Friday, January 20, 2012

Lebanese Army Leader urges Hezbollah to disarm

From The Daily Star (Lebanon), 19 January, 2012:
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea arrives to attend a meeting in Bkirki, Lebanon, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011. (The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea believes the Syrian regime is doomed to fall, and is urging Hezbollah to make a historic deal to disarm.

“The situation in Syria is getting more complicated. The regime of President Bashar Assad will inevitably fall because it has become weak and lacks internal, Arab and international legitimacy,” Geagea said in an interview with the local newspaper As-Safir.

He said the regime's collapse was “just a matter of time, nothing else."

In light of the situation in Syria, Geagea called on Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, to consider disarming and to change its domestic orientation.
“I believe that it is in Hezbollah’s interest to quickly begin repositioning itself internally,” he said.
“And if I were in their [Hezbollah’s] shoes ... I would take an immediate and brave step, which could be difficult, but is nevertheless necessary, to engage in serious and direct negotiations with the main [Lebanese] parties ... so as to reach a historic compromise on arms and all other pending issues, because we must admit that Lebanon cannot continue to exist without the Shiites,” Geagea said in the interview published Thursday.
“The sooner the party [Hezbollah] negotiates the better, because changes [in Syria] will gradually reduce the value of weapons ... which will eventually become a burden for [Hezbollah],” he added.
Political analysts say Hezbollah would be negatively affected should the uprising in Syria expand.
Turning to the March 14 coalition to which Geagea belongs, the LF chief said he expects Future Movement leader Saad Hariri to return to Lebanon soon.
While revealing that preparations for Hariri’s comeback were underway, Geagea said that March 14 was putting together a “comprehensive strategy for dealing with the present and the future.”

Syrian tribal leader praised Assad at gunpoint

From :
London – Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir, head of the prominent Baqara tribe in Syria, revealed that the Syrian authorities forced him to conduct an interview with a Syrian satellite television channel “with a gun to his head”, before releasing him 20 days later. The Baqara tribe is one of the largest tribes in Syria, and estimates indicate that the tribe’s membership stands at 1.2 million Syrian nationals.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from Istanbul, Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir revealed that he spent “72 days being detained by the Political Security Directorate in Damascus, including 20 days in solitary confinement.”
Sheikh al-Bashir said 
“they took me from solitary confinement to the headquarters [of the Political Security Directorate], where they allowed me to meet with one of my sons who informed me that my home in Deir Ezzor was surrounded by tanks. A Political Security Directorate colonel assured me that my home would be turned to rumble unless I conducted an interview [with a Syrian satellite television channel] and spoke about the achievements and glory of President Bashar al-Assad. They forced me to talk about the importance of giving political reform a chance, rather than engaging in the demonstrations that are taking place in Syrian cities.”
In this interview, Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir called on the Syrian people not to pay attention to the “inflammatory” opposition media, and give reform – and president Bashar al-Assad – a chance. He reportedly said “everybody knows that Syria is privileged to be ruled by President al-Assad, who knows humanitarianism and dialogue.”
In a press conference held on Tuesday in Istanbul, the Syrian tribal leader said 
“I apologize to the Syrian people for the words I have said. I now declare that we want nothing but to topple the regime.” Criticizing Russian and Iranian support for the al-Assad regime, Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir said “they are nothing but mafia; they are tyrants, sinners and murderers.”
As for Sheikh al-Bashir joining the opposition Syrian National Council [SNC], the tribal leader told Asharq Al-Awsat that he arrived in Istanbul 5 days ago, and is set to meet with SNC president Burhan Ghalioun when he returns from Paris. 
Sheikh al-Bashir stressed his commitment to the Syrian revolution, and also revealed that his 6 sons have joined the revolution and are in hiding in Syria.
Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir is known as a long-standing opponent of the Bashar al-Assad regime. He is from Deir Ezzor in east Syria, and he was arrested on 31 July 2011. He is a member of the General Secretariat of the “Damascus Declaration”, which was formed in 2005 by secular Syrian opposition parties and calls for “democratic change” in the country.
As for life in Deir Ezzor following the outbreak of the Syrian revolution and the al-Assad regime’s attempts to crush the protests, Sheikh al-Bashir told Asharq Al-Awsat “there is suffering, and the children and the elderly are facing a difficult time, particularly as there is a shortage of food…and electricity is cut off for at least 12 hours every day.” He added “life is unbearable. Everybody is suffering.”
As for how he managed to leave Syria and enter Turkey, al-Bashir said “it was an adventure, but God Almighty delivered us. I crossed the Turkish border by night…and from there went to Istanbul.”
He also revealed that he was in contact with many Syrian MPs who have been banned from travelling and have had their passports seized for fear that they might defect from the regime and join the Syrian revolutionaries. He claimed that the majority of Syrian MPs want to flee from the “hell” of the Bashar al-Assad regime but they are afraid for their families. He also claimed that many government administrations are ready to defect from the regime, and area waiting the opportunity to do so.
As for his views regarding the possibility of other Syrian citizens seeking to flee the country, Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir told Asharq Al-Awsat 
“I believe that 70 percent of the Syrian people will flee to Turkey or other neighboring countries, unless a buffer zone is established, after the Syrian file is transferred to the UN Security Council, for example.”
He also revealed that “many army officers and non-commission officers have defected and joined the Free Syrian Army [FSA].”
Al-Bashir was released after rumors abounded that he has been tortured to death in prison by the Syrian authorities; this was just days after the announcement of the death of Kurdish opposition figure [Meshal] Tamo, which fueled a wave of protest and unrest across Syria. Since his release, Sheikh al-Bashir has been seen in many videos taking part in demonstrations, and has appeared on Arab satellite television condemning the al-Assad regime and expressing his support for the Syrian revolution.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Groveling to the Muslim Brotherhood

