Friday, September 13, 2013

‘Russia, Iran and Syria Defeated America’

FromArutzSheva, 12 Sept 2013, by Maayana Miskin: 

Former Israeli ambassador to the US: Iran-Syria-Russia victory signals an end to U.S. deterrence in the Middle East.
Pres. Obama and Pres. Assad
Pres. Obama and Pres. Assad
Obama - Flash90 Assad - AFP
Iran, Syria and Russia have effectively defeated the United States, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Meir Rosenne has warned.
... U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to back down on intervention in Syria, and to go along with a Russian initiative instead, will have severe repercussions for American foreign policy.
“The message to the world is that the United States no longer has the influence it once had. This is a very bad sign regarding what is likely to unfold in this region in the near future...Syria and Iran now see that there is a difference between what the United States says, and what it does...”
Obama had previously defined the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a “red line,” but has agreed to respond to a chemical weapons attack near Damascus with an attempt to implement a Russian plan for disarmament, rather than with an airstrike campaign as originally threatened.
...“... the impression is that Assad can keep on murdering his citizens using conventional means, and the West will not oppose him...There is no U.S. military victory here. The diplomatic solution that talks about oversight on chemical weapons does not talk about removing them from Syria.”
American deterrence was already on the decline, he said, due to a similar change of heart on the part of the U.S. administration.
“When it came to Iran, American announced in the past that if the uranium enrichment continued it would attack, and that didn’t happen...”
America has now lost all deterrence in the Middle East...
...US dithering on Syria [is] a sign of weakness, and a reason not to rely on America at times of crisis.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Oslo, Twenty Years Later: “We tried to make peace ...and failed"

From  BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 213, September 10, 2013, by  :    

Oslo Accords

The abject failure of the Oslo Accords has had a salutary effect on Israeli society. Israelis are today quite resilient; ready to endure – if necessary – protracted conflict, until the Palestinians adopt reasonable positions. Israelis are also quite understandably unwilling to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians.
The Oslo process – started between Israel and the Palestinians 20 years ago – clearly failed to bring a resolution to the conflict, and did not result in a peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. The nearly 1,500 Israeli casualties and many more thousands of wounded during this period by Palestinian terrorist and rocket attacks testify to this failure. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s land-for-security formula did not work. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority (PA), established within the framework of the Oslo process, now rules in the West Bank and promotes anti-Israel hatred through its education system and controlled media. Furthermore, Hamas, an Islamist organization dedicated to destroy the Jewish state, rules Gaza, continuing the armed struggle against Israel.
The current peace negotiations are unlikely to change the status quo. The chances that they will lead to the establishment of a stable, unified, and peaceful Palestinian state are nil. The differences in positions, particularly on refugees and Jerusalem, are unbridgeable. Moreover, the PA has displayed considerable difficulties in state building, and the resulting entity borders on a failed state. It failed to meet the essential test of statehood, monopoly over the use of force, and subsequently lost control over part of its territory, Gaza. It is hard to imagine the PA surviving without the infusion of billions of dollars of international aid. The PA mirrors the deep socio-economic and political crisis of several Arab states, putting a big question mark on the capacity of the Arab political culture to sustain modern states. Finally, both sides of the ethno-religious conflict still have the energy to fight over the things important to them. Such protracted conflicts usually end only if at least one side displays great weariness of the conflict.
Therefore, twenty years after Oslo we are left with the entrenchment of two revisionist Palestinian national movements, one traditional and one Islamist, in parts of Palestine. Palestinian-controlled territories are nothing more than local bases of terror against Israel. Yet, Palestinian terror has largely been contained and more vigorous Israeli actions could further limit its impact on Israeli lives.
The Palestinian ability to exact great political cost is somewhat exaggerated as long as Israel benefits from moderate American diplomatic support. Appeals to ineffective international forums can be ignored, while some international institutions have only limited impact. Similarly, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has largely failed, although some of its long-range ramifications should be a source of concern. Significantly, most world states prefer not to link their bilateral relations with Israel to the oscillations in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
...the awareness that the Palestinians are not ripe for statehood has slowly spread into foreign policy decision-making forums. Subsequently, we also can detect greater international indifference to the Palestinian issue, particularly among Arab states, as plenty of crises in the Middle East and elsewhere attract greater attention.
All of the above means that the conflict with the Palestinians will not end any time soon, but that the situation is bearable. Israel’s strategy in the past decade, conflict management rather than conflict resolution, should continue. Israel must display willingness to negotiate boldly and make concessions. In fact, the continuing turmoil in the Middle East sensitizes the international community to Israel’s security needs, which reduces pressures for meeting impossible Palestinian territorial demands.
Israel must also point out that the fractured Oslo process has brought about one more partition of Palestine (the Land of Israel). The first partition, imposed by the British colonial power, took place in 1922, when 75 percent of mandatory Palestine, the area east of the Jordan River, was taken away from the Jewish national home to be given to a throne-less Hashemite to establish the Jordanian Kingdom. A second partition, this time of western Palestine, was the result of the Arab conquests in the 1948 War (Jordan took control of the “West Bank” and Egypt of the Gaza Strip), leading to the so-called “1967 borders,” which were actually erased following the Arab aggression in 1967.
The Oslo process amounts to a third partition because it led to a situation where eventually more than 95 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and all of the Palestinians in Gaza are living under Palestinian rule. As we have seen in other parts of the world, partitions can be messy and without clear-cut political outcomes.
The limited Israeli military presence in the West Bank is only marginally concerned with the welfare of the Palestinians; the security of the Israelis is its main goal. Israel is no longer responsible for the Palestinians and they are on their own. Despite the anti-Israel rhetoric, the “occupation” of the Palestinians has practically ended. Anyone visiting Ramallah, with its cafes and shopping centers, can see it for himself.
While the Oslo process failed to attain peace and security for Israel, it was conducive to a partition of the Land of Israel, relieving Israel of the Palestinian burden. Most Israelis have supported the traditional Zionist pro-partition position. They also supported the withdrawal from Gaza and the establishment of a security barrier that signal a desire to disengage from territories heavily populated by Arabs.
Israeli society paid dearly for the Oslo experiment. It can honestly say, “We tried to make peace with the Palestinians,” which is a prerequisite for treating future armed conflict as a “no-choice (Ein Breira) war.” Such an attitude, prevalent during the Oslo years, has been central in forging great Israeli resilience to withstand protracted conflict, and an unwillingness to make dangerous concessions.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Obama's second term: first instalment...

