Thursday, April 24, 2014

PA-Hamas Form Unity Government: What It Means

If nothing else, the 'agreement' between Hamas and the PA has served to unite Israeli leadership:

Hamas And Fatah Agree To Unity Government In Historic Deal

A seven-year-old rift between rival Palestinian factions seemingly ended Wednesday as officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas agreed to form a unity government and call for new elections.

Members of both organizations announced the deal at a press conference in Gaza following two days of negotiations.

PLO official Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior figure in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, said he hoped the deal would be ”a true beginning and a true partnership.”
“We have made this Palestinian dream a reality whereby the rift has come to an end and we are reunited,” he said
The deal calls for a unity government to be formed within five weeks and for presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections to be called within six months of the coalition taking form, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said.

“This has become a national responsibility and a duty,” he said, referring to the reconciliation.
The sides will also exchange prisoners as part of the deal.
The news was met with celebrations on the streets in Gaza, though some analysts were skeptical the deal would hold any better than previous attempts.

Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PLO have been at loggerheads since 2007, when the Islamic militant Hamas organization seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. Both sides have become entrenched in their territories, with Hamas using Gaza to fire thousands of rockets at Israel over the years, drawing two large scale Israeli offensives.
Israeli politicians slammed the agreement as putting Abbas, seen as a moderate, on the same footing as the hard-line Hamas terror group.
“From now on every Kassam [rocket] is sent from Abbas,” MK Ayelet Shaked from the hawkish Jewish Home party said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas had to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas.
“Instead of moving into peace with Israel, he’s moving into peace with Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the signing of a unity agreement would spell the end of already teetering peace talks.

“The signing of an agreement for a unity government between Fatah and Hamas is a signature on the end of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
It is not the first time that a national unity government has been announced by the rival factions, and on several previous occasions attempts to form an administration have collapsed.
Fatah, the PLO’s main component, and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord in Cairo in 2011 aimed at ending the political divide between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank. But deadlines have come and gone without any progress in implementing provisions of the accord.
“People have heard the same thing over and over again and each time the agreement had been broken by either Fatah or Hamas,” said Samir Awad, politics professor at Birzeit University in the West Bank.
Analyst Hani al-Masri said he believed the reconciliation could collapse at any moment and had “hardly any substance on the ground.”

Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to visit the Hamas-run Gaza Strip if aunity government is formed between Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported an official in the coastal enclave as saying on Wednesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Hamas and Fatah announced that they had reached an agreement to end their differences and form a Palestinian unity government within five weeks.

In light of the reconciliation announcement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed Abbas as a partner for peace with Israel.
“Abu Mazen [Abbas] needs to choose between peace with Israel and an accord with Hamas,” he said.
"Anyone who chooses Hamas does not want peace," the premier charged.
Abbas meanwhile responded by saying that the unity pact did not contradict talks with Israel, and that a Palestinian state living alongside Israel remained his aim.
But in Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US was “disappointed” by the move.
“The timing was troubling,” she said of the unity pact, “and we were certainly disappointed in the announcement. Absent a clear commitment to those principle outlined, this could seriously complicate our efforts, and the efforts between the parties, to extend the negotiations.”

There is no chance for Israeli-Palestinian peace as long as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction sticks with the reconciliation deal it signed with Hamas, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday.

He said the deal meant Israel “has no partner” and said it signified a move toward Hamas gaining greater influence in the West Bank.

Reiterating his claim that Abbas is guilty of “diplomatic terror,” Liberman said Israel wasn’t surprised by the Fatah-Hamas pact, as Abbas had tried several times to blow up the Israeli-Palestinian talks during the last few months. He also said that he expects international pressure on Israel to continue engaging in the current US-brokered peace talks, yet asserted that Washington supported Jerusalem’s decision to cancel a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

“It is clear that as soon as Abbas chose to unite with Hamas, it is impossible to make peace with Israel,” the foreign minister told Israel Radio.

