Nukes? What nukes? The US delusions about Iran

How the US helps Iran get its nuke – By A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection

The level of self-delusion to which the US Administration is submitting itself in order to justify the Iran deal would be highly comical if it were not so breath-takingly dangerous.  It has reached a state where the US is contradicting the IAEA – itself not exactly world champion in monitoring Iran’s nuclear program in the past.

Here are just a few recent headlines and articles on the reality and the delusion:

The IAEA says that Iran has expanded its Parchin nuclear facility.

The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency reported Thursday that while Iran has largely been complying with agreements on curtailing its nuclear program, it has built an extension to its military facility at Parchin.

A segment of the confidential report seen by the Reuters news agency says the Islamic Republic’s activity at the site since February 2012 has likely undermined the IAEA’s ability to “conduct effective verification.”

“Since [our] previous report [in May], at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building appears to have [been] constructed,” the report was quoted by Reuters as saying.

However the State Department spokesman John Kirby assures us, “Don’t worry. The Parchin facility has no nuclear dimensions”:

State Department spokesman John Kirby‘s response to a media question about building at Parchin not only echoed Najafi’s response, but put the rabbit in the hat. Nukes? What nukes?

Here are the question and answer from the briefing:

QUESTION: There was just one element I wanted to ask you about. I think the report – without getting too much into the details, I mean, it confirmed broad compliance. But there was some mention of the Parchin base again and about construction or other activity that was going on there. Independent of the report, is that something the United States has noted and is also concerned about?

MR KIRBY: Well, I’d say, without getting into the specifics here – as I said, we’re not going to do that – I think it’s important to remember that when you’re talking about a site like Parchin, you’re talking about a conventional military site, not a nuclear site. So there wouldn’t be any IAEA or other restrictions on new construction at that site were they to occur. (emphasis added)

In other words, Kirby, representing the official position of the State Department, has declared that Parchin is simply a regular military site and, despite earlier reports by the IAEA and believed by many analysts, there is no and was no PMD activity there at all.

Not to worry.

Watch Kirby in action:

Interestingly, the IAEA has denied that Iran will be allowed to self-inspect its own nuclear program:

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday downplayed media reports suggesting that as part of the West’s nuclear deal with Iran, the Islamic republic will be allowed to carry out its own nuclear inspections.

“I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. These statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said.

Amano’s statement follows an AP report alleging that the draft version of a side agreement states that Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to monitor the Parchin facility, a site located 12 miles southeast of Tehran where it is suspected Iran has pursued nuclear arms development.

Amano insisted Thursday the final version of the arrangement was “technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. It does not compromise our safeguards standards in any way.”

The State Department downplayed concerns over the draft arrangement with the IAEA as well.

“We’re confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

Hmm. If the State Department is “confident” about the decision then I think we all need to start worrying.

What should concern us as much as Iran’s nukes is Iran’s missile capability and its expansion in clear violation of a UN embargo:.

Reuters reported that Iran, in clear violation of a U.N. arms embargo, has “unveiled a new surface-to-surface missile it said could strike targets with pin-point accuracy within a range of 500 kilometers (310 miles).” The news agency noted that “Iran has said it will not follow parts of the nuclear deal that restrict its military capabilities.”

“We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech at the unveiling ceremony broadcast live on state television. He added that Iranian military might should be seen “as a precondition for peace.”

Despite this defiant announcement a recent news item reveals that the S-300 missile deal between Iran and Russia has not been successful – so far at any rate:

A senior Iranian official said his country and Russia have not been successful in finalizing a widely contested sale of advanced S-300 missile systems due to a disagreement over the sale price, Israel’s NRG reported on Thursday citing the Turkish Anadolu news agency.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a Russian news agency reported that the deal hit a snag over a different issue.

According to a report in Russia’s state-run TASS news agency,  the two countries are unable to agree on how to proceed regarding a lawsuit filed by Iran over Russia’s failure to deliver on an earlier 2007 contract to deliver the systems.

Last week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov announced that the deal had been concluded, telling news outlets that the details of the deal, other than a number of “technical issues,” had been agreed upon. “This transaction has been closed,” Bogdanov said. “We have reached an understanding on the matter with our Iranian partners.”

Earlier in the month, a senior official in the Russian Foreign Ministry said his country would “certainly” deliver the S-300 missile system to Iran some time in the coming year. Responding to a question about whether Iran would receive four S-300 systems instead of three, as was stipulated in the original 2007 contract between the parties, the Russian official responded, “We will act exactly according to what is written in the contract.”

I would bet that this missile deal will eventually go through because both sides need it. Or rather, they both desperately want it. Russia needs the money and Iran wants the missiles.

I just wonder if Israel would consider the missiles en route as a target-rich environment.

And as a small reminder of the Administration’s constant insistence that this deal will remove the threat of war, here in the words of Iran’s leader himself, are Iran’s intentions:

Nima Gholam Ali Pour in the Gatestone Institute writes that the Iran Deal will do precisely the opposite – it will trigger a major war in the Middle East.

The content of the Iran nuclear agreement creates the perfect conditions for a major war in the Middle East — one that could spread and start a major regional conflict.

