Monday, September 29, 2014

Abbas has ended the sham "peace process"

From Times of Israel, 28 Sept 2014, by Dan Margalit:

Mahmoud Abbas / AP

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has done what he always does. As usual, upon arriving at a crucial junction, he hesitates for a moment before making the wrong turn...

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly over the weekend, Abbas was expected to take a semi-appeasing tone, a peacemaker's tone, and he was expected to address the U.N. in English. Instead, he acted as if he were attending an election rally in Ramallah, speaking in Arabic and taking an aggressive tone, as if he were representing Hamas.

Abbas antagonized the entire Israeli political spectrum, accept for Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, who expressed her understanding of the circumstances that drove Abbas to use an unusually abrasive tone.

The Palestinian [Arabs]' verbal belligerence is especially discordant in a time when the majority of the world, including many Arab nations, is banding together to fight the Islamic State group. 

In his speech, Abbas has effectively debunked the U.S.-sponsored peace process. His speech was extreme enough to vex even Washington, and the entire diplomatic world had a front row seat to listen to [his] lies.

Operation Protective Edge was an Israeli attempt at "genocide"? If anything, Abbas was almost as disappointed by the caution Israel exercised during the military campaign as Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett. Abbas further complained about Israel's arrest of Hamas operatives in Judea and Samaria over the murder of three Israeli teens -- but everyone knows how relieved he actually was, as some of those operatives were part of a Hamas plot to stage a coup in the West Bank.

...Abbas traditionally plays the role of a wolf in sheep's clothing. In 2000, he incited Yasser Arafat to bolt from Camp David the moment then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak expressed willingness to discuss the future of Jerusalem; and years later he bolted back to Ramallah the moment former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented him with an appeasing peace proposal, the likes of which Israel had never devised before.

There is no doubt that at this point, Abbas has abandoned the path of negotiations. He strives to impose some sort of solution on Israel, and he fails to understand that the tumultuous developments in the Arab world, including the conflict between Ramallah and the Gaza Strip, have plunged the Palestinian stock to a new low. 

...Netanyahu is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Monday and respond to Abbas' speech....

THIS is Apartheid: PA University Ejects pro-Arab Journalist for Being Jewish

From Arutz Sheva, 28 Sept 2014, by Nir Har-Zahav and Tova Dvorin:

A Haaretz reporter was ejected from a pro-Palestinian [Arabs] conference at Birzeit University on Saturday, reporter Amira Hass said - simply for being an Israeli Jew. 

[Veteran anti-Zionist, Haaretz  reporter Amira] Hass attempted to attend the "Alternatives to Neo-Liberal Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Critical Perspectives" conference at the university, which is located near Ramallah where she lives.

But she was ejected from the hall by the organizers...after students at the admission desk noted she worked for the Israeli publication and alerted security authorities to intervene.

Birzeit University has had a policy of barring Israeli Jews from the campus for over 20 years, administrators said.... 

Her colleagues and professors told her that she was being ejected on the one hand "for her own protection" and also to give the students "a safe space" free of Jews.

...Hass - who is well-known in Arab and leftist circles for her aggressive anti-Zionism, and provoked outrage last year for justifying rock-throwing attacks against Jews - angrily noted that she was "not told" about the policy and that "...[Israeli Arabs] are not subject to the same policy." 

...The incident surfaces amid growing tension between parts of the Israeli Left and the Palestinian Authority. 

Several left-wing parties, including Labor and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's HaTnua party, openly supported Israel's self-defense operation in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. 

More recently, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's anti-Israel tirade at the UN General Assembly offended even Meretz Chairman Zehava Gal-On, who branded the remarks as "serious and grave."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tomorrow the Israel Air Force may attack Tehran

From Times of Israel, 15 Sept 2014:

IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Israel’s air force commander gave an apparently unintended insight into his priorities and preoccupations, when he remarked during comments about the defense budget that Israel might need to send its attack planes to Tehran at very short notice. 

Speaking about the imperative for the government to allocate additional funding to the armed forces, Israel Air Force chief Major-General Amir Eshel declared that
“there’s no one in this room who’d be prepared to ride in a car as old as our planes. I’m telling you, no-one. Yesterday these planes were in Gaza, and tomorrow we may send them to Tehran.” 
The remarks were not delivered in the tone of a threat, but rather as a statement about a possible mission that would require up-to-date equipment.

