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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scary Canada! The "Northern Border" Lurks

"I've seen first-hand the issues that our nation faces countering violent drug trafficking, organized crime and potential terrorist acts."
"It is one of the least recognized threats to our national security ... it is scary."
John Katko, Republican Congressman, New York state
U.S. analysis to gauge threat posed by Canadian border

U.S. Border Patrol agents on duty along the Quebec-Vermont border. The U.S. Congress has passed the Northern Border Security Review Act, which calls for a 'threat analysis' of the United States' border with Canada.   Photograph by: Joe Raedle, Getty Images Files , National Post

Hungary has built a wall, fearful of having too many Muslim refugees enter the country, fleeing the sectarian violence that has triggered conflict in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Eritrea and Nigeria, among the many countries of the world where Islam reigns as the religion of peace and understanding between peoples. On the island of Cypress there is another wall, separating Cypriot Greeks from Turks who have decided they like Cypress for themselves.

The separation wall that the State of Israel built between itself and the Palestinians served nicely to stem the tsunami of 'suicide' bombings that took a horrific yield of Jewish lives in enabling Arab martyrs to reach their destination of Paradise, and whose presence the world decries as a symptom of an 'apartheid' state, a Jewish state where Christians, Jews and Arab Muslims are all guaranteed the protection of the law as citizens.

North America is separated into three countries; Mexico to the south, the United States above, and to the  north, Canada. Canada and the United States share the longest border in the world. Canada, a peace-appreciating country where firearms are used for hunting, a country whose reputation is one of polite boredom, sits next to a country where personal firearms are used to burden the country with one of the highest murder rates in the world; a nation whose power and prestige is limitless.

Canadian border guards are silhouetted at an inspection booth at the Douglas border crossing on the Canada-USA border in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday August 20, 2009.
Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press  Canadian border guards are silhouetted at an inspection booth at the Douglas border crossing on the Canada-USA border in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday August 20, 2009.

The United States, however, is fixated on keeping those Canadians who harbour terrorist tendencies far from their borders -- even while reaping the benefits of millions of vacationing Canadians -- at bay, with the aid of a restraining wall. For countries whose economies are inextricably intertwined, and whose commercial trade and production is similarly attached, a separation wall will make trade more difficult to achieve, despite the free trade status achieved, while its function  as a terror-deterrent appears the last word in paranoid pathology.

Despite which, against all reason, the U.S. Congress has passed a bipartisan Northern Border Security Review Act ordering a "threat analysis" of the Canadian border to be delivered in six months. A former Homeland Security chief infamously stated that the 9-11 Islamist jihadists entered her country through Canada, when the stark reality was that the U.S. had given them visas to enter from Germany and other points excluding Canada.

Not only were they given visas to enter the United States, but that country's aeronautical training industry courteously taught them the skills they required to pilot their one-way hijacking tragedies traumatizing and victimizing American citizens as well as citizens of Canada. But the task set before Homeland Security is to determine which "terrorism and criminal threats" may be on the cusp of entering America through Canada, and to decide the direction to take to "prevent terrorists and instruments of terror from entering the United States".

Some of the 9/11 attackers were on the radar of the CIA and they, unfortunately, neglected to inform their partners in homeland security intelligence at the FBI, quite the oversight, speaking to the rivalry between the two groups. Speaking as well to the inefficiency and dysfunction of the American intelligence community, including Homeland Security. In the search for someone to blame for their ineptness, who else but a neighbour?

And, as borders go, it's a loooong one, 8,800-km in length, with another 2,400 km with Alaska. A one-time Republican contender for the U.S. presidency, Senator John McCain warned a year ago that ISIL terrorists were preparing an attack against the United States; that "our northern border is porous and that they will be coming across". From where, pray tell? Via Syria through Canada, of course, why would you even ask!

"There have been no terrorist attacks on the United States coming from Canada", Canada's ambassador to the U.S. responded in a 2010 letter, after Senator Joe Lieberman had spoken of the low security on the Canadian border as "absolutely alarming". No one seems to be listening. Isn't that what 'intelligence' does? It listens, to be able to formulate reasonable conclusions? Dunces and Dunderheads!

Such a wall would be 62 times longer than Hadrian's Wall, 34 times longer than the militarized border between North and South Korea, 54 times longer than the Berlin Wall, and end, with little doubt, in Canada regarding the United States as pitiably unintelligent.

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The Overwhelming Tragedy

"Crossing in those conditions would be very tough."
"They [smugglers] are  criminals. They took their money [of the refugees], put them on boats, and sent them to their death."
Manolis Galanakis, local fisherman, Lesbos, Greece

"We can't have a situation continuing with dead children in the sea every day."
"Thousands are coming every day, escaping war. We have handled the situation with dignity, but the truth is that we can't even meet their basic needs."
Giorgos Pallis, Greek member of Parliament representing Lesbos

"The Greek Coast Guard is severely under-resourced. The EU has to get the rescue boats in the water right now."
"Leaders have pledged to increase the Frontex [EU's border protection agency] presence in the Aegean. It's shocking that so many people had to die before we heard that pledge, and there's no more time for delays."
Judith Sunderland, Human Rights Watch
A refugee family weeps after arriving on Lesbos
A refugee family weeps after arriving on Lesbos, as the weather continued to deteriorate for those trying to cross from Turkey. Photograph: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

And where will they go? Most have no desire to remain in Greece, whose economy is in ruins, a country which cannot afford to offer the migrants and refugees a promising future of advancing their ambitions to live a better life than many of them have been able to enjoy, until the last several years of chaotic, brutal turmoil owing to sectarian violence in their countries of origin.

The countries of eastern Europe are adamant that they will take no part in the EU's hapless and desperate scheme to apportion refugee numbers to all its members; a handful have gone so far as to erect fences to stem the flow from adjoining countries. Even Austria, which beside Germany and Denmark promised to take in as many refugees as could manage to make their way to their borders, has begun to build a fence.

All of Europe is alarmed, their populations restive with apprehension over the unending tide of refugees streaming into their borders, needy and helpless, expecting that the countries they enter will be prepared to take them in, comfort them with lodging, food, medicine, and promise of a future, or at the least expedite them to other countries which can provide all of that.

Refugees near Lesbos
Refugees and migrants arrive on a dinghy at Lesbos, Greece, on 23 October. Photograph: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Germany stands out, alongside Denmark as the showpieces of empathetic humanity, prepared to welcome those fleeing instability and conflict. But their resources are finite and their enthusiasm is beginning to lag, as problems surface in insufficient places to put the refugees and haven seekers, in surfacing anger from the indigenous populations and from the refugees themselves, disappointed in the paltry offerings of their reception.

