Thursday, April 16, 2015

From Ian:

PMW: Fatah: Violence and terror is Fatah’s way
A recent post by Fatah on Facebook made it clear that fighting Israel militarily with weapons is still a central Fatah policy. A photo of Fatah members in military uniforms armed with automatic weapons, with the Palestinian flag in the background, featured the following text:
“My enemy, I swear you will not escape the people and the revolution”
[Facebook, "Fatah - The Main Page," April 11, 2015]

The message that violence and terror is legitimate was also highlighted in a video posted on Fatah's Facebook page, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the launching of Fatah. The video commemorated five suicide bombings and a shooting attack against Israeli civilians, in which a total of 55 people were murdered. The video also honored suicide bombers and showed scenes from attacks blended with footage of Fatah terrorists firing rockets
Fatah glorifies terrorists and suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis


Iran "Deal": West's Surrender Triggering War
Not only have Western leaders given the Iranian regime the opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons; they have let Iran initiate and sanctify a nuclear arms race to destabilize an already volatile region. They have also given Iran the opportunity to get billions of dollars to accelerate its nuclear weapons programs – and they are negotiating to lift all sanctions either early or late so that Iran can get still more.
They also allowed Iran to keep four American hostages: Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Robert Levinson, who has not been heard from for years and may be dead. The State Department has said that "their freedom should not be linked to negotiations," so their release was not even discussed. Their immediate release was the first matter that should have been discussed.
What Western leaders have deliberately ignored is the nature of the Iranian regime: Totalitarian regimes never abide by the agreements they sign. Islamists often refer to Muhammad's treaty of Hudaybiyyah. In 628, Muhammad agreed to a 10-year truce with the Quraysh tribe of Mecca. Two years later, when Muslim forces had gathered strength, Muhammad broke the treaty and marched into Mecca. Since then, in Islam, no treaty can be made for more than ten years, and even then, it is not a treaty, it is a truce -- to be broken again if Islam's side is strong.
At Memorial, Netanyahu Says Iran Nuke Deal Shows that Lesson of Holocaust Not Learned
Speaking at a ceremony commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a speech delivered Wednesday evening at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum that the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran showed that the West had not learned the lessons of the Holocaust, Ynet reported:
The Israeli prime minister used the opportunity to remind those watching of the role of democracies in stopping tyrannical regimes. “Leaders of the enlightened countries understood that it was a window of opportunity to establish a new world order based on protecting freedom, eradicating evil, and opposing tyranny. In a loud and clear voice, they pronounced the central lesson of the Second World War for democracies – we must not turn a blind eye to the expansionist intentions of tyrannical regimes. Appeasement of such regimes increases their propensity for aggression, and if this aggression is not curbed in time, humanity could endure much more difficult wars.”
“Many in the world declare that the lessons learned are also valid today. They declare ‘never again’. But as long as these words are not heeded in practice, they are meaningless,” said the prime minister. “I wish I could stand here and tell you the world truly learned from this incomprehensible tragedy. Just as the Nazis hoped to crush a civilization, so Iran strives to take over the region and from there spread onwards, with the stated intention of destroying the Jewish state.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also appeared to refer to Iran in his speech at Yad Vashem.
“We will not belittle any threats. Nor belittle shameful statements calling for the extinction of the Jewish people. Yet, while we are prepared, we are not scared.”



'F-35 designed to deal with threats like S-300,' Lockheed Martin official in Israel says
The F-35 fighter jet is designed to counter advanced threats just like the one posed by the Russian-made S-300 surface to air missile system, a senior Lockheed Martin executive who is visiting Israel said on Wednesday.
Lockheed’s fifth generation F-35 multi-role plane will begin arriving in Israel at the end of next year.
Steve Over, director of the F-35 International Business Development, spoke to journalists a day after Russia announced that it was lifting a ban on the sale of the air defense system to Iran.
Countries like Russia and China “have the capacity to sell advanced air defenses and planes, and will sell to any nation with the money to buy them,” Over said.
