|Edwin Black||April 28th 2016|
Jerusalem Post and agencies
For a hard-core segment of travelers to Jerusalem, when the sun sets at the Sabbath, the magic in the air is not just the serene image of a peaceful dusk in an enchanted land. It is the empowering knowledge that the sun still shines on a Jewish State surrounded by fiery military and diplomatic turmoil. Israel remains a nation determined to survive and preserve its sense of magnetic amazement. In the minds of many, a visit to Israel is more than just a vacation. It is a geopolitical destination. Traveling to and enjoying Israel makes a statement to the world and to history. It reflects the steeled determination to be happy and fulfilled in one of the most treasured places on earth, despite a virtual siege around every corner. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|J. Millard Burr and Rachel Ehrenfeld||April 24th 2016|
The American media, which continues to concentrate on a bill making its way through Congress that would allow American citizens to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for losses suffered as a result of the 9/11 attacks, paid no attention to the Golden Chain.
The victims claim that the release of the 28 pages missing from the 9/11 Commission Report is of crucial importance to their case. Those pages, they say, would show the interrelationship that ties the hijackers to the Saudi regime itself and therefore would offer a damning indictment of the Kingdom. But President Obama, like President Bush before him, refuses to make it public. And the Saudi Royal Family that vehemently denies funding al Qaeda, threatened that if the 28 pages are released, they would sell more than $750 billion of Saudi investments in the U.S.
Of equal if not of greater importance than the missing 28 pages, is the forgotten investigation of the Bosnia-BIF office. Crucially, among the boxes and files was found a note ostensibly written by Osama Bin Laden that lists a "Golden Chain" of twenty Arab plutocrats who were and remain suspected of financing international terrorism, including the funding of al Qaeda. Read more ..
The Race for Natural Gas
|Emmanuel Karagiannis||March 19th 2016|
Middle East Quarterly
The Eastern Mediterranean is changing fast with its estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves (the equivalent of 21 billion barrels of oil) already having an impact on regional patterns of amity and enmity. With Israel and Cyprus well underway to becoming gas exporters, the problematic Israeli-Lebanese and Cypriot-Turkish relationships have been further strained. At the same time, energy cooperation has been the driving force behind the nascent Greek-Cypriot-Israeli partnership, manifested in rapidly growing defense and economic cooperation. Clearly, the development of energy resources and their transportation will have far-reaching geopolitical implications for the Eastern Mediterranean and its nations. Read more ..
|Shmuley Boteach||February 4th 2016|
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Sidney Blumenthal has been an intimate family friend to Hillary Clinton for two decades, and the emails between them show late night calls, social visits to one another’s home, and all the informality expected of two close and trusted friends. We know Mr. Blumenthal was a senior adviser to Ms. Clinton during her 2008 campaign for the presidency and would have continued during her time as secretary of state had his appointment not been stopped by President Obama’s staff due to Mr. Blumenthal’s penchant for nasty campaign tactics.
Nonetheless, Ms. Clinton valued Mr. Blumenthal’s advice to such a degree that she secretly hired him as a private advisor, paying him $120,000 a year for his services.
A number of columns have been written exposing how Mr. Blumenthal sent articles to Ms. Clinton from his son Max, one of America’s most notorious Israel haters. Ms. Clinton responded very favorably to them. Some of these writings would later be the basis for Max’s anti-Semitic Goliath, whose book launch was thrown by Sid at his own home. The disgraceful writings compare Israel to the Nazis, call for the expulsion of the Jews from Israel and whitewash Palestinian terrorism. For good measure Max also compares the Israel Defense Forces to the SS.
China on Edge
|Sol. W. Sanders||January 17th 2016|
Largely ignored by the mainstream media, Friday's Taiwan elections have enormous implications not only for the Island's 25 million people but also China - and the U.S.
Ironically, the election of the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] leader, Tsai Ing-wen, a woman at that - reinstalled a movement dedicated to maintaining Taiwan's separate identity, the Island's culture remains Chinese. It marks only a second time in its 2,000-year a Chinese entity has peacefully transferred power. The DPP earlier won power in 100-1008 as a minority government.
