Thursday, January 07, 2016

From Ian:

David Horovitz: Naftali Bennett: We’re literally the border between Islamic State and the free world
The Jewish Home leader says Israel must retain the West Bank ‘forever,’ should do more for its Arab community, cannot allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount
The death toll in Gaza last summer, Israel is being destroyed, image-wise over that. Even now, with a hundred plus Palestinians dead in the latest terror wave, Israel is being battered over that, even though most of those who have been killed were in the act of trying to kill us.
Look, the ancient and new sport is to apply the same tools that were applied to individual Jews to the Jewish state. You place any state in our shoes, in perhaps the toughest location on earth, with an amazing tower of democracy, with the way we treat our minorities, the way we conduct ourselves, the vibrancy of this House over here, the Knesset, I’m so proud to be Israeli… you put any other country in our situation: no one would act as morally as we are.
It’s very easy to sit somewhere thousands of miles away from here and second guess us. But we’re fighting the battle of the free world. We’re literally the border between Islamic State and the free world. Quite literally. The Golan Heights, that’s where radical Islam meets the free world. The Lebanese border is where Hezbollah and Iran meets the free world. Physically. And it’s tough. And if we weren’t here, you’d see it all flow to the West. So we’re the front bastion of the free world. That’s how we should be presenting it. We’re certainly being treated unfairly. It’s nothing new. It’s thousands of years old.
Israel can survive even with ebbing international support?
I don’t buy the ebbing international support. I buy that in certain circles, certain diplomatic circles, especially in Europe, there’s always antagonism against Israel. But you go to mainstream America, you go to China, you go to India, you go to Eastern Europe, and you see the degree of respect and admiration even, towards Israeli innovation, Israeli entrepreneurship, Israeli values. For example, in China they value Israeli values, Jewish values. I don’t see this ebbing support. The world was against us 80 years ago and we’ve had boycotts since the inception of Israel. I remember as a kid there was no Pepsi and there was no McDonald’s in Israel.
Egypt Asks Israel to Keep Turkey Away From Gaza
Egypt has approached Israel asking for clarifications regarding recent progress in its reconciliatory talks with Turkey. Senior officials in Jerusalem told Haaretz that Egypt expressed its reservations regarding granting Turkey a role in the Gaza Strip, and asked whether Israel had committed to any easing of restrictions in the closure imposed on Gaza.
These officials, who asked to remain anonymous due to the delicate diplomatic nature of the issue, stated that what caused the Egyptian government’s displeasure was Israeli media reports from a few weeks ago, according to which a breakthrough had been reached in reconciliation talks with Turkey, as well as reports in the Turkish media that Israel had agreed to take significant steps in easing the maritime siege on Gaza.
Senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials met with Israel’s ambassador Haim Koren and asked if these reports were correct and whether Israel and Turkey are indeed close to reconciling. The temporary chargé d’affaires at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv delivered similar messages in a recent meeting with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem. Egypt expressed its opposition to any Israeli concessions to Turkey with regard to the Gaza Strip.
The senior officials noted that over the last two years there has been a serious rift in relations between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The background for this crisis is the support expressed by Turkey’s government and ruling AKP party for Egypt’s deposed president Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt.
Requiem for a Failed Foreign Policy
Barack Obama’s approach to foreign affairs was never rudderless. It was always founded in what the administration believed provided the president with the most near-term domestic political benefit, which is in part why the only Obama doctrine ever offered by administration officials is inherently retrospective. “Don’t do stupid s***” is a doctrine that can be neither predictive nor prescriptive, since that which is deemed “stupid” is subjective and often only dubbed as much after the fact. For some of this administration’s adventures, though, that which proved in the long run to be “stupid” was foreseeable and obvious. A total reorientation of American alliance structure in the Middle East that shifted Washington away from its traditional Sunni allies in Riyadh and Cairo and toward the region’s Shi’ite-led powers was always going to have a destabilizing effect. It is an effect that has been apparent for months.
