "that globalization is a net plus for the world economy, for the middle class, and for all people."



Jimmy Carter: Anti-Semitic Scum

Dec. 15….(By Melanie Morgan) When the nuclear-obsessed North Korean government got angry about the pro-American antics of John Bolton, they threw a temper tantrum during which they called Mr. Bolton "human scum." The derisive remark about Bolton was way off the mark; John Bolton has been one of the world's greatest champions for freedom and liberty. In this world of zany dictators, murderous tyrants and terrorists, we could hold a pageant to search for the best contenders for who should wear the banner representing "human scum." But Jimmy Carter beats them out and deserves to have the crown all to himself. This week saw new charges of lying, plagiarism and anti-Semitism directed toward Carter for a new book he's authored. These latest missteps reinforced what many of us have long known: Jimmy Carter is a bitter man who has recklessly celebrated tyranny, given cover to our enemies and undermined the forces of liberty. No other prominent American has so often pursued appeasement and kinder treatment of the agents of evil: the communist Soviet bloc, the crack-pot communist regime in North Korea, the murderous communist regime in Cuba, Islamic radicals in Iran, Palestinian suicide sponsors, Islamic terrorist groups in the Middle East and Hugo Chavez's Marxist regime in Venezuela to name a few. Not once has Carter's "be kind to the murderous forces of tyranny" approach brought about peace or harmony for the world's people. Instead he has undermined the standing of free nations in their efforts to spread the light of freedom and democracy throughout the world. In Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," he compares the Israeli government to the internationally condemned system of apartheid in South Africa. In doing so, Carter makes it clear that when it comes to the democratically elected government in Jerusalem versus the forces of Islamic terrorism, he is sympathetic to the side of the terrorists. Since leaving office, Carter has repeatedly spoken out against the peaceful people of Israel and instead befriended the PLO terrorist leader Yasser Arafat, while working to pressure Israel to give more land away to the terrorists. During the elections in the Palestinian territories, Jimmy Carter went so far as to travel to the region to validate the election of the terrorist group Hamas to head the government there. He went on to beg the international community to give millions of dollars in cash to Hamas, providing hollow assurances to the world that any money received wouldn't be used to fund the group's paramilitary and terrorist programs. We've gotten such bogus promises before from Jimmy Carter when he promised us his special deal with the North Korean communist regime would mean a nuclear-free North Korea. Carter seems convinced that America is an "evil empire" and not the "shining city on a hill" that Ronald Reagan saw 26 years ago when he defeated Carter for President.



Has One World Order Group Taken Control Of US Foreign Policy?

Dec. 15….(Bill Wilson, KIN) The globalist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) may now be in full control of American foreign policy as its members are shaping policy and events that impact the international stage. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Robert Gates, the Bush Administration’s nominee for Secretary of Defense and a member of the CFR, for the first time broke a longstanding 40 year agreement of ambiguity between Israel and the United States by confirming Israel had nuclear weapons. In addition, Gates said that no one can promise that Iran will not use nuclear weapons against Israel, a statement interpreted by many as indicating the United States would sit on the sidelines rather than protect Israel. The second coup de tat of the CFR is the Iraq Study Group Report. Hailed by liberals and terrorists as a long-awaited “I told you so,” the report called for negotiations with terrorist sponsors Syria and Iran and the tying together of the Palestinian issue with the Iraq war. The report left the strong impression that Israel was at the center of the entire Middle East unrest and that America should be negotiating with Israel’s enemies rather than supporting Israel. The leaders of the Iraq Study Group, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, are both members of the CFR. Baker has gone so far as suggesting a Middle East peace negotiation in Madrid, Spain with Arab enemies of Israel, without Israel’s participation. Meantime, President Bush appears to be backing away from the suggestions of the Iraq Study Group to have direct talks with Syria and Iran. He has said that there will be no discussions with Iran until it stops its nuclear enrichment nor with Syria until it stops trying to overthrow the government in Lebanon. But key Council on Foreign Relations members in policy-driving positions may overtake the President’s opposition as they continue to shape events. For example, CFR member and long time advisor to presidents, Brent Scowcroft reportedly emerged as a mover and shaker behind the Iraq Study Group report. He is a mentor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also a member of the CFR. Perspective: CFR’s expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations, Henry Siegman was quoted as saying, “if you really want to stop the violence and get a peace agreement and put the parties on a road toward a peace process, no one except Hamas can deliver.” These people believe that the terrorist organizations who have said Israel should not exist and are arming against Israel each day should be trusted to bring peace to the region. With these people shaping foreign policy, the only sure bet is appeasement and war. Jeremiah 8:15 says, “We looked for peace, but no good came.” Seek Christ that you are not deceived.



EU Charges Iran with Destabilizing Middle East

Dec. 15….(YNET) The European Union accused Iran on Friday of destabilizing the Middle East with its nuclear program and threats towards Israel, in a significant hardening of the 25-nation bloc's tone towards Tehran. A tough statement drafted for adoption by EU leaders at a summit also condemned Iran's questioning of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. "The European Council expresses its concern about the negative impact of Iranian policies on stability and security in the Middle East," The draft statement said.  "The European Council deplores Iran's failure to take the steps required by the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors and the UN Security Council, and agrees that this could only have negative consequences for relations between the EU and Iran," the draft said. It said the EU "expresses deep concern at the Iranian government's recent statements concerning the EU and individual member states, as well as its threats towards Israel and the continuing deterioration of human rights and political freedoms of its citizens". Tehran cancelled a regular meeting of the EU-Iran human rights dialogue due this month.  Referring to this week's international gathering in Tehran questioning the Holocaust, the draft said: "The EU condemns any denial of the Holocaust as a historical fact, either in whole or in part, and therefore firmly rejects the underlying premise and the objectives of the conference." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has stirred an international outcry by referring to Nazi Germany's killing of 6 million Jews in World War Two as a "myth", told delegates at the conference that Israel's days were numbered.



Hamas and Fatah Battling

imageDec. 15….(DEBKA) Mahmoud Abbas’ loyalists fired on Haniya's convoy as it entered Gaza, killing a bodyguard, injuring five including his son. Hamas accused Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan of orchestrating the attack. Haniya returning from the two-week tour Thursday night was permitted by Israel to enter through the Rafah crossing minus the suitcases packed with an estimated $31m out of the quarter of a billion Iran donated to Hamas’ war chest during his visit to Tehran. Abbas’ presidential guard, Force 17, opened fire on Hamiya’s convoy as it drove through, further raising the pitch of the Hamas-Fatah violence sweeping the Gaza Strip since Sunday. Abbas has promised a "speech to the nation" Saturday and is expected to call a new election and declare the Hamas government transitional. Hamas would regard this move as a casus belli. Shops shut down in central Ramallah Friday against rival Hamas and Fatah processions exploding into clashes. Thursday, hundreds of Hamas Ezz e-Din al-Qassam militiamen reacted to the Rafah closure by seized control of the Rafah crossing under heavy gunfire which put the European monitors and Fatah Presidential Guard 17 troops to flight. They then tore down the terminal structures and blew up the border fence. The compromise which let Haniya through was negotiated by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman who guaranteed the cash from Tehran would be deposited with the Arab League in Cairo. The Palestinian prime minister was accompanied on his tour by a senior Hamas military delegation led by Abu Obeida al Jerat, who signed military pacts with the heads of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for them to give Hamas terrorists advanced combat training. DEBKAfile’s military sources say Israel should have prevented Haniya’s entry with his party, even without the cash, to prevent the Iranian military training program from getting started in the Gaza Strip.



Fatah Attempts Killing of Hamas PM Haniyeh

Dec. 15….(Arutz) Hamas leader Haniyeh has vowed revenge for a shooting attack on his entourage, which occurred when he returned from his first trip abroad as PA Prime Minister. His personal bodyguard was killed and his son took a bullet to the shoulder, one of 30 people wounded in the crossfire between Hamas gunmen and forces loyal to PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction. "We know the party that shot directly at our cars, injuring some of the people with me,” Haniyeh said. “And we also know how to deal with this." Friday Hamas began deploying the armed groups under its control throughout Gaza, preparing for clashes with Fatah. PA police in Ramallah declared the center of the PA-controlled town a closed military zone after Hamas and Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades declared their intentions of following Friday prayers with armed marches through the center. Security forces are out in force and businesses are closed in anticipation of clashes between the groups. Earlier Thursday, Hamas-controlled terrorists took over the Gaza-Egypt border in a pitched gun battle with the Fatah-loyal PA police stationed there, after they prevented Haniyeh from smuggling a large amount of cash in with him upon his return from Egypt. European Union observers were whisked to safety, and refused to return, maintaining a closure on the Rafah crossing. Meanwhile, Hamas terrorists detonated explosives, blowing yet another hole in the already porous border with the Sinai. Fatah-loyal PA police arrested a Hamas man they say is responsible for the execution of the three children of a Fatah intelligence chief. On Wednesday two Hamas men were wounded when a Fatah terrorist threw a hand-grenade into a crowd of Hamas men parading through Gaza’s Neseirat slums. Earlier that day a judge affiliated with Hamas was gunned down. PA sources are talking about the possibility of full-blown civil war following Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas’s much-hyped statement to be delivered Saturday in which he is expected to dissolve the government and call new elections in an attempt to turn back the clock on the Hamas victory that marginalized Yassir Arafat’s Fatah movement.



Assad: No Middle EastPeace Without Damascus and Tehran

Dec. 15….(Ha Aretz) The United States and Europe must talk to Syria and Iran if they want a comprehensive solution to Iraq and other Middle East conflicts, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published on Friday. Assad told Rome's la Repubblica newspaper Damascus was ready to cooperate with Washington to resolve regional issues and challenged Israel to open up to Syria. He also said Europe had a "complex" over the Jewish Holocaust. "The fact is that we (Syrians) live in this region, we know it well," he said in the long interview, adding that Washington "needs our help" to formulate a plan for Iraq. Asked if he was ready to work constructively with Washington, he said, "Certainly we are ready to do so. Because if you don't resolve regional questions, Iraq, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will be we bordering countries that will pay the highest price." Syria had "excellent relations" with many factions in Iraq and could support a national conference on the future of the country, he said. Assad also said the United States and Europe "must talk to Tehran." A report released last week in Washington by a special panel recommended the United States engage Syria and Iran to bring about stability in Iraq. The White House has so far rejected such contacts and President George W. Bush renewed his criticism of Damascus on Wednesday, accusing Syria of human rights abuses and of trying to undermine Lebanese sovereignty. Assad said the Iraq Study Group report vindicated Syria's position that it had to be listened to. Assad said Israel should also take up Syria's offer to hold talks. "I say to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: 'Take a chance. Discover if we are bluffing or not.'" Israel is firmly opposed to talks with Syria, saying Damascus needs first to cut its links to the anti-Israeli militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Syria wants talks to recover the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967. Asked about this week's conference sponsored by Iran questioning the Holocaust, Assad said: "Listen, Europe has a complex about the Holocaust. We don't because we didn't do it. However, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected a bipartisan panel's recommendation that the Bush administration engage Syria and Iran in efforts to stabilize Iraq, The Washington Post reported on Friday. The "compensation" required for any such deal might be too high, Rice told the paper in an interview. Rice said she did not want to trade away Lebanese sovereignty to Syria or allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon as a price for peace in Iraq, the Post reported. She also argued that neither Syria nor Iran should need incentives to help achieve stability in Iraq, the Post reported. "If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," Rice said. Rice told The Washington Post that Bush could be "quite expansive" in the policy review and that the new plan would be a "departure." However, she told the newspaper that Bush would not radically change any of his long-term goals or commitment to Iraq. Rice also said the administration would not retreat from its push to promote democracy in the Middle East and reiterated her commitment to pursuing peace between Palestinians and Israelis, the Post said. "Get ready. We are going to the Middle East a lot," Rice said.



EU Wants a Middle East Free of WMDs

Dec. 15….(AP) The European Union called Thursday for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, responding to recent comments by the Israeli prime minister that have been interpreted as acknowledging his country has a nuclear arsenal. In interview with a Germany television station broadcast Monday, Ehud Olmert appeared to list Israel among the world's nuclear powers. The next day, however, he denied having "outed" his country's nuclear program. Although Israel is widely assumed to have nuclear weapons, it has maintained a policy of ambiguity since the 1960s, refusing to confirm or deny it. "The position of the European Union is very clear," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "In the long term, we don't want to have the Middle East with weapons of mass destruction." Olmert's remarks came when the interviewer asked him about Iran's calls for the destruction of Israel. "Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map," Olmert said. "Can you say that this is the same level, when you are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?" The next day, Olmert insisted that Israel "will not be the first country that introduces nuclear weapons to the Middle East." Solana has been the UN Security Council's point man in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The Islamic country says its program is meant only to generate power, but the US, its European allies and Israel fear Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. The Security Council could vote next week on whether to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can generate power or create the fissile core of nuclear warheads. At a summit Thursday, 25 EU foreign ministers urged Syria to play a constructive role in Middle East peace efforts and encouraged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to keep up efforts to form a coalition government between his Fatah party and the Islamic militant Hamas. Factional violence between Fatah and Hamas has pushed the rivals closer to civil war.



The End of Pax Americana

(FOJ Note: This excerpt from a recent Newsweek article is worth reading. It highlights the fact that America’s retreat from Iraq, and seeming inevitable capitulation to the advancement of an overall Middle East peace process that compromises Israel’s Promised Land will have repercussions on America’s leadership position in the world. That lofty fall may be just the geo-political bonanza that could result in the elevation of the Ten Kings that will soon exalt the Antichrist.)

