Friday, March 31, 2017

U.S. Defense Sec James Mattis: N Korea 'Has Got To Be Stopped', Russian Submarines Match Cold War Era Intensity

Defense Sec. James Mattis: North Korea 'Has Got to Be Stopped'

After years of North Korea thumbing its nose at the international community, on Friday Defense Secretary James Mattis appeared to signal enough was enough. 
"Right now, [North Korea] appears to be going in a very reckless manner … and that has got to be stopped," Mattis said at a press conference in London. 
He didn't give any details about how the administration of President Donald Trump plans to deal with the reclusive nation, which, under Kim Jong Un, has drastically increased its missile and nuclear-testing program.

But Mattis' remarks continue a recent trend of Trump officials taking a harder line on North Korea. 
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the "diplomatic … efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of de-nuclearization have failed." 
He also said that military action was "on the table." 
Many experts say that Trump's options are limited, however. 
Kim has pledged to develop weapons capable of striking the U.S. and its allies. Three of the country's nuclear tests were completed under his rule and he conducted more missile tests over the past four years than in the rest of the country's history. 
Trump could try to levy more sanctions on the country, although these have not stopped previous tests and Tillerson appeared to dismiss this approach earlier this month.

  • Russian submarines have increased combat patrols to the level last seen during the Cold War 
  • The military has revived its strength thanks to a sweeping arms modernization program amid tensions with the West over Ukraine 
  • Elsewhere today, Putin's top spokesman said the relationship between the U.S. and Russia may be more antagonistic now than it was during the Cold War

Russian submarines have increased combat patrols to the level last seen during the Cold War, the navy chief said today.
Admiral Vladimir Korolyov said Russian submarine crews spent more than 3,000 days on patrol last year, matching the Soviet-era operational tempo.
Elsewhere today, Russian President Vladimir Putin's top spokesman said the relationship between the U.S. and Russia may be more antagonistic now than it was during the decades-long Cold War.
Asked by ABC's 'Good Morning America' host George Stephanopoulos if the U.S. and Russia were in a 'new Cold War,' Dmitry Peskov said the current situation may be worse, pinning the blaming on the U.S.
He said: 'New Cold War? Well, maybe even worse. Maybe even worse taking into account actions of the present presidential administration in Washington.' 

Mr Korolyov spoke after attending the launch of a new Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarine called the Kazan.
 He hailed the new ship as the most modern in the world, emphasizing its low noise level making it hard to track it.
'It represents the cutting edge of nuclear submarine design,' Mr Korolyov said in televised remarks.
The navy plans to commission seven Yasen-class submarines that are armed with torpedoes and long-range Kalibr cruise missiles, which for the first time have been tested in combat during the Russian campaign in Syria.

The Supreme Court of Venezuela has announced it will take over all of the duties of the country’s legislature. The opposition party says the country has crossed a line into an outright dictatorship. From the Miami Herald:

In a ruling published late Wednesday, the Supreme Court said that while the National Assembly continued to defy court rulings all of its actions were “invalid” and that “the activities of the parliament would be exercised directly by [this court].”

The clash of the branches goes back to January 2016, when the National Assembly swore in three opposition representatives from Amazon state even as the court had decided to investigate their election amid suspicions of voter fraud. That investigation is ongoing and the opposition has said the court is simply trying to rob them of their super majority…

Opposition Congressman Freddy Guevara, with the Voluntad Popular party said the court decision wasn’t “just another ruling” and called for street demonstrations and “democratic resistance” to defend the country’s institutions.
“This ruling marks a point of no return for this dictatorship,” he said.
Reuters reports the opposition released a statement saying, “This unconstitutional sentence that we reject … cements another step in the dismantling of Venezuela’s democracy. The statement added, “This government is dying, and that’s why it’s turning to these desperate measures.”
This is just the latest move in an ongoing power struggle within the country between the ruling socialists led by President Maduro and the opposition party which has gained power as the country has suffered from chronic shortages of food and medicine as well as one of the highest crime rates in the world and rampant inflation. There were massive street protests against the socialist government in 2014 which resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on trumped up charges.

It’s being called “The Big One”.
Coming this summer, we will see an event unlike any we’ve seen in North America since 1918: a total solar eclipse crossing the entire United States in a line from coast to coast on August 21, 2017.