When anti-government protests gave way to a civil war, the Obama administration determined that its best course was to avoid any engagement in Syria. The White House did all within its power to evade its commitments to contain that conflict and exact retribution against Bashar al-Assad for violating prohibitions on the use of chemical weapons. As Sunnis from around the Middle East flooded into Syria to take revenge on the dictator who has today slaughtered over a quarter million mostly Sunni Syrians, many of whom became radicalized in the process, the region’s American allies pleaded for Western aid. Their pleas went largely unanswered until the crisis in Syria engulfed Iraq.
This administration’s approach to international affairs in the Middle East was revealed to be hopelessly untethered to anything resembling a strategy when Yemen dissolved into civil war in late 2014. To preserve the White House’s drone war against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula abetted by the ousted government in Sana’a, the administration initially sought continuity by making friendly overtures Houthi rebels now in control of the capital. The Obama White House appeared to disregard the fact that the Houthis were an Iran-backed insurgent force, and their success in Sana’a (and their drive toward the strategically vital port of Aden) was regarded as an acute national security threat in neighboring Saudi Arabia. Only when those overtures were rejected by the “deeply anti-American” Houthi militia did Washington tacitly endorse the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.
From Syria to Yemen, from Iraq to Bahrain; the Middle East has been characterized by a region-wide proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran since at least 2011, following American withdrawal from Iraq. Obama’s White House should have had no higher priority than to ensure that this conflict retains its character as a geopolitical struggle between two opposing capitals and not come to be regarded as a great sectarian reckoning. It may already be too late to prevent that deadly impression from taking hold.

Site of deadly Tel Aviv shooting reopens, solemnly
The Tel Aviv bar where two people were killed Friday in a shooting reopened on Wednesday evening.
No music was playing at the Simta bar as the first costumers, including Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, entered the site of the deadly New Year’s day shooting.
A memorial ceremony for the victims, Alon Bakal, 26, and Shimon Ruimi, 30, who were killed by a gunman who calmly opened fire with a sub-machine gun outside Simta, took place later on Wednesday evening.
“The pain and trauma that we bear in our hearts is part of daily life in this country,” Huldai said according to the Maariv website. The mayor said he came to encourage and support Simta’s staff and patrons.
Tel Aviv terrorist believed to have snuck into West Bank
The manhunt for the suspect in a Tel Aviv shooting attack moved beyond the Dan region on Wednesday, as Arara resident Nashat Milhem evaded security forces for a sixth day.
According to security assessments, Milhem succeeded to escape into the West Bank in past days. It is thought that the fugitive did not cross into the Palestinian territory by way of one of the organized crossings but rather via holes in the security fence, the same way that thousands of Palestinians illegally enter Israel daily.
On Wednesday morning, special police units and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents searched towns and villages inside the Green Line in the Wadi Ara and Triangle regions.
The communities where searches were conducted included Baka al-Gharbiya, near Hadera; Milhem has relatives in the town.
Police believe Tel Aviv terrorist murdered cab driver
Police believe the Dizengoff Street shooting attack that killed two and injured seven is linked to the murder of Arab cab driver Ayman Shaaban, who was found dead less than an hour afterwards, according to information revealed following the partial lift of a Shin Bet security agency gag order on the case.
On Tuesday, when Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh visited the home of Tel Aviv attack victim Alon Bakal's family to offer his condolences, he made comments tying the two incidents together. Police believe the gunman shot the cab driver to death after attempting to catch a ride with him while fleeing the scene of the attack.
At the same time, the Shaaban family has not yet received an official condolence visit from the authorities, and family members were not aware of the rights afforded to the families of terrorist attack victims.
During a condolence visit from Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern on Wednesday, members of the Shaaban family said that they have yet to be updated on the details of the investigation, and Shaaban's parents added that they want to know how their son was killed.
Tel Aviv gunman disabled cameras in Amit Shaban's cab
Police revealed Thursday morning that Tel Aviv gunman Nashat Milhem disabled the cameras in Amit Shaban's taxi before murdering him, Channel 10 reports.
