This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Russia Confronted, Ukraine Invaded

"Columns of heavy artillery, huge loads of arms and regular Russian servicemen came to the territory of Ukraine from Russia through the uncontrolled border."
"The situation is certainly extremely difficult and nobody is going to simplify it. Still, it is controlled enough for us to refrain from panic."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

"There was a regrouping of our troops to better protect Mariupol."
Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman, national security council, Ukraine

"There are active soldiers fighting among us who preferred to spend their vacation not on the beach, but with us, among their brothers, who are fighting for their freedom."
Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister, 'Donetsk People's Republic'
Oleksandr Ratushniak / AFP / Getty Images
Oleksandr Ratushniak / AFP / Getty Images   Armed Ukrainian servicemen comb the area after being shot at by 
pro-Russian militants at their check-point near the small city of Dzerzhynsk, in the Donetsk region, on Thursday.

Panic, goes the thinking, is useful to the enemy, if it can be instilled in the public of Ukraine. It is a utilitarian weapon, similar to tanks, armoured personnel carriers and rifles, according to the president. This is the other side of the terror coin; when terrorists succeed in instilling terror in a population through committing horrendous atrocities, its usefulness can be seen in costly steps taken by governments in hopes of preventing further such events.

Even as Mr. Poroshenko addressed his national security council to order mandatory conscription for the armed forces, NATO released satellite images corroborating accusations that Russian forces were actively engaged in the fighting in Ukraine. Over one thousand Russian soldiers had joined the separatists fighting the Ukrainian military, NATO emphasized.

According to Col. Andriy Lysenko, speaking for the national security council, the Ukrainian military was preparing for a counteroffensive against "more and more Russians" appearing within Ukraine. Russia, he said, was sending new anti-aircraft defence systems to eastern Ukraine where separatists, with Russia's help, were holding the town of Novoazovsk, when Ukrainian forces were forced to retreat a day before.

Although Russia repeatedly protests the accusations that it has sent soldiers or weapons to Ukraine, the rebels themselves are not media-shy about boasting of their invaluable assistance. The leader of the major separatist group in southeastern Ukraine stated on Russian television that up to four thousand Russians, active-duty soldiers on leave included, were fighting against Ukrainian government forces.               

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speaking in advance of next week's NATO summit to be held in Wales, stated that the alliance is prepared to open new bases in eastern Europe where troops from member countries will rotate for stays of months at a time As well, NATO was creating a spearhead unit within an existing rapid reaction force to deal with emergencies in the east as they arise.

What NATO claims are Russian military units moving in a convoy formation with self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine.
DigitalGlobe via NATO    What NATO claims are Russian military units moving in a convoy formation with self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine.

Since the conflict began in the spring, between 3,000 and 4,000 Russians had fought with the separatists. Tensions between the United States and the European Union have arisen where the British and French are among those warning the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine was unacceptable, and additional measures to punish Russia must be contemplated.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, didn't bother to deny that Russians were actively fighting in eastern Ukraine, claiming they were volunteers. On the other hand, he asserted, the Ukrainian government was "waging war against its own people". Describing the soldiers as volunteers evades the issue of direct Russian involvement when in fact Russia is determined to go even further than simply annexing Crimea.

The latest incursion from Russia involving armoured personnel carriers, troops and weapons and the confrontation in the south has raised the potential of a direct clash between Ukrainian forces and Russian military. Ukraine's intelligence fears the armoured columns that captured Novoazovsk outgunning Ukrainian forces now threatening Mariupol, far from the fighting in Luhansk and Donetsk, has aided the separatists by diverting Ukrainian forces.

Added to that is the fact that the Russian advance could very well be the initiation of a ground offensive with plans to seize Ukrainian territory to establish for Russia a land route connecting it to Crimea. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, raised in East Germany, speaks Russian, the only Western leader who speaks regularly with Vladimir Putin, though her patience with him appears to be waning.

That Russian troops were taken by Ukrainian forces well within Ukrainian territory, and recent military funerals held in Pskov, northern Russia for troops killed in Ukraine, and the questions that Russians themselves are finally asking of their government, gives rise to other questions. Why the continued provocations, what will be the end of them, and how to adequately respond?

Poland is agitating for NATO to base several army brigades in Poland on a permanent basis. As members of NATO, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, all concerned that they have ethnic Russian citizens and Moscow has rumbled about its concerns over the well-being of its nationals living in the near abroad, raises other concerns for NATO which by law, must come to the aid of any of its members. Good enough reason why Ukraine is now resurrecting its wish to be a NATO member.

Since Russia's annexation of Crimea, NATO has operated back-to-back military exercises in eastern Europe, sent warships to the Mediterranean and the Black sea, and has quadrupled the number of fighter jets on call to defend alliance airspace. None of which has stirred the back hairs on Vladimir's Putin's neck one iota.

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ISIS Triumphant in Atrocity

"Stop circulating false news."
"They are driving our soldiers like a herd of sheep."
"[The Assad government is] a filthy failure that has destroyed the country's trees and people and allowed ISIS to rise."
Comments on Syrian pro-government Facebook page
Syrian soldiers, dispatched to the area in a column, arriving nearby to the Taqba airbase in Raqqa province, to come to the aid of other Syrian troops who were fighting ISIS jihadis determined to control the airbase, and in the process became victims themselves when they were taken prisoner by the terrorists. "We ambushed them and arrested them", said a Lebanese ISIS fighter, Yousef.

The terrorists forced the condemned to strip down to their underwear IAFPG/Getty Images

Yousef said through an interview on the Internet that the ISIS fighters had forced the 120 soldiers to run about in the desert, the plan being to exhaust them physically. They were then locked into an interior where they were beaten. "Then we took them out and shot them", he said. Videos posted online by ISIS supporters gave a miserable hint of the soldiers' final hours alive.

In one of the videos, the prisoners are seen running in a line through a stretch of desert while bearded ISIS fighters stood laughing, and herding them like sheep.
"The state of Islam!" shouted the fighters, repeating a common ISIS slogan.
The soldiers were forced to respond with: "It remains." 
Quite the triumphantly punishing ritual. One the prisoners would not live to tell their grandchildren about.

 During the death march, the captured Syrian soldiers were forced to chant.IAFPG/Getty Images

There was the video with its images of jihadist terrorists taunting the humiliated soldiers who wore nothing but their undershorts, their military uniforms stripped away. Marching the men through the desert, then lining them up and gunning them down. The entire deadly-maleficent episode duly filmed and posted on the Internet to entertain and invite other like-minded jihadis to come and join in the fun and games.

Thus came to an end the battle for control of the Taqba airbase in Raqqa province as the terrorists took control of the base. Some of the Syrian communities that have supported President Bashar Al-
Assad in the past three years of civil war may be re-thinking their position. The government, through the state news agency SANA, reported, when the base fell to the ISIS jihadis that troops had withdrawn from the base, regrouped, and were successfully fighting close by.

After a pro-government Facebook page posted a video of the captured soldiers being marched through the desert, and another one showing their dead bodies, the comments from viewers were contemptuous of the government on the one hand, and disbelieving that the event had ever occurred. One comment addressed the regime's press office, that it had promised to "do everything necessary to follow up on the shortcomings that have led to the loss of a number of areas and a large number of martyrs for the homeland."

This is the regime that did nothing, when it still could -- in the early days when ISIS moved over from Iraq into Syria -- to control it. At that time the regime felt that ISIS could be useful in helping it fight the Syrian Free Army. Which is what ISIS did, before deciding to head back to Iraq and take Mosul and a growing swath of territory, then tracked back to Syria and did the same there. And now is threatening the Alawite Baathist regime.

The Iraqi Sunni ISIS agents of death confronting the Shiite Alawite Syrians content enough to deliver their Sunni Syrian counterparts to torture, starvation, chemical attacks, and death. 