Eshel’s comments, broadcast Sunday on the local Channel 2 News, came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid sparred over the national budget, with Netanyahu earlier Sunday asserting that, in the wake of the summer’s 50-day Israel-Hamas conflict, “We need a significant increase of several billion in the defense budget.”....

Kobani - the Kurd / Sunni front

This week witnessed the second determined attempt by Islamic State forces to destroy the Kurdish enclave around Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) city in northern Syria. Kobani is one of three autonomous enclaves maintained by the Kurds in Syria.

As of now, it appears that after initial lightning advances, the progress of the jihadis has been halted; they have not moved forward in the last 24 hours. The arrival of Kurdish forces from across the Turkish border is the key element in freezing the advance.
Yet Islamic State has captured around 60 Kurdish villages in this latest assault, and its advanced positions remain perilously close – around 14.5 km. – from Kobani city. Around 100,000 people have fled Kobani for Turkey, from the enclave's total population of around 400,0000.

Islamic State employed tanks, artillery and Humvees in its assault, according to Kurdish sources. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have no comparable ordnance. However, their fighters were assisted by Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas who crossed in from Turkey, and appear to have played a vital role in halting the advance.
Whether the current situation will hold is not yet clear. But the commencement of US and allied bombing on Islamic State in Syria probably means the jihadi forces will have more pressing issues to attend to for the moment.

The assault on Kobani indicates that Islamic State is turning its attention back to Syria. The Kurdish enclave has long been a thorn in the side of the jihadis; the Kurdish-controlled area interrupts the jihadis' territorial contiguity, separating Tel Abyad from Jarabulus and making a large detour necessary from Islamic State's capital in Raqqa city to the important border town of Jarabulus.

For this reason, the jihadis have long sought to conquer the area. Abu Omar al-Shishani, the much feared Chechen Islamic State military commander, is reputed to have made the conquest of Kobani a personal mission. With the weapons systems captured in Mosul now fully integrated, and with further progress in Iraq impeded by the presence of US air power, it appears Islamic State is now making its most serious effort to achieve this goal.
The Kobani enclave has long been an isolated, beleaguered space. This reporter visited there this past May; at the time, Islamic State was trying to block the supply of electricity and water into the city. Skirmishes along the borders were a daily occurrence.
Particularly notable also were the very strict border arrangements kept in place by the Turkish authorities to the north – in stark contrast to the much more lax regime maintained facing the areas of Arab population further west.

As of now, a determined Kurdish mobilization appears to have stemmed the jihadi advance. Unless the picture radically changes again, Kobani looks set to remain a thorn in the side of Islamic State.

Perwer Mohammed, 28, an activist close to the YPG in Kobani, sounded worried but hopeful when speaking from the city on Monday: 
"They are now on the outskirts of Girê Sipî [Tel Abyad].
But they will have to pass through our flesh to get to Kobani, and they are no longer advancing from the east."
A variety of forces contributed to the mobilization; 1,500 PKK fighters arrived in Kobani city to reinforce the YPG there, according to Kurdish sources.

In addition, forces loyal to both the Kurdistan Regional Government of Massoud Barzani and to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are set to arrive in Kobani.

The PUK forces, according to the organization's website, are currently on the Iraq-Syria border, waiting to deploy.

The YPG itself, meanwhile, is trying to push forces through from Ras al-Ain to Tel Abyad on the eastern edge of the enclave. A concerted Kurdish military effort is under way.

Suspicions remain regarding possible collusion between Turkish authorities and Islamic State. The Kurds have long maintained that at least in its initial phase, Islamic State was the beneficiary of Turkish support. Evidence has emerged of Turkish forces permitting Islamic State fighters to cross back and forth across the border during early clashes with the YPG.
The subsequent picture remains shrouded in ambiguity, as Turkey officially denies any relationship with Islamic State. But the release of 49 Turkish hostages by the terror movement this week under unclear circumstances has once more cast a spotlight on the possible complex connection between the two.

If the situation in Kobani holds, this will offer proof of the limitations of Islamic State forces. In Iraq, their advance has been stopped by the coordination of US air power with Iraqi and Kurdish forces. In Kobani, as of now at least, the jihadis appear to have been stalled by determined resistance on the ground alone. Yet the last chapter remains to be written.

Should Kobani fall, large-scale massacres of the type which befell the Yazidi communities in the Mount Sinjar area in August would inevitably follow; this is likely to result in a massive new refugee problem. Moreover, an Islamic State victory would consolidate the borders of the jihadi entity considerably.