From JPost, January 19, 2012, by Isi Leibler:

It is profoundly disconcerting to read media reports of the unseemly competition between the US and Western governments to curry favor with the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of its electoral victory in Egypt. There are chilling parallels to such behavior with the disastrous European policy of appeasing the Nazis which paved the way for World War ll.
What those attempting to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood fail to comprehend is that this organization represents one of the most fanatical and dangerous of the radical Islamist groups in the region, with a dark record of violence and terrorism imbedded in its DNA. It is rabidly anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, committed to imposing sharia law and a global Caliphate - and willing to employ any means to further its objectives.
To this day, the Brotherhood credo remains: 
"Allah is our objective, the Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our way and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations".
In their eyes Osama bin Laden was a “sheikh” and they condemned the US for “assassinating” him. A few weeks ago the current Brotherhood leader Muhammad al-Badi proclaimed that the genocidal Hamas which it had spawned should be regarded as a role model for Islamic piety.
If the terms evil and criminal have any meaning, they would surely apply to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Today, aware of the desperate need for US and Western economic support, it tactically moves into a duplicitous "stealth jihad" mode, speaking with a forked tongue and feeding the foreign media with self-portraits of moderation that are totally divorced from reality.
It reassures Western politicians and media that it will adhere to all prior international treaties. But its deceitfulness is exemplified by subsequent announcements that as the peace treaty with Israel was never endorsed by the people, it must be submitted to a referendum. The Muslim Brotherhood to this day, repeatedly vows that it will never recognize a Jewish state and fully endorses the murderous policies of Hamas.
Yet despite this, the US Administration mindlessly seeking a rationale to engage with the Brotherhood, has welcomed the “democratic” elections in Egypt stressing the need to respect the will of the people while disregarding the radical Islamic and fascist nature of the Brotherhood.
According to the New York Times, the Administration is promoting the line that the Brotherhood seeks to "build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel". Some apologists even go to the absurd lengths of describing the Brotherhood as the Middle East equivalent of the European Christian Democrats.
They also seem to forget that no Islamic regime has ever voluntarily relinquished power. They refuse to face the reality that akin to Hamas in Gaza and the Nazis in Germany, both of which gained a parliamentary majority in their respective elections, once in power the Brotherhood will destroy the opposition, impose sharia law and intensify the persecution of Christian Copts and all infidels. In the course of time they could make Mubarak’s autocracy seem like a liberal paradise.
Foreign Relations Committee Chair, Senator John Kerry, who formerly described Assad’s regime as “reform minded” and enthusiastically supported “engaging” Iran, is not renowned for excessive wisdom in his observations concerning the Middle East. Now, in relation to the Brotherhood, he says that “the US needs to deal with the new reality…and it needs to step up its game” and "figure out how to deal with democratic governments that don't espouse every policy or value you have”. He even suggested that the Obama administration should emulate President Reagan's policy of "outreach" to the Soviet Union. Yet Reagan continuously assailed the undemocratic behavior of the Soviet Union, repeatedly referring to it as the "Evil Empire". His tough approach was a major factor in the ultimate collapse of communism.
Even more staggering were recent reports in the Indian media alleging that the Obama administration is employing Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Brotherhood's spiritual leader, as an intermediary to mediate in secret talks with the Taliban. This evil man, previously denied entry into the UK and the US, openly supports the global caliphate, issued a fatwa in 2003 calling on the faithful to kill US troops in Iraq, and endorses Hamas and suicide bombings (which he describes as “martyrdom in the name of God”). He praised Hitler for carrying out the will of Allah by implementing the Holocaust and now prays for Allah to kill all Jews, saying "count their numbers and kill them down to the last one…Do not spare a single one". For the US to have direct dealings with such a person is surely mind-boggling.
Clearly, the West is obliged to retain diplomatic relations with a radical Islamic Egyptian government as it does with other dictatorships and tyrannies. But it must not provide it with an imprimatur to oppress its citizens or deny their human rights. The concern is that despite the disastrous outcome of the previous US efforts to “engage” with the Iranians and Syrians, the Obama Administration seems once again bent on a path of appeasing the Brotherhood which will undoubtedly only embolden them to promote global jihad even more aggressively. In doing so, the US will once again be abandoning its allies - the more moderate Arab states and Israel.
To make matters worse, the State Department appears to be ingratiating itself with the Brotherhood by condemning the Egyptian military for not stepping aside sooner and handing over the reins of power to the Brotherhood.
One would obviously not expect the US administration to feel more enamored with the Egyptian military than we are, but to take sides in such a situation and support the "democrats" – the Islamic fascists - is surely madness. Despite our distaste for the military, it probably represents the only barrier against transforming Egypt into a fanatical Islamic dictatorship.
Needless to say, this has major implications for us. We may soon discover that the Obama Administration is obliged to further distance itself from Israel in the US national interest to appease the Islamists.
There are chilling parallels today with the late 1930s when Czechoslovakia was pressured to make way for “peace and stability”. We must remind the world that appeasing the Nazis had the opposite effect and merely empowered Hitler, encouraging him to make additional demands which culminated in war.
We were then very fortunate to have a leader of the caliber of Winston Churchill, whose determination to resist, ultimately brought about the downfall of Nazism and prevented the total collapse of Western civilization.
Alas, President Obama is no Churchill and if he considers it expedient even now before the elections to grovel towards Islamic fascists, we have even greater grounds for concern as to what he is likely to do if reelected.
These issues should be considered now before it is too late and every effort made to convince Americans of the folly of appeasing radical Islamic groups.