The eclipse will begin around 9:48 am Pacific Standard Time. According to NASA, the longest duration of totality will be 2 minutes 41.6 seconds at 37°35′0″N 89°7′0″W in Shawnee National Forest south of Carbondale, Illinois and the greatest extent will be at 36°58′0″N 87°40′18″W near Cerulean, Kentucky.

Although it is a narrow swath, it will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the US at all since July 11, 1991. While the rest of the country will see only a partial eclipse, it will be the first visible in the southeastern part of the country since March 1970.

But here’s where it gets even more interesting…
Even though a total coast-to-coast solar eclipse hasn’t happened in America since 1918, not only are we seeing one this year, but we’re set to see another total coast-to-coast solar eclipse just seven years after that on April 8, 2024… and the other one will complete a giant “X” across the entire United States.

And that’s not all…
If you plot the two total eclipse paths on a map, it would appear the giant “X” intersects right over the New Madrid fault line near Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Paducah, Kentucky — which will thus see two total solar eclipses in less than seven years.


Caroline Glick: Israel's Silenced Majority

Israel’s silenced majority

During Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House in February, the premier was reportedly taken by surprise when Trump gently prodded – ahead of their meeting – for Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

Since their meeting, Trump’s prod that Israel curtail the property rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria has been the central issue Trump’s chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt has discussed with Netanyahu and his representatives.
From the moment Netanyahu returned from Washington, his government ministers have been asking him to brief them on his discussions with Trump. He has refused. But on Thursday, Netanyahu finally agreed to update his security cabinet.
His agreement is long past due. It is vital for Netanyahu to tell his cabinet ministers what is happening in his conversations with the Americans about Judea and Samaria. It is imperative that the cabinet determine a clear response to Trump’s apparent demand for a full or partial freeze on Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria.
Such an agreed response is urgent because Trump’s position is antithetical to the position of the vast majority of Israelis. If the government caters to Trump’s demands it will breach the trust of the public that elected it.
This state of affairs was brought home this week with the publication of a new survey of public opinion regarding the Palestinian conflict with Israel. The survey was carried out among adult Israeli Jews by veteran Israeli pollster Mina Tzemach for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
The results of the poll are straightforward. Since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Israeli support for territorial concessions to the Palestinians has collapsed. Whereas in 2005, 59% of Israelis supported the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria in exchange for peace, today a mere 29% of Israelis support such a policy.
And levels of Israeli opposition to territorial giveaways only grow when the specifics of withdrawal are considered.
Seventy-seven percent of Israelis oppose full withdrawal from Judea and Samaria in the framework of a peace deal. Sixty-four percent oppose a pullout under which Israel would trade sovereignty over the so-called “settlement blocs” for sovereignty over lands inside of the 1949 armistice lines.
Fifty-seven percent of the public opposes an Israeli withdrawal from everything outside the settlement blocs even without such a trade.
The dramatic drop in Israeli support for the establishment of a Palestinian state over the past 12 years has nothing to do with ideology. The Israeli public has not turned its back on the Left’s ideological vision of two-states west of the Jordan River because it has adopted the ideological convictions of the religious Zionist movement.
The Israeli public has abandoned its support for the two-state paradigm because it believes that Israel’s past moves to implement it have weakened the country and that any attempt in the future to implement it will imperil the country.
This conviction is revealed by the fact that 76% of Israeli Jews want Israel to permanently retain sole responsibility for security in all of Judea and Samaria.
Eighty-eight percent say that Israel must permanently control the territory bordering Ben-Gurion Airport. Eighty-one percent insist that Israel must permanently control the land that bordering the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem highway Route 443.
Eighty-one percent of Israelis say that Israel must control the Jordan Valley in perpetuity. Fifty-five percent say that Israel cannot defend itself without permanently controlling the Jordan Valley. Sixty-nine percent of Israelis reject the notion that Israel can subcontract its national security to foreign powers that would deploy forces to the Jordan Valley in the framework of a peace deal.
In other words, Trump’s desire to mediate a deal between Israel and the PLO places him in conflict with anywhere between 60 and 85% of the Israeli public.
Throughout the US presidential race, Trump said repeatedly that his mastery of the art of the deal would enable him to succeed where his predecessors failed. His experience as a negotiator in the business world, he said, makes him more capable of mediating a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians than any of his predecessors.
It is possible that Trump is right about his relative advantage over his predecessors. But how well or poorly he negotiates is completely beside the point.
Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama didn’t fail to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians because they were bad negotiators. They failed because there is no deal to be had. This reality is what informs the Israeli public.