According to investigators, Milhem fled the scene of his initial shooting attack - in which two Israelis were murdered and nine others wounded - and jumped into Shaban's cab.
When the Israeli-Arab cab driver refused to cooperate, apparently upon Milhem's orders to avoid a police checkpoint, the gunman shot him dead as well.
Authorities discovered the cameras in Shaban's cab did not record Milhem's trip, leading them to believe he disabled the cameras sometime after entering the taxi and shooting Shaban to death.
Israel busts Hamas cell that planned kidnappings, murders
A Hamas terror cell that planned to kidnap and kill Israeli citizens was discovered by Israeli law enforcement in December, the Shin Bet security service announced on Thursday.
Members of the group, from Jerusalem and Hebron, had planned to use the corpses of their victim or victims in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, similar to the motive behind the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenage boys in June 2014.
From the Shin Bet’s investigation of the Hamas operatives, the cell was in the “advanced planning stages” and had begun preparing the place where they would store the bodies of the kidnapped person or people.
“This case reconfirms that Hamas still aspires to carry out serious terror attacks, even now, in order to further egg on the recent wave of terror into a violent intifada,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Hebron home found with rocket launcher, various weapons
A Hebron-area home was found to be stocked full of weapons on Thursday, following a search by security forces overnight.
The IDF searched the residence in Beit Sanina after receiving intelligence information and uncovered various types of weaponry and munitions, including a rocket launcher and cartridges of bullets.
A tractor rumored to be stolen was also found nearby.
Two suspects were arrested and will undergo an investigation.
Israeli tourists targeted in Cairo attack; none hurt
Egyptian security forces were hunting for over a dozen individuals who opened fire with fireworks and rubber bullets at Israeli Arab tourists at a hotel close to the Giza pyramids, causing some damage to the hotel’s facade and tourist buses parked nearby.
No one was hurt in the attack, an Egyptian security official said.
The tourists, who numbered roughly 40, are Israeli Arabs. One of the group, Bassam Muhammid, told Channel 2 they were a group of 32 from the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, and eight from Jaffa.
Arab MK Ahmad Tibi and others suggested the attack deliberately targeted the group because they were Israelis. Egyptian media identified them as “1948 Arabs,” a euphemism for Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship.
According to initial reports, the shooters were part of a mob of 15 individuals that gathered outside the Three Pyramids Hotel. They were identified by Egyptian media as linked to the Muslim Brotherhood group. They shot fireworks and rubber bullets at the hotel as the Israelis were unpacking their suitcases from the buses, Channel 2 said.
Israel issues travel warnings over Islamist terror threats in African states
The Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued travel warnings to several African states on Thursday, following an increase in the scope of terrorist attacks on the continent.
The Bureau, a part of the Prime Minister's Office, said that after a security assessment, new warnings were placed against travel to Niger, northern Cameroon, and Chad.
"A partial travel advisory has been issued for Cameroon, where an Islamic State affiliate - the Boko Haram organization - has expanded its activities, and is carrying out terror activities in Cameroon, near the northwestern border with Nigera. The main threats are kidnappings and attacks on local and Western targets, including Israeli and Jewish targets," a statement by the Bureau said.
An additional partial warning has been issued to Chad due Boko Haram activities near its western border, with an emphasis on the capital city of N'Djamena and the provinces of Hadjer, Chari-Bagurimi, Lami, Lac, Mayo-Kebbi Es, Mayo-Kebbi-Quest, and N'Djamena.
The series of French police misses that could have warned Charlie Hebdo staff of attacks
Police were warned that one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen had turned up three months before the attack to say it would be targeted, it has been reported, as French film stars leant their weight to the satirical magazine’s anniversary edition a year.
The magazine’s release came as fresh details emerged of alleged security failings in the run-up to the attacks, which have prompted the widows of two victims to file criminal complaints.
Le Canard Enchaîné, the satirical weekly, said three months earlier, a journalist working next to Charlie’s offices had phoned one of two policemen tasked with protecting its editor to warn him he had just come across a man in a car outside talking to himself saying: “That will teach them to criticise the Prophet.”
