WEEK OF MAY 25 THROUGH MAY 31
A Syrian Golan Would Become Another Terror Base
May 31….(Israel Today) Far from actual peace, if Israel gave the Golan Heights to Syria, the Jewish state would be looking at a terrorist base camp as a neighbor, according to Arab affairs expert Guy Bechor of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. “From being an empty buffer zone, the Golan Heights will turn into a crowded anti-Israel region for generations to come. From being a strategic asset to Israel, the Golan will turn into a burden on top of the other regional efforts to eliminate Israel,” he wrote. “Our future generations will not forgive anyone who would do that.” Bechor, who wrote an article published in Ynetnews, said that Syrian President Bashar Assad has apparently already announced that any Syrian resident who moves to the Golan will receive a government allowance. Should terror attacks be launched on Israel from Syrian, Assad, much like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will be able to blame extremist groups. In the article, Bechor predicts that a peace deal with Israel will precipitate Assad’s downfall. He outlines three destructive steps that would follow a withdawal: up to one million Syrian residents would immediately be resettled in the Golan; Syria would be as subversive with Israel as it is with Lebanon despite ‘friendship’ between the two nations; and Assad himself will fall allowing for a more dangerous regime to be Israel’s next-door neighbor. “The Golan Heights will turn into the radical spearhead against Israel, and not only from Syria. People will be coming from Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” he warns. “Terrorism will be two-pronged both from the Golan and from Lebanon. Life in the north will turn into an unbearable nightmare, yet the situation will be irreversible.”
Iran in Secret Talks With Al Qaeda
May 31….(ABC News) Senior US officials tell ABC News that in recent months there have been secret contacts between the Iranian government and the leadership of al Qaeda. It’s a development that has caught the attention of top officials in the White House, the Pentagon and the intelligence community.
“And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12)
According to US officials familiar with highly sensitive intelligence on this issue, the contacts are on the status of high-level al Qaeda operatives, including two of Osama Bin Laden’s sons, who have been under house arrest in Iran since 2003. The officials don’t believe Iran will allow these operatives to go free, but said they don’t know Iran’s motivation for initiating the talks. “The Iranians know there would be hell to pay if these guys were set free,” a US official told ABC News. “Iran likely sees these individuals, as major bargaining chips,” says another official. “How and when they’re going to use those chips or whether they are going to keep them in the bank is part of an ongoing strategic discussion they are having internally.” The fate of these al Qaeda operatives has been one of the most intriguing mysteries in the war on terror. Shortly after the US invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, al Qaeda’s central leadership broke into two groups. US intelligence believes that one group, headed by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, fled to the east to find safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The second group, headed by an Egyptian named Saif al Adel, went west to Iran. This second group, which intelligence analysts say includes al Qaeda’s management council, or “shura,” includes about two dozen militants, including Adel, al Qaeda spokesman Suliman abu Ghaith and some of bin Laden’s relatives, including two of his sons, Saad and Hamza. Although US officials rarely talk publicly about them, these militants are considered to be among the most dangerous terrorists in the world. Adel is on the FBI list of Most Wanted Terrorists and is a suspect in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The State Department has put a $5 million bounty on his head through the Rewards for Justice program; the only al Qaeda figures with higher bounties are Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Zawahiri. Iranian authorities detained these militants in 2003, and they have been under what one US official called “loose house arrest” in Iran ever since. The US government quietly sent messages to Iran through the Swiss government, requesting that the al Qaeda figures be turned over to their native countries for interrogation and trial. Iran has refused. In the past, the Iranians have also resisted efforts by al Qaeda to get the militants released. But recently there has been a renewed effort by al Qaeda to negotiate for their release and signs that the Iranians are willing to at least talk about that. “Al Qaeda would like to get those folks a deal and they’ve been trying to work a deal,” a senior defense official tells ABC News. “Right now there is greater effort being applied by al Qaeda to seek a resolution.” Although Iran has recently signaled a willingness to discuss the issue, this official says, “I don’t see the Iranian government desiring to work very fast or quickly on that. Buried inside the latest State Department report on terrorism, released in April, is one of the few on-the-record statements on this issue by the US government. “Iran has repeatedly resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its AQ detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for interrogations or trial,” the report says. “Iran also continued to fail to control the activities of some AQ members who fled to Iran following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.” But US officials tell ABC News that one reason they have not raised the issue more publicly is that they believe Iran has largely kept these al Qaeda operatives under control since 2003, limiting their ability to travel and communicate. “It’s been a status quo that leaves these people, some of whom are quite important, essentially on ice,” said a US official. Iran has its own reasons to keep these militants under house arrest. Al Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim group that has a complicated, sometimes tense, relationship with Iran. Recent public statements by al Qaeda have taken an unusually anti-Iranian tone. In two audiotapes released last month, for example, Zawahiri lambastes the Iranian government for, among other things, trying to take over southern Iraq. So, why would Iran now be reaching out to al Qaeda? US intelligence analysts have several theories. Under one theory, the talks are a reaction to al Qaeda’s recent anti-Iranian rhetoric. The Iranians are using the al Qaeda detainees as, the theory goes, leverage, “hostages” in the words of one official, to get al Qaeda to cut its recent anti-Iranian rhetoric and to deter any potential al Qaeda operations against Iran. By detaining them, Iran makes an unspoken threat to al Qaeda’s leadership: If al Qaeda attempts to attack Iran, these people will suffer. Others believe Iran may have initiated the talks as a threat to the United States, that if the US takes hostile action against Iran, these captives could be released, set free to plot attacks against the West. One senior US official says there are ongoing “tensions and flirtations” between al Qaeda and Iran “with al Qaeda very much interested in trying to get these guys released and back in the fold, and with Iran playing strategic games knowing that al Qaeda is ultimately their enemy.” Adding to the concern about this, the intelligence community has only limited knowledge about the status of the al Qaeda operatives in Iran and even less about what Iran intends to do with them. Asked if the US knows where Iran is holding them, a high-ranking US military officer told ABC News, “No. I wish we did.”
High Noon in the Middle East
MAY 31….(In The Days) A hitherto latent rivalry between Iran and Israel has been transformed into an open struggle for dominance in the Middle East. The result has been the emergence of some surprising, if not bizarre, alliances: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and the American-backed, Shia-dominated Iraq are facing Israel, Saudi Arabia and most of the other Sunni Arab states, all of which feel existentially threatened by Iran’s ascendance. (“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.” Zechariah 12:2) The danger of a major confrontation has been further heightened by a series of factors: persistent high oil prices, which have created new financial and political opportunities for Iran; the defeat of the West and its regional allies in proxy wars in Gaza and Lebanon; and the United Nations Security Council’s failure to induce Iran to accept even a temporary freeze of its nuclear program. Iran’s nuclear program is the decisive factor in this equation, for it threatens irreversibly the region’s strategic balance. That Iran, a country whose president never tires of calling for Israel’s annihilation and which threatens Israel’s northern and southern borders through its massive support of proxy wars waged by Hezbollah and Hamas, might one day have missiles with nuclear warheads is Israel’s worst security nightmare. Politics is not just about facts, but also about perceptions. Whether or not a perception is accurate is beside the point, because it nonetheless leads to decisions. This applies in particular when the perception concerns what the parties consider to be threats to their very existence. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats of annihilation are taken seriously in Israel because of the trauma of the Holocaust. And most Arab governments share the fear of a nuclear Iran. Earlier this month, Israel celebrated its 60th birthday, and US President George W. Bush went to Jerusalem to play a leading part in the commemoration. But those who had expected that his visit would mainly be about the stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were bitterly disappointed. Bush’s central topic, including his speech to Israel’s parliament, was Iran. Bush had promised to bring the Middle East conflict closer to a resolution before the end of his term in office this year. But his final visit to Israel seems to indicate that his objective is different: he seems to be planning, together with Israel, to end the Iranian nuclear program. and to do so by military, rather than diplomatic, means. Anyone following the press in Israel during the anniversary celebrations and listening closely to what was said in Jerusalem did not have to be a prophet to understand that matters are coming to a head. Consider the following:
1. “Stop the appeasement!” is a demand raised across the political spectrum in Israel, and what is meant is the nuclear threat emanating from Iran.
2. While Israel celebrated, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted as saying that a life-and-death military confrontation was a distinct possibility.
3. The outgoing commander of the Israel Air Force declared that the air force was capable of any mission, no matter how difficult, to protect the country’s security. The destruction of a Syrian nuclear facility last year, and the lack of any international reaction to it, are viewed as an example for the coming action against Iran.
4. The Israeli wish list for US arms deliveries, discussed with the American president, focused mainly on the improvement of the Israel Air Force’s attack capabilities and precision.
5. Diplomatic initiatives and UN sanctions are seen as hopelessly ineffective.
6. With the approaching end of the Bush presidency and uncertainty about his successor’s policy, the window of opportunity for Israeli action is seen as potentially closing.
The last two factors carry special weight. While Israeli military intelligence is on record that Iran is expected to cross the red line on the path to nuclear power between 2010 and 2015 at the earliest, the feeling in Israel is that the political window of opportunity is now, during the last months of Bush’s presidency. Although it is acknowledged in Jerusalem that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would involve grave and hard-to-assess risks, the choice between acceptance of an Iranian bomb and an attempt at its military destruction, with all the attendant consequences, is clear. Israel won’t stand by and wait for matters to take their course. The Middle East is drifting toward a new great confrontation in 2008. Iran must understand that without a diplomatic solution in the coming months, a dangerous military conflict is very likely to erupt. It is high time for serious negotiations to begin.
The Woman Who Would Lead Israel Next
May 30….(Breitnart) Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who on Thursday challenged the Kadima party leadership of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, under investigation for alleged corruption, is seen as as rising political star and a contender to be its second woman leader. The 49-year-old lawyer, who defied her staunch nationalist background to become the number two in government and in the centrist Kadima, is today the most popular member of government. She is seen as the strongest candidate to succeed Olmert as Kadima's head and enjoys high public approval ratings though she still trails right-wing Likud Party chief Benjamin Nteanyahu in polls as a potential premier. Today Livni heads the peace negotiations with the Palestinians, launched late last year in a US conference, but which have since made little visible progress. She has met frequently with her US counterpart, Condoleeza Rice on improving conditions for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where she is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state but also ensuring Israel's security and fight against terror. "The creation of a Palestinian state, of a Palestinian economy, is clearly in Israel's interests, and we share the Palestinians' desire, just as cracking down on terror is a Palestinian interest," Livni said, while attending a donors conference for the Palestinians in Paris in December. In April she took the rarely available opportunity of visiting an Arab country, attending a democracy forum in Qatar, where she lobbied for support against Iran's nuclear drive and urged Arab states to forge ties with Israel. Ironically, Livni was virtually born to be a luminary in Likud. Her Polish-born father Eitan was director of operations for the Irgun, the hardline nationalist group that fought British rule through World War II and was one of the main factions that later formed the Likud. Yet she was among the first ministers to join former premier Ariel Sharon in breaking with Likud before the March 2006 elections, becoming one of the new party's founders. With her mother Sarah also an Irgun militant, Tzipi was brought up steeped in the vision of a Greater Israel that would include what are now the Palestinian territories. But under Sharon's tutelage she swung round to his conviction that the only way to preserve Israel as a Jewish state was to relinquish at least some of the land occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War. Livni was born in Tel Aviv on July 8, 1958. She received a law degree from Bar-Ilan University, and practiced law in a private firm for 10 years before entering public life. She specialised in commercial, constitutional and real estate law. An MP since 1999, she was appointed to the cabinet in March 2001, becoming minister of regional cooperation. She has since also held the agriculture, immigration and justice portfolios. Before following her father into politics, she worked in a commercial law partnership after four years in the legal section of the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service.
Olmert's Days as PM Now Numbered
May 30….(JNEWSWIRE) A week after announcing the opening of a door to negotiations with Syria that could endanger Israel's hold on the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is battling for his political life. And while he has been cherishing the prospect of making his mark by securing some form of a lasting agreement with the PLO that, too, appears an increasingly futile hope as pressure mounts for the prime minister to resign. Olmert is being investigated by police for having allegedly accepted bribes or laundered money received from an American businessman. Addressing journalists in Jerusalem Thursday Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni - Olmert's number two - said their Kadima Party needed to prepare for "every eventuality, including early elections." "The reality changed after yesterday," she said, referring to an announcement made by Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak. Barak set the ball rolling at a lunch-time press conference in Tel Aviv when he declared that the country could not be run by a man who is struggling to keep his own personal affairs in order. With Hamas rockets in the south, Hizb'allah consolidating its position in the north, Syria indicating it wants to discuss the future of the Golan Heights, and Iran pursuing as never before its own atomic bomb it was necessary, Barak said, for Olmert to step down. While Barak was accused of political opportunism by left-wing Knesset members who believe the prime minister is the best hope for their cause, others in the coalition - including at least two members of Olmert's own Kadima Party - joined their voices to the growing chorus for him to "go home." Barak's Labor Party Thursday gave their leader their full support. And Israeli news outlets reported that political parties were already beginning to prepare for early elections, which could be held as early as November [interestingly the same month as the presidential elections in the United States - Ed]. Olmert was putting a brave face on things Thursday morning, touring the rocket ravaged western Negev and telling his colleagues and the public in general that he is quite capable of running the show - and that he will not step aside. Protesting his innocence, Olmert earlier did promise to resign if actually indicted on any criminal charges, and a decision about that has yet to be reached. But the premier, never really popular since winning the election in April 2006, and having survived a number of scandals, has already lost the country's confidence. According to a poll conducted for the leftist daily Ha'aretz Monday, fully 70 percent of the nation says they do not believe that Olmert is telling the truth concerning the allegations that he accepted bribes.
Egypt Playing A Role In Moving The Prophecy Clock Forward
May 29….(Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) Egypt is the source of two items that could possibly have accelerated the prophecy clock forward by leaps and bounds--the radical terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency. The Muslim Brotherhood is enacting a deceptive plan to colonize the United States and unite all Muslims against the government. The plan, written in 1991, calls for a "Civilization Jihadist" responsibility for every Muslim living in the United States. Egyptian born and educated ElBaradei has headed the IAEA since 1997 and long has been an apologist for the Iranian nuclear program. Elbaradei said of the Iranian nuclear program in November 2004 "I am not ready to jump to the conclusion and say this is a weapons program unless I see a diversion of nuclear material to such a program or I see clear cut proof that this is a weapons program. And we are not there yet." In February, he said, "we have not seen any indication that these studies were linked to nuclear material." Now the IAEA is saying that Iran "may be" withholding information whether it is trying to make nuclear weapons. This diplomatic cat and mouse game over the Iranian nuclear program only serves to allow Iran to advance its nuclear ambitions while diplomats are discussing whether it even exists. There are many theories over why ElBaradei is so soft on Iran. Some would suggest that ElBaradei is soft on any Islamic nation with nuclear ambitions. Under his watch their have been advancing nuclear programs in Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and terrorist supplier North Korea--all allowed because they were for peaceful purposes, of course. There are reports that have circulated the internet since 2005 that ElBaradei's wife is first cousin to Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani, one of the "brains" behind the Iranian regime and a confidant of Ayatollah Khomenei. The IAEA has denied that ElBaradei's wife is Iranian, but has provided no proof refuting a possible family tie with the Iranian regime. Is it coincidence that Egypt is the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood that has a radical plan to take over the United States and ElBaradei who has been responsible for allowing the proliferation of nuclear technology throughout the Muslim world? While the Sunni and Shiite Muslims kill one another over religious interpretations, they are united against Israel and infidels. Isaiah 31:1 says, "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord." Let us seek the Lord for He is the great deliverer.
Bolton: Little Alternative to Iran Strike
May 29….(Newsmax) Military action against Iran would be a last resort but the United States and its allies have not done enough to promote the alternative, a former US ambassador to the United Nations said on Wednesday. John Bolton, who was a leading hawk in President George W. Bush's administration, told an audience at the Hay literary Festival that five years of "failed" negotiation with Iran over its nuclear program had left just two options for dealing with the issue, regime change and use of force. "The use of military force is an extremely unattractive option and only to be used as a last resort," he said, adding he would favor regime change. Bolton said the elements for regime change were present in Iran, the economy was in difficulties, young Iranians could see the possibility of a different life and there were ethnic tensions within the country. But he added that the United Nations and its allies had not done enough to bring about the required change. "I wish that we had had a much more vigorous policy five years ago," he said. Bolton, in Hay to promote his book "Surrender is not an Option," said the insistence of Britain, France and Germany on trying to negotiate a solution with Iran and US acquiescence in this policy had failed. "Today Iran is five years closer to having a nuclear weapons capability," he said. Western leaders fear Iran aims to build atomic weapons and the United Nations has hit Tehran with three rounds of sanctions since 2006, demanding it cease nuclear enrichment activities. Tehran has refused, saying its nuclear program is peaceful. Bolton, who was also Under-Secretary of State under Colin Powell at the time of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, was jeered by protesters shouting "war criminal" as he left the stage.
US Asks UN to Search in Syria for Nuclear Facilities
May 29….(Israel Today) Despite negotiations with Israel that could potentially make Syria an ally, American officials are pressing the United Nations to search the Arab nation for secret nuclear facilities, according to a report in The Washington Post. The newspaper reported that at least three sites have been identified by US officials and passed along to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. The US did not identify nor discuss the specific sites. Israel destroyed the Al Kibar reactor in September, a facility Syria claimed was a disused military building in its eastern desert with no nuclear link. It has yet to accept a request from the IAEA to visit the site. CIA Director Michael Hayden told the newspaper that the intelligence community's insight into Syria's nuclear ambitions has deepened since the Israeli raid. "Do not assume that Al Kibar exhausted our knowledge of Syrian efforts with regard to nuclear weapons," Hayden said in an interview. "I am very comfortable -- certainly with Al Kibar and what was there, and what the intent was."
Washington asks UN to Search for two more Syrian Nuclear Sites
May 29….(DEBKA) According to the Washington Post, US officials have identified at least three suspected nuclear sites in Syria, two more than the Al Kibar reactor Israel bombed last year, and passed the information to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This confirms the Oct. 25, 2007 disclosure by military sources that the Israeli raid of Sept. 6 had destroyed at least two nuclear sites in Syria. Washington released its request to the IAEA now, both to point up its disapproval of the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s peace talks with Damascus and to continue the pressure on Syrian president Bashar Assad. More such disclosures are therefore expected. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told the WP that the intelligence community’s insight into Syria’s nuclear ambitions had deepened since the Israeli raid. “Do not assume that Al Kibra exhausted our knowledge of Syrian efforts with regard to nuclear weapons.” Our military sources add: The fact that Syria was building three interconnected nuclear sites, a North Korean reactor and facilities for supplying nuclear fuel rods and fuel processing for extracting plutonium, proves Damascus was close to completing a weaponization program fueled by plutonium rather than enriched uranium. Both American and Israeli sources reported that the reactor was only weeks or months away from being ready for production. Our sources add that if Syria was that close, how much closer must Iran, the senior partner in the alliance, be to its goal of a homemade nuclear weapon? Syria has not responded to any IAEA requests for a date to conduct inspections.
Nuclear Fallout on the River Wye
May 29….(In The Days) Of all the places in the world, Jimmy Carter chose a book fair on the banks of the River Wye in Wales as the spot from which to put an official end to Israel’s nuclear ambiguity. One cannot exaggerate the importance of the former American president’s statement that Israel has 150 nuclear bombs. More than all the estimates and leaks about the Israeli nuclear program over the past five decades, Carter’s comments on Sunday give official cachet to Israel’s status as a nuclear power. (“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves” 2Ti 3:1-2) “This time the speaker is not another scientist basing his assessments on calculations of the output from the Dimona reactor, or a news report with an unclear source. Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal is being revealed by a former American president, someone who, upon entering the White House, adopted the policy of covert American nuclear cooperation with Israel, which was formulated four decades ago. The principles of the nuclear understandings between Israel and the United States were agreed upon in 1969, when prime minister Golda Meir met with U.S. president Richard Nixon in Washington. That was the first time the United States officially accepted Israel’s status as a nuclear power, while agreeing not to publicly reveal details about its weapons. Israel committed not to carry out nuclear testing or declare that it has nuclear weapons. For their part, the Americans promised not to pressure Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Every American president since, and every senior administration official who knew the details of the Israeli nuclear program, kept silent and effectively adopted Israel’s official policy: that it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Now Carter comes along and changes the rules of the game. After all, he doesn’t need to rely on foreign sources or unproven conjecture. When he served as president, he knew exactly what Israel had in its storehouses. Jimmy Carter is not guessing or estimating. He knows. In his speech at the Wales book fair, Carter did not make it clear whether he was citing the number of bombs Israel had when he left the White House in January 1981, or describing the current size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. This doesn’t much affect the core of the matter - Israel’s exposure as a nuclear power. When it comes to strategic considerations by Israel and its opponents, it doesn’t matter whether there are 150, 200 or 300 bombs.
If Carter was referring to the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal when he left the White House, it is possible to figure out its current size from the information he provided. To do so one needs to use foreign sources, which state that Israel produces enough plutonium to build approximately five nuclear bombs per year. If that’s the case, then Israel has built an estimated 150 more bombs since 1981, putting the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal at some 300 bombs. But this is merely an intellectual exercise. What is truly important is the fact that a former American president has exposed Israel as a nuclear power. One can assume that Iran will now be able to make use of Carter’s comments in order to point to the double standard of the Western world, which is prepared to accept a nuclear Israel but makes a great effort to prevent Iran from going nuclear. However, the more important ramification of Carter’s statement is the reinforcement of Israel’s deterrent image. In the future, if Iran does acquire nuclear weapons, this image will be of critical importance in the process of developing mutual deterrence.
Battle Shapes up Over Arctic Seabed and its Oil
May 29….(WND) A battle over the 460,000 square miles of Arctic Ocean seabed, and the estimated one-quarter of the Earth's oil reserves it is thought to hold, is shaping up for this week's Arctic Ocean Summit. The US Geological Survey estimates the region may hold up to 25 percent of the world's oil, and although Russian planted a titanium flag under the North Pole in a territorial marking of the seabed last year, control over the area and its assets still is far from resolved. Officials from the United States, Norway, , Denmark and Canada are meeting in Greenland to discuss the area, and Carl Olson, chairman of State Department Watch, a nonpartisan watchdog group, says the results of the fight for sovereignty on the northernmost part of the Earth is of great importance to Americans. "We urge Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice to resist any takeover of the North Pole area because it threatens the rights of Americans to the open ocean and seabeds," he said. The other nations are claiming the North Pole ocean area based on the Law of the Sea Treaty, which the US has not officially approved, according to Olson. According to the State Department Watch, the treaty would "allow countries to take over oceans and seabeds beyond the already existing 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zones under the theory of underwater outercontinental shelf extensions." While President Ronald Reagan opposed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush have supported ratification. Research Fellows Baker Spring, Steven Groves and Brett D. Schaefer noted many reasons to oppose ratifying LOST in a September 2007 Heritage Foundation publication According to the researchers, the treaty would undermine US sovereignty, it would jumpstart efforts of environmentalists, simultaneously requiring the US to implement environmental legislation, and it would undermine US military and intelligence operations. But Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte and other State Department officials are representing the US in Ilulissat, Greenland, until Thursday. In June 2007, Negroponte and Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense, supported the US entrance into the Convention on the Law of the Sea in a Washington Times The column asserted that entrance would give the US a "voice in the debates to help shape the future development of oceans law, policy and practice," and would "protect and advance the nation's national security, economic and environmental interests in the maritime domain." Negroponte claims that entrance would possibly extend the US claims in the Arctic shelf to 600 nautical miles. A State Department statement said of this week's conference, "Deputy Secretary Negroponte looks forward to these discussions as well as bilateral meetings with his counterparts." Olson and his group claim that five "American Arctic islands" are in jeopardy of being taken over by Russia: Wrangel, Herald, Bennett, Jeannette and Henrietta. But the State Department affirms that although Americans discovered and explored some of these islands, the five islands north of Russia were not included in the 1867 purchase of Alaska from Russia. Olson said, "The Arctic Ocean should remain a free and open ocean for all peoples and not under the closure by any country or the United Nations." In years past, Canada and Russia have debated who has rightful rule of the underwater Lomonosov Ridge, and Canada has disagreed with Denmark over which of the two countries owns Hans Island.
Defense Minister: PM Can't Continue to Lead the Government
May 28….(Jerusalem Post) Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step down due to the illicit funding investigation against him. "In the wake of the current situation and considering the challenges Israel faces, including Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria, Iran, the captured soldiers and the peace process, the prime minister cannot simultaneously lead the government and conduct his personal affairs," Barak told a press conference in the Knesset. "Out of consideration for the good of the country and the accepted norms, I believe the prime minister must detach himself from the day-to-day leadership of country," continued Barak. Barak said it was not up to Labor to decide how the prime minister steps aside; that he could temporarily suspend himself or resign.
The defense minister said Kadima must do some "soul searching," to choose its way and its leader, warning that if Olmert does not quit, "we will move towards early elections." "We're not coming to Kadima with a stop watch," he continued. "But this has to happen soon, and I mean soon," he said, emphasizing, however, that Labor "must not become involved in internal processes within Kadima." When asked whether, in light of recent polls showing that he would be handed a resounding defeat by Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu, he was leaning toward trying to form a government with an emergent head of Kadima rather than go to elections, Barak replied that he believes "Labor will win an election." Prior to Barak's press conference, the prime minister's strategic adviser, Tal Zilberstein, said Olmert would not quit since such a move wound be tantamount to an admission of guilt. "Olmert has made a firm decision to continue serving as prime minister," Zilberstein told Army Radio. "He has no intention of suspending himself or making any sort of announcement, neither at this juncture, nor at any stage while he is in the process of proving his innocence." He doesn't have any intention to resign or to step down temporarily, even if Barak asks him to," Zilberstein continued. Following consultations held by Barak late Tuesday night, Israel Radio reported that one of the options being considered by the defense minister was the formation of an emergency government with Likud. Kadima MK Yoel Hasson, who has often come to Olmert's defense, said Olmert was an excellent prime minister, but stopped short of saying that he should remain the premier, saying instead that Olmert had to carefully consider his position in light of the circumstances. Speaking to Israel Radio, Hasson stressed that even if Olmert steps down, this must not lead to early elections. He said the political establishment was going though a crisis and it would therefore be too difficult to form a new stable coalition. "We should not go to elections. The Israeli public does not need elections every two years. The coalition can continue and Kadima will continue to lead the Knesset. "The latest developments came a day after New York financier Morris Talansky testified in court to giving Olmert envelopes of his own cash amounting to no less than $150,000. Since details of the police investigation into Talansky's relationship with Olmert became public two weeks ago, politicians from the Right to the Left have called on the prime minister to resign.
Barak Calls on Prime Minister to Step Aside
May 28…(Israel Today) Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step down, saying the prime minister was incapable of leading the country while dealing with his personal matters at the same time. “I don't think the prime minister can at the same time lead the government and handle his own affairs. Therefore, acting out of concern for the good of the country, and for fitting norms, I believe the prime minister must disconnect himself from the day-to-day running of the government,” Barak said. Barak called a news conference on Wednesday, a day after the testimony of wealthy American Jew Morris Talansky who testified in court to giving Olmert $150,000 in cash to fund his political ambitions and perhaps his lifestyle. Since the investigation was brought to light in recent weeks, parliament members from both the left and right, including from Olmert’s own party, Kadima, have called on the prime minister to step down. Barak, a former prime minister himself, said Olmert should not be dealing with Israel’s challenges, such as prisoner swaps, daily assaults from Gaza and negotiations with Syria “and run his personal affairs at the same time.” “The Labor Party will not hold a stopwatch in Kadima's face, but things have to happen as soon as possible,” he said. Barak, who’s Labor party is Kadima’s largest ally in the government coalition, expressed these sentiments personally to Olmert earlier in the day. He did not call on Olmert to resign from government, but to step aside and let someone else from his ruling party fill the role of prime minister. He called on Kadima to do some soul-searching and take action. “We are not going to decide for him,” Barak said. “If Kadima does not act to remove Olmert from the party chairmanship, Labor will move to call early elections.” Opposition leader former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Olmert should quit. Legally, Olmert doesn't have to resign until convicted, and government elections aren’t scheduled until 2010. He has already said he would not resign unless indicted. Olmert could take a 100-day leave of absence due to an “inability to govern,” during which Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, as deputy prime minister, would fill in. If he quits, Kadima could appoint Livni as premier and avoid early elections.
Israel 'Would Consider Strike' Amid Fears over Iran's Nukes
May 28….(ScotlandSunday) As Israel pursues peace talks with Syria, speculation is growing that the Jewish state will seriously consider unilateral military action against Iran within the next year. Israeli intelligence is now estimating that Iran will master centrifuge technology and be able to begin enriching uranium by the end of this year, 12 months ahead of schedule. As a result, Israeli military officials believe the Islamic republic could have a nuclear weapon by the middle of 2009. "Within a year, the Israeli government will have to decide between two options: either not do anything and reconcile itself to the fact that Iran is now nuclear, or take unilateral military action," Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, told Scotland on Sunday. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel is also worried that Tehran is developing a cruise missile that can evade interception by the Arrow, Israel's anti-ballistic missile defences. Iran is suspected of using smuggled Ukrainian X-55 cruise missiles as a model for its own project. A cruise missile, which flies low to dodge radar and interception, could be used to carry a nuclear warhead. With US President George Bush nearing the end of his term, the likelihood of US military action appears to be fading. The strong chance of Democrat Barack Obama winning the presidential race means Israel will have to consider going it alone. "It's certainly not an option to be taken lightly, but at the end of the day, we may decide it is the only option we have," an Israeli official told the Scotland on Sunday. The White House last week denied Israeli media reports that President Bush intends to attack Iran. It said that while the military option remained open, the administration preferred to resolve concerns about Iran's push for a nuclear weapon "through peaceful diplomatic means". Meanwhile, Eiland dismissed the notion that, with Israel now talking to Syria, it was paving the path for military action against Iran. "These are two entirely separate issues that are not at all connected. Syria wants the Golan Heights back and Israel, in return, wants a sort of a diplomatic relationship with its neighbor." The onus is now on Israeli intelligence to follow up on its reports that the Iranians are ahead of schedule. "If in the end, a decision is taken to pursue unilateral military action, I think the Israeli public would be willing to accept the repercussions," said Dr Shmuel Bar from the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Israel's Herzliya Interdisciplinary Centre. "The most worrying thing in the last six months is what was found in Syria, which means nuclear proliferation, thanks to North Korean help, is happening at much greater levels than people realised." Bar also pointed to a paper to be published next month by the Washington Institute for Near East Strategy. Its authors, Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt, argue that it should not be assumed an attack on Iran would result in a doomsday-type scenario. In an interview with Haaretz last week, Clawson said the outcome would depend on several factors: whether nuclear or conventional weapons would be used; if an attack came from the US or Israel; and if nuclear sites only would be targeted. "If the attack completely destroys Iran's nuclear programme that is one thing, but if it does not, that is a different story. Then Iran will be able to continue to develop its nuclear programme, and the world will no longer care about that." When asked about possible Iranian responses to an Israeli attack, Clawson threw doubt on the accuracy of Iran's Shihab missiles, describing them as unreliable and inaccurate. He also questioned the conventional wisdom that in the wake of an Israeli attack, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement would also respond. "There is no guarantee that Hezbollah will react automatically. Hezbollah are very aware of Israel's strength, and of the harsh reaction that may result if they attack."
