Saturday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi announced, “The battle to topple the state is over, and the battle to solidify stability and move towards a renewed Syria has begun.”Bashar Assad’s victory over the 12-month uprising to unseat him is unquestioned. With massive Iranian and Russian intelligence and military support, the Syrian army was able to push the rebels out of the cities – barring isolated pockets in Homs and Idlib – and drive them to the rural periphery, where they can’t hold up for long.Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah are crowing over their success in derailing the Obama administration’s two-pronged policy for halting a nuclear Iran. It hinged on Tehran’s isolation by unraveling its alliance with Damascus and Hizballah and economic pressure through tough financial sanctions and an oil embargo.Iran has come out of the woods firmly in position at the head of its bloc, now cemented by Assad’s defeat of his foes. Tehran’s hand is much strengthened for the coming nuclear talks between Iran and the Six Powers due to start in two weeks. Washington will have to pay for any Iranian concessions by starting the process of unwinding sanctions.It is clearly too late to reverse the tide in Damascus: Should the US have a sudden change of heart and accept the Saudi plan to intervene in Syria and arm the anti-Assad rebellion, that route would be cut off by Tehran calling off the nuclear talks and so robbing Obama’s Iran policy of its ultimate goal.This ought to be a resounding lesson for the Israeli circles who argue that it is up to America to deal with a nuclear Iran, a much-quoted minority chorus led by the ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan, the moderate ministers Benny Begin and Dan Meridor and the newly-elected head of the opposition Kadima party, Shaul Mofaz. They would all like to shrug off Israel’s responsibility for preempting a nuclear Iran and pass the buck to the United States.Washington’s management of the Syrian crisis and its non-military approach to a nuclear Iran has left Assad in the saddle and enhanced Iran’s prospects of hanging onto its nuclear weapons capacity, while escalating anti-Israel “resistance” from Damascus.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Speculation that Israel is preparing to launch a pre-emptive military strike against Iran's defiant nuclear program was bolstered this week by a handful of incidents that suggested the Jewish state may indeed be preparing to take such action.Early this week, Tel Aviv received its first "Iron Dome" anti-missile battery, despite the fact that the missiles being fired by Gaza-based terrorists can't quite reach Israel's largest metropolitan center at this time.Israeli military officials said the battery was deployed in order to test its effectiveness in that setting should a future threat arise. It is widely believed that if Israel strikes Iran, the first target of Iran's response will be Tel Aviv.Then on Tuesday, the German newspaper Bild published an interview with German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere in which he stated that a recent meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had left de Maiziere "more concerned" that Israel was planning to act against Iran in the near future.
US diplomatic cable that was made public in the recent WikiLeaks scandal revealed that Azerbaijan and Israel have extensive behind-the-scenes dealings and security cooperation. Last month, Azerbaijan quietly inked a deal to buy $1.6 billion worth of Israeli arms, and Iran has accused its neighbor of assisting Israel in the recent assassinations of key Iranian nuclear officials.On top of that, members of Azerbaijan's ruling party recently suggested changing the name of their country to "North Azerbaijan" because there are 16 million Azeris living in northern Iran who are in need of "liberation."
The Obama administration, as former UN ambassador John Bolton observed yesterday, is taking extreme measures to forestall a prospective Israeli strike on Iran. Since when does one ally tip off an enemy about another ally’s possible route of attack, in this case, via Azerbaijan? The utter fecklessness of the administration’s foreign policy, though, is forcing the Israelis to act, whatever the administration’s concerns about the price of gas.Insufficient attention has been given to the prospective collapse of Syria as a motivation for an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program.In the past several days, Israel has sounded public warnings regarding Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, estimated to be the world’s largest.Ehud Barak, the defense minister, emphasized the short-term dangers posed by turmoil in Syria. ‘We are monitoring events in Syria, with an eye on any efforts to transfer weapons that would alter the balance . . . Events in Syria increase the uncertainty and the need to prepare for any scenario,’ he warned.”Israeli officials warn that an even graver risk would emerge if Iran were to intervene in Syria with regular forces to support the Assad regime, perhaps in response to actual or perceived Western backing for the Syrian opposition. In that case Iranian regular forces might have control over Syria’s chemical weapons, and with it the capacity to retaliate against any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear capacity.
