Archive | November 2017

Quran Sneaking Into Christian Settings

BY PAUL BREMMER/WND.COM

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There will be a new feature in the Christmas program at one Norwegian elementary school this year: the Quran. But it’s only the latest example of the Muslim holy book showing up in a Christian environment.

The Stigerasen School in Skien, Norway, announced last week that this year’s Christmas festivities would feature students reading not only the typical Bible verses but also two verses from the Quran.

The Quranic verses are about Jesus, but Muslims consider Jesus only a prophet, not the Son of God. And Christmas is not an Islamic holy day; Muslims typically do not celebrate it at all.

The Quran has pushed its way into other Christian settings around the world. In January, passages from the Quran were read from the lectern of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland.

The cathedral had invited local Muslims to join its service on the feast of Epiphany to promote understanding between Christianity and Islam.

A Muslim student read from the Quranic chapter that tells the story of Jesus’ birth to the virgin Mary. The chapter contains the Islamic teaching that Jesus is not the Son of God and should not be worshipped, which led some Anglicans to criticize the cathedral for allowing the verses to be read.

In July 2016, a verse of the Quran was sung from the altar in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, Italy.

While the Catholics in attendance recited the Creed, a delegate of al-Azhar mosque in Cairo chanted an Islamic prayer for peace. It happened during a Mass in memory of Father Jacques Hamel, who was murdered by ISIS terrorists in his church in France.

Meanwhile, in the parish church of San Martino in Rebbio, Italy, a veiled Muslim woman read the Quranic verses that announce the birth of Christ during Mass on Christmas morning 2015. The priest, Fr. Giusto della Valle, intended it as a gesture of interreligious dialogue.

In fact, Pope Francis allowed the reading of Islamic prayers and Quran passages from the Vatican, the very seat of Roman Catholicism. It happened in June 2014 when Francis met with the late Israeli president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Vatican City at a gathering to pray for Middle East peace.

America is headed down a suicidal path and not many Americans understand the full extent of the problem. Get all the details in Leo Hohmann’s “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad,” available now in hard copy or e-book at the WND Superstore.

According to anti-Shariah activist Pamela Geller, this has all sadly become par for the course.

“This is a sign of the times in Europe,” said Geller, author of “Stop the Islamization of America.” “It’s as if the Europeans know who their new masters and overlords are. The same spirit of appeasement and submission that animates such initiatives in Europe is alive and well here.”

Indeed, 50 U.S. churches in 26 states invited Muslim clergy to come and read from the Quran in their sanctuaries on June 26, 2011. It was part of the “Faith Shared: Uniting in Prayer and Understanding” initiative, a project of Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. The project was an effort to counter “anti-Muslim bigotry” at a time when Quran burnings had been in the news. The Washington National Cathedral was one of the churches that took part in the initiative.

Leo Hohmann, a WND news editor and author of “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and the Resettlement Jihad,” had harsh words for the Christians who have allowed the Muslim holy book to be read in their sacred spaces.

“Allowing the Quran to be read inside a church is the equivalent of the ancient Israelites setting up an image of a false god in the Holy of Holies,” Hohmann declared. “It’s blasphemous. Why? Because the Quran denies the deity of Christ, denies that God is a Father or that he had a Son, and also denies the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. What’s left of Christianity that Islam and the Quran do not deny?”

Hohmann noted American public schools are not helping students learn the true nature of Islam. Rather, they are teaching children a sanitized, politically correct version of Islam that obscures its fundamental differences with Christianity, he said.

“They are being taught Islam believes in Jesus and worships the ‘same god’ as Christianity and Judaism,” he said. “All lies. But how can we expect a nation that no longer knows or recognizes its own God to recognize a fake when it’s put forth and celebrated by godless Marxists in our school systems and even in many of our churches?”

As Hohmann mentions in “Stealth Invasion,” the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska, is perhaps the most striking interfaith effort in America today. It’s composed of a group of Jews, a group of Christians and a group of Muslims who have located their houses of worship on the same campus “to promote dialogue, transcend differences, foster acceptance, and build bridges of respect and trust,” according to the initiative’s mission statement.

Hohmann said members of the initiative lately have been spreading their message about the “same god” and “common ground” between the three faiths to churches and schools in the Omaha area.

On Oct. 24, the imam associated with the Tri-Faith Initiative, Mohammad Jamal Daoudi, spoke for 30 minutes in front of the altar at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Omaha, Hohmann said.