The meeting last fall between Beijing's Pres. Xi Jinping and Taiwan's outgoing Pres. Ma Ying-jeou was not only unprecedented but finally marked the tacit recognition by the Communists of the Island's stature. Beijing now has to bite its lip, having apparently Communist leadership thought that protocol concession after six decades would help Ma's Party. Read more ..
|Gil Ronen||January 12th 2016|
Four years ago, then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton considered a secret plan created by her advisers to clandestinely foment unrest among Arabs in Judea and Samaria, in order to push the Israeli government back to the negotiating table.
The revelation arises from emails released as part of the investigation into the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s private email server.
The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday that in a December 18, 2011, email, former US ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering suggested that Clinton consider restarting peace negotiations by stirring up Palestinian demonstrations against Israel.
Pickering described the idea as a potential “game changer in the region.” Clinton reportedly asked that his email be printed.
“What will change the situation is a major effort to use non-violent protests and demonstrations to put peace back in the center of people’s aspirations as well as their thoughts, and use that to influence the political leadership,” Pickering wrote. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi||December 29th 2015|
When it comes to looking at the Islamic State, a significant problem for research is that much of the content coming out of Islamic State-controlled territory is propaganda, primarily in the form of high quality videos and photo releases from the Islamic State’s official media outlets. Though there is some important analysis to be done on this propaganda- see the work of Charlie Winter, for instance, analysing the themes in-depth, and a more recent piece by Aaron Zelin suggesting a decline in quality of output- I myself find that after a while the monitoring of the content becomes rather predictable. For example, photo streams continue to centre around familiar motifs like battles, scenes of daily life in Islamic State-controlled towns and villages, implementation of Islamic justice, photos of natural beauty, and the like. Read more ..
The Battle for Syria
|Reid Standish||December 11th 2015|
Following the 2008 war in Georgia, Russia projected an air of victory. Georgian forces were crushed, and the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were bolstered. But the win was clouded by the poor performance of Russian ground and air forces in what had turned out to be a far messier and bloodier campaign than the Kremlin envisioned. And in the aftermath, Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, launched a massive program to trim the country’s bloated military, beef up training, and replace its outdated hardware.
Two-and-a-half months into Russia’s air war in Syria, the fruits of those reforms are on display as Moscow ups the ante in the Middle East. Read more ..
|Yigal Carmon||November 19th 2015|
What is mistakenly perceived as an agreement under the title of "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" (JCPOA), that was concluded on July 14 in Vienna, and celebrated by the White House as an "historic agreement," is neither a contract nor even a real agreement between Iran and the P5+1. It is a set of understandings and disputes compiled into a single document.
For example, the JCPOA states that in the event of Iranian violations, sanctions will be re-imposed (snapback). However, the Iranian position, which rejects all sanctions, is incorporated in the same document. In outlining the snapback of the sanctions, Article 37 also stipulates: "Iran has stated that if sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part." Read more ..
|Taylor Tyler||October 3rd 2015|
Kirchner said that two years into Obama's first term, his administration sent Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Argentina to persuade the nation to provide Iran with nuclear fuel, which is a key component of nuclear weapons.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner claimed Monday afternoon at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City that in 2010, the Obama administration tried to convince the Argentinians "to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel," reported Mediaite
Kirchner said that two years into Obama's first term, his administration sent Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Argentina to persuade the nation to provide Iran with nuclear fuel, which is a key component of nuclear weapons.." Read more ..
Jewry on Edge
|Edwin Black||August 31st 2015|
On February 17, 2015, a number of America’s most vituperative anti-Israel activists woke up to discover that they had been named and spotlighted by a mysterious new website called Canary Mission, visible at www.canarymission.org. The site boldly aggregates the public statements, videos, and photographs of leading members of the organized movement against Israel in their most telling and often most demonstrative moments. The profiled individuals span a gamut of track records ranging from those with leadership roles with such intensely anti-Israel groups as Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association to unaffiliated campus agitators who regularly advocate for the destruction of Israel and even the murder of Jews. All its profiles are compiled from public Internet sources such as social media, You Tube, Twitter, press releases, news clips, and interviews.
In essence, Canary Mission took a card from the New Israel Fund, which some years ago helped finance the Coalition of Women for Peace that created the Who-Profits database that acted as a global compass of Israeli commercial activity for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions strategies. Canary Mission flipped the card and blacklisted the blacklisters.