From PJ Media, 3 Sept 2013, by Barry Rubin:

We have just entered a new era with the Middle East ...the [Obama] administration has crossed a line and is now backing the “bad guys.”
This is literally true in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Bahrain (with U.S. support for the opposition), Qatar, and Turkey. In some ways, as we will see, the war on terrorism has become the war for terrorism...
The real Obama administration position on Israel is that Netanyahu and Israel refuse to be moderate and flexible, unlike Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. This despite Netanyahu releasing 100 terrorist murderers in exchange for nothing, and Abbas’ constant inflexibility, escalation of demands, and rejection of U.S. strategy on the peace process. The Obama administration also finds Netanyahu to be less moderate and flexible than Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, despite the latter’s throwing intellectuals and journalists in prison, betraying U.S. strategy on Iran, backing anti-American Islamists, and sending former army officers for long jail terms on phony charges.
...The president is a set ideologue and will not learn, and with the current “ruling class” elitist Congress and remarkably cowardly and partisan media, nothing will change. The situation will only get worse, and the administration’s position more obvious.
...eight things ...will almost certainly happen during the remainder of Obama’s term...

The first one:
1. Israel cannot depend on the United States.
This doesn’t mean that Obama and others will not provide military aid or say nice words at every event. But there is no commitment that one can assume would be fulfilled nor any Israeli initiative that will actually be implemented. The idea that Obama and his team are the greatest friends of Israel is a deadly insult. The United States has undermined Israel on many issues: Egypt (by supporting a hostile Muslim Brotherhood government); Tunisia (ditto); Sinai (by enabling an insurgency); Hamas (by the desire to keep the Brotherhood — an ally of Hamas — in power in Cairo); Turkey (by supporting the Islamist, anti-Israel government); Syria (by supporting radical Syrian Islamists); Europe (by not supporting the Israeli position on the peace process); America itself (by encouraging anti-Israel forces among the Jewish community and within Obama’s constituency); Palestinians (by the lack of criticism or pressure on Palestinian Authority).
And that’s a partial list.
Further, the most dangerous, insulting argument comes from Secretary of State John Kerry. He has repeatedly said the following (this is also a theme of administration supporters, including Jews):
The greatest danger to Israel is if Israel does not get peace soon.
This is an absurd lie. The greatest danger to Israel would be accepting a dangerous and unworkable peace agreement that the other side would not implement. In other words, the greatest danger for Israel would be to listen to the bad advice of Obama, Kerry, and their supporters.
Who should be more knowledgeable about the situation and more aware of Israel’s real interests, Israel or America? Do people think that Obama knows better than Israelis, that he cares more? That’s absurd and insulting. Of course, people assume that states and political leaderships put their own interests first, whether or not they understand this. And that lays the basis for overruling Israel’s democracy.
For example, a survey by the dovish Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) showed 65.6 percent of Israelis questioned did not expect to see a deal in talks between Israel and the Palestinians within a year. And if you take into the account the “don’t knows” and “no opinions,” that increases the percentage. Outrageously, the Reuters story on the polling notes the following:
The talks resumed last month after a three-year hiatus.
Actually, except for one week, there have not been real talks for 13 years. The article also notes:
Even if the Israeli government managed to defy skeptics and secure an accord, the poll … suggested it would struggle to sell it to its people.
This is obviously wrong, as the government and the vast majority of Israel’s people agree with each other. But the U.S. government and its supporters believe that the Israeli government — in partnership with Obama — should betray the beliefs, aspirations, and security of the Israeli people.
This does not only include Jewish settlements, even for those willing to give every one up for real, lasting peace. In fact, 55.5 percent of the Israeli people and 63 percent of Israeli Jews said they were against Israel agreeing to return to the 1967 lines, even if there were land swaps which would enable some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to remain part of Israel. It is not the terms ostensibly offered, but the credibility of the United States and the Palestinians. Mind you, the figure is even higher, because most people feel that this simply won’t work in terms of providing more security and stability.
Israel is not naïve. It was walking down a dark alley and thought that kindly old Uncle Sam — perhaps a bit grumpier lately — had his back, then looked to them for support only to find another enemy. Yet you will never ever hear an Israeli politician admit that.
Read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo on the talks and the prisoner release. It reads as if he saw a ghost; he is trying to signal something very grim and serious and there is no implication that he believes in any possibility of compensation for this concession. Faced with a wasted effort of a unilateral Palestinian prisoner release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government went along with it because they realized the indifference of the United States to Israel’s interests was extremely high. They realized that Congress was hypnotized that the Jewish community, in its Obama worship, was largely neutralized; and that rather than fighting European hostility, the White House was conducting it.
