Saudi Prince: “I’ll Side With Israel” Against Palestinian war

According to Kuwaiti Al Qabas daily, the flamboyant Saudi Prince and entrepreneur, al-Waleed bin Talal posited that his country must reconsider its regional commitments and devise a new strategy to combat Iran’s increasing influence in Gulf States by forging a Defense pact with Tel Aviv to deter any possible Iranian moves in the light of unfolding developments in the Syria and Moscow’s military intervention.

“The whole Middle-East dispute is tantamount to matter of life and death for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from my vantage point ,and I know that Iranians seek to unseat the Saudi regime by playing the Palestinian card , hence to foil their plots Saudi Arabia and Israel must bolster their relations and form a united front to stymie Tehran’s ambitious agenda,” Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA) quoted Prince al-Waleed as saying on Tuesday , adding, Riyadh and Tel Aviv must achieve a modus vivendi , for Saudi policy in regard to Arab-Israeli crisis is no longer tenable.

Iran seeks to buttress its presence in the Mediterranean by supporting Assad regime in Syria, added Prince al-Waleed, but to the chagrin of Riyadh and its sister Gulf sheikhdoms , Putin’s Russia has become a real co-belligerent force in Syrian 4-year-old civil war by attacking CIA-trained Islamist rebels. Here surfaces the paramount importance of Saudi-Israeli nexus to frustrate Russia-Iran-Hezbollah axis.

“I will side with the Jewish nation and its democratic aspirations in case of outbreak of a Palestinian Intifada( uprising) and i shall exert all my influence to break any ominous Arab initiatives set to condemn Tel Aviv , because I deem the Arab-Israeli entente and future friendship necessary to impede the Iranian dangerous encroachment,”
Al Qabas cited the Saudi media tycoon as he is in a regional tour, visiting the other Gulf Arab littoral states–Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman–to muster support for Saudi-backed Islamist rebels in Syria.

No longer able to justify its illegal military presence in Bahrain – a tiny Arabian Gulf Kingdom, occupied by Saudi forces to stifle the 2011 pro-deaconry movement–, some high-profile Saudi officials, namely Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, voiced their willingness to annex Bahrain. These flagrant statements drew wide condemnation from nearly every quarter of the Arab world.

“…you know the union with Bahrain doesn’t explicitly mean to annex our dear neighbors, but in fact we are wary about the future of Bahrain, its people security and well-being. Bahrain is the home to U.S. fifth fleet which its presence is of vital interest for Saudi Arabia, thus we can not permit Iran to wreak havoc in our back yard,” said the Saudi Prince, vindicating his previous brash comments regarding the annexation of Bahrain.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

Is Maliki plotting return to power with Kurdistan visit?

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (L) and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi shake hands during a session to approve the new government in Baghdad, Sept. 8, 2014

In a scene surprising to many, a smiling Nouri al-Maliki disembarked from an Iraqi airliner July 18 in the city of Sulaimaniyah and was received by senior officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan. Maliki said his visit was merely a normal meeting with PUK and Gorran (Movement of Change) leaders in the wake of the two parties’ having formed an alliance earlier this year. Many also noted, however, that the trip was taking place amid unconfirmed reports of his hopes of taking back the premiership from Haider al-Abadi, a fellow Islamic Dawa member and that party’s leader. General elections are due to be held in 2018.

Once thought as poised to become Iraq’s new strongman of sorts, Maliki had to vacate the office of prime minister in 2014, with many blaming him for the dramatic territorial sweep of the Islamic State (IS) through Iraq. Defying expectations that his reluctant relinquishing of the premiership would spell his end, Maliki has been working relentlessly behind the scenes for the past two years to retain the stature of a powerful politician and is now reported to be preparing for a comeback.

Maliki’s visit to the Kurdistan region came at a time of deep fissures among the major Kurdish factions and disagreement over how to deal with the government in Baghdad. The two dominant parties in Sulaimaniyah, the PUK and Gorran, formed an alliance in mid-May that has put them at odds with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Led by Massoud Barzani, acting president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the KDP is the dominant party in the Kurdish government and has adopted rhetoric highly critical of Maliki. Whereas the KDP publicly advocates secession from Iraq, or at least greater powers for the Kurdish region in the form of a confederal structure, the PUK and Gorran favor reconciliation with Baghdad and exhausting all available options before any decision to push for statehood.

