Monday, June 12, 2017

Would you entrust your nation’s security to this man?

From The Australian,12 June 2017, by CHRIS UHLMANN:

Bob Carr: Would you entrust your nation’s security to this man?

There are many sins of commission in Bob Carr’s crack at ­debunking his straw man version of the Four Corners-Fairfax investigation into Beijing’s influence in Australia.

More fascinating are its sins of omission.

The joint investigation examined Chinese Communist Party activities that ranged from directing student groups, through threatening pro-democracy advocates to effectively controlling most Chinese-language media in Australia.

We also reported that, in 2015, ASIO warned the Liberal, Labor and National parties that two of their big donors had Chinese Communist Party links. The parties chose to keep taking money from both.

The two are Chinese-born billionaire property developers Chau Chak Wing and Huang ­Xiangmo. As we reported, Chau is an Australian citizen. Huang has applied for citizenship but it has stalled while ASIO assesses it.

Between them they have given $6.7 million to the Coalition and Labor, which puts the pair in the front rank of the most generous individual political donors in the land. They are also huge academic benefactors and have been particularly generous to University of Technology Sydney [UTS].

Carr does not name either, which is curious because he knows both men well.

As NSW premier, he employed Chau’s daughter as an adviser. Perhaps he believed this detail ­immaterial, and that is arguable.

But given Carr writes as director of the Australia China Relations Institute at UTS, then Huang surely rated a mention.

In 2014, Huang donated $1.8m to help set up ACRI. Two years later he boasted to Primrose Riordan, now of this newspaper, that he had hand-picked Carr for the ­director’s job.
“When we established the ­institute, ACRI, someone recommended an even more influential figure from politics to me but I ­decided to invite Bob Carr ­because I consider him to be a very good academic,” Huang said.
Others are less enthusiastic about ACRI’s academic credentials. The institute is at the heart of a live discussion among Australia’s universities over whether academic inquiry is being distorted by an over-reliance on Chinese money. That topic is worthy of its own investigation.

So let’s leave the case of Chau to one side and just examine the one piece of evidence that Carr will admit: that our story only turned up “a single big donation from a Chinese national”.

The nub of ASIO’s concern about Huang is that his money might come with strings attached, so we tested that idea.

We reported that in the lead-up to last year’s federal election, Huang pulled a $400,000 pledge to Labor, after its defence spokesman said Australia should let the navy challenge the 12-nautical-mile zones around the islands ­Beijing is militarising in the South China Sea.

The next day senator Sam Dastyari joined Huang at a press conference called exclusively for Chinese-language media. There Dastyari said: “The South China Sea is China’s own affair.”

Pause to consider how those words and images would have been interpreted when broadcast in China: an Australian politician standing beside a billionaire ­patron repudiating his party’s foreign policy and embracing Beijing’s. Then imagine what the Communist Party would do to the official and the donor if the circumstances were reversed.

A week later, as Huang continued to withhold the promised $400,000, he was front and centre at another press conference, where Labor announced it had put his political ally, businessman and active ALP member Simon Zhou, on the last spot on the ALP’s Senate ticket.

Huang spoke to China’s state broadcaster at the event.
“As China’s power keeps rising, the status of overseas Chinese is also rising,” he said.
“Now overseas Chinese realise that they need to make their ­voices heard in politics. To safeguard Chinese interests and let Australian ­society pay more ­attention to the Chinese.”
We also reported that Dastyari was so concerned about Huang’s stalled citizenship that he directly petitioned the Immigration ­Department about it on at least two occasions. Either he or his ­office called two more times. Labor says these were routine constituent matters.

Then there is the proximity of some of the donations to political events, including the parachuting of Huang’s ally, Ernest Wong, into NSW parliament. Wong stepped into the upper house seat vacated by a once-influential figure in the ALP right, Eric Roozendaal. Huang later employed Roozendaal.

So without access to ASIO’s resources, a reasonable person might conclude that there was some merit in the agency’s concerns about Huang.

Carr also dismisses the evidence of the Chinese embassy’s direct hand in organising students for mass events such as the welcome of Premier Li Keqiang. Again, he ignores a key point.

Nick McKenzie asked student leader Lupin Lu if she would tell the embassy if any students were organising a human rights protest. “Yes,” she said. “I would definitely, just to keep all the students safe and to do it for China as well.”