The journalist later recognised the man as Chérif Kouachi, one of the two brothers who carried out the killings. Kouachi asked him: “Are these Charlie Hebdo’s offices? Is it here they criticise the Prophet?'
He went on: "In any case we’re watching them. You can pass the message on.”
The journalist memorised his licence plate and informed the policeman. His superiors confirmed to Le Canard that a police report was compiled, but the information apparently never reached intelligence services, or if it did they failed to follow it up or boost security at the magazine.
Moreover, this entire episode is curiously "missing" from the judicial report on the killings, reported Le Canard.
Knifeman with fake suicide belt shot dead by police in Paris
Officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man wearing a fake explosive vest at a police station in northern Paris on Thursday, French officials said, a year to the day after an attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo launched a bloody year in the French capital.
Luc Poignant, a police union official, said the man cried out “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”
The man was wearing what looked like an explosive vest, but it was fake, according to two French police officials. They said the man has not yet been identified.
Just a few minutes earlier, elsewhere in the city, French President Francois Hollande had finished paying homage to police officers killed in the line of duty, including three shot to death in attacks last January.
REPORT: Iran Suspends Pilgrimages to Mecca
Without directly referencing their breakdown in diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, Iranian authorities have reportedly ruled to suspend the “lesser” yearly pilgrimage to Mecca – according to the AINA news agency. The report suggests that the pilgrimage, known as the umrah, will be suspended until Riyadh can ensure “higher safety standards.”
Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed, is in modern-day Saudi Arabia, as is Medina, the spot of the prophet’s burial. Some 500,000 Iranians visit Saudi Arabia every year for the umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, which can be made at any time of the year. Islam’s main pilgrimage, known as the hajj, is required only once in a lifetime, but must be carried out after the holy month of Ramadan (between September 9 and September 14 this year[?]).
The rift in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia after the Saudi execution of the prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday and Iran’s violent response has caused a split in the entire Muslim world mostly along Sunni-Shiite lines, with countries publicly taking sides in the dispute.
Sunni World Turns Its Back on Iran: 10 Nations Cut Ties and Counting
On Wednesday, the Sunni nations of Qatar and Djibouti announced they would be severing diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, becoming the 9th and 10th nations to officially cut relations, roll back ties, or condemn the Shiite theocracy in the past week.
Qatar and Djibouti join Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, Kuwait, and the UAE as states that have either downgraded or completely ended official relations with Iran in the past week. More Sunni states, such as Jordan, Oman, and Egypt, have served official statements critiquing the Iranian regime.
The Sunni-Shia spat comes following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who was accused of trying to overthrow the House of Saud and foment revolution. After the New Year’s Eve execution, Iranian rioters firebombed and ransacked Saudi Arabia’s consular buildings in Tehran, infuriating Riyadh. Saudi Arabia immediately took action, breaking off diplomatic ties.
Palestinian Authority sides with Saudis in Iran spat
The Palestinian Authority is standing behind Saudi Arabia in the current political row with Iran, Ramallah’s envoy to the desert kingdom told a leading Arab daily.
In an interview Wednesday with the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Palestinian ambassador Basem Al-Agha said that his government’s position has been clear from the outset, and that when it came to Saudi sovereignty and security, it stood firmly on the side of Riyadh.
“The Iranian government doesn’t support the Palestinian Authority, which is at the forefront of confronting the Israeli enemy,” he said. Al-Agha went on to say that “the Palestinians have suffered from Iran’s actions and strange behaviors, which aim to undermine the legitimate Palestinian powers and to create ‘conglomerates’ against these legitimate powers.”
Al-Agha’s accusations refer to Iran’s long-time support for PA rival Hamas. Tehran reportedly upped financial support to the Gaza-based terror group after signing of a nuclear deal with Western powers last July.
The Looming Global Nuclear Weapons Crisis
The deal with Iran was widely celebrated as a move to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons around the world. Early signs suggest it might do the exact opposite.