Hezbollah Warns Lebanon's New Government
May 27….(FOJ) Lebanon's new president got a red carpet welcome Monday, but was quickly thrust into the political thicket as Hezbollah's leader warned against any efforts to disarm his Iranian-backed guerrilla group. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah delivered his stern message after military bands and an honor guard saluted President Michel Suleiman on his first day on the job. Suleiman, the former army commander, was a consensus candidate agreed on by both Hezbollah and its pro-Western political foes, but he drew pointed comments from Nasrallah after saying in his inauguration speech Sunday that there should be a dialogue over Hezbollah's arsenal. The Shiite militant group has rejected demands it disarm, insisting its weapons are needed to protect Lebanon from Israel. Nasrallah's speech was his first since Hezbollah fighters seized several areas of Muslim west Beirut in several days of fighting this month, forcing the Western-backed Cabinet to agree to a political deal designed to give Hezbollah and its allies a veto over government policies. The Hezbollah leader pledged to comply with a provision of the Arab League-brokered agreement that forbids the use of arms to achieve political gains. But he warned that the government shouldn't try to use the military against Hezbollah and its allies. "The resistance weapons should not be used to achieve political gains," Nasrallah told tens of thousands of supporters crowding a playground in south Beirut, speaking by videolink from a hiding place in fear of assassination by Israel.
At the same time, he said, "the state's weapons should not be used to settle accounts with an opposition political party, or in favor of outside parties that weaken Lebanon's strength and immunity in confronting Israel." Pro-Western political groups, which hold a small majority in parliament, have repeatedly called for a defense arrangement that would eventually integrate Hezbollah's fighters and weapons into the national army. Hezbollah rejects the idea and also balks at observing a requirement that it disarm included in the UN Security Council resolution that ended a monthlong war between Israel and the militant group in 2006. Suleiman said Sunday that he supports the UN and its resolutions, although he did not specifically mention the requirement for Hezbollah to disarm. However, he said it was necessary to discuss the future of the group's arsenal. Nasrallah said Hezbollah strongly supported the agreement signed by Lebanon's rival factions in the Qatari capital of Doha, which will give his Syrian-backed bloc veto power in a new Cabinet. The parliamentary majority had staunchly rejected that power for Hezbollah during 18 months of political stalemate, but gave in after the fighting. Hezbollah's leader did not gloat over the political victory, saying the country's factions must work together. "The national unity government is not a victory against this majority," he said. "This country cannot rise and continue except through cooperation, consensus and solidarity." But a gunbattle in downtown Beirut late Monday underlined the continued tensions, despite an outburst of relief over the political deal. Security officials said supporters of Hezbollah and of the pro-Western government trade shots, leaving nine people wounded.
Nasrallah's speech came a day after Suleiman was elected by parliament and sworn in. His election was the first tangible step in the deal to end the long-running political crisis, which escalated this month into the worst violence since Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war. Suleiman set to work immediately Monday, scheduling consultations with lawmakers on Wednesday to begin forming the new national unity government, his office said.Paying a visit to Lebanon, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki praised the deal that ended Lebanon's crisis, saying that "the implementation of the agreement guarantees calm and stability in the region." Iran is one of Hezbollah's strongest backers, and the US has accused the Islamic state of interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs. Mottaki said Iran's role in Lebanon is "transparent" and insisted Washington is the one who is meddling. He said Washington's standing in the region "has been greatly weakened," an apparent reference to the Hezbollah-led opposition gaining the upper hand in Lebanon and veto power in the next government. The US considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Nasrallah praised Suleiman's inauguration speech and thanked Syria, Iran and other countries for helping to broker the Doha agreement. Responding to critics from the parliamentary majority who accused Hezbollah of staging a coup this month to rule Lebanon, Nasrallah said his group was not interested in seizing power in this multisectarian nation of 4 million people. "We don't want power. We don't want to govern Lebanon or impose anything on the Lebanese people because we believe that Lebanon is an exceptional, diverse nation," he said. Nasrallah was marking the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation of a border zone. Israeli military intelligence research director, Brig. Gen.Yossi Baidatz, disclosed to a Knesset panel yesterday, missiles continue to stream across the Syrian border for Hizballah and are being deployed in southern Lebanon, below the Litani River. UNIFIL is letting this happen in breach of its Security Council mandate to prevent the recurrence of the 2006 Lebanon War threat to Israel.
Ahmadinejad: Syria will continue to oppose 'Zionist entity'
May 26….(Jerusalem Post) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Hassan Turkmani in Teheran on Monday, and expressed his certainty that Damascus would continue to stand on its previous stance of opposition to Israel. Ahmadinejad also emphasized that the two countries would continue to keep close ties. During the meeting, the Syrian defense minister told Ahmadinejad that the Syrian leadership "will not abandon the front lines until all threats from the Zionist entity have disappeared," semi-official Iranian news agency FARS reported. The Iranian president went on to emphasize the Islamic Republic's support for the Palestinian nation, and said this backing amounted to "supporting efforts for a safe region, since the Palestinians are on the front line of the battle against Zionist aggression." Turkmani also said during the meeting that Israel is still suffering from its defeat in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He added that whilst Israel is looking for ways to get out of its current situation, it nevertheless "continues to sink in the mud."
Damascus Talks Peace, Buys Sophisticated Russian Military Hardware
May 26….(DEBKA) When Damascus confirmed peace talks with Israel on May 21, a secret high-powered military purchasing delegation, headed by air force-air defenses commander Gen. Akhmad Ratyb, was already in Moscow. With a $5 billion allocation in hand from Tehran, the delegation was bidding for the most advanced products of Russia’s munitions industry. The six main categories of interest to Damascus are disclosed by our military sources as –
1. The latest model of the Russian Iskander-E, a surface-to-surface tactical missile with a range of 280 km and a 480-kilo warhead. This missile is considered one of the most advanced of its type in the world today, partly because of its cruise attributes which enable it to home in on target undetected and with high precision. Iskander-E can be guided by pilot-less air vehicles or satellites.
2. Fifty of the latest MiG-29SMT fighter-bombers. The Russians have added advanced avionics and electronics and lengthened the warplane’s operational range. It can fly 3,700 kilometers without refueling, and 6,700 kilometers with in-flight fueling. Their purchase therefore goes with Russian refueling aircraft.
3. The Pantsir S1E air defense missile systems. Syria has already received nine or ten batteries but Moscow has held up the rest of the 36-missile order at American insistence after part of the first consignment was transferred to Iran.
4. Damascus wants 800 Strelets short-range anti-air missiles. The Igla-S version, our military sources report, is shoulder-borne and able to hit surface-to-surface and cruise missiles. Damascus has informed Moscow that the vehicle-mounted version is acceptable for deployment along the Syrian-Israeli border as a defense against Israeli missiles.
5. A key component on the list is 75 Yak-130 light combat-cum-training planes.
As a fighter craft for short distances, the Yak-130 is reputed to be one of the most effective of its type in any of the world’s air forces. The fact that it has been commissioned by Syria points to heavy investment, with the active help of Russian military experts, in creating a defense system for halting an Israeli invasion. The Yak-130 is an integral element of the combat equipment in Russian armored divisions. Syria will be able to use this fleet of 75 light combat craft to shield its armored divisions against Israel’s tank hunters, the Cobra and Blackhawk choppers. The Yak-130 outclasses the Israeli choppers in speed, maneuverability and firepower.
6. Syria wants to buy two Amur-1650 submarines, whose features compare with the Israel Navy’s German-made Dolphins, which are capable of firing cruise missiles.
The Amur-class submarine can strike salvo missile blows at different targets. This is its outstanding feature. Its sonar signature level is considerably less than the Kilo-class vessels which are reputedly the most silent in the world. Amur subs can operate in all the world’s seas excepting those under solid ice cover, in all weather conditions and in shallow or deep water.
US Terror Attack Seen Apt to Follow '08 Election
May 26….(Washington Times) When the next president takes office in January, he or she will likely receive an intelligence brief warning that Islamic terrorists will attempt to exploit the transition in power by planning an attack on America, intelligence experts say. After all, that is what happened to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at a time when their national security teams and their counterterrorism plans were in flux. Islamic terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in February 1993, in Mr. Clinton's second month as president. Al Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks came in the Bush presidency's first year. The strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon happened as the White House national security director was formulating a comprehensive plan for combating Osama bin Laden's terror network, which had declared war on the United States. The pattern is clear to some national security experts. Terrorists pay particular attention to a government in transition as the most opportune window to launch an attack. "If I were asked by the newly elected president, I would strongly encourage him to be extremely vigilant during the transition period and within the first six months of his administration against an attack by al Qaeda on American interests at home or abroad," said Bart Bechtel, a retired CIA operations officer and assistant chief academic officer at Henley-Putnam University. Mr. Bechtel said he thinks al Qaeda operatives will debate a future course based on who is elected. Both Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain, a former Navy fighter pilot, have had extensive exposure to military security issues. Both have attacked first-term Sen. Barack Obama's ability to handle national security. Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, has focused on Mr. Obama's stated willingness to meet with any world leader, including Iran's, without preconditions. Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, ran TV ads implying Mr. Obama is not qualified to manage an international crisis. "I could see al Qaeda waiting to determine who was going to be the president and depending on which it is, taking an initial measure," Mr. Bechtel said. "For instance, Obama may be viewed as someone who will accomplish what al Qaeda would like him to do, which is get out of the Middle East, and give him an opportunity to move in that direction. Failing that, they may decide to test him with a substantial attack on America or some American interest and see how he reacts." A US intelligence official declined to comment on how the next president will be briefed. Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, has vowed to remove all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months. He regularly has referred to the war against terror as centered in Afghanistan, while the Bush administration takes a broader view and sees Iraq as an opportunity to inflict a battlefield loss on al Qaeda. The White House has trumpeted the fact that the county has suffered no homeland terror strikes since Sept. 11, 2001. Retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff and an Obama campaign co-chairman, told The Washington Times that Mr. Obama's rivals are underestimating his ability to meet a challenge. Gen. McPeak likened him to Abraham Lincoln. "I think people are only now beginning to realize that Barack is not your run-of-the-mill, ordinary Illinois politician," he said. "He's more like another Illinois politician who everybody underestimated." Gen. McPeak added, "I feel bad about giving Barack advice because every time I do, I know that he's thought about it already. So I would draw him aside and say, 'The minute you're inaugurated, you will be tested.' He'll say, 'Oh, you mean like Kennedy was with the Bay of Pigs?' He'll show me some way that he's thought about that some time ago. The guy is absolutely scary smart. The real mistake al Qaeda can make is the one everybody else makes of underestimating the man." Mr. Bechtel said bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders are likely weighing their next step right now. "They are in a wait-and-see situation right now," he said. "They run the risk, if they attack before the election, of really influencing the way the election goes, to their detriment. If there's an attack, I really believe McCain is going to run away with the election, and I don't think they want that. I think they really would like Obama as their first choice and Clinton as their second." Kenneth Katzman, a terrorism specialist at the Congressional Research Service, said "Al Qaeda has a pattern of testing new American leaders." "Even now, al Qaeda is probably trying to plan something for after the U.S. inauguration," he said. "I think to a certain extent, al Qaeda tested President Clinton's administration several times. The response was ineffective. I think al Qaeda concluded it could attempt something as ambitious as 9/11, but concluded the time was better after a new president, who would not have time to review his strategy on al Qaeda. The time settled on was the summer or early fall, after a new president was inaugurated. They chose September because they wanted all the officials to be back at their desks from summer vacations." A Congressional Research Service report last month noted that January will mark the first change in administrations since the 2001 al Qaeda attacks. "Whether an incident of national security significance occurs just before or soon after the presidential transition, the actions or inactions of the outgoing administration may have a long-lasting effect on the new president's ability to effectively safeguard US interests and may affect the legacy of the outgoing president," the report states. The report urges the Bush administration to deliver extensive threat briefings to the president-elect's national security team. Congress foresaw such a need when it wrote the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The law allows for presidential candidates to obtain pre-election security clearances for its chosen transition officials so they can immediately be briefed on security threats by the outgoing administration. On al Qaeda's ability to attack America again, Mr. Bechtel said, "I think they are still somewhat fractured. If you want to look at it as a piece of window glass, it's broken, but there are lots of sharp pieces out there. I think within the tribal areas of Pakistan, they feel pretty darn comfortable."
Ahmadinejad Furious over Israel-Syria Talks
Sources close to Iranian president tell London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper he did not hide discontent, amazement after being informed of negotiations between Damascus, Jerusalem. 'This is a violation of the mutual commitments between the two countries, and Tehran will prepare an appropriate response,' source says.
May 26….(YNET) A joint statement issued simultaneously Wednesday in Jerusalem, Damascus and Ankara on the resumption of mediated talks between Israel and Syria has raised tensions between Tehran and Damascus, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday. According to sources close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the latter did not hide his discontent and amazement after receiving detailed information on the secret talks held between Syria and Israel. This took place only several weeks after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem paid a visit to Tehran, during which Ahmadinejad attempted to strengthen the "bear hug" around Syria's neck. The Iranian leader warned Moallem and the moderate Arab states that whoever will join the United States will be doomed along with Washington. A source noted that Ahmadinejad referred to the developments as "a Damascus violation of the mutual commitments between Syria and Iran." It was also reported that the Iranian Supreme National Security Council will look into the message relayed by Damascus in regards to its talks with Israel, in order "to prepare an appropriate response." On Thursday, Damascus rejected Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's demand that Syria distance itself from terror organizations, including Hamas and Hizbullah. Syrian Information Minister Muhsin Bilal said that "when they make these demands, they are setting conditions and the issue of peace, the peace process does not require prior conditions." Following the publication of the Israel-Syria talks Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he had no illusions regarding the negotiations with Damascus. "The negotiations will not be easy or simple and the process will involve difficult concessions," he said during an event at the Kibbutz College of Education, adding however that "in situations like this it is always better to talk than to shoot and I am happy both sides here have decided to talk."
Iran Tells Syria To Regain Control of Golan
Damascus anxiously trying to calm ruffled feathers in Tehran after announcing resumption of negotiations with Israel, dispatches defense minister to meet with Iranian leadership
May 26….(YNET) Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani arrived in Tehran on Saturday evening as part of Damascus' bid to reassure its Iranian ally after resuming peace negotiations with Israel. General Turkmani is scheduled to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Mustafa Mohammad-Najjar, and additional key figures in Tehran. A possible meeting with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not yet been confirmed. In a meeting he held earlier on Saturday with Hamas politburo chief, Khaled Mashaal, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki publically addressed the renewed talks for the first time. "The Golan belongs to Syria and must be returned to its control. The Zionist regime must withdraw from the Golan, and we support Syrian efforts to repossess the Heights." The Syrian defense minister's visit to Tehran follow reports of Ahmadinejad's outrage over the contact between Israel and Syria. Sources close to the Iranian president told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily that Ahmadinejad has made his discontent over the clandestine negotiations well known. He described the talks as a "flagrant violation" of the mutual commitments between Syria and Iran. Meanwhile, Damascus as reiterated its rejection of Israel's demand that it sever ties with Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas as a key condition of any peace agreement.
Mashaal: Olmert too weak to make peace
During a joint press conference Mashaal held with Mottaki after their meeting, the exiled Hamas leader was careful not to criticize the negotiations. He did say however that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lacks the political might to make the moves necessary for peace with Syria. There is great skepticism concerning (Israel's) seriousness to return the Golan," Mashaal said. "It's maneuvering and playing all the (negotiation) tracks, this is a well known game and besides, Olmert's weakness will not allow him to take this step." He was referring to the current ongoing investigation against Olmert, who has recently been suspected of receiving money unlawfully. Mashaal said he was sure the renewed talks would not come at the expense of the Palestinian track.
Can Syria Break its Iranian Bear Hug?
May 26….(Ha Aretz) The strategic partnership between Syria and Iran may be less solid than what Israeli intelligence has suggested. Proof? For the second time in a year Tehran appears clearly surprised by the actions of its partner in Damascus. In September 2007, following the air force strike that foreign media said had targeted a nuclear reactor in northern Syria, it turned out the Iranians had not been part of the secret project; President Bashar Assad was working with North Korea. Now, Iran's official response to the news of indirect talks between Syria and Israel suggests that Tehran was not in the loop. Extricating Syria from the Iranian bear hug, which includes petro-dollars funding Damascus' procurement of weapons from Russia and growing Iranian influence on Damascus, is a central consideration behind Israel's decision to renew negotiations. Damascus is perceived to be a key partner of Tehran and weakening its ties with Iran may have far-reaching effects on militant groups heeding instructions from Iran, such as Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, and to a lesser extent, also Hamas. This is particularly relevant if the US reconsiders attacking Iran's nuclear installations as US President George W. Bush approaches the end of his term. If this option is given further consideration in Washington, where officially the US insists that it prefers the diplomatic approach, redrawing the political alignments has great significance. The London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday on tensions in the relations between Iran and Syria because of the talks with Israel. Damascus rushed to calm the waters, with an editorial in the official daily Tishrin stating "there should be no preconditions in the negotiations," and "Syria's international ties are not negotiable." These statements came in direct response to the demand by Foreign Minster Tzipi Livni that Syria cut its ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. Also yesterday, a military delegation headed by Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani arrived in Tehran to discuss defense agreements between the two states. It is not readily obvious that Syria will rush to break ties with Iran, certainly not in the first stage of talks with Israel. Iran is an asset that will not be surrendered at no cost; Iran plays an essential role for Syria in terms of its involvement in Lebanon. The new rules of the game in Lebanon, established in recent weeks, have granted Hezbollah de facto control over the country. Retaining Syrian influence in Lebanon is more important to Assad than regaining the Golan Heights. That is very hard to do without Iran and Hezbollah. Assad possibly will face a dilemma at a later stage, but even then it is reasonable to believe Syria will demand that Israel (and in particular the US show consideration for its interests in Lebanon. In any case, Syria is in no rush to decide now and its leadership is broadcasting contradictory messages. A former information minister, Mahdi Dakhlallah, explained that if there is peace, there would be no need for "resistance" (attacks by Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad against Israel). But his successor, Muhsen Bilal, said "Syria does not hide its good relations with the resistance groups," and that Israel should not ask it to break ties as a precondition to talks. This suggests there is an internal debate in the leadership of the Assad regime. A commentator at Al-Quds al-Arabi, Abd al-Bar Atwan, wrote yesterday that Damascus is split into two camps, the moderates, headed by Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem, want to move closer to the US, and the hawks, headed by Vice President Farouk Shara, who attribute supreme importance to ties with Iran. According to Atwan, the moderates currently have the upper hand, but it is still unclear whether this is a strategic decision or part of a tactical maneuver. The people who apparently need to worry more than Iran are Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who are welcome in Damascus. Israel and the US have repeatedly asked Damascus to expel extremist Palestinian factions from Syria. The value of the two groups to Syria is not great. At a more advanced stage in the talks between Israel and Syria, Khaled Meshal of Hamas and Ramadan Shalah of Islamic Jihad may find they to look for new housing.
Gay Marriage Reflects Post-Christian America
“A Victory for
Equality and Justice,” blared the headline above the editorial. “Momentous,”
“historic,” “a major victory for civil rights,” “a scrupulously fair ruling
based on law, precedents and common sense.”
“Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.” (Isaiah 59:15)
May 26….(In The Days) This was the ecstatic reaction of The New York Times to the California Supreme Court’s declaration that homosexuals have a right to marry and have their unions recognized as marriages. Now there may be hugging around the newsroom at the Times, where one senior writer said, a few years back, three-fourths of the folks who make up the front page are gay. But this is just another streetlight on America’s darkening path to perdition as a society and republic. To declare that homosexuals can marry is patently absurd. The very definition of marriage is the union of a man and woman, first and foremost, for the procreation of children. To say two men who live together and engage in sex can be married renders the idea and ideal of marriage meaningless. The court may declare it, but it cannot redefine an institution that nature and nature’s God have already defined. As they say in Texas, you can put lipstick and earrings on a pig, and call her Peggy Sue, but it’s still a pig. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,” Christ taught. Through the Old Testament and into the epistles of St. Paul, homosexual sodomy is an abomination leading to personal destruction and damnation, one of the five sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance. How, then, can four judges declare it to be integral to the sacrament of marriage? Well, we don’t believe all that rot, comes the reply. Fine, but Christianity is the cornerstone of Western Civilization. Since the fall of Rome to our own time, nations have believed and acted on the belief that marriage and traditional families are the cinderblocks on which a society must be built. When these cinderblocks crumble, the society collapses. The truth has been born out in our own time. With a third of all children born out of wedlock, 50 percent of all Hispanic kids, 70 percent of black kids, and half of all marriages ending in divorce, the social indicators have recorded explosions, in crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, dropout rates, gang membership, and jail and prison populations. The correlation between prison inmates and broken homes, or homes never created, is absolute. What armies of social scientists with six-figure salaries today tell us, 12-year-olds knew 50 years ago. Setting aside the risibility of the court’s conduct, consider what it says about us as a democratic republic. We are supposed to be a self-governing people. “Here, sir, the people rule.” Elected representatives write our laws. Yet, no Congress or state legislature ever voted to declare homosexual unions a marriage. The idea has everywhere been rejected. Wherever it has been on the ballot, same-sex marriage has been voted down. In the 13 states where it was on the ballot in 2004, it was defeated by 58 percent to 85 percent, the last figure rolled up in Mississippi, where black Christian pastors told their flocks to go out and vote down the abomination. Californians have consistently expressed their opposition and voted against recognizing the idea of homosexual marriages and granting the benefits of married couples to same-sex unions. What is bigotry at the Times is common sense to most Americans. Homosexual marriage is not in the California constitution, else someone would have discovered it in 160 years. Where, then, did the state Supreme Court find this was a right?
WEEK OF MAY 18 THROUGH MAY 24
Without Vision, Fear of God, America Will Perish In This Energy Crisis
May 23….(Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) Oil prices are bashing through never before seen levels each day. Food prices consequently are rising at alarming rates. Utility bills are also on a record pace. The amount of disposable income each American has is dwindling faster than ever. It is time for American leadership to take action for the sake of the welfare of the people and for national security. But what does this group of leaders do? President Bush goes to the Middle East and begs Saudi Arabia and others to raise oil production. The Congress votes to sue OPEC for price fixing. While Americans are suffering, immoral and inept elected officials are scurrying about with less than effective solutions to an energy issue that threatens the nation. President Bush rightly articulated the solution by saying that the nation needed to drill for domestic oil, increase refining capacity and find alternative energy resources. An inept and irresponsible Congress has blocked both domestic oil exploration and the building of new refineries, and is so caught up in the so-called "green revolution" that the country, and its people, are being drained of economic freedom with every tick of the second hand. Congress passed legislation to stop the government from stocking the strategic petroleum reserve and the Bush Administration complied--this move, which would not impact the price at the pump, even further endangers Americans. It is reported that on his recent trip to the Middle East, President Bush offered Saudi Arabia nuclear technology for an increase in oil production. Further arming Islamic regimes with nuclear technology for a few barrels of oil is akin to giving up your inheritance for a bowl of soup. And there were likely many other offers to Islamic nations by the Bush Administration that are not yet public. Congress voted to allow the Justice Department to sue OPEC under US antitrust laws for price fixing. None of these measures will solve the problem, but in the current culture of political window-dressing, politicians think they are doing something. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he." Americans are perishing because we have elected leaders that lack vision and ignore God's laws. We must recognize that we are living in a national crisis. With every hour of delay in dealing with it, it grows exponentially. Congress and the Administration must put aside the politics of destruction and convene a working group of the smartest non-political, God-fearing problem solvers and inventors in the nation and task them with solving the energy problem as if our lives depend upon a most immediate solution. If not, Americans must be willing to do what government will not. By the blessing of God, it can be done.
Russia and China Condemn US Missile Shield Plan
May 23….(Reuters) China and Russia on Friday condemned the United States' plans to set up a missile defense system that Washington says is crucial to protecting the security of it and its allies.
"Both sides believe that creating a global missile defense system, including deploying such systems in certain regions of the world, or plans for such cooperation, do not help support strategic balance and stability, and harm international efforts to control arms and the non-proliferation process," Russia and China said in a joint statement. "It harms the strengthening of trust between states and regional stability. In this respect (the two sides) express their concern," it said. The statement was signed in Beijing by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is on a trip to China. Washington's plans to deploy parts of its missile shield in eastern Europe to counter possible rocket launches by "rogue" states such as Iran have unnerved Moscow, which sees the project as a threat to Russia's security. Moscow has been annoyed by what it sees as Western attempts to contain its diplomatic ambitions and keep Russian companies out of lucrative markets. It is keen to shore up support in China, which it sees as a potential ally against a Western world order. China and Russia have frustrated Western moves to thwart Iran's atomic ambitions, using their permanent membership on the UN Security Council to water down sanctions. Both are involved in multilateral talks to rein in North Korea's nuclear program. The two countries have also proposed a treaty to ban weapons in space, in the face of US plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe that Moscow suspects will be used to spy on Russia's missile arsenal. Moscow and Beijing are also the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional grouping which claims a strong security role in Central Asia and is seen in Moscow as an alternative to Western political domination.
Top US Generals: Iran a 'Destabilizing Influence' Across the Mideast
May 23….(Fox News) Two of the US military's most prominent voices on Middle East issues are holding out the prospect of improved relations with Iran despite tensions over its nuclear and military ambitions. Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, acting head of the US Central Command, said in an Associated Press interview that Washington and Tehran could seek common ground on tough issues like combating the illicit drug trade in Afghanistan if Iran would stop its "malign activity" inside Iraq. And Army Gen. David Petraeus, who is expected to win Senate confirmation as the permanent head of Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that although Iran is fueling proxy wars in the Middle East he sees a possibility of "more constructive relations." Their remarks reflect a US effort, from President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on down, to highlight Iranian activity that Washington deems harmful in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East while also encouraging Tehran to change its behavior. At a time of growing speculation that Iran and the United States are edging closer to open conflict, the generals' comments appear hopeful, perhaps indicating a view that there is a reasonable prospect of avoiding war by using diplomatic and other means to nudge Iran in a new direction. Dempsey, whose Central Command area of military responsibility features numerous interrelated problems, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said it is clear Iran is exerting its influence across the region, from Lebanon to Iraq and possibly even into western Afghanistan. Dempsey said Iran is a problem to be viewed in a regional context. "We've got to counter Iranian influence inside Iraq because Iran very clearly sees it as in their interest to keep the level of violence up and to keep the Shiite parties at odds and to try to discredit US forces and US policy in the region," he said. "It's going to take an acknowledgment on the part of the Iraqis and the regional partners that this is a destabilizing influence across the region." In his opening statement to his Senate confirmation hearing, Petraeus made a similar point about Iran. "It persists in its non-transparent pursuit of nuclear technology and continues to fund, train and arm dangerous militia organizations," Petraeus said. "Iran's activities have been particularly harmful in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan. In each location, Tehran has, to varying degrees, fueled proxy wars in an effort to increase its influence and pursue its regional ambitions."
McCain rejects Hagee support after preacher says "God sent Hitler"
May 23….(Jerusalem Post) Republican presidential candidate John McCain has rejected the endorsement of Texas televangelist John Hagee, as the Texas preacher withdrew his endorsement of McCain. McCain rejected Hagee's support after an audio surfaced in which the Texas Holy Roller declared that "God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land." Hagee was apparently referring to Israel and not to the afterlife for the some six million Jews murdered under Hitler's regime. McCain said in a statement: "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well." Later, in Stockton, he told reporters: "I just think that the statement is crazy and unacceptable." A petulant Hagee issued a statement declaring that he was tired of baseless attacks and removing himself from any active role in the 2008 campaign. He did not deny or repudiate the remarks on the audiotape.