Against this backdrop, many have questioned Maliki’s motive for visiting PUK-Gorran representatives and ignoring the KDP at a time of such acute political rivalry among Iraqi Kurds. “Whether Maliki’s visit was as innocent as he said or not, suspicions about his real intentions can only deepen when it is rumored … that Maliki is plotting to form a new alliance with the aim of returning to power as prime minister,” said Kamran Karadaghi, a veteran Iraqi Kurdish journalist and former chief of staff to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, also the PUK’s leader.

“During his two terms as Iraq’s prime minister [2006-14], Maliki became a controversial and divisive figure,” Karadaghi added. “As such, his Sulaimaniyah visit has stirred problems in Kurdistan. I am afraid Maliki’s visit has had a negative impact on efforts to overcome differences between the Kurdish parties.”

Maliki’s past relationship with the Kurds was a troubled one, reaching a tipping point when he withheld the Kurdistan region’s share of the Iraqi budget in early 2014 after the KRG sold oil independently against Baghdad’s wishes. In addition, Barzani had been a main figure in attempts to unseat Maliki in 2012 in a failed no-confidence motion in the parliament. The PUK’s Talabani did not support the effort to remove Maliki from power. Thus, it is of no surprise that Maliki’s visit stirred controversy among the Kurds.

“I believe that if Maliki had good intentions, he should have visited Erbil, too,” KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters July 19, expressing his doubts about what Maliki seeks to achieve by his visit. Erbil is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and is dominated by the KDP. It remains to be seen, however, whether Maliki is actually seeking closer relations with the PUK-Gorran alliance to effectively weaken the KDP, as some suspect.

Maliki also attempted to exude an air of optimism about settling the ever-deepening disputes between the KRG and Baghdad governments. “There is a lot of hope for resolving the budget dispute between Baghdad and Erbil,” Maliki said during a joint news conference with Mala Bakhtiyar, a senior PUK leader, on July 18. “Since we have a constitution, that means we can resolve all the problems. The budget issue can be addressed on the basis of the constitution.” According to Iraq’s budget laws in the past years, the KRG is entitled to around 17% of the country’s budget.

While KDP officials and affiliated media took the lead in slamming Maliki’s visit, PUK officials have been struggling to defend their largely warm reception of him while denying that the visit had anything to do with Maliki’s alleged prime ministerial ambitions or trying to deepen Kurdish discord.

“Maliki wants to see KRG-Baghdad relations improved,” Saadi Pira, a member of the PUK’s political bureau, told Al-Monitor. “He was not here to discuss his premiership and gather support for [obtaining] it.”

Pira also downplayed critical statements by the Kurdish prime minister, saying Nechirvan Barzani had met with Maliki during Barzani’s last visit to the Iraqi capital. He added that Maliki — as the head of the State of Law Coalition, the largest Shiite bloc in the Iraqi parliament — has an opportunity to again become premier if the Shiite groups approve, so the Kurds should not destroy their ties with him.

“Maliki’s and other people’s visits won’t create divisions in Kurdistan,” Pira said. He remarked that the discord among Kurdish parties was the result of internal Kurdish disputes over power-sharing, including the posts of KRG president and parliament speaker. Gorran has led efforts to reduce Massoud Barzani’s powers or, alternatively, remove him from the presidency, which triggered the KDP illegally preventing Speaker Yousif Mohammed Sadiq, a Gorran member, from entering Erbil.

Whether Maliki can regain the coveted office of prime minister is unclear at this point, as he not only has strained relations with large segments of Iraq’s Kurdish and Sunni communities, but also seems to have a serious popularity deficit among Shiites as well. He has been a constant subject of popular anti-corruption protests, as his government was viewed as corrupt and incompetent by many Iraqis. It also remains to be seen whether the meetings between Maliki and PUK-Gorran leaders will lead to joint efforts in the Iraqi parliament in the coming months.