The F-35, he added, “has the capacity” to deal with advanced surface and airborne threats, as well as being able to deal with ground insurgencies.
Khamenei Redefines Iran’s Red Lines for Nuclear Talks
Khamenei’s clarification that “nothing has been signed yet” poured cold water on the joy displayed in some sectors in Iran. It also implied criticism of the negotiating team and the president, who praised the Iranian achievements before any signing of a final agreement. Khamenei’s remarks were intended to apprise the negotiating team of Iran’s new red lines for the subsequent negotiations and to counter the public-relations campaign of President Obama, who portrayed the West’s achievements both to Middle Eastern public opinion and in the United States itself.
Apparently the statement “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” will continue to characterize the upcoming, more difficult stages of the talks. These will include precisely those sensitive matters that, according to Khamenei in his response to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), must be included on the negotiating table. Whereas Iran’s opening positions are rigid, the West, in the latest talks, has already shown how far it is willing to go for a signature on an agreement.
The window of time remaining before the June 30, 2015 date set for reaching a final agreement, which may also be extended, will see both open and covert struggles in both capitals – Tehran and Washington – and between the West and Iran as well. Iran will keep hewing to Khamenei’s new red lines concerning the final results of the agreement and its implications for Iran.
Following Iran Nuke Deal Vote, Rouhani Doubles Down on Demand for Sanctions Relief
A day after a Senate committee unanimously approved a bill mandating congressional review of any nuclear deal with Iran before sanctions can be lifted, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a crowd that “if there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,” Reuters reported today.
“If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,” Rouhani said in a televised speech in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, echoing remarks made last week by Iran’s most powerful authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran,” said Rouhani, who is widely viewed as a pragmatist.

Rouhani’s comments were apparently in response to the unanimous support the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 received yesterday from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In a stunning reversal of his longstanding opposition to the bill, the White House announced that President Barack Obama would likely sign the bill. It is thought that the president reversed himself when it was clear that the bill would enjoy veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress.
Iran’s parliament calls for shorter deal, fewer limitations
The Iranian parliament on Wednesday published a revised version of the “fact sheet” agreed upon as part of the framework nuclear deal reached in Lausanne, Switzerland earlier this month. The document, which is likely to prove of little significance unless endorsed by Iran’s leadership, detailed what legislators asserted were required changes to the framework deal, as Tehran and six world powers push forward in negotiations on a final agreement.
According to the semi-official Fars news agency, members of parliament called for the deal to be limited to five years only — down from 10 and, in some clauses, 15 years stipulated by the unsigned Lausanne framework.
After the five-year period ends, lawmakers demanded, Iran should be allowed to replace all of its current centrifuges with the latest, more efficient generation, without limitations.
They also called for the agreement to allow Iran to operate 10,000 centrifuges throughout that time period at the Natanz and Fordo facilities — almost twice the number specified in the Lausanne understandings.
Obama's white flag of surrender
The coverage of the "compromise" between the White House and Congress appears to be skewed in favor of President Barack Obama. The deal over the fate of the Iran sanctions was made to look like an accomplishment, whereas in fact it was nothing more than a face-saving way-out for the White House, aimed at preserving Obama's prestige.
The truth of the matter is that Obama had to wave the white flag of surrender, having realized that he was on the verge of a humiliating blowout in the Senate. Had he let the original draft pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he would have essentiality let the nuclear talks with the ayatollahs unravel.
The growing Democratic support for the Iran sanctions bill (known as the Corker-Menendez bill) had "all the president's men" terrified because its initial language essentially made the nuclear deal contingent on Iran stopping its support of terrorism and changing its conduct on the world stage.
The Good, Bad and Ugly of Senate Iran Nuke Compromise
There have been a number of reactions to the Corker-Menendez bill, which provides for Congressional oversight of whatever nuclear deal the administration makes with Iran. It passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday with a 19-0 vote.