Incidents of brutality between the refugees, including the plight of Christian refugees assailed by Muslims, the rape of women, the vulnerability of children in unstable situations, has increased the concerns of the receiving countries. The reality is that the tragedy is boundless. The flight of those in fear of their lives, having lost all their possessions, victimized by geography and fate and the simmering hatreds of tribal, sectarian dysfunction continues to overwhelm Europe.

Small, unseaworthy boats continue to leave Turkey to reach the first portion of their long, arduous journey to a destination the refugees are uncertain of, crossing the cold and stormy waters of the Mediterranean which swallows the lives of hundreds of children. Lesbos is finding itself with burial space for dead migrants diminishing day by day.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Missing: Political/Social Maturity

"We hope this new government will join the international community and recognize the state of Palestine."
"We are confident that Canada will start to see us as a people who want to join other nations in having their own independence and their own sovereignty."
"I hope the [prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau] meant Canada will come back to really support those people living in fear, those people living in problem and those who need help."
"We see Canada as a strong nation that can offer its hand to us and help us from the problem we are in, not to push us back."
"Our hope is that Canada will see that we are a country, that we are a people who deserve a country."
Palestinian charge d'affaires Hamdi Abu Ali

The Canadian Palestinian leadership which publicly sided with the “Palestinian Intifada” (also called “al-Quds Intifada” and the “Knife Intifada”), expressed its hope that the 10 newly-elected Liberal Muslim members of parliament succeed in their efforts to reform Canada’s foreign policy.
Rashad Saleh, the Secretary of Fatah movement in Canada, who called his supporters to vote for Omar Alghabra, the Liberal Party’s candidate, gloated over the “ousting of the right-wing Conservative Party and the racist government that was more Zionist than Netanyahu’s government.” He emphasized that “we have to rebuild the relations [with the government] and the Canadian – Palestinian committees in Parliament.”
Nazih Khatataba, a board member of the Mississauga-based Palestine House, wrote on his Facebook page (originally in Arabic): “We anticipate that they [Muslim MPs] will change Canada’s policy particularly with regard to the positions towards global issues, the Palestinian problem and the repealing of the oppressive Bill that was passed by the parliament during the Conservative government.”
CIJNews English

Canada is one of nine countries opposing the symbolic but hugely significant United Nations motion of 2012 to recognize statehood for Palestine, one of Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas' little tricks, supported by the weight of the influence of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to sideline Israel yet again, and allow the PA to continue its refusal to meet Israel across the table to negotiate the terms and conditions required to set up a new state with defined borders.

Palestinians, according to Abu Ali, are hopeful that the incoming Liberal government will return to previous times where cooperation and mutual respect, as they see it from their perspective, reigned between the two sides; which is to say, the Palestinians and the Government of Canada. Again, side-stepping the legal and international obligation of the Palestinians to deal directly with Israel, to settle disagreements, and above all, for the Palestinians to behave as civilized people should.

The Palestinian Authority wants help from Canada, just as they demand 'help' with no strings attached from the international community at large, while they remain unwilling to 'help' themselves. Instead, they launch public relations campaigns to delegitimize Israel, to enact boycotts and divestment campaigns, to slander Israel as an occupying power, when the Jewish state is forced by Palestinian violent belligerence to mount continual defences against atrocities.

The Palestinians insist that all of the West Bank is theirs and theirs alone. They also insist that East Jerusalem is their sole possession, and with it the most holy site in Judaism. It has been repeatedly stated that Jews will not be permitted to live in any geography which Palestinians eventually claim for their state, while Palestinians have citizenship in Israel, and can elevate their own to the Israeli Knesset.

Jews, even while Israel encompasses Jerusalem, are restricted from approaching the Temple Mount because Arabs claim their presence desecrates their own holy sites, and so they invoke the name of Islam as having sole rights to approach the area, to pray there in their millions, while not permitting even a figure below a thousand Jews in one year to be permitted to ascend their holy site, where their prayer is strictly forbidden.

Canada's position has been that recognition of a Palestinian state should arrive after a firm negotiated peace has been settled between Israel and the Palestinians. Abu Ali claims it is now universally held by Palestinians that such peace talks will never resume, and never result in a mutual agreement. But the fact is, that though the PA claims that Israel has disrupted the peace talks, each time an Israeli offer is extended that defers to Palestinian demands, the Palestinians walk away from the offer.

Even the recent violence which goes on unabated because it is incessantly incited by the Palestinian Authority elite which has groomed Palestinians from childhood to adulthood to view Jews as their enemies, is being blamed on Jews. That it is Jews who initiate false rumours of Palestinian Arab attacks on Jews, when the opposite is what occurs; this, despite evidence to the contrary. But then, the truth has always been a toy to be played with by the Palestinians.

There is a sound reason why North America and Western Europe have withheld formal recognition of the 'state of Palestine', and that is because the Palestinians have no legal recourse to claim that state until they make an effort to settle the long-standing and ongoing conflict with their neighbour to the satisfaction of both parties, rather than to the eternal satisfaction of just one; themselves.

Generously, Abu Ali mentions that Canada's three major political parties have clearly stated support for Israel's right to exist. "We understand that. What is missing, and what is not clear is their position on us. And that's what we care about. We want to know: How do you see us?"

Well, Abu Ali: Not yet ready for statehood.

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Unfit For Citizenship in Canada

"For those individuals who have had their citizenship revoked, the way forward is more  complex. It is difficult to see how they could be restored to citizenship through a simple administrative retraction."
"The effect of which [annulling all actions taken under C-24] would be to restore those persons who have already lost their citizenship to the position they were in prior to [the legalization of] Bill C-24.
Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa law professor

"Those who choose to pursue deadly terrorist activities from or in Canada will pay a very heavy price."
Sentencing Judge

"While incarcerated, he has met with imams for religious counselling ... to discuss Islam and de-radicalization. He has also been involved in efforts to combat the radicalization of others."
Lawyers for Saad Khalid, plotter with Toronto 18, 2006
Toronto 18 members Saad Goya and Saad Khalid at their 2006 arrest in Newmarket, Ontario. Khalid, 29, is the latest to challenge a controversial law that allows federal authorities to strip convicted terrorists of their Canadian citizenship, provided they are also citizens of another country.
Stewart Bell / National Post   Toronto 18 members Saad Goya and Saad Khalid at their 2006 arrest in Newmarket, Ontario. Khalid, 29, is the latest to challenge a controversial law that allows federal authorities to strip convicted terrorists of their Canadian citizenship, provided they are also citizens of another country.