The Israeli public rejects the two-state model that is now informing Trump, because it has become convinced that Israel’s partner in a hypothetical deal – the PLO – has no intention of ever making a deal with Israel.
The people of Israel has come to realize that the PLO demands Israeli concessions – like a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria – not because it wants to make peace, but because it wants to weaken Israel.
The reality that informs the position of the Israeli public has been borne out by every PLO action and position since July 2000, when the PLO rejected peace and Palestinian statehood and opted instead to initiate a terrorist war against Israeli society and launch a campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.
In contrast to the Israeli public, the American foreign policy establishment never accepted the obvious meaning of Yasser Arafat’s rejection of then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak’s peace offer at Camp David in July 2000, and his subsequent initiation of an all-out war of terrorism against Israel.
The Americans responsible for determining US Middle Eastern policy, along with the American Jewish community, never acknowledged the significance of the Palestinians’ refusal to accept sovereign responsibility over Gaza after Israel withdrew from the area in 2005.
They never accepted the obvious meaning of Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections in 2006 or the post-Israeli withdrawal transformation of Gaza into a hub of global jihad and a launching pad for continuous aggression against Israel.
Unlike the Israeli public, the Americans closed their eyes to the significance of Mahmoud Abbas’s campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, to the PA’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist, to the PA’s finance of terrorism, and its indoctrination of Palestinian society to support and work toward the destruction of Israel.
This week, the willful blindness of the American foreign policy establishment and the American Jewish establishment to the reality that informs the position of the Israeli public was on display at AIPAC’s policy conference. Although the conference was held under the banner, “Many Voices, One Mission,” precious few voices were heard that reflected the view of the overwhelming majority of Israelis.
The view of the Israeli public that the two-state policy is entirely divorced from reality because there is no one on the Palestinian side who is interested in living at peace with a Jewish state, and that further Israeli concessions to the PLO endanger the Jewish state, was virtually ignored, particularly by the American speakers.
No senior American policy-maker explained that given the Palestinians’ commitment to the destruction of Israel, any policy that requires Israel to make territorial and other concessions is an anti-Israel policy – in substance if not in intent.
The reason the position of the majority of the Israeli public was ignored by the largest pro-Israel lobbying organization in America is that no senior American policy-maker on either side of the partisan aisle is willing to allow the reality that informs the Israeli public to influence its thinking. Although an ideological chasm separates Martin Indyk – John Kerry’s chief negotiator – from Elliott Abrams – George Bush’s point man on Israel – the substance of their views of the goal of US policy-making toward Israel and the Palestinians is largely the same. They both believe that Israel should surrender the vast majority of Judea and Samaria to the PLO.
And this again brings us to Israel and the security cabinet meeting on Thursday evening.
Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu said that he intended ask his ministers to approve his plan to establish a new town in Judea and Samaria for the residents of the recently destroyed community of Amona.
There is no doubt that from a political perspective, and indeed from a humanitarian perspective, Netanyahu’s commitment to establishing a new community for the former residents of Amona is a positive development. But the question of whether or not Israel should build a new community in Judea and Samaria is not the main issue. Indeed, the issue of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria has never been the main issue.
The pressure the Trump administration is exerting on Israel to constrain the rights of Jews to property in Judea and Samaria is the direct consequence of the refusal of the American foreign policy establishment to reckon with the reality that Israelis have internalized.
The Israeli public today recognizes that there is no deal to be had. The Palestinians will never make peace with Israel, because they remain committed to its destruction.
It doesn’t matter how effective the Americans are at negotiations. It doesn’t matter how many concessions they are able to extract from Israel in their endless attempts to coddle the Palestinians and convince them to negotiate. Indeed, the Americans’ collective refusal to come to terms with the reality that guides the Israeli public indicates that regardless of what their actual feelings toward Israel may be, in demanding Israeli concessions to the PLO, the Americans are implementing a policy that is stridently anti-Israel.
Under the circumstances, Netanyahu’s task, and that of his ministers, is not to convince the new administration to respect the legal rights to property of Jews in Judea and Samaria. Their duty is to represent and advance the interests and positions of the public that elected them.
Netanyahu and his ministers must make clear to Trump and his advisers that there is no point in trying to reach a deal with the PLO. Trump’s predecessors’ failure to reach an accord had nothing to do with their failure to master the art of the deal. They failed because there is no one on the Palestinian side who is interested in making a deal.
Moreover, Netanyahu and his ministers must explain to Trump that all previous attempts to reach a deal by extracting concessions from Israel did nothing but weaken Israel. And the Israeli public will no longer accept any such concessions from their government.