The clash between Islamic State and the Kurdish autonomous areas also has broader ramifications than merely tactical military significance – it shows the extent to which "Iraq" and "Syria" have become little more than names.

In Kobani, two successor entities to these states are clashing. The Kurds have organized three autonomous cantons stretching east to west from the Syria-Iraq border to close to the Mediterranean coast. The Sunni jihadis, for their part, have organized their own "state," going southeast to northwest.

Kobani is the point at which these two projects collide. Hence, the outcome of the current fight will indicate the relative strength of these two very different projects.
Yet the clash itself offers a broader lesson regarding the shape of things to come, in the ethnic/sectarian war now raging across what was once Iraq and Syria.

*Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

There Really is an Aramean Nation

From Arutz Sheva, 27 September 2014, by Dr Mordwchai Kedar:

The Israeli Christians are part of the ancient Aramean people rather than Arabs

One of the last things Israel's Interior Minister Gideon Saar did before resigning from the Knesset was to recognize the Israeli Christians as members of the Aramean nation. The decision caused a media uproar, especially in the Arab sector, with most critics saying that there is no Aramaic nation and that the real reason for this step was an attempt to cause a split in the Arab population of Israel so as to "divide and conquer" and gain control of the Arab sector.

This calls for an investigation and an investigation into the veracity of an Aramean nation's existence must be conducted on two planes: the historic-lingual-religious one and the civilian one.

The Historic-Lingual-Religious Sphere
Middle Eastern history talks about an Aramean nation from the second half of the second millennium B.C.E., a Semitic people living in the Fertile Crescent of the western and northern Levant in an area that today includes the Land of Israel, northwest Jordan, Lebanon, north and west Syria, northern Iraq and lands along the Euphrates River. In the Bible and later Jewish sources there is mention of Aramean kingdoms, with geographic references: Aram Naharayim, Padan Aram, Aram Tzova, Aram Damascus and more.

The Aramaic language became the lingua franca in these areas, also spoken by other nations such as the Hebrews – even some of the books of the Tanach are written in that language.

During the first century B.C. E., the Assyrian people came onto the world stage, but their physical conquest of the area did not affect a change in language, and Aramaic continued to be the language prevalent in the Fertile Crescent for hundred of years. For example, the Babylonian Talmud that was formulated over the first five hundred years C.E., is replete with Aramaic, as is Jewish writing of the Gaonic period beginning in the ninth century. Jews, a defined religious and ethnic group, continued to use Aramaic as a language for study and prayer and still do.

Under Assyrian rule, there were clearly defined Aramean groups that preserved their lingual and religious heritage and tradition, a central fact in explaining the connection between Aramean people and Assyrians up to the present.

Greeks and Romans, who ruled the area from the fourth century B.C. E. until the fourth century C.E., did not bring about the disappearance of those Aramaic-speaking communities that embraced Christianity as a result of the Byzantine (Eastern Orthodox) takeover as the fourth century C.E. came to a close.

It is important to mention that Arabic originated in the Arabic peninsula, the southern part of the Middle East, whereas the historic languages of the Fertile Crescent are Aramaic, Assyrian, Persian and Hebrew.

The Muslim Arab tribes conquered the area in the seventh century, causing most of the population to convert to Islam and melt into Arab-Islamic culture. The Muslim religion and Arabic language became the norm in the region, replacing the original identity of those groups that Islamised into the Arab-Muslim groups, and thereby lost their unique characteristics.

In contrast, groups that remained loyal to their Christian religious tradition continued to be loyal to the Aramaic language that remained the liturgical language in their churches and was preserved in the written alphabet of their religious writings.

The Syriac-Aramean people are Eastern Orthodox Christians, but over the years they split into several denominations: the Marronite-Syriac, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Assyrian Catholic and the Assyrian Orthodox of Antioch.

The different denominations are the result of geographic distances and alliances with one of the three patriarchates that developed with time – Rome, Constantinople and Antioch. This variety is an indication of the long term presence of the Aramean peoples in the Fertile Crescent.

A unique language and religion preserved these groups – each one on its own – from being absorbed into the Muslim majority, mainly due to the prohibition of marrying out of their religion, similar to that of Druze, Allawites and Jews. That is how Aramaic communities, defined by ethnic, lingual and religious practice were preserved in the Fertile Crescent, as guarding over their culture led to their survival.

That is also why there is no reason not to recognize the existence of these Aramean groups, which have unique linguistic and religious definition as well as their own folklore.