Chief Israeli negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni struck a solemn tone on Facebook Wednesday night, calling the reconciliation agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah “a bad step.”

“At this very hour, I was supposed to be at a meeting with the Palestinians aimed at continuing the negotiations, after there was progress in talks yesterday,” Livni posted on Facebook.
“The reconciliation agreement that Mahmoud Abbas signed with Hamas is a bad step, which not only caused the cancelation of the meeting, but cast a heavy shadow on the possibility to progress.

“We have a duty, even when we want peace, not to stop seeing reality with eyes wide open: Hamas combines religious Muslim extremist ideology with terrorism and doesn’t recognize our right to exist.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called US Secretary of State John Kerry to complain about the agreement, according to a senior government official.
Netanyahu told Kerry that Fatah’s reconciliation with Hamas was a “Palestinian modus vivendi,” the official said. “Whenever it comes to decision time, the Palestinians run away,” the prime minister reportedly told Kerry. “Whoever wants peace with Hamas is not interested in peace with Israel.”

A unity deal between rival Palestinian factions is even worse than Ramallah’s threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Wednesday, issuing a scathing attack on the Palestinian leadership and questioning whether it is even interested in a state.

During a speech to representatives of the European Jewish Congress in Tel Aviv, Lapid lambasted what he characterized as the Palestinians’ stubborn attitudes in peace negotiations.

“Do the Palestinians really want a state?” he asked. “If the answer is ‘yes’, they could have a state in six months.”
Addressing a unity pact announced hours earlier between Hamas and the Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Lapid noted that Fatah, which dominates the PLO, made no demands from Hamas to give up its terror policies before signing the agreement.
Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid, said a threat to dissolve the PA and hand responsibility for the West Bank back to Israel was “illogical,” but maintained that the Fatah-Hamas unity deal was even worse.

“Hamas is not a government, it is a Jihadist terror organization that has inscribed on its flag the killing of civilians — women, children, old people — just because they are Jewish,” he said.

Lapid said that Israel has made more than one offer in the past to establish a Palestinian state and on each occasion the offer was rejected.
“The question that is left is do the Palestinians want their own state, and if so, do they want to set it up alongside the Jewish state? Or have they never abandoned their original vision, a Palestinian state instead of Jewish state?”

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Magog On The Move

This story is getting more and more interesting. With Russia suddenly assuming a very aggressive posture in the world (paralleling the continuing decline of America's military), it is becoming easier and easier to see how they will launch an invasion against Israel (Ezekiel 38-39). The first article below frames the subsequent news updates:

Today, US Army paratroopers arrive in Poland. They are the first wave of a contingent of American soldiers dispersed to four nations across Europe to support America’s Eastern European allies from the Russian menace. Only 600 soldiers will initially land, which seems to be merely a token move on Obama’s part.

 Anyone foolish enough to believe the faux agreement struck between the US and Russia last week means anything at all, needs to have their head examined. NATO and the US seem to be playing a very dangerous game, but Russia is holding a winning hand and is not put off one bit by this weak show of bravado.

Russia has 40,000 troops on the Ukraine border, so repelling any Russian advance is laughable at this point with what little we have put into play.
Russia, in the mean time, is becoming a bigger and bigger threat. Just a few days ago, two nuclear armed bombers circled the US territory of Guam before being intercepted by our jets. As Bill Gertz says, this was a dry run for a nuclear attack on the United States. It’s the third one by the way:
Russia has also buzzed our Naval ships as well. In an act seen as “provocative,” a Russian Sukhoi-24 fighter jet repeatedly buzzed the USS Donald Cook as low as 500 feet over a 90-minute period on April 12th, as the US warship trolled the Black Sea in international waters near Crimea. Russia is not afraid of us – they are making fun of us and toying with us before the kill.
We are in a classic military trap between Russia and China. One moment, Obama says we must build up our might in Asia… then Russia invades Crimea and Obama says we have to pivot back to Europe. Our troops and military assets are being spread so thin, they can’t win in either theater and Obama knows it. Our strategy appears fickle and indecisive. It screams weakness to our enemies.
While we dither from one side of the planet to the other, China is beefing up their military even more, which I contend is now the largest in the world.
While Obama has been disarming the US, Russia and China have been strengthening their military rankswith more soldiers and more weapons. Russia now has the world’s third largest defense budget at 70 billion. I know this will surprise you, but as Obama was coming into power in 2008 and starting his systematic neutering of our military might, Russia started modernizing every weapon and every soldier they had. So did China. All of this started with Obama. Think about that.