A September War
May 23….(Hal Lindsay) According to a number of sources, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is planning to bring his first reactor on line sometime in September 2008, which is just about in line with what the Israeli Mossad had estimated back in 2003 when the full extent of Iran's secret nuclear program became known. The Iranian announcement came on the heels of a surprise announcement by the government of Israel confirming it had entered into third-party peace talks with Syria's Bashar Assad. The surprising confirmation on Wednesday was the first acknowledged contact between the two parties in eight years, which will be mediated by Turkey. Equally surprising was a statement from the United States saying it had no objection to the talks. Previously, the US had rejected any peace overtures toward Syria as long as it was sponsoring Hezbollah and Hamas. In fact, President Bush seemed to have been blindsided by the news. According to transcripts of an interview he granted to the Jerusalem Post, Bush responded to the news by stammering; "I expect an explanation, but I know that he is as concerned about Israeli security as any other person that's ever been the prime minister of Israel. Despite the White House's official welcome of the news, privately, officials were furious. While Damascus and Jerusalem talk peace, Iranian-backed Hezbollah consolidated the gains it made in fighting against government forces in the streets of Beirut and elsewhere. After six days of mediation between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government, Hezbollah emerged a clear winner in a settlement agreement in which Hezbollah was granted veto rights over the government, affirming its stature as "the preponderant military actor and the super political power in Lebanon," according to political scientist Hilal Khashan of the American University of Beirut. Khashan told the AFP that "it was an excellent deal for the Hezbollah-led opposition and a major defeat for the US-backed government." The deal was brokered by the Qatari government. The Arab League played a major part in securing the deal, with both Syria and Iran declaring their support for Hezbollah's victory. Under the arrangement, Parliament will elect as president the current head of the Lebanese Army, Gen. Michel Suleiman. Gen. Suleiman will then appoint a new government, one in which Hezbollah holds enough seats to veto any decisions it doesn't like, such as disarming Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Israeli military sources say that Iran is continuing to ship weapons and ammunition, via Hezbollah, to the Hamas-occupied Gaza Strip, including rockets, missiles and rocket launchers. According to the Mossad, these shipments have been stepped up in recent months, reaching a peak in March-April. Using fishing boats, Iran has successfully smuggled Iranian-made 120 mm mortars with a range of up to six miles. The Mossad says that the smuggling operation is overseen by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard using Syrian ports and Hezbollah operatives. Meanwhile, back in Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is fighting desperately to keep his job while he is under investigation by police on charges of obtaining money by fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and tax offenses, according to Haartez. And fears are rampant within Israeli circles that Olmert may be considering trading the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace deal he can trumpet to deflect attention away from his legal problems. If one sits down and connects the dots, one ends up with a very different picture than the one being presented by the mainstream media suggesting the Syrian-Israeli talks are representative of a major breakthrough. It is worth remembering that it was the Persians who invented chess, and Ahmadinejad seems to be controlling all the pieces. In the first place, Ahmadinejad knows that Israel will attack its reactor the moment that they take it on line. He's been arming and training Hamas to serve as its proxy in the event of war, to harass the IDF on its flanks. To the north in Lebanon, Ahmadinejad has succeeded in rearming and re-equipping Hezbollah since the Lebanon War in 2006. The Mossad estimates Hezbollah is stronger now than it was before Israel invaded. Hezbollah has succeeded, for all intents and purposes, in taking over the Lebanese government. Hamas controls all of the Gaza Strip. Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority barely has a handle on the West Bank, and in any event, would turn on Israel the second the opportunity presented itself. Syria's insistence on the return of the Golan Heights as a precondition for peace is a Trojan Horse, particularly considering the timing. It was only last September that Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor that was only weeks from being operational. Syria has built one of the most formidable arsenals of missiles and rockets in the region, all of them aimed at Israel. From the Golan Heights, Syria would control much of northern Israel, as it did prior to losing the Golan to Israel in the Six Days War. Israel is therefore surrounded with Hezbollah and Syria to the north, Hamas on both flanks, with al-Qaida sympathizers flooding in through Egypt and Jordan. Everything is in place for war except the pretext to start things off. Starting up a nuclear reactor will do nicely.
Israel's Golan Heights Back on Negotiating Table
May 22….(Stan Goodenough) The global effort to wrest the Jews' restored homeland from them lurched ahead Wednesday with the revelation that the Olmert government is - and has been for more than a year – preparing to negotiate an agreement with Damascus that is believed to involve Israel's surrender to Syria of the Golan Heights. Indirect talks through Turkish intermediaries, Israelis suddenly learned, are slated to start two weeks from now according to an almost simultaneous announcement made by Israel and Syria Wednesday morning. The Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem released a statement that read: "The two sides have begun indirect talks under Turkish auspices [and] have declared their intention to conduct the talks without prejudice and with openness... They have decided to conduct the dialogue in a serious and continuous manner with the aim of reaching a comprehensive peace." Syria's foreign ministry said "Syria has started indirect peace talks with Israel under Turkish auspices. Both sides have expressed their desire to conduct the talks in good will and decided to continue dialogue with seriousness to achieve comprehensive peace." But according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem added that in advance of the negotiations, Israel has promised to give away the Golan Heights and withdraw to the ceasefire line that was in place between 1949 and 1967. Israeli officials denied this, but Syria has consistently conditioned any peace treaty with Israel on such a surrender of the heights, and the denials are being treated with some cynicism. The Golan Heights is a ridge of slopes leading to a plateau high above the Huleh Valley and Lake Kinneret in the Upper Galilee. An integral part of the biblical Promised Land, and known in ancient Israel as Bashan, the "Land of the Giants," Joshua awarded the territory as an inheritance to the Israelite half-tribe of Manasseh. In the second half of the first century of the Common Era Rome, which then occupied the entire Land of Israel, attacked the Jewish communities on the Golan, including the town of Gamla, massacring their inhabitants and sending the survivors into exile. For nearly 2000 years the Golan was part of Middle Eastern territory that came under the control of one nation after another, most notably the Ottoman Empire, to which it belonged as part of the province of Palestine for 600 years until that empire was destroyed during the First World War. The Heights was included in the territory pledged to the Jews in the 1917 Balfour Declaration for the recreation of their national homeland. But the British Empire, given the mandate to oversee the creation of this Jewish state, instead lopped off the Golan and gave it to the French protectorate of Syria. Syria, one of a number of Arab states newly-created out of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, won its independence in 1944 and so controlled the heights until 1967, a period of just 23 years. During that time Syria made no effort to develop the land, instead using it as a platform from which to shoot down on the Jews in the farms and communities below. After failing to destroy Israel in her War of Independence, Syria between 1949 and 1967 violated the Armistice Agreement signed as a result of that war some 400 times. At least 140 Israelis were killed by Syrian fire in that period. In response to the unrelenting aggression and terrorism, the Israel Defense Forces threw the Syrians off the Golan in 1967, returning the land to Jewish rule for the first time since the Romans conquered it nearly 2000 years ago. It has now been under Israeli control for 40 years. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 and that land is under Israeli law and home to approximately 40,000 Israelis - Jews, Druze and Muslim Arabs.
'Would Olmert Trade Golan to Save his Own Skin'
May 22….(JNEWSWIRE) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, increasingly desperate in the face of advanced criminal investigations against him, had his office drop a political bombshell on the country Wednesday by announcing that Israel and Syria are holding peace talks in Turkey. This suspicion was the instinctive reaction of a great many Israeli parliamentarians, including members of Olmert's ruling coalition, following the surprise news that hit Israel's airwaves Wednesday morning. "The publication of the negotiations has a clear purpose, aimed at covering up the prime minister's investigations," charged angry Labor Party MK Danny Yatom. Yatom party colleague MK Shelly Yacimovich said the prime minister's "only aim" was to divert attention from "his cash envelopes," envelopes containing money Olmert allegedly received from businessmen and placed in his own pocket. The chairman of the Likud faction, MK Gideon Sa'ar, said the announcement demonstrated that "Olmert's calculated cynicism when gambling Israel's strategic assets for his own political survival knows no bounds. "He has no mandate to make any concession in the Golan Heights," he declared. Likud, National Union-National Religious Party and Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party leaders all leveled criticism at the prime minister. For his part, Syrian President Bashar el-Assad has said that he is interested in negotiating with Israel. He has warned, however, that if the talks collapse without an agreement then "war may really be the only solution".
Olmert is suspected of illicitly received up to $500,000 from American businessman Morris Talansky. Olmert denies wrongdoing and says the money was to fund political campaigns. But police are not ruling out bribery. Olmert's popularity, low since he was widely seen to have bungled Israel's war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon two years ago, has taken a further drubbing in the past weeks because of the case. His current legal troubles mark the fifth police investigation into his affairs since he took power in 2006. He has never been convicted. A withdrawal from the Golan Heights, Syria's key demand for peace, will be hard to sell in Israel, and it is highly unlikely a leader as unpopular as Olmert will be able to pull it off. The strategic plateau was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War and is considered a valuable buffer against attack. Today the Golan Heights are home to 18,000 Israelis who run thriving wine and tourism industries. Olmert himself vacationed there last month. According to the poll, only 19 percent of Israelis are willing to cede the entire Golan Heights, down from 32 percent a month ago. "Israelis want peace and security, but they have seen that haphazard efforts in the past have yielded dangerous results," said Dore Gold, the head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a former Israeli ambassador to the UN. Gold mentioned Israel's withdrawals from southern Lebanon in 2000 and from the Gaza Strip in 2005, saying both had eventually resulted in more violence. The burden of proof will be on the Israeli government to convince the Israeli public that this time withdrawal will not lead to more conflict but will lead to stability and peace," he said. Israel and Syria are bitter enemies whose attempts at reaching peace have failed in the past. The last round of talks collapsed in 2000 because of a disagreement over a narrow strip of land along the Sea of Galilee that Israel wanted to keep in order to preserve its water rights. The nations have fought three wars, their forces have clashed in Lebanon, and more recently, Syria has given support to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and Palestinian militant groups. The sides' demands in any peace deal are well-known. Syria wants a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan, and Israel wants Syria to end its support for militants, curb its ties with Iran, and establish full diplomatic relations. Olmert is a weak leader, and no one knows for sure what he would do.
Israelis Skeptical on Syria Peace Talks
May 22….(AP) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's dramatic announcement that he is negotiating a peace deal with Syria was greeted Thursday with overwhelming skepticism in Israel. Many Israelis appear to believe the embattled leader made the declaration to divert attention from the corruption allegations that threaten to end his term in office, and opinion polls showed Israelis remained wary of withdrawing from the strategic Golan Heights, even in return for peace with one of Israel's most bitter enemies. The announcement that peace talks had resumed eight years after they broke down came on the same day a court-issued gag order on the new Olmert case was lifted, allowing the publication of new details of the charges that Olmert took money in cash from a Jewish-American businessman. It also came two days before Olmert was set to be questioned again by police. In a published interview Thursday, Olmert tried to focus attention on the historic talks. "The peace negotiations with Syria are more important than all the rumor and investigations," he told the Yediot Ahronot daily. Olmert spokesman Mark Regev said Thursday that talks, which are indirect and mediated by Turkey, are moving ahead, with another round of discussions "in the near future." In a poll published in Yediot Thursday, only 36 percent said the negotiations are meant to promote peace, while 49 percent of Israelis said they believe Olmert is trying to draw attention away from the new police investigation. The poll, carried out by the Dahaf Institute, questioned 500 respondents and a margin of error was 4.5 percentage points.
America, Weeping for Tammuz
(Joseph Farah tells about biblical origins of America's official religion)
(Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Ezekiel 8:12-14)
May 22….(WND) There are lots of abominations taking place in our country today. We don't have to look back at ancient Israel to understand what abominations are, but it does help. It helps because that's where God defined abominations, the things that repulse Him and, therefore, repulse us as individuals and as nations, from Him. Today, in America, the sins defined by God in the Bible are of little concern to anyone. That's why four California Supreme Court justices can declare same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. That's why government schools can prohibit Bible reading and prayer. That's why public profanity hardly raises an eyebrow any more. That's why killing unwanted babies before they are born is considered a matter of personal "choice" and a practice that is subsidized by government funding. While the actual sins enumerated by God in the Bible are considered passé, there are new "sins" being chiseled into the tablets of our modern legal code by the zealots of a neo-pagan religion that is overshadowing America's Judeo-Christian heritage and culture. Just as Ezekiel witnessed so many centuries ago, Americans today worship the creation rather than the Creator. They demand sacrifices at the altar of "global warming." They lose their inhibitions and frolic in the groves. They look to the sun and the moon and stars for meaning and signs. As in the days of Ezekiel, they are "weeping for Tammuz." What does that mean? Who was Tammuz? And why do I say Americans are weeping for him? Does the name Nimrod mean anything to you? When I was a kid, it was a common name of derision. That guy's a Nimrod. I don't know exactly what that was supposed to mean. I know it wasn't anything good. But I can tell you there are a lot of Nimrods around today. Nimrod was one of Noah's great-grandsons. He was in rebellion against the God of the universe. It didn't take long after the worldwide flood for rebellion to begin again. Nimrod was the arch-rebel, and a very important biblical figure for us to understand today. Even his name means "to rebel." We first learn about him in Genesis 10:8. Nimrod was the leader of the rebellion that prompted the building of the Tower of Babel. Standing hundreds of feet high, the tower was built so that Nimrod and his priest could worship the sun, the moon and the stars. What happens when you worship the sun, the moon and the stars instead of the One True God of the Universe? You open yourself up to the deception of the power of the air, Satan and his demons. I think that's exactly what happened to Nimrod. In effect, Nimrod and his wife, Semiramis, followed the same path as Adam and Eve, believing Lucifer that they could become gods or like gods themselves, that the One True God that Nimrod's great-grandfather Noah worshipped was withholding the key to truth from them. Before too long, Nimrod and Semiramis were requiring their subjects to worship them. And what we have with Nimrod and Semiramis is the beginning of all the false pagan religion systems that have followed and that are still with us today. God saw how successful the Nimrod perversion had become, so it was at that time, we read in Genesis 11, He confused the one common language of the human race. The word Babel actually means "confusion." We know more about Nimrod and Semiramis than the Bible alone reveals. Babylonian history shows us this couple gave themselves other god names, some of which will be very familiar to you. Nimrod became known as Kronos, Bel and Baal. Nimrod died at the age of 40 from a hunting accident. He was gored to death by a wild boar. That seems odd to me for a god, but not to the Babylonians. After Nimrod's death, Semiramis elevated the worship of her husband as the sun god, asserting that he had ascended into heaven and would supernaturally impregnate her. Naturally, as you might imagine, she gave birth to a son, whom she named Tammuz. He became known as the son of the sun god and the reincarnation of his father. After Nimrod's death, his subjects wept bitterly for him and soon began to worship his son Tammuz. A new tradition began in which each year all the people would weep for 40 days for Nimrod, one day for each year of his life. Later, when Tammuz became the focus of worship, followers began weeping for him. That's what Ezekiel was talking about. In Israel, at the time of Ezekiel, many were "weeping for Tammuz." God does not countenance when His people embrace the ways of pagans and sun worshippers and idolaters. I have news for you: There are lots of Americans practicing similar forms of pagan rituals today. They are still weeping for Tammuz. Make no mistake about it; neo-paganism is the official religion of the USA in 2008. It is the one taught in every public school in American today when they teach evolution. It is the one preached in most of the news media when you hear about man-made catastrophic global warming. It is the one you watch on television and in movies that instructs you to lose your inhibitions and do your own thing. Christianity is not the dominant religion of our time. Islam is not the dominant religion of our time. Humanism is the dominant religion of our time. And humanism is a form of paganism. It is the man-centered religion. It is the religion of nature worship. It is the religion that denies an all-powerful, all-mighty, all-knowing God. It is a descendant of the first false religion founded by those who built the Tower of Babel.
Arab Journalist Admits Israel not to Blame for Palestinian Refugees
May 21….(Israel Today) A top Palestinian journalist wrote last week that it is the Arab world, and not Israel, that is to blame for the so-called Palestinian "refugee crisis." Jawad al Bashiti, a Jordan-based correspondent for the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, noted in his May 13 editorial that during the "first war between Arabs and Israel...the 'Arab Salvation Army' came and told the Palestinians: 'We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely." Bashiti lamented that in evacuating Palestinians before doing battle with the Israelis, it was the Arabs who were in fact responsible for what the Arab world refers to as the "nakba," the catastrophe of Israel's successful rebirth in the biblical Land of Israel. Had those hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs not been removed, their descendants would likely continue to outnumber the Jews. Israeli watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch, which translated Bashiti's article, pointed out a trend among Palestinian journalists who are becoming increasingly bold in blaming the Arab world, rather than Israel, over the refugee issue. Four other similar article written by leading Palestinian journalists over the past few years were also translated as evidence of this trend. Removing blame from Israel over the Palestinian refugee issue effectively eliminates one of the major foundations of the Palestinian struggle against the Jewish state. It also compels major international movements to rectify the Palestinian refugee situation, including the United Nations' own committee on the issue, to refocus their attention on the true perpetrators - the Arab states.
White House Denies Iran Attack Report
May 21….(Jerusalem Post) The White House on Tuesday flatly denied an Army Radio report that claimed US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term. It said that while the military option had not been taken off the table, the administration preferred to resolve concerns about Iran's push for a nuclear weapon "through peaceful diplomatic means." Army Radio had quoted a top official in Jerusalem claiming that a senior member in the entourage of President Bush, who visited Israel last week, had said in a closed meeting here that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action against Iran was called for. The official reportedly went on to say that, for the time being, "the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice" was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic. The Army Radio report, which was quoted by The Jerusalem Post and resonated widely, stated that according to assessments in Israel, the recent turmoil in Lebanon, where Hizbullah has established de facto control of the country, was advancing an American attack. Bush, the official reportedly said, considered Hizbullah's show of strength evidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's growing influence. In Bush's view, the official said, "the disease must be treated - not its symptoms." However, the White House on Tuesday afternoon dismissed the story. In a statement, it said that "[the US] remain[s] opposed to Iran's ambitions to obtain a nuclear weapon. To that end, we are working to bring tough diplomatic and economic pressure on the Iranians to get them to change their behavior and to halt their uranium enrichment program." It went on: "As the president has said, no president of the United States should ever take options off the table, but our preference and our actions for dealing with this matter remain through peaceful diplomatic means. Nothing has changed in that regard." In an interview last week in the Oval Office, Bush told the Post that "Iran is an incredibly negative influence" and "the biggest long-term threat to peace in the Middle East," but that the US was "pushing back hard and will continue to do so." He noted that "Iran is involved in funding Hamas and Hizbullah, and it's that Iranian influence which I'm deeply concerned about. But there needs to be more than just the United States concerned about it." Bush said: "We take [seriously] this issue of [Iran] getting the technology, the know-how on how to develop a nuclear weapon." "All options are on the table," he said, but, "Of course you want to try to solve this problem diplomatically." Asked whether the Iranians would be deterred from their nuclear drive by the time he left office, Bush told the Post: "What definitely will be done [before I leave office will be the establishment of] a structure on how to deal with this, to try to resolve this diplomatically. In other words sanctions, pressures, financial pressures. You know, a history of pressure that will serve as a framework to make sure other countries are involved." Days later, in his address to the Knesset, Bush said that "the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages" and "America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions." "Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," he said.
Doha Accord Swings Lebanon’s to Iran-backed Hizballah
(Lebanese army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman - president-in-waiting)
May 21….(DEBKA) Heads of the pro-government majority factions and the Hizballah-led opposition reached an agreement in the Qatar capital early Wednesday, May 21, aimed at pulling Lebanon back from the brink of civil war. A president, lacking since last November, will be elected immediately, a new government will be formed with 11 ministries out of 16 for the Hizballah bloc (veto power), new elections will be held and Iran’s Shiite surrogate will not have to disarm. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that after 26 years, and in defiance of two UN Security Council resolutions, Hizballah’s armed militia won formal national acceptance and the right to possess an independent weapons arsenal. While the pro-government Sunni, Christian and Druze faction heads at Doha accepted the standing of Hizballah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, as a central national figure, they also agreed to drop his archenemy, the pro-US Fouad Siniora, as prime minister in the new government. The only candidate for president, chief of staff Gen. Michel Suleiman, expects to be elected by a parliamentary consensus before the end of the week. Our Middle East sources term the Doha deal on Lebanon a Hizballah walkover, its reward for six days of armed onslaught on government positions, unopposed by the armed forces. It marks the most resounding strategic debacle the West, Israel have experienced since Hamas’ forcible takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2005 and Israel’s failure to smash the Shiite terrorists’ armed strength in 2006.
How Iran is Changing the Balance of Power in the Middle East?
May 21….(Middle East Online) Lebanon fell in the lap of the Iranian regime in less than two days. Lebanon is now unofficially a colony of Iran. The illusions are over now. Those who thought that Iran has abandoned Hezbollah and occupation of Lebanon through Hezbollah were proved to be wrong. Iran designed a strategy of deception for some time to arm, equip and train Hezbollah to the highest level on one hand and to give false assurances to the Arab governments that it has no bad intentions in Lebanon. During this time, the Shia regime of Iran prepared Hezbollah so well and so much that it took over Beirout in less than two days. Nobody could believe that Hezbollah had become so strong to do in less than in two days what other military groups couldn't do in the 15 years of civil war of Lebanon from 1975 to 1990. Hezbollah's victory was swift and fast. It captured the major western parts of Beirut that were the strongholds of Sunni and other groups. The show of force was so overwhelming that forced the Lebanese government into submission to withdraw two decisions that had ignited Hezbollah's anger. Spiegel quoted a Lebanese minister that Hezbollah can control all of Lebanon swiftly whenever they wanted. The observers also believe that Hezbollah is stronger than all other military groups including the Lebanese army. The Lebanese army showed during this operation that it was strongly under the influence of Hezbollah as the army watched Hezbollah routing out its enemies in Lebanon. More than 40 Lebanese army officers resigned over the decision of the army to watch Hezbollah taking over the strongholds of other communities. There were reports that Hezbollah sent regularly more than 300 of its members to Iran for military training every week after its war with Israel. There were also reports that Hezbollah has been sufficiently armed and equipped by Iran and Syria. Syria is out of Lebanon. Iran does not need to intervene directly as its extended hand: Hezbollah is even stronger than Syrian army in Lebanon. Once Hezbollah achieved victory, the Shias in Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and some other countries celebrated Hezbollah's victory with great jubilation adding another victory to Shia victory in the recent years. The jubilation was more visible in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain where the majority of the population is Shia. This spirit of Shia solidarity that showed itself everywhere is something that many people have not been able to comprehend. In fact, Shia solidarity goes far beyond its national borders and it is stronger than national obligations and allegiances. There is no such a thing like spirit of Sunni solidarity. There is no such a thing like the spirit of Christian solidarity but there is such a thing among the Jewish people. The people who do not have a spirit of solidarity like the Shia people, will never be able to understand how Shia allegiance and solidarity gets priority over their loyalty to the country they live in. This is something that the European countries have never understood completely. The Arabs have emphasised the Arab nationalism and therefore, they have thought that it is the Arabness of the Arabs: Shia or Sunni, which goes beyond the borders of 22 Arab countries and few other Islamic nations but as the experience has manifested in different walks of life, Arab nationalism has been overshadowed by other loyalties. Arab nationalism shattered in Iraq when the Shias and Sunnis began slaughtering each other at large-scale in the most inhumane way. Priority of Shia allegiance also showed itself in Iraq when Shia Iran provided everything the Shia community of Iraq needed to seize the power and defeat their enemies but the Sunnis who had not developed this kind of Sunni solidarity among themselves, did not and could not support the Sunnis of Iraq and they gradually realised that and decided to side with the Americans. The Shias of the world have allegiance only to one country and that is Iran; specifically now that it has a fanatic Shia government that is determined to inspire them to move above their old inferiority complexes and position themselves on a platform which provides them with the ultimate power. The Shias of the world have recovered their self-confidence and strength as a result of unlimited support that they receive from the Iranian government. Iran has generously and financially supported all Shia groups in all countries all over the world to organise themselves as Iran realises the importance of organization and unity. Iran has created more Shia organizations for Shias in the last 28 years than the Shias had in all their history. These organizations have different missions but one purpose: strengthening Shia community in every country to the level that they can seize the power and if it cannot seize the power, they can get lion’s share in the power even in the countries that they have a small number. Less than 15% of the Afghan people are Shia but they have a much stronger share in power than the percentage of their population. They have several ministers, several ambassadors, several governors, many generals and other high officials. At one time, the Iranian regime even insisted for 50% of political power for the Shias. While it is Iran’s official policy to lobby other countries to give a big share to the Shias, even higher than their percentage of population, it has not given any share to 20 million Sunnis of Iran in political power. The population of Sunnis in Iran is estimated to be 25 to 32% of the total population, yet they have no even one single minister, ambassador, governor and army general in Iran. They have been completely deprived of all high positions and even they are under immense pressure for changing their religion. They have been also deliberately kept poor and backward in such a large scale that according to Iranian official figures, 76% of the Sunni Baluch people of Iran are under poverty line. It is Iran's official foreign policy to support and empower Shias in any country to any extent which is possible to do and suppress the Iranian Sunnis to any extent which is possible. As Iran had supported the removal of Sunni Taleban from Afghanistan and Sunni Saddam Hussein from Iraq and the appointment of its close allies in both countries, Iran also supported another Shia leader in Pakistan to win elections. Although Benazir Bhutto is dead, her husband, Asif Zardari is a Shia. He is the leader of the largest political party in Pakistan who controls the Pakistan government now. Although Asif Zardari is a Baluch but he agreed to transfer a Pakistani Sunni Baluch man to Iran, something that the Sunni Musharraf did not do. Asif Ali Zardari had to do this favour to Iran in spite of Pakistan's national interests to compensate the favour that the Iranian leaders did Benazir Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto said in a long interview after the explosion in her march to home from Karachi airport that a friendly country gave her necessary information about few sources that intended to assassinate her. She named the sources as Taleban of Afghanistan, Taleban of Pakistan, Alqaedah and another source which she believed was inside Pakistani government or army. She said that she had been given even the names and telephone numbers of the terrorists who had been assigned to assassinated her in a suicide attack. Most observers and analysts believed that the source could be only the Islamic Republic of Iran who had access to confidential information of on many terrorist groups. As you see, the spirit of Shia solidarity manifests itself in fundamental ways. It was the same spirit of Shia solidarity that obliged the Iranian and Syrian authorities to organise, motivate, finance, train, and arm the Hezbollah of Lebanon. Now Hezbollah has become much stronger than anybody expected and now it has demanded Saad al-Hariri and other groups to surrender and Beirut must raise white flag. Saad al-Hariri insisted that he would not sign such a surrender but what he can do? He and other Lebanese groups have no military power to match that of Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia only threatened that if Iran continues to support the Hezbollah, it will affect its relationships with the Arab countries. But Iran does not have good relationships with Arab countries anyhow. And what is the importance for Iran of having good relationships with the Arab countries? How the Arabs can harm Iran or Iran's surrogate organizations in the Arab world? Iran has already created and formed dozens of strong and armed surrogate organizations in the Arab world that can fight and can defend themselves. They have Iran's full commitment for financial, military and international support. Gradually they will become even stronger than their governments. This is likely to happen very soon in Bahrain and Yemen. The Iranian authorities have announced several times that the Mahdi Army is the Hezbollah of Iraq. The Iranian regime has also armed organizations in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Algeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other countries. Iran has positioned itself well to change the politics of the region and the balance of power in the Middle East. It has leverages that it can pull and push any time it wants and to any extent that it wants. None of Arab countries have such Leverages and armed organizations in Iran or other countries. They waited for 28 years and watched Iran infiltrating their secret services, governments and people. They bent under the pressure of Iran and gave exceptional opportunities to Shias of the Arab countries. Kuwait had to give two ministerial positions to two Shias to bribe them to silence under pressure from Iran. Saudi Arabia gave high positions to Shias of Saudi Arabia to satisfy Iran. The same policy has been taken by other Arab countries. They all have to bend under pressure to Iranian policies. This is even when Iran does not have nuclear weapon, just think about it, if Iran has nuclear weapons, how it will advance its policies in the Arab world. The Arab Passivity allowed Iran to capture Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon through Mahdi Army and Al Maleki, Hamas and Hezbollah. This is the beginning. The Arabs are simple people with honest minds. They just cannot understand the complexity of Iranian mind; specifically the political Shia mind that has been developed through centuries to take revenge from the Sunnis who had marginalized them in different parts of the world. Now they have a new opportunity to take revenge. They are organised. They are together and they are united. They are present in all Arab countries. And they are very deceptive. The Arab masses are behind them as the recent public opinion demonstrated that three Shias: Bashar Asad, Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrollah were the most popular political figures in the Arab world. The poor Sunnis, who have been disappointed completely in different aspects of life, now convert to Shiism and they get some substantial financial rewards for so doing. Every Sunni that converts to Shiism becomes a new agent of Iran and will join an organization that is supported and financed by Iran. The stakes are high. Iran has numerous and very powerful leverages in Arab countries and can create any change she wants. The Arab countries are helpless. They have become the victims of their self- complacent attitude and policies. While Iran can interfere in their policies when ever she wants, the Arab countries cannot do anything inside Iran as they do not have any viable allies among the Suuni and Shia Iranians.
Syria and Israel Measuring Each Other Up
May 21….(FOJ) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Office officially announced Wednesday that Israel is conducting peace talks with Syria. According to the official acknowledgment, Jerusalem and Damascus are holding indirect negotiations with the Syrian government using Turkish mediators. One of the issues Turkey is trying to work out between Israel and Syria before direct negotiations can start is whether a Syrian announcement ending support for terrorism needs to precede an Israeli guarantee that it will withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, Western diplomats said in late April. The question that remains open is which comes first. Israel apparently expect Syria to announce the end of support for Hamas and Hizbullah. Israel is also hopeful that the Syrian government will agree to distance itself from Iran as part of any future peace agreement.
Fearing that Damascus is acquiring advanced military platforms, Israel is closely following meetings being held in Moscow this week between a high-level Syrian military delegation and Russian Defense Ministry officials. Senior government officials in Jerusalem said they have been aware for several days of the Syrians' upcoming visit to the Russian capital but that it was not yet clear which military platforms Damascus was requesting. According to reports in the Russian media, the delegation, led by Syrian Air Force commander Gen. Akhmad al-Ratyb, will be in Moscow for five days and meet with Russian Defense Ministry and Air Force officials, as well as visit several military bases and units. According to the reports, the talks will focus on arms sales - including submarines, anti-aircraft missiles, the latest model MiG fighter jets and advanced surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. Israel is particularly concerned with a Syrian request for long-range S-300 surface-to-air missiles that could threaten IAF jets flying on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. The S-300 is one of the best multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world and reportedly can track 100 targets simultaneously while engaging 12 at the same time. Syria recently received 36 Pantsir S1E air-defense systems from Russia. Iran is believed to have already procured several S-300 systems to protect its nuclear facilities. Israeli defense officials expressed grave concern over the possibility that Syria would obtain these new military platforms. Damascus, the officials said, had dramatically increased defense spending recently. In the past three years, Syria has spent more than $3 billion on weapons, up from less than $100 million in 2002.