Looking over their shoulder in the misty night, they realized that a monster was following them. If you read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo to the Israeli people as to why the terrorist prisoners were released, you get that clear signal. They realized that the Obama administration was extremely dangerous and that it was necessary to buy time.
Of course, the talks will not go anywhere because the Palestinians know they have a strong hand, and they will overplay it. But the administration’s willingness to punish Israel to win public relations points and to shore up the doomed U.S. alignment with Islamists has to be reckoned with, and for the next few years.


Are there any "moderates" in Syria?

From PJ Media, 6 Sept 2013, by Jonathan Spyer:

For elected representatives and the public to have the necessary discussion regarding action in Syria, it is crucial that a clear picture of the realities on the ground in Syria be presented.
Regarding the Assad regime and its apologists, nothing needs to be cleared up. This is a regime characterized by murderous brutality since it first emerged in the 1960s. It has been perhaps the single most destabilizing factor in the Levant throughout the years of its existence. An apparent use of nerve gas against its own civilians fits entirely with the more general pattern of its behaviour.
But as the U.S. grapples with the issue of what, if anything, is to be done, it is clear that a rival campaign of deception is underway: an attempt to present the Syrian armed rebels as consisting in the main of “moderate” and pro-democratic forces. If only that were so:
in reality, the spectrum of orientation among the observable Syrian rebel units spans from a Muslim Brotherhood-type outlook to open identification with al-Qaeda.
This means the most “moderate” rebel units share the ideas of former President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. And Hamas.
Let’s take a closer look. According to the most authoritative studies on the subject, there are three main blocs among the Syrian rebels.
The most radical element is the al-Qaeda-type groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). The latter is the direct descendant of the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi of Iraq’s organization. (For those who don’t remember, this individual was known as a brutal sectarian murderer of Iraqi Shia before he was killed by U.S. forces.) Much evidence has emerged showing that his current followers are faithful adherents to his methods. Also, both of these groups are openly and directly loyal to the core al-Qaeda group led by Ayman al-Zawahiri.
A second, larger bloc consists of openly anti-democratic Salafi Islamist fighters, gathered together as the Syrian Islamic Front bloc.
The main element of this grouping is the powerful Ahrar al-Sham militia.
These groups have been prominent in the fighting in northern Syria; they are responsible for capturing the single provincial capital to fall to the rebels: Raqqa. Today, Raqqa has exchanged the repression of the Assads for the repression of the Islamists.
Then we have the third bloc, the largest collection of brigades. These are the ones who we are encouraged to see as “moderate” and “democratic.”
The main element of this third bloc is called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. Its 20 constituent units are loyal to the Western-supported Supreme Military Council (SMC), or General Staff of the Military and Revolutionary Forces. They include some of the most powerful rebel brigades, including Liwa al-Islam in the Damascus area, the Tawhid Brigade of Aleppo, and the Farouq Brigades.
The SMC is headed by former Syrian Army Major General Salim Idris. It is today responsible for the distributing of Western and Gulf assistance to the rebels, and on this basis has secured the loyalty of most of the SILF rebel units. (A number of smaller factions, including Afhad al-Rasul and Asifat al-Shamal, also align with the SMC, though not the SILF.)
All of the groups mentioned here pledge allegiance to some form of Sunni Islamism.
I have made several trips to rebel-controlled northern Syria over the last year. In September 2012, I interviewed one of the senior commanders of the Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo, and I spent several days traveling with the brigade’s fighters at the height of the fighting there. I also interviewed members of the emergent Sharia councils in the rebel-controlled areas.
Alignment with the SMC is the passport to receiving Western-approved money and guns. But there is little reason to believe that these brigades regard themselves as under orders to General Idris because of this affiliation.
The Syrian rebellion emerged in the impoverished rural Sunni Arab parts of Syria; these areas are tailor-made for the political style of the Muslim Brotherhood. This political style unmistakably characterizes the Tawhid, Farouq, and other powerful units engaged in the rebellion – yet it is these units which are being referred to when claims of “moderate” and “democratic” rebels are made.
The claims themselves are obviously disingenuous. I watched a recent broadcast during which an advocate for the rebels showed a chart referring to the SILF as the “Syrian Liberation Front” [the "Islamic" adjective omitted]. The deception was obvious, and contemptible.
The American people and their elected representatives need clear information in order to reach a decision on Syria. Yet what they are currently getting from pro-rebel mouthpieces is an attempt to re-brand Muslim Brotherhood-oriented militias as “moderate” and “democratic.” In reality, they resemble Morsi and Hamas.
Don’t be fooled.