UK, France, Germany Slam Israel Announcement To Build New Settlement, New Settlement Curb 'Win-Win' For Netanyahu

UK, France, Germany slam Israeli announcement to build new settlement

The UK, France and Germany on Friday condemned the Israeli security cabinet’s unanimous approval on Thursday to build the first officially sanctioned new settlement in the West Bank in more than 20 years.

The new settlement late was approved late on Thursday for the evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost, which was razed last month after the High Court of Justice ruled that it was built on private Palestinian land. The new settlement will be built next to Shilo.

The cabinet on Thursday also announced the approval of tenders for some 2,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank — housing units whose planned construction, among some 5,500, was first announced in January.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement: “These announcements are contrary to international law and seriously undermine the prospects of two states for two peoples. As a strong friend of Israel, and one prepared to stand up for Israel when it faces bias and unreasonable criticism, I urge Israel not to take steps such as these, which move us away from our shared goal of peace and security and make it harder to achieve a different relationship between Israel and the Arab world.

Johnson added that he was “disappointed that Israel plans to expropriate additional West Bank territory as ‘state land’, and press forward with plans for almost 2,000 housing units in spite of significant international concern.”

The French Foreign Ministry said Israel’s announcements were “extremely worrying” and that Paris “firmly condemns these decisions that threaten peace and risk exacerbating tensions on the ground.”

“France reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law, notably under Resolution 2334 of the UN Security Council. It calls on Israel to respect its international obligation,” the statement read, in reference to the controversial resolution passed in December, with a US abstention, which labeled Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem “illegal.”

A German government spokesperson cited by Haaretz said that “the federal government expects the Israeli government to clarify which solution they are pursuing for a lasting peace with the Palestinians. Germany will not recognize any change in the 1967 lines, which has not been agreed between the parties

According to Haaretz, the three European papers published their condemnation statements in close proximity and timed the statements to come out at the same time.
Earlier Friday, the United Nations also expressed its disapproval of the newly planned settlement with a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres saying the secretary-general expressed “disappointment and alarm” at the announcement.
“The secretary general has consistently stressed that there is no Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security. He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
The Palestinians reacted furiously to the plans.
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement on Friday that the Palestinians will “hold Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist government fully responsible for the consequences of such violations.”
“We send a clear message to the US administration, the United Nations and to the European Union: Peace is not going to be achieved by tolerating such crimes,” he added.
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said the move showed the government was pushing ahead with “their systematic policies of settler colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, showing a total and blatant disregard for Palestinian human rights.”
The White House, meanwhile, warned Israel against “unrestrained” settlement activity, cautioning that “while the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace,” according to an official.
But the Trump administration did say it welcomed Netanyahu’s announcement Thursday, after the approval of the new settlement, that Israel will curb construction in West Bank settlements as a goodwill gesture to US President Donald Trump.

Israel’s announcement of a new policy of restraint in settlement expansion was well-orchestrated.

On Thursday morning, during a meeting with the Slovak president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that later in the day the cabinet would greenlight a new West Bank settlement for the evacuees of Amona, an illegal outpost dismantled in February. “I promised at the outset that we would build a new community. I believe that I first gave that promise back in December and we will uphold it today,” he said.

At 10:25 p.m., the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the cabinet had indeed decided, in a unanimous vote, to create the first new officially sanctioned West Bank settlement in some 25 years. The announcement came just in time to make the Friday morning newspapers.

But once the papers’ deadlines had passed — at 1:21 a.m. — Israeli reporters were informed that the government had also decided to “significantly restrain” the expansion of settlements beyond their current boundaries, in a nod to the US administration’s concerns regarding settlement construction.