The Conservative government, recently defeated in a general election, brought in a controversial bill to remove citizenship from individuals holding dual citizenship, if they are found guilty of terrorism or of fighting with terrorist groups abroad. Canadian citizenship would be revoked, and such individuals would then have only their second citizenship remaining valid.

A number of individuals, charged, convicted and imprisoned for their roles in terrorist plots have now had their Canadian citizenship revoked. And some among them, including the Toronto 18 leader Zakaria Amar, have challenged the constitutionality of depriving them of Canadian citizenship. This is typical of Muslims who believe in and act upon violent jihad; they will exhaust all of the legal guarantees of the countries they betray to benefit themselves and shield them from the consequences of their actions.

The incoming prime minister, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, campaigning on a promise to repeal the now-5-month-old law, is expected to do just that. How it is of benefit to Canada to permit immigrants who achieve landed status to become Canadian citizens and hold on to that citizenship while they serve long sentences in federal prisons for terrorism, is beyond any logical explanation.

In the case of Saad Khalid, now 29, who was born in Saudi Arabia to parents from Pakistan, he was studying at the University of Toronto when he involved himself in the plot to detonate deadly truck bombs at locations in Toronto, playing a "pivotal" role in the plot. A psychiatric assessment stated that his "sense of religiously condoned behaviour superseded his perceived need to abide by secular laws", which is precisely the point.

An appeals court raised his sentence to twenty years in fitting recognition of the gravity of his intended crime. Neither he nor his colleagues in terror deserve the shield of the constitution to allow them to continue carrying Canadian passports. Canadian response to the situation is 50 percent in favour of revoking citizenship of those committing to foreign armed groups.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Past and the Present in Jerusalem

"In April 1920, as a gesture to the Zionists, the British government created a region called “Palestine” designed to be the eventual “national home for the Jewish people.” Then in May 1921, it appointed Amin al-Husseini (1895-1974) as mufti of Jerusalem, a dreadful decision whose repercussions still reverberate today."
"Husseini harbored a monstrous hostility toward Jews; as Klaus Gensicke puts it in his important 2007 study, 'The Mufti of Jerusalem and the Nazis,' Husseini’s 'hatred of Jews knew no mercy, and he always intervened with particular zeal whenever he feared that some of the Jews could escape annihilation.' Toward this end, he initiated an uncompromising campaign of rejectionism — the intent to eliminate every vestige of Jewish presence in Palestine — and used any and all tactics toward this foul end."
"For example, he can be largely held responsibility for the Middle East’s endemic anti-Semitism, having spread the anti-Semitic forgery 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' the blood libel and Holocaust denial throughout the region. His other legacies include making Jerusalem into the flash point it remains today, spreading many of the anti-Zionist conspiracy theories that afflict the Middle East, and being one of the first Islamists to call for jihad."
"He encouraged and organized unprovoked violence against the British and the Jews, including a three-year long intifada in 1936-39. Then he worked with the Nazis, living in Germany during the war years, 1941-45, proving so useful that he earned an audience with Hitler. Nor was this a courtesy visit; as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu correctly pointed out on Oct. 20, Husseini had a central role in formulating the Final Solution that led eventually to the murder of 6 million Jews."
"Husseini tutored his young relative, the future Yasser Arafat, and Arafat faithfully carried out the mufti’s program for 35 years, after which his apparatchik Mahmoud Abbas keeps the legacy alive. In other words, Husseini’s rejectionism still dominates the Palestinian Authority. In addition, he spent the postwar years in Egypt, where he influenced the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Hamas spin-off also bears his hallmark rejectionism. Thus do both principal Palestinian movements pursue his murderous and self-defeating methods."
Daniel Pipes, president, Middle East Forum
The Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images   The Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem.

First things first: it is an absolute absurdity that a nation in possession of their religion's most sacred and hallowed site is denied, by an outside source, access to that site, much less forbidden by another religion entirely to pray at the site. The threats inherent in not complying with this forbiddingly sinister denial of rights are, however, sufficient in view of the mass weight of numbers of Muslims as compared to the slight numbers of Jews, and the wish to avoid further confrontations and conflict, to persuade Israel to comply with those demands.

This most basic of human rights; denying an entire people the right to approach the foremost symbol of their divine belief, is considered appropriate by the world community which subscribes to basic human rights extended to all, with the exception of Judaism and Jews. Muslims, whose religion is based upon the millennia-earlier monotheistic religion of Judaism, deny the authenticity of Judaism and its heritage site of Jerusalem.

As is typical of Islam, religious sites expressing the heritage of predecessors are destroyed or built over, or re-purposed to Islam.

Islamic clerics of the present era claim that Israel never existed, that Jews never had a heritage site in the Middle East, much less that Jerusalem was the capital of ancient Israel, and in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, thousands of years before Islam was invented by an charismatic Arab merchant with a grand vision as a prophet, two successive Temples dedicated to Yahweh (Jehovah) were erected to hold Judaism's sacred scripts.

The cry to arms for Muslims, urged on by their leaders, is that the State of Israel is planning to deny Muslims their right to what they term the Noble Sanctuary where Muhammad was said to have ascended to heaven astride a white steed. This incitement to tribal, religious conflict has once again fired the flames of hostile resentment by Muslims against Jews. But even before the present stoning and knifing and random killing of Israeli Jews by Palestinians began, there was a malign campaign.

Should any Palestinian choose to believe that a Jew visiting the Temple Mount is discreetly praying, there is a call to action to deny that Jew his tendency to worship his god. Palestinian women garbed in all-encompassing black appear like hate-harpies to follow Jews about on the Mount, screaming at them "Allahu Akbar!" And young Palestinian men and women 'activists' linger in the Al-Aqsa Mosque with a specific purpose in mind.

Palestinian Arab young men with masks, inside Al-Aqsa Mosque (some wearing shoes), stockpile rocks to use for throwing at Jews who visit the Temple Mount, September 27, 2015 -- Gatestone Institute
Looking out for any Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, when people appear wearing items that identify them as Jews they are stoned. If the Islamists could destroy the Jewish heritage of the site that Muslims claim as the third most holy in Islam, they would; as it is they claim that Israeli archaeology takes place for the specific purpose of destroying the Arab/Muslim sites on the Mount, to replace them with a third Temple of Solomon.
brucesmideastsoundbites.blogspot.com  As the struggle over the Temple Mount escalates, the number of Muslim male and female recruits to the Mourabitoun, responsible for inflaming and fanning hatred

"We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah", rhapsodizes Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president. When Palestinian men successfully attack Jews and themselves are killed, they are memorialized, sung of as heroes, mentors to other Palestinians who seek to achieve their own glorification through violent action.