Deep in the weeds of discussions about the nuclear deal with Iran, which usually focus on whether the price paid in sanctions relief and international legitimacy is sufficiently worth the hoped-for forestallment of an Iran nuclear bomb, one issue has been largely overlooked: the effect this deal is likely to have on the broader nonproliferation regime, with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as its centerpiece. In the wake of what is known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached last July 14 between the six leading world powers (known as the P5+1, representing the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on the one hand, and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the other, crucial requirements for effective nonproliferation have been brushed aside and are in danger of being ignored down the road.
The NPT came into force in 1970, setting a global standard for putting a stop to the spread of nuclear weapons and the destabilization that could result. The framers of the JCPOA recognized the importance of the NPT when they included in Article XI of the agreement’s “preamble and general provisions” the stipulation that the JCPOA “should not be considered as setting precedents for any other state or for fundamental principles of international law and the rights and obligations under the NPT….”
Yet despite that disclaimer, in the months since the announcement of the JCPOA, it has become apparent that one of the very pertinent questions regarding the Iran deal is just that: the implications of the agreement for nuclear nonproliferation principles, norms, and standards in the future. The JCPOA has set, and is in the process of further establishing, some new standards for Iran in the nuclear realm that will inevitably affect the nonproliferation regime and the attitudes of other states toward their own nonproliferation requirements and commitments.
Obama’s Iran Missile Charade
Administration apologists claim that this is merely smart policy because the nuclear deal postpones the danger of an Iranian bomb and because Tehran can be a useful ally in dealing with ISIS and the worsening situation in Afghanistan. But Iran’s priority is consolidating its influence over governments in Iraq and Syria and eliminating their opponents, not in helping the U.S. fight a war with ISIS or the Taliban. Iran wants regional hegemony over the Middle East and its ongoing ballistic missile program — which makes little sense in the absence of an intent to build a nuclear weapon — is part of a posture in which it hopes to intimidate its foes.
Even more to the point, were the U.S. serious about making Iran stick to even the terms of the weak deal it agreed to, Washington would be making clear that the missile violations is a very serious matter. If, Iran is prepared to flaunt its willingness to violate these restrictions in the weeks before the West is about to lift sanctions, why would anyone think they’ll observe any rules after they start receiving the rewards promised in the deal. The missile issue isn’t as critical as other possible breaches of the nuclear accord, but it is an all-too-obvious indication that the Obama administration will never hold Iran accountable on any issue.
Iran may be flexing its muscles about even the possibility of more sanctions, but its leaders know they have nothing to worry about. The talk of sanctions that will never be imposed is a pointless charade that fools no one, least of all the ayatollahs. Unless or until Barack Obama is replaced in the White House by a president that Iranians respect and fear, all bets are off as far as compliance with the nuclear deal or any other issue.
After US exercises restraint on new sanctions, Iran reveals new missile silo
Iran unveiled a new underground depot for its medium- range ballistic missiles on Tuesday, less than two months after testing one of the weapons considered illegal under international law.
The missile, named the Emad, is capable of delivering a nuclear payload and is uniquely designed for that task. Their construction violates a 2010 United Nations Security Council resolution, according to the US State Department.
An October 10 of the device prompted ire from the United States, which threatened new measures against Tehran in response. But Treasury Department plans last week to roll out new missile-related sanctions were scrapped last minute by the Obama administration, which is preparing to implement its landmark nuclear deal reached with Iran within the next several weeks.
Revelation of the new silo – broadcast proudly on Iranian state television – is likely to agitate the administration further and provide fuel to its critics, who fear the nuclear deal holds the US captive to Iran as it pursues of other illicit activities, in the fields of human rights, terrorism and missile technology, with fewer constraints.
Why Iran is Pressing Its Luck
And of course there has been no real U.S. pushback against Iran for its support for the Assad regime in Syria which is guilty of crimes against humanity — the kind of crimes that United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power has spent her career denouncing. Nor does the U.S. inflict any kind of cost on Iran for holding five Americans hostage, or for the rather hostile habit that Ayatollah Khameini and other Iranian leaders have of regularly chanting “Death to America.”