Deterrence has always worked with the Assad regime: if Syria were to use chemical weapons against Israel, Damascus would be turned to glass.The Assad family does not want that to happen, but the mullahs in Tehran do not care much one way or the other; they have never liked Arabs to begin with. If Iran gains control of some part of the chemical stockpile, it gains a retaliatory capability against Israel outside its own borders, and that is something Israel cannot tolerate.For both Iran and Israel, the window of opportunity is closing. Iran cannot sustain the sanctions regime indefinitely, and its probable response is to accelerate its nuclear program. Israel faces the risk that Syria may become a platform for non-nuclear WMD attacks by Iran.
Fresh clashes erupted between Syrian soldiers and rebels across many parts of Syria on Friday, despite President Bashar Assad having accepted a peace plan brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan earlier this week.According to The Associated Press, there were clashes in the suburbs of Damascus, in the northern Idlib province, the restive central province of Homs and in eastern Syria.The Local Coordination Committees said 15 people were killed across the country, including eight who died in the town of Quriya in the eastern Deir el-Zour province. There, according to the organization, security forces opened fire to disperse anti-government protesters, triggering a shootout and fierce clashes with local rebels in the area.
The LCC and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported intense clashes between government forces and defectors in the suburbs of Damascus, between the towns of Zamalka and Arbeen.On Thursday, the UN’s human rights chief Navi Pillay said there is enough evidenceto bring human rights charges against Assad over his year-long crackdown on protesters.
Waleed al-Bunni, a Council, told the London-basedAsharq Al-Awsat that the opposition would accept the plan only if Assad's regime complies with its points within two days, even though it does not include the opposition's main demand that Assad should step down. of the Syrian National
Back to the U.S. and it's pending collapse which will help pave the way for a new world order:
Is the U.S. economy going to be okay? Well, if the only source you listened to was the mainstream media, you would be left with the distinct impression that the U.S. economy is heading toward a full recovery and that everything is going to be alright. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.
The United States is rapidly becoming poorer as a nation and less competitive in the global marketplace. At the same time, consumer debt levels are rising, corporate debt levels are rising, state and local government debt levels are rising and the U.S. government is indulging in a debt binge unlike anything the world has ever seen.
Instead, the employment statistics have barely moved and government dependence is at an all-time high. That is really sad, because this is as good as "the recovery" is going to get. The next major economic downturn is just around the bend, and in future years millions of us will desperately yearn for the "good old days" of 2012.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Tear gas, rocks, and stun grenades filled the air as Palestinian rioters and Israeli security personnel skirmished today — the Land Day protests unraveled into predictable anarchy and violence.In Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and at the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel, hundreds of Palestinian protested, and later rioted, as they marched on Israeli border positions. In an abrupt contrast to the relative silence at the Qalandiya crossing between Ramallah and Jerusalem this morning, the attempt to “liberate” Jerusalem descended into chaos at the conclusion of Friday morning prayers.Organizers of the Global March on Jerusalem boasted of a complex and thoroughly planned effort to flush Israel’s borders with two million activists, refugees, and militants from across the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan for Land Day. (March 30 is when Palestinian and Israeli Arabs commemorate deadly protests that took place in Israel over land rights in 1976.) The organizers included Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and leftist and extremist groups, and were backed by Iran and other Arab governments.Protestors burned tires and threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, who were deployed to prevent large-scale violence and the possible infiltration of Israeli territory. In the West Bank and Gaza, Israelis responded with non-lethal countermeasures, such as tear gas, the Scream device (used to disperse crowds with projected audible dissonance), and the Skunk (a modified carrier that sprays a non-toxic foul-smelling substance at large crowds).At the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza, 14 injuries and one death were reported after Gaza protesters crossed into the no-man’s land close to the Israeli border. The rioters were fired upon after failing to heed warning shots by IDF personnel. Large groups of Palestinians gathered at landmarks in Lebanon and Jordan, but did not attempt to breach the border.
The ensuing calamity resulted in visibly frustrated Palestinian aggressors largely retreating from Israeli security forces. The protesters who remained after most of the crowd dispersed were unable to sustain any cohesive momentum to continue their violence. By nightfall, only infrequent reports of rock-throwing and verbal incitement were being reported on Israeli radio and television.