Because Canary Mission works beneath a complete shroud of secrecy, it has been called “shadowy.” It is commonly labelled as McCarthy-like in its actions within the pages of leading Jewish and mainstream media, as well as political websites, even though its modus operendi is obviously the opposite of McCarthyism. Even sources as tenuous as Wikipedia define McCarthyism as “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence,” as was done during the anti-Communist scare of the 1950s. Canary Mission relies on vetted, publically visible pictures, protest placards, open statements, and video clips that speak for themselves and are primarily drawn from previously well-publicized activities. In other words, Canary Mission aggregates publically verifiable information into a single place. It is not clear why media outlets have not made the historical distinction or provided context. Read more ..
China On Edge
|Rodger Baker ||August 18th 2015|
Last week was an eventful one for China. First, the People's Bank of China shocked the financial world when it cut the yuan's reference rate against the U.S. dollar by nearly 2 percent, leading to a greater than 2 percent drop in the value of the yuan in offshore trading. The decline triggered a frenzy of speculation, including some expectations that the Chinese move would trigger a race to the bottom for Asian currencies. Beijing said the adjustment was designed to fix distortions between the trading rate of the yuan and the rate it should have been at according to speculation, and that subsequent large shifts were unlikely. The International Monetary Fund, however, noted that the move could lead to a freer floating yuan — something the IMF has asked of Beijing before the organization considers including the yuan in its Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies. In comments made on the sidelines of its annual report on the Chinese economy, released later in the week, the IMF also noted that the yuan was not undervalued, despite the decline. Read more ..
Justice on Edge
|Edwin Black||August 5th 2015|
Times of Israel
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What follows is an article written and first published by Edwin Black 13 years ago. For this piece, author and journalist Black visited Jonathan Pollard in prison. He extensively interviewed Pollard’s attorneys and reviewed their evidence, and also interviewed then ex-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US secretary of defense Casper Weinberger, and many other key figures. Now that Pollard is being released under statutory conditions — he will be paroled on November 20 — "the nagging questions linger," says Black today. "Jonathan Pollard has spent thirty years in prison – 3 times longer than more egregious offenders.” This article — unedited from the 2002 original — explains why.
On January 7, 2002, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped through the two-doored entry chamber of a prison sally port. After the first fudge-brown steel and armored glass door slowly closed right-to-left behind him, Netanyahu passed his hand beneath a black light reader along the left wall. It illuminated a small security stamp on his hand, not unlike the type disco clubs use. Behind opaque, silver-tinted windows, watchful security officers in the control room completed their checklist, approving Netanyahu's access. Then in a low mechanized rumble, the entry chamber’s long second door opened left-to-right, admitting Netanyahu to an inner corridor of the prison. He was ushered just down the hall and then into a large room on the right, filled with vending machines and tables. There, waiting for him was the man Netanyahu wanted to see.
The prison was not in Israel, it was in North Carolina. Netanyahu had flown to Raleigh Durham and then driven the forest-lined 20 minutes to the Federal Correctional Institution at Butner. It was all to talk to America’s most controversial Jewish prisoner, now serving his 17th year of incarceration. The prisoner, 09185-016, was Jonathan Jay Pollard, the American Jew who pleaded guilty in 1986 to spying for Israel, and was abruptly sentenced to life imprisonment despite a binding plea bargain that restricted any request for so harsh a term.
|Ofra Bengio||August 4th 2015|
The Arab upheavals have enabled a Greater Kurdistan to emerge as a major regional player by blurring geographical barriers and strengthening cross-border nationalism among the disparate Kurdish communities in Turkey (15 million), Iran (8 million), Iraq (6-7 million), and Syria (2.5 million). At the same time, with most of these groups mired in fights with their own governments and/or the nascent Islamic State and expanding into areas rich in oil reserves and water resources, conflicting interests and competition for control of these strategic assets have exacerbated rivalries and tensions among them.
Iraq's Kurds have made the greatest strides toward statehood. Since their 2003 delivery from Saddam Hussein's despotic regime they have enjoyed effective autonomy, and their geostrategic significance has greatly increased as they became the main bulwark to the Islamic State following the Iraqi army's repeated defeats at the hands of the Islamist group. Read more ..
|Burak Bekdil||July 29th 2015|
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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (the Islamic State, or IS) has been the number one target for the world's democratic nations, since it captured large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq last summer and declared caliphate under sharia law in the lands it controls. The United States and its allies have been waging a war against IS at a distance. So is NATO ally Turkey, at least theoretically, and not at a distance.