The PUK’s Pira said his party and Gorran are committed to preserving Kurdish unity in the face of challenges emanating from Baghdad. When Abadi tried to remove Kurdish ministers from the government in March, the Kurdish parties, despite their profound internal disputes, put up a unified act in opposing the move.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

Palestinian minors held without trial in occupation prisons

The Israeli occupation has recently escalated its use of administrative detention orders against Palestinian minors, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories “B’Tselem” has revealed.

In a new report released on Thursday, B’Tselem said that the number of Palestinian minors held in administrative detention by Israel has risen steadily, from four in October 2015 to thirteen at the end of April 2016.

Administrative detention is detention without indictment or trial that is authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial ruling.

According to international law, it can be used only as “a last resort for averting danger that cannot be prevented by less harmful means”. However, B’Tselem asserts that Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly violates international law.

“Neither [the detainees] nor their counsel are granted access to the [submitted] material so they do not even know what evidence, if any, there is against them and cannot mount a proper defense,” B’Tselem said, adding that detainees do not even know what allegations have been brought against them, nor do they do not know when to expect release.

“Although each individual administrative detention order has a six-month upper limit, detention can be extended for additional six-month periods indefinitely.” B’Tselem stated.

Israel has been using the mentally and psychologically draining administrative detention as a punitive measure against Palestinians who engage in anti-occupation activism.

Arbitrary administrative detention orders also serve as means to paralyze the Palestinian civil society and drain it of brains and experts.

By the end of May, 715 Palestinians were held under so-called “administrative detention”, including 3 Legislative Council members.

Also by the end of May, as many as 414 Palestinian child prisoners, including 104 under the age of 16, were serving time in occupation prisons for various alleged charges.

In April 2016, Defense of Children International, in Ramallah published a report detailing the widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. From meals prepared in a makeshift kitchen to adult prisoner “caregivers,” the report offered a rare glimpse into Palestinian children’s daily living conditions in Israeli prisons.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

Haniya hails steadfastness of hunger striker Bilal Kayed

Deputy chairman of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniya commended the steadfastness of Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, who had been on hunger strike for fifty days protesting his detention in occupation prisons without trial or charges.

Haniya praised Kayed for remaining steadfast in the face of his jailers, confirming that the Palestinian resistance regards the freedom of Palestinian prisoners as a top priority.

On June 15, Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed launched a hunger strike against the Israeli policy known as administrative detention, under which Palestinians are held indefinitely in Israeli prisons without charges or trial.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

Israeli Authorities to Build Wall around Gaza

04 AUG
10:01 PM

Israel plans to build a massive concrete wall along its border with the blockaded Gaza Strip, and with the stated aim of destroying cross-border tunnels dug by Gaza-based resistance groups, Israeli press reported Wednesday.

According to daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli Defense Ministry recently accepted bids from 20 Israeli construction firms for the planned multi-layered wall, which will extend both above and below ground.

Construction is expected to begin in October with the participation of four Israeli companies, the paper reported.

The first phase of the wall will stretch 10 kilometers, which will be gradually extended to a total of 60 kilometers, entirely surrounding the coastal enclave, according to Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet), World Bulletin/Al Ray further reports.

The barrier aims to prevent tunnels originating from Gaza from entering Israeli territory, the newspaper added, “allowing the Israeli army to destroy them before they pose a threat.”

Since 2007, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has groaned under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade which has deprived its almost two million inhabitants of basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.

Despite the blockade’s devastating humanitarian impact, the international community — with a few notable exceptions, including Turkey — has quietly condoned the embargo.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

