Friday, February 23, 2018

From Ian:

US ‘to move embassy to Jerusalem on May 14’ — day of independence declaration
The US is planning to officially move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018 — the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence, as well as Washington’s recognition of the Jewish state — Channel 10 and Hadashot news reported Friday.

According to Hadashot the embassy will officially announce the plans later in the day. The report was confirmed to Channel 10 by high-ranking Israeli officials.

The Times of Israel has not confirmed the report.

US officials had previously said the move could take many more months, and perhaps years.

Earlier Friday four US officials told The Associated Press that the Trump administration was considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of the new embassy.

Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said. The discussions are occurring as the new embassy clears its final bureaucratic hurdles.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended weeks of delay by signing off on a security plan for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and demanded anonymity.

Sheldon Adelson offers to help pay for US Jerusalem embassy — report
The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new US embassy in Jerusalem, four US officials told The Associated Press.

Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said. The discussions are occurring as the new embassy clears its final bureaucratic hurdles. On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended weeks of delay by signing off on a security plan for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and demanded anonymity.

In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical and American Jewish communities, too. One official said Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate and staunch supporter of Israel, had offered to pay the difference between the total cost — expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars — and what the administration is able to raise.

Under any circumstance, letting private citizens cover the costs of an official government building would mark a significant departure from historical US practice. In the Jerusalem case, it would add yet another layer of controversy to Trump’s politically charged decision to move the embassy, given Adelson’s longstanding affiliation with right-wing Israeli politics.
Hotovely: '10 more countries in talks to move embassies to Jerusalem'
Israel is currently holding talks with 10 different nations over the possible relocation of their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed Thursday.

Following President Donald Trump’s December 6th announcement that he had ordered the US State Department to begin work transferring the US mission to Israel from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital, just one other country, Guatemala, followed suit.

Later that month, however, Hotovely hinted that other countries may also be interested in transferring their embassies.

On Thursday, Hotovely told American Jewish leaders that Israel is currently engaged in talks with 10 different countries regarding the relocation of their embassies.

Speaking with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, currently visiting Israel as part of their annual leadership mission to Israel, Hotovely briefed leaders on the progress made towards securing the embassy relocations.

"We are in a dialogue with over ten countries to transfer their embassies to our capital, Jerusalem," said Hotovely.

"We want to see at least another 10 countries that will transfer their embassies to Jerusalem after the US in the coming years."



Caroline Glick: Unlike Obama, Trump Walks the Walk on Russia
In her daily press briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders rejected the contention that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals for interfering with the 2016 election proves the Trump administration is soft on Russia.

To back up her point, Sanders drew a distinction between former president Barack Obama’s policies towards Russia and President Donald Trump’s Russia policy, and insisted Trump has been much tougher on Russia than Obama was.

Sanders was right.

Not only is the administration tough on Russia, but its toughness is also a function of a hard-headed strategy to diminish Russian power in Syria and throughout the Middle East.

Russia was able to accrue its power in the Middle East through its intervention in Syria on behalf of the Bashar Assad regime and his Iranian overlords. Russia felt free to deploy its forces to Syria in September 2015 – for the first time since the Cold War — due to Obama’s strategic shift away from America’s Middle East allies and towards Iran.

The Trump administration’s strategy is not a rhetorical flourish. No senior official has spelled it out. Indeed, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has all but denied it. Nevertheless, U.S. moves on the ground signal strongly that America’s goal is to diminish – with the hope of eliminating – Russia’s power in Syria.
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: Why Israel Must Respond to Iranian Aggression with Disproportionate Force
Establishing and maintaining deterrence is an uncertain art, but it is the best strategy for avoiding costly wars. For Israel, deterrence has always been the core of national security strategy, and this is still the case in the escalating conflict with the Iranian regime.

An overconfident leadership in Tehran, firmly ensconced in Syria in alliance with the Hizbullah forces based in Lebanon, will continue to probe and challenge the IDF, looking for weakness. By defining red lines and credibly threatening to impose high costs on the Iranian leadership, Israel seeks to prevent a catastrophic outcome.

But Iran and Israel have no direct means of communication. Misunderstandings filtered through a prism of distrust makes deterrence management far more precarious. The potential for miscommunications and exaggerated threat perceptions is compounded by the overheated rhetoric from Tehran, proclaiming the imminent eradication of Israel.