In 1942 Dr. Edmond Mayer wrote a paper on the Lebanese and Assyrian Marronites in which he clearly stated that they were descendants of Syriac-Aramean peoples who lived in the area during the seventh century Muslim conquest. In 2005 Al Azhar University published a research project by Dr. Ahmad Makhmad Ali al Jamal in which he speaks of the Syriac-Aramean people as an existing fact in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Neighboring countries have Christian communities where the spoken language, and not only the liturgic one, is Aramaic. In Syria, there are Maalula, Bakhia, Hassake, Qamishli. In Turkey, Tur-Abdin, Mardin. In northern Iraq, Qaraqoush, Alqosh, Irbil (the Kurdish capital), Ankawa. There is evidence that until the late 10th century, the towns of Basri, Zarta, and their environs in the high Lebanese mountain area spoke Aramaic.

In an article broadcast on the Russia Today channel in 2008 about the Aramaic community of Maalula, a school for studying Aramaic was seen, and the writing on the blackboard was Assyrian square script, identical to the script introduced to the Jews by Ezra the Scribe in the early days of the Second Temple that replaced the ancient Canaanite script they had used until then.

Spoken Arabic in the Christian communities of the Levant differs from that of the Muslim, Druze and Alawite communities and emphasizes the cultural segregation of the Christian communities wishing to preserve their cultural autonomy as they managed to do throughout the period of Arab-Islamic rule in the region. These cultural attributes have given rise to the name "Syriac-Aramaic" or Syriac for short. The most famous of the Syriac groups are the Maronites, most of whom live in Lebanon. Some of their prayer texts are in Aramaic.

The Civil Sphere in the Fertile Crescent
Syriac-Aramaic communities are to be found today in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. What they have in common is the combination of the Christian religion and the Aramaic language, the latter used mostly for prayer, and the recognition as an official, definitive group.

The modern states of Iraq and Syria, founded about 70 years ago, tried valiantly to create a sense of united nationhood, Arab-Iraqi in Iraq, Arab-Syrian in Syria. This national consciousness was expected to erase tribal loyalties, ethnic, religious and sectorial loyalties and planting in their stead a modern sense of brotherhood that would result in civic tranquility and regime stability.  For this reason, modern ideologies such as nationalism, patriotism, Arab and Baath socialism were copied from European ideologies that filled the intellectual vacuum of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Syrian attempt to erase particularistic identities and turn all the country's citizens into Arab Syrians who believe in the Baath with all their heart, is described clearly in my doctoral thesis on Syrian media, titled "The Public Poitical Language of the Assad Regime in Syria", 1998.

For the past three and a half years, from the beginning of the Arab Tempest, the ability to rule as an established modern state in Iraq and Syria declined, and it became obvious to all that the imported European ideologies were not really absorbed by the masses who stayed by and large loyal to their traditional frameworks, the tribe, the ethnic group, the religion and the sector.

Most Muslims define themselves in words that are more and more religious and ethnic, and as a result the Christian minorities have turned into strangers and heretics rather than fellow citizens. Persecution and damage to churches, property and lives have made many of them immigrate to other countries, mainly Europe.

In an attempt to stem the Christian exodus from Iraq, in 2014 the Iraqi Parliament passed a law that gives the Syriac-Aramaic language official status, parallel to that of Arabic, Kurdish, Turkmanic and Armenian. This is important for our thesis as the Iraqi government does not need to find reasons that will distance the various groups in the country from one another, it would rather stress unifying factors in an attempt to create a unified Iraqi national consciousness. With this in mind, the decision to recognize the Syriac-Aramaic language bears witness to the existence of a viable Aramean group.

The terrible conditions under which they live and the persecutions they endure have caused many of the Christian communities of the Middle East to emigrate to the West, where they continue to preserve their culture and language. Aramaic is their language for prayer and spirituality wherever they are on the globe: Sweden, Cyprus, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Romania, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, America, Canada, Australia, Western Europe, South Africa and any place with a Syriac-Aramaic community and church, whether Maronite, Orthodox or Catholic,  that hails from the Middle East and especially from Syria and Lebanon.