“During his address to the Omaha Catholics, the imam denied Christ, denied the crucifixion, denied the resurrection and denied the authenticity of the Bible – all with the blessing of the church’s priest, Father Tom Bauwens.”

America is headed down a suicidal path and not many Americans understand the full extent of the problem. Get all the details in Leo Hohmann’s “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad,” available now in hard copy or e-book at the WND Superstore.

 

Another way Islam is stealthily invading the Church is through certain prophecy teachers using its myths concerning the Mahdi to sell the Muslim Antichrist/Mid-East Beast garbage. 

“The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy”. Polluting it in this way is just another means of promoting Chrislam.  

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Palestinian Education – Raising The Next Generation To Hate

BY ABIGAIL R. ESMAN/ALGEMEINER.COM

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For Palestinians, Dalal Mughrabi is a legend — a heroine — celebrated for having killed 38 Israelis (including 13 children) in a 1978 massacre along Israel’s Coastal Highway.
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But when Belgium funded a school for Palestinian children in 2013, it didn’t expect the institution to be named in Mughrabi’s honor. Thus, when officials learned last month that the former ‘Beit Awwa Basic Girls School’ in Hebron had been renamed to celebrate the Lebanese terrorist, the Belgians immediately froze all funding to the Palestinian Authority’s educational projects.
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In response, the school, whose logo depicts a map eliminating Israel, wrote on its Facebook page: “The name of Dalal is engraved in our hearts and will remain engraved in our minds.”
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Belgium planned to fund ten more schools in the coming three years, The Algemeiner reported. Those projects would have come in addition to the 20 schools that the country has already helped build in the Palestinian territories, through a €71.6 million, four-year support package set up in 2011.
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Health Report
Belgium’s national contribution to the Palestinian Authority (PA) government comes on top of the EU’s general support, which in 2016 came to €291.1 million. Most of those funds are distributed through PEGASE, an EU initiative established in 2008 to provide direct funding to the PA, enabling it to pay out pensions, civil servant salaries and basic public services.
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Belgium is not alone: in 2017, the UK pledged £25 million to cover the salaries of PA employees in the West Bank. And, according to a Mail on Sunday report, several schools funded by the UK are also named for terrorists.
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Other European contributions have come from France (€8 million in 2016), and Germany (a whopping €160 million annually), among others. Almost all of these payments are funneled through PEGASE, though Germany insists that none of its funds are used for pensions, salaries or ongoing payments that the PA makes to Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel and their families. These payments reportedly total an estimated $140 million per year.
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Yet some analysts and monitors dispute those claims.
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“Following repeated queries by an opposition lawmaker, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin last month also acknowledged that funds for so-called ‘martyrs’ and Palestinian prisoners sitting in Israeli jails for security-related offenses come not only from the Palestine Liberation Organization but partially from the PA’s own budget,” a 2016 Times of Israel report said. This would mean that German funds may have helped pay for them.
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EU funds, in other words, are not just helping to celebrate terrorists, but to support and train them in schools named after “heroes” like Mughrabi.
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America stands apart from these European funders, but it is not entirely innocent. The US sent more than $700 million to the Palestinians in 2016. Still, America’s contributions to the Palestinians have decreased in recent years, and are subject to extensive vetting, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
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Moreover, whereas EU payments are distributed through PEGASE, the US works through USAID, which — since 2014 — has primarily used the funds to pay off Palestinian Authority creditors, rather than send it directly into PA accounts.
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Even stricter restrictions on US aid may be put into place in the coming year.
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The Taylor Force Act, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed in August, will “make future US assistance that directly benefits the PA contingent on it ending its current policies concerning payments to convicted terrorists and families of terrorists,” according to Haaretz.
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The act requires that the secretary of state regularly enforce PA compliance by certifying it has “terminated payments for acts of terrorism against American and Israeli citizens after being fairly tried and who have been imprisoned for such acts of terrorism, including the family members of the convicted individuals.” In addition, “The PA will also have to take ‘credible steps’ against incitement to violence against Israelis and Americans,” The Jerusalem Post reported. The Taylor Force Act, Haaretz predicted, could go into effect as early as 2018.
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Even with the Taylor Force Act, however, the US is expected to continue much of its financial assistance to the PA, including several million dollars dedicated to humanitarian relief, infrastructure and the development of private sector initiatives. And as with Belgium and the UK, America continues to finance education efforts and the building of schools.
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According to the Times of Israel, these schools are primarily for Palestinian refugees in Jordan and elsewhere, established through the UN Relief And Works Agency (UNRWA)
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But this, too, may be about to change. Until recently, the curriculum in these schools was largely regulated by the Palestinian Authority, in keeping with UNRWA standards of teaching “the curriculum of the host country.” Included in that curriculum: lessons demonizing Jews, encouraging “martyrdom” through terrorism and celebrating terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi.
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But revisions to the UNRWA programs introduced in April now require that schools eliminate those incitements to violence, and include recognition of Israel. The US Congress has reportedly threatened to suspend school funding if these changes, which affect the education of more than 300,000 Palestinian children, are not implemented.
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Now, with Belgium’s retreat from educational support of Palestinian schools that honor terrorists, other countries are likely to re-examine their funding of Palestinian schools. The UK, for example, halted $30 million in aid last month.
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At first glance, this seems appropriate. But it also opens up new dilemmas and questions about the future prospects for Middle East peace. Educating Palestinian youth is increasingly important in the Internet age — and in the ongoing battle for hearts and minds. Abandoning education initiatives risks allowing Fatah, Hamas and other terrorist or Islamist groups to oversee the schooling of these children — leaving them vulnerable to the constant propaganda machines of other terror groups.
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The West’s best hope, then, would seem to be continuing to provide our own alternatives, with a curriculum of our own making. The question is how to best proceed — and how effective we ultimately can be.