There is almost no difference in per capita consumption of natural water between Israelis and Palestinians

New BESA Center Study Published
The Israeli-Palestinian Water Conflict: An Israeli Perspective
by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman
This important new study by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman, based on previously classified data, refutes Palestinian claims that Israel is denying West Bank Palestinians water rights negotiated under the Oslo Accords. The study also proposes a practical plan for Israeli-Palestinian water sharing in the future.
In this BESA Center study, hydrologist Prof. Haim Gvirtzman of the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University examines Palestinian water claims against Israel by presenting detailed information about water supply systems presently serving Israelis and Palestinians. He also discusses international law and shows that the Palestinians have little basis for their water demands.
Gvirtzman relies on previously classified data, recently released for publication by the Israeli Water Authority – 15 years after the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. The data shows that currently there is almost no difference in per capita consumption of natural water between Israelis and Palestinians.
Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority claims that it suffers from water shortages in its towns and villages due to the Israeli occupation and cites international law in support of its claims. These claims amount to more than 700 million cubic meters of water per year (MCM/Y), including rights over the groundwater reservoir of the Mountain Aquifer, the Gaza Strip Coastal Aquifer and the Jordan River. These demands amount to more than 50 percent of the total natural water available between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
But contrary to Palestinian claims, Gvirtzman demonstrates that Israel has fulfilled all of its obligations according to the agreements it signed in 1995 with the Palestinian Authority, and in fact has exceeded them. The PA currently consumes 200 MCM of water every year (with Israel providing about 50 MCM of this) – which, under the accords, is more than Israel is supposed to provide a full-fledged Palestinian state under a final settlement arrangement.
Gvirtzman shows that large difference in water usage that existed in 1967, when the administration of Judea and Samaria was handed over from Jordan to Israel, has been reduced over the last 40 years and is now negligible. As well, the per capita domestic water consumption of the Palestinians is significantly higher than the minimum human needs defined by the World Health Organization.
In contrast, the Palestinians have violated their part of the agreement by drilling over 250 unauthorized wells, which draw about 15 MCM/Y of water, and connecting these pirate wells to its electricity grid. Moreover, the PA has illegally and surreptitiously connected itself in many places to the water lines of Israel's Mekorot National Water Company – stealing Israel's water.
Palestinian famers also routinely overwater their crops through old-fashioned, wasteful flooding methods. Gvirtzman says that at least one-third of the water being pumped out of the ground by the Palestinians (again, in violation of their accords with Israel) is wasted through leakage and mismanagement. No recycling of water takes place and no treated water is used for agriculture.
In fact, 95 percent of the 56 million cubic meters of sewage produced by the Palestinians each year is not treated at all. Only one sewage plant has been built in the West Bank in the last 15 years, despite there being a $500 million international donor fund available for this purpose. “The Palestinians refuse to build sewage treatment plants,” Gvirtzman says. “The PA is neither judicious nor neighborly in its water usage and sewage management.”
Gvirtzman further shows that the Palestinians have little basis for their water demands according to international legal norms. First, the signed water agreement overrules all other parameters. Second, Israel's historical possession of the Mountain Aquifer was established in the 1940s. Third, the Palestinians should not exploit groundwater from the Western Aquifer, which is fully utilized by Israel, before first exploiting groundwater from the non-utilized Eastern Aquifer. Finally, the Palestinians should be preventing leaks in domestic pipelines, implementing conservative irrigation techniques, and reusing sewage water as irrigation.
The fact that the Palestinians have taken none of these steps and have not adopted any sustainable development practices precludes their demands for additional water from Israel, writes Gvirtzman.
Israel believes that the water issue could be transformed from a source of controversy and tension to a source of understanding and cooperation. Gvirtzman’s study suggests a plan that can efficiently and quickly solve the current and future water shortages on both sides. The plan, based on sustainable development and advanced technologies, would supply the sufficient quantity of water needed at least until 2030 and still leave some reserves.
The full study is online.