Rabbi Glick incites against Aqsa Mosque employees

Yehuda Glick

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Extremist rabbi Yehuda Glick has incited against the guards of the Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic Waqf Authority in Occupied Jerusalem and called on the Israeli government to take control of the Islamic holy site immediately. This came in a lengthy speech he delivered in the Knesset, in which he called the Aqsa Mosque “the temple mount”, and urged Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu to impose what he labelled as Israel’s sovereignty over the holy site. Glick, who was recently appointed by the right-wing Likud party as a Knesset member, waged vicious incitement against the Aqsa Mosque’s guards in particular, describing them as “bullies and rioters”, and called on the Israeli police to keep them away from him. He also launched a scathing attack on the Islamic Waqf Authority in Jerusalem and called for revoking its jurisdiction over the Aqsa Mosque, warning that the [alleged] temple mount would remain under the “gentiles’ occupation” if there was no immediate action to change it. In a related development, the Israeli occupation police intend to file indictments against three Aqsa Mosque employees, namely, Hamza al-Nabali, Hamza Addisi, and Ra’ed Zaghir, for allegedly assaulting visitors at the holy site. The Israeli police already issued banishment orders against eight employees working for the Awqaf authority and the Aqsa Mosque. Two of them are still in detention. For its part, Jordan, which is responsible for the Aqsa Mosque, has intervened to stop any Israeli interference in the work of the Mosque guards. Jordanian awqaf official Abdullah al-Abbadi said the government initiated diplomatic contacts with its Israeli counterpart to protect the legal rights of Aqsa Mosque employees and guards and to prevent any Israeli interference in their duties.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

Abadi moves to demilitarize Iraq’s cities

Shiite fighters from Saraya al-Salam, who are loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, gather in the holy city of Najaf before heading to the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit to continue the offensive against Islamic State militants, March 20, 2015

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The Iraqi government recently announced the launch of an effort to remove signs of militarization from the country’s cities. The Interior Ministry issued a statement July 17 to that effect, based on directives from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, that included such measures as reducing the number of checkpoints and relocating military bases and offices outside the cities.

“Arms have been in the streets and at checkpoints, and men in military uniforms have been deployed in the cities since the 1970s,” said Walid Youssef Atto, a researcher on Iraqi history. The militarization intensified significantly with the recruitment of additional soldiers for the paramilitary People’s Army after President Saddam Hussein launched the war against Iran in 1980. Following Hussein’s ouster and the 2003 US-led invasion, the militarization of civil life again increased, perhaps peaking when the Islamic State (IS) took control of Mosul in June 2014, and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s call for Iraqis to mobilize against the extremists led to the reconstitution of previously disbanded militias and the formation of new ones.

“Visible signs of militarization in the cities intensified by both parties, IS fighters and militias members fighting IS,” Jassem al-Moussawi, a political analyst told Al-Monitor. “The militarization has [also] increased due to the war on terrorism. … On the other hand, the security forces are weak, but they are deployed in all parts of Baghdad, which promotes the presence of arms in the streets.”

Concerning the future of militarization, Moussawi said, “It is linked to the country’s security situation, the end of the war on IS and on whether or not new conflicts emerge, leading to the formation of new armed factions whose activities and presence overshadow those of the civil state institutions.”

Shabib Midhati, an activist in Baghdad, commented, “I am an eyewitness to the militarization and transformation of the community into a military barracks, the spread of weapons and military mobilization in the streets, schools, and social and religious activities,” he told Al-Monitor. “Visible signs of civil life, such as art galleries, music concerts and sporting events, are rare and receive little attention from either the state or public.”

Midhati added, “In Babil, there are no cinemas, no theaters, no billboards or artistic signs symbolizing civil life. They were replaced with signs calling on the people to join the war against IS.”

“The visible signs of militarization in the cities point to security vulnerabilities and problems,” Youssef Kallabi, a commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), told Al-Monitor. “The PMU are not responsible for these signs, as they are not present in the cities, but rather on the battlefields. If any of the fighters displayed any visible sign of militarization, it would be an individual behavior.”

Saad al-Matlabi, a member of the Baghdad City Council’s Security Committee, dismissed Kallabi’s assertion that PMU elements were not in the cities. “Some parties took advantage of the threat posed by IS to preserve their presence in the cities, including Baghdad,” Matlabi told Al-Monitor, without naming names but apparently referring to the PMU. Matlabi further asserted, “Whoever wears the PMU uniform in Baghdad should be arrested under the law and referred to the judiciary to be held accountable.”

Matlabi wants all armed forces and factions to withdraw from residential areas. “There is no need for them to be present in Baghdad, and their job is to be present on the battlefield or the Baghdad belt,” he said. “Their presence in the capital is a threat [to civil and civilian life].”

He added, “The Baghdad Operations Room conducted a study on reducing the number of permanent security checkpoints in Baghdad and replacing them with temporary ones as a step toward reducing signs of militarization in Baghdad.” Matlabi did not indicate whether the study’s recommendations will be or have been partially implemented.