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Anti-Semitism: Alive and Kicking

"In every place [I visit] I'm very well received."
"If the BDS movement has been effective [it's because] we in Israel have been over-reacting. It's a phenomenon that exists, but if you analyze this phenomenon, how many people are there who are the usual suspects?"
"First of all, we feel responsible for the well being of every Jew. It doesn't matter where they live. The phenomenon of anti-Semitism is part of what we are following intensively in our daily work. We follow the events here [in Canada]."
"The problems we have in the Middle East should not be exported to other countries. I think this is a bad phenomenon. There's no reason, living here in paradise [Canada], to have these confrontations."
Rafael Barak, Israeli ambassador to Canada

Anti-Semitism has been given a new lease on its malicious, diseased life. Before, individual Jews could be despised on the basis that they represented "the Jews", that accursed 'race' whom all others love to hate; upon whom all others could heap the scorn of being responsible for all the ills of the world by their conniving, mendacious plans to control the world. For a nation that aspires to control the world, one can only comment, sourly, that despite the fact that Jewish intellectuals outweigh those of any other ethnic group, a poor job has been done of it.

Jews may represent the highest number of over-achievers, those whom the world recognizes as geniuses in every field of human endeavour, representing within the sciences and the humanities the highest number of Nobel prize winners, but they remain regarded as an inferior, troublesome species, regardless. When Jews are attacked and refuse to become victim to hatred and violence, they are accused of being oppressors for defending themselves.

The State of Israel -- whose presence is an assurance to international Jewry that a haven awaits them during times of uncertainty -- has become the world's dartboard to receive the unending supply of poisoned arrows of racism. Sneering at the Jewish determination to defend themselves from existential danger, the old anti-Semites have been encouraged to come out of hiding, assured that now they can do so with impunity; indirectly attack Jews by boycotting and slandering Israel.

It is the actions of a state that they deride and condemn, not the people within the state, so obviously it is not anti-Semitism, they claim, but the sanctimonious standing in judgement of what they perceive as morally unacceptable is the reality. It has become immoral to defend oneself, but morality is an altering, shape-shifting vision depending on what is being perceived; if the attackers are presumed to be oppressed, their violence is condoned, and the state's condemned.

Protesters chant during a pro-Gaza demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in London, Aug. 1, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS/Neil Hall)

Liberal, enlightened Europeans with their exchangeable values and critiques see an easy target in Israel, not to be confused with anti-Semitism. The flood of Muslim immigration that has altered the European landscape has renewed the racist disease, given it fresh impetus under the guise of denouncing an oppressive state refusing to melt into failed history in favour of leaving its geography to the avails of surrounding Arab nations.

The latest rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe has stimulated almost 30% of Jews living in Europe to seriously consider abandoning the countries that have been their homes for centuries and more. Anti-Semitic incidents have doubled in Britain and in France where shouts of "Jews to the gas chambers" has become a popular mantra from Spain to Germany to Norway. And where, just incidentally he flags of Hamas and ISIS can be seen boldly carried by protesters.

In Canada, a small percentage of university student groups have voted to favour sanctions against Israel; the motions pass because of a small coterie of dedicated vocal activists condemned by their critics as outright anti-Semites and blatant hypocrites for ignoring dramatically horrendous human rights abuses in many countries of the world, choosing to focus on what they insist are human rights abuses committed by the State of Israel.

Israel, stated Ambassador Barak, is well aware of the growing emphasis of anti-Semitic chants and acts of violence accompanying pro-Palestinian protests organized around the world, and accelerating each time there is a conflict between Israel and Hamas. In some circles there have arisen arch comments that 'Islamophobia' represents the new anti-Semitism.

In the wake of September 11, FBI statistics demonstrated that anti-Semitic attacks far outnumbered anti-Muslim attacks.

When Islamist-jihadist terrorist attacks take place, there are no mobs rampaging to attack Muslims and fire-bomb their mosques where they live in Europe, but when tensions rise in the Middle East, mob-action, incited by Muslims living in Europe, spew hateful rhetoric at the presence of Jews, hound them, attack them, and their synagogues as well.

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Nato accuses Russia of violating Ukraine sovereignty

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: "Russia is blatantly violating Ukrainian sovereignty"

BBC News online -- 29 August 2014

Nato has accused Russia of a "blatant violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty and engaging in direct military operations to support pro-Russian rebels.
Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that "despite hollow denials", it was now clear that Russia had illegally crossed Ukraine's border.

He said Nato would respect any Ukrainian decision on security, after its PM said he was putting the country on course for Nato membership.
Russia denies sending troops and arms.

Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the Ukrainian government for the crisis, comparing its siege of two cities held by separatists, Donetsk and Luhansk, to the siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany in World War Two.

"It is necessary to make the Ukrainian authorities start substantial talks [with the rebels]," he said.
Putin: "The situation sadly reminds me of the Second World War"

Nearly 2,600 people have been killed since April, the UN says, when Russia's annexation of Crimea prompted the rebels to take control of large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Heavy fighting is continuing near Ukraine's strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Rebel forces are trying to capture the city but Ukrainian government troops are digging in.
The rebel advance there has raised fears that the Kremlin might seek to create a land corridor between Russia and Crimea.

On Thursday the separatists seized the nearby town of Novoazovsk.
Separatists are also reported to have surrounded government soldiers in several places further north, near Donetsk city.

Ukrainian forces near the town of Ilovaysk say they are cut off and have been urgently asking for supplies and reinforcements.

Military hardware said to be Russian displayed in Kiev - 29 August Ukraine has long insisted Russian is sending troops and hardware to support eastern rebels
Pro-Russian separatist walks past destroyed tank at Savur-Mohyla, east of the city of Donetsk. 28 Aug 2014 This Ukrainian tank was destroyed in fierce fighting at Savur-Mohyla, east of Donetsk
Anti-war rally in Mariupol, Ukraine. 28 Aug 2014 Residents of the strategic city of Mariupol staged an anti-war rally on Thursday
Earlier, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said the government was reopening the question of Nato membership.

He said it was sending a bill to parliament calling for Ukraine's non-aligned status to be cancelled, in effect paving the way for Ukraine to join Nato.

Speaking at a news conference after an emergency meeting of Nato ambassadors, Mr Rasmussen said that it was clear Russia was engaged in direct military operations in Ukraine.

"This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilise Ukraine as a sovereign nation," he said.

"This is a blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution."

Handout of a satellite image provided to Reuters by Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), showing what is reported by SHAPE a presence of Russian Self-Propelled Artillery in Ukraine This satellite image provided by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe shows what Nato identifies as Russian self-propelled artillery in Ukraine
Ukraine map

He called on Russia to cease military action, stop supporting the rebels and "take immediate and verifiable steps towards de-escalation of this grave crisis".
Mr Rasmussen indicated Nato was open to considering Ukraine's application to join if it met the conditions.

In 2008, Ukraine applied for Nato membership under then-President Viktor Yushchenko.
But the plans were shelved two years later when Viktor Yanukovych came to power and ended Ukraine's Nato ambitions in favour of mending relations with Russia.

Mr Rasmussen said on Friday: "I am not going to interfere with political discussions in Ukraine, but let me remind you of Nato's decision taken at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 according to which Ukraine will become a member of Nato, provided of course that Ukraine so wishes and provided that Ukraine fulfils the necessary criteria."

On Thursday, Nato released satellite images it said showed columns of Russian armed forces inside Ukrainian territory, adding that more than 1,000 Russian troops were operating inside Ukraine.

Grey line
War in eastern Ukraine: The human cost
  • At least 2,593 people had been killed since mid-April, not including the 298 passengers and crew of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 shot down in the area, a UN report on 7 August said
  • 951 civilians have been killed in Donetsk region alone, the official regional authorities said on 20 August
  • Official casualty counts only record certified deaths while in some particularly dangerous parts of the war zone, such as Luhansk region, victims are said to have been buried informally, for instance in gardens
  • Rebels (and some military sources) accuse the government of concealing the true numbers of soldiers killed
  • 155,800 people have fled elsewhere in Ukraine while at least 188,000 have gone to Russia.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Take Your Pick

"The Syrian opposition fully supports a comprehensive U.S.-led campaign to launch military strikes in Syria against the Islamic State terrorist army and al-Qaeda affiliates.
"Assad was a key ingredient in the rise of the Islamic State. He and his regime turned Syria into a launching pad for terrorism over the years and fostered the environment in which transnational terrorist forces grew in the country."
Oubai Shahbandar, Washington-based adviser to the Free Syria foreign mission

"I am no apologist for the Assad regime. But in terms of our security, ISIS is by far the largest threat."
Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Syria

"Washington also needs to consider how best to protect the American population."
Professor Max Abrahms, terror analyst, Northeastern University
Ammunition: A Syrian rebel fighter loads an anti-aircraft machine-gun on an armoured vehicle in the northern town of Atareb, 25km east of Aleppo
Ammunition: A Syrian rebel fighter loads an anti-aircraft machine-gun on an armoured vehicle in the northern town of Atareb, 25km east of Aleppo

Syria has been making overtures to the United States, to continue to view it as a partner in the battle against raging Islamist jihad. To reconsider their former ties and reject the unfortunate misunderstandings that have led to a frosty period of estrangement and blame between the U.S. administration and the Alawite Baathist regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Make up, and all will be forgiven in their joint desire to counter the ISIS advance. Belated on both their accounts.

