Sunday, June 29, 2014

'Return Of The Rockets' In S. Israel, ISIS Destroying Borders, Putin Plays Waiting Game

Return Of The Rockets

With so much drama in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, it’s kinda hard for the press to keep up. But, somehow, someway, the media wraps up the to-and-fro on Sunday.

Rounding up two days of rockets and airstrikes, Haaretz reports at least eight Israeli hits on the Palestinian enclave, including one that killed twooperatives from the Salah al-Din Brigades; it says 11 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, one of which hit a paint factory in the town of Sderot. It details the firefighters’ battle to control the blaze, which caused light injuries to three factory workers.

One of the factory workers injured in the rocket attack told Yedioth Ahronoth that a gigantic fireball surged “200 meters from the burning factory into Sderot.” The paper employs a clever headline to describe the blaze, “Color red,” which is also the Hebrew term for the rocket alert sirens that sounded throughout the weekend. The paper dramatizes the incident, which destroyed the factory but caused no loss of life — all four factory employees on site were safely rescued — writing “it’s terrifying to think what may have happened had the rocket hit the factory during the middle of a workday.”

Israel Hayom kicks up the drama on its front page, screaming “Escalation in the south” alongside photos of firefighters lit with a demonic red glow and the wreckage of the Palestinian car destroyed in the Israeli airstrike. The paper quotes a senior Israeli official calling the Gaza Strip “a powder keg. It can explode at any time.”
It reports that tensions reached their apogee on Saturday night when a rocket scored a direct hit on the highly flammable paint factory. Contrary to Haaretz, Israel Hayom tallies up 13 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the weekend.

Meanwhile, 'the nations' ignore the rocket fire coming into S Israel from Gaza, and choose to focus on what is important to them: 

Israel’s ongoing settlement enterprise has garnered warnings from five European Union states, who cautioned their citizens against conducting business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, Haaretz reports. According to the paper, Italy and Spain published the warning Friday, joining similar warnings made by France, Great Britain and Germany. Because they don’t recognize Israeli settlements as legal under international law, Rome and Madrid said there are economic and legal risks for individuals and companies that engage in business activity over the Green Line.
Israel Hayom reports that Spanish and French diplomats said last week that this was not the end of the matter, and that other EU countries would follow suit and publish similar warnings to their citizens. The paper notes that Israeli officials didn’t comment on the matter.

Israeli officials called Sunday for Israel to undertake a large operation against the Gaza Strip following a weekend salvo of rockets that destroyed a Sderot factory.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, speaking to a slew of media outlets Sunday morning, said the Israeli military should consider re-taking full control of the Gaza Strip

Over a dozen rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza over the weekend, with one destroying a paint factory, and injuring four. Israeli jets responded by hitting 12 sites in the strip, including concealed rocket launchers and “terror sites,” the military said.

“We have to decide if we are heading to a scenario of re-taking full control of the strip,” Liberman said in an interview with Army Radio. “We’ve seen that a limited operation just strengthens Hamas, so the alternative is clear. There is no scenario in between.”

“Over the weekend, the Israeli government proved that the hand of the IDF can reach anywhere,” he said, according to Israeli news site Ynet. “What we are seeing in Sderot — at night missiles struck, and this morning [people] returned to work and continued their lives — this is the way of the State of Israel.”

There has been an increase in rocket fire toward Israel this month, with over 60 rockets launched from Gaza, with many followed by Israeli reprisal air raids.
The increased rocket fire comes as the army carries out a wide-ranging operation against the Hamas in the West Bank and searches for three Israeli teens who Israel says were abducted by the Palestinian terrorist group.
Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi called for an “extensive” IDF operation in the Gaza strip.

A former senior security policy maker in the administration of Primer Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel should offer to bolster Jordan’s defenses against Sunni militants nearing their border.

Yaakov Amidror, who until recently served as the national security adviser, said with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant advancing in Iraq, Israel should come to Amman’s aid should it need it.

“If Jordan asks for assistance, we should help,” Amidror told Army Radio. “We need to help with whatever they may need in order to overcome the problems developing on their eastern borders.”

According to Israeli officials, Israel has not changed its military deployment on its border with Jordan, but is closely watching ISIL’s activities in both Iraq and Syria.

According to a report by The Daily Beast, the officials told senators in a classified briefing earlier this week that ISIL is eyeing Jordan as well as its war-torn neighbors, and that some of its jihadists have already tweeted out photos and messages saying they have seized a key Jordanian town.
The Daily Beast quoted one of the Senate staff members who attended the briefing as saying that, according to the administration officials, if Jordan were to face a military onslaught from ISIL, it would “ask Israel and the United States for as much help as they can get.”
Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994.

The first ten Russian Sukhoi (Su-24) fighter jets arrived in Iraq on Saturday, the country’s Defense Ministry said. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is hoping the jets will make a key difference in the fight against ISIS.
“The fighter jets landed today in the morning on different military airfields,” MP Abbas al-Bayati told Iraqi media.
The official spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Mohammed al-Askari, also confirmed the information, Al Iraqiya TV channel reported.
The fighter jets will be stationed at an airbase located in the southern part of the country, PressTV reported, citing military sources.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Maliki revealed that Iraq purchased jets from Russia and Belarus in order to help its fight against Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL).
At the same time, Maliki criticized the US for taking too long to deliver on its own contract after Iraq purchased F-16 jets from America.
On Friday, Iraqi Air Force Commander Hameed al-Maliki confirmed the shipment of MI-35 and MI-28 Russian helicopter fighters to "keep the momentum" in the attacks against ISIS, Ruptly reported.
The commander said that he signed three contracts with the Russians and stressed the importance of the choppers as "excellent anti-terrorism weapons."