The timing of that announcement guaranteed that no newspaper would mention that important caveat in its reports on the first new settlement in decades, thus dramatically decreasing the chance of it becoming a topic for discussion at Shabbat dinner tables around the country on Friday evening.
Israel’s “new policy,” as the government itself called it, is a far cry from the “not one brick policy” of former US president Barack Obama, who vehemently opposed any settlement construction beyond the 1967 lines, including in Jerusalem neighborhoods that will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any conceivable peace agreement.
Indeed, the new arrangement allows Israel, in theory, to expand any settlement it wishes, anywhere in the West Bank, under the condition that the construction does not expand an existing settlement’s “footprint.” The cabinet also said that no new settlements — besides the one to compensate the evacuees of Amona, announced earlier on Thursday — would be built.
Likud ministers on Friday morning defended the new policy, stressing that no settlement would be uprooted and that Israel would be allowed to build anywhere in its eternal united capital of Jerusalem. That was to be expected, since it was the leader of their party who was behind the new policy.
But even the pro-settlement Yesha Council accepted the new framework without protest. “The understandings reached between the government of Israel and the US administration allow for the continuation of settlement construction in all communities in Judea and Samaria, in addition to the establishment of a new community for the residents of Amona,” the group said in a statement.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

War Between U.S. And China Over Conflict In S China Sea? U.S. Deploys F-35s To S Korea For Joint Drills,

Is War Between U.S. And China Brewing In The South China Sea?

Adding fuel to an already highly combustible situation in Southeast Asia, Reuters reported Tuesday that China has “largely completed major construction of military infrastructure on artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea,”and that the Asian superpower “can now deploy combat planes and other military hardware there at any time.”
Citing satellite imagery analyzed by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative, part of Washington, D.C.’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, the news agency writes that “work on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands included naval, air, radar and defensive facilities.”
Sticking to the mainstream narrative that China is an aggressor in claiming sovereign rights to the majority of the South China Sea, Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross says the new images confirm what the U.S. military already knows.

“China’s continued construction in the South China Sea is part of a growing body of evidence that they continue to take unilateral actions which are increasing tensions in the region and are counterproductive to the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he told Reuters.

China, as it has repeatedly, downplayed this notion and stuck to the position that it’s simply erecting defensive infrastructure within its own borders, as would any nation.

“As for China deploying or not deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own territory, this is a matter that is within the scope of Chinese sovereignty,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing Tuesday.

But the reality of the situation in the South China Sea - all geopolitical analysis aside - is that there’s about to be a hell of a lot of military hardware in those waters.
As Anti-Media has been reportingU.S. forces are already in the region, taking part in joint drills with ally South Korea that will last until the end of April. Then, at the beginning of May, Japan — another U.S. ally — will sail its navy’s most powerful warship through the South China Sea on a three-month tour.
That means that just as the joint drills with South Korea end — which, incidentally, units from Delta Force, the Navy SEALS and Army Rangers are taking part in — Japan will shove off a warship aimed at waters claimed by China.
If that timing seems a little curious, also consider that the U.S. just deployed its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea, which both China and Russia cared none too much for.
With China showing no signs of backing away from its stance in the South China Sea — both ideologically and physically —  and with the corporate media willing and eager to push the “evil China” narrative that the U.S. military appears hell-bent on capitalizing on, it appears the long-dreaded collision course with China may, indeed, be not far off on the horizon.

Officials at the US Defense Department are sending F-35Bs, the country’s newest strike fighter, to participate in this year’s joint military drills with South Korea. The annual exercises are taking place as tensions with North Korea continue to rise.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters,"This is the first time we have operated the F-35B in the Republic of Korea." 

Pyongyang reportedly conducted a ballistic missile engine test on Friday, and CNN reported that the technology could be used in an intercontinental ballistic missile in the future.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called the engine test "a great event of historic significance," that would signal a "new birth" of Pyongyang’s rocket industry. 

Davis added, "It goes without saying we are committed to defending the Republic of Korea and Japan against any North Korean aggression."

North Korea has been threatening Washington and Seoul ever since the joint exercises commenced earlier this month. Pyongyang sees the ground-based Foal Eagle drills as practice for the invasion of their country, along with the targeting and removal of North Korea’s leadership, especially Kim Jong-un.

North Korean Embassy Counselor Kim Jin Gyu said the military maneuvers "are the most undisguised scheme of nuclear war, which could plunge the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia into a nuclear catastrophe."

Russia’s intervention in Libya is designed to surround Europe in a “grand game” of geostrategy, Italy’s former military chief has said.