The Situation in Israel
In Israel, there is no unified definitive community of Arabic-speaking Christians and the state sees them as Arabs for the most part, part of the Arab sector. However, as the years passed, the state recognized two groups: the Cherkassians and the Druze. The Circassians, who are Muslim, were defined because of their language, ethnic origin and cultural heritage which originated in the Caucasian mountains. The Druze are recognized because of their religion, social norms and marriage customs that serve to isolate them from the Muslims that live in their neighborhoods. A similar situation exists within the Aramean community, where the tendency is to marry only Aramean people, 

The Aramean people do not have a unique religion, but are Christians like all other Christians. They are not a specific Christian subgroup or sect either because some are Catholic and others Orthodox. All that is left is their self-defining ethno-lingual characteristic as the communal basis for their collective existence, based on their history and not on the civilian reality in the Fertile Crescent.

They share many similarities with the Jews:
● They are a minority with deep roots in the history and geography of the region
● They are different from the demographic majority of the region in which they live
● They have their own language for liturgical purposes
● They are persecuted for being "different"
● They have the ambition to be recognized as a definitive group

That is why it would be the right thing to do if Israel recognized the Syriac-Aramean groups as an ethnic group like the Druze and Circassians and allow those Christians who belong to Eastern denominations to be recorded in the population registry as Arameans of the Christian religion, if they so wish.

Abbas disseminates his hatred and lies at the UN

From Times of Israel, 27 Sept 2014:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after addressing the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Timothy A. Clary)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after addressing the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Timothy A. Clary) 

The United States on Friday slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the United Nations, in which he accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians, saying it was “offensive” and undermined peace efforts. 
“President Abbas’s speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.  
“Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties,” she added.
In Abbas’s address to the UN General Assembly, he demanded an end to the occupation, accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in Gaza and asserted that Palestinians faced a future in a “most abhorrent form of apartheid” under Israeli rule.

Earlier, Israeli leaders reacted with anger and scorn to Abbas’s address, with one official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office accusing the PA president of incitement.

In his address, Abbas accused Israel of committing genocide in its recent conflict with terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip — calling 2014 “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people” — and said that Israel was not interested in living in peace with its Palestinian neighbors.
“It’s a speech of incitement full of lies,” an unnamed source from the Prime Minister’s Office told the Hebrew press. “That’s not how someone who wants peace speaks.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement shortly after Abbas’s speech that the PA president demonstrated that 
“he doesn’t want to be, and cannot be, a partner for a logical diplomatic resolution.
“It’s no coincidence that he joined a [national consensus] government with Hamas,” the foreign minister added. “Abbas complements Hamas when he deals with diplomatic terrorism and slanders Israel with false accusations.
“As long as he’s chairman of the Palestinian Authority, he will continue the conflict. He is the continuation of [late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat through different means,” continued Liberman.
West Bank settler group foreign envoy Dani Dayan responded to the PA chief’s speech by saying that Abbas was the “broadcaster for Hamas” and that the Fatah party leader had delivered one of his most “libelous, defamatory and self-righteous speeches.”
In one of his most libelous, defamatory & self-righteous speeches ever, Abbas read a Hamas-inspired speech, ending with lip service to peace— DaniDayan (@dandayan) September 26, 2014 
The former Yesha Council chairman said in English on Twitter that “by using the word ‘genocide,’ Abbas gave up the empathy of the Israeli public, including most of the left.”

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Qatar supports jihadism

From The Jerusalem Center, September 23, 2014:

  • Qatar is unquestionably engaged in international terrorist financing. According to the U.S. Treasury’s division for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas.”
  • Qatar aids Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al Nusra, al-Qaeda affiliates, Libyan Islamists, and even ISIS.
  • The key Qatari link to the Muslim Brotherhood has been Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who broadcasts on Qatar’s al Jazeera. In 2002, his foundation was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
  • Through the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar has attempted to undermine Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family believe they are “worthy of challenging Riyadh [Saudi Arabia].” ...
Follow the link to read the full report.

Erdoğan’s Flying Carpet Unravels

From Asia Times Online, September 23, 2014, by Spengler:

...Turkey’s financial position is one of the world’s great financial mysteries, in fact, a uniquely opaque puzzle: the country has by far the biggest foreign financing requirement relative to GDP among all the world’s large economies, yet the sources of its financing are impossible to trace.

...At around 8% of GDP, Turkey’s current account deficit is a standout among emerging markets. It is at the level of Greece before its near-bankruptcy in 2011. Where is the money coming from to cover it?

A great deal of it is financed by short-term debt, mainly through borrowings by banks.