Genocidal antisemitism has been stoked by the KGB for decades.

From PJ Media, 5 Sept 2013, by Dave Swindle:
Ion Mihai Pacepa

PJ columnist Ion Mihai Pacepa is a unique figure of 20th century history and he has performed the greatest, most profound of literary accomplishments: his 1987 memoir Red Horizons resulted in the execution of his former boss, the tyrant Nicolae Ceaușescu, and his accomplice wife by the liberated people of Romania. Pacepa is the former head of Romania’s communist espionage division. He was present with Ceaușescu at many of the most consequential meetings of the Soviet bloc. In 1978, after being tasked with arranging a murder, Pacepa chose to defect to the United States. He is the highest-ranking Soviet official to defect.
Since then Pacepa has established himself as the most valuable voice in understanding the effect of Soviet espionage as well as disinformation, the subject of his newest book.
It turns out that the Communists were more interested in confusing us than they were in stealing our technology and spy secrets. Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Attacking Religion, Undermining Freedom, and Promoting Terrorism turns back the curtain on a deeply misunderstood subject that has transformed America and the Middle East in ways that we’re still beginning to comprehend. Disinformation is the process of changing history and sabotaging a culture by flooding it with hateful ideas.
In understanding two disinformation tactics, our understanding of the Syrian conflict transforms. The Soviet Union’s decades of subversion in both the Middle East and America come into alignment. Pacepa describes two tactics which have now grown intermingled.
First, the KGB circulated hundreds of thousands of copies of Arabic translations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the conspiratorial forgery that asserts that Jews run the world and seek to oppress everyone else. The genocidal antisemitism that fuels both Islamist regimes and terrorist groups is a fire that has been stoked by hateful propaganda’s wide distribution for decades.
In the Western hemisphere the transmission of hatred against
[Second]...liberation theology — the faith of the church Barack Obama chose to attend for 20 years and where he baptized his children — is a KGB invention created specifically for the purpose of getting poor Christians to embrace socialism.
What is the practical effect on the Obama administration’s political decisions from the president soaking in two decades of Communist-inspired, conspiracist propaganda from his self-proclaimed mentor?
The president is wholly indifferent to hatred and antisemitism in the Muslim world. Thus the reality of Syria — that it amounts to one Jew-hating barbarian tribe going to war against another — does not register as the slightest problem for him. If he could ignore the antisemitism of his 20-year spiritual mentor, then should it surprise anyone that his administration ignores it on a global stage?
Last week Robert Fisk at the Independent summarized it in one headline: Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side? Yes, of course he does. He’s just so naive about human evil that he doesn’t regard it as a problem. But those who study 20th century history and take in the testimony of Ion Mihai Pacepa will know better…