"I will personally expel every Jew who comes to the Temple Mount in a provocative manner", (i.e., to pray) promises Jamal Zahalka, an Israeli Arab Knesset member, in reflection of the notorious hate-mongering Haj Amin Al-Husseini, a collaborator with Hitler's Third Reich program of extermination of Europe's Jews, who extended that program to the Middle East.

When Israel was under conquest in 637 by early Islam and Jerusalem was taken from Byzantine Christianity, the second of the Muslim Caliphs following Mohammad's death formally recognized the rights of all three of the 'Abrahamic' religions, though Islam was recognized as the final version of the religion that Israel had initiated, Christ had amended and extended, and Mohammad had pre-empted in its 'final' and 'complete' god-sanctioned version.

In those ancient times, though no longer in control of Jerusalem, Jews were permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, to build a synagogue there. After the Crusades when Jerusalem fell under the control once again of Christians local traditions were recognized and Jews prayed on the Temple Mount. When Saladin reconquered Jerusalem Jewish rights of prayer were restored. It has taken the modern political Islamist ideology to transform relations between Jews and Muslims to pure hatred.

What redeeming feature is there in Islam that it roils the world at large with its claims to superiority over all other religions, and in persuading its faithful of their obligation to jihad, to transform the entire world population to surrender to Islam, slaughters its own in an unending spasm of sectarian bloodshed?

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Protecting Poland's Interests

"They tapped in so well to the general mood that 'We don't want refugees'."
"They [Poland] welcome the European Union if it brings funds but not if it brings migrants and the Western decadent lifestyle."
"[The Law & Justice party win occurred because people believed it would] create an invisible wall around Poland [insulating Poles from what they dislike]."
"We have reached the limit of our capacity to absorb changes. We are about to give the country to a bunch of political extremists who have been smart enough to send consoling signals to people who are scared. We are going through a kind of counter-Reformation."
Jacek Kucharczyk, head, Institute of Public Affairs
Supporters for the conservative opposition Law and Justice party at a rally in Warsaw.
Supporters for the conservative opposition Law and Justice party at a rally in Warsaw. Photograph: Czarek Sokołowski/AP

Poland, like Hungary and now suddenly Austria, and Denmark and many of the eastern European countries, feel they have had enough experience with welcoming foreign immigrants and refugees, diluting their cultures and their values through the introduction of cultures and values introduced by a religion that rejects much of what they value, to decide that they've had enough.

Xenophobia has its roots not only in suspicion of the other, but as well in exposure to the other which has not resulted in a serendipitous amalgam of cultures and values. The welcoming country has certain expectations, that the indigenous culture, heritage, and laws will be respected. That immigrants will be amenable to melding into the prevailing mores and social contract.

Europe has discovered over the years that when masses of Muslims move into a country they tend to keep themselves separate and apart, to live just as they did in the countries from which they came; spurning the priorities and values of the lands they have migrated to. And what's more, when their numbers reach a critical mass they feel entitled to agitate for special conditions and considerations favourable to their view of politics and religion and social welfare.

Instead of assimilating, of accepting that as new citizens of another country this is an obligatory courtesy to their future, the Muslim demographic deliberately holds itself apart, preferring not to mingle, not to accept wide social practise, not to surrender any element of their own religious laws that challenge the secular laws of the country, claiming that god's law supersedes man-made laws.

And so, perhaps the growing resentment at the presence of that irritating foreign element slowly transforming the familiar to the unfamiliar understandably had its effect in persuading Poles to vote for a right-wing, Euro skeptic, anti-immigrant party. "Poland will be a different Poland in Europe starting from today [election day]" pronounced Agnieszka Lada, expert on foreign affairs.

The Law & Justice party's slim majority will enable it to lead Poland in a new direction as a populist party with a hard line on migrants. The incendiary statements made by the party's leaders will not endear them to outsiders looking in. EU membership granting Poland their share of EU funds that drives their economy, along with open borders sit well with Polish voters.

It's just EU's interference in Poland's style and internal values that grates. It's called plucking the low-hanging fruit and rejecting the effort it would take to reach a little higher to conform to the general EU consensus, but that's obviously Poland's choice. Eerie resemblance between that and the other.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Middle East Cesspool

"We said the PYD will not go west of the Euphrates and that we would hit it the moment it did. We hit it twice."
"Turkey cannot abandon its border, its fate to any country."
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center, File
AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center, File   ISIL fighters parade in Raqqa, Syria.

Turkey unleashed its military to attack the main Kurdish force across the border in northern Syria. Which raises the question yet again, is Turkey serious about meeting the challenge to defeat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant? Or does it remain internally conflicted despite its links with the United States and NATO, as a partner in the war against Islamist terrorism?

Since Turkey has reverted to its own brand of Islamism, it has become a terrorist threat against Kurds, Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi.

On the other hand, the United States and NATO depend heavily on the strategic and conflict-ready capacity of the Kurdish forces to challenge Islamic State, and they have been supported by the United States, with training and weapons in recognition of their successes on the battlefield. So Turkey is attacking a key ally of the U.S., the YPG.

For their part, leaders in the YPG have informed the U.S. that the Turkish military shot at its forces in the town of Tal Abyad, with machine guns. The Turkish Prime Minister claims that his military attacked the Kurdish force west of the Euphrates River in contrast to the YPG account which held the attack was east of the river.

And the Islamic State is left free to get on with its business, since Russia is targeting Syrian rebel forces for the most part, in support of Bashar al-Assad, the butcher of Damascus. And with Turkey targeting the most successful military challenge to the Islamic State, while they're enjoying a free pass from the Syrian regime and Russia, the quagmire that is Syria sinks ever deeper into vicious madness.

This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, file photo, on a social media site used by ISIL, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows smoke from the detonation of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra. Activists say ISIL has killed three captives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 in Palmyra by tying them to Roman-era columns at the site, then blowing the structures up with explosives.
This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, file photo, on a social media site used by ISIL, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows smoke from the detonation of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra. Activists say ISIL has killed three captives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 in Palmyra by tying them to Roman-era columns at the site, then blowing the structures up with explosives.
Islamic State social media account via AP

Getting on with their public relations program, ISIL killed three captives in the ancient city of Palmyra, tying them to columns dating from the Roman era, and blowing both the structure and the prisoners into the atmosphere with explosives. Introducing yet another new strategy to impose fear and awe, upholding their formidable reputation for imaginative atrocities.