Ali Sultani, a PMU member, justified visible militarization in the cities, telling Al-Monitor, “Military uniforms and the display of arms in the street help citizens feel safe, letting them know that there is an armed force protecting them. The militarization is an irregular situation generated by the efforts to mobilize the community to defeat IS.”

Iraqi army Col. Abu Ali Hamzaoui told Al-Monitor, “The community is increasingly being militarized, due to the feeling that there is a need to take up arms given the existing insecurity. Since 2003, weapons have been accumulating in the cities and among tribes in the countryside, which can be seen in the heavy presence of arms in family conflicts and at events.”

Majid al-Gharrawi, a member of the parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, commented, “It is hard to eliminate the visible signs of militarization in the cities due to the war against IS.” He also remarked, “There is a need to invest in the many military positions in Iraq, particularly abandoned posts, by turning them into parks and tourist facilities, banning the carrying of arms in the cities, except for the battlefields, and prohibiting military mobilization activities at schools.”

(Source / 04.08.2016)

Israeli army demolishes family homes of anti-occupation youths

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Thursday knocked down the homes of the two prisoners Khaled and Muhammad Makhamreh in al-Khalil’s southern town of Yatta. The Israeli army troops cordoned off the family home of prisoner Khaled Makhamreh, sparking clashes with Palestinian locals. Shortly afterwards, an Israeli army bulldozer started the demolition, reducing the home to mounds of rubble in the blink of an eye. The IOF further blew up the home of Khaled’s cousin, Muhammad, with bombs planted in the building. Hundreds of Israeli occupation soldiers cordoned off Yatta’s residential neighborhoods before carrying out the demolitions. Prisoners Makhamreh carried out an anti-occupation shooting attack in Tel Aviv on June 8, killing four Israeli settlers residing in illegal settlement outposts built in the occupied Palestinian territories. Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled for the partial demolition of the family home of the slain Palestinian youth Muhammad al-Tarayreh, who carried out an anti-occupation stabbing in the illegal Kiryat Araba settlement last month. The Israeli court ordered the demolition of the second floor of Tarayreh’s family home, paying no heed to an appeal filed by the family to cancel the demolition order. Muhammad Tarayreh was fatally shot by the Israeli occupation army following the anti-occupation attack.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

The Enemy Of My Friend Is My Friend: Israel Accepts Billions From The US, But Maintains Ties With Al-Nusra

Any other ally which depended so profoundly on Washington for its security and existence wouldn’t dare risk endangering that relationship to forge an alliance with an enemy of the U.S. But not Israel.

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front carry their weapons as they sit in a trench near al-Zahra village, north of Aleppo city, November 25, 2014. (REUTERS/Hosam Katan)

Members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front carry their weapons as they sit in a trench near al-Zahra village, north of Aleppo city, November 25, 2014

SEATTLE — (Analysis) Late last month, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front), al-Qaida’s Syrian arm, announced that it was severing ties with al-Qaida and renaming itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (the Front for the Conquest of Syria).

In a video, the group’s leader, Abu Mohamed al-Jolani, explained that the group’s association with al-Qaida permitted the outside powers intervening in the Syrian conflict to label it as an Islamic terrorist group.

The Guardian quoted al-Jolani as saying that the name change is intended “to remove the excuse used by the international community – spearheaded by America and Russia – to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: that they are targeting al-Nusra Front, which is associated with al-Qaida.”

He further explained that the new policy was an attempt to have the group removed from international terror lists and to allow it to be perceived as a more acceptable alternative to its main competitor, Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL in the West).

Al-Nusra shares certain common goals with Daesh in seeking to overthrow the secular government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and replace it with a more traditional form of Islamic rule. It has also expressed hatred for the United States and other Western governments. Writing for the National Interest in November, geopolitical analyst Daniel R. DePetris explained:

“Like its jihadist competitors in the Islamic State, al-Nusra is composed of highly motivated individuals and commanders who would like nothing more than to strike at the United States or at targets in Europe. Jabhat al-Nusra shares the same, minority-within-a-minority Salafi-Jihadist interpretation of Islam as ISIL, despises any and all sectarian groups outside of Syria’s majority Sunni community and has engaged in the same kind of atrocities that have made ISIL’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the most wanted international terrorist alive.”