And a line of thought has indeed been circulating within the United States where there are those who feel the U.S. should hold its nose and ally itself with the regime for the greater purpose of fighting the Islamic State. On the other hand, considering the horrible atrocities that the regime has visited on its Sunni Syrian population over the past three years, from chemical attacks, to helicopter gunships strafing civilian enclaves, to barrel bombs and chlorine gas attacks, arrests, torture, rape and slaughter the impulse is to gag.

No one doubts that Bashar al-Assad is directly behind all the atrocities that his regime instructs the Syrian military to commit, including its alliance with the terrorist group Hezbollah, with Iran inciting them to have no mercy on the Sunni insurgents. So these would be strange bedfellows indeed for a U.S.-Syrian alliance with the common goal of defeating the Sunni-led Islamist State jihadis who have committed atrocities equally monstrous and often chillingly greater to that of the regime.

Which beast better to be allied with? The Syrian regime has warned the U.S. that it will not countenance the freedom given it by the government in Baghdad to conduct air strikes on ISIS forces in Iraq. Any entry by American war planes into Syrian space will be viewed, they warn, as a strategy of war against Syria and the Syrian response will correspond to that situation accordingly. The regime will not abide by the insult of unilateral strikes in its airspace, but see it as naked "aggression".

Struggling with the potential of proffering greater aid to the Syrian Sunni Free Army, which the U.S. declined to deal with at an early stage when Islamist infiltration was in its infancy, is another choice, but one viewed with grave suspicion with the certain knowledge that any weapons supplied to the Free Syrian Army will filter through eventually to al-Qaeda militias, leaving the stark choice of whom to concentrate on: al-Qaeda or ISIS

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Russia In Ukraine Conflict

"Kyiv said that on the 24th, on the Independence Day of Ukraine, they would have a parade. Indeed they did march in Donetsk, although it wasn't a parade."
"Soldiers of the armed forces of Kyiv walked along the main streets of Donetsk. What Poroshenko planned has taken place."
Alexander Zakhachenko, rebel commander, Donetsk, Ukraine
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters  Armed pro-Russian separatists escort a column of Ukrainian prisoners of war (L) as they walk across central Donetsk August 24.
"We cannot discuss any conditions for a ceasefire or possible agreements between Kyiv, Donetsk and Luhansk. This is not our business; it is a domestic matter of Ukraine itself."
"We can only support the creation of an environment of trust during this possible and, in my view, highly necessary negotiation process."
Russian President Vladimir Putin
"Russia is clearly trying to put its finger on the scale to tip things back in favour of its proxies."
"Artillery barrages and other Russian military actions have taken their toll on the Ukrainian military."
Senior U.S. official
Captured Ukrainian soldiers were marched through the streets of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk while bystanders shouted abuse at them and threw eggs, bottles and tomatoes. President Petro Poroshenko had vowed he would raise his country's spending on defence for the specific purpose of defeating the rebels. This he pledged during a procession of tanks and weaponry through downtown Kyiv, to mark Ukraine's 23rd anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union.

The country is anticipating many months of conflict in the future. In most of the country, support has grown for Kyiv's campaign against the ethnic Russian separatists, while in the east civilian casualties and shelling have made for growing resentment. In the main square of Donetsk, held by the rebels, thousands had gathered to scream obscenities at the dozens of captives, some wearing Ukrainian military uniforms, others in tattered civilian clothing, forced to march past the onlookers.

Flanked by armed rebels, a woman shouted: "Hang the fascists from a tree!", while other women ran at the prisoners attempting to kick and slap them; but were restrained by rebel fighters. That is reminiscent of nothing so much as the description of crowds of French peasants during the French Revolution, watching as tumbrels carried French aristocrats to the guillotine, shouting invective at those soon to be executed.

The rebels had placed fire-sooted, shrapnel-shattered Ukrainian military vehicles on the main square of Donetsk. Russian nationalist songs blared from loudspeakers, and supporters of the rebels posed for photographs staging themselves before destroyed tanks with Ukrainian army insignia identifying the historical moment for them. This, startlingly emblematic of despicable nationalism.

What is Ukraine's should remain Ukraine's, sacrosanct to the nation. Those living in Ukraine who prefer to live under Russian rule, should remove themselves to Russian territory.

But, sighed the Russian president sanctimoniously, it is out of his hands, the issue has nothing to do with him, with the Kremlin, with Moscow, with Russia. This is a matter for Ukraine to settle with Ukrainians who happen to harbour Russian sentiments; deal with it,neighbours. While fighting has erupted 10-km west of the Russian border, identified by Kyiv as a "second front" where no conflict had previously been.

"Terrorists and Russians" (one and the same, lately) have succeeded in capturing towns north of Novoazovsk. Reporters there have seen no Ukrainian forces and tanks flying the flags of the Donetsk People's Republic were spotted at the town's western edge, but no Ukrainian troops, Armoured personnel carriers with rebel flags and men wearing uniforms just like those worn by Russian soldiers who overran Crimea in March were present.

Claiming to represent cannon fodder for the forces coming out of Russia, exhausted Ukrainian soldiers were making their way out of Novoazovsk, corroborating assertions by Western and Ukrainian officials that Russia is orchestrating a new counteroffensive in the aid of besieged Donetsk separatists. They are now just 48 kilometres from Mariupol, which if taken by the separatists would give Russia direct overland access to Crimea.

Mounting evidence is now accumulating that regular Russian forces are now fighting alongside the rebels against Ukrainian government forces. Previously, Russia asserted it was the presence of "volunteers" from Russia aiding the rebels, while denying regular troops are present. Reports of military funerals prompted the Russian newspaper Vedomost to demand, "Are we fighting or not?"

Evidently, no explanation, reasonable or otherwise, has been given to the Russian public relating to the mysterious presence of many wounded Russian soldiers. A symptom of sympathetic attitudes on the part of the Russians for the plight of their brethren in Ukraine, quite obviously; mysterious but anything seems possible; matter over mind.

As for the capture of Russian paratroopers well within Ukraine by Ukraine's security service near Dzerkaine, clearly these poor men had no idea they had crossed the border, were simply following orders to go on patrol. All are from the 98th Guards airborne Division based in central Russia. They were sent on a "march" with a column of vehicles with little understanding of where they were headed other than on a "training exercise".

It is assumed that their officers were informed of the unit's mission.

"They didn't say anything, just march 70 kilometres" said the Russian soldier identified as Private Ivan Melchukov.

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Syria in Bad Odour at the UN ... Temporarily

"The overall scale of the violations continues to increase regardless of the parties perpetrating them."
"This paralysis [the UN Security Council failure to act] is responsible for acute harm to victims of this war."
"Government forces continued to perpetrate massacres and conduct wide-spread attacks on civilians, systematically committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance."
"Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays [in the regions of Raqqah and Aleppo, controlled by ISIS]."
"[Government intelligence agencies have subjected] tens of thousands of victims to unimaginable suffering."
Paulo Pinheiro, UN panel on Syria
The UNRWA team resumed distribution in Yarmouk camp on 16 and 17 July after a break of two days. Food parcels, hygiene kits, vitamin packs, rehydration salts and various other food items were distributed to hundreds of families.   Photo: UNRWA Archives

The United Nations panel consisting of four investigators, has now produced its eighth report since its inauguration three years earlier. Drawing on testimony it had collected in the six months ending in July, the report lists public executions and often beheadings becoming a "common spectacle" in parts of Syria that are controlled by Islamic militants. While government forces continue their massacre and torture of civilians.