In reality, things are a bit different. Especially since the beginning of this year, several press reports in local and international media outlets told chilling stories about how jihadists move freely and recruit fighters in some of Turkey's biggest cities. "It is no secret that Turkey has become a fertile ground for jihadist activity. Turkey says it fights IS. Maybe it does. But just randomly and reluctantly," said one EU ambassador in Ankara.
Jewish Voice and agencies
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Times Square July 22 evening in protest over the recent landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
Protest organizers proclaim ed: “Washington is prepared to give Iran virtually all that it needs to get to the bomb. To release $150 billion to Iran will result in the expansion of worldwide terror.”
Former New York Governor, and Presidential contender, George Pataki joined the chorus of voices urging lawmakers to block the deal.
“Reject this deal. Protect America. Protect Israel and protect the world from freedom,” Pataki said.
The Stop Iran Rally Coalition — a bi-partisan group — is also calling out Sen. Charles Schumer, saying he “has the votes as presumptive leader to override this deal….If this deal is not stopped, New York voters will know whom to blame,” protestors shouted. Sen. Schumer said in a statement Wednesday that he wasn’t ready to make a decision on the deal yet. Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Edwin Black||July 17th 2015|
Cutting Edge contributor
When the last plaintive shofar blast echoed through the Washington D.C. Convention Center of the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Policy Conference extravaganza of support for Israel, July 13–14, 2015, it was not the record attendance of 5,000 fired-up pro-Israel Christians that marked a turning point for the 10-year old group. Nor was it the several on-stage and pre-recorded presidential candidate interviews -- from Jeb Bush to Mike Huckabee, conducted by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal that will be most remembered. Nor was it the video salute from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, nor the blazing oratory of Presidents Conference Vice-Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein that prompted standing ovations.
Instead, it was the quiet 24-minute briefing by CUFI executive director David Brog and CUFI national leader Gary Bauer for a half-dozen national reporters conducted around a circular table in a small non-descript room in a roped-off corner off the lobby that revealed the muscular new role for the CUFI community.
CUFI has spun off a ready-to-rumble NRA-style political lobbying arm called Christians United for Israel Action Fund. Its first mission will be to demonstratively oppose the controversial Iran nuclear deal now before Congress. Working independently of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the CUFI Action Fund promises to deliver a partisan political punch from its national reservoir of 2.2 million fiercely supportive Christian Zionists, asserted Bauer, a former presidential hopeful, key Republican strategist, and Washington director of the new CUFI Action Fund.
Bauer stated that even though the Fund’s office space has not been rented or even selected yet, and a proposed staff of about a dozen is still being hired, multimillion funding is in place and the Fund is ready to tackle the Iran nuclear deal at once. Job one, said Bauer, is the immediate commencement of daily reports to every Congressional office. In addition, the Fund will mobilize core supporters across the country to create “centers of influence of local pastors and businessmen … leaders in their communities” that can act in home districts the way a national office cannot. Home district activists “who are donors to an elected official or have a business relationship” are in a position “that the Congressman or top aide will actually take their phone call,” Bauer elaborated. Hence, the Fund will flex both national and localized muscle. Read more ..
Mexico On Edge
|George Friedman||July 16th 2015|
The July 11 escape of the notorious Sinaloa crime boss, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, from a maximum-security prison in Mexico has drawn considerable Mexican and international media attention. While the brazen and elaborate nature of the escape will add to the lore already surrounding Guzman, the escape itself carries little significance for organized crime in Mexico — though it will place a momentary strain on coordination between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement. The forces that drive the evolution of organized crime and their impact on society in Mexico are simply greater than any single crime boss.
Mexico's geography enabled drug traffickers like Guzman to operate on a global scale. As international law enforcement effectively dismantled the powerful Colombian cartels and stymied their maritime trafficking routes through the Caribbean in the 1980s and 1990s, Mexico became the lynchpin of new smuggling routes into the United States. This evolution took place just as the Mexican criminal networks that trafficked drugs broke down into smaller groups. Though crime bosses like Guzman rose in stature relative to others, all organized crime groups in Mexico are the result of a systematic decentralization in cartel structure that continues today. Read more ..