Russian Envoy: Don't Push Iran into a Corner
May 20….(Jerusalem Post) A nuclear Iran is as much "a nightmare" for Russia as it is for the US and Israel, and Moscow doesn't differ with Washington and Jerusalem on the need to stop Teheran, only on the way to do it, Russian Ambassador to Israel Petr Stegniy said Monday. According to Stegniy, who has served extensively in the Arab world, including as the then-Soviet Union's charge d'affaires in Libya from 1986-1990, during the height of US-Libyan tension, it is counterproductive to push Iran, or similar regimes, such as that of Muammar Gaddafi in the 1980s, into a corner. Stegniy's comments came during a lecture he gave on Russian foreign policy at Hebrew University's Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace. Stegniy remembers talks he had with the Americans while he was posted in Tripoli - a period that witnessed the bombing of a disco in West Berlin that prompted US air raids on Libya, and the Lockerbie bombing - and shared advice with the US at the time about how to get Libya to change its behavior. The best advice, he said, was to "get Gaddafi's name off the front pages, leave him alone with his domestic problem, because he won't be able to stand them." "Regimes like that, Gaddafi and [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, use outside threat as inner consolidation of the society. I am convinced of that," he said. Rather than pushing Iran into a corner, Russia's position, Stegniy said, was designed to keep Iran at the negotiating table, and to keep the Intentional Atomic Energy Agency inside Iran. Stegniy, who said Russia disputed Israel's estimate that Iran could go nuclear as early as the end of next year, said he believed the situation in Iran "is still under control, and will get out of control when the IAEA leaves the country." According to the Russian ambassador, the world's media is using Russia and China as "scapegoats" with regards to Iran. "We will do our utmost to keep Ahmadinejad from having a nuclear weapon. It is the consensus aim. We may differ on the means, but we are united on strategy." Stegniy, who took over as ambassador in the fall, also addressed another issue of contention with Israel: Russia's contacts with Hamas. The rationale behind this contact, which he said was only with Hamas's political wing, was to try and contain the organization, he maintained. Stegniy said that while Moscow appreciated Israel's position of not talking with Hamas, Russia viewed it as part of its "regional responsibility" to speak to rogue states and organizations in an effort to contain them. Again drawing on his experience in Libya, Stegniy drew a parallel between talking to Hamas now, and talking to Gaddafi then. "I took relaxation medicines before I met Gaddafi," he said. "We don't enjoy it, but see it as part of our responsibility. Someone has to speak to rogue states, that is why we are speaking to Hamas."
'Bush Intends to Attack Iran Before the End of his Term'
May 20….(Jerusalem Post) US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran in the upcoming months, before the end of his term, Army Radio quoted a senior official in Jerusalem as saying Tuesday. The official claimed that a senior member of the president's entourage, which concluded a trip to Israel last week, said during a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action was called for. However, the official continued, "the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice" was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic, for the time being. The report stated that according to assessments in Israel, recent turmoil in Lebanon, where Hizbullah de facto established control of the country, was advancing an American attack. Bush, the officials said, opined that Hizbullah's show of strength was evidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's growing influence. They said that according to Bush, "the disease must be treated - not its symptoms." In an address to the Knesset during his visit here last week, Bush said that "the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages." "America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions," Bush said. "Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."
Obama: More Compromise From Israel Key to Peace
May 20….(Israel Today) US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday said that the next US administration can help bring peace to the Middle East, but only if the Israelis and Palestinians stop hindering such efforts. Speaking at a campaign stop in Oregon, Obama said that "Israelis are going to have to acknowledge that some of the settlement policies make it very difficult to create a functioning Palestinian state." Turning to the Palestinians, the Illinois senator said that the time had come to recognize Israel's right to exist and stop threatening violence. Obama's remarks seemed to totally disregard Israel's full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, which most Israelis saw as a test case to determine just how the Palestinians would respond to the type of compromise Washington demands from them. Israel's Gaza disengagement saw the full removal of Israeli military forces from the area and the uprooting of more than 20 Jewish settlements. The Palestinians responded by voting Hamas into power and significantly increasing rocket and missile attacks on southern Israel.
Netanyahu Calls for New Elections
May 20….(JNEWSWIRE) The leader of the Israeli opposition Likud Party, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Monday that the coalition led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "must return the mandate to the people to choose another government." "The Olmert-Kadima government has no mandate to negotiate on Israel’s borders," the former prime minister said, according to Ynetnews. "This government was elected under different circumstances and times. Most of the public knows that any land we give away will become a terror base for Islam extremists under Iran’s patronage," Netanyahu told a Likud faction meeting, which along with the other parties' Knesset factions was holding its first meeting in six weeks. "Bibi" - as the Likud leader is widely known - steered clear of exploiting the ongoing criminal investigation into Olmert, who is being probed for having allegedly taken bribes. Instead he homed in on the inability of Olmert's government to adhere to its basic guidelines as laid out when it came to power on May 4, 2006. Olmert and his Kadima Party were elected to continue efforts to pave the way for a two-state solution begun when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon executed the "disengagement" [in reality, retreat – Ed] from the Gaza Strip. The next step, which Sharon was gearing up to perpetrate when he was felled by a hemorrhagic stroke in December 2005, was retreat from Samaria and Judea, the ethnic cleansing of Jews and the destruction of all Jewish towns and cities in those areas in order that a Palestinian state can be created there. Samaria and Judea comprise the biblical heartland of the Jewish people, the cradle of their nationhood. The Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are buried there, and the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives are situated in those "occupied territories." According to "the Basic Guidelines of the 31st Government of Israel" Olmert's administration committed itself to "take action even in the absence of negotiations and agreement with [the 'Palestinians'] on the basis of a broad national consensus in Israel and a deep understanding with Israel’s friends in the world, primarily the United States of America and President George Bush [to establish] Israel’s territory, the borders of which will be determined by the Government [and which] will entail the reduction of Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria." In the two years since the government's election, all Israel has learned the price for relinquishing territory: The Palestinian Arabs turned the surrendered Gaza Strip into a terrorist base from which thousands of rockets have been fired into southern Israel, those attacks continuing to this day, Israeli soldiers have been regularly attacked and Gilad Schalit, the then 19-year-old IDF corporal, was kidnapped and is still being held. In the summer of 2006 the Lebanese Hizb'allah, using territory unilaterally vacated by Israel, kidnapped Israeli soldiers, triggering the Second Lebanon War which saw thousands of rockets fired into northern Israel, causing more than a million Israelis to flee south. It is in the light of these painful realities, Netanyahu said, that new elections have to be held.
Palestinians Don't Support Two-State Solution
May 19….(Israel Today) A recently conducted Palestinian public opinion poll shows that most Palestinian Arabs do not support a long-term two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling into question the whole premise upon which the land-for-peace process is based. Israeli leaders and the international community have built the current peace process on the assumption that if the Palestinian Arabs are given a state in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, they will end their desire to destroy Israel and accept the Jewish state as a permanent neighbor. The new poll revealed that the Palestinians will accept a sovereign state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, but only as a first step toward removing Israel from the map. Yasser Arafat long admitted this was the ultimate goal, even after he signed the so-called "Oslo Accord." A 57.6 percent majority of those surveyed said they still identify with the diabolical long-term strategy of their deceased leader and reject the permanent establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, on the lands west of the Jordan River. The poll was conducted by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University in the Samarian town of Nablus.
Would Obama Submit to Iran as a Nuclear Power?
May 19….(DEBKA Exclusive Analysis) It was obvious that US president George W. Bush’s denunciation of those who would negotiate with “terrorists and radicals” had put the Democratic candidate, Senator Barack Obama, on the spot. Minutes after the words had been spoken on Thursday, May 16, in a special 60th anniversary session of the Israeli parliament, Obama shot back with an attack on the president: “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists.” Some of the flak which landed on the senator was directed against his lobbyists, whose arrival to woo Israeli and Jewish support was timed to coincide with the presidential participation in Israel’s anniversary celebrations. Bush felt that his gesture to honor Israel had been used for internal American political sparring and he struck back. According to DEBKAfile’s political sources, Bush was furious when he found out that both Obama and Hillary Clinton had sent representatives to the international conference in Jerusalem to solicit campaign supporters in Israel. Clinton’s was ex-ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk and Obama’s were Dennis Ross, formerly of the US state department and ex-special Middle east envoy, and Dan Kurtzer, another former ambassador to Israel. Whereas Indyk kept a low profile, Ross and Kurtzer were in and out of the offices of Israeli leaders including prime minister Ehud Olmert, They promised that Israel had nothing to fear from Barack Obama as president, or his offer to meet the presidents of Iran and Syria for face to face discussion on the issues outstanding between them and the United States. They insisted that this offer did not apply to Palestinian terrorists like Hamas. Granting that the prospects of talks with those leaders were slim, the ambassadors stressed that if they did indeed materialize, Obama would stand by the supportive positions on Israel articulated by President Bush and Republican candidate John McCain. The sensitivity of the Obama campaign to this issue prompted Ross and Kurtzer to leave the Knesset visitors’ gallery before the end of Bush speech to brief the senator on the passages denouncing would-be negotiators with “terrorists and radicals” in the context of those who appeased Hitler in 1939. They urged him to respond strongly without delay else all their lobbying efforts on his behalf would be wasted. Obama took their advice. The president’s exact words in the relevant passages were: “America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. And America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” And: “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” he said. “We have heard this foolish delusion before.” “As Nazi tanks crossed in Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is, the false comfort of appeasement which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” Obama responded in an e-mail to reporters, saying it is sad that president Bush would use Israel’s 60th anniversary to launch a false political attack. “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally, Israel.” The word “never” was inserted in the final version when Kurtz and Ross insisted on the statement being strengthened. What Obama left out tellingly was a reference to “radicals,” namely Iran. By leaving “the world’s leading sponsor of terror” out of his response, he allowed the president to underscore his lack of an organized policy position on Iran. Republican senator John McCain quickly picked up on his rival’s lack of clarity on the key Iranian issue. While denying coordination with Bush on the speech, McCain said he wholeheartedly agreed with the gist of his remarks. “Yes, there have been appeasers in the past and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain.” Asked if he considered Obama an appeaser, he said: “I think that Barack Obama needs to explain why he wants to sit down and talk with a man who is the head of a government that is a state sponsor of terrorism, that is responsible for killing brave young Americans, that wants to wipe Israel of the map, and who denies the Holocaust.”
Abbas Rejects US Mediation in Peace Talks
May 19….(Washington Times) President Bush's three-nation trip to the Middle East ended on a sour note in Egypt yesterday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying that Mr. Bush's remarks to the Israeli parliament last week "angered" Palestinians and that he no longer wants the United States to mediate peace talks with Israel. Moreover, Mr. Bush's speech yesterday on democratic reform in the Middle East received a cool response from the 1,500 global policy-makers attending a World Economic Forum meeting at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik. His call for wider freedom of expression in the Middle East and a release of political prisoners got only a smattering of polite applause, according to the Associated Press. News organizations reported that Mr. Abbas told Israeli left-wing lawmaker Yossi Beilin that he would resign if negotiators made no progress in peace talks by the end of the year. An Abbas spokesman denied the comment. In a Saturday night meeting with Mr. Bush, Mr. Abbas and his aides complained that Mr. Bush's overwhelmingly pro-Israel address to the Israeli parliament on Thursday weakens Palestinian negotiators against opponents of a peace accord. Mr. Abbas said Palestinians were "angered" by the speech, and he asked Mr. Bush to strike a more "balanced" tone. "We do not want the Americans to negotiate on our behalf," Mr. Abbas said yesterday after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the AP reported. "All that we want from them is to stand by our legitimacy and have a minimum of neutrality." Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestinians told the president in a "candid" meeting that Mr. Bush "missed an opportunity" to speak to the Israeli public about the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mr. Erekat said that Mr. Bush's speech was a "real disappointment" to Palestinians and that he fears extremists will use it "as ammunition." Yesterday, Mr. Bush called on Middle Eastern countries to liberalize their economies and stop repressing their populations. He attempted to defuse some of the criticism directed at him after Thursday's speech to the Knesset, where he effusively praised Israel on the Jewish state's 60th anniversary but did not mention the plight of the Palestinian people and made little mention of the peace talks. Mr. Bush ended his speech yesterday by saying that his vision for a "free and independent" Middle East is "the same one I outlined in my address to the Israeli Knesset." He referred to the peace process, but only in general terms. "Palestinians must fight terror and continue to build the institutions of a free and peaceful society," he said. "Israel must make tough sacrifices for peace and ease the restrictions on Palestinians. Arab states, especially oil-rich nations, must seize this opportunity to invest aggressively in the Palestinian people and to move past their old resentments against Israel." Mr. Bush said the Palestinian people "have suffered for decades" and "earned the right to a homeland of their own." He made the remarks on investment just days before the opening of a Palestinian business conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Hezbollah’s Power Play in Lebanon Diminishes US Power
May 19….(Washington Times) There are four major goals behind Hezbollah's recent display of raw military power in Lebanon, in which at least scores of people have been killed. First, there was the Shi'ite terror group's determination to settle domestic Lebanese political scores with its enemies, in particular Sunni Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblatt. The second is to give Iran and Syria more military options in their struggle with Israel. The third is to embarrass the United States, in particular President Bush, who this week is visiting the Mideast. The fourth objective is to intimidate and embarrass relatively moderate Arab nations with ties to the United States like Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In effect, Hezbollah has staged a de facto coup, making it, and by extension its supporters in Tehran and Damascus, the dominant force in Lebanon. As we went to press, the Lebanese cabinet was expected to cancel a series of May 8 decisions that Hezbollah objected to when it blockaded the Beirut Airport and took up arms against the government. Specifically, Beirut had decided to rotate Brig. Gen. Wafiq Choucair, a Hezbollah sympathizer and Lebanese armed forces officer in charge of the airport, to a new position. Also, fearful that Hezbollah was preparing to drag Lebanon into another war with Israel, the government declared "illegal" a Hezbollah military communications network that extended to the heart of Beirut. But, in the wake of Hezbollah's strategic blitzkrieg against its fellow Lebanese, the Beirut government yesterday decided to cancel the orders. The events in Lebanon are a blow to the Bush administration's foreign policy credibility. The Lebanese military, which stood on the sidelines as Hezbollah went on its rampage, has received nearly $250 million in assistance from the United States since 2006. President Bush is scheduled to meet today with Mr. Siniora in Egypt. In the interim, we fully expect to hear plenty of tough talk from the Bush administration about the malevolence of Iran and Syria. But it is highly doubtful that anything can be done in the short term to reverse the Hezbollah coup that has just taken place or the fact that it gives Hezbollah free reign in northern and eastern Lebanon. The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon is deployed south of the Litani River. To circumvent this, Hezbollah has been rebuilding a series of military bases and tunnels north of the river since the 2006 war with Israel. Its expanded presence there provides it with the opportunity to set up an expanded northern confrontation front against Israel. It sends a message aimed at deterring both the United States and Israel against taking military action against Iranian weapons facilities, should they do so, Tehran and its allies would be able to target Israel from bases in Lebanon. Hezbollah's victory is also an embarrassment to the Arab League, and in particular, the Saudis. Riyadh was reportedly involved in financing Sunni militias in Beirut that were supposed to be able to combat Hezbollah militarily; but the Sunnis were routed by Hezbollah. Right now, the Arab League is engaged in trying to "mediate" between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government, which is a very diplomatic euphemism for establishing the terms of Beirut's surrender to Hezbollah.
Bush's Biblical References Rile Palestinians
May 19…. (World Watch) When US President George W. Bush punctuated his speech before the Israeli Knesset on Friday with biblical rhetoric reaffirming the Jewish people's right to the Land of Israel, the Palestinian Arabs betrayed the fact that they have no tolerance for Jewish sovereignty in the region at all, even if they speak of coexistence in front of international media. In his address to Israeli lawmakers, Bush spoke of the "promise of God" for a "homeland for the chosen people," and said the "bonds of the Book" between Jews and Christians meant that America would always stand by Israel's side. Bush also described Israel's and the United States' battle against Hamas, Hizballah, Al Qaeda and Iran as a "battle of good against evil." Average Palestinians across Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") were reportedly "shocked" by the president's words, while Palestinian officials said that Bush had effectively removed himself as an unbiased mediator in the peace process. Whether in response to the Arab frustration, or because his words in Jerusalem were merely a show for Israeli consumption, Bush was far more conciliatory toward the Palestinians when he met with their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday. Speaking to gathered leaders at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, Bush spoke of the Palestinians receiving the sovereign state they have long deserved, even if it is on the biblical lands he earlier acknowledged belong to the Jews. Bush was later shown walking hand-in-hand with Abbas, whom the president reassured of his commitment to help establish a sovereign Palestinian state by the end of this year. Israel, meanwhile, followed up the Bush visit by firmly reminding Abbas and his regime that there will be no final status peace deal leading to the creation of a Palestinian state if they continue to insist on the "right" to flood sovereign Israel with millions of Arabs who claim to be the descendants of Palestinian refugees.
WEEK OF MAY 11 THROUGH MAY 17
Saudis Agree To Increase Oil Production
President Bush speaks with Saudi King Abdullah during an arrival ceremony yesterday at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh.
May 17….(Washington Times) Saudi Arabia granted President Bush's request for an increase in oil production yesterday, while the Bush administration heeded calls from Congress to temporarily stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Both moves are aimed at easing tight world oil supplies, but the relatively small steps failed to prevent oil's ascent to another record high over $127 a barrel in New York trading before settling at $126.29 yesterday. Analysts expect pressure on oil prices to remain high as China increases its consumption of diesel to fuel rescue efforts and rebuilding after a devastating earthquake. With regular gas prices nearing $3.80 a gallon nationwide, high fuel prices have become the No. 1 economic worry and voter complaint in the United States, forcing politicians to try to find solutions. Consumer sentiment sank to the lowest level in 28 years as gas prices rose relentlessly to new highs this month. Mr. Bush's latest round of "oil diplomacy" proved more fruitful than a trip in January, during which Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest producer and a US ally, flatly rejected his pleas for increased output. Yesterday, the Saudis used the occasion of his visit to announce a 300,000 barrel-per-day increase in production, mostly for US customers. "The president has asked the Saudis to produce oil to meet demand," Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, told reporters in Riyadh. "He was reassured by the king that they have increased production as the market demands." But the move to suspend shipments of premium crude oil to the strategic reserve was a reversal of longstanding administration policy and a bow to Congress, where Republicans overwhelmingly sided with Democrats against adding to the reserve while oil prices are soaring to unprecedented levels. The administration has cited national security reasons for steadily raising the amount of oil in the emergency reserve to 702 million barrels from 540 million barrels in 2001. With an eye on Mr. Bush's legacy during his last year in office, White House officials have stressed that they prefer long-term solutions over short-term fixes for energy problems. They predicted the move would only lower oil prices by 3 or 4 cents a barrel, not enough to make a difference at the pump. Nevertheless, the administration agreed to stop 13 million barrels of shipments between July 1 and the end of the year, an amount that would have gone halfway toward completing the job of filling the 727-million barrel reserve, which is stored in salt caverns along the Gulf Coast. The more substantive move came from Saudi Arabia, which is the only oil producer with the capacity to significantly increase production. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi told reporters in Riyadh that the increase, which went into effect last Saturday, is intended to make up for recent output losses from other US suppliers, including Nigeria, Venezuela and Mexico. It would lift the kingdom's output to a total of 9.45 million barrels a day by June. "Any demand for extra production capacity from consumers will be immediately met," he said. While Saudi Arabia is the most influential oil producer worldwide, even the kingdom has little ability to dictate world oil prices, which reflect the tight margin between robustly growing needs for fuel in China and other developing countries and strained oil production that is running at full tilt in most countries outside the Persian Gulf. When major suppliers like Saudi Arabia seek to boost production to ease prices they sometimes have trouble finding buyers because their surplus production is mainly lower-quality crude. The only way to resolve the mismatch between oil and gasoline is to build more refineries that can take the sulfur and other pollutants out of heavy oil and make it into clean-burning gasoline. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries estimates that another 18 million barrels of such refinancing capacity will be needed in the next 15 years. But the refining improvements have been slow in coming. No new US refineries have been built in more than 30 years and upgrading older plants requires billions of dollars in investment. Saudi Arabia is one of the only countries building new refineries designed to make the cleaner fuels.
Iran Says OPEC Will Not Boost Output
May 17….(Reuters) Iran's oil minister rejected on Saturday any idea of OPEC raising production, saying it would fail to ease record prices as the market was already "saturated" with oil. Gholamhossein Nozari also dismissed as a "political move" Saudi Arabia's announcement on Friday of a modest hike in output after an appeal from visiting US President George W. Bush. "No, the market is saturated with oil and a hike in production does not have an impact on the price," Nozari told reporters when asked whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would increase production. Oil prices have risen six-fold since 2002 and doubled since last year as rising demand from China and other developing nations cinched spare production capacity, adding pressure on the US economy already hard hit by a housing slump. OPEC's smallest producer, Ecuador, said on Friday that members should consider raising output to stem the oil rally because high prices are hurting the poor. But Iran, OPEC's second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia and a price hawk, says the market is well-supplied with oil and blames the price rise on a weak US dollar, speculation and other factors outside the control of the 13-member cartel. Bush, who has come under increasing domestic pressure to act as the price of oil weighs on the economy, met Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Friday to ask for more oil from OPEC to tame record oil prices. Apart from a modest output hike, the world's top oil exporter also said it was ready to pump more if needed. Asked about Saudi Arabia's announcement that Riyadh had agreed to boost output by 3.3 percent, or 300,000 barrels per day, to loosen up the market and make up for declines in other OPEC nations, Nozari was quoted by Fars News Agency as saying: "This action is more of a political move, and this action will only help to increase reserves." Unlike Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, Tehran and Washington are bitter foes and sharply at odds over Tehran's disputed nuclear plans and also over who is to blame for violence in Iraq. The United States says more supply would help lower prices, while OPEC officials blame the high price on factors beyond their control, such as speculation and the weak dollar. Prices rose early this week after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying Iran was reviewing a proposal to reduce its output, which hit 4.203 million barrels per day in March, the highest level since its 1979 Islamic revolution.
Saudi Arabia Rebuffs Bush on Oil Production
(White House says Riyadh doesn't see enough demand to raise output)
May 16…(MSN) The White House said Friday that Saudi Arabia's leaders are making clear they see no reason to increase oil production until customers demand it. President Bush was in the oil-rich country to appeal to King Abdullah for greater production to help halt rising gas prices in the United States. But his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said Saudi officials stuck to their position that they already are meeting demand. When Bush met Abdullah in mid-January, the president also asked Saudi Arabia to raise production to ease high prices at the pump. But he got a chilly response to that plea. The kingdom said it would increase production only when the market justified it, and that production levels appeared normal. Oil prices climbed to a new high Friday, above $127 a barrel. At the pump, gas prices rose to a national average of $3.78 per gallon, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Abdullah may produce something "simply because it's good manners," but nothing that would have a significant effect. "US influence over OPEC and Gulf oil production is diminished," he said. "It's not clear what the incentive is to Saudi Arabia. We can't deliver on (Mideast) peace. We can't deliver on arms transfers. We can't deliver on the Iraq that Saudi Arabia wants. We are raising problems in terms of Iran. And the reality is the market isn't being driven by us; it's being driven by China, by India, by rising Asian demand." Jon Alterman, director of the CSIS' Middle East program, said the Saudis, with a public that doesn't like Bush and a ruling monarchy with growing interests elsewhere, are not likely "to put themselves out to help this president." "The Saudis don't have an alternative to keeping the US in its corner, but their reliance on the United States, their confidence in the United States is extremely shaken," Alterman said. Besides wanting to discuss oil, Bush is paying his second visit to Abdullah this year, on top of a stop by Vice President Dick Cheney in Saudi Arabia in March, to talk about his goal of achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before he leaves office. Saudi Arabia's immense power in the region means that its backing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and any concessions he will have to make is key.
The Saudi-American relationship began in the 1940s with a simple bargain: Saudi Arabia offered oil in return for U.S. protection. The United States became the kingdom's biggest trading partner and the Saudis became the biggest buyers of U.S. weapons.
Arabs Slam Bush's Warm Rhetoric Towards Israel
(Palestinians bristle at terminology used by US president in support of Israel, say religious analogies hailing Israelis as 'chosen people' prove Washington bias. Meanwhile Bush's Knesset address causes furor among Democrats back home who view denunciation of appeasement as jibe against Obama)
May 16….(YNET) While it remains unclear if US President George W. Bush's visit will yield any political gains in the race to achieve an agreement of any sort between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it has certainly been an eventful one; its echoes carried all the way back to the heated campaign trails leading to Washington. US Democrats were outraged at what they perceived to be an attempt to equate presidential hopeful Barack Obama's willingness to engage Iran with those who advocated appeasing the Nazis. "Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said in his historic address before the Knesset on Thursday. He did not mention Obama by name or even seem to allude to any partisan divide on the hotly-debated isolation question. ''We have heard this foolish delusion before," he continued, "as Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is, the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.'' Obama responded with a statement, seizing on Bush's remarks even as it was unclear to whom the president was referring. ''It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack,'' Obama said in the statement. ''George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.'' White House press secretary, Dana Perino, denied Bush's comments were directed at Obama. ''I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you," she said, "that is not always true. And it is not true in this case.''
Palestinians: This was a spit in the face
Speaking of the "promise of God" for a "homeland for the chosen people" in Israel, Bush told the Knesset after a visit to the Roman-era Jewish fortress at Masada: "Masada shall never fall again, and America will always stand with you." He predicted the defeat of Islamist enemies Hamas, Hizbullah and al-Qaeda in a "battle of good and evil". Letting Iran have nuclear weapons would be an "unforgivable betrayal of future generations", he said. Bush described the "bonds of the Book," faith in the Bible shared by Christians like himself and Jews, as bolstering an "unbreakable" alliance between Israel and the United States. During a later visit to the Israel Museum, Bush, referring to the old biblical texts housed at the building, said "these documents tell the story of a righteous God and his relationship with an ancient people." "There is no doubt in my mind that the patriarchs of ancient Israel and the pioneers of modern Israel would marvel at the achievements of this nation," he said. But while the president's speech garnered a standing ovation among most Israeli lawmakers, it grated Palestinian nerves already on edge as thousands gathered to commemorate the 'Nakba.' Though Bush, in speaking of what he hoped the next 60 years would look like, said he envisioned for the Palestinian people "the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved," many saw the gesture as far too modest compared to the towering praise heaped on Israel. Hamas slammed Bush's words as those more suitable to "a priest or a rabbi" and said the president had delivered a "slap in the face" to those Palestinians who placed their hopes in him. Palestinian political analyst Ali Jarbawi said Bush's rhetoric showed Washington was not being an honest broker: "He is not talking about a two-state solution. He is talking about a state of leftovers for the Palestinians," Jarbawi said.
Bush Asks Saudis to Increase Oil Production
May 16….(International) President Bush, on a one-day visit to Saudi Arabia, is taking a second stab on Friday at getting the oil-rich nation to increase production and drive down soaring gasoline prices hurting US consumers. When Bush met with King Abdullah in mid-January, the president asked the oil-rich nation to raise production to ease high prices at the pump. Bush got a chilly response to his plea. The kingdom said it would increase production only when the market justified it, and that production levels appeared normal. When Air Force One landed in the Saudi capital, the president got a red carpet welcome on the tarmac and was warmly greeted by Saudi leaders. Bush was spending the day with Abdullah at his horse farm outside Riyadh, talking mostly out of public view over three tea services and two meals. The White House says the president's visit to Saudi Arabia is intended, in part, to celebrate 75 years of formal US-Saudi relations. It will mark the conclusion of several agreements, laying out intentions to cooperate on nuclear energy, infrastructure protection and nonproliferation. But the rising price of oil undoubtedly will overshadow the talks. Bush concedes that raising output is difficult because the demand for oil, particularly from China and India, is stretching supplies. Besides, any production hike might not lower prices that much as some economists say they're being driven up by increased demand, not slowed production. Bush's visit to Saudi Arabia, which has the world's largest supply of oil, comes a day after Congress voted to temporarily halt daily shipments of 70,000 barrels of oil to the nation's emergency reserve. Bush has refused to stop pouring oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, saying the stockpile was meant for emergencies and that halting the shipments would have little or no impact on gasoline or crude oil prices. It's a move that Democrats have sought for the past year to increase supply and apply downward pressure on prices. With and eye to the November election, the Senate sent the measure to the president Wednesday night without a single GOP objection. The White House has indicated that Bush will sign the reserve measure. Also, as Bush prepared to leave Washington, Senate Democrats introduced a resolution that would block $1.4 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless Riyadh agrees to increase its oil production by 1 million barrels per day. The Democrats said they introduced the measure to coincide with Bush's trip to send a message to Saudi Arabia that it should pump more oil to reduce the cost of gas for Americans.
Bin Laden Vows to Destroy Israel
('We will continue, God permitting, the fight against the Israelis and their allies,' al-Qaeda leader says in new audio message, 'will not give up a single inch of Palestine as long as there is one true Muslim on earth')
May 16….(Ha Aretz) Osama bin Laden vowed in an audio tape marking Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations to continue the fight against the Jewish state and its allies and not give up an inch of Palestinian land. "We will continue, God permitting, the fight against the Israelis and their allies. And will not give up a single inch of Palestine as long as there is one true Muslim on earth," the al Qaeda leader said in the tape posted on an Islamist website on Friday. Bin Laden said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was at the heart of the Muslim battle with the West and an inspiration to the 19 bombers who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks on US cities in 2001. Bin Laden said Israel's anniversary celebrations showed not only that the Jewish state was 60-years-old but also that it did not exist 60 years ago and was established on land violently seized from the Palestinians. The Saudi-born militant also railed against the Western media which he said had over the years painted Israelis as victims and the Palestinians who had been displaced from their land as terrorists. Bin Laden mocked peace efforts he said had been going on for 60 years but failed to establish a Palestinian state and said the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon proved the West backed and protected Israel. The speech is addressed to "Western peoples" and entitled "The Causes of Conflict on the 60th Anniversary of the State of Israeli Occupation." The authenticity of the tape could not immediately be verified but the voice sounded like Bin Laden.