J. E. Dyer at Liberty Unyielding looks at the numbers and sees the bill as a loss.
If Congress rejects the Iran deal, and the president vetoes its legislation, Congress will have the balance of a 52-day period to override the veto. If the Senate finds itself unable to act, at some point in this process, Obama’s deal can be implemented without assent from the Senate.
To override a veto, of course, opponents will need 67 votes. To uphold a veto, Obama just has to make sure there are 34 votes for his deal. He doesn’t have to have even 51 votes to implement it. With 34, he’s got a major win.
The beauty of this for Obama is that he still gets a win if the Senate at any point can’t bring a floor vote. His deal just gets implemented because the Senate failed to act. So it won’t matter if the president has 34 votes for the Iran deal, but not enough to bring the deal to a vote. The win for Obama is merely less photogenic in that case. The effect is the same.

More than that, Dyer writes, given that it’s way too easy for President Obama to win in Congress, the bill could enshrine a deal with Iran as law with no vote and leave Congress with no further recourse but to accept a really bad deal.
An editorial in The Wall Street Journal acknowledges the flaws in the bill but sees the bill as the best or only option of at least putting up a speed bump to slow down an administration hellbent on making any deal it can with Iran.
Arab TV Commentators’ Claim: Obama Supports Iran Because His Father Was Shiite
In a Middle Eastern twist on the unproven conspiracy theory that Barack Obama is a Muslim, Arab media commentators have claimed that the American president is supportive of Iran because his father was a Shiite, media watchdog MEMRI reported on Wednesday.
During an interview on Hiwar TV, broadcasting from London, Syrian writer Muhyiddin Lazikani said, “Barack Hussein Obama is the son of a Shiite Kenyan father,” adding that the “childhood memories of the man who rules the White House are Shiite memories,” influencing his pro-Iranian foreign policy stance. He noted that, “this is why he is so anxious for Iran to emerge victorious,” and to see the Sunni Gulf states lose their regional influence.
Lazikani tried to stress that he was “not peddling some theory,” nor was he “being racist,” claiming that his assertions regarding President Obama’s Shiite pedigree were factual. “He spent most of his childhood in Mombasa, Kenya,” said Lazikani. “I visited this very area, and I can tell you that it is mostly Shiite.”
Toward a New Russian Initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian Issue?
The significance of this week’s visit to Moscow by PA President Mahmoud Abbas should be assessed in the context of Russia’s increasing effort to influence the Israeli-Palestinian political process and advance a settlement of the conflict. This particular effort appears well-suited to Russia’s new Middle East policy, reflected in the decision, announced on April 13, 2015, to supply the S-300 missile system to Iran.
Abbas has stated that he intends to coordinate his efforts with Russia and recruit its support for a renewed Palestinian appeal to the UN Security Council in place of the request that was rejected in late 2014. For its part, Russia has of late been quite active in the Palestinian theater. A letter from President Vladimir Putin to the Arab League Summit that met at Sharm el-Sheikh on March 28, 2015 included various messages about the current challenges in the Middle East. Russia stressed its opposition in principle to external interference in the region, but at the same time, and somewhat in contradiction to this message, Putin declared that the Palestinians were entitled to a viable independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The letter noted explicitly that Russia, which attached special importance to this issue, intended to persist in its efforts to achieve this goal through both multilateral channels, including the Quartet framework, and bilateral channels.
This is not the first time that Russian officials, including Putin, have emphasized the special importance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among the crises in the Middle East. Russia complained recently about the lowered priority of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the regional and international agendas. Russia has reiterated its position that without a resolution of this issue, stability and security in the region will not be attained, and it has sent messages along these lines to the Quartet, accompanied by Moscow’s ongoing criticism of the United States. The US administration was assigned responsibility for the negative processes currently underway in the Middle East, and for Russia’s marginalization in all matters pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
EU Council appoints Italian as 'EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process'
Fernando Gentilini, the former director for Western Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey for the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s foreign service, has an extensive career in foreign affairs. From May 2011 to January 2012, he was EU Special Representative in Kosovo.