Dec. 14….(Newsweek) With hindsight, we may see 2006 as the end of Pax Americana. Ever since World War II, the United States has used its military and economic superiority to promote a stable world order that has, on the whole, kept the peace and spread prosperity. But the United States increasingly lacks both the power and the will to play this role. It isn't just Iraq, though Iraq has been profoundly destabilizing and demoralizing. Many other factors erode US power: China's rise; probable nuclear proliferation; shrinking support for open trade; higher spending for Social Security and Medicare that squeezes the military, and the weakness of traditional US allies, Europe and Japan. By objective measures, Pax Americana's legacy is enormous. Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no nuclear device has been used in anger. Under the US military umbrella, democracy flourished in Western Europe and Japan. It later spread to South Korea, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. In 1977, there were 89 autocratic regimes in the world and only 35 democracies, the center estimates. In 2005, there were 88 democracies and 29 autocracies. Prosperity has been unprecedented. Historian Angus Maddison tells us that from 1950 to 1998 the world economy expanded by a factor of six. Global trade increased 20 times. These growth rates were well beyond historic experience. Living standards exploded. Since 1950, average incomes have multiplied about 16 times in South Korea, 11 times in Japan and six times in Spain, reports Maddison. From higher bases, the increases were nearly five times in Germany, four in France and three in the United States. It is fatuous to think all this would have occurred spontaneously. Since the Marshall Plan, the United States has been a stabilizing influence, albeit with lapses (the Vietnam War, the 1970s inflation, now Iraq). Aside from security, it provided a global currency, the dollar. To Americans, the lesson of World War II was that, to prevent a repetition, the United States had to promote global stability. It had to accept short-term costs and burdens to avoid larger long-term costs and burdens. But the triumphalism following the cold war fed overconfidence. Pax Americana was thought to be able to continue forever. It was "the end of history,' democracy and free markets would spread. The United States was a "hyperpower.'' The flaw in all this theorizing was to mistake strength for power. Statistically, the United States remains the world's strongest nation. Its economy is the wealthiest, triple the size of Japan's. Its all-volunteer military is the best trained and most technologically advanced. "No other state is building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, stealth fighters or unmanned aerial vehicles,'' writes Max Boot, author of "War Made New.'' The United States has 12 carriers; Britain, the runner-up, has three smaller carriers. The trouble is that strength, measurable and impressive, does not translate directly into power. Power is the ability to get others to do what you want. Here, America is weaker. Iraq has reminded us that religious and ethnic loyalties dim the appeal of democracy, freedom and materialism. Militarily, "asymmetrical threats'' often neutralize conventional advantages, as Boot notes. Iraq has confirmed that, too. If Iran and North Korea become permanent nuclear powers, the US military edge will decline further. Any action against either country would be tempered by the possibility of a nuclear exchange. Worse, other regional powers (Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) may decide to go nuclear to have deterrence. A black market in atomic technology would almost inevitably follow, increasing the odds of terrorists acquiring a bomb. The end of the cold war probably reduced, not increased, American power. Without the Soviet threat, Europe and Japan felt less reason to follow US leadership. China's emergence is altering the world balance. America won't retire from the world stage, but how active it will be is unclear. Iraq has reduced national confidence and credibility. Given the rampant anti-Americanism abroad today, the fading of Pax Americana may inspire much glee. No one can know what will replace Pax Americana, but with time, the people who now celebrate its decline may conclude that its failures were mainly those of good intentions and that its successes were unwisely taken for granted.



Israel Worried Hamas and Iran Developing Strategic Relations

Dec. 14….(Ha Aretz) Members of the Israeli defense establishment are concerned by the close ties that seem to be developing between Iran and Hamas. In response to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's recent visit to Tehran, experts here have said Iran is seeking to form a strategic alliance with Hamas. According to these sources, the Iranians would like to develop a relationship with Hamas similar to that with Hezbollah in Lebanon, in which the "final word," on matters regarding Israel, too, is Tehran's. In Israel, experts are interpreting Hamas' move toward Iran as an act of defiance, in part based on the group's success in minimizing the damage caused by the international embargo on its Palestinian Authority government. During his visit to Tehran last week, Haniyeh said Iran constitutes "strategic depth" for the Palestinians. He also stressed that his organization would never recognize Israel. This is the first time the Hamas leadership has publicly adopted such a view on Iran, a position directly opposed to that of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who regards moderate Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan as the Palestinians' natural allies. Abbas' Fatah is also very interested in building ties with the United States and the European Union. On Wednesday, Haniyeh cut short his visit to Sudan and returned to the Gaza Strip in light of the growing tension between Hamas and Fatah. One of his aides said Haniyeh rushed back to assist in resolving domestic problems. The close ties between the Hamas-led government and Tehran are also manifesting themselves in the links between the Iranian leadership and the group's political bureau, based in Damascus and headed by Khaled Meshal. Iran is actively contributing funds to boost these ties, and recently committed $250 million, which unlike previous grants will constitute a regular transfer to cover various PA expenses. The Iranian funding will be used in part to pay wages for civil servants and members of security forces affiliated with Hamas, as well as to construct camps for the security forces and to compensate Palestinian families that lost their homes in Israel Defense Forces operations. "These gifts are not free," Israeli security sources told Haaretz. "The Iranians are expecting returns: a rise in influence among the Palestinians and Hamas compliance to their orders." In the past, in part because Hamas, a radical Sunni Islamic organization, was wary of Shi'ite Iran, senior group officials were careful not to stress close ties overtly with Tehran. Haniyeh's visit to Iran was closely monitored by Israel, as were the various statements by senior Hamas officials. The impression among various security officials is that Hamas has gained confidence in recent weeks, in part because of developments including Israel's decision to accept a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. While the cease-fire appears to be holding, even though five Qassam rockets were launched at the western Negev on Tuesday, Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the IDF to continue preparations for a major ground operation in the Gaza Strip if necessary. Defense establishment assessments do not exclude the possibility of Iran pressuring Hamas to renew terrorist activities. At this stage, IDF sources say, Hamas has been successful in maintaining the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and is keeping its word like Fatah did in the past. Regarding the launching of rockets, the sources say that other militant organizations are to blame, including Fatah and Islamic Jihad. However, most of the time the calm has been kept. Hamas' military wing is exhibiting discipline and is following instructions from its leadership to avoid violence against Israel. In addition to Iran's commitment to transfer funds to Hamas, the group was also promised aid from Arab states, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Palestinian government under Hamas is exhibiting stability even though it has been under pressure from the Quartet to accept preconditions, such as recognizing Israel, in return for financial assistance. On the military front, Hamas is continuing with efforts to expand its arsenal, and its security organizations have been recruiting deserters from Fatah-affiliated groups. The group has also extended the range of its Qassam rockets from their usual 10-12 kilometers, and improved the quality of explosives being used in its warheads. Both Hamas in the Palestinian Authority and the exiled leadership in Damascus believe the Israeli government is weak, and attribute Israel's willingness to agree to a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip as a manifestation of this. Hamas' apparent growing confidence may be one of the reasons Meshal has toughened his stance in the negotiations for the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Meshal went as far as to warn recently that if the condition of Palestinians in Gaza did not improve, Hamas would renew violent operations against Israel within six months. However, Hamas' real concern is the threat posed not by Israel, but by the looming instability caused by the power struggle with Fatah and the growing fears of an imminent civil war.



Ahmadinejad, Neturei Karta: Zionists are Criminals

(After Holocaust denial conference, warm meeting takes place between Iranian president, ultra-Orthodox representatives in his office. At end of meeting, he calls on representatives of three religions 'to build united front against Zionists.' Meanwhile, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger calls on world rabbis to boycott Neturei Karta members who took part in Tehran conference)

Dec. 14….(Arutz) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met Thursday with Neturei Karta representatives who arrived at the Holocaust denial conference held in Tehran this week.  The rabbis who took part in the meeting thanked the president for his "courageous stance against the Zionist regime's crimes" and thanked him for his support of the Jews. They told him that they "disagree with the Zionists' crimes in occupied Palestine." They also said that "the Jews' massacre in World War II served as an excuse for the Zionists and their supporters to establish the State of Israel." In photos taken by AFP, the Iranian president is seen shaking their hands and talking to some of them. In the Tehran conference, different "experts" expressed their doubts that the Holocaust took place. In a statement issued by the Iranian president's office at the end of the meeting, Ahmadinejad called on religious figures, scientists and researchers from the three religions to "establish a united front against the Zionists in order to prevent crimes against humanity."

    Iranian president with Neturei Karta in his office image

 According to a report by the Iranian news agency IRNA, the Iranian president called on world powers and on the Zionists "to remove the fake Zionist regime as they established it, or to hold a referendum in order to determine the type of regime the Palestinians prefer, with the participation of all Palestinians, including Jews, Christians and Muslims." The Iranian president distinguished between the Zionists and the Jews, saying that "those who understand and seek justice will not be listed among the Jews responsible for the crimes of the Zionist regime in occupied Palestine, including the killing of defenseless women and children." According to the report, during the meeting the participants "also discussed ways to solve the Palestinian issue through a dialogue." Israel's Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger on Wednesday night called on world rabbi’s to reject Neturei Karta members who participated in the Holocaust denial conference in Iran, saying they “sabotaged Israel” and should not be allowed entrance to Temples. “They betrayed the Jewish people and their heritage and particularly disgraced the Shoah and desecrated its memory. They tried to stain the Jewish people, who shy away from this low behavior, with their shameful behavior,” Metzger said. According to Jewish law, only a court with a panel of at least three rabbinical judges has the power to start a boycott. Rabbi Metzger’s spokesman Arik Eliovitz told Ynet that the rabbi had “made the call on his own with out other rabbis”. Israel Hirsch, a member of Neturei Karta living in the Meah Shaarim neighborhood of Jerusalem, who attended the conference explained, "The haredim who attended the conference for investigating the Holocaust in Iran share a common platform with Ahmadinejad when it comes to the so-called myth the Zionist movement created around the Holocaust. "They wanted to make it clear in Tehran that Zionism uses the Holocaust as an excuse for the existence of the Zionist state in the Land of Israel," he said. Hirsch continued, "Because the UN agreed to establish a state because of the Holocaust, the Iranians are claiming something very logical. They aren't saying that there wasn't a Holocaust, but who perpetrated the Holocaust? The Nazis, the Germans. So they should at least pay compensation to the Jewish nation and establish a Jewish state within Germany and not within the land of Israel, which belongs to the Palestinians." Israel’s former chief rabbi, current Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau did not buy the explanations of the Jews who attended the conference. “It is something completely insane. If it’s possible that there is any Jew, who for some reason or another can support a Holocaust denier in a generation where people with numbers tattooed on their arms are still among us, it’s an insanity that has no justification and no explanation,” he concluded.

FOJ Note: The President of Iran, being a proponent of the 12th Imam, and the Orthodox Jews are both anticipating the Messiah. Perhaps they are looking for the same individual.


United States True deficit: $3.5 trillion

(Analyst says coming Treasury report will document 'unsustainable' pace)

Dec. 14….(WND) A report scheduled to be released by the Treasury Department tomorrow is expected to show the true deficit in the Bush administration's 2006 federal budget to be an astounding $3.5 trillion in the red, not $248.2 billion as previously reported. "The Bush administration is running a federal budget deficit at an unsustainable, system-dooming pace of about $3.5 trillion a year, econometrician John Williams, who publishes the website Shadow Government Statistics, told WND. Williams' argument is fully validated in the Financial Report of the United States, a little-known report Congress has mandated that the Treasury Department publishes each year, reporting the federal budget on a GAAP accounting basis, not on a cash accrual basis. The 2006 edition of the Financial Report of the United States is due out tomorrow. "Typically, the Treasury reports the budget deficit on current accounts basis. That's why Treasury announced recently that the 2006 federal budget deficit was going to be $248.2 billion. But it is a gimmick," Williams claimed. "When we see the Treasury report on Friday we are probably going to find out that the real 2006 federal budget deficit is more like $3.5 trillion." Williams predicts, however, the mainstream media won't report it. "It's not the type of news Reuters, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal like to broadcast to investors and the American public," he said. "Besides, the financial press won't take the time and effort to analyze the figures and comb through the footnotes. The report is going to be released on Friday and most financial reporters aren't accountants." Why the huge discrepancy between the two figures? "The $248 billion federal budget deficit figure results from what basically amounts to a cash flow analysis," Williams explained. "On a cash basis, the Treasury takes all the tax revenue, including Social Security taxes, as current income. The trick is that Treasury essentially steals the money that comes in on Social Security taxes, without accounting for any offsetting Social Security liability. When you run your accounting that way, the Treasury gets to report a federal budget deficit that dramatically reduces the real figure." What's different about the anticipated 2006 Financial Report of the United States? "Congress a few years ago mandated that the Treasury had to report one report each year that used GAAP accounting," Williams told WND. "Then, when you figure in all liabilities including Social Security and Medicare, the real 2006 deficit is huge by comparison. What I expect to show up on Friday is a real federal budget deficit of $3.5 trillion or more, not the $248.2 billion earlier reported." "Even worse," Williams continued, "the US Government's negative net worth widened to $49.4 trillion in 2005. For the first time, total government liabilities have topped $50 trillion, and the number is continuing to grow. The United States is bankrupt, whether the Bush administration wants to admit it or not." How serious a problem are federal deficits of this magnitude? "A federal budget deficit in the trillions of dollars is beyond the reach of fiscal control," Williams answered. "Even if the federal government raised individual and corporate income taxes to 100 percent, simply confiscating every penny every business and person in the US made, we would still have a federal deficit." "There are lots of people who know that the federal deficit is in the trillions," Williams continued. "The problem is that few dare sound the alarm. The magnitude of the budget deficit problem is just too enormous and neither political party has the courage to address the problem." Williams is clear about the coming danger. "The United States is bankrupt," he insisted. "With less than one-tenth of the actual deficit being reported each year, a cumulative negative net worth exceeding $50 trillion has built up in stealth to where the total obligations of the US government are now more than four times our annual gross domestic product. "The Treasury numbers in the Financial Report of the United States are hard," Williams insisted, "and the doomsday is not far off.



Pope Meets Olmert, Praises 'Turn-the-Other-Cheek' Policy

imageDec. 13….(Ha Aretz) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Catholic Pope Benedict XVI today. The Pope praised Israel’s policy of adhering to a cease-fire deal with Hamas despite the continued missile attacks on its citizens.

Olmert urged the Pope to encourage Christians to take a stance against Holocaust denial in light of Iran’s state-sponsored conference this week, questioning the reality of the Nazi genocide. The Vatican released a statement directed at the Iranian conference on, saying, "The Shoah [Holocaust] was a great tragedy before which we cannot remain indifferent. The memory of those horrible events must remain as a warning for people's consciences." The Pope praised Olmert’s visit to Germany and lauded Israel’s decision not to respond to continued missile attacks on Jewish towns in the western Negev. The Pontiff discussed with Olmert the Vatican’s land holdings in Israel and the Catholic Church’s aims to develop a center on Mount Zion. According to Olmert’s office, the prime minister issued an invitation during the meeting for the Pope to visit Israel, saying that, “his very presence would increase peace in Israel.” Benedict said he would come to Israel “when things calm down.” The Catholic world leader recently visited Turkey in an attempt to placate outraged Muslims following statements he made quoting an opinion that Islam is violent. Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations in 1990.