 

Holding the PLO (and the State Department) accountable

by Caroline Glick

 

Is the PLO’s long vacation from accountability coming to an end? How about the State Department’s?

In 1987 the US State Department placed the PLO on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. The PLO was removed from the list in 1994, following the initiation of its peace process with Israel in 1993.

As part of the Clinton administration’s efforts to conclude a long-term peace deal between the PLO and Israel, in 1994 then president Bill Clinton signed an executive order waiving enforcement of laws that barred the PLO and its front groups from operating in the US. His move enabled the PLO to open a mission in Washington.

In 2010, then president Barack Obama upgraded the mission’s status to the level of “Delegation General.” The move was seen as a signal that the Obama administration supported moves by the PLO to initiate recognition of the “State of Palestine” by European governments and international bodies.

Whereas Obama’s PLO upgrade was legally dubious, the PLO’s campaign to get recognized as a state breached both of its agreements with Israel and the terms under which the US recognized it and permitted it to operate missions on US soil.

The operation of the PLO’s missions in the US was contingent on periodic certification by the secretary of state that the PLO was not engaged in terrorism, including incitement of terrorism, was not encouraging the boycott of Israel and was not seeking to bypass its bilateral negotiations with Israel in order to achieve either diplomatic recognition or statehood. Under Obama, the State Department refused to acknowledge the PLO’s breach of all the conditions of US recognition.

Angry at the administration’s facilitation of PLO breaches, in 2015 Congress mandated stricter and more precise conditions for continued operation of the PLO’s mission in Washington. Starting in 2016, the PLO was explicitly banned from advocating the prosecution of Israelis by the International Criminal Court. In 2015 the PLO joined the ICC with the explicit purpose of advocating the prosecution of Israelis. And in conformance with this purpose, in his speech before the UN General Assembly in September 2017, PLO/PA chief Mahmoud Abbas called for the ICC to prosecute Israelis for building communities in Judea and Samaria.

Given his experience with US administrations since Clinton, Abbas had every reason to believe that he would suffer no repercussions for his statement. No US administration had ever called the PLO/PA to account for its open breach of the terms of US recognition. So it isn’t surprising that Abbas and his advisers were utterly shocked when on Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the PLO mission in Washington informing PLO envoy Husam Zomlot that he could not renew certification of PLO compliance with US law in light of Abbas’s statement in September.

The only way for the mission to remain in place is if President Donald Trump certifies within 90 days that the PLO is engaged in “direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

One of the primary functions of the PLO mission in Washington is to promote and fund the boycott movement against Israel – in contravention of the terms of its operation and the terms of its agreements with Israel.

In written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa in February, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies revealed that the mission is “said to be actively promoting campus BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] activity in the US.”