Gentilini, who has been proposed by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, will take up his duties immediately and is initially appointed until 30 April 2016.
Mogherini has said the appointment of a EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process ''underlines the EU's determination to step up engagement in the process'' as the EU is looking to work towards the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Gentilini's role would be different from that of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who served since 2007 as special envoy for the Quartet of the EU, UN, US and Russia with a special focus on cooperation and development.
Blair has recently been quoted as saying he might wish to ‘’recast” his role while remaining involved in the peace process.
On Implementation of a One State Solution.
Only by having zero tolerance toward fake diplomats such as Abbas can then the rise of true moderate, third way candidates be seen amongst the Palestinians and become widely acceptable to the public. This is an essential step in the local self governance that is necessary in primarily Palestinian Arab populated regions in the West Bank and Gaza, in order to allow Palestinian towns to be added one by one to the body of the State of Israel. The transitional period between implementation and completion of this great naturalization project, will require local Palestinian leaders, regional and municipal level leaders, to help and not hurt this process, even as current national level leaders are rejected.
It should be clearly understood that all other peace deals have been begun by taking the first step with the wrong foot. The beginning of peace does not come by the placation of terror; that is its anathema. At it’s end, there must neither be the destruction of innocent societies. If your goal is trying to keep people from dying or losing their homes, then please let these words that I have told you take on meaning in your heart.
What do I answer to those who say, well what if in the end it turns out that most Palestinians utterly and eternally reject peace in support of terror. Will all this effort have all been in vain if only a few thousand can be saved? To them I say: What of the flowers among the thorns? What of the innocent ones among them? Avraham/Abraham, the forefather of Jews and Arabs prayed for those innocent trapped among the guilty. This is an opportunity for Abraham’s descendants to show respect for this great legacy, and this most sacred family tradition. Let us, we and our Arabic cousins, live in peace, together, forever. May it soon be so, by the grace of God.
Meir Rosenne, former top diplomat, dies at 84
Meir Rosenne, a senior diplomat and prominent lawyer who played a key role in the peace deal with Egypt, died Tuesday aged 84.
Rosenne was a former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to the United States and France.
Born in Romania, Rosenne immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1944. After studying law at the Sorbonne in Paris, he joined Israel’s foreign service in 1953. Between 1961 and 1967 he served as consul in New York.
Four years later, he became the Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor. In this position, which he held for eight years, he played an important role in the negotiations that led to the Camp David Accords and the peace agreement with Egypt. He also participated in Israeli-Syrian negotiations.
Police chief: Terror attack suspected in car-ramming
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino on Thursday said the car-ramming attack in Jerusalem late Wednesday night, in which 25-year-old Shalom Sherki was killed and a woman was seriously injured, was likely deliberate and nationalistically motivated.
Police have named Khaled Koutineh, 37, of the West Bank town of Anata northeast of Jerusalem, as the suspect in last night’s vehicular attack in the French Hill neighborhood, the Hebrew-language news site Ynet reports.
Police and the Shin Bet security service interrogated Koutineh but were initially reluctant to say whether he lost control of his vehicle or ran down the two pedestrians deliberately.
This morning police brought Koutineh to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court with a request to extend his remand. Before the hearing police officials said they now had more reason to suspect Koutina ran over the two as a deliberate attack.
Sherki, 25, who was killed in the attack, was the son of Rabbi Uri Sherki, a community rabbi in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, and the brother of Yair Sherki, a reporter for Channel 2 news. He was being laid to rest Thursday evening at the Sephardi funeral home in Givat Shaul, in Jerusalem.
JewishPress.com Gets Spray Painted
Pardon our disappearance, the JewishPress.com website was hacked overnight.
The attack was launched around 2:30 AM Israel time, at which point the hackers, who claimed to be from Gaza, caused a page in Arabic to display on top of the JewishPress.com page.