'Birth Pains'Have Begun
May 16….(WND) The world has endured an almost mind-numbing series of shocks in recent weeks, from the unprecedented swarm of tornadoes across the American Midwest to the death and destruction wrought by Cyclone Nargis as it tore a path through Myanmar, better known as Burma. There were 368 documented tornadoes in the US in January and February of this year, shattering the previous record of 243 over that two-month period, set in 1999. February's total of 232 tornadoes also shattered previous records. Cyclone Nargis ripped Burma apart, killing at least 128,000, according to Red Cross estimates, and creating some 2.5 million refugees. Al Gore was quick to blame global warming. In an interview on NPR to plug his appropriately named book on global warming, "Assault on Reason," he told host Terry Gross: "And as we're talking today, Terry, the death count in Myanmar from the cyclone that hit there yesterday has been rising from 15,000 to way on up there to much higher numbers now being speculated. And last year a catastrophic storm last fall hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China, and we're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming." Maybe. But Germany's Institute of Marine Scientists says we're in for a 10-year period of global cooling. There sure seems to be a lot of opposition to what is supposed to be "settled science." Global warming can't explain away the devastating earthquake that all but flattened a huge portion of western China. The death toll from Monday's quake is approaching 20,000, with twice that number still listed as missing. According to the US Geological Survey, Monday's earthquake was the 25th "significant" earthquake registered so far this year. Back in 1969, the year I wrote "The Late, Great Planet Earth," the USGS identified a total of seven "significant earthquakes." I had noted in 1969 that there was a slight but discernible increase in worldwide earthquake activity since Israel's rebirth in 1948. During the entire decade of the 1970s, the USGS recorded a total of 44 earthquakes it classified as "significant." The following decade, from January 1980 to December 1989, the USGS recorded 47 significant earthquakes. That is for the entire decade. From 1990 through the end of 1999, the USGS records 57 significant earthquakes. On the other side of the world, the long-dormant Chaitan volcano erupted May 2 for the first time, say geologists, in more than 7,000 years. The BBC reported that a government volcano expert warned there could be a big eruption at any time. "There could be a major explosion that could collapse the volcano's cone. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned that Iran had "detected" a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust. The UN said the fungal disease could spread to other wheat-producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-fourth of the world's wheat supply. The new strain, called Ug99, is capable of infecting up to 90 percent of the existing strains of wheat worldwide, and once infected, crop losses range between 70 percent and total loss. Coupled with the losses already sustained as a result of the typhoon-related flooding in Java, Bangladesh, and India and from agricultural pests and diseases in Vietnam, it starts to add up. Last year, Australia suffered its second consecutive year of severe drought and a near complete crop failure; heavy rains reduced production in Europe; Argentina suffered heavy frost; and Canada and the U.S. both produced low yields. Food riots have broken out in Egypt, Haiti and several African states, including Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Meanwhile, the drums of war continue to beat around the planet. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad renewed his threat to destroy Israel this week. Hezbollah took over West Beirut, while the Arab world mourned the catastrophe of Israel's 60th birthday with threats of annihilation of the Jewish state. In Israel, President Bush again warned that allowing the Iranian regime to obtain nuclear arms would be "unforgivable," signaling a continuation along a path that can only lead to an eventual war that will engulf the whole Middle East. When Jesus was asked by His disciples to tell them what "signs" would precede His return at the end of the age, He warned that "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines, plagues and earthquakes in various places," He said (Matthew 24 and Luke 21). Using an analogy immediately understandable to all peoples in all nations, he said of these signs, "All these are the beginning of birth pains." Jesus used a Greek word for the labor pains of a woman about to give birth. Jesus knew that every generation could understand the illustration. His meaning is clear. Just as a woman experiences birth pains that increase in frequency and intensity just before giving birth, so ALL the signs of His return would increase in frequency and intensity just before His return. Hey, for he first time in history, all of the signs have appeared together in the same time frame and are increasing in frequency and intensity. That, coupled with the fulfillment of the great predicted sign that Israel became a nation again after 2,000 hopeless years of worldwide dispersion, indicates that Jesus Christ is already at the door ready to return. Are you ready?
Jordanian Professor Recommends Nuclear Suicide Bombers
May 16….(Arutz) Jordanian University lecturer Ibrahim Alloush recommended on Al-Jazeera television this week that suicide bombers be equipped with small nuclear bombs. According to a transcript provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Dr. Alloush said, "Whoever managed to get a martyrdom-seeker into Dimona, should consider how to get martyrdom-seekers into Dimona and elsewhere armed with non-conventional explosives, and perhaps even small nuclear bombs," he stated. "We should think in this direction." Alloush lived for 13 years in the United States, earning graduate degrees at Ohio University and Oklahoma State University, where he earned a doctorate in economics. As the editor of the "Free Arab Voice", he was jailed by the Jordanian government in 2003 for incitement." Alloush also maintains that the Holocaust never took place. In 2005, Alloush said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television quoted by MEMRI, "The Holocaust is exploited to justify the Zionist policies and to justify the enemy state's right to exist. The Jordanian professor also strongly supports Osama bin Laden's international al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Moreover, Alloush, said in the same 2005 interview that the US deserved the al-Qaeda attack on Washington and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. "America brought the 9/11 attacks upon itself. Okay? (sounds a little like Obama’s former Pastor, don’t it?) This is a case of the chicken coming home to roost. In other words, you have brought this problem upon yourselves," he said. "As long as America occupies the Arab homeland and the Islamic world militarily, politically, economically, and culturally, and as long as it supports the Zionist entity, it should expect something."
President George W. Bush Speaks to Israeli Knesset
May 15….(MSN) The White House denied Thursday that President Bush was focusing on Barack Obama when, during a speech to the Israeli parliament, he criticized politicians who would speak to terrorists and their backers. In his speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, Bush said anyone who claims that talking with terrorists will result in peace is experiencing a “foolish delusion.” “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is, the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history,” the president said. While Bush never mentioned Obama by name, “aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran is an oft-stated proposal by Obama as a means to end that country’s support for insurgency in Iraq and its nuclear programs. Obama swiftly criticized Bush for a “false political attack” and said the president’s foreign policy has failed to secure the US or Israel.
Calif. Supreme Court Rejects Gay Marriage Ban
May 15….(MSN) In a monumental victory for the gay rights movement, the California Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on gay marriage Thursday in a ruling that would allow same-sex couples in the nation's biggest state to tie the knot. Domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage, the justices ruled 4-3 in an opinion written by Chief Justice Ron George. Outside the courthouse, gay marriage supporters cried and cheered as news spread of the decision. Our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation," the court wrote. The city of San Francisco, two dozen gay and lesbian couples and gay rights groups sued in March 2004 after the court halted San Francisco's month long same-sex wedding march.
Hatred of US a Pillar of PA Ideology
May 15….(IsraelNN.com) The Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) watchdog group has released a report warning that hatred of the United States is a pillar of the Palestinian Authority’s ideology. As US President George W. Bush lavished praise this week on Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the latter broadcast on the TV station which he controls a stinging message: the US is “the greatest Satan in the world.” Palestinian Legislative Council Member Najat Abu-Bakr (Fatah), PA TV, March 3, 2008. The full 30-page PMW report examines statements made in the PA media over the past several years regarding the PA’s affinity for countries such as North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela, which are all openly anti-American. “Significantly,” the report warns, “the affinity that is felt for such geographically distant non-Muslim countries, is precisely because these states publicly challenge and express loathing for the US.” The report also examined statements showing PA officials’ loathing for the United States, such as a Fatah legislator’s recent claim that the US is “the greatest Satan in the world.” PMW staff found that the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001 was a frequent theme of anti-American cartoons in PA newspapers. Each year, the papers print cartoons, often on or shortly before September 11, depicting the Muslim world, particularly Iraq and “Palestine,” as the true victims of the attacks. America is depicted as the aggressor. One frequent subject of praise in the Fatah-controlled media was former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Following Hussein’s execution PA papers referred to him as “the general Shahid [Martyr] leader, Saddam Hussein,” and the Fatah group that currently rules the PA dedicated a terrorist cell to his memory. Schools, streets, and sporting events were named after him, including the main road in the village of Yaabid, which was paid for by USAID. PA papers and television reports praise terrorist groups fighting the US in Iraq and Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, who until his death was wanted by the United States for the murder of hundreds of US citizens. Researchers found frequent praise for Syria and Iran as well. PMW Director Itamar Marcus spoke in the US Congress last month about the dangers inherent in the creation of a PA state. While US President Bush and other senior politicians have touted the creation of a PA state as beneficial to American interests, a PA state would in all likelihood ally itself with America’s enemies, he said. Among the statements quoted in the report: “Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies, Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one.” Ahmed Bahar, speaker of the PA legislative council, on PA TV in April 2007. The report also found much hatred of US President George Bush, who was referred to in PA media outlets as “racist,” “terrorist,” “devil from Hell,” and “worse than the German Fuhrer.” “In the past,” the report warns, “US support has not been able to prompt changes in deeply-ingrained hate ideology.” In Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, providing support for groups resisting the ruling power did not win their loyalty to the US, researchers said. “In the case of Abbas's Palestinian Authority, this is even more striking. Palestinian alliances with these states, and enmity of the US, are deep, explicit and declared throughout the PA’s Arabic discourse. Judging by the tone and scope of the Palestinian Authority’s anti-American hate promotion documented in the report, this hatred by Palestinian Fatah and its closeness to these enemies of the US are not a result of any specific US policy, but are reflective of a deep and sincere ideological affinity to those enemies of the US,” the report concludes.
Bush Ensures American Support for Israel in Fight Against Terror
(US president expected to reiterate American administration's commitment to help Israel in fight against al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbullah and Iranian threat in anticipated Knesset speech)
May 15….(YNET) US President George W. Bush on Thursday criticized the deadly tactics of extremist groups like al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, and Hamas and said he looks toward the day when Muslims "recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause." In a speech prepared for delivery the Knesset, Bush pledged that the United States has an unbreakable bond with Israel: "Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away" Bush said in his prepared address. "This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you." Bush took special aim at Iran and said the United States stands with Israel in opposing moves by Tehran to obtain nuclear weapons. "Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations," The president said. "For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon." Bush vowed the United States would aid Israel in its stand against the Iranian nuclear threat and the rocket barrages from terror groups in Gaza. Bush remarked that these were "interesting times," saying that Israel, along with other democracies, were currently facing difficult challenges from extremists. "We will stand with democratic nations against terrorism, we will stand with Israel against the nuclear threat, and with the Sinoira government in Lebanon against Hizbullah, which has turned its weapons against its own people," said Bush. The President denounced the rocket attacks from Gaza and the wounding of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Hamas is adamant in its quest to destroy Israel, said Bush, adding that the US will support not only Israel against the Islamist group, but also those Palestinians who wish to live side-by-side with Israel in peace.
Bush to Knesset: US Stands With Israel, Masada Will not Fall Again
May 15….(Arutz) In an historic address to Knesset on
Thursday, US President George Bush reiterated America's commitment to Israel and
said his country was "proud to be Israel's closest ally and best friend." Bush,
on a three-day visit to Israel on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, told a
special session of Knesset that "Masada will not fall again," in reference to
the Roman-era desert fortress which he visited earlier in the day. The site is a
national symbol in Israel of Jewish fighting spirit and self-sacrifice against
powerful enemies and overwhelming odds. Bush pledged in his address that the
United States has an unbreakable bond with Israel. "Some people suggest that if
the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the
Middle East would go away," Bush said in his prepared address. "This is a tired
argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it
utterly. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront
terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you."
In his address, Bush called Israel "the freest democracy in the Middle East" and
criticized the United Nations for routinely leveling human rights complaints
against it. He criticized the deadly tactics of extremist groups and denounced
anti-Semitism, especially by those who want to wipe the nation off the map. "We
believe that religious liberty is fundamental to civilized society so we condemn
anti-Semitism in all forms whether by those who openly question Israel's right
to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them," Bush said. Bush hammered home
his view that democracy could prevail against extremism in the Middle East,
where he has struggled to push his "freedom agenda." His strongest criticism was
aimed at Iran, Israel's main foe in the region. He also told Knesset members
that letting Iran acquire nuclear weapons would be an "unforgivable betrayal of
future generations." "Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to
possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future
generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a
nuclear weapon," Bush said. "America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's
nuclear weapons ambitions," he said. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said
prior to the address: "The United States and Israel share a belief that all
people have the right to live in peace, that democracy is the best way to ensure
human rights, that religious liberty is fundamental to civilized society and
that using violence to achieve political objectives is always wrong." He added
that Washington sees Israel as one of its partners in the fight against
"extremists, including Hamas, Hezbollah and Al-Qaida as well as [in efforts to]
deal with Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions."
Speaking prior to Bush's addresses, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that once the proposal for a two-state solution is brought before the Knesset, he is certain a majority of lawmakers and civilians will approve the motion. Olmert said he was committed to carrying out Bush's vision of forming an independent Palestinian state next to Israel and was certain that the divided Knesset and public would rally behind the initiative. The chamber reacted with silence and nervous laughter to this comment, which prompted a chamber walkout by hardline MKs Uri Ariel and Zvi Hendel. Both Olmert and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whose address immediately proceeded Bush's, called for harsh action to be taken against Iran's nuclear development. Netanyahu also said that while preparing a settlement with the Palestinians, negotiators must not forget that the purpose of peace is to strengthen security, not weaken it.
White House: Masada fighters' courage seen in modern Israelis
Bush toured the Roman-era desert fortress of Masada earlier Thursday. A cable car carried Bush to the top of the towering plateau, where in an act chronicled by a 1st-century historian, 960 Jewish men, women and children committed suicide rather than surrender to Roman forces crushing a rebellion in ancient Judea. At Masada, Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert viewed ruins including a water collection system that sustained besieged Jewish zealots at the sand-colored sanctuary. "The courage and bravery of those who fought at Masada can be seen in Israelis today," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said before Bush's visit to the site of ancient Roman ramparts overlooking the Dead Sea.
Abbas: Time is Now for Palestinian State
May 15….(Jerusalem Post) As thousands of Palestinians throughout the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Lebanon commemorated the Nakba, or catastrophe on Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas used the opportunity to emphasize the urgency of finding a solution to the conflict which has plagued the region for 60 years. "After 60 years since the 'Nakba,' the time has come for the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas said during a televised speech which was broadcast in honor of the day. Occupation, and the continuation of the Nakba won't bring security to Israel, the PA president warned, saying that "an end to the occupation will bring security, this is what's been proven throughout the history of occupations in the world." "After 60 years, I say again that our hands our extended for peace, that is the strategic our strategic choice," Abbas said. "I again emphasize that the settlements are destroying the chance for peace. All the settlement construction, especially in Jerusalem and in the E1 area must stop, in order not to lose the chance for peace." During his speech, Abbas also touched on the plight of Palestinian refugees, expressing hopes that the issue will be resolved, and that the political separation of the Gaza Strip would soon end. Throughout the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem, Palestinians marked Israel's 60th anniversary by staging a series of marches and strikes. On this occasion, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas pledged that they would never give up the right of return for all refugees to their original homes inside Israel. Abbas joined dozens of Palestinians in signing a document pledging to continue the "struggle" until all the Palestinian refugees are permitted to return. "Israel has failed in wiping out the memory of the Nakba from the minds of successive Palestinian generations," Abbas declared. "They [Israel] thought that perhaps the elderly would forget. But today we see that neither the elderly nor the young have forgotten. Everyone remembers the Nakba." Palestinians living in Lebanon were urged to march on Israel's northern border Thursday as part of "Nakba Day." The event has been named the March of Return. Organizers of the event said the Palestinians would form a human chain along the Israeli-Lebanese border. They said the event would be peaceful, during which the protesters would light candles and chant slogans. The PA announced that the Palestinians would stop work and traffic at 12 noon to mark the event. In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas government decided to suspend studies in all schools and universities. The Palestinians are also planning to fly some 22,000 black balloons in several West Bank cities and Jerusalem as a sign of grief over the creation of Israel. The Palestinians said that the black balloons were also aimed at protesting against the current visit of US President George W. Bush to Israel.
Damascus Leads Arab Rally For Nakhba
Does Bush have Guts to Bring up this Issue up to Saudis?
(Republican leader wants president to take on Saudi anti-West lessons)
May 15….(World Net Daily) A Republican leader of Congress has urged President Bush to press the Saudi government to reform its textbooks during his visit tomorrow with Saudi King Abdullah. In a letter to Bush, Rep. Sue Myrick, R-NC, founder of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, warned that the kingdom is still "spreading a dangerous ideology that attacked us on 9/11 and continues to threaten the United States and its allies around the world." "I strongly urge you to raise my concerns regarding the use of textbooks that are sanctioned by the Saudi government for use within the country and around the world that preach hatred and violence toward non-Muslims and Western ideals of liberty," she said in the May 5 missive. Despite Abdullah's post-9/11 promises of reforms, Saudi school texts used for Islamic studies still encourage violence and hatred toward "infidels," according to a recent comprehensive review by the Freedom House. The nonprofit group says indoctrination begins as early as first grade and expands each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text teaching teens that their religious duty includes waging "jihad" against the infidel to "spread the faith." Here are relevant passages from the Saudi textbooks, by grade level:
Myrick worries the hateful religious indoctrination could translate into violence against the West. Of immediate concern, she notes, are the thousands of young Saudi men scheduled to immigrate to the US on student visas. The State Department plans to double the number of student visas issued to young Saudi men from 15,000 to 30,000, despite the fact that nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals who immigrated to the US on visas. "We aim to increase their numbers to 30,000 over the next five years," US Ambassador Ford Fraker last month told Saudi officials at the Al-Jouf Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In the past, a large number of Saudi students have failed to show up for classes, coast to coast, and have overstayed their visas. Many of them have been caught up in terrorism investigations."As more young Saudi citizens take part in the scholarship student visa program, we must be sure that we are not permitting Saudi citizens into our country who seek to do us harm, as we saw with the 15 hijackers from Saudi Arabia who attacked us on 9/11," Myrick said. The congresswoman also asked Bush to press the Saudi government to allow non-Muslim clergy to visit the kingdom as part of a reciprocal exchange under the US R-1/R-2 religious visa program. "I believe it is essential to a true dialogue between religions to allow clergy to come and speak to foreign audiences," she told the president. "No one should be prohibited from entering a country based on their religious beliefs." Myrick plans to introduce a bill to restrict R-1 religious visas for Muslim clerics who come from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other countries that do not allow reciprocal visits by non-Muslim clergy. Since 9/11, several foreign imams have been prosecuted or deported for soliciting jihad against America. "As we continue to work with the Saudi government, it is essential that they end their practice of exporting terrorism," Myrick said.
Bush Visits Masada, Claims “Never Again”
May 15….(FOJ) President Bush's look into the future of the Middle East was preceded by a helicopter flight to the biblical past for a tour of the Roman-era desert fortress of Masada, a symbol in Israel of Jewish fighting spirit and self-sacrifice in the face of powerful foes. At Masada, a cable car carried Bush up the towering plateau where 960 Jewish men, women and children committed suicide rather than surrender to Roman legions crushing a rebellion in ancient Judea, in an act chronicled by a 1st-century historian.
Bush, on a three-day visit to celebrate Israel's founding, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert viewed ruins including a water collection system that sustained besieged Jewish zealots at the sand-colored sanctuary overlooking the Dead Sea. "At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: 'Masada shall never fall again.' Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side," Bush later told the Knesset, to a standing ovation.
Why Obama Does not Salute the Flag
May 14….(Republic) Hot on the heels of his explanation for why he no longer wears a flag pin, presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama was forced to explain why he doesn't follow protocol when the National Anthem is played. According to the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171, “During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform are expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart.” "As I've said about wearing the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides, "Obama said. "There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the national anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all of that. Obama said: “The national anthem should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.' If that were our anthem, then I might salute the flag.”
FOJ Note: That this man is even considered for the high office of the American Presidency shows how far our nation has succumbed to the internationally-promoted idea of surrendering our national sovereignty to the concept of Global Governance.
Saudis Send Sharp Warning to Iran over Lebanon
May 14….(AP) Saudi Arabia sent Iran a sharp warning over Lebanon Tuesday, saying Tehran's support for Hezbollah will damage its relations with other Muslim and Arab countries. More soldiers fanned out through Beirut, with orders to use force to restore security to a nation shaken by nearly a week of sectarian clashes. Lebanese buried more of their dead and tried to resume life in a capital dissected by roadblocks. What began as a political struggle 1 1/2 years ago with Shiite ministers bolting from the Cabinet devolved last week into Lebanon's worst fighting since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, with at least 54 people dead and scores wounded. Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas and allied Amal gunmen have swept through large Sunni swaths of Beirut, neighborhoods that support the government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, a Sunni. On Tuesday, the strife between Lebanon's government supporters and opponents expanded into a wider regional standoff between Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and the world's largest Shiite nation, Iran. Iran supports Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia backs Saniora's Sunni-led government. "Of course, Iran is backing what happened in Lebanon, a coup, and supports it," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told a news conference in Riyadh, in the most pointed criticism of Tehran. "This will affect Iran's relations with all Arab countries, if not Islamic states as well." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shot back by saying Saud's comments were made in anger and likely did not conform to the views of Saudi King Abdullah. President Bush weighed in earlier, telling Al-Arabiya television Monday that Washington would continue to support the Lebanese government and military, and would keep up pressure on Iran and Syria. As Bush travels to the Middle East for a trip that includes visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the flare-up is a sign that nervousness is growing about Iran's expanding influence. Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt worry that Iran wants to flex its muscle and assume a larger and strategic role in the region, taking power and influence that has been historically theirs. Iran, in turn, accuses US-allied Arab countries like Egypt of merely bending to America's will and pushing its agenda in the region. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who is traveling with Bush, told reporters that the U.S. is trying to rally international support for Lebanon's US-backed government. "Obviously, we are also going to talk to various countries about additional pressure that can be put on Syria and Iran because in our view they are what is behind this," said Hadley, indicating that a starting point might be the coming UN Security Council meeting in New York. The growing tension has wide implications for American and Western goals in the region, with the West generally allied more with the Arab governments and also worried about Iran's intentions. The same dynamic is playing out over Iraq, which also has been a strong source of discord among Arab countries, who generally support Sunnis there, and Iran, which is closely allied to both the Shiite-led government and to Shiite splinter groups like the Mahdi Army.
Speaking for the first time since he was besieged in his west Beirut home, top Sunni leader and parliamentary majority chief Saad Hariri said Tuesday he supports canceling the Cabinet decisions "to save Lebanon." Hariri also blamed Hezbollah's backers in Syria and Iran for orchestrating the onslaught. "This has been decided by the Iranian and Syrian regimes that wanted to play a political game in Lebanon's streets. For us nothing has changed," he told a news conference in Beirut. "We will not negotiate with someone having a pistol pointed to our head," Hariri said. Hariri also has close ties to Saudi Arabia. His father, assassinated former premier Rafik Hariri, amassed a fortune working on building projects in Saudi Arabia, many of them commissioned by the royal family. He used that fortune to rebuild Beirut after the 15-year civil war, a popular move that bolstered his rise to power.
Palestinians Welcome Bush to Mideast With Attack on Israel
Bush Makes Celebratory Visit to Israel
(‘We consider the Israeli people our close friends,’ president says on arrival)
May 14….(MSNBC) President Bush on Wednesday opened a celebratory visit to Israel where he'll make a new push for peace in the long-troubled Middle East. "We consider the Holy Land a very special place, and we consider the Israeli people our close friends," Bush said. The president arrived in Tel Aviv, then flew by helicopter to Jerusalem for events Wednesday and Thursday marking the 60th anniversary of Israel's birth in the wake of the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews. "Our two nations both faced great challenges when they were founded," he said. "And our two nations have both relied on the same principles to help us succeed. We built strong democracies to protect the freedoms given to us by an almighty God. And we built an enduring alliance to confront terrorists and tyrants." Bush is set to speak Wednesday night at a conference in Jerusalem celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary. The conference, convened by Peres, includes international figures like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and an array of Jewish Nobel laureates, including writer and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel. "We are proud to reaffirm the friendship of our peoples," Bush said. Both Peres and Olmert warmly thanked Bush for strengthening ties with the United States, Israel's closest ally. "Your presence here permits us to do something we really want to do and that is to celebrate a real thanksgiving party for the United States, from the depths of our heart, expressing our thanks to you and the greatest phenomenon in human history, the United States of America," Peres said. Olmert underscored the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relations. "Throughout the years, the strategic alliance with America has become one of the fundamental pillars of our national security. The bond between our people has grown deeper and stronger with time," Olmert said. "America has been there at each and every important crossroad in the life of our young country and stood by us in times of hope and moments of crisis." He said Bush's decision to celebrate Israel's historic milestone was an extraordinary gesture of friendship. "It's further evidence of your unending commitment to the security and well being of our country," he said.
The Palestinians are marking the 60th anniversary of the "nakba," or catastrophe, the word they use to describe Israel's establishment IN 1948. Palestinian leaders are lambasting President Bush for visiting Israel at this particular time, commenting that the visit shows his bias towards Israel at their expense.
Bush: Israel is our Strongest Friend and Ally in the Mideast
May 14….(YNET) United States President George W. Bush on Wednesday arrived in Israel to participate in celebrations of the country's 60th anniversary. At a visit later in the day at President Shimon Peres' official residence in Jerusalem, Bush vowed that the US would support Israel, "Our strongest friend and ally in the Middle East." Bush also said the existence of a democratic Israel for 60 years in the heart of the Middle East is cause for optimism for democratic reform throughout the region. "What happened here is possible everywhere," he said. Peres, for his part, raised the subject of regional tensions, telling the US president that Hezbollah is destroying Lebanon and that Hamas' behavior in Gaza is preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state. Upon the US president's arrival, he addressed the assembled Israeli dignitaries at Ben Gurion international airport, stating: "Our two nations both faced great challenges when they were founded. And our two nations have both relied on the same principles to help us succeed." "We built strong democracies to protect the freedoms given to us by an almighty God," he said at the red-carpet ceremony. The US president concluded: "We consider the Holy Land a very special place and we consider the Israeli people our close friends. Shalom." As an army band played the American and Israeli national anthems, the US president was greeted by Israel's political leadership, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Peres and opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu. Olmert earlier welcomed Bush, praising his visit to Israel as an extraordinary gesture of friendship. In opening remarks, the prime minister declared: "Our strategic alliance with the US is one of Israel`s pillars of security." Peres, who also spoke at the ceremony, told Bush that, "We are grateful to you for gracing this occasion." He then lauded the US president for his "steady dedication to the promotion of peace and security." US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, part of Bush's entourage, accompanied the US leader as he walked across the airport runway, as did Bush's wife Laura. Bush is to participate in the "Facing Tomorrow" presidential conference held in Jerusalem during his three-day visit, at which he will deliver a speech on Wednesday evening. He will also speak before the Knesset on Thursday, and will visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt later on in this trip.
Visit comes amid widening investigation against Olmert
Despite the festive nature of the visit, Bush was to find his host, Ehud Olmert, in deep trouble as a widening investigation into the prime minister's conduct has raised serious doubt over his political future. Most probably in reference to the investigation, Olmert gave assurances to a senior US official as Bush arrived in Israel. "Holding on, holding on, don't worry," Olmert told Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, at the airport. The remarks were picked up by broadcasters' microphones. On the first day of the presidential conference, Olmert said on Tuesday that he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have reached "understandings and points of agreement" on key issues in US backed peace talks but he gave no details. On Monday, Bush said that the peace process is not dependent on a single individual, indirectly responding to fears that investigation into Olmert could derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. At a meeting with Israeli journalists at the White House Monday morning, Bush offered words of support for Olmert, saying he is an "honest guy," easy to talk with and "a strategic thinker," and that relations between the two leaders are "nothing but excellent."
Al-Zahar: No welcome for Bush in the Holy Land
In the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a leader of the Islamist group opposed to the US peace efforts, said: "There is no welcome for Bush in the Holy Land. There is no welcome for hypocrite presidents who are defiling our land." Bush, who flew on to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by helicopter, will not visit the Palestinian territories but planned to meet Abbas in Egypt on Saturday.
Iran Has Positioned Itself on Israel's Northern Border
(Israel's UN ambassador breaks Israeli silence on Beirut clashes, states 'weapons are being funneled to Hizbullah, while Lebanon is torn and bleeding. The international community must act, for the sake of Lebanon and the entire region')
May 14….(Ha Aretz) Iran has reached Israel's northern border, as well as its southern border, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman said Wednesday, several hours before US President George W. Bush's arrival in the Jewish state. "The situation in Lebanon, between the Syrians and the Iranians, seems very bad. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2nd Lebanon War, is not being implemented. What is extremely alarming is that Iran is on our northern border, and in a sense on our southern border as well," he said. The ambassador essentially expressed what Israeli government ministers have been thinking, despite their failure to react. Some of them view the recent clashes in Lebanon between the opposition and government supporters as a Hizbullah takeover of the land of cedars. The Israeli stance, however, is to keep quiet in a bid to allow the world to deal with the situation created in the north. Israel will not lead any moves in regards to the incidents in which Hizbullah used its weapons inside Lebanon. However, in a discussion held Sunday at the cabinet meeting following a briefing by Military Intelligence Director Amos Yadlin, many ministers expressed their concern over the situation. The fear is that Hizbullah is positioning itself as the ruling element in Lebanon, after completing its armament and increasing its power since the 2006 war. Olmert and Bush are expected to discuss the developments in Beirut in their upcoming meetings in Israel. According to Gillerman, "Resolution 1701 included important elements, but kidnapped IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were no released, the arms embargo on the militias headed by Hizbullah is not being implemented, and Hizbullah has not been disarmed. "I sincerely hope that following the recent events in Lebanon, the international community will make sure this happens, not only for our sake, but for the entire region's sake," he said. "Weapons are being funneled to Hizbullah, while Lebanon is torn and bleeding. This is the continuation of a 40-year tragedy, of civil wars and takeover attempts by different elements. "The international community should act, for the sake of Lebanon and for the sake of the entire region, in order to stop the dangerous deterioration and turn the clocks back," he added.