Israelis remember the late Iranian president Rafsanjani's declaration that Israel could be destroyed with a single nuclear weapon, and pay close attention to Iran's oft-stated Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic cartoon contests.

Iran's leaders continue to expand their power, whether in Syria, Yemen or other venues, through brinksmanship, and where they see weakness, via more aggressive means. This expansionist strategy makes deterrence towards Iran both vital and difficult to achieve.

Given these factors, what might seem to be a disproportionate Israeli response is rational and necessary in order to send an unambiguous warning as the best means of reinforcing deterrence.

The alternative is preventive attack - a less than optimal solution, but one which Israel has contemplated and prepared more than once.
Caroline Glick: Defending the rule of law
Netanyahu’s opponents insist this isn’t personal. This is about the rule of law. If he isn’t forced from office, they say, the rule of law in Israel will be undermined and Israeli democracy will be dangerously weakened.

His critics are right that these investigations endanger Israel’s rule of law. But they have the process and the threat backward.

On their face, these probes are neither supported by sufficient evidence to bring a conviction, nor do they serve the public interest. These are the only two considerations that state prosecutors are supposed to be guided by when they decide whether or not to indict criminal suspects.

In Netanyahu’s case, the police’s insufficiently substantiated, arguably specious claims are the subject of around the clock media coverage, fed by constant leaks from police investigators and underpinned by middle-of-the-night arrests of respected citizens. The undisguised goal of this media coverage is to cultivate a sense among the public – without bringing a case to court – that Netanyahu and his friends and advisers are evil crooks who stop at nothing to get their way.

If these investigations are successful in forcing Netanyahu from office, he will not be the most significant victim of this abuse. If he goes, every current and future politician will know that at any time and under any circumstances he is liable to find himself and his loved ones destroyed by abusive criminal probes. Operating under such terror, no elected leader will ever move beyond the boundaries dictated for him by politicized police investigators, prosecutors, journalists and judges.

In other words, if Netanyahu is forced from office, Israeli democracy will be critically, and possibly irreparably, debilitated.
Jimmy Carter warns against one-state for Israel-Palestine
Former US president Jimmy Carter is warning that the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "is being overtaken by a one-state reality which will have dire consequences for Israel in the long-term."

Carter concluded that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state "is in Israel's best interest."

In a statement to the Security Council read Thursday by former US ambassador Richard Murphy, Carter said that a two-state solution "must be anchored on 1967 borders with agreed upon adjustments and with Jerusalem as the capital for both Israelis and Palestinians."

He said Gaza "is teetering on the brink of a humanitarian disaster" and warned that another war in the Hamas-ruled territory is "a real possibility—and the consequences would be catastrophic."
EU parliament politicians call for a full ban of Hezbollah
Members of the European Union parliament sent a letter on Thursday to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, urging her to classify all of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.

MEP Anders Vistisen, one of the three co-initiators of the letter, said:

"It’s outrageous that the European Union still has not denounced Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah's growing arsenal and entanglement in regional conflicts severely destabilizes certain countries and the wider Middle East. It is high time to acknowledge that Islamist inspired terrorism is not only a threat to the Middle East, but is also the top threat to Europe's security."

The letter was signed by a cross-section of 60 members of the European Parliament. The other two co-initiators were Lars Adaktusson and Péter Niedermüller.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid was in Brussels at the time of the MEP letter submission and said: “As part of an ongoing effort led by myself and my friend congressman Ted Deutch [Democrat-Florida], I raised this issue today with the Ambassadors to the EU and with Foreign Minister Mogherini. Hezbollah is one entity and that entity is a terror organization. It is time for the European Union to ban the entirety of Hezbollah and stop the money, recruitment of terrorists and shows of public support which are taking place on European soil. This letter is a welcome initiative and sooner or later the European Union will have to do the right thing.”

MEP Adaktusson said, “In order to stop Hezbollah's extensive terrorist activities, the EU approach has to change. Hezbollah is one united organization, and the EU policy cannot be based on a pretend division of this terrorist organization into a civilian and a military wing.”
Palestinian killed after attacking Israeli soldiers, military says
Security forces killed a Palestinian man on Thursday in the West Bank after he attacked them, an IDF spokeswoman said.

During a violent demonstration in Jericho, Yassin al-Saradih, 33, attacked soldiers with an iron bar, the spokeswoman stated.

The soldiers then proceeded to arrest Saradih, in the process of which they fatally wounded him, she added.