Crucifixion, caged drownings, beheadings and mass slaughter seem to have lost some of the horror appeal that has given the Islamist jihadis their main draw for voluntary recruits into the caliphate's war. The three dead captives were described by activists as civilians, their identities not yet revealed. Images posted on social media this week were of ISIL members driving a tank over a government soldier in revenge for ISIL fighters being flattened by tanks.

The horrific barbaric primitivism of Islamic State is by no means confined to their sinister imagination's monopoly; equal levels of butchery are carried out by the Syrian government military. Hatred and rage runs deep and unappeasable within elements of the universal religion of peace and brotherhood among Muslims.

Islamic State social media account via AP
Islamic State social media account via AP   This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 on a social media site used by ISIL, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra rigged with explosives. Activists say ISIL has killed three captives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 in Syria’'s ancient city of Palmyra by tying them to Roman-era columns at the site, then blowing the structures up with explosives.

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The All-Purpose Mujahid

"I'm currently in Syria as a member of al-Qaeda Central, working on their behalf with Jabhat al-Nusra. I embraced Islam in Afghanistan."
"I'm really happy to be here as a member of al-Qaeda, as a mujahid, but most importantly as a Muslim."
"Training tactically, working in small groups -- I hate to use the word 'commandos' -- high-standard infantry tactics, long-range patrols, reconnaissance patrols, ambushing, raids, sabotage, harassment behind enemy lines, reaction to combat, how to fight with the enemy in a guerrilla warfare scenario, targeting convoys, targeting installations behind enemy lines with no support, and so on."
"These were some of the things I trained in for a number of years with the Australian military, and then experienced for almost fifteen years in Afghanistan."
Matthew Stewart, aka Usama Hamza Australi
Former Australian soldier turned Al Qaeda member Mathew Stewart.
Supplied   Former Australian soldier turned Al Qaeda member Mathew Stewart

Vicki and Peter Stewart were informed by their son Matthew that he was embarked on a cultural-religious adventure. He planned a holiday for himself, in Afghanistan. So many young men from the West appear to inform their families that they plan to travel to the Middle East to enrich their minds. To discover more about Islam, to study it there, and to do it properly, in the language in which it was written, Arabic. The only way to truly understand Islam.

Of course, of late there have been other ways of studying Islam and becoming familiar with its precepts. Moving among jihadis dedicated to the requirement that as the faithful they must engage in what young men most enjoy doing, particularly those who have grown up within emotionally primitive societies for whom violence is a respected exchange between clans, tribes and religious sects, dedicating themselves to militant Islam.

Nothing like learning a new language by immersing completely within the cultural environment. Then and there, the colloquialisms become second nature, part of the camaraderie of a shared ideology and the excitement of taking risks and honing warfare skills. A satisfying lifestyle to those who pledge themselves to the duty that Islam calls them to, as martyrs to be honoured for their sacrifice. That the 'sacrifice' has its attractions is beside the point.

So here is Matthew Stewart, who grew up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland in Australia, now transplanted to Syria, training combatants with Jabhat al-Nustra. From Australian soldier, introduced to fighting skills in East Timor, to senior al-Qaeda commander in Syria. Once an infantryman, now a seasoned 39-year-old al-Qaeda mujahid with all due respect hailing his efforts on behalf of the mission to regain Islam's former illustrious past.

He had vanished in 2001, and his parents and Australian authorities assumed he was dead. A private wake took place in 2004. Now his reality has come to light, available for scrutiny in the most recent edition of al-Qaeda's English-language online rag, Al Risalah, featuring an interview with a jihadist who just happens to have an Australian accent. But the former Matthew Stewart makes no secret of who he was in his former life.

He speaks of that, emphasizing his current situation as one fulfilling his needs and his aspirations. He is a 'somebody', with al-Qaeda in the most notorious cesspool of violent slaughter currently within the Middle East. But -- he has found his niche in life. What more could fond parents hope for on behalf of their aspiring child? And there is more to celebrate; they have a daughter-in-law, and they have two grandchildren.

Usama's parents may choose not to reject their son's identity on this occasion, as they preferred to do back in 2005 when, on viewing an al-Qaeda propaganda video with an armed balaclava-adorned militant with an Australian accent who issued a warning to the United States and Britain to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan and Iraq. While Australian authorities identified him, his family denied that identification.

Who wouldn't, after all. One man's fulfillment, a family's nightmare. Is this not what free will is all about?

Fadi al-Halabi / AFP, Getty Images
Fadi al-Halabi / AFP, Getty Images   Fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front drive in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo flying Islamist flags as they head to a frontline, on May 26, 2015.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Moderate Palestinian Authority/Mahmoud Abbas

"We have documented how he and his leadership have continually called for violence and turned killers into heroes – all the while professing Palestinian victimhood. His role in perpetrating the slaughter of innocent people is no different from that of dispatchers on the ground, who physically supply terrorists with weapons and drive them to the scenes of their crimes."
"[Mahmoud Abbas] should be imprisoned for murder."
 Itamar Marcus, founder /director, Palestinian Media Watch 
Memes from Fatah's Facebook page. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

The October 3 murder of Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Bennett, that took place in the Old City of Jerusalem, serves as an illustration where stabbing attacks are encouraged and glorified by the Palestinian Authority. The perpetrator of the attack, Muhannad Halabi was urged by Arab passers-by and local shopkeepers to attack anyone he could identify as a Jew. After the attack, when the wife of Mr. Bennett pleaded for help as she stumbled about, a knife stuck in her back, she was mocked by those same passers-by and shopkeepers.

Muhannad Halabi was shot dead by Israeli security forces, as he continued his lethal rampage. But the Palestinian Authority saw to it that he had his martyrdom reward. His posthumous award was to be honoured by having a street named after him. The Palestinian Law Society granted him an honourary law degree, as a law student who hadn't completed his studies, and "holy soil" from the area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque was provided for the burial site of the "heroic martyr".

Police and emergency medical services treat the victims of a terror attack in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem on Oct. 13, 2015. (Israel Police)
Police and emergency medical services treat the victims of a terror attack in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem on Oct. 13, 2015. (Israel Police)

Richard Lakin, 76, a former American school principal who was shot in the head and stabbed in the chest during the terrorist attack that occurred two weeks ago, underwent several surgeries that saw his condition temporarily stabilized. Doctors pronounced him dead, however, on Monday, the third victim of the attack to die of his wounds. This man, formerly a resident of Connecticut, arrived in Israel with his family 32 years ago. The family settled in Jerusalem, where they opened a business to teach English.