Israelis Tell Bush Why they Oppose a Palestinian State
May 14….(Israel Today) A grassroots Israeli movement on Wednesday published an open letter to visiting US President George W. Bush explaining why the creation of a Palestinian Arab state on Israel's ancient biblical heartland will represent the single greatest threat to the region. The Mattot Arim organization welcomed Bush in its letter, but urged him to rethink his agenda of pushing the Israelis and Arabs toward the rapid creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. The group pointed out that today Israel's northern and southern borders are threatened by terrorist states because of Israel's withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza, but noted that those regions are sparsely populated. If, however, Israel hands over Judea and Samaria and that region becomes as volatile as southern Lebanon or Gaza, several million Israelis will be under direct threat. Bush and the international community are wagering Israel's safety on the notion that once given a state, the Palestinians will halt all efforts to kill Israelis. But the Mattot Arim letter pointed to a number of public opinion polls, including one recently conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, that show an overwhelming percentage of Palestinian Arabs see no problem with continuing anti-Israel terrorism. As such, the assumption must be that a Palestinian state will be a terrorist entity that will put Israel under increasing threat and encourage other regional enemies to escalate their own conflicts with the Jewish state.
Kings of the Earth in Israel for 'Event of the Century'
May 14….(Stan Goodenough) Twenty current and former world leaders and hundreds of other international dignitaries were making their way to Jerusalem Tuesday and Wednesday for what has been described as an unprecedented gathering in the Israeli capital. Not since the funeral of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin have so many heads of state been in Israel at one time. In the words of the far-left daily newspaper, Ha'aretz, the three-day "Israeli Presidential Conference" will be the "event of the century." Under the banner theme "Facing Tomorrow," the dignitaries will come together "to discuss the future of humanity and Israel's role in the world". Attendees will include the presidents of Albania, Burkina-Faso, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Mongolia, Palau, Poland, Rwanda, Slovenia, Uganda, Ukraine, the United States. Other dignitaries will be US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former prime minister of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, and the former president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid. Among the non-politician VIPs will be Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo president Susan Decker, media magnate Rupert Murdoch, Nobel Prize Laureate Eli Wiesel, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Ratan Tata, chairman of India's Tata group, US billionaire Sheldon Adelson. On an Internet clip welcoming his distinguished and influential guests, Peres described Jerusalem as "the cradle of the world's greatest religion." But while Israel had to remain "true to our heritage," the Jewish state also had "to adapt to a new age that has many offers, challenges and problems," he said. While subjects under discussion will include science, arts, the media and other issues, “buried” among these will be the Land-for-Peace process of which Peres has been and remains one of Israel’s prime proponents.
The conference attendees would have "to try and imagine what will be the face of the world in the immediate future, what will be the direction of Jewish life in it, what will happen to our own state," the president said, blandly but ominously. More than that, they would have to "try and offer directions." "By devoting our time, not to the history of our lives, but to the future of the destinies of the still unborn," the leftist, pro-globalism veteran Israeli said the conference would provide "a real service to everybody, every nation, every religion, every person." The outcome will be, he was sure, "a real contribution to a new age, to a new future."
In an address at the "Facing Tomorrow" presidential conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned that the nuclear threat facing Israel is in fact a global danger, and urged the international community to forge a specific timetable to combat it. Kissinger spoke before an audience of world leaders and dignitaries, saying that one of the major global shifts today is the rise of fundamentalism and radicalism. Compounded by the rise in nuclear weapon development, he said, this shift represents a historic turning point. A nuclear armed Iran threatens not only the existence of Israel but the viability of the international community, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned on Wednesday, in an address to the "Facing Tomorrow" conference in Jerusalem. Everyone speaks of unacceptability, but no one speaks out about how to breach it and in what timeframe, Kissinger said, adding, "it will not go away." Kissinger cautioned that if something was not done soon with regards to Iran, there would be multinational proliferation of nuclear weapons with catastrophic potential. The international community has to define what nuclear capability means, Kissinger declared. Once that definition has been reached, he said, it must establish clear criteria, for making decisions. It must set a timetable and it must impose meaningful sanctions. If necessary, he emphasized, it must take dramatic measures. "There is no point talking about unacceptability without defining specific proposals and significant sanctions," Kissinger underscored. "Then nations decide whether other measures can be taken as a last resort." Dennis Ross, of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (which helped to organize the conference) said policy makers have to think very hard about the threat of Iran. "When you use the word 'unacceptable,' it has certain implications, but we don't see policies that reflect that, and Iran has shown no qualms about defying the international community," he said.
President Bush: World Will not Let Hizbullah Win in Lebanon
Ishmael …“And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” Genesis 16:12
Perplexity…“…upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity…”—Luke 21:25
May 14….(In The Days) The terrorist group, backed by Iran and Syria, has in recent days scored successes in an insurgency that has placed the country’s moderate leadership under effective house arrest. “The international community will not allow the Iranian and Syrian regimes, via their proxies, to return Lebanon to foreign domination and control,” Bush said in a statement Monday. “To ensure the safety and security of the people of Lebanon, the United States will continue its assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces to ensure they are able to defend the Lebanese government and safeguard its institutions.” Hezbollah launched a war against Israel in 2006
Ahmadinejad: We Will 'Destroy' Israel
May 14….(Newsmax) Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Israel was "dying" and that people in the Middle East would destroy it if given the chance. His remarks coincided with the arrival of US President George W. Bush in the Middle East to celebrate Israel's 60th birthday and try to energise peace efforts complicated by a corruption scandal that could topple Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Opposition to Israel is a fundamental principle in Shi'ite Muslim Iran, which backs Palestinian militants opposed to peace with the Jewish state. "The Zionist regime is dying," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern city of Gorgan, referring to Israel. "The criminals imagine that by holding celebrations ... they can save the Zionist regime from death." "They should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy (it)," said Ahmadinejad, who often rails against Israel and the United States. A 2005 statement by Ahmadinejad saying that "Israel should be wiped off the map" outraged the international community. Last month, a senior Iranian army commander said Iran will respond to any military attack from Israel by "eliminating" it, in comments condemned by Washington. Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, says it has developed ballistic missiles able to hit Israel and US bases in the region.
Obama Adviser: Divide Jerusalem
(Obama’s Mideast pointman blasted by Israeli leaders as 'hostile' to Jewish state)
May 14….(WND) Jerusalem must be included in any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, stressed Sen. Barack Obama's Middle East adviser Daniel Kurtzer. "It will be impossible to make progress on serious peace talks without putting the future of Jerusalem on the table," Kurtzer said yesterday at a conference organized by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute or JPPPI. Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, has long been recognized by Israeli leaders, including prime ministers, as biased against Israel and is notorious for urging extreme concessions from the Jewish state. He was appointed as a primary Obama adviser on the Middle East earlier this year. During a discussion panel yesterday, Kurtzer reportedly went on to fault the Bush administration for not doing enough to pressure Israel into dividing Jerusalem. In reaction, JPPPI head Yechezkel Dror said Jerusalem must become the cultural center of the Jewish people. Kurtzer said in response that "before we do that, we must first accept a number of facts and the political reality of Arabs who live in East Jerusalem who do not feel part of the city." Obama's appointment of Kurtzer raised eyebrows among the pro-Israel Jewish community. "We oppose the appointment of Kurtzer because of his long, documented record of hostility to and severe pressure upon Israel," said Zionist Organization of America National Chairman Morton Klein. Kurtzer has been blasted by mainstream Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He has angered Israeli leaders many times for pushing Israel into what they described as extreme concessions to the Palestinians. "With Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States," Benjamin Nentanyahu was quoted saying in 2001 by Israel's Haaretz newspaper. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Kurtzer "frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace, and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel." Morris Amitay, former executive director of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2001: "Kurtzer will use his Jewishness as a protective cover for his anti-Israel views." The ZOA points out Israel's leading daily, Yediot Ahronot, editorialized on Kurtzer's negative influence against Israel: "Possibly more than any other US State Department official, Kurtzer has been instrumental in promoting the goals of the Palestinians and in raising their afflictions to the center of the US policymakers' agenda," the paper stated. Kurtzer first rose to prominence in 1988 when as a State Department adviser he counseled the Reagan administration to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat. The PLO had carried out scores of anti-Western attacks, but in the late '80s Arafat claimed to have renounced violence. In 1988, Kurtzer was noted as the principal author of a major policy speech by then-Secretary of State George Shultz in which the US government first recognized the "legitimate rights" of the Palestinians. Haaretz reported in 2001 that Kurtzer had a "vocal conflict" with an Israeli government official in Philadelphia in the summer of 1990 after Kurtzer "attacked the Israeli government for refusing to include the PLO in the peace process [and] said that this constituted the main obstacle to peace". In Kurtzer's latest book, "Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East," he largely blames Israel for the collapse of US-brokered negotiations at Camp David. Contradicting accounts by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, both of whom squarely blamed Arafat for refusing to make peace, Kurtzer argues in his book Israel did not offer enough concessions to the Palestinians. At Camp David, Israel offered Arafat a state in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. According to multiple reports, Barak also offered Arafat the upper sections of the Temple Mount.
Obama: Israel is a 'Constant Sore'
(Questions whether 'settlements' are in Jewish state's best interest)
May 14….(WND) Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama says Israel is a "constant wound" and a "constant sore" that infects "all of our foreign policy." Obama, under fire for attracting praise and support for his presidential run from the terrorist group Hamas, spoke to Atlantic Monthly at length about his views of the Middle East. Asked if he thought Israel represented a drag on America's reputation overseas, Obama said: "No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I’m not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that’s the safest ground politically." "I want to solve the problem, and so my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we’re going to be stuck in the same status quo that we’ve been stuck in for decades now," he said. The interview was set up by the now famous quote from Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef to WND's Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein, author of Schmoozing with Terrorists and WABC radio host John Batchelor: "We like Mr. Obama and we hope that he will win the election." The controversy unfolded last month when Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef told WND's Aaron Klein, author of "Schmoozing with Terrorists," and WABC radio his group hopes Obama will win the presidential election and change America's foreign policy. Sen. Barack Obama has harshly criticized Sen. John McCain for making an issue of an endorsement by Hamas, but the Democratic candidate said in a new interview he understands why the terrorist group supports his presidential bid. "It's conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, 'This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he's not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,'" Obama told the Atlantic magazine. Last week, Obama severed ties with a Middle East policy adviser who acknowledged holding private meetings with Hamas. Robert Malley, who had advocated negotiations with Hamas, was sacked after disclosing to the Times of London he had been in regular contact with the group in conjunction with his work for a conflict resolution think tank.
May 14….(YNET) United States President George W. Bush will be back in Israel Wednesday for his second visit in four months. This time, the American leader will be in the country to mark Israel's 60th anniversary and take part in the Presidential Conference organized by Shimon Peres. Bush, who will arrive in Israel with his wife Laura, is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He is also slated to deliver a speech at the Knesset. Officials in Jerusalem estimate that the American president will not be pressing Israel on sensitive issues such as construction in the Jerusalem-area and settlement blocs or outpost evacuation. However, the US leader is expected to reiterate his desire to see Israel and the Palestinians agree on a framework for a peace deal by the end of the year. During his visit, Bush is expected to meet with Prime Minister Olmert twice. In the talks, the two leaders are planning to discuss the issues that truly bother both Washington and Jerusalem, first and foremost the growing Iranian involvement in provoking regional tensions and Tehran's ongoing pursuit of nuclear capabilities. An official in Jerusalem noted that the visit also comprises "highly important strategic, diplomatic, and security issues." President Bush said Tuesday he was disappointed in "flawed intelligence" before the Iraq war and was concerned that if a Democrat wins the presidency in November and withdrew troops prematurely it could "eventually lead to another attack on the United States." He acknowledged concerns about leaving the unfinished Iraq war to a Democratic successor. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have said they will bring troops home if elected. Bush said his "doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States."
Bush to Discuss Oil Prices with Saudi King
May 13….(AP) President Bush said Monday that when he meets Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah later this week, he'll bring up the effect that high oil prices are having on the US and global economies. "Of course I'll bring it up to him," Bush said in a CBS News radio interview. However, he added that the capacity of the Saudis to raise production, and thus help lower prices, is limited. "When you analyze the capacity for countries to put oil on the market it's just not like it used to be," Bush said. "The demand for oil is so high relative to supply these days that there's just not a lot of excess capacity." However, Saudi Arabia has considerable additional production capacity. It's pumping a little over 8.5 million barrels a day, compared with about 9.5 million barrels a day two years ago, and has acknowledged the ability to produce as much as 11 million barrels a day. When President Bush last met with the king in January, they also talked about high oil prices. At the time, Bush was hopeful that OPEC would authorize an increase in oil production. The kingdom holds the world's largest oil supplies and is a major voice in decisions by OPEC. Asked what he planned to tell the Saudis this time that he didn't tell them last time, Bush observed that "the price is even higher." Oil prices briefly spiked to a new record above $126 a barrel Monday but ended the day lower as investors cashed in profits and an earthquake in China raised the possibility of a drop in demand. Retail gas prices, meanwhile, rose to another record above $3.70 a gallon. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino also said Bush would raise the topic. "Will he ask the Saudis to consider the drain on the world economy because of high gas prices? Yes, of course. He raises it every time that he can," Perino said. In the interview, Bush also said that most oil imported into the United States "comes from Canada and Mexico," not from Saudi Arabia. Bush also said that, while he was a "big supporter" of energy conservation, he would not issue a specific appeal to the public to ease up on driving and not use as much fuel. "I think they can figure out how to do that," he told CBS. "I mean, the market has a way of convincing people to drive less, depending on their ability to afford."
Lebanese Army Enables Hizballah To Take Over
(Lebanese army adapts to Hizballah's goals)
May 13….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s military sources report: After six days of fighting between government loyalists and Hizballah leave close to a 100 dead and 200 wounded, the Lebanese army’s demand that all combatants lay down their arms will go unheeded until the Shiite terrorists decide they have achieved their goals. Hizballah is now focusing on the northern Tripoli region and the central mountains east of Beirut in line with those goals after deciding there is no need at this stage to topple the pro-Western Siniora government:
1. The northern port of Tripoli is important to Hizballah and Syria, both as the largest pro-Syrian Sunni stronghold in Lebanon and as a supply hub for incoming Iranian arms for Tehran’s Shiite proxy. The arms are unloaded from Iran freighters at the Syrian ports of Latakiya and Tartous and trucked to Tripoli.
2. Hizballah has a strategic interest in crushing the Druze militias of the anti-Syrian pro-government Walid Jumblatt, which control the Chouf mountains east of Beirut. Over and above this goal, Hizballah have focused on isolating and disarming the Sunni supporters of the Siniora government.
After a series of fierce clashes, Hizballah slapped down an ultimatum for Jumblatt: Pull your militiamen out of their bases and hand over your heavy weapons i.e. cannon, mortars, heavy machine guns, RPG’s and explosives, to the Lebanese army, or face the consequences. Hizballah then brought in heavy artillery, with Syrian help, and set about pounding Druze mountain positions. It is hard to see them holding out for long before Hizballah seizes control of the hills which command the entire Beirut plateau. After the Druze militias fall, Hizballah may be expected to focus on vanquishing majority leader Saad Hariri’s Sunni forces in Sidon. This would isolate the only armed force left in Lebanon, the Christian Phalangists led by Samir Geagea. In the face of the Iranian surrogate army’s lightning conquest of Lebanon, US president George W. Bush’s statement in Washington, on the even of his Middle East trip, that the United States would not let Syria and Iran undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty comes very much after the fact. His offer to help Siniora by strengthening his armed forces is equally belated. The Lebanese army is by now more an operational arm of Hizballah than an armed force that serves the government.
Saudi King Will Just Smile for Bush on Oil
May 13….(Reuters) President George W. Bush will likely receive little more than a smile and handshake when he asks Saudi Arabia to help lower oil prices during a visit to Riyadh this week to commemorate 75 years of a relationship that has developed fissures in the last decade. (The US built the Saudi oil infrastructure from 1935 onward) Oil prices keep climbing to record highs, threatening to push the US economy into recession, and economic issues are a top concern for American voters during this presidential election year when they will choose a successor to Bush. Bush is scheduled to meet Saudi King Abdullah at his private farm on Friday to mark the 75th anniversary of the formal establishment of US-Saudi relations. His visit to Riyadh will follow a stop in Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state's creation, and precedes a stop in Egypt for talks with Palestinian leaders. Oil, Iraq, Iran and Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking are high on the agenda as Bush and King Abdullah try to smooth US-Saudi relations. Saudi Arabia and the United States both view al Qaeda as a threat. But 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were of Saudi origin, as is al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, which tarnished Saudi Arabia's image in the eyes of the American public. The invasion of Iraq over the strong opposition of Saudi Arabia further exacerbated tensions and made the United States unpopular with the Saudi public. "We have an odd disconnect here. We have a recognition on the part of the governments in both countries that this is a very important relationship," said Chas Freeman, president of the Middle East Policy Council. "But in both cases, the public is extremely negative. Saudi Arabia has been successfully vilified in American politics, and the United States is now extraordinarily unpopular in Saudi Arabia," said Freeman, a former US ambassador to Riyadh. But White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley said the US-Saudi relationship was in "pretty good shape" despite stresses over the Iraq war. The United States wants Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to improve their relation with Iraq. "We would like to see them offering greater diplomatic support for Iraq, embracing Iraq as a part of the Arab family. They have not gone as far as we would like on that score," Hadley said.
Iran’s Ascendancy Worries Saudi Arabia
The United States and Saudi Arabia both want to keep growing Iranian influence in the region at bay. "Most Saudis believe that that ascendancy in the region has come about as a result of American policy, that is the United States occupies Iraq militarily, but Iran occupies it politically," Freeman said. Iraq has a Shi'ite-led government, and Iran is ruled by the same sect of Islam, while rulers of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries are Sunni. Despite close personal ties among Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, King Abdullah and other Saudi officials, the tear in US-Saudi relations has yet to be fully repaired. But the bond forged decades ago on energy and security issues will continue in the years ahead regardless of who succeeds Bush in January, analysts said. "This is a relationship that dates back to FDR," said Gregory Gause, director of the Middle East studies program at the University of Vermont. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president of the United States from 1933 to 1945, when oil was first discovered in the Saudi penisula. "It's been an intense relationship since the '73 oil embargo and the first oil revolution. During his last visit to Saudi Arabia in January, Bush called on OPEC to increase production, but the plea fell on deaf ears, and oil prices have since jumped more than $30 to a record $126 a barrel. He is expected to again urge that OPEC increase production. But analysts say the request would be largely symbolic to show the American public that he was trying to do something about high oil prices, rather than based on any expectation that it would lead to action by Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, and OPEC, which is next scheduled to meet to decide oil output policy in September. "I can't see that it will work this time, it didn't work the first time," said Robert Ebel, senior adviser on energy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. What is the president likely to come away with? "Just smiles and a handshake, that's about it," Ebel said.
Hizbullah Celebrates Victory in Lebanon as Gov't Bows to Demands
May 12….(Arutz) The Hizbullah terrorist group celebrated victory over the Lebanese government as the weak US-backed coalition bowed to the Iran and Syria-backed group’s demands. Nonetheless, Hizbullah men continued to clash with US-backed Lebanese government-supporters even after the Lebanese government authorized its army to backtrack on the state’s attempted assertion of sovereignty following a near-coup. Clashes in Lebanon began when the army was instructed to close down the Iran and Syria-backed group’s alternative communications network and depose the Hizbullah-affiliated head of security at Beirut’s airport. The decision was made by pro-independence factions of the ruling government coalition seeking to stem the influence of Syria and Iran in Lebanon. Hizbullah blocked off access to the airport with bulldozers and Hizbullah Chief Hassan Nasrallah got on Hizbullah-run TV and instructed his followers: “We have said before that we will cut the hand that targets the weapons of the resistance. Today is the day to fulfill this promise.” At least 20 people were killed in the ensuing street battles as Hizbullah seized entire neighborhoods and towns, battling Sunni Muslims and Druze, which are both loyal to the government. Government officials’ homes and offices were also surrounded as government-affiliated TV stations were burned. The Lebanese army stood down in fear of an all-out civil war. A withdrawal from Beirut was agreed upon after the Lebanese Army gave in to the group’s demand to keep a Hizbullah loyalist in charge of the airport and continue to operate its own communications network. Though Hizbullah officials promised Saturday that they would withdraw armed men from Beirut, they said they will continue a civil rebellion until the government gives in to the rest of their demands, which include the right to veto any decision made by the government. The announcement came after victory parades of armed men in pickup trucks firing their guns in the air made their way through Beirut.
Iran-Hezbollah 'Redrawing' Mideast Map
May 12….(Washington Times) Make no mistake about it, the quick, brutal display of raw military power by Hezbollah in the past six days is a window into the grim future of Lebanon and the broader Middle East: a future in which Iran and Syria are ascendant and have lost much of their fear of the United States and Israel. It sends a message to President Bush, who arrives in Israel Wednesday to commemorate that nation's 60th birthday: that Tehran and Damascus can project power whenever they want in places like Lebanon, and the United States and it's allies can't do anything about it. Hezbollah's dramatic gains in Lebanon last week are just part of a regional process that began last year in the Gaza Strip and will continue in Jordan and Egypt, a Hamas official in the West Bank told The Washington Times. Sheik Yazeeb Khader, a Ramallah-based Hamas political activist and editor, said militant groups across the Middle East are gaining power at the expense of US-backed regimes, just as Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to US-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "What happened in Gaza in 2007 is an achievement; now it is happening in 2008 in Lebanon. It's going to happen in 2009 in Jordan and it's going to happen in 2010 in Egypt," Sheik Khader said in an interview. "We are seeing a redrawing of the map of the Middle East where the forces of resistance and steadfastness are the ones moving the things on the ground." His remarks highlight how a growing alliance linking Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah straddles the Shi'ite-Sunni rift. The notion of new countries falling under Islamist influence reflects a goal of Hamas' parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood, of replacing secular Arab regimes with Islamist governments. In the same way that Hamas' victory over the Palestinian Authority security forces in Gaza fighting last June profoundly disturbed neighboring Arab states, fighting in Lebanon yesterday and last week has sent shock waves throughout the Middle East and spurred an emergency meeting of the Arab League. The Arab League is sending Secretary-General Amr Moussa to mediate among the Lebanese government, Hezbollah and Sunni supporters of the government. In Israel, military and political leaders expressed concern that the Lebanese government, led by U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, yielded to Hezbollah's show of force. "What is going on in Lebanon at this hour is actually the overthrow of Lebanon by Hezbollah. The democratic Lebanese government will become a puppet government — an Iranian dream," said Ze'ev Boim, a lawmaker from Israel's governing Kadima party. "It is particularly awful to see an Iranian battalion on the northern border of Israel." Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, said the international community failed to insist that the government of Mr. Siniora confront Hezbollah, and is now paying the price. Hezbollah's ascendance in Lebanon is likely to prompt a new round of fighting with Israel, he said.
Lebanon Has Turned into Gaza
May 12….(JPOST) While America's secretary of state devotes her time to doomed Israel-Palestinian talks and America goes ga-ga over a candidate whose entire foreign policy strategy is to talk to dictators, yet another crisis is empowering radical Islamists and undercutting Western friends and interests. The Lebanese logjam has broken at last as Hizbullah seized Beirut and inflicted a major defeat on the government. Hizbullah is pulling a more limited version of Hamas's Gaza strategy in Lebanon as the world stands by. Iran and Syria back their friends with weapons and help; the West responds with words backed by nothing. Who can blame Hizbullah and Damascus and Teheran for laughing in contempt? Why should the Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christian majority risk their lives when the West doesn't help them? Every Israeli speaking nonsense about Syria making peace, every American claiming Damascus might split from Teheran, and every European preaching appeasement is engaging in confidence-breaking measures. At present, Hizbullah and its sponsors seek not the full conquest of Lebanon but to control the government by violence and intimidation. Unable to gain full victory themselves, they hope to win by the other side's surrender. They want veto power over the government to ensure it does nothing they dislike: no strong relations with the West, no ability to stop war against Israel, no disarming Hizbullah militias or challenging its control over much of the country, and certainly no investigation of Syrian involvement in internal terrorism there. Now they have a new, albeit unwitting, ally: Senator Barack Obama, who does not understand the damage he does. His May 10 statement on Lebanon tried to sound tough, talking of "Hizbullah's power grab in Beirut. This effort to undermine Lebanon's elected government needs to stop, and all those who have influence with Hizbullah must press them to stand down immediately." Obama said he supports the Lebanese government, wants to "strengthen the Lebanese army," and "insists on disarming Hizbullah." How? By "working with the international community and the private sector to rebuild Lebanon and get its economy back on its feet." According to the Obama world view, it's a development problem. But he doesn't understand that bombs trump business. Prime Minister Rafik Hariri followed that economic strategy; the Syrians blew him up. The only way to gain social peace is to appease Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, whose disruption blocks prosperity. The statement continues: "We must support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions that reinforce Lebanon's sovereignty, especially resolution 1701 banning the provision of arms to Hizbullah, which is violated by Iran and Syria." Great. But 1701 has already failed. Will you fight on this issue? Mobilize the passive "international community" for action? Threaten Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah with credible, tough action? There's no hint of that. As for Lebanon's army, its commander is Syria's presidential candidate, its soldiers are mostly pro-Hizbullah, and its US-supplied equipment stood idle as Hizbullah seized more territory. But here’s the worst part that few in America but all in Lebanon understand: Barack Obama writes: "It's time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment." This is Hizbullah program: a new Lebanese consensus based on 51% of power for itself and its pro-Syrian allies. What's needed isn't consensus (equivalent to getting Fatah-Hamas cooperation or an Iraq coordinated with Iran and Syria) but winning a conflict. Instead, Obama is, whether he knows it or not, backing a Syrian-Iranian and Hizbullah-dominated Lebanon. Such talk makes moderate Arabs despair. When Obama says he'll make Syria and Iran partners in setting Iraq's future, he is signaling every Persian Gulf regime to cut its own deal with Iran. His stances convince Hamas that he's the guy for them, with Iran and Syria concluding they merely need stand defiant and wait a few months until existing pressure vanishes. This is how the US position in the Middle East is being systematically destroyed. This does not mean that Obama is the candidate favored by Arabs in general; he is favored only by the radicals. Egyptians, Jordanians, Gulf Arabs, and the majorities in Lebanon and Iraq are very worried. This is not just an Israel problem. It is one for all non-extremists in the region. If the dictators and terrorists are smiling, it means everyone else is crying. The Syrian and Iranian regimes know that while they may walk through the valley of the shadow of sanctions they need fear nothing, because there are all too many who comfort them. UNIFIL forces in Lebanon are scared into passivity by Hizbullah. Now is the time for energetic action on Lebanon to contain Iran and Syria, buck up Lebanon's government side as well as all those Gulf Arabs and Iraqis who don't want to live in an Islamist caliphate. Its time to back the Lebanese government with real power and aid, covertly or overtly, those battling radical forces in Lebanon.
Saudis Secretly Funneled Weapons to anti-Hezbollah Forces
(US-approved shipments preceded gunbattles paralyzing Lebanon)
May 12….(WND) With US approval, Saudi Arabia in recent months provided weaponry to militias associated with anti-Syrian Lebanese opposition leaders to bolster them against the Hezbollah terror organization, informed security officials told WND. The information follows five days of heavy street clashes pitting anti-Syrian gunmen against Hezbollah forces in and around Beirut that has reportedly left 54 dead and much of the country paralyzed. It also follows a public dispute the past few months between Iranian-allied Syria and US-backed Saudi Arabia, both seemingly vying for more control in several Mideast arenas. The Saudi weapons were provided to militias associated with Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Parliament Leader Saad Hariri, and former president Amin Gemayel, according to security officials. The weapons mostly consisted of assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and combat equipment such as military boot, tents and night-vision goggles, the officials said. The weapons may have been put to use during urban warfare battles yesterday between Hezbollah and Jumblatt followers in the town of Aley, east of Beirut. At least two people were killed and four wounded in those clashes. Informed security officials say the Saudi weapons were used by pro-democracy gunmen battling Hezbollah forces since Hezbollah started the violence last week after the Lebanese government decided to dismantle and take legal action against Hezbollah's communications network amid accusations the terror group set up a system to monitor the travels of anti-Syrian Lebanese figures. The Saudi arms report follows a major diplomatic crisis between the Kingdom and Syria. Syria has floated a proposal that if the US helps facilitate billions of dollars in business for Syria and builds up Damascus as the primary American ally in the Arab world in place of Saudi Arabia, the Syrians would be willing to discuss scaling back alliances with Iran and making peace with Israel. A Syrian official said Syria conveyed this message to numerous visiting foreign dignitaries, including US congressmen and Turkish mediators. He said Syria also demanded as a key condition for considering altering its alliances that the US cease opposing Syrian influence in Lebanon. "Syria is the key to the Arab world. We have influence with Hezbollah and Lebanon and hold many cards in the Palestinian and Iraqi arenas. The US needs to rethink the value of the investment it places in Saudi Arabia," said the official, who spoke by phone from Damascus on condition his name be withheld. The main Syrian request was that America uphold Damascus as its main "partner" in the Arab world instead of Saudi Arabia, said the Syrian official. He said in exchange Damascus would discuss severing "many ties" with Iran, but he would not specify which ties and whether Syria is willing to cut off all coordination with the Iranians. "We are ready to significantly and deeply reduce relations with our Iranian brothers if conditions are met," the official said. The request was said to have angered Saudi Arabia, prompting a major crisis between Damascus and the Saudis. The Syrian-Saudi row was highlighted at last months's Arab Summit, a major annual meeting of Arab leaders held this year in Damascus. Saudi Arabia sent only a low-level representative, which was seen as a major snub to Syria, and used the platform to blast Syria. According to knowledgeable Arab diplomatic sources, Saudi Arabia wanted to boycott the event altogether, but sent the low-level delegation to uphold its record of attending every Arab Summit. The US, though, seems to have rejected the Syria overture. Last week, President Bush extended US sanctions against Syria for another year following Israel's strike last September against what the White House said was a Syrian nuclear reactor being built with the assistance of North Korea.