Surveillance camera footage shared on Twitter shows a man running at soldiers with a large object.

One soldier then shoots the man, who immediately falls to the ground. Subsequently, a group of soldiers restrain the man, while beating him with their weapons and kicking him.

Thereafter, the soldiers drag the man away.

The army spokeswoman said the footage was of the confrontation between the soldiers and Saradih.

Saradih also tried to seize a soldier’s weapon, according to the army spokeswoman.
IDF Officer Debates Former Syrian Military Officer on Al Jazeera
Adraee, who Tablet profiled earlier this month, is known for engaging Hezbollah fighters in Arabic on social media—one of his exchanges even provoked dueling columns in the Hezbollah-aligned Lebanese newspaper al Akhbar. He and Qirata debated in Arabic, with Adraee appearing on the Qatari state television network in his IDF uniform.

Unsurprisingly, the main subject of discussion was the recent shooting down of an Israeli fighter jet by Syrian air defenses. In response, Israel claimed to have destroyed half of Assad’s air defenses. “What benefit is there to one downed Israeli jet when moments later, half of the Syrian anti-aircraft missile system was destroyed?” the show’s host, Faisal al-Qasem, asked his Syrian guest. “Is the Syrian pride in downing an Israeli plane after 30 years similar to the joy of a paraplegic who succeeds in moving his fingers for a few seconds?”

Qirata, on his end, was unperturbed by the question, answering that “The downing of an Israeli plane is not merely a passing event and it is a game changer,” he claimed.

But Adraee had the last word. “Qirata lives in Spain and therefore cannot hear the sound of Israeli aerial superiority before and after this incident,” he said. “If he were to ask his friends and relatives in Damascus whether they hear (sense) the Israeli superiority they would respond in the affirmative.”
Jewish worshipers find swastikas defacing holy site in Palestinian village
Jewish worshipers found swastikas and graffiti spray-painted on the outer walls of the tomb of Joshua bin Nun in the northern West Bank early Thursday morning, officials said.

The Samaria Regional Council said that roughly 1,000 Israelis had arrived at the holy site in the village of Kifl Haris, northwest of the Ariel settlement, to pray and study Jewish texts on what they believe to be the anniversary of the death of Moses, Joshua’s predecessor.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan, who accompanied the worshipers Thursday morning, referred to the vandalism a “hate crime,” and called on security forces to apprehend those responsible.

“This is a serious event. The tomb of Joshua Bin Nun is a holy site with historic importance of the first order,” he said.

Other than the graffiti, the mass visit to the site passed without incident.


Abbas taken to Baltimore hospital for routine exams
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was taken to a Baltimore hospital Thursday for a routine checkup, Palestinians said.

Abbas, 82, said he had been given a clean bill of health after visiting Johns Hopkins Hospital while on a visit to the US to address the United Nations.

“Our presence here was a suitable chance for us to make some medical checks,” Abbas told Palestine TV, according to a Reuters translation. “We actually made those checks and we are out now and, thank God, all results are positive and are assuring. This is God’s blessing on us.”

Initial reports had suggested that Abbas was rushed to the hospital, but Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh said the visit was routine.

A spokesperson for Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, which treats many international patients, could not confirm Abbas’s visit.

Abbas had originally been scheduled to travel to Venezuela on Thursday, according to Reuters.
IsraellyCool: That Time Mahmoud Abbas Changed His Story About the Palestinian Refugees
We already know that PA President Mahmoud Abbas loves to change the palestinian narrative he puts forward. For instance, remember his claim at the UN the other day that the palestinians are “the descendants of the Canaanites that lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years ago”? Well, he’s also claimed they descend from the Canaanites of 3,500 years ago, and the Philistines (a completely different people to the Canaanites) of 6,000 years ago. This all also contradicts a claim by his colleague Saeb Erekat, who claimed they are descended from Canaanites of 10,000 year ago.

Well, I’ve found another of his changing stories, this time regarding the palestinian refugees.

In 2014, Abbas told students in Ramallah:
Someone asked me: How [could we receive] Israeli citizenship? I said: You are returning to the state of Israel. After all, the refugees, numbered at five million, and their children – were all expelled from the 1948 territories. There is no refugee from Nablus or Ramallah. They are all from Tiberius, Acre, Safed, Nazareth, Jaffa or Beersheba. If you want to return to Israel and receive an Israeli citizenship or not – you are free [to decide].”