Sense a pattern here? Whenever Iran acts up, the U.S. looks the other way.
This is particularly egregious given the fact that Iran has not actually received its sanctions relief yet. Soon — possibly in a matter of weeks — Iran will get access to over $100 billion in frozen oil assets. Until that happens all of the leverage is on the American side. Iran should be on its best behavior until it gets its payoff for signing the nuclear deal. But that’s not the way Tehran sees it. The Iranian regime knows that President Obama is so desperate to implement the JCPOA that Iran can get away with murder and not suffer any consequences. So that is precisely what Iran is doing.
This is creating a very dangerous precedent for the future. The devastating loss of American credibility means that a future president, even if he or she is so inclined, will have a hard time restoring our deterrent power and convincing Iran not to secretly pursue its nuclear ambitions. It also means that the value of American security guarantees continues to erode, which helps to explain why allies such as Saudi Arabia are pushing back against the Iranian threat in their own crude fashion, e.g., by bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen and by executing a Shiite rabble rouser. In sum, it means that the Middle East (and indeed the rest of the world) will continue to become more dangerous and more hostile to American interests — hard as that may be to believe.
 Democratic lawmakers call for immediate sanctions on Iran
Democratic lawmakers – opponents and supporters of the Iran nuclear deal – on Wednesday called on the Obama Administration to impose punitive sanctions on Iran without delay.
In a letter sent to President Barack Obama, House Representatives Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Albio Sires, Gerry Connolly, Susan Davis and Jerry Nadler called for immediate punitive sanctions in response to Iran’s recent violations of UN Security Council resolutions law by conducting two ballistic missile tests.
“Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region and continued support for terrorism represent an unacceptable threat to our closest allies as well as our own national security,” the Democrats write in the letter. “As the international community prepares for implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran must understand that violating international laws, treaties, and agreements will have serious consequences. We call on the Administration to immediately announce new, U.S. sanctions against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program to ensure Iran is held accountable for its actions.”
North Korea Clearly Saw 'Iran Gaming The System,' Expert Says
North Korea’s nuclear test yesterday shows that the hermit country has learned something from the Iran nuclear deal, continuing a tradition of the two countries learning from each other to outwit the international community.
The two nations have had a long history of sharing weapons technology with one-another, however, it may be the case that North Korea learned an important lesson regarding U.S. foreign policy after the Iran deal was finalized last year. A lesson that may have impacted its decision to go forward with a fourth nuclear test, defying international condemnation and U.N. resolutions.
Speaking to the Daily Caller News Foundation, Georgetown University professor Matthew Kroenig, an author and expert on matters of nuclear security, claims that North Korea recognized “Iran gaming the system” after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. In turn, Kroenig notes that if one examines the 1994 deal that North Korea brokered (and has repeatedly violated) with the U.S., there are similarities in provisions with the JCPOA.
Indeed, even the language used to sell the public on both deals was eerily similar. President Bill Clinton said in 1994 that “The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments. Only as it does so will North Korea fully join the community of nations.”
N. Korea Hydrogen Bomb Claim Highlights Collaboration with Iran, Nonproliferation Failures
The Wall Street Journal quoted Yang Xiyu, an expert on North Korea at the China Institute of International Studies, who said, “the explosion should have been much larger, and logically a larger explosion should trigger a larger quake. So it’s really a mystery.” Still, Xiyu cautioned, “no matter if it’s an exaggeration or not, their statement indicates that they are marching in that direction.”
Juan Zarate, CBS News senior national security analyst, noted on CBS This Morning that the true nature of the explosion will not be known for several weeks. “But if it was a hydrogen bomb that will demonstrate a technological leap forward for North Korea, a much more powerful weapon,” he warned. “And if they’re on the verge of miniaturization that would mean that they’re very close to being able to put that on a warhead and potentially to deploy it well beyond the Korean Peninsula.”