“PLO operatives in Washington, DC,” Schanzer said, “are reportedly involved in coordinating the activities of Palestinian students in the US who receive funds from the PLO to engage in BDS activism. This, of course, suggests that the BDS movement is not a grassroots activist movement, but rather one that is heavily influenced by PLO-sponsored persons.”

In April 2016, Schanzer informed Congress that the PLO consulate in Chicago is a major funder of the BDS campus group Students for Justice in Palestine. The chairman of the US Coalition to Boycott Israel, which among other things funds BDS, is Ghassan Barakat, an official at the PLO’s Chicago consulate. His colleague, Senan Shaqdeh, is a member of the coalition. Shaqdeh also claims to be the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, the antisemitic BDS group that operates on campuses throughout the US.

As Schanzer noted, in 2014 Shaqdeh traveled to Ramallah to meet with Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.

The US consulate in Jerusalem has the same status as an embassy. Like the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, the US consul general in Jerusalem reports directly to the State Department. He is not accredited to Israel. His area of operations includes Jerusalem and its environs within and beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including Beit Shemesh, Mevasseret Zion, Judea and Samaria.

Israeli citizens who live within the consulate’s area of operations are not permitted to receive consular and visa services from the embassy in Tel Aviv. Among the over a million Israeli Jews that are required to receive US consular services from the consulate rather than the embassy are tens of thousands of Jewish dual nationals.

And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Consul General Donald Blome similarly directs all of his efforts toward reaching out to the Palestinians, ignoring as a regular practice the millions of Jews who live in his area of responsibility.

The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”

Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.

Tillerson’s letter to the PLO mission on Friday came two weeks before Trump will have to decide whether or not to sign a related waiver. On December 1, Trump will either allow the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act to come into force or he will sign a waiver postponing the embassy move for yet another six months.

In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Portents of a quagmire in Syria

by Caroline Glick

 

Is the war in Syria won?

The images broadcast this week from Sochi, the Russian vacation town on the Black Sea coast, were pictures of victory – for the bad guys.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stood beside his Syrian client, President Bashar Assad, who licked Putin’s boots, as well he should have.

Assad owes his regime and his life to Putin.

The next day, Putin was joined by his allies – the presidents of Iran and Turkey.

Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the pilgrimage to Sochi to stand at Putin’s side and declare victory in the war and dedicate themselves to the cause of “peace and reconciliation” in post-war Syria.

To achieve their lofty goals of peace and reconciliation, Putin and his partners declared that, in the near future, Sochi will be the sight of a peace conference where all the relevant factions in Syria will be represented. The parley they described is set to take place parallel to – and one assumes at the expense of – the sixth round of Syrian reconciliation talks scheduled to take place under UN auspices next week in Geneva.

Several Israeli commentators viewed Putin’s Sochi talks precisely as he wished them to.

Ehud Yaari, Reshet/Keshet’s veteran Arab affairs commentator declared: The US is finished in the Middle East! The capital of the Middle East is now located in Sochi, he proclaimed in back-to-back newscasts.

In certain respects, Yaari is right. Things are looking good these days for the axis of evil.

Wednesday was a particularly good day for Iran. Not only did Rouhani do his victory dance with Putin and Erdogan, but as they were showering themselves in triumph in Sochi, Iran’s Lebanese puppet, Saad Hariri, was returning to Beirut after his misadventures in Saudi Arabia.

As expected, Hariri canceled the resignation he announced dramatically a week-and-a-half earlier in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after accusing Iran and its Hezbollah army of controlling Lebanon.

On the surface, Hariri’s return is a boon for Iran. If he had remained in Saudi Arabia, Iran would have lost its fig leaf.

Hariri’s duty as prime minister is to snow the West into believing that his government and the Lebanese Armed Forces are a counterweight to Iran and Hezbollah, even though they are controlled by Iran and Hezbollah.

Until his trip to Riyadh, Hariri had been doing a good job.

Hariri’s lobbying efforts won Lebanon billions of dollars in US military and civilian aid. Congress would never have agreed to appropriate the assistance if Hariri hadn’t been so persuasive.

But it is far from clear that Hariri will be much of a fig leaf after he let the Iranian/Hezbollah cat out of the bag in Riyadh.

A rising chorus of US lawmakers are demanding an immediate end to US assistance to the LAF. And Hariri’s return to Beirut didn’t dim those voices.

In August, Hariri visited President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump praised Lebanon as “an ally” in the war on terrorism. He increased US aid to the LAF and deployed US special forces to Lebanon where they fought at the side of the LAF under effective Hezbollah command.