But almost 40 years earlier, he was quoted in the March 1976 issue of Falastine a-Thaura (then the official journal of the PLO in Beirut) as saying

“The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live.”
Hamas: Time to Prep for Rule Without Abbas
Fatah criticized the Hamas terrorist group on Wednesday after spokespeople for Gaza’s Hamas rulers said that Palestinians should be preparing for life after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA has finished its historic role.

The Palestinian president gave a speech on Tuesday before the UN Security Council in which he presented what the PA called the Palestinian Peace Initiative.

“Abbas’ speech doesn’t represent the prevailing national Palestinian position that the Oslo Accords should be canceled and that there should be no return to negotiations,” said a special statement released by Hamas in reaction to the speech.

Hamas accused Abbas of trying to “revive the process of a political settlement that has already died while begging for the resumption of negotiation.”

Official Ousama Hamdan told media outlets that, “The Palestinian Authority has finished its path and the Palestinians are preparing for the age that comes after Abbas.”

Hamdan also addressed comments given to Israeli media by the Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Dr. Saeb Erekat, who told Israel’s Channel 2 that the Palestinian Authority has ceased to exist “and even though President Abbas will be angry with me, the true president of the Palestinian Authority is Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.”
Qatar Says Gaza Aid Spares Israel War, Shows Doha Does Not Back Hamas
Qatar is helping Israel avoid another Gaza war by funneling relief money to impoverished Palestinians with Washington’s blessing, a Qatari diplomat said on Thursday, describing the cooperation as evidence of Doha’s distance from Islamist Hamas.

Since coming under an embargo last year by its US-allied Gulf Arab neighbors, Qatar has made its aid to the Gaza Strip — and the coordination with Israel needed for disbursement — a focus of its diplomatic contacts with the Trump administration.

“Gaza is on the verge of collapsing,” Ambassador Mohammed Al-Emadi told Reuters in an interview in Jerusalem, after he met Israel‘s regional cooperation minister and security officials.

“This is what we are preventing: a war, the next war. We don’t want the next war,” he said of some $800 million in Qatari assistance to Gaza since the last Israel-Hamas conflict in 2014.

“The work that we are doing is keeping peace for both nations,” said the Qatari relief director for the Gaza Strip.

Israel has voiced alarm at the deepening poverty in Gaza, which it and neighboring Egypt keep under embargo in what they say is a precaution against Hamas arms-smuggling.
Amid Energy Crisis, Gaza Might Dump Raw Sewage Into the Mediterranean Sea
Officials in the Gaza Strip announced on Wednesday that if Hamas doesn’t loosen its grip on fuel provisions to the coastal enclave’s towns, they will be forced to begin dumping sewage directly into the Mediterranean Sea.

“The beaches of the Gaza Strip will be completely closed, and sewage will be pumped into the sea because the municipalities are unable to provide fuel” for treatment facilities, said Gaza City municipal head Nizar Hejazi.

“We announce a state of emergency in the cities and municipalities of the Gaza Strip,” he added, noting that services to residents would be cut in half.

Last week, Gaza’s only power plant stopped producing electricity due to a lack of fuel.

Pollution from Gaza has been a decades-long concern for Israelis and other nations on the Mediterranean coast. The local waste-treatment facility, built with $100 million of international funding, does not fully function because of Hamas’s refusal to allocate electricity.
U.N.: Hamas could lose control of Gaza to ‘radicals’
“Radical groups,” among them Islamic Jihad, could wrest control of Gaza from Hamas, thereby opening the door for outside forces to control the Strip, UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov warned in Jerusalem on Thursday.

The reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah is frozen at the moment, Mladenov said. Palestinian Authority President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s punitive economic measures have brought life in Gaza to a standstill, he added.

“People are not getting salaries. There is no electricity and no water. That increases the likelihood of the radicals taking over [from Hamas] with an agenda that would be more militant.”

New groups and outsides forces are active in the Strip, including “a number of Salafi elements” that are already operating aggressively, he said.

“What we see is one organization – watch it carefully over the next few months – Islamic Jihad, really coming out of the woodwork in Gaza,” Mladenov told the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations.

“All of the rockets that have been fired toward Israel from December of last year, came from Islamic Jihad,” he said. “This is an organization that has open links to one country [Iran] beyond the region, very open links.
Egypt, Hamas agree on lifting of Gaza border restrictions — report
Egypt has reportedly reached an agreement with Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, to lift restrictions on the coastal enclave.