The civil war has evolved over its three-year period of active and atrocious conflict, into multiple, shifting conflicts whose principals are numberless armed groups where those militias vie with government forces and jihadists seemingly for which could conceive of and commit the most outrageous crimes against humanity, according to this report. After Friday mosque services, it seems the faithful are inspired to even greater efforts on behalf of jihad.

While government forces, with the assistance of the terrorist Shiite Lebanon-based group Hezbollah had made significance advances against the multi-tiered rebel groups in retaking strategic areas, the most remarkable result of the ongoing conflict was the gathering power and influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, a group the regime had nurtured because of its offensives against the other rebel and Islamist groups.

The advance by ISIS into Iraq, and its lightning-strike on Mosul when it captured the city and with it all the munitions and military equipment left behind by the panic-stricken Iraqi military forces barracked there, and its ransacking and looting of the Mosul bank helped ISIS immeasurably to advance its relentless route to capturing more geography and influencing Muslims to join their jihadist success toward a caliphate.

The government attacked opposition forces on all fronts with the use of heavy air and artillery bombardments striking civilian areas such as markets, shops, hospitals, schools and other places where civilians gather with the abandon of careless disregard for their welfare, rather than focusing on hitting the military capacities of their armed enemy groups. The UN panel was rather less than impressed with this dishonourable conduct.

Even while Syria was completing the process of disposing of its chemical weapons, the panel found evidence of government helicopters using chlorine gas in barrel bomb attacks in Idlib and Hama on its own civilians. Not covered by the chemical weapons convention the use of any chemical agent for military purposes represents a war crime. Syria is guilty as charged, even while itself charging its innocence, mistakenly blamed for what the 'terrorists' among the rebels are doing.

Armed Shiite Alawite militias aiding, but not part of the Syrian military, were also found to have committed massacres in their attacks on civilians through indiscriminate artillery firing, their conduct of summary executions and torture, their taking of hostages and targeting medical and religious personnel and journalists. Dozens of documented beheadings were cited, with ISIS encouraging residents to witness them. Including victim's bodies affixed to crucifixes.

Adult men accused of affiliation with other armed groups, or violating an ISIS criminal ode represented most of the victims, but five people under 18 and two women were stoned to death as well. Government-held detainees were documented as having faced torture and cruel treatment, along with those captured by armed opposition groups. It is instructive for the Western onlooker to recall that this is Muslim-upon-Muslim slaughter of the most heinous brutality. Reflective of its self-image as a religion of peace and tolerance.

Receiving special attention as "the most disturbing developments" was the creation of large ISIS camps meant to train children, mostly boys in the 14-year-old range, and some as young as ten, for armed conflict. ISIS does have that in common, in actual fact, with their brethren in terror, Hamas, which has also for many years, conducted such summer training camps where young Palestinians living in Gaza have been indoctrinated into warfare techniques against the "Zionists".

Mr. Pinheiro even made reference to the potential of the United States' administration-authorized surveillance and strike flights over Iraq and possibly Syria: "I think the United States must respect the laws of war and we are concerned about the presence of these children." Now that's one for the war chronicles; equipping all warplanes with sights so accurate that those below can be identified as youth or men, and refraining accordingly.

Somewhat familiar with what Israel, fighting for its very existence and the lives of its people, faces with Hamas firing off rockets from within crowded civilian enclaves, gleefully inviting artillery response from the IDF which as any military is geared to do, fires back at the source of the rocket launch, a predilection that Hamas uses to great and useful slander effect within the international community eager to find yet another reason to fault Israel for refusing to be a victim.

As for the Syrian government versus ISIS; the latter will be persona non grata at the United Nations [unlike the terrorist group Palestine Liberation Organization under the cunning dove-holding, gun-wielding Yasser Arafat], while Syria will be forgiven and welcomed back to the United Nations with open arms to take its rightful place among the other like nations in the Muslim League.

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Israeli forces caught up in Al Qaeda’s complex toils in both Golan and Gaza

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 28, 2014, 11:26 AM (IDT)
The cross-border incident on the Golan Wednesday, Aug. 27, in which an Israeli officer was injured by stray fire from the fighting between Syrian army and rebel forces near Quneitra, put this battle zone on the front pages. However, debkafile’s military sources report that this incident, fought by only 300 combatants on each side backed by 10 tanks, had no real military importance for the Syrian conflict at large. The Syrian army, helped by Iran and Hizballah, is winning and the rebel side is crumbling.

The battle for Qoneitra, fought 200 meters from the Israeli border, is much more important as a touchstone in quite a different setting, that concerns not only Israel but the complicated US posture against the many-headed Al Qaeda peril in the Middle East.

The US, Jordan and Israel are quietly backing the mixed bag of some 30 Syrian rebel factions which Tuesday, Aug. 26, seized control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, the only transit point between Israeli and Syrian Golan. However – here comes the rub - Al Qaeda elements have permeated all those factions.

The crossing is formally under the control of UNDOF, an international peacekeeping force, which too is falling apart as contingents are recalled by their governments.

Damascus hit back at the rebels Thursday, Aug. 28, by sending the Syrian air force to destroy the new rebel positions. This was a flagrant contravention of Israel-Syrian armistice agreements. The Israeli air force might have been justified in scrambling to combat the Syrian air incursion, but was not ordered to do so.

This appeared to contradict a fact which Israel has kept very dark: The 30-strong or so Syrian rebel offensive to wrest Quneitra would have stood no chance without Israel’s aid - not just in medical care for their injured, but also in limited supplies of arms, intelligence and food. Israel acted as a member, along with the US and Jordan, of a support system for rebel groups fighting in southern Syria. Their efforts are coordinated through a war-room which the Pentagon established last year near Amman.

The US, Jordanian and Israeli officers manning the facility determine in consultation which rebel factions are provided with reinforcements from the special training camps run for Syrian rebels in Jordan, and which will receive arms.

All three governments understand perfectly that, notwithstanding all their precautions, some of their military assistance is bound to percolate to Al Qaeda’s Syrian arm, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is fighting in rebel ranks. Neither Washington or Jerusalem or Amman would be comfortable in admitting they are arming Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front in southern Syria.

And not only Nusra: It turned out in this week’s incident that some of the rebel fighters come from the terrorist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a coalition of Al Qaeda contingents based in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip. Another piece of this dissonant jigsaw is Al Maqdis’ close alignment for its violent operations with the Palestinian Hamas ruling Gaza, with which Israel has just been locked in a deadly 50-day war.

Wednesday night, at his news conference to sum up that war, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu included in his list of Israel’s diplomatic successes, the winning over of world opinion to the perception that Hamas and Al Qaeda belong to the same family of terrorists and share the same fundamentalist ideology, which must be fought.

As he spoke, Al Qaeda fighters, intermingled with Syrian rebel factions, fetched up just yards from Israel’s northern border fence.

debkafile’s military sources say that Washington, Amman and Jerusalem can expect to keep the embarrassing fact fairly quiet only until the first black Al Qaeda flag is raised over a rebel position at the Quneitra crossing or a captured Syrian post opposite the line of Israeli positions on the Golan. Israel will then face a new dilemma on this sensitive front, which will take some explaining.

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U.S. builds alliance for war on ISIS in Syria

U.S. officials said Washington could act alone if necessary against ISIS militants, who have seized a third each of Iraq and Syria. (File photo: Reuters)

While the United States is intensifying its push to build an international campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants, Britain and Australia are considered as potential candidates, Reuters reported U.S. officials as saying on Wednesday.

Obama administration officials also said that Washington is recruiting partners for potential joint military action against the al-Qaeda breakaway group ISIS.

“We are working with our partners and asking how they might be able to contribute. There are a range of ways to contribute: humanitarian, military, intelligence, diplomatic,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

On Thursday, French President Francois Hollande warned that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is not the West’s partner in the fight against terrorism but an ally of Islamic extremists wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq.