It’s hard to imagine Trump welcoming Hariri back to the White House anytime soon.

As for Erdogan, he arrived in Sochi a spent force.

Erdogan is perhaps the biggest loser of the war in Syria. He was the principal sponsor of the anti-Assad opposition that morphed into Islamic State. Erdogan’s cooperation owes mainly to his lack of better options. The US stopped supporting his campaign in Syria two years ago.

Since the failed military coup against him in July 2016, Erdogan has become ever more hostile to the US. This hostility informed his recently concluded deal with Putin to purchase Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system. The S-400 threatens every fighter craft in the US arsenal. US officials have responded to his move by seriously considering the possibility of canceling the sale of 100 F-35s to Turkey.

Turkish expulsion from NATO – once a taboo subject – is now regularly discussed in Washington policy circles.

The main reason Erdogan has sided with Putin in Syria is because the US has sided with Syria’s Kurds. Erdogan views the Syrian Kurds as a threat to the stability of his regime. He expects Putin to support his determination to destroy Kurdish autonomy in Syria.

If Putin fails to meet his expectations, Erdogan may abandon his new friends. Or he may stick with them and just become ever more dependent on Putin.

Whatever the case, he won’t be empowered by his membership in Pax Putin.

And this brings us to Putin and Russia.

Certainly it is true that the Sochi summitry has cemented Putin’s position as savior of Mother Russia.

A mere generation ago, Russia was a washed up, fifth-rate power. At the end of the Cold War, the world belonged to America. Today, world leaders beat a path to Putin’s door.

But not everything is roses and sunshine.

Russia’s alliance with Iran and Turkey is predicated on Russia remaining in Syria – come what may.

And what is coming is not likely to be pretty.

While Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani were congratulating themselves in Sochi, another conference was happening in Riyadh. There, leaders of the anti-Assad militia were meeting to discuss their next moves ahead of the UN-sponsored talks next week in Geneva.

True, the forces represented in Saudi Arabia aren’t as powerful as the Iranians, Hezbollah and Russia. But they have guns. And they are disgruntled. And if any number of governments want to give them more guns, they will have more guns and bullets. And they will shoot them at the people keeping Assad in power.

Commentators declaring the dawn of a Russian-controlled Middle East where the US is dead to rites ignore another basic fact. There are a lot of US forces in Syria.

In late October, US Major General James Jarrard, commander of the US’s anti-ISIS task force in Iraq and Syria, “accidentally” told reporters that there are 4,000 US troops in Syria. When reporters pounced on his statement, Jarrard quickly backtracked and said he made a mistake.

There are only 500 US forces in Syria.

Whoopsie daisy.

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the administration does not intend to withdraw US forces from Syria now that the mission against ISIS is largely complete.

US forces in Syria are concentrated in Syrian Kurdistan. If the US protects the Kurdish autonomous areas along the border with Iraq, Erdogan will again lose a big bet in Syria. His alliance with Putin will have brought him nothing but a deterioration of his ties with the US and instability at home as Turkish Kurds expand their ties to the autonomous Syrian brethren.

Angry, unreconciled, well-armed rebel forces and autonomous Kurds are far from the biggest threat to Putin’s victory in Syria. The biggest threat to his triumph is Syria itself.

Thanks in large part to Putin and his allies, Syria, today, is one vast ruin.

According to UN assessments, reconstruction costs for the country will run anywhere from $200 billion-$350b.

Does Putin intend to finance Syrian reconstruction? How about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or Erdogan or China? Of course not.

And, if Syria remains a ruin, Syria will not be pacified; and, if Syria isn’t pacified, it will continue to bleed.

The media made a big deal about Putin’s phone call to Trump after his meeting with Assad. Some commentators viewed the call as proof Putin is calling the shots in the Middle East. Others saw the opposite – that Putin doesn’t dare move too far ahead of the Americans.

But those views are likely both wrong.

Putin’s record indicates that he cares about two things: reasserting Russia’s great power status and money. For his victory in Syria to avoid becoming a Pyrrhic one, he needs lots of American money to finance Syrian reconstruction.

This brings us to the US, and what Washington wants to do in Syria and the wider Middle East.

So far, the Americans have made every possible mistake in Syria and Iraq.