Luigi Binelli Mantelli, who led Italy’s armed forces from 2013 to 2015, told EUobserver that Russia’s attempt to gain a foothold in Libya was about bigger issues than oil, migrants, or terrorists.

He said Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s main objective was for Russia to “play a growing role as a global power, somehow overcoming even the US as a leader of the post-Cold War international order”.

He said Russia was doing this by “strengthening its strategic presence” in the Arctic, the Baltic, the Black Sea, and in the Mediterranean region in what he called an “arc of iron”.

The retired admiral said his views were his own and did not represent the official position of Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, which is leading EU efforts to establish order in the fragmented country.

The new “arc of iron” has seen Russia reopen Soviet-era bases in the High North and redouble military forces in its Kaliningrad exclave in the Baltic.

Three years ago, it seized Crimea from Ukraine and has built up its military presence in the Black Sea peninsula.
It has reinforced its naval base in Syria and has agreed with China to share a new naval facility in Djibouti.

It is also cultivating close ties with Egypt and with a Libyan warlord, Khalifa Haftar. 
“If you look at the [Russian] naval bases, in particular the joint base with China, Europe is in a way surrounded on its eastern side and its southern side”, Binelli Mantelli said.

Mazen Faqha's career as a Palestinian terrorist came to an abrupt end this past Friday when a gunman or perhaps more than one gunman, pumped four bullets into his brain. According to his wife, the two had just returned home from a trip and the liquidation occurred just outside their home in the Gaza City neighborhood of Tel Al Hawa. “I didn’t feel or hear a thing,” she said, adding that, “everything happened quietly.” Hamas officials claimed that a silencer was used in the shooting though they offered no proof.

Whoever wanted him dead wanted to be sure that the job was completed successfully, thus the use of redundant measures. It was a clean kill without collateral damage and no gratuitous violence – almost business-like. The assassin or assassins escaped undetected.

As far as terrorists are concerned, Faqha was as bad as they come. In 2002, he recruited a suicide bomber to carry out a suicide attack that resulted in the deaths of nine Israelis. Later that year, he was apprehended by Israeli security forces after an intensive dragnet. He received nine life sentences for his role in the bombing only to be released in 2011 in the deleterious Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange where some 1,000 terrorists were released for the captive Israeli.

After his release, he was deported to Gaza where he quickly resumed his terror activities. According various published reports, Faqha was in charge of setting up Hamas terror cells in Judea and Samaria. Some of his extracurricular activities included recruiting terrorists and providing funds and instructions for execution of terror operations. These nefarious activities made him a marked man.

Hamas has offered no proof that Israel was behind the killing and Israel has offered no comment on the matter, though it did put its forces on high alert along the border as a precautionary measure. Hamas leaders have become unhinged as a result of the slaying and Israel is taking no chances.

There is good reason to believe that Israel was involved but there is equally good reason to believe that this was an internal matter between rival Hamas gang factions. Hamas is a notoriously corrupt organization where hundreds of millions in Western aid money is siphoned off by Hamas bigwigs. In addition, the lucrative smuggling industry represents a huge source of revenue for Hamas officials who impose taxes on smuggled goods and charge fees for tunnel operations. Hamas officials also operate extortion rings. The extent of the criminal enterprise in Gaza makes it extremely plausible that Faqha encroached on someone’s turf and paid the ultimate price for his transgression.

On the other hand, there is a strong likelihood of Israeli involvement. As noted, Faqha was knee-deep in terror activities. Moreover, he was a convicted murderer nine times over but thanks to the Schalit deal, only served one year for each person he killed. There was a strong motive for Israel to remove him from the scene.

Russian And American Troops Within 'Hand-Grenade Range' In Syria, Former CIA Director: U.S. Should Attack N Korea Preemptively

Russian and American troops are within 'hand-grenade range' of each other in Syria as they overlap while fighting ISIS, warn US commanders

  • Russian and US troops are working with Kurdish YPG fighters to combat ISIS
  • A defense expert warns that ‘escalation is bound to happen’ between troops
  • US Central Command said, however, that military commanders are working together to avoid accidental casualties and inadvertently striking one another 
  • Russia wants an ‘alliance’ with the US and to be ‘recognized as an equal partner’ 
  • During the first two weeks of March, the troops worked together to stop the Turkish army from entering Manbij, a town in the Aleppo region of Syria