Greece on Edge
|George Friedman||July 7th 2015|
In a result that should surprise no one, the Greeks voted to reject European demands for additional austerity measures as the price for providing funds to allow Greek banks to operate. There are three reasons this should have been no surprise. First, the ruling Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza party, is ruling because it has an understanding of the Greek mood. Second, the constant scorn and contempt that the European leadership heaped on the prime minister and finance minister convinced the Greeks not only that the scorn was meant for them as well but also that anyone so despised by the European leadership wasn't all bad. Finally, and most important, the European leadership put the Greek voters in a position in which they had nothing to lose. The Greeks were left to choose between two forms of devastation — one that was immediate but possible to recover from, and one that was a longer-term strangulation with no exit. Read more ..
|Bernard Banks||June 25th 2015|
Cutting Edge contributor
Eighteen distinguished Iran specialists have signed an opne letter of alarm to Obama administration over the pending nuclear deal with Iran. The eminent list includes some of those who worked with the Administraion closely on the question. The list includes: Robert Einhorn, special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control at State until just before the interim deal, Gary Samore who served as the Administration's lead expert on arms control and WMDs from 2009-2013, and Dennis Ross who held the Persian Gulf portfolio at State, David Petraeus former head of the CIA, and Gen. James Cartwright former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The statement follows:
Over the last three years, members of this bipartisan group have convened regularly under the auspices of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy to discuss the status of the Iran nuclear issue, frequently benefitting from the input of current Administration officials. Last week, at its most recent meeting, the group determined that it could usefully contribute to the public debate on the ongoing negotiations by presenting its consensus view of critical issues.This statement reflects that broad consensus. Read more ..
Behind the Headlines
The State Department Inspector General inspected the agencyâs Diplomatic Security Service, or DSS. The inspection covered the final year of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. More than 1,000 cases of criminal conduct by State Department personnel were investigated by DSS in 2012. A final IG report was issued shortly after Clinton left office.
Reports of pedophilia, sexual abuse, and confrontations among co-workers should've been included in the report. But they were not.
A pair of whistleblowers [Aurelia Fedenisn and Richard Higbie] separately came forward and reported criminal acts allegedly perpetrated by senior State Department personnel had been stripped from the final report.
Some investigations were stopped in-progress. Like the case of a senior official who was alleged to have sexually abused foreign nationals while assigned to several embassies.
The investigation of an ambassador -- accused of pedophilia -- was halted on orders from “someone on the 7th floor,” according to official documents. Read more ..
The Edge of Sport
|Fred Burton||June 18th 2015|
Security professionals make it their business to be unseen. At concerts and sporting events, they are the ones standing unnoticed in corners and doorways, quietly blending into the walls while someone else takes center stage.
So it's no surprise that with all the recent coverage of the FIFA scandal, more attention has been paid to Rolex-clad executives, ostensibly sitting in well-lit offices and allegedly taking bribes ahead of their next golf outing, than to a group that has enormous insight into the day-to-day dealings of FIFA's administration: the security team. Someone from that team knows what meetings are happening when and where and with whom. Someone has access to his or her travel itineraries and hotel room numbers, business and personal schedules, phone records and emails — all vital evidence for the prosecution. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Allan Holmes and Chris Zubak-Skees||June 9th 2015|
Center for Public Integrity
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More than a quarter of Americans cannot go online at home to check their children’s grades at school, apply for jobs, pay bills or research health issues. They don’t have what has become a crucial service for participation in modern society: Internet service at home.
The proportion of households with Internet service had been rising steadily for decades, according to the Pew Research Center, until the past few years when the adoption rate slowed.
One reason? The high cost of broadband and the lack of competition that leads to those high prices.
A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Internet prices in five U.S. cities and five comparable French cities found that prices in the U.S. were as much as 3 1/2 times higher than those in France for similar service. The analysis shows that consumers in France have a choice between a far greater number of providers — seven on average — than those in the U.S., where most residents can get service from no more than two companies. The Center’s analysis echoes the findings of several studies on Internet pricing disparities worldwide.
Turkey on Edge
Burak Bekdil||June 8th 2015|
For the first time since his Islamist party won its first election victory in 2002, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was nowhere to be seen on election night. He did not make a victory speech. He did not, in fact, make any speech.