Though it has focused its attacks more directly on Syrian government forces and their symbolic and physical centers of power, it maintains a similar ruthlessness to that of Daesh. In its World Report 2016, Human Rights Watch noted that both groups were “were responsible for systematic and widespread violations, including targeting civilians, kidnappings, and executions” in Syria. Daesh and al-Nusra both impose strict and discriminatory rules on women and girls, and have actively recruited child soldiers, according to the report.

Smokescreen or strategy?

In its recent rebranding, Al-Nusra also seems to be evaluating the political calculus of the Syrian civil war and acknowledging the recent gains by Syrian forces and their allies — Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. With Assad strengthening his position and the rebel forces in disarray, al-Jolani may be making a bid to unify the opposition by projecting a less militant image to the outside world.

Nusra Front leader Mohammed al-Jolani undated photo released online on Thursday, July 28, 2016 to announce a video message that the militant group is changing name, and claims it will have no more ties with al-Qaida.

Nusra Front leader Mohammed al-Jolani undated photo released online on Thursday, July 28, 2016 to announce a video message that the militant group is changing name, and claims it will have no more ties with al-Qaida

Still, it’s unclear what this apparent break with al-Qaida actually means. At the announcement of the group’s new name, al-Jolani was joined by a high level associate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaida, creating the impression that the changes are more tactical than strategic.

Ayman al-Zawahri, head of al-Qaida, delivers a statement in a video which was seen online by the SITE monitoring group.

Ayman al-Zawahri, head of al-Qaida, delivers a statement in a video which was seen online by the SITE monitoring group.

Smadar Perry, an Israeli journalist known to have close ties to Israeli intelligence sources, even hinted that Israel’s Mossad urged this new path on al-Nusra. In an opinion piece posted by YNet on Monday, Perry wrote:

“It may be that this separation is just a smokescreen, and that al-Julani will keep in touch with al-Qaeda in secret. It may also be that Jabhat al-Nusra have received an intelligence analysis from a very certain organization that told it to prepare for the day after Assad leaves power.

The White House has a hard time buying this turnover. They’re in a test period with us, said an official spokesperson, not dismissing outright the possibility of local fighters joining the American-led coalition against ISIS.

If they make a show of force in the field, and Jabhat al-Nusra’s dissociation leads to al-Qaeda’s further weakening in Afghanistan, and if Israel provides its supposed intelligence about al-Julani – Hezbollah and Assad swear he’s a Mossad agent – al-Nusra may become another piece of the puzzle that is the new Syria.”

In the original Hebrew version of the same analysis, Perry noted the likelihood that Syria will be divided in “three or four cantons.” This has always been the goal for Tel Aviv, which sees Syria as one of the few remaining Arab states that can threaten its interests and security.

Israeli soldiers secure an area where a mortar which was fired during clashes between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad’s forces in the Quneitra province hit in a community in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. For the first time in the Syrian civil war, militants linked to al-Qaida are positioned on Israel's doorstep, Aug. 27, 2014.

Israeli soldiers secure an area where a mortar which was fired during clashes between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad’s forces in the Quneitra province hit in a community in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. For the first time in the Syrian civil war, militants linked to al-Qaida are positioned on Israel’s doorstep, Aug. 27, 2014

In Israel’s view, peace on its northern border would be guaranteed if Syria can be splintered into warring factions. It’s an approach championed at the onset of the civil war in 2012 by Daniel Pipes, a pro-Israel neocon who serves as president of Middle East Forum, a conservative think tank. Arguing that “the continuing Syrian conflict offers benefits to the West,” he explained:

“As Sunni Islamists fight Shiite Islamists, both sides are weakened and their lethal rivalry lessens their capabilities to trouble the outside world. By inspiring restive minorities (Sunnis in Iran, Kurds and Shiites in Turkey), continued fighting in Syria could also weaken Islamist governments.”

He further noted:

“Nothing in the constitutions of Western states requires them to get involved in every foreign conflict; sitting this one out will prove to be a smart move. In addition to the moral benefit of not being accountable for horrors yet to come, staying away permits the West eventually to help its only true friends in Syria, the country’s liberals.”