The underlying failure of the Palestinian cause has been and continues to be its inability to look inward and to contemplate the underlying reason of their discontent. The crowds, led by political demagogues, misdirected their anger at Israeli authorities in the wake of their own leadership’s failings and dabblings in folly-induced, faux-nationalist events.The Palestinian leadership devotes years to planning and hundreds of thousands of manpower hours to these displays of false national victimhood — protests that spiral into violence, incitement, terrorism, and other grand plans of subterfuge that always end in grandiose failure to obtain their number-one goal: a state of Palestine. Recognition and realization of a Palestinian state will only come when Palestinians recognize the source of their anguish does not come from Israel, but from within their own ranks.
While a demonstration in Jordan attracted up to 15,000 people, according to AFP, numbers were far smaller in Israel's northern neighbor, Lebanon, as Lebanese security forces attempted to prevent a repeat of fatal protests that occurred along the border with Israel last year.In Syria, despite a a brutal year-long conflict between the government in Damascus and an armed opposition, protesters rallied in Damascus in solidarity for both the Palestinians on Land Day and for Syrian President Bashar Assad.In Syria, thousands of protesters gathered in Damascus' al-Sabaa square to mark Land Day, according to Reuters. The protesters also expressed solidarity with Assad, with many of them waving Syrian flags and holding up pictures of the embattled leader.In Egypt, meanwhile, security forces prevented mass protests in Egypt to mark Land Day, while organizers in Cairo called off another demonstration due to the political situation in Egypt, Al Jazeera reported according to pro-Palestinian activists.
Despite the widespread clashes between Israeli security personnel and pro-Palestinian protesters in the West Bank and Gaza, the IDF expressed satisfaction with the day's occurrences overall and indicated that none of the incidents were out of the ordinary.Meanwhile, Israeli police and border patrol units arrested 34 activists on Friday in clashes that took place in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to commemorate the 36th annual Land Day. Palestinian activists and supporters held demonstrations in east Jerusalem and Bethlehem, while a demonstration at the Kalandiya checkpoint resulted in several activists being injured.
Thousands of protesters assembled at Kalandiya near Jerusalem, with Palestinian youths hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces, who responded by firing tear gas, stun grenades, sound weapons and foul-smelling water to disperse the protesters.
A large number of protesters, who arrived at the checkpoint from Ramallah, were injured and taken to local hospitals for treatment. Israel Radio reported that those taken to hospital were lightly injured. Among the injured was Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti.
The IDF and Israel Police went on high alert Friday, imposing a full closure on the West Bank, limiting access to the Temple Mount and setting up checkpoints on roads near the Lebanese border ahead of expected protests marking Land Day and the Global March to Jerusalem.Palestinian protesters were clashing with Israeli forces at the Kalandiya checkpoint, throwing rocks, firebombs and burning tires. Security forces were using large amounts of tear gas, stun grenades, sound weapons and foul-smelling water to disperse the protesters.Preparations took place along all of Israel’s fronts. The IDF announced that Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered West Bank crossings closed for a 24-hour period.In Bethlehem, dozens of protesters were throwing stones at an IDF checkpoint after breaking through a line of Palestinian police. A large number of protesters arrived at the checkpoint from Ramallah.Earlier, PA security forces had blocked the protesters from approaching the checkpoint. The protesters stopped in front of the Palestinian police and sat in the road, chanting: "To Jerusalem, we will march."
On the northern side of the border, the Lebanese Armed Forces and police were also out in force along the border and at the Beaufort castle, where some 4,000 protesters are expected later in the day, Lebanese daily an-Nahar reported. UNIFIL was also said to be conducting patrols and monitoring activity along the northern side of the border.
Clashes erupted on Friday in the north of Jerusalem between IDF soldiers and Palestinian protesters marking Land Day. Protesters at the Kalandia checkpoint hurled rocks at soldiers, who responded with stun grenades and tear gas.The demonstrations at Kalandia, and at other potential flashpoints in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, were expected to exacerbate once Muslim Friday prayers were over.
The Lebanese organizers of the Global March have announced that the march would not go to the border with Israel, as planned, but would instead head to Beaufort Castle, east of Nabatieh, south Lebanon.
"More than 5,000 are expected to attend the non-violent march which is aimed at supporting our Palestinian people," Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas movement in Lebanon told DPA.
Hezbollah and the mainstream Fatah movement have set up more than 60 buses to transfer Palestinian refugees from 12 camps across Lebanon to the area where the ceremony is being held.Palestinians in camps in Syria also planned to demonstrate, but it was unclear whether any marches would take place on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, where 15 people were killed last year during clashes with Israeli troops.