Carr ignores the 10-day detention and questioning in China of fellow UTS academic Feng Chongyi. Feng said the state ­security officials wanted details about his contacts in Australia and believed his interrogation was designed to send a signal to other academics not to trespass in sensitive areas. 

Carr’s critique also omits mention of the threats made by authorities against the China-based parents of Australian resident and pro-democracy advocate ­Anthony Chang.

Nor does he respond to the testimony of Don Ma that state ­security officials in Beijing forced a migration agent to stop adver­tising with his Australia-based, Chinese-language newspapers because he ran stories that irked the Communist Party.

This is not an exhaustive list, so it is hard to reconcile Carr’s ­assertion that every nation ­behaves here in the way that China does.

Our security agencies appear not to be as sanguine. ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis told parliament that 
espionage and foreign interference are occurring here “on an unprecedented scale”.
“And this has the potential to cause serious harm to the nation’s sovereignty, the integrity of our political system, our national ­security capabilities, our economy and other interests...” ...
Which man would you entrust your nation’s security to? ...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Qatar – the end of the road?

From Arutz Sheva, 9 June 2017, by Dr. Mordechai Kedar:

The Saudis and their Arab allies have had enough of Qatar and its media proxy al Jazeera's behavior. They intend to win this fight.

The Emirate of Qatar is a peninsula that juts out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf. The only overland route out of Qatar is by way of Saudi Arabia and if that route is blocked, the only way to reach Qatar or leave it is by air or sea. However, flights to and from Qatar pass over Saudi air space part of the time and ships from or to Qatar have to pass through Saudi territorial waters. This means that Saudi Arabia can in effect declare a total blockade on Qatar if it so desires. It has never done so before, but it began the process on June 5th.

In addition to a blockade, the Saudis, joined by the United Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Mauritius, the Philippines and the Maldives, cut off diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar.  Egypt, Libya and the Emirates declared that they would ban Qatari plans and ships from their air space and territorial waters. In 2014, these countries took much milder steps in order to punish Qatar, cancelling them once Qatar agreed to accept the dictates of the Umma and signed the Riyadh agreement along with the rest of the Arab nations.

The reasons provided by the countries involved for the unprecedented severity of the current steps against Qatar included: 
  • "Qatar aids the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS and Jebhat al-Nusrah" 
  • "The Emir of  Qatar has declared that Iran is a good nation" 
  • "Qatar destabilizes our regime," 
  • " Qatar provides hiding places and shelter to Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled there from Egypt," and 
  • "Qatar is giving aid to  the Houthi rebels (read Shiites) in Yemen."

Another and most subtle reason, whose source is a Kuwaiti commentator, appears on al Jazeera's site: "Qatar refused to meet Trump's financial demands." This odd remark relates to a rumor on Facebook and other social network sites claiming that before Trump agreed to come to the Riyadh Arab League Conference, he demanded the Gulf Emirates purchase US arms in the legendary sum of one and a half trillion dollars, to be divided among Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Emirates. The three agreed, but Qatar pulled out at the last minute, causing the Emirates to follow suit, and leaving the Saudis holding the bill demanded by Trump.   The falling through of this deal, the largest in history, may have been the reason for Trump's noticeably grim face in Riyadh.

Claiming that Qatar causes the destabilization of regimes is a veiled hint referring to al Jazeera which broadcasts from Qatar.

Al Jazeera - ramming propaganda down it's viewers throats, as usual....

Every since it began broadcasting in 1996 from the capital city of Qatar, Doha, al Jazeera has infuriated Arab rulers because it constantly carries out a media Jihad against them also aimed at others such as  Israel, the US, the West and Western culture. 

The channel also promotes and supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel headed by Sheikh Raad Salah. 

Al Jazeera's media strategy is determined by Qatar's Emir and is carried out down to the last detail by its very professional leading broadcaster and editorial policy setter, Jamal Rian, a Palestinian born in Tul Karem in 1953, who moved to Jordan where he was active in the Muslim Brotherhood until expelled by King Hussein.

Every so often other Arab regimes, chief among them Egypt under Mubarak, attempted to close down al Jazeera's offices in their countries after overly harsh criticism was aimed at the ruling government, only to reopen them when al Jazeera simply stepped up its attacks

The general feeling is that any government official – or anyone at all – who opposes a ruling regime (and there is no shortage of these people in any Arab country) leaks embarrassing information to  al Jazeera all the time, so that the channel is always poised to expose the information when the time is ripe and especially if the now-cornered victim has been unfriendly to it and to Islamists. The thought of this happening is enough to paralyze every Arab leader who would like to clamp down on al Jazeera in his country.