In a 2012 email released by WikiLeaks, Hillary Clinton offered an Iran-focused variant of this approach:

“The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

The al-Nusra-Israel bond

Ultimately, Israel doesn’t care much about what happens in Syria as long as it can maintain a puppet protectorate along its Golan border. Israel began occupying and administering the region in the Six-Day War of 1967, and it officially annexing the Golan in 1981. Israel continues to refuse to return the territory to Syria despite near universal consensus that the occupation is illegal under international law. Further, the discovery of potential gas deposits there has coincided with a rise in Israeli settlement expansion in recent years.

Examining the al-Nusra-Israeli alliance in the region, it’s clear that the bonds between the two parties have been exceedingly close. Israel maintains a border camp for the families of Syrian fighters. Reporters havedocumented Israeli Defense Forces commandos entering Syrian territory to rendezvous with Syrian rebels. Others have photographed meetings between Israeli military personnel and al-Nusra commanders at the Quneitra Crossing, the ceasefire line that separates the Syrian-controlled territory and the Israeli-occupied territory in the Golan Heights.

A photo from the Israel, Syrian border along the Golan Heights showing IDF soldiers conversing with Jabhat al Nusra fighters.

A photo from the Israel, Syrian border along the Golan Heights showing IDF soldiers conversing with Jabhat al Nusra fighters

U.N. personnel also documented Syrian rebel vehicles picking up supplies from the Israeli side:

“Quarterly UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force] reports since the pullback reveal an ongoing pattern of Israeli coordination with those [al-Nusra] armed groups.

According to the December 2014 report, UNDOF observed two Israeli soldiers ‘opening the technical fence gate and letting two individuals pass from the [Syrian] to the [Israeli] side’ on 27 October. Unlike most fighters seen entering the Israeli side, these individuals were not wounded and the purpose of their visit remains a mystery.

UNDOF ‘sporadically observed armed members of the opposition interacting’ with the Israeli military across the ceasefire line, the report states.

The next UNDOF report, released in March, notes that UN forces witnessed Israeli soldiers delivering material aid to armed Syrian opposition groups.”

These were presumably supplies and equipment designed either to help the rebels in their fight against Assad or to improve communications between Israeli and rebel forces.

Israel’s divide-and-conquer approach

Israel’s support for radical terror groups is a long-term strategy it’s exploited in multiple theaters. Its ultimate purpose is to weaken a strong foe.

In terms of Hezbollah, Israel hadn’t anticipated that the Lebanese militant group would grow to become a much more powerful and dangerous foe than the PLO had ever been in Lebanon.

Israeli soldiers walks near the border with Syria near the site of a Sunday Israeli airstrike, in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Monday, April 27, 2015

Israeli soldiers walks near the border with Syria near the site of a Sunday Israeli airstrike, in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Monday, April 27, 2015

The strategy worked better regarding Hamas because it has never been able to dominate Fatah. The two have maintained a wary and draining battle of wills over the decades, with neither being able to oust the other. This has created a rift that has substantially weakened the Palestinians and their cause. Still, Hamas has trained its sights on Israel as well and become an even more militant foe than Fatah ever was.

Thus, Israel’s strategy of forging an alliance with al-Nusra and strengthening it so that it can wage a formidable fight against Assad, is part and parcel of a longstanding goal of dividing the enemy. Israel hopes the militant extremist group will dominate the Golan region and maintain stability and security there. However, Israel neglects what almost always happens to these golems: Once they are created they take on a life of their own. The creator loses control of his creation, which wreaks havoc and even turns against him.

Just as it happened to Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, and Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, so it happened with the U.S. alliance with the Afghan mujahadeen, and the Israeli alliances with their own Arab proxies.

Israel’s alliance with al-Nusra also points to the utter cynicism of its approach. While the rest of the world labels the group terrorists, and fights to prevent their terror attacks on Western soil, Israel looks only for its own advantage. There’s the old saying that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but in Israel’s playbook, the saying goes: “The enemy of my friend may certainly be my friend.” This rings especially true when Israeli leaders warn the world about the threat of global jihad, while also cozying up to jihadis in their own corner of the world.