Russian troops are within ‘hand-grenade range’ of American forces in parts of Syria, sparking fears of escalated tension in the region.
The two nations are working together with Kurdish YPG fighters in the country to combat ISISin Syria and neighboring Iraq.
Though the countries’ commanders are in contact, the Pentagon stopped military-to-military cooperation following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
Recently the forces ‘have converged literally within hand-grenade range of one another’, warned Army Lt. Gen. Steven Townsend, the commander of Combined Joint Task ForceOperation Inherent Resolve.
US and Russian troops are working together with Kurdish YPG fighters in the country to combat ISIS in Syria and neighboring Iraq. Pictured above, American army vehicles drive north of Manbij city, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria

‘Escalation is bound to happen,’ Andreas Krieg, a professor at the Defense Studies Department at King’s College London, told NBC News.

US Central Command said, however, that military commanders are working together to avoid accidental casualties and inadvertently striking one another.
Russia wants ‘an alliance between Russia and the United States in fighting terrorism, and to be recognized as an equal partner with the United States’, Igor Sutyagin, a senior research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute, told NBC.
  • He said an alliance would strengthen its ‘international standing as a power and its position with its own people’.
    Kreig added that US and Russian interests in the Middle East are ‘overlapping to a huge extent’.
    ‘Fighting ISIS and fighting the jihadis is absolutely the first priority of the [Donald] Trump administration,’ he told NBC News. ‘This is why [Defense Secretary James] Mattis is going so hardcore after ISIS. And almost everything goes as long as they are fighting jihadis at the same time.’
  • As of last month, there were approximately 1,000 US troops fighting on the ground, while there are between 1,600 and 4,500 Russian troops in the same area.
  • US commanders are weighing the possibility of deploying hundreds more troops, and the Pentagon this week announced it had provided artillery support and choppered local forcesbehind enemy lines in a bid to seize a strategic dam.
  • During the first two weeks of March, the troops worked together to stop the Turkish army from entering Manbij, a town in the Aleppo region of Syria.
    A witness told NBC that he saw Russian, Syrian and US troops all within three miles from one another at separate bases near the town on March 12.
    Before teaming up with Kurdish fighters, US and Russian troops were on different sides of the Syrian civil war.


  • The United States should be prepared to launch preemptive strikes on North Korea, including a nuclear attack if necessary, before the communist nation uses its nuclear bombs that could “kill 90 percent of Americans,” a former CIA chief said Wednesday.
    James Woolsey, who served as CIA director from 1993-95, made the case in an op-ed piece in the Hill newspaper, arguing that the U.S. is erroneously underestimating Pyongyang’s capabilities to deliver nuclear weapons by missile, freighter and even satellite.

  • “Why do the press and public officials ignore or under-report these facts? Perhaps no administration wants to acknowledge that North Korea is an existential threat on their watch,” Woolsey said in the article, titled “How North Korea could kill 90 percent of Americans.”
       “Whatever the motives for obfuscating the North Korean nuclear threat, the need to protect the American people is immediate and urgent. The U.S. must be prepared to preempt North Korea by any means necessary, including nuclear weapons,” he said.
  • Woolsey rejected the official U.S. intelligence assessment that the North has not yet demonstrated mastery of the technology to build an intercontinental ballistic missile reentry vehicle or to miniaturize nuclear weapons small enough to fit atop an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S.

  • “Any nation that has built nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, as North Korea has done, can easily overcome the relatively much simpler technological challenge of warhead miniaturization and reentry vehicle design,” he said, adding that the North’s road mobile KN-08 and KN-14 missiles appear to be equipped with sophisticated reentry vehicles.
    Even if the North were not yet able to deliver nuclear weapons by missile, it can still deliver one “hidden on a freighter sailing under a false flag into a U.S. port, or hire their terrorist allies to fly a nuclear 9/11 suicide mission across the unprotected border with Mexico,”Woolsey said.
    “In this scenario, populous port cities like New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, or big cities nearest the Mexican border, like San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, and Santa Fe, would be most at risk,” he said. “A Hiroshima-type A-Bomb having a yield of 10-kilotons detonated in a major city would cause about 200,000 casualties from blast, thermal, and radiation effects.”

  • The North could use a satellite to deliver a small nuclear warhead designed to make a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the U.S., he said.

    “According to the Congressional EMP Commission, a single warhead delivered by North Korean satellite could blackout the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures for over a year, killing 9 of 10 Americans by starvation and societal collapse,” he said.