Then president Barack Obama allowed Assad to commit a genocide of Syria’s Sunnis and foment the refugee crisis in Europe. He allowed Iran and Hezbollah to take over Syria and Iraq. He allowed Erdogan to organize an anti-Assad rebel force dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which over time morphed into ISIS. He allowed the Russians to use the war as a means to reassert their position in the Middle East 33 years after the Soviets were humiliated and expelled from the Levant.

For his part, Trump has maintained Obama’s Syria policies in relation to Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Assad. He expanded US military assistance to the LAF. He permitted Iranian militias controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to cooperate with US-trained Iraqi forces in seizing Kirkuk from Kurdish forces. In so doing, Trump betrayed the Kurds, the US’s only reliable allies in Iraq.

If the Americans wish to maintain their record of failure, they have many options for doing so. They can abandon the Syrian Kurds. They can help Putin by underwriting Syrian reconstruction.

They can continue to arm the Hezbollah-controlled LAF. But the Americans do have an option to succeed, as well.

If Trump keeps US forces in Syrian Kurdistan, and if he refuses to help pay for Syrian reconstruction so long as Assad remains in power and Iranian and Hezbollah forces remain on the ground and if the US ends its civilian and military assistance to Lebanon, the US and its allies will be strengthened, and Russia and its allies will be weakened.

If the Americans do not interfere as Syrian “freedom fighters” defend against Iranian or Russian “aggression,” it won’t matter what terms the Iranians give Putin for gas, or oil or nuclear deals. He will seek a way out of Syria.

On May 1, 2003, then president George W. Bush landed a S-3 Viking fighter craft on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln dressed in a flight suit. Before an audience of cheering troops and against the backdrop of a banner that read “Mission Accomplished,” Bush declared: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

A month later, the real Iraq war started.

In the years that followed, probably not a day went by when Bush didn’t regret his victory dance on the USS Lincoln.

Putin, Rouhani and (to a much smaller degree) Erdogan are right that, as of now, they are the victors in Syria. But let us not empower them by believing them invincible. Their victory against ISIS – achieved with massive US assistance – is certainly an achievement. But it isn’t the end of the story. If the Americans do not save them, the situation on the ground augers quagmire, not triumph, for their axis and for their separate regimes.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

The potential of the Saudi purges

by Caroline Glick

 

The purges in Saudi Arabia are a shocking development with strategic implications. But to understand their potential promise, it is important to understand the context in which they are taking place.

For 70 years, Saudi Arabia served as the largest and most significant incubator of Sunni jihad. Its Wahhabist Islamic establishment funded radical mosques throughout the world. Saudi princes have supported radical Islamic clerics who have indoctrinated their followers to pursue jihad against the non-Islamic world. Saudi money stands behind most of the radical Islamic groups in the non-Islamic world that have in turn financed terrorist groups like Hamas and al-Qaida. Saudi money to universities and think tanks has insulated radical Islam from scrutiny by Western governments and academics.

As Mitchell Bard documented in his 2011 book, The Arab Lobby, any power pro-Israel forces in Washington, DC, have developed pales in comparison to the power of Arab forces, led by the Saudi government. Saudi government spending on lobbyists in Washington far outstrips that of any other nation.

According to Justice Department disclosures from earlier this year, since 2015, Saudi Arabia vastly increased its spending on influence peddling. According to a report by The Intercept, “Since 2015, the Kingdom has expanded the number of foreign agents on retainer to 145, up from 25 registered agents during the previous two-year period.”

Saudi lobbyists shielded the kingdom from serious criticism after 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were shown to be Saudi nationals. They blocked a reconsideration of the US’s strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia after the attacks and in subsequent years, even as it was revealed that Princess Haifa, wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington at the time the September 11 attacks occurred, had financially supported two of the hijackers in the months that preceded the attacks.

The US position on Saudi Arabia cooled demonstrably during the Obama administration. This cooling was not due to a newfound concern over Saudi financial support for radical Islam in the US. To the contrary, the Obama administration was friendlier to Islamists than any previous administration.

The Obama administration’s placed Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters in key positions in the federal government. For instance, in 2010, then secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano appointed Mohamed Elibiary to the department’s Homeland Security Advisory Board. Elibiary had a long, open record of support both for the Muslim Brotherhood and for the Iranian regime. In his position he was instrumental in purging discussion of Islam and Jihad from instruction materials used by the US military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The Obama administration’s cold relations with the Saudi regime owed to its pronounced desire to ditch the US’s traditional alliance with the Saudis, the Egyptians and the US’s other traditional Sunni allies in favor of an alliance with the Iranian regime. The administration’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood was due in large part to the Brotherhood’s close ties to the Iranian regime.