Among their varied and many students were area Palestinian children. He remained a teacher to the end of his life. He was also a writer, authoring two books, one of which was titled "Teaching as an Act of Love". That love was not reciprocated by all, needless to say. A year ago, a Canadian-Israeli rabbi was horribly wounded in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem while he was praying at the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue.

Palestinian Mother Threatens Terror Attacks After Her Son Is Killed Trying to Murder Jews in Israel

The synagogue was full of worshippers early on the morning of November 18, 2014. Two Palestinian terrorists stormed into the building with guns, knives and meat cleavers to attack those immersed in prayer. Four men were killed outright, along with an off-duty Israeli Druze policeman. Seven additional men had been injured, and Rabbi Howie (Chaim) Rothman was the most seriously wounded among them.

The 55-year-old man was kept in a medically induced coma. He had been struck with a meat cleaver to the right side of his head, causing him to lose an eye. "He had an arm severed and they had to re-attach that", his brother explained at his funeral. "But the thing that really did the damage to him was the brain damage, the hits to his head". The attackers were two men from East Jerusalem, related to one another as cousins. The multiple surgeries that Rabbi Rothman underwent on his brain, eyes and arm failed to sustain his life.

He was maintained in long-term care hospitals in Jerusalem but recently he developed pneumonia, placed on a respirator where his blood pressure plummeted, and he died.

A Palestinian stone-thrower looks on as he stands in front of a fire during clashes with IDF troops
A Palestinian stone-thrower looks on as he stands in front of a fire during clashes with IDF troops in the West Bank village of Duma. (photo credit:REUTERS)

This is the savagery carried out by Palestinian 'resisters'. They 'resist' the 'occupation', put into effect as a protective device by Israeli authorities tasked to protect their citizens. The Palestinian Authority exhorts its population to exert themselves on behalf of the Palestinian dream the PA keeps alive, of a vanished Israel, leaving the Palestinians free to claim the entire geography they have so long been unwilling to share with Jews, starting with the United Nations' partition plan and extending to all offers since then by Israel to satisfy the demands of the Palestinians without causing the demise of Israel.

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Sneering Erdogan

"We are far ahead of most EU countries but unfortunately, they are not sincere. We have 2.5-million refugees, no one cares. What do they say to us? [...] 'Oh my, don't open your doors, don't let them reach us."
"The PKK should not be given some kind of cloak of legitimisation by fighting against Daesh [Isis]."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, in Brussels, demanded the EU’s support for a ‘safe zone’ in northern Syria Reuters

“... However, Turkey needs to be equally ready to act. The situation where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to the EU via Turkey must be stopped."
"Europe has to manage its borders better. We expect Turkey to do the same."
Donald Tusk, chief, European Council
Heaping scorn on the European Union for its objections over the rising tide of refugees and haven seekers from the Islamic nations of the Middle East, Asia and Africa, the Turkish president speaks of the sacrifices that his administration has made in providing shelter to what he claims is two million Syrian refugees fleeing death and destruction committed mostly by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops, and minimally in comparison but far more graphically by Islamic State jihadis.

The European Union, led primarily by France, has for decades staved off Turkish requests to be accepted into the European Union, citing Turkey's poor human rights record. This is what propelled Mr. Erdogan to make a temporary peace pact with the Kurdish militants of the PKK. That truce has since been abandoned as Turkey has propelled itself into attacks against Turkish Kurds, reaching out to their posts in Iraq and in Turkey in bombing missions.

The fact that it is the Kurdish militias in Syria, Iraq and Turkey that have convincingly demonstrated themselves to be the most reliable adversaries in conflict with Islamic State has not deterred Erdogan's mission to destroy them; his hatred runs deep and wide. He will do just about anything to prevent them from accomplishing their long-held dreams of finally convincing the world that as the largest ethnic group without a state of their own, they have earned that status.

Turkey's governments have always resented being kept at arm's length to the European Union; the economic opportunities inclusion would afford them has compelled them to continue their mission to be accepted; the link between East and West; as an Islamic country in a wide arc of non-Muslim nations that have forged an all-purpose liaison of shared defence, economic ties, currency and social-political moderation.

As an aspirant-country to the EU, Turkey also resents that Turks must require visas to enable them to travel to Europe. Now, the EU elite are conciliatory and eager to meet Turkey's demands; not perhaps the one urging the EU to deny legitimacy to the Kurds, however. But the EU has pledged to hand over massive sums of treasury to aid Turkey in giving haven to the large number of refugees languishing in refugee camps in the country, as long as Turkey agrees to keep them there.

But the EU is now swallowing a bitter pill, having to do business with a country and its leader whom few feel any admiration for.  An unnamed senior European diplomat remarked that Erdogan's abrasive manner toward the West and his clawing away at Turkish democracy has resulted in little love for him in the EU. "We’re embracing a government we really don’t like at all. We have to bring down this flow of migrants. It has become realpolitik; we’re leaving aside our worries about domestic politics", the diplomat was quoted as saying.

"Facing an unprecedented migrant influx, a rising threat from Islamic State terrorists, and unchecked Russian military intervention in Syria, Europe needs Erdogan like never before", Simon Tisdall, foreign affairs columnist for The Guardian and a seasoned Turkey expert recently wrote in his analysis of the situation. The 600,000 refugees, many from Syria, and many others seeking opportunities to settle in Europe, particularly Sweden, Austria and Germany for economic reasons, have strained Europe's capacity to cope.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar speaks of his nation being overwhelmed with 60,000 refugees arriving in the last few weeks. "In the next few days and weeks, I do believe that the European Union and Europe as a whole will start to fall apart", should no fresh approach be forthcoming, he stated. "What we are going to do with hundreds of thousands of these people?" was the rhetorical question asked by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Experts in migration continue to point out that there will be no solution to the crisis of refugees flooding Europe without resolving the war in Syria which has been the driver of migration out of a country torn by violence perpetrated on citizens by their own government. Russia has yet to be convinced.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Proxies In Conflict

"Five hundred TOWs is not an inconsequential number."
"I don't think it will be a revolutionary event, but it will increase the attrition of regime armor, which will make it harder for the regime to conduct offensive operations."
"If the TOWs are primarily used against Assad armor, that's not the same as being used against Russian personnel. If the Saudis were to supply the rebels with surface-to-air missiles, that would be different."
"If this ['tank massacres'] continues, expect to see the [Syrian] regime move away from using armor and start using higher firepower and air operations as a solution."
Jeffrey White, defense fellow, The Washington Institute