“Assad cannot be a partner in the fight against terrorism, he is the de facto ally of jihadists,” he told a Paris gathering of ambassadors from around the world.
Instead, Hollande urged for the arming of opposition to defeat ISIS.

“France asks the United Nations... to organize exceptional support for Libyan authorities to restore their state,” he added.

Meanwhile, Germany said on Wednesday it was in talks with the United States and other international partners about possible military action against ISIS but made clear it would not participate.

It’s unclear how many nations will sign up. Some such as trusted allies Britain and France harbor bitter memories of joining the U.S.-led “coalition of the willing” in the 2003 invasion of Iraq that included troops from 38 nations. The claims of the existence of weapons of mass destruction which spurred the coalition to act were found to be false.

The United States, the officials said, could act alone if necessary against the militants, who have seized a third each of Iraq and Syria, declared open war against the West and want to establish a hub of radicalism in the heart of the Arab world.

Senior White House aides met this week to discuss a strategy for expanding its assault on ISIS, including the possibility of air strikes on the militants’ stronghold in eastern Syria -- an escalation that would almost certainly be riskier than the current U.S. campaign in Iraq.

While Iraq’s government welcomed the role of U.S. war planes to attack the militants, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that any strikes conducted without its permission would be considered an act of aggression, potentially plunging any U.S.-led coalition into a broader conflict with Syria.

(With Reuters)
Last Update: Thursday, 28 August 2014 KSA 12:20 - GMT 09:20

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'Russian troops deployed' in Ukraine - Poroshenko

Ukrainian officials have expressed a great deal of worry and concern, as David Stern reports

BBC News online -- 28 August 2014 
Ukraine's president has cancelled a visit to Turkey, citing "Russian troop deployments" in the country's east.

His remarks came as pro-Russian rebels opened a new front in the south by seizing the coastal town of Novoazovsk.

Nato says it has detected a significant increase of Russian arms being supplied to the rebels over the past two weeks.

Russia has denied that its forces have crossed Ukraine's border. At least 2,119 people have been killed in four months of fighting.

The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting in New York on Thursday at 18:00 GMT to discuss the crisis.

Nato Brigadier General Niko Tak told the BBC that there had been a "significant escalation in the level and sophistication of Russia's military interference in Ukraine" over the past two weeks.
Pro-Russian rebel passes damaged car in Donetsk (27 August 2014) Pro-Russian rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the city of Donetsk for months

"[Nato has] detected large quantities of advanced weapons, including air defence systems, artillery, tanks, and armoured personnel carriers being transferred to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine," he said.

"Russia is reinforcing and resupplying separatist forces in a blatant attempt to change the momentum of the fighting, which is currently favouring the Ukrainian military."

More than 1,000 Russian troops are reportedly operating inside Ukraine, both supporting the separatists and fighting on their side.

On Thursday, President Petro Poroshenko said he had called a meeting of the Ukrainian security council in light of the deteriorating situation.'

"I have made a decision to cancel my working visit to the Republic of Turkey due to the sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region... as Russian troops were actually brought into Ukraine," Mr Poroshenko said in a statement.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Russia had "unleashed a war in Europe", adding that the world should take "effective steps".

Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk: "Russian military boots are on Ukrainian ground."
But Russia's envoy at the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), Andrey Kelin, denied there were any Russian troops.

Government forces had made significant advances against the separatists in recent weeks, but these gains seem in doubt with rebels now operating in two distinct areas of Donetsk region.

Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko told Russian TV that 3-4,000 Russian citizens were fighting in their ranks.

He said many of the Russians were former service-people or current service personnel on leave, insisting that all were volunteers.
In other developments:
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded an explanation from Russia's President Vladimir Putin amid the reports of an incursion
  • French President Francois Hollande said it would be "intolerable" if Russian troops were in Ukraine, and demanded that Russia stop sending aid to the rebels
  • The OSCE is holding a special meeting in Vienna to discuss developments in Ukraine.
Map of Ukraine
Ukrainian forces prepare for an advance to Mariupol in south-east Ukraine. 27 Aug 2014 Ukrainian forces are being deployed to help defend the southern city of Mariupol
Destroyed school in Donetsk (28 August 2014) Shelling is continuing in Donetsk, hitting buildings including this school
Railway line destroyed near Donetsk. 27 Aug 2014 Railway lines in eastern Ukraine have been destroyed in the fighting

Ukraine's security and defence council confirmed reports that Novoazovsk had been captured by the rebels, whom they described as "Russian troops".

It said it had withdrawn its forces to save lives, and that Ukrainian soldiers were now reinforcing the defences of the strategic port city of Mariupol.
The port has until now been peaceful and cut off from rebel positions.

A Ukrainian company commander, Vladimir Shilov, told Ukrainian TV that he had heard from sources inside the town that it was blocked by tanks and no-one was allowed to leave. Local officials had already fled to Mariupol, he added.

Francois Hollande: "If it were to be proven that Russian soldiers are on Ukrainian soil, this would be intolerable and unacceptable"
A spokesman for the rebels told Interfax news agency that Novoazovsk was under their control and they would soon "liberate" Mariupol.

Pro-Russian fighters have been trying for weeks to break out of an area further north in the Donetsk region where they are almost encircled.

Analysts say the separatists could also be seeking a land link between Russia and Crimea, which would give them control over the entire Sea of Azov.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in March.
Grey line
War in eastern Ukraine: The human cost
  • At least 2,119 people had been killed and 5,043 wounded since mid-April, a UN report on 7 August said
  • 951 civilians have been killed in Donetsk region alone, the official regional authorities said on 20 August
  • Official casualty counts only record certified deaths while in some particularly dangerous parts of the war zone, such as Luhansk region, victims are said to have been buried informally, for instance in gardens
  • Rebels (and some military sources) accuse the government of concealing the true numbers of soldiers killed
  • 155,800 people have fled elsewhere in Ukraine while at least 188,000 have gone to Russia.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Aboriginal Women Inquiry

Preparing for Tina Fontaine's funeral
Tina Fontaine, murdered 15-year-old aboriginal girl
"It would be an extremely complicated, painful and long-running process. Because an inquiry would involve examining and re-examining police investigations, there is likely to be plenty of evidence that cannot be made public because it is before the courts."
"Sometimes the problem is so complex and the areas of sensitivity are so great that sometimes things that need to be said can't be said."
"An inquiry is a really thorough thing to do and to do well. And also, when do you stop having inquiries with few results?"
Professor Kathy Brock, Queen's University's School of Policy Studies

The murder of this young girl whose naked body was found discarded in a river, wrapped in plastic, has reawakened the demand by the Native Women's Association of Canada along with leaders of the Parliamentary opposition and many others for the federal government to launch a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Why an inquiry is required is not clear; the fact is, much -- enough -- is known about the whys and wherefores of the situation as it is.

With respect to young Tina Fontaine, her mother Valentina Duck, estranged from her daughter, who had been placed in foster care, struggled with alcoholism, while her father Eugene was killed in 2011 by blunt-force trauma to the head, the result of a violent argument at a party on the Sagkeeng First Nation reserve. Two men were charged with second-degree murder after his body was discovered, dumped in a shed.

High-risk factors in aboriginal communities lead to dysfunction, the incapacity of parents to raise their children responsibly, to foster decent values in them, to present themselves as role models for their children to follow, to instill in their children an appreciation for education, and a love of learning, and the determination to make something of themselves as part of society. Instead, in First-Nations communities and on reserves, alcoholism and drug addiction are prevalent.

Leading to broken families and domestic violence. Fatally victimized aboriginal women are three times likelier than non-aboriginal women to have been drinking before a fatal incident (63% versus 20%), and over three times as likely to have a criminal record (44% versus 13%). Aboriginal women's murderers are almost always spouses, lovers, family members or acquaintances.

Of known killers of aboriginal women 62% had a history of family violence with the victim (43% for non-aboriginal women); 44% were drunk or high (as opposed to 15% for non-aboriginals).

In Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, most of the women murdered or missing were aboriginal with histories of child abuse and incest; social behaviours that compel young aboriginal girls to leave reserves and send them on one-way bus trips to the city, where they then become susceptible to being preyed upon by violent men.