Saudis Warn President Bush Against US Pullout

Dec. 13….(AP) Saudi Arabia warned Washington that it might provide financial aid to Iraqi Sunnis in any fighting against Shiites if the US pulls its troops out of Iraq. White House spokesman Tony Snow said, the Saudis have made it clear that they're committed to the same goals we are, which is a self-sustaining Iraq that can sustain, govern and defend itself, that will recognize and protect the rights of all, regardless of sect or religion. And furthermore, they share our concerns about the role the Iranians are playing in the region." Saudi Arabia, a majority Sunni country, has promised US officials that it would not intervene to assist Iraq's Sunni insurgency, but that promise might not hold if US troops leave Iraq, the source said. Saudi King Abdullah reportedly issued the warning to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Cheney's visit to Riyadh. The message also emphasized the kingdom's displeasure with proposed talks between the US government and Iran. In Saudi Arabia, an official flatly denied the report. The AP reported last week that private citizens in Saudi Arabia are funneling money to Sunni insurgents in Iraq, often through either charitable donations or carried by trucks carrying pilgrims and their luggage between the two countries. Iran, a majority Shiite country, is believed to be providing military and financial support to Shiite elements in Iraq. The recently released Iraq Study Group report suggested the Bush administration engage Iran and neighboring Syria in talks aimed at applying pressure on Iraqi Shiites to keep what some analysts are calling a civil war from spiraling into a regional conflict. Saudi Arabia has expressed concern that once US troops leave Iraq that the controlling Shiite majority could massacre the Sunni minority, believed to comprise a large faction of the deadly insurgency that has claimed thousands of Iraqi civilian and US military lives. Saudi Arabia's fears seemed to have been exacerbated by growing discussions in Washington aimed at accelerating the timeframe for bringing troops home.



Holocaust Deniers Praise Ahmadinejad

Dec. 13….(Newsmax) Participants at a conference questioning whether the Holocaust took place praised Iran's hard-line president, saying the gathering gives them the chance to air theories casting doubt on the Nazi genocide that are banned in parts of Europe. International condemnation continued to pour in against the government-sponsored conference in Tehran, which has drawn Holocaust deniers from around the world. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was "shocking beyond belief" and called the conference "a symbol of sectarianism and hatred." He said he saw little hope of engaging Iran in constructive action in the Middle East, saying, "I look around the region at the moment, and everything Iran is doing is negative." The United States, which also condemned the gathering, has been considering whether to open a dialogue with Iran to get its help in calming neighboring Iraq. President George W. Bush has so far refused to approach Iran, accusing it of backing terrorism. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad initiated the two-day gathering, which began on Monday, in an attempt to bolster his image as a leader standing up to Israel, Europe and the United States, an image he has used to whip up support at home and abroad. Earlier this year, the hard-liner president has described the Holocaust as a "myth" that has been used to impose the state of Israel on the Arab world and called for Israel to be wiped off the map. "Ahmadinejad's Holocaust comment opened a new window in international relations on this issue. The 67 participants from 30 countries, who include some of Europe's most prominent Holocaust deniers were expected to meet Ahmadinejad later Tuesday. "This conference has an incredible impact on Holocaust studies all over the world," said American David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and former state representative in Louisiana. "The Holocaust is the device used as the pillar of Zionist imperialism, Zionist aggression, Zionist terror and Zionist murder," Duke told The Associated Press. Also among the participants were two rabbis and four other members of the group Jews United Against Zionism, who were dressed in the traditional long black coats and black hats of ultra-Orthodox Jews. The group says the creation of the state of Israel violated Jewish law and argues that the Holocaust should not be used to justify its founding. Many of the speakers at the conference insisted the extent of the Holocaust had been largely exaggerated, some contending Jews had exploited it to win backing for the creation of Israel. Ahmadinejad has won support in some parts of Asia and the Middle East for his tough rhetoric against Israel, and it has helped keep up his support among hard-liners in Iran. But the Holocaust conference only solidified his image in the West as a threat.



Tehran Calls on UN Security Council and Organization of the Islamic Conference to Combat “Israeli Threats

Dec. 13….(DEBKA) This statement by the foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini in Tehran Wednesday, Dec. 13 was the first Iranian official response to prime minister Ehud Olmert’s indication in Berlin Monday, Dec. 11 that Israel has a nuclear weapon. Later, the prime minister amended his statement by saying: “Israel has said many times it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. That was our position – nothing has changed.” The Iranian spokesman said: "His confession shows the real threat to security and stability in the Middle East and it shows this regime's evil plans to carry out threats against Islamic countries, a terror strategy and continued occupation." In Cairo, Mohammed Sobeih, the Arab League’s assistant secretary general in charge of Palestinian affairs said the 22-member organization must exert pressure on Israel through the International Atomic Energy Agency to open its nuclear facilities to inspection.



In Boiling Gaza, Its Terror vs. Terror

Dec. 13….(Stan Goodenough) Inter-Arab fighting continues to escalate in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas members and Fatah supporters continue killing one another in cold blood. Early Wednesday, four men alighted from an unmarked car outside a courthouse in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, shooting dead Bassem el-Fara, a judge affiliated with the Hamas. The murder comes 48 hours after Hamas-linked gunmen butchered three small children of a Fatah-affiliated member of the Palestinian Authority. It was also the second assassination of a judge in the past four days. The killings have been followed by demonstrations by armed men gathering at traffic intersections in Gaza, firing their weapons into the air and screaming for revenge.



Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust Denial Conference: Israel Will be 'Wiped Out'

Dec. 13….(Jerusalem Post) As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated nearly 10 times on Tuesday that Israel's policy on nuclear ambiguity remained unchanged, after sparking an uproar the day earlier with comments to a German television network implying the opposite, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed once again that Israel would be "wiped out." Speaking on the second day of a Holocaust conference in Teheran, Ahmadinejad predicted that Israel would follow the path of the former Soviet Union. "The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom," Ahmadinejad said at Tuesday's meeting with the conference participants in his offices, according to Iran's official news agency, IRNA. He said elections should be held among "Jews, Christians and Muslims so the population of Palestine can select their government and destiny for themselves in a democratic manner." Olmert told Israeli reporters at a briefing in the afternoon that his words had been taken out of context, and that if the full interview were read, it would be clear that he said that Israel would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the region, and that his opposition on the Left and the Right were taking advantage of the interview for domestic political purposes. "Israel has said repeatedly that it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East, and this policy has not changed," Olmert told reporters after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her office. With these comments, Olmert was trying to put an end to the tempest that his interview, during which he argued that a nuclear Israel did not pose the same threat as a nuclear Iran, had caused. Merkel, meanwhile, said that the international community must use all diplomatic means at its disposal, including sanctions, to stop Iran's nuclear march. Merkel opened up the press conference by strongly condemning the Holocaust denial conference being held in Iran. "I would like to make clear that we reject with all our strength the conference taking place in Iran about the supposed nonexistence of the Holocaust," Merkel said.



Iran Propping Up Client Terror State: $250 Million to PA

Dec. 12….(Arutz) Iran has promised a quarter of a billion dollars to the Hamas Authority, says Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, turning the PA into a form of Iranian dependency. Haniyeh returned yesterday from a visit to Tehran, his first visit outside Israel since he took office nearly a year ago. He told a Hamas internet site that the promised aid includes the following:

$100 million during the course of 2007

$45 million for aid to terrorist prisoners and their families

$60 million for 100,000 unemployed for six months

$20 million to rebuild destroyed houses

$15 million for public libraries, employees' salaries in three PA government offices for the next six months

$4.5 million for an airplane, refurbishing two more, and the purchase of 300 cars, and money to build three hospitals and ten health clinics in Judea, Samaria and Gaza over the next ten years.

   The PA's annual budget is 6-8 times the above amount. Until Hamas came to power earlier this year, the European Union used to support the Palestinian Authority to the tune of $600 million, and the US used to give $420 million. The two cut off the aid when Hamas refused to renounce terrorism or recognize Israel. However, they have given close to $400 million in humanitarian aid, routing it through UN agencies to prevent it from reaching the Hamas government. Most of the relatively little money promised by Arab nations over the past several years to the Palestinian Authority has not arrived. Iran and Qatar have each promised in the past to give the PA $50 million, enough for about three weeks of PA salary needs. Qatar later upped its offer to $30 million a month. A report by the Council of Foreign Relations asserts that "considering historical precedent, experts say" the aid is not likely to come." The CFR report says, "Members of the Arab League promised the PA $55 million per month in 2002, but Saudi Arabia is the only country that has paid its part of the commitment regularly. Kuwait and other Persian Gulf countries have paid, but not the entire amount they promised, and other Arab League nations like Algeria paid once or twice, or not at all. And experts say donations from other Muslim nations came with their own strings. Contributions from Arab countries 'weren't necessarily tied to need, but more about gaining influence and jockeying for position with other Arab leaders,' says Edward Sayre, an assistant professor of economics at Agnes Scott College and an expert on Palestinian labor markets. 'It had very little to do with PA needs and wants.'" On the other hand, the PA's acting finance minister Samir Abu Aisha said last week that Arab governments had increased their direct payments to the government from $20 million a month before Hamas came to power to $45 million. The money is often smuggled in, with no official control over where it ultimately goes. Last May, reports, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was caught attempting to smuggle nearly $900,000 in cash across the border... Despite the smuggling attempts, many of which have no doubt gone unnoticed by authorities, the funds have yet to be used to pay salaries of the general population, most of which has struggled for nine months without pay. Rather than ending up in the hands of Palestinians, donations from Iran have reportedly been transferred to those close to Hamas and to strengthen the da'wa [outreach] mechanism of the Islamic Resistance Movement." Neither do Arab nations support UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, in a major way. UNRWA's largest donors in 2005 were the European Commission, the United States, Sweden and Norway. UN chief Kofi Annan has issued a call for increased international funding for UNRWA by the US, while blaming the United States for the plight of the Palestinians.



Carter to Leno: Treatment of Palestinians by Israel 'Horrible'

(Carter never mentions onslaught of thousands of terrorist attacks against Israelis)

Dec. 12….(WND) Without ever mentioning the onslaught of attacks by Palestinian terrorists and suicide bombers, former President Jimmy Carter told a national audience watching the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" there is "horrible persecution" of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis, and he is urging a return to peace talks between the residents of the embattled region. "In Palestinian territory, there is horrible persecution of the Palestinians who live on their own land," Carter said. "A minority of Israelis want to have the land instead of peace. The majority of Israelis for the last 30 years have always said [they] will exchange their own land in exchange for peace. But a minority disagrees and they have occupied the land, they have confiscated it, they have colonized it, and they forced Palestinians away from their homes, away from their pastures, away from their fields, cut down the olive trees and severely persecuted the Palestinians." The 82-year-old Carter was on Jay Leno's show last night to promote his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Leno said to the president who held office more than 25 years ago, "But when Israel gives something back, it doesn't seem like they get anything for it. It seems like it just moves some angry people closer to them." "No, that's not true at all," responded Carter. "Israel hasn't really tried to give 'Palestine' back to the Palestinians. They did give up some of Gaza. And then they moved out, and the Palestinians captured one soldier and tried to swap him for 300 children, some as young as 12 years old, and 94 women, but the Israelis wouldn't swap. So then Israel reinvaded Gaza. But if Israel ever wants peace, and they do want peace, a majority of Israelis have always said, 'Let's get rid of the land, and let's have peace.' That's what we need to have." As WND reported last month, the Palestinian terror group Hamas announced the only way to stop its regular rocket fire on Sderot, an Israeli city of about 20,000 nearly three miles from the Gaza Strip border, is for the Jewish state to evacuate the entire city. Abu Abaida, spokesman for Hamas' so-called military wing, said his group is seeking to impose "a new equation in which the Zionists understand that for every incursion into Gaza, we will use our rockets to bombard your towns and cities until more and more are forced to evacuate. Our rockets have already improved, as Sderot residents know. We keep working on (the rockets) to improve deadliness, force and distance."

FOJ Note: Mr. Carter doesn’t know the Bible. The now infamous “disputed land” was given to Israel by God. Israel is not an Apartheid state, as Israel conveys citizenship with full rights to Arabs. To the contrary, the entire Arab world practices apartheid against Israel, rejecting its right to even exist, anywhere. Jimmy Carter is a perfect example of Replacement theology, and of gross anti-Semitism. 



Olmert Breaks Israel’s Nuclear Silence in Response to US Defense Secretary’s Charge

Dec. 12….(DEBKA) Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert made his surprising disclosure Monday, Dec. 11: "Israel doesn’t threaten any country," he said. "Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you see this on the same level when you are aspiring to have a nuclear weapon like the US, France, Israel and Russia?" the Israeli PM asked in an interview today. This was the first Israeli official admission of the possession of nuclear weapons. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Olmert decided on this step in response to US defense secretary Robert Gates’ listing of Israel as among the nuclear states surrounding Iran to explain Tehran’s search for a nuclear deterrent of its own. He was the first American official to confirm Israel had a nuclear weapon and did so without consulting Jerusalem. Olmert chose his journey to Germany, which coincided with the opening in Tehran of a conference negating the Holocaust, for his shock disclosure. This conference is taken in Israel as a vehicle for attacking Zionist legitimacy and so justifying Iran’s ambition to destroy the Jewish state. Olmert used the opportunity to remind Iran’s rulers that Israel possesses a large stock of nuclear weapons capable of not only smashing Iran’s nuclear facilities but also disabling its infrastructure. Olmert went on to note that the US, Russia, France and Great Britain possess nuclear weapons. But," he said; "there is no equating them with a country like Iran. You are talking about civilized countries that do not threaten other countries with the use of nuclear weapons to destroy them." According to our sources, the prime minister did not confer with any minister, military adviser or secret service head before delivering his dramatic revelation. On December 10, DEBKAfile’s military sources offered the view that Israel cannot afford to leave answered Robert Gates’ assertion last Tuesday that no one can guarantee Iran will not use a nuclear bomb to attack Israel. Our analysts urged the Olmert government to counter Iran’s constant threats by embracing a bold, proactive nuclear posture in place of the long-held passive ambiguity. Olmert’s disclosure indeed raised the profile of the Israel-Iran duel. DEBKAfile’s Tehran sources report that high Iranian officials conferred urgently Monday night, Dec. 11, with supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in search of a quick rejoinder to Olmert’s surprise move. They must take into account the effect of their response on their relations with the United States; a naked military threat against Israel could nip in the bud the chance of a US-Iran engagement on Iraq such as the Baker-Hamilton panel has recommended. The prime minister’s few aides in the know took this into consideration. He has also been at pains to down-pedal intelligence of Syrian plans for a summer 2007 war so as not to upset Egyptian and Saudi efforts to detach Damascus from its close collaboration with Tehran.