Not only failing to win the two-thirds majority it desired to change the constitution, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority and the ability to form a single-party government. It won 40.8% of the national vote and 258 seats, 19 short of the simple majority requirement of 276. Erdogan is now the lonely sultan at his $615 million, 1150-room presidential palace. For the first time since 2002, the opposition has more seats in parliament than the AKP: 292 seats to 258. Read more ..
|Omar Lamrani ||June 4th 2015|
In a display of considerable flexibility on the battlefield, the Islamic State managed to take rebel forces in northern Aleppo by surprise with a large-scale offensive aimed at securing more territory along the Syria-Turkey border. After drawing down its forces in the area, the Islamic State's sudden tactical shift resulted in considerable initial gains against the rebels. Islamic State fighters seized Sawran and are advancing near Mare. But thanks to reinforcements from Aleppo city and other provinces, Syrian rebel forces have already begun to mount powerful counterattacks against the Islamic State. For now, the outcome of the battle hangs in the balance as both sides move to bolster their ranks. Read more ..
The Edge of Intolerance
“Violent dispossession.” In an Arabic dialect, the word is Farhud. For decades after it occurred, many thought the nightmare was a sudden and unexpected convulsion that afflicted the Iraqi Jewish community, one that lived in that land for some 2,600 years. But in truth, the wild rape and killing spree of June 1–2, 1941 was not unexpected. For years, the Jew hatred, anti-British rage, and Nazi agitation seethed just below the surface, like a smoking volcano waiting to erupt.
Soon after Hitler took power in 1933, Germany’s chargé d’affaires in Baghdad, German Arab specialist Fritz Grobba, acquired the Christian Iraqi newspaper, Al-Alem Al Arabi, converting it into a Nazi organ that published an Arabic translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in installments. Then, Radio Berlin began beaming Arabic programs across the Middle East. The Nazi ideology of Jewish conspiracy and international manipulation was widely adopted in Iraqi society, especially within the framework of the Palestine problem that dominated Iraqi politics.
As Arab Nationalism and Hitlerism fused, numerous Nazi-style youth clubs began springing up in Iraq. One pivotal group known as Futuwwa was nothing less than a clone of the Hitler Youth. In 1938, Futuwwa members were required to attend a candlelight Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg. When the delegation came back from Germany, a common chant in Arabic was, “Long live Hitler, the killer of insects and Jews.” Read more ..
Palestinians on Edge
|Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky||May 18th 2015|
Faced with the suffering of their own people, the Palestinians' leadership recently decided not to help. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a deal with Israel brokered by the United Nations that would allow Palestinian refugees living in Syria to resettle in the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas stated unequivocally that "we rejected that and said it's better they die in Syria than give up their right of return." The Palestine Liberation Organization has also ruled out any military action to help the 18,000 or more refugees who are trapped in the Yarmouk camp near Damascus. Read more ..
The Iranian Threat
|George Friedman||May 14th 2015|
The sectarian conflict in the Middle East can neatly be divided into two sides: Sunnis and Shiites. Or so it would seem. The reality, it turns out, is more complicated. Sunni unity is a myth – the countries that constitute the Sunni camp are divided over a variety of issues. And the Shiites, whose power has grown since the early 1990s, nonetheless suffer from the inescapable constraints of being a minority population. Indeed, the single most defining characteristic of the Shiite camp is that it comprises only a fraction of the Muslim population. More than three-fourths of all Muslims practice Sunni Islam.
According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, only four countries have a Shiite majority: Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq. But other countries have notable Shiite minority populations as well, including Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. Shiites also form the largest confessional group in Lebanon and account for as much as 20 percent of the 180 million or so Muslims in India. Read more ..
|David Albright, Paulina Izewicz, and Andrea Stricker||May 5th 2015|
Despite the fact that Iran no longer has a stock of near 20 percent low enriched uranium (LEU) in hexafluoride form, it retains a significant portion of this material in the form of oxide.
Under the July 2014 extension of the interim deal of the Joint Plan of Action, Iran pledged to convert 25 kilograms of LEU oxide into fuel assemblies for the Tehran Research Reactor. The goal of this step was to reduce the ease of reconverting this uranium oxide and using it in a breakout to nuclear weapons. However, only about 5-10 kilograms of this near 20 percent LEU actually ended up in the fuel. In the most recent extension, Iran committed to use another 35 kilograms for that purpose. Although the efficiency rates are expected to be higher this time, Iran will still retain large amounts of near 20 percent LEU in both oxide powder and in scrap, in-process material and in waste. The figure below shows that far more LEU, almost triple the amount, is ending up in scrap and waste than in fuel assemblies. The bulk of this LEU is recoverable and usable in fuel or in a breakout to nuclear weapons. Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|Geroge Friedman||May 2nd 2015|
On April 23, the European Union submitted to pressure from Italy and Malta and held an emergency summit to address the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean. Between January and April, more than 1,750 migrants died in shipwrecks at sea, a death toll 30 times higher than that of the same period in 2014. Over the past year and a half, Italian ships have rescued more than 200,000 people in the Mediterranean Sea.