Little of this appears on the Bank for International Settlements tables of Western banks’ short-term lending to other banks, which means that the source of the bank loans lies elsewhere than in the developed world. Gulf State banks are almost certainly the lenders, by process of elimination.

Recently...the rate of growth of bank borrowing has tapered off. What has replaced bank loans?

According to Turkey’s central bank, the main source of new financing cannot be identified: It appears on the books of the central bank as “errors and omissions”.

Analysts close to Turkey’s ruling party claim that the unidentified flows represent a political endorsement from Turkey’s friends in the Gulf States. Quoted in Al-Monitor, political scientist Mustafa Sahin boasted: “The secret of how Turkey avoided the 2008 global economic crisis is in these mystery funds. The West suspects that Middle East capital is entering Turkey without records, without being registered. Qatar and other Muslim countries have money in Turkey. These unrecorded funds came to Turkey because of their confidence in Erdoğan and the Muslim features of the AKP and the signs of Turkey restoring its historic missions.”

It seems clear from the data that short-term bank lending and mystery inflows have been interchangeable means of covering Turkey’s deficit. When the growth of bank lending slowed, errors and omissions rose during the past eight years, and vice versa.

This continuing trade-off suggests that bank lending and mystery inflows have a common origin, presumably in the Gulf States. But it seems unlikely that Qatar is the main source of funds for Turkey, simply because its resources are too small to cover the gap. Qatar shares Turkey’s enthusiasm for political Islam in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, but there are alternative explanations. Despite its historical dislike for its former Ottoman overlord and strong disagreement about the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia may want to influence Turkey as a Sunni counterweight to Iran’s influence in the region.

If mystery attends Turkey’s past economic performance, the future is all the cloudier. Erdoğan’s power rests on his capacity to deliver jobs. The country’s economic performance has depended in turn on extremely rapid credit growth...

According to Moody’s, 80% Turkish corporate loans are denominated in foreign currency, which bears far lower interest rates than local-currency loans, but entails foreign exchange risk: a devaluation of Turkey’s currency would increase the debt-service costs of over-levered Turkish borrowers. Credit to Turkey’s private sector is still growing at more than 20% year-on-year, down from a peak of 45% in 2010, but remains extremely fast.

Despite the extremely rapid rate of credit growth, Turkey’s economy has stalled. Turkey reported 2% annualized growth in real GDP during the second quarter, but a detailed look at the economy shows a far direr picture. Manufacturing and construction are falling while inflation is surging.

New housing permits, meanwhile, are down by almost 40% year-on-year for single-family homes, and negative for all categories of construction (measured by square meter of planned new space).

The biggest contribution to reported GDP growth during the second quarter came from the finance sector. In short, the central bank is counting the banks’ contribution to the lending bubble as a contribution to growth. That is absurd, considering that most of the increase in lending to the private sector is to help debtors pay their interest on previous loans. A fairer accounting would show zero growth or even a decline in Turkey’s GDP....

During the run-up to the 2014 elections, construction employment increased sharply even while employment in other branches of the economy declined.

Judging from the plunge in building permits, though, this source of support for Turkey’s economy disappeared during the first half of 2014.

That leaves the mystery investors in Turkey holding an enormous amount of risk in the Turkish currency. Turkey’s currency has fallen by half against the US dollar, cheapening the cost of Turkish assets to foreign investors. The Turkish lira nearly collapsed in January, but the country’s central bank stopped its decline by raising interest rates. The lira has been slipping again, and the central bank has let rates rise to try to break the fall.

Despite the largesse of the Gulf States, Turkey is locked into a vicious cycle of currency depreciation, higher interest rates, and declining economic activity. Turkish voters stood by Erdoğan in last March’s national elections, believing that he was the politician most likely to deliver jobs and growth. But his ability to do so is slipping. If the Turkish lira drops sharply, the cost of debt service to Turkish companies will become prohibitive, while the cost of imports and ensuing inflation will depress Turkish incomes. 

By some measures Turkey already is in a recession, and it is at risk of economic free-fall.

... For the past dozen years he has made himself useful enough to his neighbors to stay in business. His magic carpet is unraveling, though, and his triumph in the March elections may turn out to be illusory much sooner than most analysts expect.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

United States Attack in Syria Parallels Israel's in Gaza

Hamas-Fatah Rivalry Rages Unabated

From the Times of Israel, 22 September 2014, by Elhanan Miller:

Classes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis have been disrupted by the screams and shouts of political prisoners being interrogated by Hamas security forces in a nearby building, an official Palestinian Authority daily reported. 