Israel on the Altar Again

Dec. 11….(By David Dolan) Nearly four years ago, George W. Bush and Tony Blair led a small international coalition into Iraq with the goal of toppling Saddam Hussein's notorious regime and replacing it with a Western-style democracy. I wrote then about my strong misgivings over this dramatic action, despite the fact that I was as eager as anyone who suffered Saddam's nightly 1991 Scud attacks upon Israel to see the evil dictator removed from power. I noted that Israeli security experts were hardly unanimous in expressing enthusiasm over the US-led military campaign.  Several told me privately they were convinced that the coalition was focusing on a relatively small player in the regional terrorist-WMD equation, which would probably end up allowing more threatening actors like Iran and Syria off the hook.  Haifa's mayor Yonah Yahav told me during a TV interview just one week before the war began that Israeli leaders were certain that Saddam had already passed whatever mass destruction weapons he possessed into Syria.  Decimated in the Gulf War, the Arab leader posed a relatively small threat to regional stability, Yahav argued, and was unlikely to prove to be a major backer of Osama bin Laden whose radical Muslim views he feared. Yahav added that it was Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah forces busy building an empire in nearby Lebanon that kept Israeli leaders on edge, fueled as they were by Islamic extremist passions that Saddam simply did not display. As a resident of the turbulent Middle East for over two decades, it seemed abundantly obvious to me that Bush and Blair had practically no chance to oversee the formation of a stable democracy in despotic, faction-torn Iraq.  Instead, I wrote that the country would likely end up resembling Lebanon with its deeply divided ethnic-religious communities and frequent upheavals, fueled by anti-democratic neighbors like Syria and Iran. In fact, it seemed so apparent to me that the expensive war and hopeless rebuilding effort would end in a Vietnam style retreat for US and British forces that I told some friends I actually wondered if the two leaders were not either willing or unknowing cogs in some grand conspiracy to ultimately weaken both nuclear-armed powers. Although I am not usually into such conspiracy theories, I found it nearly impossible to believe that these two experienced politicians, or at least some of their top advisors, could not foresee the ultimate futility of their stated lofty goal to create the first stable Arab democracy in the heart of the autocratic Muslim Middle East.  Anyway, the whole affair was a clear diversion from their main declared ambition to thwart Al Qaida's open threats to carry out further mega-attacks against the "Crusader" West. With President Bush finally admitting that the plan is hardly unfolding as he had publicly anticipated, along comes his daddy's former Secretary of State to tell us how to fix things.  The proposed Baker commission solutions involve further sacrificing the security of the only REAL democracy and stable pro-Western ally in the Middle East--tiny Israel.  This was another outcome I also feared and anticipated when the war began in March 2003. You see, the Jewish-run state is somehow the main spark for the radical Islamic violence that is gripping much of the world, and must therefore be forced to allow a Palestinian state to rise within miles of Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That such a state would surely be dominated by Al Qaida's militant twin Sunni brother Hamas, and would therefore strengthen the world jihad movement, is apparently of little concern to Jim Baker and company. Next Israel must abandon the green Golan Heights--source of much of Israel's fresh water--to the vile Assad regime that is busy oppressing its Syrian citizens and attempting to retake full control over Lebanon via its Hezbollah proxies. 
When Israel is further truncated to the point of emasculation, then the Muslim world will apparently settle down and peace will blossom like a rose both in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. No wonder that Aaron Klein reported on WND that various regional terrorist groups are rejoicing over the Iraq Study Group report. Thankfully, the American President has already expressed a healthy skepticism over the proposition that sucking up to the extremist regimes ruling Syria and Iran is the way forward.  Didn't an earlier leader named Chamberlain already try that tact--with horrific results? Even as Iraq burns, Western politicians had better keep their eyes on the most ominous threat the world if facing today--Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program, along with Hezbulloh's designs to take full control over Lebanon and Al Qaida's machinations to topple moderate regimes in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  For whatever happens in Iraq, it is now becoming abundantly clear that the entire Middle East is on the brink of a massive eruption that could ultimately make World War II look like a mere warmup exercise. 



Syrian Guerillas 'to Launch Resistance Within Months'

Dec. 11….(WND) If Israel does not vacate the Golan Heights within months, a guerilla organization allegedly formed in Syria will soon launch "resistance operations" against Israeli positions and Jewish communities in the Golan, an official from Syrian President Bashar Assad's Baath party told WND in an exclusive interview. "If in the coming months an agreement is not forged between Israel and Syria (for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan), the Committees will begin attacks," said the official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld during an in-person interview with WND and with the G. Gordon Liddy national American radio show. The official was referring to the Committees for the Liberation of the Golan Heights, a Hizbullah-like guerrilla organization Baath party sources claim was formed in Syria to attack Israeli positions in the Golan. The Baath official told WND Syria learned from Hizbullah's military campaign against Israel that "fighting" is more effective than peace negotiations with regard to gaining territory. The Baath official told WND Syria's new Committees for the Liberation of the Golan Heights was formed this past June and that the group consists of Syrian volunteers, many from the Syrian border with Turkey and from Palestinian refugee camps near Damascus. He said Syria held registration for volunteers to join the Committees in June. The official said attacks by the Committees may include the infiltration of Jewish communities in the Golan, rocket attacks against Israeli positions or raids of Golan-based Israeli military installations. He said all attacks would be launched from the Syrian side of the border. WND first reported in June on the alleged formation of the Front for the Liberation of the Golan. One month later, a man identified as the leader of the Front gave an interview to state-run Iranian television.



Iran Hosts Holocaust Denial Conference

Dec.11….(AP) Iran on Monday opened a Holocaust conference that it said would examine whether the genocide took place, claiming the meeting was an opportunity for discussion in an atmosphere free of Western taboos. The conference named, "Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision," was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Even before it opened, the gathering was condemned by Germany, the United States and Israel. Iran is sponsoring the controversial conference where "researchers" will be able to openly question the veracity of the Holocaust, despite a chorus of international disapproval.  The organizers, the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), say the two-day conference has drawn 67 foreign researchers from 30 countries. In his opening speech, the institute's chief, Rasoul Mousavi, said the conference provided an opportunity to discuss "Questions" About the Holocaust away from Western taboos and the restrictions imposed on scholars in Europe. In Germany, Austria and France, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. The theme of the conference plays along this question, “Why should Palestinians pay for Nazis' crimes?' Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dismissed the foreign criticism as "predictable," telling conference that "the objective for organizing this conference is to create an atmosphere to raise various opinions about a historical issue. We are not seeking to deny or prove the Holocaust," Mottaki said. "If the official version of the Holocaust is thrown into doubt, then the identity and nature of Israel will be thrown into doubt. And if, during this review, it is proved that the Holocaust was a historical reality, then what is the reason for the Muslim people of the region and the Palestinians having to pay the cost of the Nazis' crimes?" Mottaki said. Mottaki also described anti-Semitism as a unique Western phenomenon. He said that there was never any anti-Semitism or racism in Iran, and that "not only does this phenomenon not exist in Muslim countries, but throughout history many Jews can be found in these countries who have reached senior positions." The conference also attacks Christian Zionism, and  states that the establishment of Zionism was a human rights violation which brought about the Holocaust.



Hamas and Iran Walking Hand-in-Hand to Destroy Israel


Dec.11….(JNEWSWIRE) Palestinian Authority 'Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh walked hand in hand with Iranian megalomaniac Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the weekend, the two men encouraging each other in their mutual ambition to destroy Israel. Haniyeh, who is leading the war against the Jews from within, assured Ahmadinejad that his "Palestinians" were ready to wage jihad until Jerusalem had been "liberated" from Israel. In response, Ahmadinejad, who sees his country as leading the "holy war" from the outside, and who is actively pursuing the nuclear weapons needed to achieve that goal, encouraged the "Palestinian government not to give in to international pressure and to continue to fight the Jewish state until it is removed."






Understanding James Baker

Dec. 8….(By Dr. Richard Booker) Despite a recent media report touting the experience and skills James Baker III offers as co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, a look at his record and an anti-Semitic British official with whom he identifies suggest the former secretary of state's involvement in US foreign policy could spell disaster for the state of Israel. The Dec. 3 Houston Chronicle carried a front-page article extolling Baker for his public service to America and skill as a tough negotiator. The article continued on page 10, where it filled the entire page. The primary point of the article was to express hope that Baker, by drawing on his considerable experience and skills, could find a solution to America's problems in Iraq as co-chair of the ISG. The 10-member Iraq Study Group this week presented its recommendations to President Bush for American policy and strategy regarding our war in Iraq. The panel is co-chaired by former 9-11 commission member Lee Hamilton. The group consists of five Democrats and five Republicans, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner and former CIA Director Robert Gates. Gates resigned his commission recently when he was nominated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense. The Chronicle article mentioned that, while attending Princeton University, Baker wrote a senior thesis about the clash in the 1930s between two powerful members of Great Britain's Parliament, Aneurin Bevan, an idealist, and Ernest Bevin, a realist. The article mentioned that Baker argued in favor of the pragmatist Bevin. In his new book, "Work Hard, Study and Keep out of Politics," Baker comments, "Those who know me will not be surprised that I favored the approach of the realist." For those who may not recognize the name, Ernest Bevin was the British foreign minister in the British Labor Party led by Clement Attlee. At this time, Britain was at the height of its power as one of the greatest empires in history. The empire spanned nearly a third of the world's land. Truly "the sun never set on the Union Jack." Previous British government administrations were devout Christian Zionists. They believed the Almighty had allowed Britain such great power for the purpose of facilitating the establishment of a Jewish homeland in fulfillment of the ancient Jewish prayer, "Next year in Jerusalem." Prime Minister Lloyd George, Foreign Secretary James Balfour, Gen. Edmund Allenby and others believed that the biblical statements concerning the Jewish homeland were the essential factor in any decisions regarding the Jewish people and Palestine. Unfortunately, the Labor Party and Mr. Bevin did not share these views. They counted the number of Arabs and Arab oil and reversed the policies of the previous administration. They were not only against the Jewish people having their own country, they did everything they could to negate the Balfour Declaration and actively assisted the Arabs in their efforts to destroy the Jews of pre-Israel Palestine. As the foreign minister at this time, Ernest Bevin was the leading proponent of the new British pro-Arab, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist policies. He adamantly opposed the desperate efforts of European Jewish Holocaust survivors to immigrate to Palestine. He insisted that they be denied entrance to Palestine and be returned to their Displaced Persons camps in Europe. His policy directly resulted in the tragedy of the ship Exodus being turned away and the further suffering of the refugee passengers. On Jan. 15, 1948, the day the British signed a treaty with Iraq, Bevin reached a secret agreement with the Iraqi leaders whereby the British agreed to speed up the supply of weapons and ammunition for 50,000 "Palestinian policemen." Of course, these "policemen" were Palestinian Arab fighters the British armed to defeat the "Zionist entity" before it could become a reality. He also agreed that Iraqi forces would enter every area evacuated by British troops in Palestine so that a Jewish state would not be formed. He encouraged Transjordan to invade Palestine, which it would do under the command of British officers. Bevin was influenced by a British politician named Harold Beely, an Arabized, anti-Semite who opposed the Balfour Declaration. While I am sure Mr. Bevin believed he was acting in the best interest of Britain, his policies represented one of the greatest betrayals by a government in modern history. Furthermore, they were a primary cause for the continuing conflict in the Middle East that has troubled America ever since. When Britain turned its back on the Jews, the Almighty turned His back on Britain. While Israel became a state, Britain lost its empire. It has lost its Judeo-Christian culture. It is dying spiritually. Its civilization and way of life is rapidly being replaced by Islam. Along with his many accomplishments and positions in government, Baker is the senior counsel for the Carlyle Group, a major international financial organization with extensive interests in the Middle East, including the Saudi royal family and the bin Ladens. His law firm, Baker Botts, is representing the Saudi government in the 9-11 victims lawsuit against Saudi Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz. I cannot help but notice the parallels between the current policies of the US State Department, Baker's well-known anti-Semitic, anti-Israel pro-Arab policies and those of Mr. Bevin. For the sake of our great nation, may America and James Baker not follow in the footsteps of Britain.



Haniyeh in Iran Vows to Never Recognize Israel

imageDec. 8….(Jerusalem Post) Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh vowed on his arrival in Teheran today that his Hamas-led government would never recognize Israel and would continue to fight for the liberation of Jerusalem. "The world's arrogance (US) and Zionists, want us to recognize the usurpation of the Palestinian lands and stop jihad and resistance and accept the agreements reached with the Zionist enemies in the past," Haniyeh told thousands of Friday prayer worshippers at Teheran University. The United States is pressing the Hamas-led Palestinian government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and form a national unity government with Fatah in a bid to revive the peace process with Israel. "I'm insisting from this podium that these issues won't materialize. We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem," he said. Haniyeh arrived in the Iranian capital on Thursday for a four-day visit for talks with Iranian leaders including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." The PA prime minister is on his first tour abroad since his Hamas-led government took office in March. Haniyeh called Iran, a longtime ally of Hamas, the Palestinians' "strategic depth" because they were together in their fight against Israel. "They (Israelis) assume the Palestinian nation is alone. This is an illusion. We have a strategic depth in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran is our powerful, dynamic and stable depth," he said. Iran has provided the Hamas-led Palestinian government with US$120 million (€90.25 million) this year despite a US-led international financial boycott of the Palestinian government. The financial aid has boosted Iran's influence among Palestinians. Along with his meeting with Ahmadinejad, Haniyeh is scheduled to hold talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani during his visit.



Israel Frets Over Iraq Report, Dispatches FM to Washington

Dec. 8….(Arutz) Israel's foreign minister has arrived in the United States amid worries that the Jewish state's main ally could shift course after a report urged Washington to redouble Mideast peacemaking efforts. Tzipi Livni will meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials during her visit, which will focus on the repercussions of a report released Wednesday by the Iraq Study Group, her office said. That report said progress towards Arab-Israeli peace was key to saving Iraq. It also called for direct US talks with two of Israel's most fearsome foes, Syria and Iran, the latter of which is believed to be steaming ahead in its bid for nuclear weapons. A day after receiving the top-level commission's report, the United States and Britain signaled the start of a renewed diplomatic push in the region. President George W. Bush promised "concerted efforts to advance the cause of peace" and said British Prime Minister Tony Blair would soon travel to the region for talks with Israel and the Palestinians. The prime minister's visit was to set the stage for Rice, in early 2007, to make her eighth trip in two years to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Rice's spokesman said. The renewed focus on Mideast peacemaking and growing domestic pressure on US leaders to end the imbroglio in Iraq has Israelis worrying about a possible policy shift by Bush, who for six years has largely ignored the intricacies of the Quartet’s Mideast peace roadmap. "The fact that he has decided to support Blair's visit to the region and to present this trip as a joint mission of Britain and the United States shows that Bush intends to at least try to change his policy," Israel's Yediot Aharonot daily wrote Friday. The newspaper went on to slam the Iraq report, accusing its chief authors James Baker and Lee Hamilton of ignoring Israel while preparing the report. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has also expressed disatisfaction with the report's recommendations. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, he said US problems in Iraq "are entirely independent of the controversy between us and the Palestinians." He also said that restarting peace talks with Syria, as recommended by the report, was unlikely in the near future. In statements sure to allay Israeli concerns, Bush has rebuffed some of the report's recommendations and maintained his insistence that Damascus and Tehran renounce support for extremists and pledge support for Baghdad's fledgling government and that Iran freeze sensitive nuclear work before any direct talks. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, meanwhile, have both welcomed the Iraq Study Group's recommendation that Bush revitalize Arab-Israeli peacemaking efforts.