President Obama has been engaged in secret, back-channel talks with Iran in which he informed Tehran’s leaders he is completely opposed to any Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to informed Middle Eastern officials.The officials told WND the behind-the-scenes talks aim to secure a guarantee from Iran that it will not retaliate against the U.S. in the event of any Israeli military strike, the officials saidIt was unclear what, if anything, Obama offered Iran in exchange for a pledge against targeting U.S. installations, including in the Gulf.
Former U.S. diplomat John Boltonalleged Thursday that the Obamaadministration leaked a story about covert Israeli activity in order to foil potential plans by the country to attack Iran's nuclear program.Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, was responding to an article in Foreign Policy magazinethat quoted government sources claiming Israel had been granted access to airfields in Azerbaijan -- along Iran's northern border."I think this leak today is part of the administration's campaign against an Israeli attack," Bolton claimed on Fox News.Bolton, a Fox News contributor, noted that a strike launched from Azerbaijan would be much easier for the Israelis than a strike launched from their own country -- jets could stay over their targets longer and worry less about refueling. But he said tipping the Israelis' hand by revealing "very sensitive, very important information" could frustrate such a plan.
"Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak," Bolton told FoxNews.com. "This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I'll leak this out."
"It's just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies," Bolton said.
Two reports today about Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.'s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in accusing the"It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking," analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. "I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They're trying hard to prevent it in so many ways."If true, the deal with Azerbaijan "totally changes the whole picture," says Guzansky, making it far easier for Israel to strike faster and harder, rather than having to fly 2,200 miles to Iran and back over Iraqi airspace."In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel's public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran," Ben-Yishai writes. "The campaign's aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what's even graver, to erode the IDF's capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties."
Most governments around the world are eager to transition to a cashless society as well for the following reasons....
-Cash is expensive to print, inspect, move, store and guard.
-Counterfeiting is always going to be a problem as long as paper currency exists.
-Cash if favored by criminals because it does not leave a paper trail. Eliminating cash would make it much more difficult for drug dealers, prostitutes and other criminals to do business.
-Most of all, a cashless society would give governments more control. Governments would be able to track virtually all transactions and would also be able to monitor tax compliance much more closely.
When you understand the factors listed above, it becomes easier to understand why the use of cash is increasingly becoming demonized. Governments around the world are increasingly viewing the use of cash in a negative light. In fact, according to the U.S. government paying with cash in some circumstances is now considered to be "suspicious activity" that needs to be reported to the authorities.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
The United States is leaking information to the media in order to avert an Israeli strike in Iran: The US Administration recently shifted into high gear in its efforts to avert an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the end of the year. The flood of reports in the American media in recent weeks attests not only to the genuine US fear that Israel intends to realize its threats; moreover, it indicates that the Obama Administration has decided to take its gloves off.Indeed, in recent weeks the Administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran. This “surgical strike” is undertaken via reports in the American and British media, but the campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties.
The first and most important American objective is to eliminate potential operational options available to the IDF and the State of Israel. I have no intention of detailing or even hinting to the options which the US government aims to eliminate by exposing them in the media. A large part of the reports stem from false information or disinformation, and there is no reason to reveal to the Iranians what’s real and what isn’t. However, it is blatantly clear that reports in the past week alone have caused Israel substantive diplomatic damage, and possibly even military and operational damage
Another Administration objective is to convince the Israeli public that an Iran strike (including a US attack) will not achieve even the minimum required to justify it; that is, a delay of at least 3-5 years in Iran’s nuclear program. A lengthy postponement would of course justify the suffering on Israel’s home front, while a six-month delay – as argued by a US Congress report – does not justify the risks.The six-month figure was meant for the Israeli public, so that it would press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to avoid a strike, whose futility the Americans are trying to prove in every way possible. At the same time, the campaign aims to erode the validity of demands voiced by many members of Congress and Senate – both Democrats and Republicans - who criticize the American president’s inaction.The Congress report published Wednesday is maligned by several inaccuracies, in terms of both analysis and information. However, this makes no difference. The aim was to make headlines in the Israeli and Washington media, rather than an in-depth analysis, which isn’t possible as Congress researchers in Washington do not have access to all the relevant information, fortunately.