Don't believe Iran's hype

From WSJ, 17 January 2012, by Emanuele Ottolenghi*:

Iran's recent threats to close the Strait of Hormuz have elicited worldwide concern about escalation in the Persian Gulf. The unrest along the strategic waterway has raised the specter of war and spiraling oil prices; Hormuz is the obligatory daily transit point for nearly 20% of world energy resources. Concern about escalation is so high that the Obama Administration this week postponed a scheduled joint military exercise with Israel, lest Tehran misread the event as a provocation or pretext for further escalation.
Don't believe Iran's hype. The fierce rhetoric is a reflection of the regime's impotence as a Western-led oil embargo looms. The bluff is an implicit admission of how much the regime fears the ultimate weapon in the Western sanctions toolkit.
Iran is threatening to close the Strait because it knows it can be squeezed out of the oil market without a significant long-term spike in oil prices. Even conflict would have a negligible impact.
For some time already, oil markets have factored in unrest in the Gulf and the risks of conflict with Iran over its nuclear program. Habitual buyers of Iranian oil, such as China and India, are unlikely to sign up to an oil embargo but have already begun scaling down their dependence on Iranian supplies.
Saudi production capacity is expected to make up for the shortfall of Iranian oil. A closure of the Strait will be short-lived—Iran's military capabilities are hardly formidable. Other Arab producers in the Gulf can divert oil to safer shores on the western side of the Arabian Peninsula if need be.
Tehran, in other words, has no arrows left in its quiver. Iran's economy critically depends on oil exports. The U.S. buys no oil from Iran, but Europe accounts for just under a fifth of Iranian oil exports. Iran's fragile and deteriorating circumstances—rampant inflation, currency in free-fall and high unemployment, just to mention a few problems Tehran cannot control—make the regime very vulnerable to such measures. In particular, an oil embargo could destabilize the regime by unleashing a domestic backlash susceptible to revive a beleaguered internal opposition.
With mounting domestic repression, division within the higher echelons of the ruling elites and a contentious parliamentary election scheduled for March 2, the economic shockwave of an embargo could gather the perfect storm inside Iran to send millions into the streets again to protest.
All this should encourage Western policy makers to speed up preparations to approve and begin enforcing the embargo. Instead, Washington and Brussels are delaying what might be the last chance to stop Iran's nuclear quest without recourse to force.
...there is little time left to stop Iran's nuclear quest. This month Iran confirmed the sudden acceleration of its nuclear program, with the activation of the underground Fordow Enrichment Plant near Qom. Last November, an IAEA report exposed the military dimensions of the program. All of this is clear evidence that Iran is edging closer to the bomb, while shielding the program from military strike with increasing effectiveness. Waiting until June could thwart those wishing to prevent an Iranian bomb peacefully, and only makes a military showdown in the Gulf more likely.
*Dr Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of "The Pasdaran: Inside Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards' Corps" (FDD Press, 2011)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

India-Israel relations come out of Arab world shadow

From the Times of India, 13 Jan 2012, by Indrani Bagchi:
NEW DELHI: The India-Israel relationship is finally out of the closet. In three days in Israel and Palestine, foreign minister S M Krishna showed that Indian foreign policy may have finally matured enough to be able to conduct perfectly normal, successful relations with Israel and the Arab world simultaneously, without worrying about hurting feelings or stepping on toes.