Bush/Blair: Al Qaeda, Iran Feeding Hatred, Violence in Mideast

(President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented a united front today, painting the sectarian-terror violence in Iraq as a battle between freedom and terror in which Iraqis have fallen victim to Al Qaeda's and Iran's efforts to cause chaos and control the region) (FOJ Note: Since Syria and Iran are known to be fomenting the violence in Iraq, the political deduction by the ISG is that Israel must pay!)


President Bush said that it is in the interest of both Israel and the Palestinians to have two-states for two peoples that will exist side by side in peace. Bush said that both he and PM Blair are committed to this goal and are willing to invest time to remove the obstacles standing the path of achieving that goal.

Dec. 7….(Fox News) The two leaders agreed that the vision of the Iraq Study Group for a peaceful Middle East is correct, but added that the bloodshed in Baghdad is the result of extremists who want to impose their rule on "this vital part of the world." "It is true that Sunni and Shia extremists are targeting each other's innocent civilians and engaging in brutal reprisals. It's also true that forces beyond Iraq's borders contribute to this violence," Bush. The British Prime Minister put it this way: He said, 'The violence is not an accident or a result of faulty planning. It is a deliberate strategy. It is the direct result of outside extremists teaming up with internal extremists, Al Qaeda with the Sunni insurgents and Iran with the Shia militia, to foment hatred and to throttle at birth the possibility of a nonsectarian democracy. Tony Blair announced that he is headed to the Middle East to speak with Israelis and Palestinians as part of a greater plan to resolve broader issues that the Iraq Study Group claims are holding up a solution in Iraq. "This is something that I know you feel deeply and passionately about," Blair said, noting Bush's role as the first US president to propose a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. "I believe that by moving this forward, we send a very strong signal not just to the region but to the whole of the world that we are evenhanded in the application of our values," Blair said. President Bush stressed that it was crucial to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reiterated that he is committed to a two-state solution. Bush also said that Israel and the Palestinians must assume responsibility, adding that he could not impose a deal on the sides. President Bush appeared to endorse the panel's conclusion that any resolution of the Iraq conflict is tied to reducing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and across the broader Middle East, a position Blair has long held. For his part, Blair suggested that Iran's support for Shiite militants in southern Iraq presented a problem. Iran has been basically arming, supporting, financing terrorism. Blair said the terrorists' threat in Iraq is part of an old pattern that is region-wide. Terrorism "has basically come out of the Middle East" and must be addressed in a way that includes a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.



Russia And China Conflict Of Interest Exposed Over Iran

Dec. 7….(KIN/Bill Wilson) Russia and China are demonstrating a huge conflict of interest from their position on the United Nations Security Council by holding up any action against Iran for its nuclear program, once again exposing the institutional corruption and lack of moral integrity of the type and shadow of the one world government. The five permanent Security Council members have been diplomatically stewing over sanctions on Iran for over six months and the issue has been plaguing the world for at least two years, mainly because Russia and China have lucrative billion-dollar-plus business interests in Iran’s nuclear development and refuse to stop their Machiavellian scheme to use Iran to achieve a stronger world position. Russia’s current objections to sanctions against Iran include proposals that would expand the amount of inspections of Iran’s nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency; that would freeze the assets of those assisting Iran’s nuclear program; and those that would ban travel for those who are connected to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. All of these types of sanctions would impact both Russia and China who are assisting Iran in both its nuclear development and its missile program, actions all that impact China and Russia’s economic and military strategies with Iran. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the sanctions were disproportionate and irresponsible. Meantime, Iran’s radical terrorist-sponsoring Islamist leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened the European nations. Ahmadinejad said, "I'm telling you in plain language that as of now on, if you try, whether in your propaganda or at international organizations, to take steps against the rights of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation will consider it an act of hostility.” Ahmadinejad said Iran will reconsider its relations with the European nations, which amounts to millions of dollars in yearly trade. Ahmadinejad has also said that Israel should be destroyed along with the United States. The charade at the United Nations by Russia and China is reminiscent of the Oil for Food scandal where Russia and China, and France as well, were taking under the table bribes from Saddam Hussein to hold the Western nations at bay while he built up Iraq’s military. Russia and China are not to be trusted. Their open conflict of interest with Iran on the Security Council also proves that a one-world government is incapable of protecting the interests of what is right. Revelation 13:7, which speaks of the one world government led by the antichrist, says “And it was given unto him (antichrist) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”



Gulf States Worried About Iran’s Intentions

Dec. 7….(MENL) When Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Larijani entered the conference hall of the Arab World Strategy 2006, the Arab audience parted like the Red Sea. The Iranian national security adviser was treated as visiting royalty and his message at the Dubai seminar greeted with utmost respect. Larijani's message left little to the imagination. In perhaps the harshest Iranian demand yet, he called on Persian Gulf Cooperation Council states to expel the US military from the region. After that, he said, Gulf Arab states must form an alliance with Iran. ''The security and stability of the region needs to be attained and we should do it inside the region, not through bringing in foreign forces,'' Larijani said on Tuesday. ''We should stand on our own feet.'' GCC states have been watching with increasing worry the Iranian military buildup in the Gulf. But in expectation of a US withdrawal from Iraq, Gulf Arab regimes are concerned about where to look for their security.



Another Day of Infamy

Dec. 7….(FOJ) On this day in 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked. The bombing killed 2,388 Americans, put much of the Pacific fleet out of commission, and came while the Japanese ambassador in Washington was preparing for a diplomatic appointment at the State Department. Among the losses was the battleship Arizona, which went down with nearly all hands on board. It is still there as a national shrine. In President Roosevelt's speech to Congress the next day asking for a declaration of war, he called Dec. 7 "a date which will live in infamy.” Fortunately, America rose to the test of that day, and beat back the forces of tyranny. Pearl Harbor is shown below in an aerial satellite photo. It was the site of the worst attack on our nation until September 11, 2001, and yet, it may not be the last.




Ironically, today, December 7, 2006, (through the Iraq Study Group) America, because it is a nation divided against itself, has decided to engage the forces of tyranny in dialogue, and try to find a way to appease the enemies of Liberty. Sadly, today is turning out to mark the day when America began to turn its back on Israel, in the Middle East Conflict. I caution all the readers of FOJ that the pathway that America is apparently choosing today, is a road to our own peril. Forcing Israel to make concessions of its Promised Land in order to facilitate a false peace with the enemies of Israel is an action that will bring the curse of God on our nation.



Syrian FM: No Solution to Iraq's Problems without Iran and Syria

Dec. 7….(Ha Aretz) Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Sharaa late Wednesday welcomed the Iraq Studying Group's recommendation to expand Middle East diplomacy as part of efforts to stabilize Iraq, saying a solution to Iraq's problems could not be reached without the help of Iran and Syria. "The two countries are Iraq's neighbors, and without getting them involved it will not be easy to find a solution to the predicament in Iraq," The Washington Times quoted Sharaa as saying at a political conference in Damascus. "We are not so arrogant to say that Syria and Iran can solve Iraq's problem," he added. "The entire international community may not be able to solve it. But let the Americans be a little bit modest and accept whoever has the capability to help." The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday blasted the Iraq Study Group for recommending the United States increase it involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to stabilize Iraq, arguing there was no connection between the two issues. "The Iraq Study Group gets it wrong when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. We reject the suggestion that there is a connection between finding a solution to the war in Iraq and direct involvement of the US in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the recommendations in the report," the ADL said in a statement. "The goal of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict should stand on its own and has always been a key objective of US foreign policy. It would be a terrible mistake to confuse the recent disintegration in Iraq with the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict," it added. The report "prejudges the outcome of negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon" and "waters down the international community’s clear preconditions for any negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel," the ADL said in its statement adding, "The report's specific recommendations, such as the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, should be left to final-status negotiations and not dictated to them by outside parties." The group also criticized the report for neglecting to call for a "total rejection of a nuclear Iran, because a nuclear Iran would do more to destabilize the region and undermine Americas interests than any other single factor."



A Middle East Peace Conference Without Israel

(Insight magazine reports recent American government proposal to hold peace conference without Israeli presence. Baker says goal is to 'reach agreement without Jewish pressure)

Dec. 7….(YNET) According to Thursday's issue of the conservative Washington Times' Insight magazine, the White House was looking into proposal by former Secretary of State James Baker to hold a Middle East peace conference without Israel. According to the report, the United States government was going to consider the possibility of having a second Madrid Conference in which Arab states would participate, including Syria and Iran, but with without Israel even being invited to participate. As reported by the magazine, officials said the conference would be promoted as a forum to discuss Iraq's future, but actually focus on Arab demands for Israel to withdraw from territories captured in the 1967 war. A source in the US government was quoted in the report as saying, "As Baker sees this, the conference would provide a unique opportunity for the US to strike a deal without Jewish pressure. This has become the hottest proposal examined by the foreign policy people over the last month." Other sources in the government told the magazine that the proposal was supported by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Under Secretary of Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, and National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.

Renewed pressure on Israel  

Also, government sources were quoted as saying Baker's proposal to exclude Israel from a regional peace conference was receiving a lot of support due to Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Saudi Arabia last November, during which sources in the country made it clear that Israel, and not Iran, was the cause of instability in the Middle East. A US government source claimed that Cheney's original goal of the trip, to enlist Saudi Arabia's support in Iraq, was never even discussed. In addition, the source said that instead, the Saudi's demanding an initiative to end Israel's attacks on Gaza and Cheney merely agreed. Baker's current initiative was to have the US enlist the aid of Arab States in exchange for an American commitment to renew pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and the Golan Heights.



Baker Report: Israel Must Withdraw from Golan

Dec. 7….(Ha Aretz) The Baker-Hamilton report submitted Wednesday evening to US President George W. Bush marks a change in the American policy regarding the Middle East, particularly on the Israeli-Syrian channel. "In the context of a full and secure peace agreement, the Israelis should return the Golan Heights, with a US security guarantee for Israel that could include an international force on the border including US troops if requested by both parties," the Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton recommended. According to the report, the return of the Golan Heights to Syria will be subject to the fulfillment of a series of conditions by the Syrians in peace negotiations:

   1. Syria’s full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006, which provides the framework for Lebanon to regain sovereign control over its territory.

    2. Syria’s full cooperation with all investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon, especially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel.

    3. A verifiable cessation of Syrian aid to Hizbullah and the use of Syrian territory for transshipment of Iranian weapons and aid to Hizbullah. (This step would do much to solve Israel’s ’s problem with Hizbullah.)

    4. Syria’s use of its influence with Hamas and Hizbullah for the release of the captured Israeli Defense Force soldiers.

   5. A verifiable cessation of Syrian efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Lebanon.

   6. A verifiable cessation of arms shipments from or transiting through Syria for Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups.

   7. A Syrian commitment to help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist.

   8. Greater Syrian efforts to seal its border with Iraq.

   9. Adherence to principle of land for peace

On the Palestinian channel, the report rules that the elements of the negotiated peace should include: Adherence to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and to the principle of land for peace, which are the only bases for achieving peace. Strong support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to take the lead in preparing the way for negotiations with Israel. A major effort to move from the current hostilities by consolidating the ceasefire reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis in November 2006, and promotion for a Palestinian national unity government. Sustainable negotiations leading to a final peace settlement along the lines of President Bush’s two-state solution, which would address the key final status issues of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of conflict. Analysts in Washington have already implied that there are those who suggest that Baker himself, who already served as secretary of state in the past, will be appointed a special envoy to the Middle East in a bid to twist Israel's arm. Israel objects to this possibility, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said so as he recently left a meeting with Bush.



Terrorists Rejoicing Over Baker Report

(Leaders of Palestinian terror groups say Baker-Hamilton report proves 'Islamic resistance' works, express hope Jihad will ultimately destroy Israel)

Dec. 7….(WND) A high level US commission's recommendations for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq and for dialogue with Iran and Syria proves "Islamic resistance" works and America will ultimately be defeated, according to senior terrorist leaders interviewed by WND. The militants, from the largest Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, welcomed the policies outlined by the Iraq Study Group, which they claim recognizes Islam is the "new giant of the world." "The report proves that this is the era of Islam and of jihad," said Abu Ayman, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin. The Islamic Jihad terror group is responsible for every suicide bombing in Israel during the past two years. With the Iraq Study Group report, the Americans came to the conclusion that Islam is the new giant of the world and it would be clever to reduce hostilities with this giant. In the Koran the principle of the rotation is clear and according to this principle the end of the Americans and of all non-believers is getting closer," Abu Ayman said. According to Abu Abdullah, a senior leader of Hamas' military wing, Baker's report is a victory for Islam brought about by "Allah and his angels." "It is not just a simple victory. It is a great one. The big superpower of the world is defeated by a small group of mujahedeen (fighters). Did you see the mujahedeens' clothes and weapons in comparison to the huge individual military arsenal and supply that was carrying every American soldier?" exclaimed Abu Abdullah, who is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. "It is no doubt that Allah and his angels were fighting with them (insurgents) against the Americans. Abu Abdullah said following a withdrawal from Iraq, the US will be defeated on its own soil.  "America must understand that with anti-American governments in Latin America and with Islam growing and reinforcing, including in the US itself, the next step would be a total defeat on their (American) land, not a relative one like they are facing in Iraq," he said. Abu Nasser, the second-in-command of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group in the West Bank, called the Iraq Study Group report a "great victory" from which other jihadist organizations can learn. "The Iraqi victory is a great message and lesson to the revolutionary and freedom movements in the world. The al-Aqsa leader said his group learned from the "Iraqi resistance" that jihad will ultimately destroy Israel. The al-Aqsa Brigades is the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. If Israel will not start negotiating its withdrawal we are ready to launch the new stage of the intifada," Abu Nasser said. Islamic Jihad's Abu Ayman said after the US "defeat" in Iraq is finalized, insurgents there should move to the West Bank and Gaza to help destroy Israel. "We hope that after chasing the occupation from Iraq, these jihad efforts and experiences will be transferred to Palestine, and yes, I mean that we expect these fighters will come to Palestine as part of a big Islamic army."