We are giving lip service and a token military presence to the Ukraine that will in no way stop the Russian bear. The US has now pledged 25 million in funds to help the Ukraine defend themselves. We have given them packaged food, blankets, sleeping bags, helmets and generators — but not weapons. That should make them a little more comfortable before the Russians charge in and take them to the gulags.

So, tell me again why we are playing at war with Russia? They are even holding one of our journalists hostage and not a peep from Obama. Russia is now war gaming the Ukraine, while the UK just chased off two Russian jets. This is not a game to millions of people and as Putin covets Eastern Ukraine and beyond, a weakened West lays a buffet for Communists to feed on. The question is, who’s next on the menu?

Two Russian bombers which flew close to UK airspace have been chased away by an RAF jet fighter.
The aircraft, believed to be Tupolev 95s, were spotted off the coast of northeast Scotland.
They were turned away from Britain when an RAF Typhoon was scrambled from Leuchars airbase, near Dundee.
Crews stationed there are on standby to intercept unidentified aircraft at a moment's notice.
The incident comes amid heightened international tensions over the situation in Ukraine, following the annexation of Crimea by Russia last month.

It also follows the arrival of a Russian warship, the Vice Admiral Kulakov, in waters off the coast of Britain.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the vessel was met by Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon, which is "keeping an eye" on the ship's movement.
Sky's Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said foreign planes often fly close to UK airspace, with eight similar incidents reported in 2013.
"The RAF Typhoon is one of Britain's quick reaction aircraft and would have gone up, made contact with the Russian planes and ensured they did not plan to fly into British airspace," he said.

The Dutch defense department says several NATO member countries scrambled jets Wednesday afternoon after a pair of Russian bomber planes approached their airspace over the North Sea.
The Dutch ministry identified the planes as two Russian TU-95 Bears, and said it had launched two F-16s from Volkelair force base to intercept them. The Russian jets were escorted by aircraft from the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark until they departed.
Maj. Wilko Ter Horst said "that's why we scrambled, that's why the Danish scrambled and the English scrambled, to ensure to insure they fly out of our air space."

Kiev authorities must “immediately” deescalate the situation in southeast Ukraine by withdrawing its troops from the region, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said, adding that Kiev must start nationwide talks and stop “distorting” the Geneva agreement.

“The Russian side once again insists on an immediate deescalation of the situation in the southeast of Ukraine, the withdrawal of divisions of the Ukrainian Army and the start of a real inter-Ukrainian dialogue including all the regions and political entities of the country,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
Moscow is “surprised” by Kiev’s interpretation of the four-sided Geneva agreement adopted by Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU on April 17, it added.
Russia continues to believe that the Western partners are “earnest” in their stated commitment for the peaceful resolving of the Ukrainian crisis, the statement said. However, the facts “regretfully speak to the opposite,” it added. Kiev has not moved to enter a dialogue with the regions of Ukraine protesting against its rule, while the US officials have apparently chosen not to discourage the coup-imposed authorities in their “strongarm ambitions.”
Immediately after US Vice-President Joseph Biden ended his April 21-22 talks and left the Ukrainian capital, Kiev announced the renewal of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine, the statement noted. Previously, CIA director’s John Brennan’s April 13 visit to Kiev coincided with the start of the same military operation, it said.