British: China Preparing for Nuclear War
(Analysts say Beijing getting ready for ops beyond Far East)
May 12….(WND) Defense analysts for the British intelligence service MI6 believe China is preparing for the "eventuality of a nuclear war." The conclusion follows evidence that Beijing has built secretly a major naval base deep inside caverns which even sophisticated satellites cannot penetrate. In an unusual development, the analysts have provided details to the specialist defense periodical, Jane's Intelligence Review, which published satellite images of the base location which is hidden beneath millions of tons of rock on the South China Sea island of Hainan. The MI6 analysts have confirmed the submarine base hewn out of the rock will contain up to 20 of the latest C94 Jin-Class submarines, each capable of firing anti-satellite missiles and nuclear tipped rockets. Knocking out the satellites would leave Taiwan, Japan and other countries around the Pacific Rim effectively without a key warning system. An attack also would disrupt vital communications between US battle squadrons in the region and Washington. Satellite images studied by GCHQ, Britain's spy in the sky intelligence gathering organization based at Cheltenham that works closely with the US National Security Agency, have confirmed the entrance to the base is through no fewer than 11 separate tunnel openings. A Royal Navy nuclear submarine, one of those in the Typhoon Fleet, now has joined another from the US Pacific Fleet to build up a clear image of what is happening inside the secret base which, as well as China's nuclear subs, could house "a host of aircraft carriers." Naval intelligence officers in London and Washington have confirmed the discovery of the base will present "a significant challenge to US naval dominance and protection to countries ringing the South China Sea." The base is sited at Sanya on the southern tip of Hainan island. The island came to the attention of Western intelligence in April 2001, when a US EP-3 spy plane trying to test the island's electronic defenses was forced to land there by Chinese fighters, one of which crashed in the sea killing the pilot. A Ministry of Defense analyst, who cannot be named for security reasons, believes "this could be the prelude to China preparing for a nuclear response."
'Bush to Offer Israel Powerful Radar FOR Defense'
May 11….(Jerusalem Post) The US may offer Israel a powerful radar system that would greatly strengthen Israeli defenses against ballistic missiles while incorporating it directly into a growing US missile shield, Reuters reported on Saturday. US President George W. Bush is expected to discuss the issue during his visit to Israel on Wednesday and Thursday to mark the 60th anniversary of the state, people familiar with the matter said, according to the report. This is "probably the No. 2 issue" on Bush's agenda for the visit, second only to the Israel-Palestinian peace process, said Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, who has led calls for tighter US-Israel missile-defense ties, Reuters reported. The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency is developing the multibillion-dollar layered shield. Riki Ellison, a missile defense advocate with close ties to the Pentagon and companies involved in building the hardware, said giving Israel the missile-tracking system was "on the table right now," Reuters reported. The system, known as a "forward-based X-band radar," is transportable by air and uses high-powered pulsed beams to track objects in space such as missiles. The Raytheon Co.-built system can track an object the size of a baseball from 4,700 km. away. It would allow Israel's Arrow missile to engage a Shahab-3 ballistic missile about halfway through what would be a 11-minute flight from Iran, or six times sooner than Israel's "Green Pine" radar can, Kirk told Reuters in a telephone interview on Friday. Israel had discussed a range of "parting gifts" from Bush, who leaves office on January 20, including military pacts and technologies, an Israeli defense official said. The Pentagon was planning to have four transportable X-Band radars, including one already set up near Shariki in northern Japan to guard against missiles that could be fired by North Korea, a spokesman for the US Missile Defense Agency said. A second is due to be deployed near Iran, possibly in eastern Turkey or Georgia, assuming permission is granted. In addition, the US is awaiting final approval for a large, fixed-site, tracking radar in the Czech Republic scheduled for deployment by 2013.
Hizballah Has Made Lebanon an Iranian Vassal
May 11….(Israel Today) Just as Gaza has fallen to Iranian proxy rule via Hamas, so too Lebanon is now under the direct influence of Tehran after Beirut's fall to Hizballah at the weekend, declared Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon on Sunday. Lebanon "is controlled by this terror organization and its government has become irrelevant," Ramon was quoted as saying at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "The notion that there is another government apart from Hizbullah is entirely fictitious." Earlier in the day, Hizballah began pulling its forces off the streets of Beirut, but only after the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora made major concessions to the group. Attempting to save face, Siniora issued a tough-worded statement insisting that Lebanon could no longer tolerate an armed Hizballah. However, the group's leadership said that the outcome of its brief confrontation with government forces was a clear victory for Hizballah, and demonstrated its ability to effectively counter Western influences in the country. Hizballah left a small number of its troops in Beirut to patrol allied Muslim neighborhoods in order to deter any possible retribution by government forces. Meanwhile, fierce fighting broke out in other parts of the country between Hizballah and government forces on Sunday. The violence was most severe in the northern coastal city of Tripoli, where at least 12 people were killed and anther 20 were wounded. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that Israel will watch patiently from the sidelines for the time being and not become involved in Lebanon's current troubles, despite the fact that a decisive Hizballah victory would pose a grave threat to the Jewish state. Barak urged the international community to get involved and prevent a total Hizballah takeover.
WEEK OF MAY 4 THROUGH MAY 10
Iran's Growing Influence in Latin America Worries US
May 9….(Reuters) Iran is making allies in Latin America to counter Washington's traditional influence in the region and could use them to threaten US security, a top US diplomat said on Wednesday. "We are worried that in the event of a conflict with Iran, that it would attempt to use its presence in the region to conduct such activities against us," Thomas Shannon, the US assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, told Reuters. Left-wing governments in Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia have all become allies of Iran in recent years, and other countries in Latin America have diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic. Shannon said Iran wants to ease its international isolation by showing it is able to win friends in Latin America, which has been historically in the United States' "sphere of influence". Washington accuses Iran of supporting terrorist groups and secretly trying to produce nuclear bombs, and is concerned by its courting of allies in Latin America. Shannon urged the region's governments to respect UN-backed sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and recalled accusations that Iran was involved in attacks on the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community center in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires during the 1990s. "We urge our friends and partners in the region to be vigilant," he said, adding that those attacks show Iran is able "to conduct terrorist operations within the Americas".
Why Islam’s Hunger For Nukes?
May 9….(Hal Lindsay) The United States developed the “Manhattan Project” for the express purpose of creating a weapon that would defeat the Axis Powers and bring the Second World War to a close. It used its super-weapon exactly twice; once over Hiroshima and a second over Nagasaki a few days later. Historians can debate over the details, speculate about Washington’s motives, argue over whether or not the weapon should ever have been developed, but none of that changes the bare facts. The Japanese had already demonstrated their willingness to fight to the last man at Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Saipan and Okinawa. The day before the Enola Gay dropped “Fat Man” over Hiroshima, the Japanese Imperial command was planning the defense of the home islands. Millions of Japanese civilians prepared to sacrifice themselves for their Emperor. A week later, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. In 1948, the USSR officially became the world's second nuclear power setting off an arms race appropriately nicknamed the MAD Doctrine, for Mutually Assured Destruction. War equaled global annihilation, and peace prevailed. A cold peace, but it was the longest period of peace between the three world wars of the 20th century. As Osama bin Laden was issuing is declaration of war against America in 1996, Pakistan and North Korea were independently preparing to upset the delicate balance in the MAD Doctrine by developing their own nuclear weapons programs. The ‘Father of the Islamic Bomb’, AQ Khan set up a nuclear proliferation network to assist other Islamic states in developing their own nuclear weapons programs. After seeing the fate of Saddam Hussien, Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi announced his nation was part of the AQ Khan network and asked the UN to please come and dismantle his network, before somebody else got hurt. But the nuclear genie was out of the bottle. When the Iranian nuclear weapons program was uncovered, Moscow denied the evidence and continued to fulfill its multi-billion dollar nuclear contracts in defiance of international pleas. Suddenly, everybody in the neighborhood wanted his own nuclear programs. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey are all on record as seeking their own nuclear programs. Last fall, Israeli Defense Forces conducted a sneak air attack against an unnamed target deep inside eastern Syria along the Euphrates River. Rumors that the target was a Syrian nuclear facility were laughed off the by UN’s atomic energy watchdogs, who said Syria lacked the capacity. Syria initially denied the Israeli air strike, claiming an explosion in an aging underground weapons bunker. On Thursday, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told the House Intelligence agency that Syria not only had a nuclear reactor, but also was only weeks from being functional when Israel destroyed it. The reactor was of North Korean design and believed to be built by the North Koreans in Syria. One has to ask, why the sudden, insatiable hunger for nuclear power among the nations of the Islamic Middle East? The ‘peaceful energy use’ argument doesn’t pass the laugh test, the Middle East is awash with oil. Clearly, the only logical alternative explanation is nuclear weapons. This forces another important question. Why? For self-defense against their Muslim neighbors? This is like arguing in favor of using a sledgehammer when only a flyswatter is needed. Wars in the Middle East are between family members. Muslims aren’t dumb enough to obliterate their neighbors and leave their own neighborhoods uninhabitable for 500 years or so. The number one target is Israel. But they aren’t likely to use them to obliterate Israel, for the same reason that kept America and Russia at bay for half a century, Mutually Assured Destruction, PLUS the risk of destroying the sacred sites of Jerusalem. And any use of nuclear weapons on Israel would have lethal effects on many neighboring Muslim nations. Radioactive fallout plays no favorites. It travels with the winds as they will. In the light of this, I can’t help but wonder if even they know why they want nukes. But nevertheless, they can’t seem to help themselves. The answers come quickly if we consult the ancient Hebrew prophets. They clearly predict that Israel will be attacked by a Russian-Iranian led Islamic alliance in one last suicidal attempt in the last days to obliterate Israel. But the prophet Ezekiel predicts the armies will fall upon the mountains of Israel in a battle he describes this way: “And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” (Ezekiel 38:23) This is the same battlefield predicted by the prophet Joel. He portrays the scene as “wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.” (Joel 2:30) “And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” (Zechariah 14:12) Note that their flesh will be consumed while they are still standing on their feet. Something completely unknown until 25 centuries later with the advent of thermonuclear warheads. Each of these passages describes the effects of nuclear war, as seen from the perspective of humans being shown by God technologies far beyond their wildest dreams. At that time, they had never even heard of gunpowder, let alone a colossal column of smoke that spewed fire, molten elements and giant hailstones. And how would someone in the 6th and 5th century BC describe an entire battlefield formation being vaporized by a battlefield nuke? According to the Bible, the invading Islamic alliance will bring nukes to the party. According to the latest intelligence reports, the Islamic world is actively seeking nukes to defend itself against unseen enemies, for reasons they can’t fully explain even to themselves. And all of this is being pursued headlong despite the costs both to their budgets and their international standing. It would appear that they are preparing for a war they don’t yet know they are going to fight. This is exactly the scenario the Bible prophets spelled out centuries ago. We are indeed living in the very last of the last days. Keep tuned for the sound of the trumpet.
UN’s World Food Program Supported by US, but not OPEC
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his top lieutenants on Monday are convening the first meeting of the UN’s Task Force on the Global Food Crisis. Ban says it will “study the root causes of the crisis,” and propose solutions for “coordinated global action” at a summit of world leaders in June.
May 9….(Fox News) UN Secretary Ban might want to consider convincing the oil-rich nations of the Middle East to provide more than the near-invisible amount of money they currently give to the World Food Program (WFP), the UN’s food-giving arm, which is charged with alleviating the food crisis. WFP internal documents show that the major oil producing nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) gives almost nothing to the food organization, even as skyrocketing oil prices and swollen oil revenues contribute to the very crisis that the UN claims could soon add 100 million more people to the world’s starving masses. The overwhelming bulk of the burden in feeding the world’s starving poor remains with the United States and a small group of other predominately Western nations, a situation that the WFP has done little so far to change, even as it has asked for another $775 million in donations to ease the crisis. Donor listings on WFP’s website show that this year, as in every year since 1999, the US is far and away the biggest aid provider to WFP. Since 2001, US donations to the food agency have averaged more than $1.16 billion annually, or more than five times as much as the next biggest donor, the European Commission. This year, the US had contributed $362.7 million to WFP just through May 4, according to the website. That figure does not include another $250 million above the planned yearly contribution that was promised by President George W. Bush in the wake of WFP’s April warning that a “silent tsunami” of rising food costs would add dramatically to the world population living in hunger. Nor does it include another $770 million in food aid that President Bush has asked Congress to provide as soon as possible. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, with oil revenues last year of $164 billion, does not even appear on the website donor list for 2008. And while Canada, Australia, Western Europe and Japan have hastened to pony up an additional $260 million in aid since WFP’s latest appeal, the world organization told FOX News, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the international oil cartel, tossed in a grand total of $1.5 million in addition to the $50,000 it had previously donated. The OPEC total amounts to roughly one minute and 10 seconds worth of the organization’s estimated $674 billion in annual oil revenues in 2007, revenues that will be vastly exceeded in 2008 with the continuing spiral in world oil prices. The only other major oil exporter who made the WFP list of 2008 donors was the United Arab Emirates, which kicked in $50,000. UAE oil revenues in 2007 were $63 billion. By contrast, the poverty-stricken African republic of Burkina Faso is listed as donating more than $600,000, and Bangladesh, perennial home of many of the world’s hungriest people, is listed as donating nearly $5.8 million.
FOJ Note: It should be noted that Islamic nations are not nearly as charitable as the US. Rarely ever does a Muslim nation send aid to nations that are suffering from calamities. Why?
Hizbullah Fighters Impose Control Over Beirut
(Gunmen loyal to Nasrallah took control of the Muslim part of the Lebanese capital and seized outlets owned by governing coalition leader Hariri; Lebanese troops begin taking up positions in some Sunni neighborhoods. Saudi Arabia, calls for emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers over crisis)
May 9….(YNET) Lebanese troops began taking up positions in some Sunni neighborhoods abandoned by the pro-government groups, but remained outside of the clashes, while elsewhere well-equipped Hizbullah fighters marched through Sunni neighborhoods. Security sources said at least 11 people had been killed and 30 wounded in three days of battles between pro-government gunmen and fighters loyal to Hizbullah, a Shiite political movement with a powerful guerrilla army. The fighting, the worst internal strife since the 1975-90 civil war, was triggered this week after the government took decisions targeting Hizbullah's military communications network. Hezbollah cliams the government had declared war on it. In scenes reminiscent of the darkest days of the civil war, young men armed with assault rifles roamed the streets amid smashed cars and smoldering buildings. The sound of exploding grenades and automatic gunfire echoed across a city still rebuilding from the 1975-90 conflict. Saudi Arabia, a strong backer of the governing coalition, called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers over the crisis, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported.
"The party, regardless of its military strength, cannot annul the other," Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Druze minority, told LBC television station from his home in Beirut. Hizbullah gunmen took control of media outlets owned by governing coalition leader Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon's strongest Sunni politician. Hariri's television and radio stations were forced off the air. Hizbullah, a Shiite group also backed by Syria, has been steadily seizing offices of pro-government factions in the predominantly Muslim western half of the city. Backed by the Shiite Amal group, Hizbullah fighters taken over Beirut from the government.
A security source said Hizbullah and its allies were in control all of the mainly Muslim half of Beirut after pro-government gunmen laid down their weapons in their last bastion. The gunmen in Tarek al-Jadeedi, a Sunni area whose residents are loyal to Hariri, had been in contact with Hizbullah to surrender, handing their posts to the Lebanese army. "It certainly leaves the government weaker and the Future movement weaker," said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. "Hizbullah is dominating most of west Beirut." But the group did not want to be seen as "occupiers of Beirut" by keeping its fighters in areas whose residents' political loyalties lie with Hariri or his allies, he said. Handing control to the army appeared the most likely exit. Hizbullah also kept its grip on roads leading to Beirut's international airport, which has been mostly paralyzed since Wednesday. National carrier Middle East Airlines said all of its flights would be postponed until Saturday and Beirut seaport authority shut down the facility. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday the government had declared of war by declaring the communications network illegal. The fighting intensified after he finished speaking. Hizbullah on Thursday rejected a proposal by Hariri to end the crisis. Nasrallah said the government must rescind its decisions and attend talks aimed at ending the political crisis. The UN Security Council called for "calm and restraint", urging all sides to return to peaceful dialogue. The White House urged Hizbullah to stop "disruptive" acts and France, another firm backer of Hariri, called for a peaceful resolution. Hizbullah, backed by Iran and Syria, has led a 17-month-long political campaign against Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's anti-Syrian cabinet. The group was the only Lebanese faction allowed to keep its weapons after the civil war to fight Israeli forces occupying the south. Israel withdrew in 2000 and the fate of Hizbullah's weapons is at the heart of the political crisis.
Hizbullah Believes way to Tel Aviv Passes Through Beirut
('Iran is responsible for what is happening in Lebanon,' coalition member tells Al-Arabiya TV. Peres: We knew Hizbullah would lead Lebanon to brink of civil war)
May 9….(YNET) Iran is responsible for what is happening in Lebanon. The subject now should be the Iranian attack on Lebanon. They want us to surrender totally without any compensation," Lebanese Sports Minister Ahmed Fatfat said Friday during an interview with the Al-Arabiya television network Friday amid reports that Hizbullah gunmen seized control of large parts of Beirut. "Hizbullah has turned from an opposition party into a militia attempting to impose its control. I think Hizbullah believes that the way to Tel Aviv passes through Beirut," he said. Fatfat said Hizbullah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah had "taken advantage of the government's decision to outlaw the Shiite group's communications network in order to declare war." According to the minister, regardless of whether a "Gaza-like" revolt occurs in Lebanon, "the government will remain legitimate." "We do not want a civil war, and we've decided to confront them politically, not militarily," Fatfat said. "We do not have gunmen like they do." Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres played down Israeli concerns at Hizbullah's move to expand its control in Beirut on Friday but said he hoped the Lebanese people would step back from the brink of civil war. "It's not a total surprise. We knew that Hizbullah is going to divide the country and lead it to the verge of a civil war," Israel's elder statesman told reporters. Knesset Mmeber Silvan Shalom (Likud) said of about the escalating violence in Beirut, "The world must intervene immediately for the good of the moderate people and prevent the Iranian occupation of Lebanon. "An Iranian takeover would create Shiite succession that could threaten the stability of the Middle East and the entire world. The UN Security Council must be convened in order to prevent this irreversible situation," he said. Security sources said at least 11 people had been killed and 30 wounded in three days of battles between pro-government gunmen and fighters loyal to Hizbullah, a Shiite political movement with a powerful guerrilla army. The fighting, the worst internal strife since the 1975-90 civil war, was triggered this week after the government took decisions targeting Hizbullah's military communications network.
Hizbullah chief terrorist Hassan Nasrallah claimed the Lebanese government had declared war by outlawing its telecommunications network, which it called “the most important part of the weapons of the resistance.” The government deemed the independent Hizbullah land lines and private communications system a threat to national security. After a marathon 11-hour meeting that stretched from Monday night into Tuesday morning, the Cabinet also decided to fire airport security chief Brig.-Gen. Wafiq Shoukair for alleged ties to the terrorist group, further enraging Hizbullah. It also said Hizbullah has been flying weapons from Iran on a routine basis. “The decision is tantamount to a declaration of war, on the resistance and its weapons, in the interest of America and Israel,” Nasrallah said, adding that he himself was “not declaring war,” but was “declaring a decision of self-defense. “Those who try to arrest us, we will arrest them. Those who shoot at us, we will shoot at them. The hand raised against us, we will cut it off,” warned Nasrallah in a speech broadcast live on TV Thursday by a videolink hookup from a secret hideout. Nasrallah almost never appears in public due to his fears of assassination by Israeli operatives.
Hizbullah Cut Off Airport, Ties to Outside World
The fighting began Wednesday when Hizbullah supporters blocked Beirut streets on Wednesday with burning barricades, paralyzing the capital. Activists claimed they were enforcing a national strike, forcing a showdown in the ongoing government crisis. Rioters torched vehicles, smashed windows and blocked the main road to Beirut International Airport, the nation’s only air link to the outside world. Most main arteries in and out of the capital were cut off and by the end of the day the border with Syria had been shut down as well.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora was holed up at his office along with several ministers in downtown Beirut, which is heavily protected by troops and police. A Hizbullah protest encampment that has been there for 17 months near his office has not made any move against the complex. "Even if Hizbullah's militia take everything over we remain the constitutional authority," vowed Cabinet member Ahmed Fatfat, who said the prime minister and some ministers were staying at the government compound. "The legitimacy is with the government," he told Al-Arabiya television from the building. Jumblatt, speaking from his residence to LBC television, said he will stay put under the protection of the Lebanese army. He said he was ready for dialogue with the opposition but warned Hizbullah: "no one can take over Beirut unilaterally, No party however militarily powerful can finish off the other one." President Shimon Peres said it was clear that the onsalaught was part of Iran's attempts to take over the Middle East. "It is a tragedy for Lebanese residents," added Peres. "It has no connection whatsoever with Israel. It is internal conflict." "As a human being and as an Israeli I pray that a civil war is avoided," he said, Army Radio reported. Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the crisis unfolding in Lebanon was an internal issue and that Damascus hoped a solution would be found soon. The clashes are the latest turn in a test of wills between the Hizbullah -led opposition and the government of Saniora. The US-backed government has only a slim majority in parliament, and the two sides have been locked in a 17-month power struggle that has kept government at a standstill.
Lebanese Army Chief Betrays Government While Syria Back Hizballah’s Conquest of Beirut
May 9….(DEBKA) At least 11 people were killed Friday, May 9, Day 3 of fierce clashes between Hizballah and pro-government forces, the worst since the 1975-90 civil war. At noon, Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s units entered Beirut to support Hizballah’s advancing occupation of Sunni West Beirut districts. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that Thursday night, army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman refused to obey prime minister Fouad Siniora’s order to declare a state of emergency for the crisis created by Hizballah’s declaration of war against the government. The general warned that if the government enacted an emergency, he would order the troops to return to barracks. The SSNP is a Greek Orthodox arm of Syrian military intelligence. Hizballah and fellow Shiite Amal fighters were thus able to seize control of most of pr-government Sunni West Beirut in clashes that have spread to other parts of the Lebanon while the government was left unprotected. The urban warfare shut down Lebanon's port and all but closed the international airport, with burning barricades on major highways in Beirut. The army has only interfered in extreme situations. Friday, soldiers rescued the anti-Syrian majority leader Saad Hariri and allied Druze leader Walid Jumblatt when their mansions were surrounded and attacked by Shiite forces, but they did not make the assailants move out. The Lebanese army, half of whose members are Shiites, thus permitted Hizballah and Amal clinch their control of the Sunni neighborhoods. The Lebanese army also took over the pro-government Future TV station and newspaper owned by Hariri after they were blown up. The army agreed to keep the station off the air. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the United States, France and Israel are watching passively as Lebanon falls to Iran’s surrogate terrorist group Hizballah. Since the 2006 Lebanon war, prime minister Ehud Olmert has insisted improbably that the conflict had left Hizballah seriously weakened. Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Thursday night that the only way to stop the violence was for the “black gang” ruling the government to withdraw its decisions to close his military telecommunications network and restore Hizballah loyalists to key positions at Beirut international airport.
Hezbollah Stirs up Violence in Beirut
(Hezbollah paralyzes Beirut; seeking to push US influence out of Lebanon)
May 8….(FOJ) Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah accused the US-supported Lebanese government of declaring war on it by targeting its communications network. Hezbollah initiated strikes and fires across the capital city, pushing the country closer to civil war. Iranian-backed Shiite supporters of Hezbollah and Sunnis backing the government clashed in several Beirut neighborhoods with automatic rifles and rocket propelled grenades, security officials and witnesses said. The latest clashes followed a defiant speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in which he said the militant organizations would respond with force to any attacks. It was the second day of clashes that have turned some city neighborhoods into virtual battle fronts. The sectarian confrontations have also spilled over into other parts of the country. There was no immediate word on casualties in the latest Beirut fighting. Hezbollah launched a new street campaign on today, piling pressure on the Siniora government after it declared the network to Iran and Damascus illegal and removed the head of airport security, a figure close to the group, from his post. Supporters of Hezbollah and its allies blocked roads leading to the airport, Lebanon's only air link to the outside world, and other main streets, paralyzing much of the capital. The fiery Nasrallah said, "this decision is a declaration of war and the launching of war by the government against the resistance (Hezbollah terror organization) and its weapons for the benefit of America and Israel." The Iranian sponsored fixed-line network that connects the group's officials, military commanders and positions is a vital part of the military structure of the group, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006. Hezbollah has led a political campaign against Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's anti-Syrian cabinet. The crisis has paralyzed much of the government, left Lebanon with no president for five months and led to bouts of violence and assassinations. Hezbollah was the only Lebanese faction allowed to keep its weapons after the civil war, to fight Israeli forces south of Lebanon. Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon in 2000 and the fate of Hezbollah's weapons is at the heart of the present political crisis. The UN resolution ending the 2006 war supposedly called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, but the UN has turned a blind eye to Hezbollah’s constant military buildup in Lebanon.
Pictures of Israel’s 60th Anniversary (1948)
Bush: Still Hopeful for Mideast Peace Deal
May 8….(Reuters) US President George W. Bush, seeking a Middle East peace legacy that eluded his predecessors, said on Tuesday he is still hopeful an Israeli-Palestinian deal can be reached before he leaves office in January. Bush will encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to move forward when he meets them separately in Israel and Egypt during a May 13-18 trip that includes a visit to Saudi Arabia. Negotiations have bogged down since Bush hosted a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November where both sides pledged to try to reach a peace deal by the end of his term. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after meeting with Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week in Washington, came away disappointed and pessimistic about prospects for a deal this year, according to aides. Bush offered a more optimistic assessment. "I'm still hopeful we'll get an agreement by the end of my presidency," he said at a news conference at the White House. He accused Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, of trying to undermine peace efforts. But he avoided direct criticism of former US President Jimmy Carter, who met the Palestinian group's leadership to try to pull them into peace talks with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Bush made clear he would not have a similar engagement with Hamas, an Islamist group that advocates Israel's destruction and which the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist organization. "They are a significant problem to world peace, or Middle Eastern peace. And that's the reason I'm not talking to them," Bush said. President Bush also accused Syria of helping Hamas and mentioned that Iran was also aiding the group. "So when you want to talk about peace being difficult in the Middle East, it's going to be difficult, but it's even made more difficult by entities like Hamas," he said. Yet, Secretary Rice has urged Israel to make some sacrifices for peace. "Difficult decisions are coming. Difficult decisions will have to be made," Rice told the American Jewish Committee. "Israel can be bold in the pursuit of peace, for America is fully behind her and fully committed to her security." Bush, whose stated goal is the creation of a Palestinian state co-existing peacefully with Israel, said of his talks with Abbas and Olmert that "the attitude is good. People do understand the importance of getting a state defined." President Bush's visit to Israel will be his second this year. His January trip to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank was his first in seven years at the White House, raising skepticism about his commitment to the peace process. As for his stop in Saudi Arabia, Bush is under pressure at home to do something about record-high oil prices that are dragging down the US economy. The White House has said there is no short-term fix to the problem. On his last visit to Saudi Arabia, Bush urged OPEC to boost production because the high price of oil was hurting the economies of its customers, but the oil group ignored the President’s pleas.
Israel Still Fighting the Same Old War
May 8…..(Jewish World Review) In the course of a lengthy essay in The Atlantic, writer Jeffrey Goldberg quotes an encounter he had with a Gazan imam named Ibrahim Mudeiris, who had just delivered a sermon in which he had described the Jews as "the sons of apes and pigs." Mudeiris summed up the current standoff between Israel and the Hamas movement which currently runs Gaza by saying, "It does not matter what the Jews do. We will not let them have peace." He went on to describe the futility with which generations of Israelis have sought to deal with the Palestinians succinctly: "They can be nice to us or they can kill us, it doesn't matter. If we have a cease-fire with the Jews, it is only so that we can prepare ourselves for the final battle." What can the Israelis do when faced with such intransigence?
War was inevitable, not because the Zionists were imperfect or wanted of a larger Jewish state than the truncated province offered them in the various partition plans, but because the Arabs never once considered making peace with the Jews on any terms. The 1948 war, from the Arabs' perspective, was a war of religion as much as, if not more than a nationalist war over territory. Put another way, the territory was sacred in its violation by infidels [Jews] was sufficient grounds for launching a holy war and its conquest or reconquest, a divinely ordained necessity. The evidence is abundant and clear that many, if not most, in the Arab world viewed the war against Israel as essentially as a holy war."
As for the tragedy of Palestinian refugees, the refugee problem was created by the war, which the Arabs launched. And lest we forget, there were two sets of refugees created by the war against Israel as nearly as many Jews were forced to flee from Arab countries as Arabs who fled from Israel.
Sixty years after winning a brutal war in which there was plenty of nastiness on both sides, the problem for Israel remains the same. Despite Israel's willingness to make peace and share the land, the Arabs are still refusing to do so under any circumstances. Thus the 1948 war, and its later campaigns has haunted, and still haunts, the Arab world on the deepest levels of the collective identity, ego and pride. The war was a humiliation from which their world has yet to recover. The "jihadi impulse" is, more than ever, the dominant motive in Islamic life and nothing the Israelis can do or say will change that. All they can do is what they did in 1948, win and survive, and hope that their enemies will eventually have a change of heart. But the challenge from Iran and its terrorist allies leaves the whole world threatened by the whole conflict.