Knesset Defense Expert: US Stance on Iran is Worrisome

Dec. 7….(Arutz) Knesset Member Yuval Shteinitz, who chaired the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee until this year, commented with concern this morning on what may be the new US policy on Iran. Asked during his Senate confirmation hearings if he thought that President Ahmadinejad was "kidding" in his Holocaust denial and calls to destroy Israel, Gates said, "No, I don't think he's kidding. But I think that there are, in fact, higher powers in Iran than the president. And while they are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for a nuclear capability, I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent. Gates also broke with tradition by asserting that Israel has nuclear capabilities. Explaining Iran's need for deterrence, Gates said that Iran is "surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons, Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west, and us in the Persian Gulf.  In response to another question, Gates said that no one can provide Israel with an assurance that Iran would not attack Israel with a nuclear weapon. He said that he would favor an American attack on Iran only "if critical American interests are threatened" and "as a last resort." "The claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons for defense and deterrence purposes is not compatible with Iran's declaration about wiping Israel off the map," Shteinitz said. Making such claims, he said, "is liable to harm the attempts to stop Iran's nuclear program." Israeli security elements view Gates's remarks with alarm. Yediot Acharonot defense commentator Alex Fishman says they feel that Iran has won the latest round of arm-twisting against the US, that Iran can confidently continue its nuclear program without fear, and that Iran's influence in the region is increasing while that of the US is declining. Gates assures us that although Ahmadinejad may be wacko, his Iranian leadership higher-ups have got to be more responsible, and if this sunny analysis is wrong and Iran lobs a weapon of mass destruction at Israel? Well, that's a risk that Gates seems willing to take, but Israel cannot."



Gates’ Reference to an Israeli Nuclear Weapon was Synchronized with Baker’s Exclusion of Israel from a Mid East Conference.

(US Senate confirms Gates in defense by 95-2 vote)

Dec. 7….(DEBKA) The pair is pursuing new policy line which sacrifices the traditional US-Israeli alliance for the sake of wooing Iran, Syria and Iraq’s neighbors for help in Iraq. During his senate hearings, Gates confirmed, and indirectly justified Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon by declaring that Iran wants the power of deterrence against “the nuclear countries surrounding them, Pakistan in the east, Russia in the north, Israel in the west and the United States in the Persian Gulf.” Israeli vice premier Shimon Peres said Israel, backed by the US, has for decades pursued a policy of nuclear ambiguity as a powerful deterrence “against enemies bent on its destruction, while threatening no other country itself.” The designated US defense secretary did not consult, or even inform Israel before a disclosure that violates a confidence long-held between the two governments. Gates also said that “If Iran obtains nuclear weapons no one can promise it would not use them against Israel.” He was then confirmed as defense secretary Wednesday by an overwhelming 95-2 Senate vote. (It amounts to a US abandonment of Israeli security concerns) The only two opposing votes were cast by two Bush allies, Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky. They cited his criticism of the war and his view that the US should engage Iran as part of a solution. Some Washington pundits accused the co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, James Baker, as forcing President George W. Bush to resort to dealing with the Iraqi Shiite-led government for the sake of an orderly US exit from Iraq. The price offered is acceptance that Iran could go nuclear within two years at Israel’s expense. The group’s recommendation of a Madrid-2 peace conference for a Middle East peace would pander to the Arabs and their European backers by pushing for a full Israeli withdrawal from territories captured in the 1967 war. Israel and its supporters in the United States would have no say in the procedure. The Baker gang has revived the threat of an imposed “peace. Yet, the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem still clings to the now-meaningless statement that there is “no fear of a change in US policy towards Israel. The statement released Thursday, Dec. 7, asserted that Ehud Olmert was assured during his Washington visit two weeks ago that “there was no linkage between the Iraq issue and Israel.”



Teen Saved from Forced Conversion to Islam
Dec. 7….(VOM) The intervention by a Christian ministry that focuses on persecuted Christians worldwide has saved a teenage girl in Pakistan from what probably would have been a forced conversion to Islam and mandatory marriage to a Muslim master, according to reports on the recent situation.

Azra Bibi, a Pakistani teen
persecuted for her Christian faith

The Voice of the Martyrs confirmed in a new report that the teen, Azra Bibi, soon will be established in her own home through the assistance of a Christian pastor in the region, and the donations of Christians in the United States. Such situations, VOM confirms, happen all too frequently. As Christians in a Muslim nation, the family was subjected to the ongoing persecution of the community. In the case of Azra, she and her mother were working in a brick kiln, under almost slave-like conditions, in order to earn enough for the family to eat. She'd been working at the kilns since she was seven, and frequently endured the jeers and criticisms of Muslims working at the same plant, officials said. Then one day, the verbal attacks that began with the work day increased, and several Muslim women turned violent, beating Azra's mother, officials said. They were both taken to the brick kiln owner, where Azra's mom was murdered in the most horrific way," the report said, leaving the teen not only reeling from the loss of her mother, but now facing the responsibilities for her debts. The brick kiln owner had plans to force Azra to convert to Islam with the intention of marrying her off. But God had other plans," the VOM report said. "With the help of a courageous local pastor and support from Christians in the US, Azra was miraculously rescued with her debts paid." VOM said plans now are under way to provide training and a place to live "for this courageous young Christian girl who stood firm in her faith through such difficult trials." Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices. It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity. He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the US Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body



USA is Being Diminished in the Middle East

Dec. 6….(FOJ) The Iraq Study commission, the bizarre panel of politicians organized to placate Democrat objections to the Iraq War, and spearheaded by James Baker to save face for the President, has recommended to the President that a renewed and vigorous push to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict be undertaken. The ISG informed the President that the United States cannot otherwise achieve its goals in the Middle East. US allies in the region, including the powerful Sunni leadership in Saudi Arabia, say the Arab-Israeli conflict underlies other Middle East problems and that rancor from the impasse makes other issues harder to solve. The commission recommended that a “diplomatic offensive” be aimed at building an international consensus for stability in Iraq, and that it include every country in the region. Syria and Iran are likely to want something in return for making nice with the US. Damascus may ask the United States to accept Syria's influence in Lebanon, where Washington supports the anti-Syrian government, and to support Syria’s desire to regain the Golan Heights, lost to Israel in 1967, through renewed peace talks. Iran, meanwhile, has demanded that American forces leave Iraq, and accept that Iran has a right to go nuclear. Completely abandoned is the idea that Iran will not be allowed nuclear weapons under the watch of President Bush. America is having to backtrack in the whole Middle East region, even as Russia rides the (Prince of Persia) Iranian wave of rising influence to encircle Israel.

President Bush is shown here flanked by James Baker and Lee Hamilton in a remarkable scene, a President praising the work of a political group that concluded that his foreign policy has failed, and that the US is losing the war.

Great Britain and Jordan has thus both urged Washington to pay more attention to the Arab-Israeli peace process, in order to undercut popular support for Islamic militants. The US is undeniably in a weaker position than in the past, due to the political war it has lost domestically over Iraq. Now, the US feels that it is in need of trying to satisfy its friends in the Arab world, a strategy that has always been preferred by the State Department. One Arab diplomat of a US ally remarked, “the age of US monopoly of the tools of the game in the region is over." He is right. And this is probably all according to God’s revealed prophetic word, as the coming reign of the Antichrist must eclipse the present American geo-political position in the Middle East. Our world is marching ever closer to the Peace Process that will be crafted with “the many” with Israel. (Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week) As the ISG stated in its report, the US must relent to engaging every country in the region, and submit to finding a way to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.



US Commission Recommends Enhanced Diplomacy to Stabilize Iraq

Dec. 6….(Ha Aretz) The United States faces a "grave and deteriorating" situation after three years of war in Iraq, a high-level commission warned bluntly on Wednesday, recommending enhanced diplomacy to stabilize the country and hopefully permit the withdrawal of most combat troops by early 2008. "There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved," the bipartisan commission said after an eight-month review of a war that has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,900 U.S. troops and grown so unpopular at home that it helped trigger a Democratic takeover of Congress in last month's elections. President George W. Bush received the report in an early meeting at the White House with commission members, and pledged to treat each proposal seriously and act in a "timely fashion." He was flanked by the commission's co-chairmen, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton. The report painted a grim picture of Iraq more than three years after U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein. It warned that if the situation continues to deteriorate, there is a risk of a "slide toward chaos [that] could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe. "Neighboring countries could intervene. The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized," commissioners said. The report said there needs to be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria and Bush's June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.



Israel Unable to Rely on US to Thwart Iranian Nukes

(Incoming American Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the Iranian threat is clear and present but that the U.S. is not guaranteeing protection to Israel)

Dec. 6….(Arutz) Gates will replace Donald Rumsfeld. Asked at his US Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing whether he believed that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability, he answered: "Yes, sir, I do." He also answered in the affirmative that he believes Iran’s leadership to be lying. Gates said that there were more powerful forces in Iran than just its president and they are determined to achieve nuclear weapons, “as a deterrent against nuclear countries surrounding them, Pakistan in the east, Russia in the north, Israel in the west and the United States in the Persian Gulf.” He said he is not certain that Iran would attack the Jewish state, since "the risks for them (Iran) are enormously high." He added, though, "I don't think anybody can provide that assurance [to Israel that an attack won’t occur." Gates summed up his position saying he would not advise a US attack on Iran except as an “absolute last resort” if critical US interests are threatened. Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened European nations Tuesday that Iran would consider any decision to join sanctions against Iran due to its nuclear project an act of hostility. The statement came as representatives from the United Nations Security Council’s permanent member nations met in Paris to discuss steps to be taken against Iran. "I'm telling you in plain language that from now on, if you try, whether in your propaganda or at international organizations, to take steps against the rights of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation will consider it an act of hostility," Ahmadinejad said, addressing European nations during a speech in northern Iran.
"Our path to reach the nuclear summit is in the final phase, and no more than one more step is needed,” he added. "Iran possesses the nuclear fuel cycle completely and by God's will it will undertake necessary measures to produce nuclear fuel for all of its nuclear power stations.”Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency Tuesday that Iran is intent on materializing all its nuclear Research and Development projects by the end of the Islamic year, which falls out on March 19.


Iran to Host Forum on Holocaust Evidence

Dec. 6….(AP) Iran, whose president has described the Holocaust as a "myth," said Tuesday they will hold a conference to discuss the evidence that the Nazis committed genocide against the Jews in World War II. The two-day conference scheduled for next week was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called the systematic killing of some six million Jews, which has been extensively researched and documented, a "myth" and "exaggerated.""The president simply asked whether an event called the Holocaust has actually taken place," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi as saying. "No rational response was ever given to Ahmadinejad's questions," he added, explaining the rationale for the conference.The Iranian president has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and the conference appeared to be part of Ahmadinejad's public campaign against the Jewish state.Ahmadinejad told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine in an interview in May that "if the Holocaust didn't take place, why then did this regime of occupation (the state of Israel) come about? Why do the European countries commit themselves to defending this regime?" Mohammadi rejected any suggestion the conference would encourage anti-Semitism, calling discrimination against Jews a "Western phenomenon." The proof of Iran's lack of animosity toward Jews, he said, was Iran's 25,000-strong Jewish community. Mohammadi said the conference seeks to "provide an opportunity for scholars to offer their opinions in freedom." Tehran has announced plans for the conference several times. One such announcement came during a visit to Iran by United Nations chief Kofi Annan in September. During his visit, Annan said an Iranian exhibition of cartoons denying the Holocaust, on display at the time, promoted hatred. The Iranians mounted the exhibit after a wave of anger and violence swept the Islamic world over the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. The two-day Holocaust conference, sponsored by the Iranian Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies, is scheduled for Dec. 10-11. Some 67 foreign researchers from 30 countries are scheduled to attend, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. An Israeli Arab who last year opened a Holocaust museum in his home, said in November he planned to attend the gathering in Iran so he could tell the Iranians that the genocide could not be denied. Khaled Kasab Mahameed, a Muslim lawyer from Nazareth said he had been invited to the conference.



Israel Will Face Demands for Concessions in the fresh US Initiative on Israel-Palestinian Peace Advised strongly by the Bipartisan Iraq Study Group

Dec. 6….(DEBKA) The panel headed by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton submitted its report to the White House on Wednesday, Dec. 6. It is expected to recommend that Washington talk directly with Iran and Syria, as well as shifting the US military role in Iraq from combat to training by early 2008. The Israeli prime minister’s office, responding to incomplete leaks from the bipartisan reports, assured the public Wednesday that there is no diplomatic pressure on the horizon. His aides must have missed this phrase: “The US cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it embarks on a renewed and sustained commitment to a comprehensive peace plan on all fronts.”A further the recommendation for US troops in Iraq to withdraw “from combat roles” leaves Jordan and Israel exposed on their eastern fronts to the mayhem in Iraq. Since the US presence in Iraq cannot be sustainable without engaging Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda in combat, this wording appears to be a euphemism for the US military exit from Iraq in just over a year. And if the White House indeed takes up the Bush-Hamilton recommendation to deal directly with Iran and Syria, the Bush administrations policy somersault on the Middle East will be complete. Four significant changes are indicated:

1. The US finds itself unable to prevent or respond to an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, as incoming defense secretary Robert Gates stated bluntly in the Senate committee hearing Tuesday.

2. American forces will be gone from Iraq in just over a year.

3. Washington will soon embark on a fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

4. Direct US-Iran, US-Syria talks are in the offing.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources note that Israel’s leaders, PM Ehud Olmert and FM Tzipi Livni, have not come up with any serious responses to the Gates statement on Iran and the Baker-Hamilton recommendations, both of which bear fundamentally on Israel’s security in the face of existential dangers. They would be well advised to get their act together fast, because the Bush administration is not expected to delay before putting these recommendations into effect.