The main photo in their hack was an Islamist sitting on a horse carrying what appears to be an Islamic State (Da’esh) flag, while standing near the Dome of the Rock on a desolate and ravaged Temple Mount.
Strangely enough, the hack also displayed a whiny YouTube video flaunting their constant humiliation by the Zionists, a complaint that their fellow Islamists have abandoned them to the Zionists, and how they welcome the bliss of death by the Zionists. It sounded like they were saying Allah is a Zionist.
Go figure — It must be a cultural thing to wear your degradation on your (or someone else’s) sleeve.
Jews to Replant Olive Trees Uprooted by Arabs, Despite Shemittah
Although the Shemittah year prohibitions against planting new trees are largely kept around Israel, in both secular and religious community, the Judea town of Kfar Adumim will be planting olive trees – to replace hundreds of trees that were destroyed by Bedouin Arabs in recent weeks.
According to Boaz Ido, who is organizing the effort, the town has received special rabbinic dispensation to plant the trees during a year when agricultural activity is generally prohibited. “This is a war, and in war special rules apply,” he said.
There have been dozens of incidents of Arabs destroying trees planted by Jews in Judea and Samaria over the years, most recently on March 29, when residents of Kfar Adumim and Mishor Adumim, located east of Jerusalem, discovered that over 200 saplings had been uprooted. Local official Yaniv Aharoni said that the damage had apparently been done on a Friday night. “There is an increase in vandalism, especially in recent days,” Aharoni told Arutz Sheva. “There is much damage to property and we are happy that there have not yet been casualties, although there have been attempts. Of course, we have contacted the enforcement elements and the police.”
Tunnel Detection System Deployed in South
A tunnel detection system, built by the Israeli company Elbit, has been deployed in Israel’s south, according to a YNet report.
The system can uncover and pinpoint ongoing underground excavations via its advanced sensor system.
The tunnel detection system, which was tested over the past few months, is now ready to begin full-scale deployment along the Gaza border.
Elbit is only waiting for a budget and permission of the Defense Ministry to begin the deployment.
Mayors from Israel’s southern towns near the Gaza border were only recently told of the test deployment.
The timing is perfect, as last month The Telegraph reported that Iran has been transferring tens of millions of dollars to Hamas to rebuild their terror tunnel system.
Dozens of Palestinians Scale Security Barrier to Infiltrate Israel From the Territories (VIDEO)
Dozens of Palestinians living in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority infiltrated into Israel this week after successfully climbing over the security barrier near the settlement of Shaarei Tikvah.
The infiltrators hid within Israeli territory, behind bushes, and waited until accomplices came to pick them up.
Video of the infiltration demonstrated the relative ease with which the Palestinians were able to enter Israeli territory, and that they were able to bypass IDF forces, despite residents calling multiple times to inform the police and military headquarters in Samaria, according to 0404 news.
The infiltration process was relatively simple. The Palestinians arrived at the section of the wall by car from within the Palestinian territories. One suspect acted as a lookout, while slowly helping the others as they climbed a ladder and entered Israeli territory. From there, after they jumped over the wall, they rushed to hide in the nearby bushes, waiting for a signal to come out when their accomplices in Israel came to collect them.
Hamas Threatens: 'We'll Choose When to Start the Next War'
Hamas is still committed to the ceasefire it signed with Israel in August, ending its punishing 50-day conflict with the IDF, but retains the right to "respond with force" to any "Israeli violations," a spokesperson has said.
Mushir al-Masri - an MP in Hamas's Gazan "parliament" and a senior member of the Islamist terrorist group's political leadership - told the Palestine newspaper Thursday that the various Palestinian terrorist factions were "closely monitoring" the IDF's major exercise this week close to the border with Gaza, and were watching for any "Israeli violations" of the truce.
"The ceasefire was based on an agreement (by the Palestinian factions), and any renewal of hostilities will be with the agreement (of the Palestinian factions," al-Masri told the Hamas-aligned paper, adding that Hamas would up its own hostilities in response to "continued Israeli violations."