After the summit concluded, EU leaders decided to triple the financial resources for the bloc's operations in the Mediterranean Sea and to boost cooperation with certain countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger to better control borders and combat human trafficking. They also asked EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini to begin preparing for a possible military operation aimed at identifying, capturing and destroying vessels before traffickers could use them. Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Edwin Black||April 21st 2015|
Lawsuits may soon be coming.
A stunning new Israeli Supreme Court decision has upheld most of a 2011 Israeli law enabling civil recovery actions against those that proliferate Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli individuals, companies, and institutions. Most of the Law Preventing Harm to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott was sustained in a recent ruling — the court's strongly-worded majority opinion, seven concurring opinions and dissent covered 233-pages. The newly enabled addition to Israel Civil Tort Law 62A covers the total Israeli domain, that is, the Jewish State delineated in 1948 and all territory under Israeli control, including the West Bank. As such, those suffering losses by BDS activity can sue for actual damages. Punitive damages are disallowed under the ruling. Critics are predicting litigation against the New Israel Fund (NIF) and its NGO grantees that promote BDS.
For its part, the NIF and its grantees that fought hard against the law during the run-up to the Supreme Court decision have almost universally condemned the decision as an attack against freedom of expression and democracy.
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By way of background, the NIF was pivotal in the early establishment of the international anti-Israel boycott through its funding of the Coalition of Women for Peace and other activities. After widespread criticism, the NIF stopped funding the Coalition of Women for Peace. However, many key NIF grantees, such as Partners for Progressive Israel (PPI), remain vibrantly involved in the BDS movement.
For example, a February 2015 PPI policy statement published on its website, accessed April 20, 2015, states: "PPI supports a selective, targeted boycott of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, not at Israel as a whole. The conception of a selective boycott first adopted by PPI called for a boycott of goods produced by the settlements." However, several PPI web pages devoted to boycotting settlement products were found blanked out when accessed after the Supreme Court ruling. These include such pages as one entitled "boycott-settlement-products." Read more ..
|Omri Ariel||April 17th 2015|
Thousands of Yazidi women are being held captive in the Islamic State's Shariya refugee camp in Iraq, on the border with Syrian Kurdistan. Few of them managed to escape, and now tell the horrifying stories of those who were left behind. These women go through a special kind of hell – being treated like cattle, sold as sex slaves and forcefully married off to abusive, violent husbands. This treatment is part of the jihadists' "big plan" – to establish a radical Islamist nation, a "caliphate", based on Sharia law as it was implemented in the seventeenth century, in the early days of Islam.
In an article on CNN, the women who fled IS describe how they were sent to enslavement warehouses, where they were lined up in groups of 50 and put on display in front of men in order to be chosen as their wives or sex slaves. These stories have been confirmed by doctors who examined them and say they have found evidence of repeated sexual assault. Read more ..
The Edge of the Universe
|Jason Wright||April 14th 2015|
After searching 100,000 galaxies for signs of highly advanced extraterrestrial life, a team of scientists using observations from NASA's WISE orbiting observatory has found no evidence of advanced civilizations in them. "The idea behind our research is that, if an entire galaxy had been colonized by an advanced spacefaring civilization, the energy produced by that civilization's technologies would be detectable in mid-infrared wavelengths -- exactly the radiation that the WISE satellite was designed to detect for other astronomical purposes," said Jason T. Wright, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State University, who conceived of and initiated the research.
The research team's first paper about its Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies Survey (G-HAT) is published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. Also among the team's discoveries are some mysterious new phenomena in our own Milky Way galaxy. Read more ..
Qatar on Edge
|Onn Winckler||April 12th 2015|
Middle East Quarterly
Most states do not divulge all demographic parameters of their population. At times, this data is unavailable due to the weakness of the regime as is the case with many sub-Saharan African countries and, more recently, with Yemen, Syria, and Iraq due to their prolonged civil wars. In other countries, such as the United States, Belgium, and France, there is a lack of data on the religious composition of the population due to official separation of church and state.