Gates’ Words Imply the Bush Administration will Disavow Long-held Pledge to Stop Iran Obtaining Nuclear Weapons

Dec. 6….(DEBKA) The designated defense secretary Robert Gates’ replied to the Senate committee’s at his confirmation hear Tuesday: “If Iran obtains nuclear weapons no one can promise it would not use them against Israel.” DEBKAfile’s military sources note: This assertion presupposes that Iran will not be stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Gates spoke in the plural about nuclear weapons. In all, he addressed three messages to Jerusalem:

1. There are no assurances that we will be able to prevent an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel.

2. Iran’s nuclear arsenal will contain different types of weapons.

3. On the nuclear issue, you are on your own; don’t count on us for a response.

These messages slap down the policy laid down by prime minister Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni which assigned responsibility for handling the Iranian nuclear threat to the international community and the US and absolved the Israeli government and armed forces. Gates’ admission that “The US is not winning war in Iraq” is another first from a senior administration official (Later, he tried to amend without changing its import by saying: “We are not losing either.”). He also conveyed to the Senate committee his belief that developments in Iraq over the next year or two will shape the entire Middle East and greatly influence global geopolitics for many years to come." Until Nov. 8, when President Bush nominated Gates in place of Donald Rumsfeld, the nominee was a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Team, which submits its final report Wednesday. DEBKAfile: The two statements on Iran and Iraq have broad implications for Israel’s strategic and military standing. What they add up to is a harsh reality: The United States, by failing to overcome the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq, and Israel, by similarly failing to subdue Hizballah in the Lebanon war, will have to pay the price of coming to terms with the nuclear weaponization of the Islamic Republic. This may be Gates’ promo for the Baker-Hamilton report. But, more significantly, he sounds as though he is leading up to a fresh White House conception of Persian Gulf strategy, namely that America’s security interests do not warrant any further involvement in the Gulf region. Since it does not depend on Arabian oil like China, Japan, India and other Far Eastern nations, why should the US saddle itself with the protection of the region’s oil resources and routes? This shift in strategic emphasis, if confirmed, would have a profound influence, not only on Israel, but also on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the oil emirates. But they, unlike Israel, are not caught unawares, having prepared themselves for the past year by opening up alternative sources of weapons and making massive transfers of assets to Asian markets.



Iraq Panel Backs US Withdrawal From Combat

(Iraq Study Group on Wednesday calls for new diplomatic, political push to improve 'grave and deteriorating' situation)

Dec. 6….(YNET) The Iraq Study Group on Wednesday recommended that US forces begin to withdraw from combat in Iraq and called for a new diplomatic and political push to improve a "grave and deteriorating" situation. US President George W. Bush said he would take the report "very seriously" after meeting with the bipartisan group, but the White House has made clear he will not be bound by its conclusions and has begun its own review of Iraq policy. "The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating," the five Republicans and five Democrats in the group said in the report. "There is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq," they added. "Our most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region and a change in the primary mission of US forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly," the report said. White House spokesman Tony Snow said the panel also urged direct US engagement with Syria and Iran on stabilizing Iraq. Bush has so far resisted calls for direct talks with both countries, which he accuses of fueling the insurgency. "This report gives a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq," Bush said after meeting for about an hour with the group's members. "I told the members that this report, called 'The Way Forward,' will be taken very seriously by this administration," Bush said.



Doubts Grow Over Muslim Lawmaker's Loyalty
(Keith Ellison tied to group that holds Quran as highest legal authority)

Dec. 6….(WND) The first Muslim member of Congress is linked to a radical Islamic school of thought that requires loyalty to the Quran over the US Constitution, WND has learned. Rep.-elect Keith (Hakim-Mohammed) Ellison, D-Minn., has drawn fire for asking to take the constitutional oath on the Quran rather than the Bible at a swearing-in ceremony next month. The Constitution specifies that members of Congress shall be bound by an oath to support the constitutional law of the land. In the oath, Ellison will be required to swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion." Critics argue he has conflicting loyalties, while Ellison insists he's a patriot. But within days of being elected, Ellison held a workshop on politics for a group closely affiliated with a radical Islamic school that preaches no Muslim can pledge loyalty to the Constitution or make laws outside the laws of the Quran, which the school's leaders assert is the "supreme law" of the land, trumping all man-made laws including the US Constitution.

During a 1998 police protest in Minneapolis, then-civil-rights lawyer Keith Ellison, a former acolyte of Louis Farrakhan, distributes copies of the Nation of Islam leader's paper, "The Final Call." (Photo: Minnesota Daily)

A black convert to orthodox Sunni Islam, Ellison spoke to the North American Imams Federation, or NAIF, at the group's Nov. 19 conference in Minneapolis. His talk flowed into a breakout session listed on the agenda simply as "American Open University," according to the conference program. It turns out the university is a "distance-learning" center based in Alexandria, Va., and known to local law enforcement as "Wahhabi Online." The radical Islamic school trains many of NAIF's more than 150 members, who control mosques across America. American Open University supports Sharia, or Islamic law. And its founder and chairman has denounced the USsystem of democracy as "the antithesis of Islam" and argued no man has the right to make laws outside Allah's laws expressed in the Quran. "There is a basic difference between Islam and this form of democracy," he says. "The basic difference is that in Islam it is Allah's law as expressed in the Quran and the Sunna that is the supreme law within the limits of which people have the right to legislate. No one can be a Muslim who makes or freely accepts or believes that anyone has the right to make or accept legislation that is contrary to that divine law," Idris adds. Further, he maintains that no Muslim elected to Congress or the White House can swear to uphold the US Constitution and still be a Muslim. "No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism, which is practically another religion. For Muslims, the word 'religion' does not only refer to a collection of beliefs and rituals, it refers to a way of life which includes all values, behaviors and details of living," Idris says. "Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because it requires us to abandon Allah's decree for that of a man." Ellison's campaign was backed by the Washington-based lobby group CAIR, a partner organization to American Open University-affiliated NAIF. CAIR held fundraisers for Ellison, a civil-rights lawyer and one-time acolyte of Louis Farrakhan who admits to making anti-Semitic remarks in the past (under various alias including Keith Hakim, Keith Ellison-Muhammad and Keith X Ellison). CAIR's founder has argued that the Koran should replace the Constitution as the highest authority in the land. The group's director of communications, moreover, has expressed his desire to see the US become an Islamic state. CAIR is an offshoot of the Islamic Association for Palestine, a suspected front for the terrorist group Hamas. Pundit Dennis Prager and other critics have demanded Ellison take the constitutional oath on the Bible, arguing the constitution derives its authority from the Bible, not the Quran. If Ellison puts his hand on the Quran, Prager says he would be in effect nullifying his oath and undermining "American civilization." "He should not be allowed to do so!"



US Defense Secretary-Designate Robert Gates On the Middle East


(FOJ) Mr. Gates has given voice to what has become increasingly clear in Washington, namely, that Israel will have to defend itself against any Iranian threats. The downturn in Iraq is signaling that the US is now adopting the position of geo-political backpedaling. In short the US is fearful of a type of terrorist Cold War of blackmail. Meanwhile, Iranian proxies are encircling Israel, by usurping power in Lebanon and Palestine

Dec. 5….(YNET) During his testimony at his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld, Gates was asked about Iran's nuclear program and President Ahamdinejad's threats to wipe Israel off the map. Gates replied that the Iranian president's threats were serious, but that there were greater forces in Iran than Ahmadinejad, who are interested in nuclear ability as a power of deterrence against nuclear countries surrounding them, Pakistan in the east, Russia in the north, Israel in the west and the United States in the Persian Gulf. The senators asked Gates whether he could guarantee that if Iran possesses nuclear weapons it would not put its threats against Israel into action. Gates answered that he did not believe anyone could guarantee such a thing.

During the hearing, however, Gates stated that he would not recommend to the president to attack Iran, but only as an "absolute last resort" and if crucial American interests were being threatened. He estimated that an American military operation against Iran could lead to chemical and biological terror attacks. "I think that we have seen, in Iraq, that once war is unleashed, it becomes unpredictable," he said, adding that the consequences of a military confrontation with Iran could be dramatic. He added that while Iran cannot directly attack the Americans, it had the ability to close the Persian Gulf for oil exports, to launch a terror campaign in the Middle East and Europe and even in the US. It's realistic, he said. An American attack in Iran, Gates said, would not help the US in Iraq but would rather damage its interests there. The Iranians, he said, could supply terror groups with weapons for mass destruction, mainly chemical and biological. He added that Tehran also had the ability to operate Hizbullah and undermine the situation in Lebanon. As for Syria, Gates said a US attack on that country would unleash a wave of anti-Americanism in the Middle East. It would have "dramatic consequences for us in the Middle East," Gates said. It would immediately complicate our relations with every country in the region. Gates was chosen by US President George W. Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld following the latter's resignation, and many in the US hope that he will be the person to bring American soldiers back from Iraq. He admitted that in the current situation, the US was not winning the war in Iraq, but made it clear that it was not fleeing Iraq and would withdraw in an organized manner after the Iraqi government and its security forces are able to control the situation and defend themselves. The developments in Iraq in the next two years will influence the future of the entire Middle East, he said, adding that a strategy must be developed which will not leave Iraq in chaos and will give the region hope. If Iraq is not stabilized in a year or two, the entire Middle East will be on fire, he said. He also estimated that even if there is a significant withdrawal of forces from Iraq in the future, American forces will remain in the country for many years to provide support for the Iraqi army. Gates, 63, said he believes President Bush wants to see Iraq improve to the point where it can govern and defend itself, while seeking a new approach.

"Our course over the next year or two will determine whether the American and Iraqi people and the next president of the United States will face a slowly but steadily improving situation in Iraq and in the region or will face the very real risk, and possible reality, of a regional conflagration," Gates said. Gates said that his biggest worry on Iraq is that if US forces departed while the country was in chaos, then predominantly Sunni Arab countries in the region like Saudi Arabia and Turkey would intervene, further complicating the sectarian strife there.



Hamas Chief Vows War Even if PA State is Established

(Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based leader of the Hamas terrorist organization, makes no bones: Either Israel leaves all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and agrees to the 'right of return' - or war.)

imageDec. 5….(Arutz) Meshaal is officially the head of the diplomatic desk of Hamas, but is recognized as the #1 man in the terrorist organization. The target of a failed Israeli assassination attempt a decade ago, Meshaal told a Lebanese newspaper this week that Hamas will not hesitate to resume its armed warfare against Israel. Specifically, he threatened, "If within six months, the international community does not come up with a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders (on all the land liberated by Israel in the Six Day War) and for the return of the refugees, the Palestinians will turn to an armed struggle against Israel." "We can have an intifada even when running the Palestinian Authority," Meshaal said, explaining that the ceasefire was not designed to bring peace, but is rather another stage in the war with Israel. "The current cease-fire in Gaza, just like the escalation before that, is part of the way we manage the conflict with Israel." Many Israeli military men and analysts have said that Hamas is using the current truce in Gaza to rearm and regroup towards the next round of fighting. Hamas Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniye, visiting in Syria, echoed Meshaal's position in a speech at a refugee camp. He said the Palestinians will not give up on "even one grain of sand of Palestine," and that Syrian President Assad promised him that all the Palestinian terrorist prisoners incarcerated in Israel would be freed.



US Talks With Syria, Iran Could Isolate Israel

Dec. 5….(Jerusalem Post) With the US Iraq Study Group expected to recommend on Wednesday that the US diplomatically engage Syria and Iran, Israeli government sources differ widely about the impact this type of engagement might have on Israel. While a senior defense official said US talks with Iran would lead to a slippery slope that would eventually leave Israel alone facing the Iranian nuclear threat, other government officials indicated that US-Iranian talks were needed to stabilize the region since Iran was "calling the shots" everywhere from Lebanon to Gaza. The long-awaited report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, headed by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton to make recommendations on US policy in Iraq, is to be presented to US President George W. Bush on Wednesday. Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said that Bush told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on his visit to Washington last month not to expect any "drastic changes" as a result of the report. Bush assured Olmert that the US was looking for new ways to deal with the Iraqi issue, and that this was the main issue that would be dealt with in the non-binding report. "The report deals with American policy," an official in the Prime Minister's Office said. "Obviously we will look at it carefully to see how it impacts on us, but the prime minister does not expect any far reaching conclusions." The official said the feeling Israel has received from the White House was "that there would be no drastic changes from current policy" as a result of the report. Likewise, the assessment in the Foreign Ministry is that the report would deal primarily with US policy in Iraq, and that "is not our business." No work-groups have been set up in the ministry to deal with the issue. One Foreign Ministry official, who said there was no "tension" in Jerusalem over the report, said that while the US might want to engage the Syrians, the price that the Syrians were likely to ask in return, an end to the tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri and a foothold in Lebanon, may well be too high for the US to pay. According to Foreign Ministry assessments, the return of the Golan Heights is third on Syria's list of priorities. The official also said there were questions whether even meeting these price tags would be enough to pull the Syrians out of the Iranian orbit, or whether Syrian President Bashar Assad was not too weak or dependent on Syria to break from Teheran completely. Regarding the possibility that the Baker committee would recommend engaging the Iranians, a senior defense official who recently returned from a visit to the US said that the main thing on the Washington agenda right now was getting out of Iraq. According to this official, the Baker committee would likely recommend talking to Iran, and he then envisioned the following scenario unfolding: the Iranians would ask for a guarantee that the US not work to undermine the Iranian regime and for the US to turn a "blind eye" to their nuclear development program, in return for Iranian guarantees to help stabilize Iraq by damping down the Shi'ite violence, thereby enabling a US troop withdrawal. What this meant for Israel, the official said, was that it would be left alone to deal with stopping the Iranian nuclear threat. All analysts agree that Iran is the address for the current problems in Lebanon and Gaza, and that without dealing directly with Teheran, these problems simply won't be solved. The root of the problems is the Iranian ability to manipulate Hizbullah and Hamas. The Iranians are calling the shots. The official said that it was obvious that the price the Iranians would ask in return would be an end to attempts to stop their nuclear program.



Netanyahu: Israel Should Topple the Hamas Government

Dec. 5….(DEBKA) In a radio interview Tuesday, the former Likud prime minister questioned the current state leadership’s capabilities for preparing Israel’s armed forces for the “next war.” What should be done now, he said, was to wipe out the burgeoning Palestinian terrorist infrastructure and stem the vast stream of weapons entering Gaza. Instead, the Olmert government was exhibiting weakness by its decision to let eight days of continuous Palestinian ceasefire violations from Gaza go unanswered. In this period, 16 Qassam missiles were fired against Israeli civilian locations. Amid widening criticism of the government’s decision to accept the Hamas “ceasefire” and its violations, Netanyahu said earlier said that Israel’s restraint had the effect of strengthening Hamas and weakening Palestinian moderates. Defending the decision, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert argued to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Monday that the Israeli military operation had not stopped the Palestinian missile offensive. DEBKAfile adds: This further stung the military whose anti-missile operation in northern Gaza he halted mid-stream. Olmert also explained that if the ceasefire is allowed to gather momentum it could stimulate diplomatic engagement.



President Bush Meets Shiite al-Hakim in White House


(FOJ) President Bush stated yesterday after the White House meeting that Al Hakim informed him that he truly wants democracy in Iraq. President Bush expressed his confidence in Al Hakim, and that he could play a pivotal role in stabilizing Iraq. It is the opinion of FOJ that democracy in Iraq also favors Iran’s ambitions.