Netanyahu looks at Syrian patient IDF field hospital. (photo credit:KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Benjamin Netanyahu looks at Syrian ‘patient’ being treated in an IDF field hospital

The U.S. and European countries seem to either not notice or deliberately ignore Israel’s tactical embrace of the jihadi movement. The Obama administration is even preparing to ink a new record-breaking military spending agreement with Israel that will up U.S. aid from the current $3 billion a year. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded $5 billion per year over the life of the 10-year deal, and the final amount will likely settle somewhere in the middle.

Only Israel gets away with such a level of cognitive dissonance in its alliance with the U.S. Any other ally which depended so profoundly on Washington for its security and existence wouldn’t dare risk endangering that relationship to forge an alliance with an enemy of the U.S. But not Israel. It forges its own path without regard for the interests of others, even its best friends.

(Source / 04.08.2016)

PLO slams Netanyahu video on Palestinian children as ‘cheap and disingenuous’ propaganda

Gaza vernietigd huis

Palestinian children stand amid the rubble of their partially rebuilt house, on May 11, 2015, which was destroyed during the 2014 war in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat slammed on Thursday recent comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Palestinian children, calling it another example of Israel’s “propaganda machine” to justify its “racist narrative” against Palestinians.In a video released online on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he was shaken “to the core of (his) being” after seeing footage of a Palestinian father telling Israeli soldiers “Shoot this little boy, after all you always do that to small children” while holding his son at a demonstration in the occupied West Bank village of Nilin.In his video statement, Netanyahu called the Palestinian father’s actions “inhumane,” and claimed it showed a broader disregard for children in Palestinian society.“Once again, Israel and its propaganda machine attempt to defend its prolonged and belligerent occupation of Palestine,” Erekat said. “Through seconds in a video, Netanyahu justifies the racist narrative that Palestinians are to blame, rather than Israel’s military machine and armed settlers that exercise violence and oppression against the land and people of Palestine.”Erekat expressed particular outrage over Netanyahu’s instrumentalization of Palestinian children.“His public relations tactics won’t change the reality of the daily theft of land and natural resources, the oppression and humiliation that our children suffer on a daily basis, nor will it make us forget that 578 Palestinian children killed in Gaza during the summer of 2014,” Erekat said, in a pointed rebuke to Netanyahu saying in the video that “children are not cannon fodder, they are the most precious things in the world.”“Blaming the Palestinians, and pretending to care about our children, is not only cheap but disingenuous coming from the same government that continues to use every opportunity to violate the rights of Palestinian children, including their fundamental right to a dignified life,” Erekat added, mentioning a recent law passed by the Israeli Knesset allowing the imprisonment of East Jerusalem Palestinian children under the age of 14.“If Mr. Netanyahu truly cares about the future of Palestinian children, he should adopt a culture of peace and justice, rather than his current political program of occupation, colonization, and apartheid.”The PLO statement identified the Palestinian man in the video as Ayoub Sroor, a resident of Nilin and father of five, and released a video interview of the man describing the impact of the Israeli occupation on him and his family. Both Sroor and two of his young sons have been severely injured by Israeli forces in the past.In the interview, Sroor said that he and his three-year-old son Muhammad were attending a demonstration to commemorate the one-year anniversary of an Israeli settler arson attack in the Palestinian village of Duma, in which a toddler and his parents were killed, leaving then-five-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha as the sole survivor.“It was a moment of helplessness,” Sroor said of the demonstration. “I saw the army’s guns pointed at the little children, and I told them: ‘You want to kill little children, here’s the boy.’”Sroor accused Netanyahu of misrepresenting the situation by failing to show what happened before he made these comments.“Mr. Sroor’s helpless reaction shows the desperation a life under occupation creates. Netanyahu and his extremist government are the ones responsible for killing the hope in the minds and hearts of millions of Palestinians,” Erekat said.According to Ma’an data, 54 Palestinian minors have been killed by Israelis since a wave of unrest swept across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October.In March, children’s rights group Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) accused Israel of“improper use of crowd control weapons” against Palestinian children during the same time period, citing UN figures, which said that between October and January, Israeli forces injured at least 2,177 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.Meanwhile, prisoners rights group estimated that 414 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as of May, including 104 under the age of 16.

(Source / 04.08.2016)