Retired Army Major Gen. Robert Scales, a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, discussed Pyongyang’s announcement in the context of the reported collaboration between North Korea and Iran, telling Fox News, “We know that the Iranians were at the last nuclear test a couple of year ago, [and] we know that the Iranians are helping the North Koreans miniaturize their nuclear weapons.” He indicated that the North Korean nuclear program experienced several failures until it received assistance from Iran. “What does this say about our nuclear deal with Iran?” Scales asked. “It says Iran is able to circumvent it by using their technological colleagues in Pakistan and their test site facility in North Korea to push their own nuclear ambitions.” He added that “the Iranians and North Koreans are both developing long-range ballistic missiles by collaborating together.”
Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, explained in August that advances in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program could translate into advances in Iran’s program.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Obama Orders USAF To Intercept Reports Of Iran Deal Violations (satire)
President Barack Obama told the US military to intercept any news that Iran is violating the nuclear deal arrived at over the summer, senior commanders reported today.
The commander-in-chief responded to reports of ongoing Iranian defiance of the terms of the deal and of international resolutions, fearing that being forced to act on the reports might undermine the deal and his legacy. Rather than take the legally mandated steps to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic in response to the latter’s flouting of the deal, its continued support for international terrorism, its imprisonment and suppression of journalists and dissenters, and its bellicose rhetoric toward US allies, Obama ordered the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and various other branches of the military to shoot down, sink, or otherwise prevent those reports from reaching the US.
If necessary, said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, special forces might be dispatched to interdict or destroy those reports lest they cause further tension between Iran and the Obama administration, which has bent over backwards not to offend the Ayatollahs. “The president is rightly concerned that reports of Iran’s violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action will scuttle the deal, and leave Iran to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles outside the agreed-upon framework,” he explained. “So when Iran pursues nuclear weapons technology outside the scope of the JCPOA, it is crucial not to make too much noise about it, lest they pursue nuclear weapons technology outside the scope of the JCPOA.”
MK Zoabi indicted on charges of 'disgracing a public servant'
The Northern District State Attorney's Office filed an indictment Thursday against Balad MK Haneen Zoabi as part of a plea deal on charges the lawmaker "disgraced a public servant."
The indictment stems from a 2014 incident in which Zoabi told a crowd of protesters in 2014 that Israeli Arabs who work for government security forces “should be scared of us.”
As part of the plea bargain, agreed to by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein in December, Zoabi was charged with "disgracing a public servant," while the more serious charge of incitement was dropped.
In accordance with the deal, Zoabi admitted to the charge of disgracing a public servant.The state is expected to seek a suspended jail sentence while Zoabi will likely oppose this and agree to merely pay a fine.
Negev teacher jailed for preaching Islamic State ideology, planning to join IS
The Beersheba District Court on Thursday sentenced Muhammad Abu Alkiyan, an elementary school teacher from the Bedouin town of Hura in southern Israel, to four years in prison for forming a group that planned to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State. He was also convicted of teaching children and mosque-goers content inspired by IS.
Alkiyan, a 28-year-old father of five, admitted to having established a secret group that would hold clandestine meetings related to the Islamic State, and of planning to leave Israel on the pretext of a pilgrimage to Mecca, but with the true goal of joining IS fighters in Syria.
The teacher would also give sermons to members of the community, including minors, promoting IS and asserting that the extremist group did not steer from Islam.
In the sentencing, the court wrote that Alkiyan would meet with other IS supporters near the mosque and preach to them about the organization. These community members allegedly included a man named Othman, who subsequently traveled to Syria to join IS and was reportedly killed there. (This may have been a reference to Israeli doctor Othman Abdelkayan, who was reportedly killed fighting for IS in October 2014.)
Exiled Hamas Terror Kingpin Back in NATO-Member Turkey
Salah al-Arouri, a top Hamas leader, reportedly visited other Hamas operatives in NATO member Turkey this week.
Arouri was openly based in Turkey for the past few years until he reportedly departed in recent months amid renewed Israel-Turkey relations.