Dec. 5….(AP) Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim is closer to Iran than any other Iraqi politician and runs a Shiite militia blamed for sectarian violence in Iraq. So why did President Bush meet him in the White House? Some Iraqi officials believe Bush wanted to find out what role Iran can play in bringing peace to this country. If anyone in Iraq knows, it is the 55-year-old al-Hakim. Al-Hakim is the leader of Iraq's largest political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI. He lived in exile in Iran for more than two decades before returning home in 2003 after the ouster of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime. SCIRI was founded in Iran and its affiliated militia, the Badr Brigade, was trained and armed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The militia fought alongside the Iranians in their eight-year war against Iraq in the 1980s. Al-Hakim's Sunni Arab critics, in fact, charge that he is more Iranian than Iraqi. "Al-Hakim wants Iran to rule Iraq," Saleh al-Mutlaq, a senior Sunni Arab politician, told Al-Jazeera television interview that aired Sunday. Al-Hakim, who spoke to President Bush for more than an hour at the White House Monday, became leader of the SCIRI when his brother and party founder Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim was killed in a bombing in August 2003. Since then, he has risen from political obscurity into the leader of parliament's largest bloc. While al-Hakim's ties to Iran inspire suspicion among Sunni Iraqis, they apparently enhanced his prestige with the US, especially as the Bush administration searches for an exit strategy from its 44-month-old military involvement in Iraq. Bush refuses to speak directly to Iran, a US adversary for almost 30 years. That prompted al-Hakim to consider volunteering as an intermediary between Washington and Tehran, according to key advisers to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who talked with al-Hakim before his Washington visit. Iranian influence in Iraq worries the United States and its Arab Sunni allies in the region, like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.



US Won't Launch Preemptive Strike Against Teheran

Dec. 5 (Jerusalem Post) Predicting Iran will obtain nuclear weapons by the end of the decade, the defense establishment's new and updated assessment for 2007 does not foresee the United States undertaking a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear installations, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The chances of an American strike are deemed "low," according to assessments by the security establishment. Israel also believes that international diplomatic efforts to stop Iran will fail, security sources said. In an interivew with the Post in late September, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said US President George W. Bush would prevent the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear bomb. Asked whether he felt Bush would one way or the other stop Iran going nuclear, Olmert responded: "I believe so." In April, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Iran had passed one of the major hurdles in its race to obtain nuclear power and had, for the first time, successfully enriched uranium, a high-ranking IDF officer told the Post that Iran would obtain nuclear independence in a matter of months. At the time, a battery of 164 centrifuges was used to enrich the uranium to 3.5 percent. To produce highly-enriched uranium at 90%, Iran would need to operate thousands of centrifuges without interruption for a period of several months. Ahmadinejad announced plans last month to build 60,000 additional centrifuges, leading Israel to believe that it was only a matter of time before Iran developed a nuclear capability. Pakistan encountered similar difficulties in its nuclear program but eventually overcame them. The assumption in the defense establishment is that even if sanctions were imposed on Iran today, they would not be effective in deterring the regime from continuing with its nuclear plans. The Democratic takeover of the US Senate and Congress has also led to the prediction that President George W. Bush will not be able to order a military strike. In addition, the prediction is that Bush's administration is headed towards talks with Iran, expected to be one of the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report on America's options in Iraq to be presented to the US president on Wednesday.

FOJ Note: The US and President Bush have been politically weakened to the point that America’s hands are virtually tied in the war-on-terror. The bottom line is that Iran is indeed going to acquire a nuclear bomb, (regardless of President Bush’s pledge to stop it) and the world has Russia to thank for that looming reality. Israel is left to fend for itself.



Netanyahu: Gaza Turning into A Second Lebanon

Dec. 4….(Arutz) Hamas continues to fire rockets, and if its doesn’t stop there will be tragic outcomes which we have already witnessed, Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said today. It is completely obvious that Hamas Leader Haniyeh's coordination talks in Damascus and Tehran dealt with the terror activity against Israel. Netanyahu added that "the Olmert restraint policy will lead to a dangerous situation in which Gaza will become a second Lebanon, as Hamas will be strengthened because of the unilateral ceasefire. There is a need to carry out a consistent operation to defeat terror in Gaza, to seal the Philadelphi route and prevent arms smuggling into Gaza." 



The Division of Jerusalem

Dec. 4….(Israel Today) Israel’s leading politicians, who once referred to Jerusalem as the “undivided and eternal capital of the State of Israel,” are now referring to the city as a “Jewish Jerusalem,” the stress no longer on the word, undivided, but on Jewish. So to maintain the Jewish character of the state and a strong Jewish majority, the Olmert government intends to divest itself of heavily populated Arab areas. Under an emerging plan, Israel would relinquish the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, including a-Ram, Anata, Abu Dis, Tzur Baher and Jabel Mukaber. “Those same neighborhoods will be central to the makeup of the Palestinian capital, al-Quds,” said Israeli parliamentarian Otniel Schneller, referring to Jerusalem by its Arabic name. Schneller is a member of the ruling Kadima party and an architect of the division plan. It’s all about demographics. About 66 percent of Jerusalem’s 700,000 residents are Jews, and the rest are Arabs. After the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the Jewish population was 74 percent, and it is expected to drop further over the next 14 years to just 56 percent. While extracting Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, Israel would tighten its grip on other assets, including the Old City, which is home to the Temple Mount and Western Wall, the holiest sites in Judaism. Israel would also strengthen two major settlement blocs, Ma’ale Adumim to the east and Gush Etzion to the south, and make them part of a Greater Jerusalem. After such a land exchange, the number of Arab residents in Jerusalem would be about 110,000, less than half of what it is today. According to a poll, 63 percent of Jewish Israelis support territorial compromise in Jerusalem if it would bring a true and lasting peace. But the Israeli defense establishment is not enthusiastic about dividing the city because it would harm the security of a Jewish Jerusalem.



John Bolton Resigns as Ambassador to UN


(FOJ) Ambassador Bolton has been a staunch defender of the US in his service in the UN, and he has been a strong voice against terrorism and the enemies of Israel. His upheld confirmation is a clear sign that the US is attempting to appease the Globalists.

Dec. 4….(MSN) Unable to win Senate confirmation, acting UN Ambassador John Bolton will step down when his temporary appointment expires within weeks, the White House said Monday. Bolton’s nomination has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican who lost in the midterm elections Nov. 7 that swept Democrats to power in both houses of Congress, was adamantly opposed to Bolton. Critics have questioned Bolton’s brusque style and whether he could be an effective bureaucrat who could force reform at the UN. President Bush gave Bolton the job temporarily in August 2005, while Congress was in recess. Under that process, the appointment expires when Congress formally adjourns, no later than early January. The White House resubmitted Bolton’s nomination last month. But with Democrats capturing control of the next Congress, his chances of winning confirmation appeared slight. The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, said he saw “no point in considering Mr. Bolton’s nomination again.”

While Bush could not give Bolton another recess appointment, the White House was believed to be exploring other ways of keeping him in the job, perhaps by giving him a title other than ambassador. But Bolton informed the White House he intended to leave when his current appointment expires, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. President Bush planned to meet with Bolton and his wife later Monday in the Oval Office. As late as last month, the President, through his top aides, said he would not relent in his defense of Bolton, despite unwavering opposition from Democrats who view Bolton as too combative for international diplomacy. Perino said that among Bolton’s accomplishments, he assembled coalitions addressing North Korea’s nuclear activity, Iran’s uranium enrichment and reprocessing work and the horrific violence in Darfur. She said he also made reform at the United Nations a top issue because the United States is searching for a more “credible” and more “effective world body.” “Ambassador Bolton served his country with distinction and he achieved a great deal at the United Nations,” Perino said. “Despite the support of a strong bipartisan majority of senators, Ambassador Bolton’s confirmation was blocked by a Democratic filibuster, and this is a clear example of the breakdown in the Senate confirmation process,” she said. “Nominees deserve the opportunity for a clean up or down vote. Ambassador Bolton was never given that opportunity.”



Islam and Violence

Dec. 4….(By Daniel Allott) Following Pope Benedict's remarks on the relationship between faith and violence, a quiet conversation emerged. It highlighted a central question as the West increasingly attempts to engage the Muslim world: Is Islam especially prone to violence? So far, much of the conversation has focused on the violent reactions of some Muslims to the pope's previous comments. But, there's disturbing proof that a far deeper culture of violence pervades much of the Islamic world. In a recent survey on global conflict, Monty Marshall and Ted Burr of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management found that of the 24 major armed conflicts taking place worldwide in 2005, more than half (13) involved Muslim governments or paramilitary groups on one or both sides of the fighting. What's more, among six countries with "emerging armed conflicts," four are predominantly Muslim and another, Thailand, involves a Muslim separatist movement. Marshall and Burr also rated 161 countries according to their capacity to avoid outbreaks of armed conflicts. Whereas 63 percent of non-Muslim countries were categorized as "enjoying the strongest prospects for successful management of new challenges," just 18 percent of the 50 Muslim nations included were similarly designated. In addition, Muslim nations were two-and-a-half times more likely than non-Muslim nations to be considered "at the greatest risk of neglecting or mismanaging emerging societal crises such that these conflicts escalate to serious violence and/or government instability." This evaluation reveals the glaring reality that violence is a fact of life in many Muslim nations. But is Islam itself the impetus? Consider that a recent Pentagon intelligence analysis found that most Muslim terrorists say they are motivated by the Koran's violent commands. The September 11 hijackers and London transit bombers made martyrdom videos in which they recited the Koran while talking of "sacrificing life for Allah." British authorities also recovered martyrdom videotapes in the foiled transatlantic sky terror plot. Shamil Basayev, architect of the 2004 Beslan school massacre in Chechnya, referred to himself as "Allah's slave." Meanwhile, Genocidal Sudanese dictator Gen. Omar Bashir recently swore "three times in the name of Allah" that he would never allow international troops to enter Darfur. And the list goes on. Western liberals often insist that foreign occupation is at the root of Islamic violence. We simply cannot overlook extremist interpretations of religion as a significant part of the problem when terrorists yell, "Allah is great;" as they decapitate their victims or blow themselves up in a crowded market. But the Muslim world's support of faith-based violence is not limited to governments and their non-state proxies. Consider a June Pew Global Attitudes poll that showed a majority of Muslims in Jordan, Egypt and Nigeria, as well as roughly a third in France, Spain and Great Britain, felt violence against civilians can be justified in order to defend Islam. Some Muslims' appetite for destruction is not surprising given the ability of prominent Muslim leaders to foment hatred of the West. The West must recognize these violent outbursts for what they are: calculated acts of outrage meant not to refute but to intimidate non-Muslims into not speaking up at all, and submitting to their dictates. Sadly, with so many in the Islamic world agreeing that Westerners must "convert or die," all signs point to more violence ahead.



Syria’s Devious Weapon for Undermining Siniora Government

(al Qaeda infiltrators cross into Lebanon to radicalize Palestinians)

Dec. 4….(DEBKA) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Monday, Dec. 4, that Israel does not intend attacking Syria. Like all its neighbors, Israel is bound to be affected by the turmoil in Lebanon, especially if Hizballah’s pro-Syrian coup-by-demonstration succeeds in overthrowing the anti-Syrian government of Fouad Siniora. Military sources report that the Olmert government should be doubly concerned by Bashar Asad’s latest gambit, filtering Al Qaeda operatives from their Syrian sanctuary into Lebanon, there to foment Palestinian support for Hizballah’s drive to topple the government in Beirut. The largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, Ein al Hilwa near Sidon in the south, saw a conference of the heads of the camp’s Jund Al-Sham factions. Jund Al-Sham, like the Islamic Army of Gaza, is an operational and financial dependant of al Qaeda. They discussed whether to grant entry to Palestinian groups from Syria, and “other Arab factions,” such as “al Qaeda”, “the Islamic Army” and “Fatah al-Islam.” The consensus they reached was that such groups could not be excluded from the Palestinian refugee camps of the south or from Burj al Barajne, Sabra and Chatila near Beirut, because they were already ensconced in the north. In an article published in Dar Al Hayat on Nov. 30, the Lebanese journalist Hassan Haydar asked: “How is it possible for all these armed groups to cross the Syrian-Lebanese border without being spotted by the security apparatus of both sides?” The question was rhetorical. He knows the answer, as do DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources: As we have reported, Syria is arming sympathetic Lebanese factions in readiness for a showdown with anti-Syrian elements in Beirut. Its next step now is to transplant al Qaeda offshoots and affiliates from Syria into Lebanon’s Palestinian camps for three objectives:

1. To remove this incriminating terrorist presence from Syria ahead of a possible thaw in relations with Washington.

2. To radicalize the Palestinians of Lebanon so that in a civil showdown they will fight alongside the pro-Syrian forces.

3. To radicalize the Palestinian people at large, and so disarm and isolate the moderates, not only in Lebanon, but also in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as well. Damascus will of course deny deploying these jihadists at strategic points for destabilizing pro-Western governments and defeating peace diplomacy. But Syria also denies a hand in promoting the violence in Iraq by similar infusions.



President Bush Meeting Iraqi Shiite Leader Ties With Iran

Dec. 4….(AP) A Shiite powerbroker reviled by Sunni Arabs for his ties to Iran and a militia linked to sectarian violence will ask President Bush to seek Iran's help in their upcoming White House meeting and try to allay US concerns over Iranian influence in Iraq. Al-Hakim is arguably the most powerful Shiite politician in Iraq, but he prefers to work behind the scenes. He wanted a close SCIRI associate, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, to be prime minister after elections in December, but grudgingly accepted al-Maliki as a compromise. The two men have since maintained a public image of cooperation to safeguard the ruling coalition. Speculation in Iraq that al-Hakim was emerging as a rival for Washington's attention was fueled in part by an internal White House memo that questioned al-Maliki's authority and his ability to handle Iraq's worsening security. Written by National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley after he met al-Maliki in Baghdad, the memo also spoke of the need for the Iraqi leader to end his alliance with the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militia, the Mahdi Army, is blamed for much of Iraq's sectarian violence. The timing of al-Hakim's meeting with Bush raised the possibility that Washington may also be looking for additional sources of help as it tries to stabilize Iraq, allowing a drawdown on US forces to begin. Al-Hakim is expected to try to persuade Bush to enlist Iran's help in quelling violence in Iraq. In return, they said, al-Hakim would pledge not to allow Iran to use him to promote its own interests, said by analysts to be "controlled chaos" that keeps the United States preoccupied with Iraq. Al-Hakim has close links with Shiite Iran, where he lived in exile for years before he returned to Iraq after the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led regime. His Badr Brigade militia, trained and armed by the Iranians, is blamed for some of Iraq's sectarian violence. Al-Hakim's militia links and close ties to Iran, however, have gone unmentioned by Washington, perhaps in recognition of his political leverage. President Bush is under pressure from Sunni Arab allies, like Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who have become alarmed at the rise of Iraq's majority Shiites to resist the Shiite formula.





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