According to a Channel 10 report Friday quoting “trustworthy” Palestinian sources, Egypt is weighing a number of measures to alleviate the poor living conditions in Gaza and has agreed to permit a freer flow of goods through the Rafah Border Crossing.

Implementing the decision, however, is dependent on Israel’s agreement, the report said.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, has been in Cairo the last two weeks. The terror group said earlier this month his visit would include discussions on the economic crisis “that put Gaza on the edge of the abyss.”

Israeli military and international officials have increasingly warned of the deteriorating conditions in the Strip and the potential for renewed violence between Hamas and Israel.
Iran seen uniting Lebanon proxies against Israel, but Hezbollah turns inward
Ten days ago, the head of the powerful Iraqi Shiite militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba arrived in the Beirut suburb of Dahieh, a stronghold of Hezbollah, and visited the grave of Imad Mughniyeh, the former global operations chief of the Lebanese terror group, to mark 10 years since Mughniyeh was killed in a car bomb.

The attendance of the Iraqi movement’s secretary-general, Akram al-Kaabi’s, at the event commemorating a terrorist thought to be responsible for many bombings, kidnappings and assassinations sends a clear message to Israel: Hezbollah is not alone.

Kaabi made that warning explicit. “We in the Iraqi resistance stand with Hezbollah, and we will stand with Hezbollah in any Israeli attack or action against it,” Kaabi said.

The message being sent was that many regional militias, including al-Nujaba, will join with Hezbollah in its next war against Israel — a war that has already threatened by the organization’s head Hassan Nasrallah.
Europe Can’t Effectively Stop the U.S. from Reimposing Sanctions on Iran
At a recent European economic conference, the head of the EU’s Iran task force stated that, if the U.S. were to renew sanctions against Iran that had been removed pursuant to the 2015 nuclear deal, Europe need not go along. He cited the precedent of the 1990s, when Brussels used “blocking regulations” that shielded European companies from the effects of American sanctions on Iran and Libya. But, writes Richard Goldberg, the sanctions now in question are much tougher, and would give Europeans little choice in the matter:

[I]n 2010 . . . Congress passed a new law leveraging America’s greatest strength against the fulcrum of global commerce with Iran: financial transactions. After years of blacklisting most financial institutions in Iran for their involvement in various illicit activities, Congress recognized that it also needed to punish third parties for doing business with these criminal enterprises. Thus, it declared that any foreign bank that maintained a correspondent banking relationship with a designated Iranian bank would forfeit its banking relationships in the United States. . . .

If President Trump decided to enforce these sanctions again, banks around the world would immediately be at risk of losing their correspondent accounts in the United States. Blocking regulations might shield a company from American-levied fines, but they cannot shield a British bank from losing its access to the U.S. financial system. This time around, the downside of U.S. sanctions would far outweigh the upside of Iranian trade. . . . And while diplomats in Brussels may want to stare Trump down and see if he flinches, banks will not want to take that risk.

The British, French, and German governments could help avoid this potential crisis by taking a more thoughtful approach on the Iran deal. Agreeing to repudiate its sunset clauses would avoid a transatlantic train wreck today without violating the agreement for years to come. Demanding verification of the agreement with visits to Iranian military sites would be a step toward enforcing the deal, not breaking it.
Outrage as Iran justice minister set to address UN human rights meet
Critics voiced outrage Thursday that Iran’s justice minister will travel to Geneva next week to address the UN’s top human rights body, despite facing Swiss and EU sanctions over rights violations.

Alireza Avaie figures among some 100 government ministers and other dignitaries from around the world due to address the opening of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main annual session.

Brussels and Bern have slapped sanctions on him, maintaining that as Tehran’s former top prosecutor he was “responsible for human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, denials of prisoners’ rights, and an increase in executions.”

According to exiled members of the Iranian opposition, he played a key role in a 1988 massacre of political prisoners.

Amnesty International has said nearly 5,000 prisoners were executed in a matter of months, while Iranian opposition groups put the figure closer to 30,000.
UN Watch: U.N. elects Syria to top post fighting “subjugation of peoples”
GENEVA, February 23, 2018 — A UN watchdog group is criticizing UN chief Antonio Guterres for his blessings delivered Thursday before an anachronistic UN committee charged with “decolonizing” the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar — at the same time as the 24-nation entity elected by acclamation the genocidal Syrian regime’s representative to a leadership post. “I commend this body’s contribution,” said Mr. Guterres.