As "reconciliation talks" between Fatah and Hamas resumed in Cairo on Monday, Ramallah-based Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah claimed that pupils in a girls’ school in central Khan Younis have been affected by fear and horror as a result of the torture...

Despite having formed a "unity government of technocrats" on June 2, the political schism between the two rival movements remains as deep as ever, with Abbas openly accusing Hamas of scheming to topple him and of instigating the recent round of violence with Israel.

Many anonymous testimonies were sent to the daily by students fearing reprisal for complaining openly. “M,” a new student at the school, asked her counterpart “A” about the origin of the shrieks and was told that the building next door belonged to Hamas police’s General Investigations Department.

Another student, “S,” said she was “really fearful” of the nearby police station, stating that “police should maintain law and order and not arouse angst through perpetual police car traffic and the coming and going of suspects being questioned.

Hamas has branded accusations such as those expressed by Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah a "smear campaign instigated by Fatah", which continues to oppress and harass Hamas operatives in the West Bank. 

On Sunday, West Bank security agencies arrested six Hamas operatives and summoned two for questioning, Hamas’s Palestinian Information Center news website reported.

The Islamic movement [Hamas] — which banished Fatah from the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup in 2007 — continues to run its own ministry of interior in the coastal enclave, responsible for the multiple security forces active there...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Arab Bank found guilty for aiding terror attacks in Israel on 300 Americans

From the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Monday, September 22, 2014, by JOHN MARZULLI:

After a five-week trial in federal [US] court, the plaintiffs — bombing victims or their relatives— convinced panelists that Arab Bank either knowingly or with willful blindness transferred millions of dollars to charities controlled by Hamas and to families of suicide bombers between 2001 and 2004. Another jury will decide monetary damages.

Arab Bank's main office, pictured, is in Amman, Jordan, but it also has a branch in New York City — where a federal jury found the institution liable for funneling money to terrorists.
Arab Bank's main office, pictured, is in Amman, Jordan, but it also has a branch in New York City — where a federal jury found the institution liable for funneling money to terrorists.

In a historic verdict, a Brooklyn federal civil jury on Monday found Arab Bank liable for 24 terrorist attacks that killed or wounded nearly 300 U.S. citizens in Israel.
“This is an enormous milestone,” plaintiffs' lawyer Gary Osen said. “This is the first financial institution held liable for knowingly supporting terrorism.”
After a five-week trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, the plaintiffs proved that Arab Bank either knowingly or with willful blindness transferred millions of dollars to charities controlled by the Hamas terror group and to families of suicide bombers between 2001 and 2004.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
Josh Faudem, who survived a 2003 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, is shown in August outside Brooklyn Federal Court after he testified in the civil trial against Arab Bank.

Arab Bank argued that its hands were clean of blood because the charities were humanitarian groups that were not designated as terrorist organizations by the United States or any other government.

“The plaintiff's evidence was a mile wide and an inch deep,” Arab Bank's lead lawyer Shand Stephens said outside court. He predicted the verdict would be reversed by a U.S. Court of Appeals.

Shand complained that the bank's defense was undermined by a federal judge's order that the jury could draw a negative inference from the fact that a mountain of bank customer records was concealed from the plaintiffs.

Juror Jill Rath told reporters that the issue was one of the smoking guns that convinced panelists  that Arab Bank was liable for the attacks.
“There was a great deal of knowledge in the bank about (Hamas),” Rath said.
No date has been set for a new jury to be selected to decide the amount of monetary damages.

The mother of Steve Averbach, who was mortally wounded in the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv, said the Arab Bank was just as culpable as the suicide bombers and she was sorry it faced only a monetary penalty and not criminal charges.

“I'm disappointed the United States didn't protect its citizens,” Maida Averbach, 76, said.

