The biggest story today is the number of large earthquakes felt around the world - first take a look at the seismic monitor:
6.3 New Zealand
5.0 N. California
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has blamed the "Israeli occupation" for the dire economic situation in the West Bank, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
"The economic situation is really difficult, and the main reason is the Israeli occupation," Abbas told official PA television.
"Israel exploits our resources and lands which increased our economic deficit," he continued.
The PA president also expressed concern that the Palestinian Authority would be unable to pay salaries for its employees in November as a result of the difficult economic situation.
On Tuesday, the World Bank issued a report that said that the Palestinian Gross Domestic Product in the West Bank could increase by at least 35 percent, $3.4 billion annually, if Israel lifted its restrictions on Palestinian access and movement in Area C.
“Access to Area C will go a long way to solving Palestinian economic problems,” said Mariam Sherman, the outgoing World Bank Country Director for the Palestinian territories.
“The alternative is bleak. Without the ability to utilize the potential of Area C, the economic space will remain fragmented and stunted. Lifting multiple restrictions could transform the economy and substantially improve prospects for sustained growth,” she said.
The situation is even worse in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas also faces a financial crisis after income from taxes has been badly hit since neighboring Egypt started destroying a network of tunnels used to smuggle food, fuel and weapons into the Islamist-run enclave.
It looks like the fix is in. The mullahs will certainly get their nukes and ICBMs, and neither Israel nor the Saudis (who are scared to death of the mullahs) will rely on American protection as long as Obama is in office. Obama just put out the welcome mat for Mullah Rouhani, the killer of 245 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1984, and the ultraleft UK Guardianjust claimed that its readers voted for Great Humanitarian Rouhani to be the next winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The post-Stalinist Guardian is not known for telling the truth too often, and nobody knows if that " " is real or not. But the Guardian and the BBC are the two biggest hard-left organs of propaganda in Europe, and they have long promoted a kind of Hitler-Stalin Pact between European socialists in the EU and radical Muslims of both stripes in the Middle East. These are politically powerful and they will be read as such around the world.
Here is the way the seem to be falling: We are going back to a binary power split between Russia and the United States, with China dominating Asia. Our former allies like Israel and the Saudis are quickly moving away from us and seeking more trustworthy allies, notably Russia, as this column has pointed out before. Putin successfully protected his ally Assad in Syria against a pathetic Obama, who has systematically sabotaged the Pax Americana of the last seven decades. The U.S. only needed to betray a few allies (like Poland on anti-missile defense and Israel against Iran) to spur on our other allies to get the idea. Japan and South Korea may be drawn to China, and Japan is now said to be developing its own nuclear weapons, seventy years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Europeans (who have lost the will to defend themselves) are looking to Russia as well, which is acting like the old Tsarist empire, promising to protect Western civilization against the barbarian hordes of imperial Islam. Vladimir Putin visited Jerusalem last year and sat down to talk with the Israeli Cabinet. He also prayed at a Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the Russian Orthodox Church has long staked its own claim. Putin says he is a Christian, and is often shown in photos with the ancient Patriarch of Moscow, the equivalent of the Catholic Pope.
Putin has dealt ruthlessly with his own Islamist terror threat from Chechnya, and the Europeans will huddle under any umbrella in the nuclear proliferation storm that is about to break loose. Serious nations defend themselves seriously. In the nuclear missile age, non-serious nations have to buy protection.
Huge discoveries of shale deposits around the world are promising to liberate industrial countries from the chokehold of the Persian Gulf oil -- and once that's gone, who will defend the Sunni Arabs against Iranian aggression? Texas is becoming the biggest oil and gas producer in the world. Both Saudi Prince Bandar and Al Waleed, the richest zillionaire in Arabia, are publicly warning that the price of oil will soon go down as China, Poland, Russia, Germany, Britain and of course the United States are expecting domestic energy to supply their own needs for decades to come.
Even today, Obama is supporting the radical Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, in spite of its defeat by a modernist alliance in Egypt. Indeed, the U.S. has just cut off supplies to the armed forces of Egypt, the biggest political force for stability. In Syria, the news is now out that yes, we are supplying the 60,000 jihadis who are trying to overthrow Assad, Russia's ally.
Obviously we are siding with the barbarians in the jihad war. We have given up any moral justification for our foreign policy. In Obama's world, as the ACORN Manual proclaims, "Might is right." Until Obama's is gone, the world will grab any life preserver within reach.