Those ties — long deemed impossible by scholars and policymakers due to the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni group which, it was assumed was intrinsically hostile to Shiite Iran — became increasingly overt.

In 2013, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president Mohamed Morsi hosted Iranian leaders in Cairo. Morsi was poised to renew Egypt’s diplomatic ties with Iran before he was overthrown by the military in July 2013. Morsi permitted Iranian warships to traverse the Suez Canal for the first time in decades.

Due to the open alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, Saudi Arabia joined Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in 2014.

The growing Saudi anxiety over Iran, and over the US’s cold shoulder convince Riyadh to do what would have been unthinkable in other circumstances. Due to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s leading role in opposing Iran’s nuclear program and its rising power in the Middle East, and due to Israel’s open support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a key Saudi ally, the Saudi regime began changing its position on Israel.

Netanyahu’s long-time foreign policy adviser, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president Dr. Dore Gold, authored the 2003 bestseller Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism which exposed Saudi Arabia’s role in promoting jihadist Islam, . And yet, less than a decade later, he spearheaded a process of developing Israel’s security and diplomatic ties with Riyadh. Those ties, which are based on shared opposition to Iran’s regional empowerment, led to the surprising emergence of a working alliance between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE with Israel during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas – the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is in the context of Saudi Arabia’s reassessment of its interests and realignment of strategic posture in recent years that the dramatic events of the past few days in the kingdom must be seen.

Last Saturday’s sudden announcement that a new anti-corruption panel headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the near simultaneous announcement of the arrest of more than two dozen royal family members, cabinet ministers and prominent businessmen is predominantly being presented as a power seizure by the crown prince. Amid widespread rumors that King Salman will soon abdicate the throne to his son, it is reasonable for the 32-year-old crown prince to work to neutralize all power centers that could threaten his ascension to the throne.

But there seems to be something more significant going on. While many of the officials arrested over the weekend threaten Mohammed’s power, they aren’t the only ones that he has purged. In September Mohammed arrested some 30 senior Wahhabist clerics and intellectuals. And Saturday’s arrest of the princes, cabinet ministers and business leaders was followed up by further arrests of senior Wahhabist clerics.

At the same time, Mohammed has been promoting clerics who espouse tolerance for other religions, including Judaism and Christianity. He has removed the Saudi religious police’s power to conduct arrests and he has taken seemingly credible steps to finally lift the kingdom-wide prohibition on women driving.

Mohammed has also escalated the kingdom’s operations against Iran’s proxies in Yemen.

And if that weren’t enough, also on Saturday, the Saudis staged the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri amid Hariri’s allegations that Hezbollah and Iran were plotting his murder, much as they stood behind the 2005 assassination of his father, prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

It is hard to imagine that the Saudi moves were not coordinated and synchronized with the Trump administration. Just day days before, the administration released most of the files US special forces seized during their 2011 raid of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The files, which the Obama administration refused to release, make clear that Obama’s two chief pretensions – that al-Qaida was a spent force by the time US forces killed bin Laden, and that Iran was interested in moderating its behavior were both untrue. The documents showed that in 2011 al-Qaida’s operations remained a significant worldwide threat to US interests.

Even more significantly, the bin Laden documents showed that Iran was al-Qaida’s chief state sponsor. Much of al-Qaida’s leadership, including bin Laden’s sons, operated from Iran.

Just as it ignored Iran’s open alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Obama administraiton insisted that Shi’ite Iranians and Sunni terrorists from al-Qaida and other groups were incapable of cooperating. The documents reveal that this claim was a deliberate distortion of reality in the service of the Obama administration’s unsupported assertion that the Iranians are a credible actor with whom the US can develop an alliance and for whom it is worth abandoning the Saudi, Egyptians and Israelis.

By moving to highlight Iranian sponsorship of al Qaida and other Sunni terror groups now, as Saudi Arabia takes more determined steps to slash its support for radical Islamists, and separate itself from Wahhabist Islam, the administration drew a clear distinction between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Given Saudi Arabia’s record, and the kingdom’s 70-year alliance with Wahhabist clerics, it is hard to know whether Mohammed’s move signals an irrevocable breach between the House of Saud and the Wahhabists.