The rates of police crime-solving for aboriginal female homicides is 88%, in nudging distance of the 89% solve rate for non-aboriginal murdered women.

Without solving the seemingly intractable problems of First Nations social issues, including welfare, poverty, unemployment, education deficits and racism, the problems relating to social dysfunction within families with its toll on victims, both male and female, will never be grappled adequately.

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[Student] Union Political 'Activism'

Unions have work to do in representing their members' best interests. To advocate on their behalf, to ensure that their well-being is never forgotten, to provide services to their members and support where it is needed, and it is often enough needed. The responsibilities of student unions, similar to their workplace counterparts, range from funding student clubs, representing student interest to university administration and various levels of government, along with administering health plans.

Illustrative photo of protesters urging a boycott against Israel (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Illustrative pho otof protesters urging a boycott against Israel (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

And in Canada, union fees, both in the federal workplace and at publicly-administered-and-funded universities, are not voluntary, but mandatory; no one can opt out. And this is to the great advantage of many fringe minority groups whose political activities are of little-to-no interest to most university students, busy plodding along trying to capture as many of their academic credits as they can as their first, second and third-level interests.

But student funding can and is used to fund activities that are controversial, and in good part bear no relation whatever to post-secondary education. Student unions in Ontario fund the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, an official-sounding name indeed, but which group supports Israeli Apartheid Week, along with causes aligned with anti-capitalism and decolonization and anti-oppression. The students' union at Ryerson University led the Ontario Branch of the Canadian Federation of Students  to unanimously pass a resolution to boycott Israel this week.

That funding is representative of dollars that should be redirected to improve services for students, inclusive of student food banks, and the provision perhaps of bursaries aimed at low-income students requiring, practical, additional assistance within a society focused on equality and anti-capitalism. Student activists are able to old their entire membership captive to their interest-specific causes which are of no interest to, nor use for the membership whose disinterest enables the activists to prevail.

Concordia Student Union conducted a vote to strike with the use of a casual show of hands. Student election voter turnout stands at around ten to 15%, leaving the field to the hard core of engaged activists claiming to represent the entire student body. The Carleton University Students' Association saw fit to discard a cystic fibrosis charity as a recipient of a fundraising campaign when the student representatives stupidly thought of CF as a typical white man's disease.

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa voted against a motion to broadcast the 2014 Olympics on campus insisting it would validate anti-gay legislation enacted in Russia, while most students felt the need to support Canadian athletes, which had nothing to do whatever with support for Russia's official anti-homosexual politics. Fees collected by universities to fund unions should not fund political activities organized by student unions, as simple as that.

If New Zealand and Australia, faced with similar problems, could solve the issue by making student union memberships voluntary at all their institutes of higher education, there is no reason, in all fairness to all university students, that it cannot also be done in Canada by altering the Education Act, province-to-province.

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Jihad By Any Other Name

"This is part of a campaign that primarily aims to correct the image of Islam that has been tarnished in the West because of these criminal acts, and to exonerate humanity from such crimes that defy natural instincts and spreads hate between people."
"We also want to reaffirm that all Muslims are against these practices, which violate the (tolerant) principles of Islam."
Ibrahim Negm, adviser to Shawki Allam, grand mufti of Egypt
Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque; the Dar el-Ifta, top Islamic authority in Egypt launches campaign against the Islamic State which violates all Islamic principles.

Thus is launched a media campaign by the top Islamic authority in Egypt, challenging the Islamic State, insisting it should not be called an "Islamic State". This objection should carry great weight with ISIS, no doubt about it. Of course, the Islamic State might undertake its own publicity campaign to defame Egypt's Dar el-Ifta, as representing a wishy-washy reflection of Islam, little better than apostates; otherwise why would they object to anything that ISIS does, since it follows in the tradition of Islam?

As on conquest by the sword, which is precisely what Prophet Mohammed launched, and practised and advocated. ISIS proclaims its undying adulation and respect for its heritage. Its ambition realized to restore the Caliphate has made it beloved among young Muslims who have taken up the pledge from the West Bank to Austria, from New York to Australia.

As for the Egyptian campaign to restore to the West the virtuous view of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, when it claims that "all Muslims are against these practices", it is clearly wishful thinking, since the atrocities committed by ISIS, well publicized as slaughter of minority religious groups, beheadings, rapes and slavery, appear to be quite popular in places as diverse as Gaza, Europe and North America where good Muslims have relocated to enrich the cultures there.

Now the world, concerned over the rise of primitive-era bestiality exemplified by the resurgence of fanatical Islam, can change its opinion over the view that Islam represents terror central. That when they see on their streets protests by Muslims against the perceived view of Western 'Islamophobia' as their North American and European neighbours recoil at the sight of flags belonging to Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS, this represents Muslims rejecting terror.

But by issuing a fatwa, the grand mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam and the Dar el-Ifta authority suggesting that foreign media stop using "Islamic State", and rather refer to them as "Al-Qaeda Separatists in Iraq and Syria", or "QSIS", as it better represents what they're about. Except that the Al-Qaeda leadership chose to disown ISIS, and cast it from their membership.

And ISIS is rather proud of their Islamic State credentials. And in point of fact, what the West labels them hardly matters; they simply repeat what the Islamist jihadists have labeled themselves.

Maybe rethink the campaign? Perhaps too little much, much too late?

Opinions by Islamic scholars from around the world about ISIS and its claims to represent Islam will be circulated through the social media campaign, according to the Egyptian religious authority. Which, no doubt about it, will be most helpful while ISIS continues to threaten Turkomen Shiites, Yazidis, and Kurds in Iraq and Syria.

In fact, even in Europe, the admirers of ISIS have begun to threaten to behead the Yazidis living among them in Austria, Germany, Norway and elsewhere.

The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheik, has also raised his voice in condemnation of ISIS, characterizing them as Islam's greatest enemy. With good reason, since Islamic State terrorists view both the Egyptian and Saudi religious authorities as sell-outs to Western ideals, anathema to true Islam, and they're therefore, in their crosshairs.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant will call itself whatever it pleases; for the West to rename it at the pleasure of Islamic scholars and clerics will accomplish precisely what....?

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Unconventional Indeed!

"It is an unconventional solution, but I will not declare a war on Israel. It is a political and diplomatic solution."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will tell the UN that Palestinians want independence immediately.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will tell the UN that Palestinians want independence immediately. Amr Nabil, The Associated Press

"This should be done through a mechanism to compel Israel as the occupying power to end its occupation and agree on a timetable for the implementation of the withdrawal."
Unnamed Palestinian Authority spokesperson

There it is yet again, the threat to go directly to the United Nations to obtain assent from that august body for the Palestinians to be formally invested as a fully autonomous sovereign state. Bypassing negotiations with the State of Israel, relating to boundaries, re-settlement, and above all issues relating to security and control of the all-too-willing 'martyrs' among the Palestinians eager to martyr Israelis along with their own honourably-blessed deaths.

Cast as the perennial villain for having the intolerable audacity to protect itself from martyr-crazed Jew-haters, Israel would be signing its own death warrant to agree to a state existing alongside its own with complete sovereignty, and the right to have a national army and police force, which would continue to pose an existential threat to Israel's existence.

This is, after all, the PA that sees fit to adopt an education curriculum that excludes Israel from its maps, where 'Palestine' encompasses the entire region. It is also the Authority which lauds and incites to 'resistance', double-speak for violence-against, of the 'occupiers' oppressing the Palestinians who wish to destroy Israel and to be free to continue to mount suicide operations against civilians and the IDF alike.

Why would any country in their collective good sense agree to welcoming a next-door neighbour's legally-internationally-recognized presence as a stand-alone state, while its ongoing agenda is the destruction of its very presence next door? And that's only Fatah, within the West Bank. There is also Gaza, with its even more hateful Hamas terrorist rulers sworn to the obliteration of Israel from the geography.

But there it is, Palestinian President Abbas is preparing to once again appeal to the international community to force Israel to respect a deadline to end its 'occupation' of lands it captured in the 1967 Mideast war -- when tiny Israel once again responded to a collective national Arab-military attack against its occupation of its own traditionally heritage territory as an original occupant of Palestine, -- by demolishing the armed forces sent to destroy it.