In The News:

As China And Japan Prepare For War, American Forces Battle Over Turf

Many readers of American Thinker may be thinking that a war between China and Japan, with or without the US being involved, is precluded by the fact that it would be stupid and destructive.  Nevertheless, the people who are actually going to fight that war are continuing to prepare for it.  In the US forces, the Marines are seeing off an attempt by the Army to gain a role.  The Marines believe that they won’t need any help in retaking the Senkakus from China. They are also concerned that the Army attack helicopters would suffer from corrosion while sitting on flat-decked ships at sea.

Foreign Policy has come to the realisation that if China seizes the Senakakus, they might as well seize the southern half of the Ryuku island chain, the Yaeyama Islands, while they are at it.  Militarily and morally, the Yaeyamas would be only a little bit more difficult than seizing the Senkakus but would come with plenty of basing opportunities and the benefit of partially enveloping Taiwan.

On the subject of airfields, China built one specifically for this war -- the Shuimen Airbase at 26° 56' 43"N, 120° 4' 37"E.  It was built on top of a ridge about as close as one can get to the Senkakus on the Chinese mainland.  From the Shuimen Airbase it is 400 km to the Senkakus and 500 km to the Yaeyamas.  The Google Earth imagery shows an interesting camouflage pattern on the taxiways to the hardened shelters.  The Shuimen Airbase also has a lot of apron area adjacent to the runway suggesting that it will be used to surge aircraft coming from other airbases in China. 

With plenty of signs from the protagonists that a war is coming, what should Republican legislators do to get ahead of the curve, instead of just being reactive and flat-footed?  The best thing that could be done right now is a bill requiring the expropriation of all Chinese-owned assets in the US upon the announcement by Japan that it has been attacked by China.  The internment of Chinese nationals could follow, but it is important to freeze and seize Chinesefinancial assets immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities.  This may end up being a warning system in that a sudden capital flight might mean that the attack was only hours away.
Back to the Army’s problem of having a role in this war.  What the Army could do is establish a field base for its helicopters on one of the larger, less-populated islands of the Yaeyamas, such as Iriomote-jima.  They won’t miss out on the war -- China will come to them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun to react to subtle U.S. military deployments in the periphery of Russia.

In an act deemed by the Pentagon as “provocative,” a Russian Sukhoi-24 fighter jet repeatedly buzzed the U.S.S. Donald Cook as low as 500 feet over a 90-minute period April 12 as the U.S. warship trolled the Black Sea in international waters near Crimea.
With enhanced Russian military presence in Crimea, the prospect of further provocations against ships and military aircraft from the U.S. and its partners of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is expected to increase, sources say.

In turn, such an episode would only increase Russian surveillance of Western military assets, possibly affecting their ability to conduct normal reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering operations.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is considering the deployment of up to 10,000 ground troops to Poland to show U.S. commitment to allied security in the area.
After a meeting with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Poland would play a major role in the NATO buildup of troops in Eastern Europe “under U.S. patronage.”
Signaling a change in overall strategic defense policy, Hagel said the U.S. needs to “re-pivot back to Europe from Asia to confront “Russian aggression” in Ukraine.

A forward contingent already is on the ground in Poland to oversee what may become a series of military exercises with NATO allies in the region. It’s a response to Putin’s apparent intention of taking over all of Ukraine and possibly other areas of Eastern Europe where there is a concentration of ethnic Russians.
The prospect has prompted concern among NATO countries in the region, which have assessed that the Russian military is stronger than all of their militaries combined. Consequently, the NATO members are hoping the U.S. will increase its presence to confront what they consider “Russian aggression.”
Putin’s motive is to set up buffer zones against the eastern encroachment of NATO, as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia seek to join the Western alliance.

The sources believe Putin will remain assertive in his determination to set up buffers while keeping out elements of NATO. For that reason, the Russian president last week reacted forcibly against the deployment of NATO anti-missile defenses, including the U.S.S. Cole, an Aegis-equipped missile warship, near Crimea.
Putin views the moves as a threat to the nuclear defenses of southwestern Russia, which include Crimea for the first time in Russia’s strategic doctrine.