"We are interested in maintaining the calm and in the ceasefire but, if the occupation [Hamas's common term for Israel] believes that the calm will be to its advantage and at the expense of our Palestinian people, it is living in a delusion and is mistaken," he declared.
"The resistance (sic) is following developments along the (Gaza) border very closely, and it will be they who decide the zero hour for any future conflict."
Tension renews between Hamas, IS in Gaza
However, an agreement was reached among Hamas circles that opposes IS on the basis of the Yarmouk battles, after it became clear that the confrontation is now between the remaining Hamas presence in Syria and IS militants. This means that the group does not exempt any of its opponents, even Hamas; it fought the members of the movement and even beheaded some of them.
The tension between Hamas and IS took another turn when preachers focused during their Friday sermon April 10 on what they saw as “atrocities” committed by members of the group, and rebutted their claims that accused Hamas of not abiding by Sharia. In addition, they said that IS members are not fully aware of the concepts of Islam and Sharia principles.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Hassan al-Saifi, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Awqaf in Gaza, announced the “launching of a campaign to fight extremist ideology in Friday sermons and religious teachings, where preachers seek to educate people through correct moderate thinking, by staying away from supporting the takfiri ideology and those who adopt it.”
Although Hamas has released the IS supporters it had detained, the atmosphere in the Gaza Strip is rather tense and cautious, in light of the polarization and accusations. In addition, IS supporters' self-confidence continues to increase every time the group successfully strikes in Syria, Egypt and Iraq.
However, Hamas may find itself forced this time to stop resolving the differences with the Salafist groups in dialogue and debate as it usually does, if it feels that the bombings threaten Gaza’s security. Hamas might resort to a security solution with IS supporters, despite its unwillingness to make way for an internal confrontation, in view of information about the presence of dozens of militants with whom a confrontation is bound to result in losses.
Palestinians in Syria Lose Respect for Hizbullah
Raed, a former television presenterfor the pro-Hizbullah channel ‘Etejah’ (Direction), says such claims never had any basis.
“Hizbullah’s narrative is that the ISIS project is benefiting Israel but nobody in the news room received any indication that this was true,” Raed told TML.
“They are lying,” whispered Abu Ameen.“Hizbullah is fighting in the name of Palestine but they don’t care about us.”
Deepening sectarian rifts have divertedHizbullah’s attention from Israel to Syria. Theirinterference has prevented the fall of Damascusand redefined its image. By helping the regime crush the Syrian rebellion and using sectarian rhetoric, the movement hasalienated themselves from the very people for whom it purports to fight.
Unable to ignore the brutality imposed on Yarmouk, many Palestinians from Syria have lost faith in the ‘axis of resistance’ they once supported.
“I respected Hizbullah before the war,” said Khaled, while crushing the stub of his cigarette in his ashtray. “Now I realize they’re just a movement for Shias.”
Land berm going up on Lebanon border to thwart Hezbollah
The IDF has begun erecting a dirt berm along Israel’s border with Lebanon to obstruct potential attacks by the Shiite terror group Hezbollah.
The 11-kilometer-long (7 mile) earth barrier is being constructed on a cliff in the northwestern Galilee to prevent the infiltration of Hezbollah terrorists into Israeli communities situated along the border, Channel 2 news reported Tuesday.
The barrier is expected to be extended in the future, according to the report.
“We are executing a significant engineering endeavor, creating obstacles in the terrain so as to use if for our defense,” Col. Alon Mednes, commander of the Baram Brigade which guards the western part of Israel’s northern border, told the TV station. “If and when the enemy decides to attack, it will need to confront not only us, but also the terrain.”
Lebanese TV anchor slams Iran, Hezbollah leader
During a program on Lebanon’s Future TV channel broadcast on April 8, Hanadi Zaidan said the Shiite Hezbollah acts as a proxy of the Iranian government and was in opposition to the rest of the Arab world.