President Abbas is beside himself with frustration over the failure of the dismal peace talks with Israel which have gone nowhere in their repeated demands on the Palestinian side which Israel could commit to only at the risk of helping to destroy itself. Lands claimed by the Palestinians now were rejected by them in the past as insufficient for they rejected the partition of Palestine, insisting it was entirely theirs by right of occupation and conquest.

Another occupation and 'conquest' bequeathed them back to the original inhabitants, but somehow that is not seen as official and as lasting, as far as the Palestinians are concerned. Now that Mr. Abbas sees himself on the cusp of reasserting authority over Gaza he dreams of a unified nation for the Palestinians where they are unified only in their rejection of the presence of a Jewish homeland.

The stark reality is that statehood would -- as present conditions prevail, where the Palestinian Authority, no less than Hamas, holds suicide bombers in great esteem, celebrates their 'resistance', honours them by name streets and public squares after them, holds them up as heroes to children to emulate, and pays a stipend to their families in honour of their sacrifice -- not auger well for Israel, guaranteeing them security.

The utter madness of the State of Israel, taking unto itself the responsibility to treat sick Palestinians whom their own medical system is incapable of dealing with, of Israel democratically giving citizenship to all its citizens, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, and providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, along with energy and water and gas, supports the Palestinians' civil requirements even while the Palestinians foment hatred toward the Jewish State, is monumental.

To the vanquished go the spoils....

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Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said: "All Israelis are legitimate targets." What would the Palestinian death toll have been if Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets?
Underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.
That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means, for the moment, Hamas cannot kill.
Once again, half the world is fighting alongside the Hamas jihadists and their Jewish nemesis. First, some facts:

1. In June, when there were no bombs and rockets travelling between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, were kidnapped. Eighteen days later their bodies were found.

2. The kidnapping was a cause for celebrations in Gaza where crowds cheered. Palestine's experimental unity government handed out sweets in celebration. Palestinian youths brandished a new salute, raising three fingers and showing joy at the kidnapping. Hamas' political leader, Khaled Mashaal, also Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ideological next of kin, said: "We congratulate the kidnappers."

3. After the killing of the Israeli teenagers, a young Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, disappeared, and was later found to have been brutally murdered. Israel acted quickly and arrested six radical Jews as perpetrators, three of whom confessed to their crime. Israel labelled the murderers as murderers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Khdeir's father to offer him condolences. Strong expressions of condemnation were heard across the political spectrum, including from Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali, one of the murdered Israeli teenagers. Israelis had woken up to a new world in which Jews, too, could act as if they were terrorists. Most Israelis agreed that the murderers should get the most severe punishment for their barbaric act. The father of one of the suspects said: "I am ashamed of him."

4. Then came the usual war. Hamas, which does not hide that it stores, stockpiles and launches rockets from the midst of Palestinian civilian concentrations, and uses Gazans, often elderly women or children, as human shields, fired (as of July 14) over 500 rockets into Israel, where a majority of the population is within range of the missiles. Israeli air defenses successfully intercepted most of the enemy rockets, and the Israeli Defense Forces counter-attacked by bombing what it said were the homes of terrorists or homes where enemy weapons were hidden. Despite warnings for the evacuation of these declared targets, Hamas instead keeps on locating civilians whom its ideology believes would be martyrs when killed. More than 150 martyrs so far.

5. Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said: "All Israelis are legitimate targets." What would the Palestinian death toll be if Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets? But no, the cliché and boring underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.

But would, for instance, Erdoğan, who thinks a 15-year-old boy is a terrorist and should be shot by a gas canister, tolerate over 500 rockets over Turkish skies? Would he advise restraint if any group, party or country declared that all Turks are legitimate targets? Would he ignore it if any group, party or country pledged to fight down right to the last Turk?

But he has finally exhibited some honesty and admitted that: "We are never neutral when it comes to the Palestinian cause." Thank you, Prime Minister, for confirming this columnist when he wrote in 2009 that Turks as honest brokers between Arabs and Israelis sounded much like Greeks as honest brokers between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

All the same, Mr. Erdoğan's rhetoric was not equally honest when he said, "There were no rockets fired into Israeli territory because there were no Israeli deaths." Was Mr. Erdoğan denying Hamas, who says it happily fires scores of rockets? That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means Hamas, for the moment, cannot kill
(to be continued)
Burak Bekdīl, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily News and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article was originally published in slightly different for form on July 16 in the Hürriyet Daily News.

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What is sad is that the Gazans have not yet been able to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas.
The world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel that threatens the Arab and Muslim world and the major cities of Europe.
The Western world also seems not to understand that it has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding terrorism, such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey, for whom the Palestinian problem is only a pretext on the way to destroying the Western world as we know it and replacing it with only Islam.
An Arab proverb says, "First he hit me, then, before I could accuse him, he complained" -- meaning, "It all started when he hit me back."

These days, every loyal Palestinian finds it very frustrating to listen to Hamas boast about its great victory against the Jews in Albunyan Almarsus, what the Israelis call Operation Protective Edge, while it complains that the Jews committed war crimes in Gaza.

These complaints recall the pathetic way Arabs boast to convince themselves that they won every war the Israelis defeated them in.

There is nothing more bizarre, though, than Hamas's complaints about the "war crimes" it accuses Israel of committing. According to Article 7 of the Hamas charter, the Hamas movement has a religious and national duty to kill all the Jews in Palestine -- and everyplace else:
"The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
The Hamas Charter's Article 7 is taken from a quotation of Muhammad in the Hadith Bukharu Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177:
Narrated Abu Hraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."
Throughout Hamas's existence, it has striven to carry out this duty, killing and maiming thousands of Israelis along the way.

Before Israel built its security fence, Hamas suicide bombers would go from the West Bank to Israeli territory and blow up hundreds of Israelis in buses, discotheques, hotels, restaurants, and markets.
Hamas's commitment "to fight the Jews and kill them" has also been seen in Operation Protective Edge: Hamas's rockets exclusively targeted Jewish population centers, large and small.

Its truly massive attack against Israel, however, according to Hamas members captured by the IDF and interrogated, was not planned for July, but for the end of September, when, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, hundreds of terrorists wearing IDF uniforms would pour out of its tunnels to kill or kidnap hundreds of Israelis.

Hamas was forced to act earlier, it seems, after the forces of Egypt's President, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, destroyed Hamas's smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian-Gazan border. Hamas found itself being slowly strangled. Even the most recent payment of $30 million promised by terrorist-funder Qatar never reached the Gaza Strip. Hoping for a way out of its financial straits, Hamas joined the Palestinian Authority [PA] in a national consensus government so that money from Qatar could "legally" be sent to the Gaza Strip from Ramallah. The funds, however, stayed in Ramallah.

Hamas had yet another plan: to win the PA elections, wrest control from Fatah and throw Mahmoud Abbas onto history's garbage heap. The Israeli and PA security forces recently detained 94 Hamas operatives, and seized weapons, ammunition, explosives and large amounts of money. It seems the cardboard false front of the national consensus government was to be used to engineer a Hamas palace takeover in the West Bank, similar to the one in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Close to the date of the elections, Hamas abducted and murdered three Jewish teenagers, as admitted last week by senior Hamas operative Salah al-Arouri at a Muslim Brotherhood conference in Turkey. Hamas, it appears, had been hoping to use the boys as "Get Out of Jail Free" cards for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons -- all acts that would boost Hamas's popularity in the West Bank and ensure a win in the elections.

The result of the abduction was that the IDF launched Operation Brothers' Keeper, which included destroying Hamas's network in the West Bank, and re-arresting several terrorist operatives who had been released in a prisoner exchange deal for the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

This Operation exerted additional pressure on Hamas, which began bombarding Israel's towns and cities with rockets, and then sent several terrorist squads into Israel through its tunnels, evidently hoping for some kind of showcase attack. Some of the terrorists succeeded in killing IDF soldiers, some of the terrorists were killed, and others succeeded in returning to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas went on to violate over six ceasefire agreements proposed by Israel and one proposed by itself.