Every time a conflict erupts between Israel and Hamas, al Jazeera comes out in favor of the terrorist organization because of Qatar's support of it. Hamas leader Haled Mashaal, makes his home in Qatar and the Qatari Emir is the only Arab leader so far to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Emir has give billions to Hamas, enabling the organization to develop its  terror infrastructure.

Qatar has budgeted half a billion dollars to "buy" organizations such as UNESCO (whose next head will, unsurprisingly, be from Qatar), as well as media, academic and government figures to advance the goal of removing Jerusalem from Israeli hands. Al Jazeera runs a well publicized and organized campaign in order to ensure this outcome. This is the face of media jihad.

Saudi Arabia has never allowed al Jazeera's reporters to work from within the country, but does allow them to cover special events once in a while, mainly the Hajj. The Saudis know exactly what the Emir had up his sleeve when he founded a media network that would rule over Arab monarchs by means of recording their slip-ups, taking advantage of the Arab obsession with avoiding public humiliation by broadcasting from a satellite that can reach every house in the Arab world with no way of blocking it.

The last reports are that the Saudis blocked access to the al Jazeera internet site from their territory.  It is harder to block al Jazeera's satellite channel reception legally and it can still be accessed throughout the monarchy. Arab media attribute the blockage to declarations supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah made by the Emir of Qatar after Trump's speech in Riyadh in which the US president included Hamas and Hezbollah in his list of terror organization, equating them with al Qaeda and ISIS....

Qatar is now under great pressure. The nations that broke off relations with Qatar have stopped recognizing the Qatari Rial as a viable currency and have confiscated all the Qatari Rials in their banks. As a result, Qatar cannot purchase goods with its own currency and must use its foreign currency reserves. The supermarket shelves in Qatar have been emptied by residents hoarding food for fear that the blockade will not allow food to be imported. Long lines of cars can be seen trying to leave for Saudi Arabia to escape being shut up in the besieged, wayward country.

Qatar is trying to get the US to help improve the situation. The largest American air force base in the Gulf is located in  Qatar and it is from there that the attacks on ISIS are generated. Qatar also hosts the US Navy Fifth Fleet as well as the Central Command and Control of US forces in that part of the world. Qatari media stress the US concern about the siege that the Saudis have put on Qatar.

As part of its efforts to enlist US aid, Qatar has begun a counterattack: Qatar media have publicized that the U.A.E. ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba , said on US election eve: "What star could make Donald Trump the president?" This is intended to cause a rift between the US and the Gulf Emirates, but will certainly not improve Qatar's own relations with the Emirates.

Meanwhile, the Saudis and the Emirates have ejected Qatar from the coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, and there are rumors that they will also remove Qatar from the Council for Cooperation in the Gulf. The Saudis could suspend Qatar's membership in the Arab League and other organizations if this dispute continues, raising the pressure on the Emir's al-Thani clan.

The next few days will decide Qatar's future. There  is a distinct possibility that the foreign ministers of Qatar and the Arab nations taking part in the boycott against it will meet in some neutral spot, perhaps Kuwait, Qatar will give in and new rules will be set by Arab leaders, that is by King Suleiman, to keep Qatar in line. They would include: 

  • toning down al Jazeera and perhaps even switching its managerial staff, 
  • ending the support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations, 
  • ending cooperation with Iran and above all, 
  • listening to what the Saudi "Big Brother" says about issues, especially those having to do with financial dealings with the US. 
Once the conditions for Qatari surrender are agreed upon, we can expect the ministers to meet the press, publicize a declaration on the end of the intra-family dispute, shake hands before the cameras and smile – until the next crisis.

There is, however, another scenario: Qatar does not give in, the Saudis and its allies invade, their armies eject the Emir and Mufti of Qatar, and also Jamal Rian, the guiding brain behind Al Jazeera's  policies. They would then appoint a new Emir from the ruling family, one who knows how to behave, one who listens to the Saudis.  No one except for Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas would oppose this solution, and the soft-spoken condemnations will not succeed in hiding the world's joy and sighs of relief if the Saudis actually carry out that plan.