An English transcript of some of the broadcast was provided by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Hezbollah and its secretary-general are the only ones who swim against the Arab and Lebanese current, declaring their blind loyalty to the Iranian birds of darkness,” Zaidan said. “His [Nasrallah’s] job is to implement an Iranian agenda against the Lebanese state.”
The tirade against Nasrallah and the powerful Shiite terror organization that he leads apparently came against the background of the ongoing battle between Saudi-led coalition forces and Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi militia who are fighting for control of Yemen.
More than 220,000 reported dead in Syria conflict
The conflict in Syria has left more than 220,000 dead since it began four years ago with an uprising against President Bashar Assad, a key monitoring group said Thursday.
“We have counted 222,271 deaths since the start of the revolt in March 2011,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
Based in Britain, the Observatory uses a broad network of sources on the ground in Syria to gather information about the conflict.
Abdel Rahman said more than 67,000 of the dead were civilians, including more than 11,000 children.
Among dead combatants, nearly 47,000 were from pro-regime forces, including more than 3,000 foreign fighters. Nearly 700 were fighters with Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement, a key backer of Assad.
Michael Totten: The Kurds' Heroic Struggle Against ISIS
In Syria's Hasaka Province, where the Iraqi and Turkish borders converge, YPG fighters have ISIS on the run, and they've just retaken two more villages outside the long-besieged city of Kobane on the Turkish-Syrian border.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forced ISIS to flee Sinjar near Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, the site of horrible massacres against the Yezidi minority last year. As many as 5,000 civilians were killed, thousands of women were dragged off as sex slaves, and tens of thousands were forced to flee onto a mountaintop without food or water.
Sinjar was the penultimate straw for Washington and the start of the war between Iraqi Kurdistan and ISIS. The last straw for Washington came just weeks later when an ISIS column made a beeline for Erbil, Iraq's Kurdish capital, in American Humvees stolen from the Iraqi army in Mosul.
The Kurds are the only people in the region whose willingness to fight matches that of ISIS, and unlike ISIS nearly all their fighters are recruited internally. They haven't issued any worldwide calls for enlistment. They don't troll social media looking for disgruntled young people abroad. With just a handful of exceptions, no one from outside the region volunteers to fight alongside them. They receive little support from the West and no support from the neighbors.
ISIS Kidnaps 120 Children, Ships Them to 'Cub Camp' for Indoctrination
The latest perfidy of the Islamic State was the abduction of some 120 children, aged 12-15, from schools in the Iraqi city of Mosul. According to a report at the Times of Israel, the children were marched out of classrooms, loaded into military vehicles, and taken to an unknown location to be trained as fighters for the terror state — a training that culminates in a beheading.
“The children of wealthy families are said to be ransomed back to their families for significant sums that can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the report adds.
“In Isis-controlled areas, the militant group has special training schools for children where they are ‘brainwashed’ and desensitized,” explains International Business Times. “In these Islamic boot camps, referred to as ‘Cubs of Islamic State’ or ‘Cubs of al-Baghdadi,’ children are given weapons training and taught how to be a suicide bomber. And to graduate from the school, the Cubs of al-Baghdadi have to behead someone.”
EU Parliament Recognizes Armenian Genocide
The European Union parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of recognizing the mass-murder of Armenians by Ottomoan Turkey in 1915 as a genocide.
The decision to recognize the genocide - which saw more than 1.5 million Christian Armenians perish at the hands of Muslim Turkish forces - is sure to enrage Turkey's Islamist leadership, coming just days after the Pope similarly recognized it, comparing the Armenian Genocide to other atrocities including the Holocaust.
EU parliamentarians backed the motion, which stated that the "tragic events that took place in 1915-1917 against the Armenians in the territory of the Ottoman Empire represent a genocide," according to Reuters.
Erdogan: European vote on Armenian killings will 'go in one ear and out the other'
President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would disregard the European Parliament's vote later on Wednesday on the 1915 mass killings of Armenians, which the pope this week described as genocide.