Claiming its goal is to smash the “partitioning of Muslim lands by crusader powers,” the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, has set out its goal of redrawing the map of the Middle East.
This goal is outlined in an article from its latest weekly web magazine, The Islamic State Report, a professionally designed mouthpiece meant to recruit would-be jihadist fighters from the West.

ISIS’ web magazine began in June and has just published its fifth issue. Its fourth issue talks about redrawing the map of the Middle East, and on its cover shows ISIS fighters crossing between Syria and Iraq without any sign of a demarcation between the two countries. The web magazine is published every Saturday.
The article seeks to justify creation of an Islamic caliphate to re-establish the Middle East region before it was carved up by the British and French following World War I.

In outlining how it is reshaping the Middle East map, ISIS in said its goal is to correct an injustice that goes back to a secret arrangement between the British and French, known as the 1916 Sykes-Picot Treaty. That treaty created the countries of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan and later contributed to Israel’s creation.
Middle East experts say some of these nation-states won’t survive in their present form, and while some will, the bottom line is the United States won’t be able to stop a process that is well underway.
Before the treaty, which went into effect following the end of World War I, those countries didn’t exist but were part of the Ottoman Empire, which was allied with Germany. The Empire went out of existence once WWI ended, closing out its reign from 1299 to 1923.

ISIS claims it is out to rectify these past events. However, the jihadist group still has a challenge in showing it can govern the caliphate it seeks to create, even though it has become a rallying point and sparked the imagination of disgruntled, unemployed young people to become jihadists with its dramatic military successes.
ISIS’ success also has shown just how limited U.S. influence now is in that region, as these sectarian and ethnic groups within these countries try to sort out things for themselves.

A top U.S. Defense Department analyst under President Bush says Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to use chaos and turmoil in the Middle East to make further advances in Ukraine and the Baltic states.

But for right now, he appears to be waiting.

In an exclusive interview with WND Michael Maloof, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and senior staff writer for WND, called Russian President Vladimir Putin “the ultimate puppeteer.”
As Putin is committing Russia to back the al-Maliki regime in Iraq against the rising tide of jihadist radicals, ceasefire orders in Ukraine are breaking down. As a result, Russian advances in those strategic regions are expected.

Maloof, author of “A Nation Forsaken,” says as ISIS faces opposition moving into the Shiite-dominated southern portions of Iraq, they are likely to turn back north and move into southeastern portions of Turkey.
If ISIS insurgents move to attack Turkey, as Maloof believes they will, he says the Turkish government is likely to invoke Article 5 of the NATO pact. That subsequently would catapult the U.S. and its allies into direct combat in the Middle East.

Article 5, a principal of collective defense, provides that if a NATO ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the ally attacked.
That would open the door for Russia, he said.
“Russia will probably use that opportunity to make further moves into Ukraine,” he said.
“I think policy thinkers and strategists are thinking about that. And they have to. They have to be watching all these things,” Maloof said. “And I’m afraid the community organizer who became president is incapable of thinking strategically at all, but Putin is on top of it, he’s the ultimate puppeteer in this.”

Also see:

EU leaders on Friday (27 June) nominated Jean-Claude Juncker to be European Commission president, simultaneously doling out a major diplomatic defeat for London and handing a large chunk of power to the European Parliament.
"Decision made. The European Council proposes Jean-Claude Juncker as the next President of the European Commission," EU council president Herman Van Rompuy tweeted during the meeting.

The Luxembourger and former head of the eurogroup, who has maintained a media blackout over recent weeks, still has to be elected into office by a majority in the EP (376 out of 751 MEPs), with the vote to take place on 16 July.
EU leaders are then to meet later that same day to decide on the post of EU foreign policy chief and EU Council president.
If Juncker makes it through parliament, it will represent the first time in EU history that the commission president has not been chosen by EU leaders.
It would also likely strengthen the Spitzenkandidate process for 2019, the next EU vote.

Britain's tabloid The Sun portrayed him as "the most dangerous man in Europe". Prime Minister David Cameron linked Britain's EU membership to him, while other leaders and MEPs said that without him as Commission chief, democracy itself would be undermined.
All the buzz surrounding Britain's opposition to his nomination has made him probably the first widely-known head of an EU institution. But who is Jean-Claude Juncker?
The 59-year old Luxembourg politician was the EU's longest serving prime minister until last year, when he lost his post due to an illegal wiretapping scandal.
Luxembourg's intelligence service (SREL) last year was embroiled in a scandal when it emerged that it had carried out illegal wiretaps, kept secret files on people and run a fictional counterterror operation to cover for a Russian oligarch.
Juncker said he was not aware of the abuses, but he had to step down, prompting early elections, in which his party gained the most seats. But the Grand Duke of Luxembourg tasked Liberal Xavier Bettel, not Juncker, with forming a government.
Often portrayed as a 'veteran' in EU politics, Juncker was a finance minister when Germany was governed by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, with whom he helped lay down the foundations of the euro.

From 2005 until 2013, Juncker was also chairman of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, which became instrumental in negotiating and supervising bailout packages for the countries that faced bankruptcy in the euro crisis: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus.
Back in 2011, during a debate in Brussels recorded by EUobserver Juncker admitted that he often had to lie to journalists about secret meetings held at the height of the euro-crisis, in order to prevent markets from betting against troubled countries.
"I am for secret, dark debates," he quipped.

He recalled an instance where journalists asked him if there would be a meeting in Paris the following weekend.
"I said no. I had to lie. I am a Christian Democrat, a Catholic, so when it becomes serious we have to lie. The same applies to economic and monetary policy in the Union, I am very serious about it. If you are pre-indicating policy decisions, you are feeding speculations on the financial markets," he explained.
He described calls for transparency of Eurogroup meetings as "naive".

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