Replacement Obama Pastor Just As Controversial As Wright
May 8….(Newsmax) While Barack Obama has finally distanced himself from Rev. Jeremiah Wright after a 20-year relationship, the pastor who is replacing Wright at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ is likely to be just as controversial. New Trinity pastor Otis Moss has called Biblical patriarch Abraham a “pimp” and made other statements many would consider offensive. After Obama called Wright’s comments “divisive and destructive,” a questioner noted that Rev. Moss has defended Wright and asked if Obama would continue attending the church. “Well, the new pastor, the young pastor, Reverend Otis Moss, is a wonderful young pastor,” Obama responded. “And as I said, I still very much value the Trinity community.” Moss, the 37-year-old “hip-hop pastor,” as he’s called by congregants, will become head of Trinity in June, after serving as an assistant pastor there for two years. But a videotape of a sermon he delivered at Wright’s church shows this “wonderful young pastor” referring to “ghetto prophets” and “thug theology,” calling the late rapper Tupac Shakur a “prophet,” and reciting at length lyrics to Shakur’s song “Thugz Mansion.” In his Easter sermon, Moss said Wright was “lynched” by the international media, and compared Wright to Jesus.
Syria: Peace Negotiations With Israel Only After Bush Era
(As Turkey works to hold meeting between Israeli, Syrian officials, source in Damascus tells Egyptian newspaper there is no chance for such a session, as real talks can only begin under new US administration)
May 8….(YNET) Turkey is interested in getting senior Israeli and Syrian officials to sign a joint declaration in an upcoming meeting, which may take place in Istanbul, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported Thursday. This declaration is mean to be the first result of the secret mediation, but it appears that it is too early to be optimistic. A Syrian source has told the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram that the negotiations can only move forward when after the Bush administration era. Turkey postponed the meeting after Damascus declared that Israel had agreed to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights. Meanwhile, Ankara continues to insist that the talks, which have been going on for about a year now, be kept in the dark. The sources told al-Hayat that the Turkish officials believe secrecy is the main reason for the talks' success and for the creation of trust between the parties. This is why Turkish officials refrain from discussing the issue and addressing suspicions regarding Turkey's intentions. The sources refused to commit that Syria would cut its ties with Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran should a peace agreement be signed, but estimated that a peace process between Israel and Syria would have to take place in addition to a process between Israel and Lebanon. A Syrian source told al-Ahram that he did not see a real opportunity to hold a meeting between Israeli and Syrian officials, due to the fact that the Bush administration still controls Washington. The source said that real negotiations between the two countries could only begin next year under a new US administration.
Bush Extends Syria Sanctions
(US president announces decision to continue for one year freeze on Syrian assets, ban on export of certain goods to Damascus, following Washington's charge that country had been building nuclear reactor with North Korea's help)
May 8….(YNET) US President George W. Bush said Wednesday he was extending US sanctions against Syria following Washington's charge that Damascus had been building a nuclear reactor with North Korea's help. Bush announced his decision to continue for one year a freeze on Syrian assets and the ban on the export of certain goods to Syria in an executive order and a message to the US Congress. "I took these actions to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions of the Government of Syria," Bush said in the order. He accused Syria of "supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs including the recent revelation of illicit nuclear cooperation with North Korea." The US president also said Syria was "undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq." Bush initially slapped sanctions on Syria in May 2004, then extended them in April 2006 and widened them in February to target officials engaged in "public corruption," amid charges Damascus was destabilizing Iraq and Lebanon. Last month, US national security officials presented intelligence they said showed Syria had been building a secret nuclear reactor for military ends.
Lebanon Slides Towards new Civil Conflict
May 8….(DEBKA) Pro-Western Siniora government and Iran-Syria-backed Hizballah forces exchanged fire in the streets of Beirut Wednesday, May 7. DEBKAfile’s sources report both have ordered a general call-up of their adherents. Hizballah fighters clad in national army and police uniforms are infiltrating government party strongholds in the capital to seize control. In the north and the western Beqaa Valley region of Kharoub, government forces are mobilizing. First units have been sighted heading for Beirut. During the day, Hizballah blocked the roads leading to the airport and vowed to keep it under siege until the Siniora government goes back on the decision announced Tuesday, May 6, to shut down the private telecommunications network Iran installed for the group and reinstate the pro-Hizballah airport director Gen. Wafiq Shuqeir. To pile up anti-government pressure, Hizballah called labor unions out on strike. General Shuqeir was removed after Druze Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt accused Hizballah of installing spy cameras at the airport to monitor the movements of Lebanese and foreign leaders. Jumblatt said incoming flights were bringing the Shiite militia supplies of weapons from Iran. On August 9, 2007, DEBKAfile first revealed that Iranian military engineers were installing a secret underground telecommunications system to support Hizballah’s missile unit. The network runs through south Beirut, the Beqaa Valley’s Yohmor region near the Syrian border, where Hizballah and the Palestinian Popular Front-GC keep their training facilities, and connect the southern towns of Tyre on the Mediterranean with Abassieh, seat of Hizballah’s southern headquarters. For the ten months during which this military telecommunications network was being installed, the Beirut government did not dare touch it. Prime minister Fouad Siniora finally decided enough was enough when satellite images provided by Western agencies showed work on connecting Hizballah’s network with the communications and eavesdropping systems set up by the Syrian army along the Lebanese border. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the two networks and their linkage are part of military preparations by Iran, Syria and Hizballah for a possible new war with Israel.
Condi, George Marshall and Israel
May 8….(Washington Times) Sixty years ago this month, the state of Israel was founded, a nation born with a knife at its throat. Within hours of the United Nations General Assembly's decision to partition British-ruled Palestine into two independent states, one majority Jewish, the other Arab, Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, whereupon seven Arab armies invaded in an unsuccessful attempt to wipe it off the map. It's unpleasant to talk about, but one parallel between May 1948 and May 2008 needs a more open public discussion as President Bush prepares to visit Israel next week to commemorate Israel's birthday: When it comes to legitimate Israeli security concerns, the State Department still seems clueless 60 years later. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in a very weak position domestically; Israel is rife with rumors of his impending political demise as a result of myriad corruption investigations. Yet rather than let the Israeli electorate deal with a potential government crisis, it appears that President Bush and Secretary Rice have decided to ramp up the pressure on Israel to make life-and-death concessions to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a man whose serial incompetence got him run out of Gaza by Hamas, and whose own security record is shaky at best. Miss Rice and other US diplomats pronounce themselves dissatisfied over the pace at which Israel has been taking down anti-terror security roadblocks in the West Bank, and the secretary is dispatching observers to various West Bank locations in order to satisfy herself that Israel is jettisoning them quickly enough. While reducing limitations on Palestinian freedom of movement is a commendable goal, it needs to be balanced against the real danger that doing this could make it easier for terrorists to come and go without detection. These checkpoints are part of a layered system of security that has enabled Israel to dramatically reduce the number of suicide attacks directed at its civilian population, Arab and Jewish, in places like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa during the past five years. But from conversations we've had with State Department officials, the real-world security implications seem to be overlooked in the Bush administration's bid to obtain a "peacemaking" legacy for itself. Sixty years ago this month, Secretary of State George Marshall was mucking up Middle East policy in his own way. On May 12, 13 and 14, 1948, for example, Gen. Marshall and aides waged a last-gasp bureaucratic battle behind the scenes in an unsuccessful effort to dissuade President Truman from recognizing the coming state of Israel. (Fortunately, President Truman immediately recognized Israel) Fast forward to today, and Miss Rice (this time with presidential approval) seems determined to pound a weak Israeli government into a series of untenable security concessions.
Israel: Iran Could Have Nukes This Year
May 7….(Jerusalem Post) With Iran racing forward with its nuclear program, Israel now believes the Islamic Republic will master centrifuge technology and be able to begin enriching uranium on a military scale this year, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The new assessment moves up Israel's forecasts on Teheran's nuclear program by almost a full year, from 2009 to the end of 2008. According to the new timeline, Iran could have a nuclear weapon by the middle of next year. Iran, a senior defense official said on Tuesday, had encountered numerous technical obstacles on its way to enriching uranium but was now on track to master the technology needed to enrich uranium within six months. Israel is also concerned that Teheran is developing a cruise missile that can evade interception by the Arrow, the IDF's anti-ballistic missile defense system. Iran is suspected of having smuggled Ukrainian X-55 cruise missiles and using them as models for an independent, domestic project. A cruise missile, which flies at low altitudes to dodge radar detection and interception, could be used to carry a nuclear warhead. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that Israel had the ability to create the tools needed to ensure its continued existence. Hinting at Iran, Olmert said that nothing in the world could undermine or bring an end to Israel's existence. In a speech yesterday, Olmert said, "I am asking that you take this with you and tell it to your communities everywhere, the people of Israel are strong, the State of Israel is strong, there is no enemy that can destroy us." "We will not place ourselves in a position where anyone will, in an effective manner, threaten us with destruction, because if there was one thing that has changed since the establishment of the State of Israel 60 years ago until today, it is not that here the Jews are safe in every situation, in every condition and that there will not be any dangers," Olmert said. Last week, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said during a visit to the US that Teheran would likely achieve control of the technology to enrich uranium for an atomic bomb within a year. In the past, the consensus in the intelligence community was that Iran had encountered technical difficulties with fuel enrichment and that its attainment of nuclear capability was much further off, Mofaz said, but a recent IDF Military Intelligence assessment showed that the Islamic Republic could go nuclear before the end of the decade. Also Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned that more nations would follow the examples of Iran and North Korea and work to develop nuclear weapons. He said that the possibility that Syria was building a weapons-capable nuclear reactor before the IAF destroyed it on September 6 showed that NATO must find an answer to ballistic missile threats. "The nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea threaten to set in motion a domino effect that will be difficult to contain," de Hoop Scheffer said in a speech at a missile defense conference at the Czech Foreign Ministry. "If there is a serious suspicion that in Syria there was a facility in the making, it only increases the arguments for finding a collective answer to a ballistic missile defense threat," the NATO chief said. CIA Director Michael Hayden said last month that the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor would have produced enough plutonium for one or two bombs within a year of becoming operational. "The proliferation of ballistic missiles is a reality that concerns us all."
Israel at 60: Population Nears 7.3 Million, 76% Jewish
May 7….(Ha Aretz) Israel's population totaled 7.282 million on the eve of its 60th anniversary, including 156,400 babies who were born over the last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday. That is more than nine times the 806,000 people who lived here when the state was established in 1948. Since last Independence Day, the population has grown by 1.8 percent, including both births and some 18,000 new immigrants. Just over three quarters of all Israelis 5.5 million people are Jews, while 20 percent (1.5 million) are Arabs. Of the Jews, 69 percent were born here, compared to only 35 percent in 1948.
US Unlinks Islam From Terrorism
May 7….(Washington Times) US officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedeen, which "unintentionally legitimize" terrorism. "There' s a growing consensus [in the Bush administration] that we need to move away from that language," said a former senior administration official who was involved until recently in policy debates on the issue. Instead, in two documents circulated last month by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the multiagency center charged with strategic coordination of the US war on terror, officials are urged to use terms such as violent extremists, totalitarian and death cult to characterize al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. "Avoid labeling everything 'Muslim.' It reinforces the 'US vs. Islam' framework that al Qaeda promotes," according to "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counter-Terrorism Communication," produced last month by the center. "You have a large percentage of the world's population that subscribes to this religion," the former official said. "Unintentionally alienating them is not a judicious move." Daniel Sutherland, who runs the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, insisted that the avoidance of the term Islam in conjunction with terrorism "is in no way an exercise in political correctness. We are not watering down what we say." "There are some terms which al Qaeda wants us to use because they are helpful to them," he said. The "Words That Work" guide notes, "Although the al Qaeda network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal." Instead of calling terrorist groups Muslim or Islamic, the guide suggests using words like totalitarian, terrorist or violent extremist, "widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy." By employing the language the extremists use about themselves, the guide says, officials can inadvertently help legitimize them in the eyes of Muslims. "Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' to describe the terrorists," the guide says. "A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war. In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
Russia's New President Immediately Names Putin as PM
May 7….(Breitbart) Russia's new president Dmitry Medvedev wasted no time in knuckling down to work--naming his predecessor Vladimir Putin as his new prime minister two hours after he was sworn in Wednesday, agencies report. Medvedev took the oath of office in the Kremlin's golden-hued Andreyevsky Hall, bringing to an end Vladimir Putin's eight years as president. But Putin is sure to continue to wield huge influence in the country. Medvedev, 42, was inaugurated as president at the Kremlin before 2,300 invited guests in an elaborate ceremony with marching soldiers and military music. He became the third Russian president since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Associated Press reported that one of his first acts as President was nominating his predecessor Vladimir Putin as prime minister. The announcement came about two hours after Medvedev took the oath of office on Wednesday, AP reported. The inauguration ceremony marked a dramatic transition of power in Russia, but there are questions about how much power Medvedev will actually have.Putin, who served two consecutive four-year terms, will stay close by his protege. He became chairman of the ruling United Russia party last month. Putin featured during Wednesday's ceremony almost as much as the new president. He delivered the first speech and stood just behind Medvedev when he was sworn in. Medvedev was formerly a first deputy prime minister and chairman of the state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom,
John Bolton: US Should Bomb Iranian Terror Camps
(John Bolton, America’s ex-ambassador to the United Nations, has called for US air strikes on Iranian camps where insurgents are trained for war in Iraq)
May 7….(Telegraph) Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton said that striking Iran would represent a major step towards victory in Iraq. While he acknowledged that the risk of a hostile Iranian response harming American’s overseas interests existed, he said the damage inflicted by Tehran would be “far higher” if Washington took no action. “This is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we’re not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do,” he said. “Then the ball would be in Iran’s court to draw the appropriate lesson to stop harming our troops.” Mr. Bolton, an influential former member of President George W Bush’s inner circle, dismissed as “dead wrong” reported British intelligence conclusions that the US military had overstated the support that Iran was providing to Iraqi fighters. A US military spokesman revealed last week that the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had drafted in personnel from Lebanon’s Hizbollah to train fighters from Iraq’s Shia militias. Colonel Donald Bacon, a spokesman for the coalition in Baghdad, said captured fighters had told interrogators that thousands of Iraqi fighters were undergoing training in the Islamic Republic. The main camp is located near the town of Jalil Azad, near Tehran, according to coalition officials. The capture of Qais Khazali, a major figure in the Shia insurgency alongside Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hizbollah guerilla, last year yielded a treasure trove of information on Hizbollah’s activities in Iraq. “Ali Mussa Daqduq confirmed Lebanese Hizbollah were providing training to Iraqi Special Group members in Iran and that his role was to assess the quality of training and make recommendations on how the training could be improved,” said Col Bacon. “In this role, he traveled to Iraq on four occasions and was captured on his fourth trip.” Five Britons kidnapped in Iraq are believed to have been put under the control of Quds Force agents after failed attempts to barter the men for Khazali and Daqduq’s freedom. The importance of the Quds Force to stability in Iraq was demonstrated last week when a five-member Iraqi delegation was sent to Tehran to meet with its commander, General Ghassem Soleimani. The delegation was dispatched by the Iraqi government to plead for an end to Iranian meddling in its enfeebled neighbor.
An Early Israeli General Election is Becoming Likely
May 7….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s political sources report that circles closest to Ehud Olmert, prime minister and leader of the Kadima party see little hope of him surviving the political fallout from the new, as-yet unpublished police investigation against him. Tuesday, May 6, is seen as marking the critical point in the inquiry, after which the police and general prosecution will move quickly to draw up an indictment. Whether or not Olmert escapes conviction at the end of the road, his position as prime minister is becoming untenable ahead of the legal battle to clear is name. Our sources do not credit the reports that Monday, May 5, visiting US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice leaned hard on Olmert to mark President George W. Bush’s May 14 visit with a declaration defining the final frontiers of a Palestinian state acceptable to Israel. They say Rice is fully aware he is in no state for radical decisions that would finalize Israel’s state borders as well. Israel’s parties have begun looking ahead to an autumn 2008 general election. A vacuum is beginning to form in the conduct of Israel’s most pressing security and other matters because of the prime minister’s shrinking authority. Foreign minister Tzipi Livni as acting prime minister would step into Olmert’s shoes to head a caretaker government until elections, if he stepped down or was otherwise barred from carrying out his duties. In prospective Kadima primaries, transport minister Shaul Mofaz and others would challenge her for the party leadership. Labor leader, defense minister Ehud Barak, is believed to be exploring a pact with Livni to form a new party bloc to fight Likud. New party factions may spring up. There are no clear answers as yet on the manner of Olmert’s departure or its short-term impact on the shape of the government coalition.
Reports: Livni Getting Set to Replace Olmert
May 7….(Arutz) Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is making preparations for replacing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert if and when the latest bribery scandal forces him to resign, political analysts reported. "The main scenario discussed yesterday in the political corridors, assuming Olmert does indeed leave or is made to leave, is that the Foreign Minister will replace him, in her capacity as Acting Prime Minister." While the Kadima party's regulations determine that a new party chairman must be chosen in primaries, Livni may circumvent the regulation by arguing time is pressing and stability is of cardinal importance. Livni has offered no public backing for the Prime Minister in his time of trouble. According to the report, she is already making "careful and delicate" contact with the Kadima party's Knesset faction members in an attempt to secure their backing. "If Olmert is forced to leave the Prime Minister's Bureau, all eyes will turn to one man: Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak," wrote an analyst for Ynet. "If this scenario turns into reality, the Labor Chairman will have to reach a dramatic decision, which will lead to early elections," he estimated. "A Prime Minister's resignation will rock the political system, and Labor members are convinced that Barak will have to ride this shock wave in order to strengthen his status and his party, even if Likud turns out to be the big winner." She is already making "careful and delicate" contact with Kadima's Knesset faction members in an attempt to secure their backing. Other analysts believe that Ehud Barak will not rush to elections, since they will likely lead to a Likud Party victory. According to some analysis, if Olmert resigns, Kadima's most senior members will back Livni as the "natural successor" at first. Things will then depend on Barak again: he may want to cut short her term in office in order to prevent her from consolidating her status as a leader, or he may reach the conclusion that she does not pose a threat either way. Another option which Barak may be mulling is a merger between Labor and Kadima. Some in the Left believe that such a merger would give them a better chance to defeat the Right. Kadima's second major coalition partner, the Sephardic hareidi-religious Shas party, may also accept Livni. Livni's confidantes reportedly began wooing Shas, which opposes concessions to the Arabs in Jerusalem, by hinting Tuesday that Livni is not pleased with the way Olmert is handling the negotiations with the PA Arabs. The Foreign Minister's confidantes reportedly said that "red lines have been crossed" in the negotiations with Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, "especially with regard to the question of refugees."
Gaza PA TV Show Educates Kids to Conquer Tel Aviv
May 6….(IsraelNN.com) A Palestinian Authority television program produced by Hamas, the ruling regime in Gaza, encourages Arab Muslim children to strive for the conquest of Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ashdod. The puppet characters in the program, two birds named Kuku and Fufu, refer to all the Israeli cities as "settlements" and repeatedly say that they "will return to our land." In order to "defeat the enemies of Allah," the show tells kids, Kuku replies, "We will return to our land when we unite, when we adhere to our faith and to the Koran."Arab Muslims must unite and adhere to the Koran. The TV show was broadcast on the Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV on May 2, 2008, as part of a discussion of Israel's upcoming 60th Independence Day, which the Arabs have dubbed Al-Nakba, "the Disaster." The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) provided translated excerpts of the program. Tearfully, the Kuku character tells his companion: "We will persevere, Allah willing, and we will return to our land, Allah willing. We will return to Jaffa, Akko [Acre], Lod, Ramle and Ashdod. We will return to all these cities, Allah willing." Fufu: "Kuku, where are you from?" Kuku: "I am from Tel Al-Rabi'a, which they have named Tel Aviv. Allah is our support. I say that we must return to our homes, and to our lands, God willing." Later in the show, Kuku declares that Arabs will eventually flood back into Israel from "Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, and America." They "will come to their country with their heads held high." Clearly promoting to PA children the jihadist line espoused by Islamic fundamentalists, Kuku says, "These years have made it clear to us that we must return to our lands, Allah willing, and that we must defeat the enemies of Allah." When Fufu asks when the Arabs will "return," Kuku replies, "We will return to our land when we unite, when we adhere to our faith and to the Koran." Significantly, Fatah-controlled PA television periodically promotes the exact identical message as Hamas regarding the claimed Arab identity of cities in pre- and post-1967 Israel, as well as their eventual "liberation" from the Jews by force of PA arms. One distinction between the two is the Fatah willingness to mention Christian Arabs as equals in the war against Israel and avoiding some of the Islamic supremacist rhetoric favored by Hamas.
US: Hezbollah Training Iraqi Shiite Extremists in Iran
May 6….(AP) Iraqi Shiite extremists are being trained by members of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in camps near Tehran, a US military spokesman said Monday. Iraqis are receiving the training at camps operated by the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps that has been accused of training and funneling weapons to Shiite extremists in Iraq, Air Force Col. Donald Bacon, a US military spokesman in Baghdad, told The Associated Press. "We have multiple detainees who state Lebanese Hezbollah are providing training to Iraqis in Iranian IRGC-QF training camps near Tehran," Bacon said. The Quds Force is also known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force, or IRGC-QF. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. The Quds Force is believed to operate overseas, helping to create the militant Shiite Hezbollah group in 1982 in Lebanon and to arm Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan wars. The first reports of Hezbollah training of Shiite extremists emerged in March 2007, when US forces captured Qais Khazali, the senior Special Groups leader for Iraq, and Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah commander captured along with him. The arrests took place in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. "Ali Mussa Daqduq confirmed Lebanese Hezbollah were providing training to Iraqi Special Group members in Iran and that his role was to assess the quality of training and make recommendations on how the training could be improved," Bacon told The AP in an e-mail. Since then, Bacon said, "we have captured other Iraqis who have discussed their training in Iran and who state many of their instructors were Lebanese Hezbollah." The US has accused Iran of supporting Shiite militias in Iraq. But Iran, which is predominantly Shiite like Iraq, has blamed violence in the war-torn country on the US presence. US and Iraqi forces have for the past six weeks battled Shiite extremists in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra. Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting against the so-called "special groups" that have broken away from anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
Iran said Monday it would not hold a new round of talks with the US on security in Iraq until American forces end their assault against Shiite militias.
Troubling Turnaround at Olmert-Abbas Meeting
May 6….(Stan Goodenough) After initial reports indicated a negative outcome, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PLO chief terrorist Mahmoud Abbas reportedly held an unexpectedly successful meeting in Jerusalem Monday morning, with officials saying they had suddenly made "considerable progress." Maps depicting the areas of Israel's historic lands being demanded by the Palestinian Arabs for their state were brought to the meeting, which was held at Olmert's official residence shortly after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended a two-day visit to the land. According to The Jerusalem Post, after "warmly" embracing Abbas, a man responsible for the deaths and wounding of untold numbers of Israeli Jews, Olmert told him Israel now realized the need to make "tangible" changes in Samaria and Judea because it was necessary that the months of peace talks be accompanied by actions on the ground. Abbas' aides said earlier the PA chairman was contemplating resigning within a few months unless noticeable progress was made towards the creation of "Palestine." Palestine is the name intended for the Arab state the international community is working to establish in the biblical heartland of the Jewish people. Ha'aretz reported that a senior Israeli official had told Army Radio that during the meeting, Olmert and Abbas made "significant progress on the borders issue," the issue of where the borders of the new "Palestine" would lie in relation to what would be left of Israel. Abbas' authority is also being challenged by Hamas, which violently wrested control of Gaza from the PLO last year and is spreading its influence across Samaria and Judea. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said "these were the most serious talks the sides have ever conducted," according to Ynetnews. Commentators wondered whether Olmert was trying to bolster Abbas in the face of the opposition against him, or whether the Israeli leader had perhaps been spurred to make sudden concessions because his own position is threatened in a new police investigation.
Iran Rejects Nuclear Inspections Unless Israel Allows Them Too
May 6….(AP) An Iranian envoy said Monday his government will not submit to extensive nuclear inspections while Israel stays outside the global treaty to curb the spread of atomic weapons. "The existing double standard shall not be tolerated anymore by non- nuclear-weapon states," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told a meeting of the 190 countries that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Nuclear safeguards are far from universal, he said, adding that more than 30 countries are still without a comprehensive safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure full cooperation with that UN body. "Israel, with huge nuclear weapons activities, has not concluded" such an agreement or submitted its facilities to the IAEA's safeguards, Soltanieh said. Israel, which does not discuss whether it has atomic weapons, did not sign the nonproliferation treaty, which requires all signatories except the major powers to refrain from obtaining nuclear arms. India and Pakistan, which have developed nuclear weapons, also are not signatories. Iran did sign the treaty and is under UN Security Council sanctions meant to pressure the Tehran government into allowing inspections that will ensure it isn't developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its atomic program is peaceful, with the sole goal of using reactors to generate electricity. A US envoy accused Iran of "provocative and destabilizing activities" and said its leaders were responsible for leading the country into the sanctions imposed by the Security Council. "The path of defiance is also the path of isolation, of continuing and additional sanctions and of further stunted economic opportunities for a proud and sophisticated people already suffering from economic turmoil and mismanagement by its regime's leaders," said Christopher A. Ford, US special representative for nuclear nonproliferation. Ford said Iran joined North Korea and Syria in weakening the nonproliferation treaty. "This treaty regime faces today the most serious tests it has ever faced: the ongoing nuclear weapons proliferation challenges presented by Iran, by North Korea and now by Syria," Ford said. Ford cited US intelligence that North Korea was helping Syria in "secretly constructing a nuclear reactor that we believe was not intended for peaceful purposes." Syria denied last week that it was working on an undeclared reactor, which purportedly was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike last September. Soltanieh said nuclear-armed powers like the United States, Britain and France are practicing "nuclear apartheid" by denying or restricting peaceful atomic technology to countries like Iran.
Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Dying of Cancer
May 5….(DEBKA) Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, America’s staunchest ally in the royal house, Minister of Defense and head of the Sudairi branch of princes, is dying of cancer at his villa in Geneva, Switzerland. His brother, interior minister Prince Nayef, is standing by in Riyadh expecting to succeed him. And he will not have too long to wait before he reaches the throne. King Abdullah, at 85, is praised by Western analysts for the wise reforms he has introduced but some of the younger princes say he is no longer up to coping with the stresses and strains of his royal duties and most days he takes several hours off to rest. Prince Nayef, the would-be king, who is roughly 75 years of age, a mere spring chicken on the Saudi royal geriatric scale, has managed to push his way to the front of the race for the throne despite his unpopularity. A scion of the Sudairi branch of the royal family, he is disliked for his bad temper, cantankerousness, hidebound opinions and close ties with the most extremist clerical circles. Aged 83, Sultan contracted cancer many years ago. In late March, he moved to his palace in Rabat, Morrocco, where Saturday, April 26, his condition took a turn for the worse. A special royal aircraft flew the Crown Prince to Geneva, Switzerland and handed him into the care of his regular Swiss doctors. There was nothing they could do at that point except place him in an induced coma to spare him pain.
Rice to Israel: Tear Down That (Anti-terror) Wall
May 5….(WND) In meetings here today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israeli officials to remove more antiterror roadblocks from the West Bank. Upon Rice's previous visit to the region last month, she reportedly urged the removal of specific West Bank roadblocks. Within hours of the elimination of one of the barriers, a knife-wielding Palestinian attempted to attack two Jews near the area from which the roadblock had been removed. Israeli lawmakers then charged Rice's demands were responsible for that attempted attack. "Let's get to work," Rice was quoted as saying as she sat down with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to discuss the issue. When she was here in March, Rice asked Israel to remove 61 barriers and roadblocks, but a UN survey released last week stated only 44 had actually been taken away. "The first thing we are going to do is to review the ones that were supposedly moved," Rice said in a briefing with reporters. Not all roadblocks are created equal," Rice said. Israeli defense officials strongly opposed roadblock removals, saying the obstacles impede the mobility of terrorists. Palestinians complain checkpoints and roadblocks make it more difficult for them to travel throughout the West Bank. The majority of West Bank checkpoints and roadblocks were established in the 1990s following repeated terrorist attacks from the territory. The barriers have been directly credited with halting scores of attacks. The roadblock removals were specifically called for by Rice in a series April of meetings with Israeli leaders. At a news conference, Rice said the US expected the roadblocks would be withdrawn "very, very soon" and stated American diplomat William Fraser would oversee the removals. Fraser was deployed to the region to monitor implementation of agreements pledged by Israel and the PA during last November's US-sponsored Annapolis summit, which seeks to create a Palestinian state before the end of the year. "Fraser will ensure that 50 roadblocks will be removed and that this will actually have an effect on the freedom of movement in the West Bank," Rice said in Jerusalem. "The Israeli Ministry of Defense had identified the roadblocks that will be removed, but we will ensure that they carry it out," she added. Rice announced the US "wants to monitor and ensure that their removal will begin. This is a very specific commitment on the part of Israel." She said that while in the past the US did not micromanage the implementation of Israeli and Palestinian commitments, "this time we want to be a lot more systematic concerning the territories and what is being carried out on the ground." Aside from overseeing the roadblock removal, defense sources said Rice urged the Israeli government to reopen major crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The crossings were closed after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip last year and in response to what Israel said were a high number of warnings about terrorist attacks at the border. Terrorists in the Gaza Strip regularly have been firing rockets from the territory aimed at nearby Jewish communities. In a news conference with Abbas, Rice also proclaimed a Palestinian state by the end of the year is still possible. "We continue to believe it is an achievable goal to have an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis by the end of the year," she said. The latest roadblock controversy is not the first time defense officials here have been frustrated with security deals brokered by Rice. In November 2005, Rice brokered an agreement in which Israel transferred all security control at the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the PA and outside countries. Israeli security officials labeled the deal an "abject failure" threatening the Jewish state's national security.