[Footnote: You can bet that any arms supplied to the terrorist groups will ultimately be used against Israel]

According to an April 21st report in Time Magazine, the White House is now considering sending the rebels shoulder-fired surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles known as manpads. In the wrong hands, such missiles could be used to take out commercial aircraft.

Senator John McCain is pushing the Obama administration to take that risk. To combat the Assad regime’s use of barrel bombs dropped on civilian populations from government helicopters, McCain said in a March interview with Time Magazine that he was “willing to take the risk of a manpad, the risk of them falling into the wrong hands.”

McCain’s willingness to take the risk of anti-aircraft missiles getting into the wrong hands is wrong-headed for several reasons.  The most obvious reason is the blowback the United States and its allies will suffer when jihadists fighting in Syria take the weapons they have looted from the so-called “moderate” rebels and use them against us. Nearly half of the rebel fighters are “jihadists or hardline Islamists,” according to a summary by The Telegraph of a report the IHS Jane’s defense consultancy group issued last year. And they are the best trained and equipped forces amongst the Syrian opposition.

President Obama’s apparent openness to providing more advanced weaponry to the Syrian rebels at this stage of the conflict could well be the result of his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah last month, where Saudi concerns about U.S. resolve in dealing with the Assad regime and Iran’s nuclear threat were discussed. In bowing to the wishes of the Saudi government for more direct U.S. military aid to the Syrian rebels, Obama may have gotten some breathing room from the Saudi leaders as he tries in vain to negotiate a comprehensive, verifiable nuclear deal with Iran. If so, Obama is putting the interests of the United States behind those of a fanatical Sunni Muslim regime that has spawned global jihad and sees Syria as another beachhead to advance that cause.

As the world seems to hurdle from one crisis to another, today a 43-year market veteran warned King World News that massive volcanic eruptions are now wreaking havoc on the world.  Jeffrey Saut, Chief Investment Strategist at Raymond James, also warned this trend is going to continue for many years, even though no one in the mainstream media is talking about this.
Eric King:  “Jeffrey, we’ve seen skyrocketing food prices.”
Saut:  “This has a lot to do with the weather.  You’ve had a drought in Brazil, so the price of Brazilian coffee is up over 80% year-to-date.  I know a farmer in California who used to produce a bunch of alfalfa.  He’s about to lose his entire crop because he can’t get water….
“You also have a drought in Texas.  One of my themes, Eric, has been the weird weather.  The world is actually cooling, not warming.  What’s causing this is the volcanic ash in the air.  You’ve got more volcanic ash in the air than at any time in recorded history.

Former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., says an attack one year ago on a power plant in California was a “dry run” for something bigger, and American needs to be paying attention.

WND reported the utility company, whose operation was disabled in the attack, has offered a $250,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
According to authorities, a team of attackers apparently cut a series of underground fiber optic telephone lines then fired guns at 17 transformers and shot out their cooling systems.
Experts have called the attack an act of terrorism, and West agrees.

He wrote on his website that just a year ago Americans were riveted by the Islamic terror attack at the Boston Marathon.
“But a year ago, there was another attack that while not horrific, was disturbing, and has gone largely unnoticed,” he wrote.
“On April 16, 2013, snipers waged a 52-minute attack on a central California electrical substation. According to reports by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, the sniper attack started when at least one person entered an underground vault to cut telephone cables, and attackers fired more than 100 shots into Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf transmission substation, knocking out 17 transformers. Electric officials were able to avert a blackout, but it took 27 days to repair the damage,” he wrote.

He said while the FBI doesn’t consider the incident terrorism, the chief of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, Jon Wellinghoff, does.

“Wellinghoff … based his conclusion that this was terrorism on the analysis of experts he brought to the crime scene. The analysis pointed to the shell casings having no fingerprints and evidence that the shooting positions had been pre-arranged. No arrests have been made in the case,” West wrote.

“My concern is that this may have been a dry run for something far bigger. We should be demanding an update on the investigation as to the perpetrators of this attack who escaped without detection,” he said.

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