"They [United States and Saudi Arabia] pledged to continue and intensify support to the moderate Syrian opposition while the political track is being pursued."
US. State Department 

"[Rebel forces armed] with US-made TOW missiles … [and] other guided rockets ... caused the destruction … of over 15 armored cars, vehicles, and [Syrian regime] tanks."
Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, London
Tow missile syira
social media / screenshot
Saudi Arabia had previously supplied the Free Syrian Army with RPGs, but the usefulness of CIA-provided TOW guided missiles capable of destroying tanks, armoured carriers and other such vehicles sent into the field of conflict by the Assad regime, can be fired from a far distance. The regime, covered by Russian airstrikes, has been aggressively pursuing the FSA militias to retake territory in key areas that Bashar al-Assad needs to cement his rule over the minuscule portion of Syria he remains capable of maintaining, with a little bit of help from his friends.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey reeled back in a temporarily-induced setback with the incursion of Russian bombing missions over Syria by air and by sea, but the United States and Saudi Arabia have reached an agreement in a joint response to the Assad regime receiving firm support in Russian air strikes. Vladimir Putin's invitation for them to join a unified front against Islamic State has been spurned for obvious reasons, the most pressing being that Moscow hasn't much targeted ISIL, reserving the lion's share of their attention for the rebel groups.

In turn, the traditional allies in the Middle East have agreed to increase military and diplomatic support for the Syrian Free Army. Moscow's assurance that it has extracted fresh election promises from President Assad was seen as somewhat less than persuasive by the duo who decided to respond by re-affirming their support for the rebel groups' determination to remove their tyrant by the force that is required to reach success.

Which effectively pits Washington against Moscow in no uncertain manner. The nine-fold increase of U.S.-produced TOW missiles has hampered the regime's offensives, even with the air firepower, the Hezbollah aid, and the battlefield manoeuvring advice courtesy of al Quds, let alone the newly observed presence of both Iranian and Russian soldiers on the ground alongside those of the regime's.

Air strikes launched by the Russian regime in the province of Aleppo last week.
Air strikes launched by the Russian regime in the province of Aleppo. Photograph: Alaa Abdulrahman/PA Images

The U.S.-Saudi support for the rebels had historically marked the death-knell both of the Russian invasion success of Afghanistan, and the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union, a fact of commission that has hardly been lost in the fog of time for Vladimir Putin, who mourns the passing of the USSR's power and prestige as one of two super-powers, a status that the President of Russia is eager to reclaim.

An end to the fighting isn't seen in sight in the near future. Understandably, given the violence of the regime response to Syrian Sunni demands for equality in their country, the rebels are none too eager to treat Bashar al-Assad as a simple adversary toward whom reasonable accommodation could be made, transforming him from a monstrous slaughterer of his own, to a respectable former head of state who can quietly depart the scene, leaving Syria writhing in its death throes.

No possible agreement to halt the conflict could restore the quarter-million lives taken as a result of the Alawite regime's refusal to negotiate when the Sunnis first protested peacefully. The ongoing savagery of the regime's vengeance against its Sunni population has created four million refugees clamouring for haven in Europe, and another seven million internally displaced, suffering the vagaries of conflict-induced hardships.

Regime troops have made some vital gains against the rebels around Aleppo where the fighting has been most fierce, thanks to the help of Russian jets, Iranian ground troops and Shiite militias who have responded to the Iranian appeal for fighters to join their sectarian cause alongside the Lebanese Hezbollah.

ISIL, meanwhile, continues to flourish in its slower, but still effective spread on the northern and southern fringes of Aleppo, while Jabhat al-Nusra has taken control of local strategic operations. The benefit to ISIL of the Russian intervention, forcing the Syrian Free Army militias to focus away from ISIL and al-Qaeda in self-defence has left them free to expand their horizons, though at some future date their competition for those horizons may lead them to a deadly confrontation in this most complex of Middle East lapse back to barbarity.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

An Admired Culture of Primitive Violence

"If the German people are not strong enough and devoted enough to give their blood for their existence, let them go and be destroyed by another, stronger man. I shall not shed tears for the German people."
"[The future] belongs entirely to the stronger people of the east."
Adolf Hitler

With his dreams becoming the nightmare of failure, Adolf Hitler bitterly realized that his pride in Aryan 'supermen' was not to be. It was his cherished belief that Germans were superior, of mind and physique and deserved to rule the world. It was his hateful belief that Jews, whom he accused of sinister intent to rule the world, were base and sub-human, that their cunning deceit posing as moral custodians of a religious command to be "a light unto the world", should be destroyed.

Jews, after all, were not preaching anything much other than reasonableness, compassion, science and their damnable religion. And they were pathetic specimens of humankind, spindly, weak, timid and deceitful. Hitler viewed Arabs, on the other hand, with admiration, a warring people, proud and unbending, given to taking what they wanted by violence; his kind of people. And as the waning days of the war drew near, he appears to have abandoned hope for Aryans, stating a new belief of the future belonging 'to the stronger people of the east'.

These are people whose reaction to any kind of perceived adversity is to foment violence, threats and fear through fierce rejection of any mode of cooperation that might leave them with less of the worldly goods than they feel entitled to. In obedience to a religion that informs them that their god is more powerful than that claimed by any other people, and their duty is to convince non-Muslims that Islam awaits their surrender. Those who demur, deserve no quarter.

The decades pass with Arabs remaining convinced that a Jewish interloper has invaded Arab/Muslim lands, an assault upon Islam that cannot be tolerated. There is to be no sharing of anything; neither humanity, nor land, nor religious beliefs. Islam is uncompromising and so are Arab Palestinians, goaded to their status as victims of Jews, to conspire to kill, to break the resolve of their unremitting enemy who deigns to remain where their state has been established.

And though that state, designed and pledged to comfort and haven for the persecuted Jews of the world has taken into its possession some but not all of its ancient homeland of Israel, its cognizance of Arab brutal hostility guides it to a position of restraint when it comes to praying at Judaism's signal heritage site. Despite that restraint, accusations strain the restive peace that military discipline has created, and a stealth mission of martyrdom for the Arab cause of domination has resulted.