The European Parliament is due to debate a resolution to mark the 100th anniversary of the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians under Turkish Ottoman rule.
"Whatever decision the European Parliament takes on Armenian genocide claims, it would go in one ear and out the other," Erdogan told a news conference at Ankara airport before departing on an official visit to Kazakhstan.
"It is out of the question for there to be a stain, a shadow called 'genocide' on Turkey," he said.
Erdogan warns pope over Armenian genocide remarks
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday expressed anger over the pope’s use of the word genocide to describe the mass killings of Armenians in World War I, saying such talk was nonsense and the pontiff should not repeat such a mistake again.
Ankara at the weekend summoned the Vatican nuncio and recalled the Turkish envoy to the Holy See in a furious reaction to Pope Francis’ description of the killings of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman forces.
“If politicians and religious leaders do the job of historians then we will not get to the truth and only end with nonsense,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara in his first reaction to the pope’s comments.
“Respected pope: I condemn this mistake and warn against making it again,” he said to applause from an audience of businessmen.
MEMRI: Islamist Turkish President Erdogan Says A 'Mastermind' Is Plotting Against Turkey; Antisemitic 'Documentary' Says Jews Have Been 'Mastermind' For Over 3,500 Years
Since October 2014, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has regularly referred to the concept of a "Mastermind" (ust akil, "supra-intellect," in Turkish) that, he says, is plotting against Turkey. This concept has been applauded by the Islamist pro-AKP media. Erdogan's December 12, 2014 speech, which focused on this "mastermind" concept, inspired the production of a two-hour "documentary" by one of the leading Turkish television channels, the pro-AKP A Haber. The film, titled "The Mastermind," first aired on March 15, 2015 and has been broadcast repeatedly since then; in addition, the Turkish Islamist pro-AKP media are circulating the film on their own websites.
According to this film, Jewish "domination of the world" goes back 3,500 years, to the days of Moses. The film presents three Jewish historical figures who, it claims, shaped the Jews' hunger for power: the medieval Spanish philosopher and Torah scholar Moses Maimonides, Charles Darwin (who was not in fact a Jew), and German-American philosopher Leo Strauss.
Erdogan: The Mastermind – "You Know Who It Is"
"The Mastermind" opens with images of the Star of David, and images of a replica of the Temple in Jerusalem, and then an excerpt of President Erdogan's December 12, 2014 speech is shown, with him saying: "I am emphasizing this: Do not think that these are operations that target me personally. Do not think that these operations are against our government or any [political] party. My friends, the target of these operations and initiatives is Turkey, Turkey's existence, her unity, peace, and stability. They are especially against Turkey's economy and its independence. As I have said before, behind all these there is a Mastermind, which has now become part of our national conversation. Some ask me, 'Who is this mastermind?' and I say, 'It is for you to research this. And you do know what it is, you know who it is.'"
Israeli Film About Female Soldiers a Hit at Turkish Festival Despite Strained Ties
An Israeli film about female Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers has had a successful run at the Istanbul International Film Festival despite strained diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and Turkey.
“Zero Motivation” tells the story of a female IDF unit at a remote desert base.
“It was exciting seeing Israeli humor, especially military humor, cracking up the Turkish audience,” said Israeli Deputy Consul General in Istanbul Ohad Avidan Kaynar regarding the film, which was screened three times at the Turkish festival.
“Military terms crossed the border and created laughter and excitement in Turkey,” he said.
The film’s stars, Israeli actresses Dana Ivgy and Nelly Tagar, attended its third screening in Istanbul. At the festival, Tagar had a conversation with Iranian filmmaker Ayat Najafi.
“We started talking—about Iran, about Lausanne (where the framework nuclear agreement was reached), about Yemen, a bit about [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, a bit about [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” Tagar said, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. “And then we spoke about films, about Gondi (a Persian Jewish dish), about Isfahan, about Tel Aviv, about parties, and about girls. And then we hugged and pretty much solved the conflict.”


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