The United States is still trying to disorganize the Middle East, just like the "Arab Spring" that overthrew Sunni regimes in Egypt and Libya. Jordan is reporting violent unrest against the Hashemite King who is considered to a foreigner by many Jordanian Arabs.
The Middle East is indeed in already in a regional war -- the prime minister of Libya was just kidnapped -- and the United States is no longer supporting stability anywhere. Just the opposite.
In the ME only Israel is rock-solid domestically -- and it is preparing for war. More than 60% of Israelis now believe that war with Iran is inevitable. The idea of a stable Israeli-Palestinian agreement emerging in this storm-whipped ocean looks increasingly unlikely.
If there is any logic behind Obama's actions, it is to increase the pressure on Israel for dangerous territorial concessions by empowering its worst enemies: The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Iran on the Shi'ite side of the Muslim world. The Iranians control tens of thousands of missiles in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, confronting Israel with its most dangerous threat.
As everybody knows by now, Obama is a high-stakes gambler with other people's freedom, safety, and welfare. The whole Arab Spring fiasco has spread medieval Shari'a rule, reversing a century of gradual modernization in the Muslim world. That means reactionary tyranny for many millions of women, for religious minorities like Christians and for any Jews who have not yet fled yet, along with Muslim modernists (they do exist) and of other religious minorities. Obama is not a believer in civilization.
Nobody knows the outcome. So far, Obama's gambles have not paid off. Egypt revolted against his favorite, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. By now an estimated 120,000 Arabs have died in Syria, with millions of refugees destabilizing neighboring countries, and the United States immorally supporting the Al Qaida-linked rebels. The Arab Spring is now a winter of warfare from Libya to Yemen.
Here are some possible outcomes.
1. Israel will be forced to explode an underground nuclear weapon to stop the triumphalist advance of the mullahs and Sunni radicals. Or it may attack Tehran using EMP-type weapons, which do not have to be nuclear, and which can strike energy plants without killing people. Israel has no interest in killing its enemies; it only needs to scare they daylights out of them, in the most unambiguous way possible. The Yom Kippur War allowed the 40-year Egypt-Israel peace treaty to be signed.
Israel will be pressured to place its nuclear forces under some sort of international inspection regime. However, when Stalin's Soviet Union had overwhelming conventional superiority in Europe, the U.S. refused to bargain down its nuclear weapons, because only nukes could stop a massive Soviet tank attack into Western Europe. The U.S. didn't surrender its nukes, and it is extremely doubtful that Israel will do so.
Israel is now talking to Putin, to the Gulf Arabs, and even to China and India to strengthen its international alliances. With fast-growing domestic energy supplies, high technology, a strong economy, and a major military, Israel can build new alliances before Iran goes nuclear. China is now constructing a railroad across Israel to the Red Sea to compete with the Suez Canal. That would give China new energy supplies that it desperately needs.
2. Absent a reliable U.S. nuclear umbrella, the Saudis will seek protection from the only serious nuclear world power in the neighborhood, Putin's Russia. If not, the Saudis will activate a longstanding plan to import nuclear weapons from Pakistan to arm its own Arab protector, Egypt. Nuclear proliferation will accelerate.
3. Europe is in a self-inflicted economic crisis, and needs a more reliable protector than Obama's United States. Much of Europe is still in economic despair, with the resulting rise of neo-fascist parties like Golden Dawn in Greece, Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement in Italy, and nearly fascist parties in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Spain. Without reliable U.S. protection, NATO countries desperately need a new military umbrella. In France, the National Front is now receiving high poll numbers after proposing a French-Russian alliance against Germany. Europe has world-class industries but it has cannibalized its military to feed the welfare state.
In sum, the safety and security we have provided the world for seventy years is crumbling. Countries at great risk are looking to Moscow for military protection. Russia is still much weaker than it was when the Soviet Union looked dominant, but it has two big sources of clout: Its military and its energy supplies. Russia is also the only nation that can intimidate the mullahs -- it is far more willing to use its full range of weapons than the United States. Putin has proven that in Chechnya.
Under Obama, the United States is letting the world fall into crisis. Chances are that he wants to use the resulting chaos to force Israel into making concessions. But countries do not willingly commit suicide, and Israel has a much better option, which is to bring in Putin's Russia to balance a far-left-ruled United States.
In previous Middle East crises the United States could act as a trusted mediator -- but nobody can trust Obama, as the Republicans in Congress know so well. Any peace settlement will therefore require a two-nuclear-power guarantee to be trustworthy.
Obama is a crisis-monger. It is the only way he knows how to operate. But nobody can predict how his crises will come out. So far he has mainly destroyed American credibility.