While none of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have ever published the religious composition of their indigenous populations, Qatar has lagged further behind: It does not even make public the total size of its indigenous population, considered "a national secret." As the online editor of a Qatari-based business publication was told when approaching the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA) for the data: "We regret to inform you that the required data is not available." Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Abha Shankar||April 10th 2015|
A year ago, he wanted to join the U.S. Army to kill his fellow soldiers. When that didn't work, 20-year-old John T. Booker repeatedly expressed his desire to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or commit a suicide attack in the United States on the terrorist group's behalf.
Booker, a convert to Islam who changed his name to Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, said American soldiers are enemies to Muslims, and the Quran sanctions killing enemies anywhere.
FBI agents arrested Booker Friday morning just outside Fort Riley, a military base near Manhattan, Kan. He was driving a van loaded with what he thought was 1,000 pounds of explosives. In fact, the bomb was rendered inert by FBI agents and informants. He is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to blow up government property and providing material support to the Islamic State. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Bernard Banks||April 9th 2015|
from AFP and agencies
French television network TV5Monde said Thursday that it had been hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group, who brought television broadcasts to a halt and and hijacked its websites and social networks. The Paris-based company was able to partially resume television broadcasts by 1:00 am (2300 GMT) after a three-hour blackout, the network's director-general Yves Bigot told AFP, but added its systems had been "severely damaged" by an "unprecedented attack".
The hackers posted documents on TV5Monde's Facebook page purporting to be the identity cards and CVs of relatives of French soldiers involved in anti-IS operations, along with threats against the troops. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Abigail Klein Leichman||April 8th 2015|
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The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, describes a network of Internet-enabled objects (“things”) capable of transferring data to one another to perform tasks without human intervention. This machine-to-machine connectivity will completely transform our daily lives, according to presenters at Israel’s first ISmart Conference. The February event in Jerusalem presented a window on the future of IoT and how Israeli entrepreneurs, investors, companies, designers and technologists will play a role in it.
“IoT is going to be the biggest wave of the Internet that we’ve ever seen, more than mobile Internet and cloud computing,” declared Inbar Lasser-Raab, the Israel-based vice president of enterprise networks and IoT marketing for the multinational networking equipment maker Cisco.
By 2020, it is expected that 26 billion objects will be connected to the Internet, not including PCs, tablets and smartphones.
We’re talking about vehicles that communicate with each other on the road. Smart home systems that manage power consumption. Smart bracelets to help parents locate children. Wearables that let you and your doctor keep tabs on your health. Drones that can deliver a package for you and come back home automatically.
The Edge of the Universe
|Francis Reddy||April 5th 2015|
Using archival data from the Japan-led Suzaku X-ray satellite, astronomers have determined the pre-explosion mass of a white dwarf star that blew up thousands of years ago. The measurement strongly suggests the explosion involved only a single white dwarf, ruling out a well-established alternative scenario involving a pair of merging white dwarfs.
"Mounting evidence indicates both of these mechanisms produce what we call type Ia supernovae," said lead researcher Hiroya Yamaguchi, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "To understand how these stars explode, we need to study the debris in detail with sensitive instruments like those on Suzaku." Read more ..
|Olli Heinonen||March 30th 2015|
With reports that Washington and its partners may reach a nuclear accord with Iran in the coming days, a former senior IAEA safeguards official answers the most pressing questions about Tehran's program and how the agreement might affect its capabilities.
What is the commonly accepted definition of "breakout time"?
This is the time required to produce enough weapons-grade uranium (WGU) for one nuclear weapon. To produce WGU, uranium needs to be enriched (e.g., with centrifuges) to more than 90 percent of its fissile isotope U-235. The amount of WGU required for one weapon is defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as about 27 kg of uranium. This amount is often called a "significant quantity" (SQ). Read more ..
|Martin Matishak||March 28th 2015|
The head of the House Select Committee on Benghazi says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has erased all information from the personal email server she used while serving as the nation’s top diplomat.
“We learned today, from her attorney, Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a statement Friday.
He said while it’s “not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department.”
Read more ..
Last week, Gowdy sent a letter to Clinton’s attorney asking that the email server be turned over to a third party in the hopes that an investigation could recover about 30,000 emails that her team deleted before turning the rest over to the State Department.
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