Betraying an ally
To sum up, the American publications caused the following damage:
- Iran now has a decent picture of what Israel’s and America’s intelligence communities know about Tehran’s nuclear program and defense establishment, including its aerial defenses.
- The Iranians now know about the indications that would be perceived by Washington and Jerusalem as a “nuclear breakthrough”. Hence, Iran can do a better job of concealment.
- The reports make it more difficult to utilize certain operational options. These options, even if not considered thus far, could have been used by the US in the future, should Iran not thwart them via diplomatic and military means.
Needless to say, this is not how one should be treating an ally, even if this is a relationship between a superpower and a satellite state.Indeed, there is a difference between legitimate persuasion efforts and practical steps to thwart Israeli plans and eliminate them.
U.S. officials believe that the Israelis have gained access to airbases in Azerbaijan. Does this bring them one step closer to a war with Iran?
In particular, four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.""We're watching what Iran does closely," one of the U.S. sources, an intelligence officer engaged in assessing the ramifications of a prospective Israeli attack confirmed. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."Israel's deepening relationship with the Baku government was cemented in February by a $1.6 billion arms agreement that provides Azerbaijan with sophisticated drones and missile-defense systems. At the same time, Baku's ties with Tehran have frayed
Foreign Policy quotes U.S. diplomats as saying that 'Israel is deeply embedded in Azerbaijan' and says intelligence officials worried that Israel's military involvement in Azerbaijan would complicate efforts to reduce Israeli-Iranian tensions.According to the report, U.S. intelligence officials are worried that Israel's military involvement in Azerbaijan would make it more difficult for the U.S. to reduce Israeli-Iranian tensions. Apparently now, military planners must prepare for a war scenario that would also involve the Caucasus.
In February, Israel signed a $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan, committing to sell drones and anti-aircraft missile defense systems to Baku. According to a retired U.S. diplomat, the deal left Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "sputtering in rage," since Israel had previously canceled a contract to develop drones with the Turkish military.The report said that the Azeri military has four abandoned, Soviet-era airfields that could be available to Israel and four air bases for their own aircraft, quoting the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Military Balance 2011.U.S. officials told Foreign Policy that they believe Israel has been granted access to these air bases through a "series of quiet political and military understandings.""I doubt that there's actually anything in writing," said a former U.S. diplomat who spent his career in the region. "But I don't think there's any doubt - if Israeli jets want to land in Azerbaijan after an attack, they'd probably be allowed to do so. Israel is deeply embedded in Azerbaijan, and has been for the last two decades."Earlier this month, Azerbaijan authorities arrested 22 peoplesuspected of plotting to attack the Israeli and American embassies in the capital Baku. Iran's Revolutionary Guards was reportedly behind the plan to attack Israeli and U.S. targets in the country, according to Azerbaijan's national security ministry.
Israel is concerned that elements of the so-called Global March to Jerusalem slated for Friday will attempt to storm the Jewish state’s borders to provoke a confrontation amid reports Iranian-backed jihad groups are involved in planning the event.U.S. endorsers of the Global March include President Obama’s controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.; Cornel West, a longtime friend of Obama who served as an adviser to the president’s 2008 campaign; and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group Code Pink.Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers, a close associate of Obama for years, helped originate the concept of creating border chaos for Israel in 2009.According to reports, Iran is also heavily involved in organizing the march.Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists that are part of dozens of international delegations began arriving in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan yesterday.Yesterday, citing Global March sources, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported some activists fear the event could get out of control due to the involvement of outside forces.
A long-standing point of contention between Israel and the US (one of the few that exists) is the fact that while Congress and the vast majority of American citizens recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, the White House refuses to do so.
The IDF on Tuesday broke with Israeli tradition and ordered all units to cancel the long-customary Passover leaves and remain on full alert over the holiday.
French news agency AFP reported that numerous emails had been sent to the school calling for the murder of more Jews and linking the justifying the recent killings as a response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of the emails were signed, "The avenger of France and the French people."These threats have been sent to numerous other Jewish schools in France, too, most of them belonging to the Ozar Hatorah school network. The head of the school network told AFP that he fears further anti-Semitic attacks.
The man who was hurt in a rock attack in the Mount of Olives cemetery on Wednesday, was a groom about to get married and who was visiting his grandmother's grave at the cemetery.
The groom said that a mob made up of young local Arabs threw . at him and his friend who accompanied him and poured paint on their . The two managed to drive off and escaped with only minor