 (Foreign minister SM Krishna shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres during their meeting at the President's residence in Jerusalem on January 9, 2011. AP photo)

For years, India has conducted its relations with Israel almost covertly, as if trying to hide from the Arab world, where its traditional friends lay. But an official who was part of Krishna's meetings in Israel observed, "This visit proved that at the highest levels, India and Israel can openly discuss issues of interest and concern with each other like other normal partners, without inhibitions."
That, in essence was the greatest strategic takeaway from Krishna's visit to Israel, the first in over a decade, with a country that has rapidly become one of India's most important partners, particularly in critical areas of security, defence and what matters to Indians most, agriculture. Already, hundreds of Israeli and Indian companies work together in security, agriculture, technology and alternative energy, real estate, pharmaceutics, telecom etc.
While the tangible deliverables were about agriculture and research and development -- Israel now has 27 agriculture projects in over seven Indian states and will sponsor 100 post-doctoral scholarships for Indians -- the discussions were much more substantive. In his public interactions, Krishna unhesitatingly detailed counter-terrorism, security and defence as the big areas of connect with Israel.
Israeli minister for internal security Yitzhak Aharonovitch had visited India recently where the primary discussions were about tackling terrorism.
Interestingly, while Krishna was being presented with a specially signed tennis racquet as an acknowledgment of his sporting love, premier Israeli business media Globes reported that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was signing its largest-ever defence deal with India, over $1.1 billion worth of missiles, anti-missile systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), intelligence and other systems.
IAI informed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange of the deal on Wednesday but withheld the name of the customer. While speculation had South Korea as one of the possible customers, Globes reported from its sources that the recipient country was India and the negotiations had been personally led by the CEO Yitzhak Nissan. According to estimates, defence trade between India and Israel amounted to almost $9 billiion.
The new element in bilateral relations is energy. As first reported by TOI, Israel has evinced interest in exporting gas to India, having made massive gas discoveries offshore in fields named Tamar and Leviathan.
Indian and Israeli officials reportedly discussed ways of getting the gas to India, because India remains one of the biggest gas customers and currently relies on Qatar for most of its gas imports.
None of this closeness though, will change India's voting record in the UN substantially. India has consistently voted against Israel. But despite their evident disappointment, Israel has refrained from haranguing India on the issue.
"There are several sectors in which India and Israel will be working together, are working together and which are critical for both the economies," Indian ambassador to Israel Navtej Sarna was quoted as saying.

PA stirs up genocidal mania (again)

Yesterday's PMW video-bulletin showed the PA Mufti's speech that Muslims' destiny is to kill Jews, YouTube froze PMW's account. All PMW videos are working except this one but the account is frozen and PMW cannot upload new videos for the next two weeks.

...We have uploaded the video to a different server and it can now again be viewed from PMW's website.

The video that YouTube is calling "inappropriate" exposed the Palestinian Authority Mufti citing the Islamic tradition (Hadith) that anticipates Muslims' killing Jews as a precursor to the Hour of Resurrection. The Jews are also called the "descendants of the apes and pigs" by a Fatah moderator at the event. The following is the text of the video.

Moderator at Fatah ceremony:
"Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (i.e., Jews) is a war of religion and faith.
Long Live Fatah! [I invite you,] our honorable Sheikh."

PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein comes to the podium and says:
"47 years ago the [Fatah] revolution started. Which revolution? The modern revolution of the Palestinian people's history. In fact, Palestine in its entirety is a revolution, since [Caliph] Umar came [to conquer Jerusalem, 637 CE], and continuing today, and until the End of Days. The reliable Hadith (tradition attributed to Muhammad), [found] in the two reliable collections, Bukhari and Muslim, says:
"The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews.
The Jew will hide behind stones or trees.
Then the stones or trees will call:
'Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'
Except the Gharqad tree [which will keep silent]."
Therefore it is no wonder that you see Gharqad [trees] surrounding the [Israeli] settlements and colonies.."
[PA TV (Fatah), Jan. 9, 2012]