Hamas did succeed in scaring Israel to the point where 80,000 reserve soldiers were called up. Hamas even managed to cause foreign airlines to stop flying into Israel's international airport for three days, sending Hamas's leadership into a state of euphoria which led it to ramp up even further its rocket attacks against the Israeli civilian population.

In view of the rocket attacks and the terrorist tunnels, only some of which were known to Israeli intelligence, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had no choice but to authorize a military action. He hesitated, and tried for four days to delay a military response. He proposed ceasefire after ceasefire, and told the Palestinians again and again, "Quiet will be met with quiet" -- to no avail. Unfortunately for Gaza's civilian population, the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad mistook Netanyahu's remarks as signs of weakness.

The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leadership waged their war from deep underground bunkers, beneath high-rise buildings and below Gaza's showcase Al-Shifa Hospital. The leadership left the civilian population above ground and urged them onto the roofs of buildings or to stay home and receive the strikes that were coming toward their weapons stockpiles and rocket launchers. Waging war from five-star hotels in Qatar or bunkers under Gaza's urban landscape, Hamas's leaders positioned these rocket launchers next to hospitals, schools, mosques, UNRWA facilities, residential complexes and even hotels where foreign media personnel were staying.

It was the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, not the Israelis, who are the war criminals. It was these Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders who were responsible for the civilian deaths of more than two thousand Gazans, while they safely hid and only claimed that they wanted to be shaheeds [martyrs].

While the Hamas leadership threw the Gazan civilians to their bitter fate, the Israelis used the safe rooms they had built for their civilians and their Iron Dome aerial defense system to keep their own civilians safe. Not relying solely on Iron Dome, the IDF sent infantry units to the front lines inside the Gaza Strip to protect Israel's home front. The Israel Air Force attacked rocket and mortar shell launchers; its ground forces destroyed 32 terrorist tunnels that led from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.
(Image source: IDF)

Its tunnels into Israel were blown up; the rockets smuggled in from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Korea were neutralized; thousands of civilians were killed and tens of thousands of Gazan homes were destroyed, and yet the Hamas leadership continues claiming victory.

What is sad is that the Gazans have not managed to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas, and the world seems still not to understand the problems genuinely facing the Palestinians.

Even more important, the world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel which threatens the Arab-Muslim world, and which already has a foothold in the major cities of Europe. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are the petri dishes of the political Islamists threatening the world order.
The Yazidis on Iraq's Mt. Sinjar in 2014 are the reincarnation of the Armenians on Musa Dagh in 1915, and they hint at what lies in wait for Europe when Islam becomes powerful enough within European borders.

Radical Islam in Europe and in the world in general is so strong that even recent attempts in England to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization failed. How could any responsible government have allowed that to happen?

The Western world also seems not to understand that it either has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding Islamic terrorism -- such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey -- despite the United States' financial and security interests. It is irresponsible to keep providing security for, and making Faustian bargains with, countries aggressively working to destroy you.

The recent crucifixions, beheadings and other atrocities committed by radical Islamists in Syria and Iraq may have begun to help people understand that the Palestinian problem is merely a pretext for countries such as Qatar and Turkey, whose agenda is to destroy the Western world as we know it and replace it with only Islam.

Therefore it is most strange that, when the Israeli ambassador to the UN recently defined Qatar as a terrorism-sponsoring state that arms Hamas and that funds the construction of its terrorist tunnels, Mary Harf, spokeswoman for the American State Department, rushed to deny it. Harf claimed that, on the contrary, Qatar was helping to find a just solution for the Palestinian-Israel issue. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry even tried to palm off Qatar and Turkey on Israel as mediators in its negotiations with Hamas, although he knew full well that both countries are major supporters of Hamas in its terrorist activities against Israel.

The real causes of the crises, not just their symptoms, need to be identified and dealt with. First, according to international law, there are almost no Palestinian refugees because the status of a refugee cannot be inherited.

There are, however, millions of genuine refugees around the globe whose lives are in danger, who need help immediately, and to whom no one pays the slightest attention. UNRWA, which, in the name of the "Palestinian cause," has done nothing constructive for the Gazans, only perpetuates the problem, colludes in helping Hamas to attack Israel, is totally corrupt, and needs to be disbanded and the funds it receives diverted elsewhere.

The Arab countries, in which the Palestinians live as second-class citizens, need to be acknowledged as the true apartheid countries that they are. They do not even tolerate other kinds of Muslims, let alone Christians, Yazidis or Jews. The international community needs to require them to grant citizenship to the Palestinians who have lived there for generations. If Israel could take in Jewish refugees who came from Arab states -- while also recognizing its Arab minorities as full citizens of Israel -- so can the Arab countries do for their fellow Muslims.

If instead they keep on cultivating Palestinians to wipe out a UN member-nation, then the international community is an accessory to war crimes and deserves to be -- at the very least -- disregarded. If the international community is complicit for reasons of business, oil or to avoid being attacked in their comfy home countries, we can all just go home and forget about such an international community -- totally lacking in honor, made up of nothing but corruption, collusion, and cowardice. If that is so, they are no better than those they try to boss around. They are less than useless; they are dangerous.

Rather than being duped by Hamas yet again and paying it to rebuild its military-terrorist capabilities, the world needs to demand that it be disbanded and an independent agency established to dismantle its terrorist capabilities oversee the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, free of weapons, as already agreed to in the 1995 Oslo II Agreement. As this provision was already agreed on by all parties, why is it even under discussion?

Senior PLO figures such as Nabil Shaath and Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian delegate to the peace talks with Israel, have repeatedly stated to the Palestinians that as part of an agreement with Israel, all the Palestinian refugees will return to their homes inside the Israel of 1948, a promise that is as misleading as it is inflammatory and false. As are the logos of Fatah, Hamas and the PLO which need to be cleansed of their maps of "Palestine," displacing Israel "from the river to the sea."

The Palestinian Authority's leadership could truly benefit its people by telling them to abandon the dream of wiping Israel off the map and inciting a "third Intifada." It certainly should not be rewarded for continuous bellicosity.

As a Palestinian who wants to see a true and lasting peace finally come to the region, I believe it is the responsibility of the United States and its moderate Arab and Muslim allies to tell the Palestinians to stop stringing their people along with the dream of destroying Israel demographically with "returning refugees," and instead to ensure that the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees, finally, are enfranchised in the countries where they currently live.

Above all, the Americans need to stem the support Hamas and other terror groups receive from Qatar for terrorism. It is beyond crucial to demand that Qatar stop supporting global Islamist terrorism, especially Hamas, and cease the non-stop anti-Israel and anti-Egypt incitement on its mercenary television station, Al-Jazeera. Hamas's knowledge that it is assured of support from Qatar and Turkey allows it to feel secure in violating ceasefire after ceasefire and then making illogical demands at the talks in Cairo.

About a week ago, the Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces revealed that Hamas was trying to carry out a coup against the PA in the West Bank, just as it did in 2007 in the Gaza Strip, when it threw its political rivals from Fatah off the top floors of the highest buildings there.
The plan to overthrow Fatah in the West Bank was probably integrated into Hamas's grandiose plan to attack Israel next month with rockets and terror squads from the tunnels in Gaza, while at the same time initiating the "third Intifada" for which they have been calling in the West Bank, Jerusalem and among Israeli Arabs inside Israel itself.

Azzam al-Ahmad, the representative of Mahmoud Abbas's national consensus government at the Cairo talks, defends Hamas's refusal to disarm and its attempts to overthrow Mahmoud Abbas -- while Mahmoud Abbas committed himself to establishing a demilitarized Palestinian state. This is how unreliable and hypocritical they are.

The tragedy is that, as in previous wars, the Hamas leadership constantly lies to itself -- and to the Gazans -- when it claims to have won.

Hamas makes the absurd claim that it was "victorious" in Operation Protective Edge and can therefore dictate terms to Israel. In fact, Hamas did not win; Hamas was badly defeated. Maintaining the illusion that Hamas won only allows it resume shelling and threatening Israel -- and it is the Palestinian people who pay the price.

Cato the Elder used to end every speech by saying, "Carthago delenda est": "Carthage must be destroyed." That is the only way there will be peace.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

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