UN Watch instead is calling on Mr. Guterres, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and the EU’s UN ambassadors to condemn the world body’s “absurd and morally obscene” election of Syria to a senior post on a decolonization committee that is charged with upholding fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples — a propaganda victory that—like before—will be trumpeted by the Assad regime.

The election of Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari took place this afternoon in the 2018 opening session of the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization.

Chile and India Failed to Vote Like Democracies
Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, said that outgoing President Michele Bachelet of Chile should be “ashamed” that her country joined the consensus vote, as should India. Both democracies sit on the 24-nation committee that elected the Assad regime’s candidate by acclamation.

UN Chief’s Moral Obligation to Speak Out
“It is incomprehensible for the UN on one day to lament the Syrian regime’s killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Syrians—to declare the regime guilty of a “monstrous campaign of annihilation” of its own people—and to then hand this gift of false legitimacy to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad,” said Neuer.

“Today’s UN vote only helps the Assad regime portray itself a UN human rights arbiter. That’s an insult to Syria’s victims,” said Neuer. “Morally, Mr. Guterres should do the right thing and at the very least condemn the decision.”
Michael J. Totten: Russian Attack on US Troops in Syria Elicits Deafening Silence from Politicians and Press
You probably didn't hear this because few media organizations have even mentioned it, but Russia committed an act of war against the United States a little more than a week ago. No, this is not about more social media and election shenanigans. Russia mounted an armed assault against American soldiers and our allies in Syria, including Kurdish security forces affiliated with the People's Protection Units, or YPG, at a military base in the city of Deir Ezzor, the largest in eastern Syria. Russian combatants fought alongside Assad regime fighters and Shia militias armed, funded and directed by Iran.

Both the Pentagon and the Kremlin are going out of their way to keep this as quiet as possible. If you only read the New York Times story about the incident on February 13, you'd have to squint and zero in on the subtext. After the United States used air and drone strikes to obliterate incoming assailants, including dozens of Russians, American military spokespeople assured the press in calm tones that there was never any chance that Russian and American forces would clash directly in Deir Ezzor or anywhere else. The Kremlin, for its part, said any Russians who might have participated in the assault were mercenaries unaffiliated with the Russian armed forces.

The problem with the Kremlin statement is that Russian mercenaries in Syria are employed by the Wagner Group, which works for the Russian government, and, specifically, for Russia's Ministry of Defense, not for the Syrian or Iranian governments. And the problem with the American statement is that the Pentagon is asking us to assume that dozens of Russians were killed not by the bombs it had just dropped but by somebody else...or perhaps by spontaneous heart attacks or a catastrophic series of vehicle accidents.

Some fine reporters at Bloomberg News dug a bit deeper. First, on February 14, Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko reported that wounded Russians were flown from the battlefield to hospitals administered by the Ministry of Defense in Moscow and St. Petersburg, belying the claim that they were freelancing for somebody else.


ISIS Destroyed Jonah's Tomb But Inadvertently Unearthed More Biblical Evidence
Archaeologists discovered an ancient palace and 2,700-year-old inscriptions about a biblical Assyrian king in tunnels the Islamic State dug under Jonah’s tomb.

ISIS bombed the biblical prophet’s tomb in 2014 and dug four tunnels beneath the Nineveh-located site to plunder artifacts and sell them on the black market. But where terrorists tried to wipe out the historical remnants, archaeologists recently made two, important biblical finds, according to Aleteia. Archaeologists announced in 2017 the sub-tomb tunnels led them to the accidental discovery of an ancient Assyrian palace. Their December 2017 published research recounts the rule of King Esarhaddon, who is mentioned in 2 Kings, Isaiah and Ezra.

“The palace of Esarhaddon, strong king, king of the world, king of Assyria, governor of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the kings of lower Egypt, upper Egypt and Kush [an ancient kingdom located south of Egypt in Nubia],” one translated inscription shows, according to Aleteia.

The inscriptions also avails Esarhaddon “reconstructed the temple of the god Aššur [the Assyrians’ main deity],” “renewed the statues of the great gods,” and rebuilt Babel and the city of Ésagila. Archaeologists also assert the king began rebuilding structures that were possibly the ancient Tower of Babel.



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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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