But the direction is clear. The events of the past week make the lines between the forces of jihad and terrorism led by Iran, and the forces that oppose them are clearer than ever before. And the necessity of acting against the former and helping the latter has similarly never been more obvious.

UK government discriminates against Christian refugees from Syria

Whitehall officials attempt to block access to statistics which reveal how victims of genocide are neglected by UK and UN

THE UK government and the UN are discriminating against Christians and other minorities in their refugee programmes according to new Home Office statistics, seen by Barnabas Fund an aid agency which works for persecuted Christians.

Last week Barnabas Fund finally obtained figures proving that the UN has only recommended tiny token numbers of Syrian Christians, Yazidis and other minorities for resettlement in the UK. The overwhelming majority of refugees recommended by the UN have been Sunni Muslims who form the majority in Syria. But Christians, and other minorities have been repeatedly targeted for attack by Islamist groups such as IS.

The new statistics, obtained in a Freedom of Information Request to the Home Office by Barnabas Fund, of the religious background of Syrian asylum seekers recommended by the UNHCR for resettlement in the UK revealed:

  • In 2015 out of 2,637 refugees there were only 43 Christians, just 13 Yazidis and only one Shia Muslim. In 2016 the statistics were even worse. Out of 7,499 refugees there were only 27 Christians, five Yazidis and 13, Shia Muslims.
  • It is widely accepted that Christians made up 10 per cent of Syria’s pre-war population and Shia’s around 1.5 per cent while there are estimated to have been 70,000 Yazidis in Syria.

Disturbingly, UK officials tried to prevent the release of this information. Barnabas Fund submitted a freedom of Information request to the UK Home Office in February. And in spite of being legally required to release it within 28 days, officials failed to do so and repeatedly stalled or simply did not answer correspondence. Eventually, Barnabas Fund lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner’s office. On 19 September the Information Commissioner issued a formal notice requiring the Home Office to release this information within 35 calendar days or face contempt of court proceedings. Even then, the information was only released at the very last minute after Barnabas Fund  had contacted the immigration minister’s office, alerting him to the situation and asking him personally to ensure civil servants complied with the order.

“This is shocking behaviour by both UN and UK officials. In 2005 the UN formally adopted the responsibility of states to protect citizens from genocide and crimes against humanity. These statistics show that the UN has itself failed miserably and inexcusably in this respect,” said Martin Parsons, Head of Research at Barnabas Fund.

“Christians and other minorities in the Middle East have been treated shamefully by the UN. And the UK government has abjectly outsourced its own responsibilities to the victims of genocide in spite of repeated representations,” he added.

Barnabas Fund obtained these figures just as US Vice President Mike Pence announced that the US government would now directly help persecuted Christians and other minorities because much UN help has simply failed to reach Christians and other who were victims of genocide in Syria.

For further information contact: Andrew Carey, 07973 698531

Scientists: Existence of the Universe Defies Physics

by Julie Borg. WORLD News Service.

 

According to the laws of physics, the universe should have annihilated itself as soon as it came into existence.

Evolutionary scientists who adhere to the Big Bang theory argue that only energy existed in the beginning, then, as the universe expanded, some of the energy transformed into matter. When energy converts to matter, the reaction always creates an equal amount of antimatter, particles with a charge opposite their counterpart. So, for example, a proton of matter has a positive charge and a proton of antimatter, an antiproton, has a negative charge. But, since opposites attract, if equal amounts of matter and antimatter existed in the very beginning, they would have obliterated each other.

Earlier this year, scientists for the first time developed a way to measure antimatter, a discovery they hoped would enable future researchers to solve the mystery of how the universe survived.

Experts think some difference, some asymmetry, between matter and antimatter must exist that protected the two from a fatal attraction in the beginning. They have checked out numerous possibilities so far, including shape and mass, but found no differences. In the latest study, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or CERN) in Switzerland investigated magnetism and, once again, came up empty-handed.

“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist,” Christian Smorra, author of the CERN study, told the Independent of London.

But the enigma doesn’t surprise Brian Miller, research coordinator for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. It is just another example of the razor-edge fine-tuning all around us that points to the existence of a creator, he told me.

“The fact that all the details are just right for life when almost any other set of laws of physics would have produced a universe that couldn’t support life strongly suggests that there is a creator who designed those laws specifically with life in mind,” Miller said.