Palestinian authorities launch their young on a long trajectory of indoctrination toward hatred. It begins in the home, of course, with previous generations, now parenting, recalling what they were taught; to hate and to instill hate. Palestinian school curricula, television and various social media sites are rife with lessons for impressionable and compliant children whose wish is to be a part of their culture's traditions. 
MEMRIMEMRI  "Palestinian girl on Gaza children's show"

Young girls wearing the traditional hijab and keffiyeh discuss ongoing attacks by Palestinians on Israelis, on Al-Kitab TV, based on Gaza: "Glory and eternity to our pure martyrs. We salute their families, and we revere the young heroes who have sacrificed their lives for Jerusalem, and who carried out all those great heroic acts. We love them and kiss their hands, because they are true heroes", said one young host, all of nine years of age.

Speaking to the camera in Grown-Up Kids, on the Palestinian Authority station in a made-for-TV drama, a young girl speaks of Israel's attacks against peaceful Palestinians carrying knives and guns, then accusing Palestinians of being the perpetrators of attacks. She emulates, of course, Mahmoud Abbas who speaks of "martyrs", not terrorists. Calling for calm for the benefit of the international press, the PA president also says for internal consumption: "With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven."

So much for young Palestinian girls. The older teenage contingent of males drop into the True Love gift and music shop in Ramallah, West Bank to ask the proprietor whether he is carrying the latest CDs inspiring Palestinian youth to express their rage at the 'occupying power'. Songs like "Jerusalem Is Bleeding", with its track "It'an, It'an" ["Stab, stab"].

"When I listen to these songs it makes me boil inside", said Khader Abu Leil, 15.

The score pumps him for the demonstrations he is proud to take part in, hurling stones at Israeli soldiers. West Bank musicians are working overtime to produce scores of militant, violent, catchy tunes, sharing them on YouTube and Facebook; an intifada soundtrack. "Stab the Zionist and say God is Great", one exhorts. "Let the knives stab your enemy", another says.

Palestinian protesters carry their slingshots during clashes with Israeli security forces near Ramallah on Oct. 23, 2015.
Palestinian thugs carry their slingshots during clashes with Israeli security forces near Ramallah on Oct. 23, 2015.   ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images

A third yet is called "Continue the Intifada", replete with a YouTube warning showing the Palestinian woman who tried to knife Jews at an Afula bus station cornered by IDF soldiers aiming their guns at her.  "Resist and carry your guns", "Say hello to being a martyr", urges the song. "Run Over, Run Over the Settler", verbalizes another creative declaration of martyrdom. New tunes are revealed with regularity, like the "Intifada of Knives".

These are the accompaniments to political party rallies and funerals. A tradition of moronic violence, a people of primitive emotions incapable of seeing their way to a future of tolerance and acceptance of human rights for all principals.

ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images   Palestinian thugs, one of them carrying Molotov cocktails, look on during clashes with Israeli security forces near Ramallah on Oct. 23, 2015.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Riding To The Rescue

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too does Vladimir Putin, the world's newest Machiavelli, appreciates an opportunity. The NATO and United States-and-allies pullout from Afghanistan has created just such an opportunity. It is a vacuum by any other name. One that reflects in part, what has been occurring in Syria and in Iraq, where the American presence is far less obvious than it once was, as a dominating issue of U.S. prestige and power.

That was then; now the Obama administration has made good on its promise to present a new American face to the Middle East.

That face is clearly not as finely etched as it once was; it is a fading face, one that has almost vanished. The vanishing act has created an obvious conundrum with the realization that America out: Russia in. And so, President Obama has engaged in a little back-tracking, deciding here and there that perhaps an American absence would not, after all, make the Middle East heart grow fonder, at all. So a mini-reversal was in order. Back into Iraq.
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin visits Russia’s military base in Tajikistan, to which Moscow has begun sending reinforcements. Photograph: EPA

In May the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a significant agreement, one that might reflect to the untutored observer that these two countries are allies, when in fact Pakistan has never set aside its ambition to control Afghanistan, for a number of reasons, one of which is to ensure that India never gets more than a foothold in influence and cooperation with Afghanistan.

Pakistan is largely responsible for the durability and lethality of the Taliban.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the Afghan National Directorate of Security were to forge a partnership, following on Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to Kabul to pledge his country's support for Afghanistan, struggling to combat the very Islamist militancy that Pakistan had perpetrated upon its neighbour.

It's not as though Afghanistan hasn't been aware of Pakistan's sinister machinations. Under former President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan was repeatedly accused, on the basis of recognized reality, of logistical support of the Taliban.
A pro-Taliban supporter standing in front of a graffiti reading 'Ameer-ul-Momneen Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid Zindabad (long live holy fighter)' in Killi Nalai, a village near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border
(Photo: BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images) President Ghani wants Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban and bring them to peace talks

Afghanistan's successor-President Ashraf Ghani evidently wants to forge a new relationship with Pakistan, one of trust and mutual agreeability. "The agreement indicates a change in Afghanistan's policies. It is now directly approaching Pakistan to maintain regional peace and stability", said Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, a constitutional law expert, director of the Regional Studies Center in Kabul who interprets the gambit as a hoped-for conclusion of the cycle of violence in Afghanistan.

He noted the huge "political risk Ghani is embarked upon", given his predecessor's attempt to unsuccessfully build bridges of cooperation.

Into this familiar quagmire, an almost mirror-image of Syria, has stepped Moscow. The gap left by NATO's withdrawal and subsequent Taliban and Islamic State advances in Afghanistan provided the prod in recall of the 15,000 Russian soldiers and countless Afghan civilian lives lost in the 1979-89 Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Again, quite like Syria, Moscow's leadership claims fears over ISIS as a growing threat with its international training camps established in Afghanistan and the prospect of jihadis entering central Asia and Russia's Muslim Caucasus.

Mr. Putin characterizes the situation in Afghanistan as "close to critical", of course not being critical one whit of the NATO-U.S. failure in pacifying the country by drubbing the Taliban out of existence. Moscow's special envoy on Afghanistan claims 3,500 ISIS jihadis are established in Afghanistan, that number rapidly increasing. "There are several camps that train people from Central Asia and some regions of Russia", warned Zamir Kabulov at a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Kazakhstan; their instructors Arabs, Pakistanis, along with American and British citizens.

"The Russian side is committed to support Afghanistan in terms of helping its air and military forces" said Dostum’s spokesman. "We’re lacking air support, weapons, ammunition. We need a lot of backing and support to fight against terrorism." So, according to Kadyrov: "Dostum noted that Isis is trying to make Afghanistan into a bridgehead … In order to prevent this threat, Kabul needs Russia’s support, as in Syria."

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