Alex Fishman, military correspondent for YnetNews, reports:
One of Hamas’s main recruitment and operation centers in the West Bank is based in Turkey. It has recently been reported that Salah Arouri, the person in charge of Hamas’ terrorist activity in the West Bank, was deported from Turkey to Qatar as part of the improving relations with Israel. But this is actually a hypocritical game played by the Erdogan regime vis-à-vis Israel. The Turks asked Aruri to leave several months ago following American pressure.
Hamas’s military wing, however, continues to operate from Istanbul, and Aruri himself comes and goes between Qatar and Turkey. This week, by the way, he is in Istanbul under the protection of Turkish intelligence, which is also securing him.
PreOccupiedTerritory: N Korea, Hamas To Train Iran In Oppression Of Own People As Leverage (satire)
As tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia heat up, leaders in Teheran have sent delegations to the Gaza Strip and North Korea to learn how to improve the government’s skills at subjecting its own citizenry to abuse and deprivation as a tool in international relations.
Iran possesses a larger and better-developed navy than the house of Saud, but by any other measure, the peninsular kingdom outweighs Iran in military and economic clout, and can inflict considerable economic damage on the Islamic Republic if it chooses to do so. In the face of such a superior foe, the Ayatollahs now seek vehicles for leverage that do not depend on economic or military development, but instead use the misfortune of its own people that would result from such measures as a weapon. The leaders in such strategies globally have been the Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, and North Korea, which is already under such severe economic sanctions that the international community has no further methods to bear against its unlawful nuclear weapons program.
Experts note that the two nations offer vastly different models for oppression of one’s own as an international political tool. “North Korea violates its residents’ human and civil rights, including subjecting them to the risk of mass starvation, then uses the imminent danger of those poor North Koreans’ starvation as a bargaining chip in negotiations for sanctions relief,” explained Foreign Policy magazine editor Stanley Spidowski. “Whereas Hamas merely places its own populace in harm’s way and provokes others to act in ways that will harm them. Both approaches have utility for Iran if a real confrontation with the Saudis materializes.”
Thousands starve in beseiged Syrian town
George Galloway and everyone else who has blithely compared the situation in Gaza (as bad as it is) to that of the Warsaw Ghetto under Nazi occupation:
You want to see something really comparable to the Warsaw Ghetto?
You don’t have to look any further than the Syrian town of Madaya, just 15 miles from Damascus, where tens of thousands of men, women and children are being starved to death by the Syrian regime and its faithful ally Hezbollah.
Encircled by land mines and forces from the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, hundreds are suffering from malnutrition. With severe shortages of basic foodstuffs, many have resorted to eating wild plants, insects and even cats.
The siege has now lasted for almost 200 days and it has been months since aid was last allowed into the town.
Food ran out two months ago, and conditions have rapidly deteriorated in the subsequent weeks.

Yes, George, that would be the same Syrian regime that you were pleased to call the “last castle of Arab dignity” and the same Hezbollah that you were happy to glorify.
Hezbollah Starving 40,000 Civilians: Media AWOL
Forty thousand civilians in the southwestern Syrian town of Madaya, near the Lebanese border, have been slowly starving as the result of a six-month siege by Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terror group. Yet, major U.S. news outlets largely have failed to cover the encirclement of what in more peaceful times was a well-known mountain resort.
Reports that are emerging—largely from non-U.S. outlets—paint a grim picture.
According to The Independent (U.K.), denizens of Madaya have resorted to eating wild plants, insects and pets such as cats and dogs. Madaya has been cut off “for almost 200 days and it has been months since aid was last allowed into the town (“War in Syria:Up to 40,000 civilians are starving in besieged Madaya, say campaigners,” Jan. 1, 2016).”
Food reportedly ran out 200 days ago and electricity has been cut off.
The Independent reports that “around 20 men have so far perished from starvation” and “850 infants [are] in urgent need of milk, while six newborn babies have died because their mothers were unable to feed them.”
Another U.K. paper, The Mirror (“Inside Madaya,” January 6), shows a picture of what it describes as a starving man eating trash “in a desperate bid to survive” in a “Syrian town where 40,000 people are starving to death.”

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