Gaza War's Economic Impact on Israel Was Minor

From Globes [online], Israel business news, September 21, 2014:

International rating agency Standard & Poor's has reiterated its sovereign ratings for Israel, and sees the fiscal effects of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as minor.
"In our view, the recent Gaza conflict will lead to only a modest weakening of Israel's fiscal trajectory. Although Israel may temporarily reverse its fiscal consolidation, we expect its gross general government debt ratio to remain largely flat in the next three years," the agency says in affirming its 'A+/A-1' foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Israel, with a stable outlook.
"The stable outlook reflects our view that the government will maintain stable public finances and that the impact of security risks on the Israeli economy will be contained..." 
As far as Operation Protective Edge is concerned, the agency writes,
"Although the recent fighting in Gaza is a reminder of the long-term threat posed by geopolitical risks, we consider that in the short term, the effect will only be to accentuate the economic slowdown and modestly weaken the fiscal account. The fighting has not changed our view of Israel's core credit strengths, such as its prosperous and diverse economy, the contribution of natural gas production to a healthy external balance, and its relatively flexible monetary framework." 
The operation is however reflected in a reduction in Standard & Poor's growth projections for the Israeli economy. "Economic activity was already slowing in the first half of 2014, and the July-August fighting is likely to have constrained economic activity in the third quarter as well. As a result, we are lowering our projection for 2014 real GDP growth to 2.3%, which represents the lowest rate of growth since 2009, nearly one point lower than our estimate six months ago. The new projection includes an estimated contribution from new natural gas production of about 0.3%.

For 2015-2017, we forecast that GDP growth will return to 2012-2013 levels, slightly above 3%. In per capita terms, this equates to trend growth of slightly less than 1.5% per year. Income per capita is now above $38,000, making Israel one of the highest-income economies, in our view. Israel's trend growth is also at the higher spectrum of its peer group," Standard & Poor's analyst Elliot Hentov writes.

Gazans Speak Out against Hamas War Crimes

Hamas casualty propaganda campaign

From the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center (ITIC), 17 Sept 2014:

An examination of about a third of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge revealed several instances of children and teenagers serving as military operatives in the terrorist organizations. The examination also revealed instances in which the ages of Palestinian casualties were falsified by Gaza's Hamas-controlled ministry of health. For example, boys aged 15 and 17 were integrated into the terrorist operative networks; the age of a nine year-old terrorist auxiliary was listed as 24; and a terrorist operative in his twenties was listed as 13 years of age.

Children and teenagers in Gaza's educational system undergo basic military training in the schools and summer camps. Using them as auxiliaries and sometimes as operatives... is not limited to isolated cases although at this stage it is difficult to estimate the extent of the phenomenon.

Using a Child as a Terrorist Auxiliary and Hiding His Age
The ITIC's ongoing examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge revealed the case of a 9 year-old child, who was assisting his uncle, a senor Hamas operative in the ...central Gaza Strip. The boy and his uncle were killed in an IDF attack. They were listed as casualties by the Palestinian ministry of health. The boy ...was nine years old (born in 2005). However, according to the list issued by Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, was 24 years old ....listing his age as 24 was not an innocent technical error but rather a deliberate falsification whose objective was to conceal the fact that a child was exploited for terrorist activities....

Using the Death of a Terrorist to boost civilian casualty numbers
[On the other hand] ...The Palestinian ministry of health listed Ibrahim Jamal Kamal Nasr, from Khan Yunis, who was killed on July 18, 2014, as a "13 year-old boy." In reality, he was in his twenties and a terrorist operative in Fatah's Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades. was not an innocent technical error but the deliberate insertion into the list of a "13 year-old boy" with a name similar to that of the terrorist operative who was killed....

See the full report for many instances of detailed evidence.

ISIS reaches out to Egyptian insurgents

From Al Arabiya News, Monday, 22 September 2014:

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) called on insurgents in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday to press ahead with attacks against Egyptian security forces and continue beheadings. (Photo courtesy: Youtube) 

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) called on insurgents in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday to press ahead with attacks against Egyptian security forces and continue beheadings, an announcement likely to deepen concerns over ties between the militant groups.
 "Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure," ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in a statement released online.
Adnani also called on supporters to kill citizens of countries taking part in the U.S.-led anti-militant coalition by any available means.
"If you can kill a disbelieving American or European -- especially the spiteful and filthy French -- or an Australian, or a Canadian... including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him..." ...
The United States and France are carrying out air strikes against IS targets across Iraq and are seeking to build an international coalition against a group increasingly perceived as a global threat.

Ajnad Misr
Also on Monday, an Egyptian militant group claimed responsibility for Sunday's bomb blast in a busy downtown Cairo street near the Foreign Ministry that killed two senior police officers and wounded several other policemen.

Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, which claimed previous attacks on police, said in a statement posted late Sunday on its Twitter account and on a militant website.

The group said it used an explosive device on "officers of the criminal apparatus" as part of its campaign against security forces.

 It said the attacks will not stop until "the ruling tyrants fall and God's Shariah is established."