Despite what President Obama likes to say, it is not true that the agreement “permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” or “cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb”. The agreement means that the U.S. has accepted that after 15 years, or sooner, Iran may build as many bombs as it likes.

Iran is not a country busy trying to preserve its own sovereignty. Iran, instead, undermines other countries’ sovereignty. In the case of Israel’s, the regime in Iran is threatening the nation’s entire existence. Even more astonishing is that the president of the United States gets peevish — and threatens American Jews — when Israel’s prime minister reminds the public of that.

Iran’s regime is, contrary to rumors, extremely pragmatic: it sees that no matter what it does, its survival is not threatened even slightly. Iran’s regime sees — as does everyone else – that even the worst transgressions are, on the contrary, rewarded.

If this agreement were about peace, why do the Iranians need more weapons? If Iran wants peace, why don’t they scrap their missile program and stop supporting terrorist organizations that want to destroy Israel? If Iran wants peace, why does it want weapons that can reach other continents? Which country is threatening Iran’s sovereignty today that makes Iran want more advanced weapons?

If anyone has ICBMs and says “Death to America”, what do you think he will do with those ICBMs?

There are those who compare the Iran deal to the Munich Agreement of 1938. The Iran deal is much worse. Hitler duped Chamberlain and presented himself as a man of peace. No one has duped President Obama. The mullahs openly say “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and have backed up their words with actions.

It was the Iranians who helpfully exposed inconsistencies in the nuclear deal, which the U.S. government had presumably hoped to hide from Americans, such as two side-deals Iran has with the IAEA.[2]

Why would an American president do this? Does he not know at whom the Iranians will point their ICBMs?

I think we know the answer to these questions by now.

As former Vice-President Dick Cheney says, the Obama has surrendered American power:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney, say President Obama has “dangerously surrendered” U.S. global leadership during his time in office.

In an adapted excerpt published by The Wall Street Journal from their upcoming book, “Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America,” the two write that until Obama became president, Republican and Democratic presidents understood the “indispensable nature of American power.”

In my opinion, that was Obama’s intention from the beginning: to weaken America and the West, Israel being a part of this. Now it remains to be seen whether the American people will allow their Congress to go along with this subversion.

Posted in International relations, Iran, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Melanie Phillips on Britain’s lunacies on Iran and Netanyahu

Continuing on the subject of Britain’s rush to warm up relations with Iran, Melanie Phillips was interviewed by veteran journalist Yaakov Ahimeir on “Ro’im Olam” (Seeing the World”), a news magazine on Israel TV channel 1, talking about the “UK’s lunacy on Iran and Netanyahu”.

She explains in her characteristically lucid and precise manner how the British government do not understand the Middle East, and also delves into the insane anti-Israel hatred expressed by the Lunatic Left.

Watch and learn. Warning: It’s depressing viewing. (Another caveat: don’t turn on closed caption subtitles for the short Hebrew introduction. The translation is beyond ridiculous).

 

Posted in International relations, Defence and Military, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Iran | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat Shalom

No time for a Good News Friday post today. It’s been a bit of a crazy week for me, having hosted my annual “kaytanat savta” (Camp Grandma) for my daughter’s children. I had intended to have the (5 out of 6) children in 2 groups – 2 pre-teens and 3 younger ones, but circumstances intervened.

Firstly, since we had been busy with my father-in-law in hospital for nearly 2 weeks, and the new school year rapidly approaching next week, time was short to hold two kaytanot. Secondly, the 2 older girls had very busy social schedules (veritable social butterflies they are!) so the intention was that would come to us for a Shabbat during the year instead of kaytana as “compensation”. However when I turned up to take the little ones, the two pre-teens preferred Grandma to Bnei Akiva. I was a little bit taken aback, but as a good friend said, “you should be chuffed that they prefer you to their friends”. Of course she’s right. But having 5 kids in my charge on my own (hubby was abroad on business) was a little bit tiring (understatement of the century here…).

After a night in which no one went to sleep much before midnight (and the older ones having swiped our iPads and hidden them under their pillows), followed by everyone up by 6 a.m.Smiley With Huge Eyes Smiley Face, Emoticon  I took them to visit their great-grandparents, then the Gymboree, to a movie, and lunch at the mall, followed by the swimming pool, after which I was wiped out (as I’m sure you find hard to imagine Winking Eyes Smiley Smiley Face, Emoticon  ). The children on the other hand were still raring to go when their parents turned up 24 hours later!.. :-D

I had already hosted my son’s children a few weeks ago, but yesterday there was more  excitement with  the birthday party for my 7 year-old granddaughter (our son’s eldest). I counted 19 children there – and they were only family!

A good time was had by all and my daughter-in-law outdid herself with a fabulous birthday cake!

I wish all of you as much nachat from your children and grandchildren as we get from ours.

Shabbat Shalom

The army rests too on Shabbat

And now I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

Posted in Family, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Britain’s rush to warm up relations with Iran

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

From being one of the more cautious members of the P5+1 signers of the Iran deal, Britain has suddenly sprung into action in rapidly warming up its ties with Iran, up to and including a visit of the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond for the reopening of the British Embassy.

Hammond had warm words for the Islamic Republic, declaring himself “surprised to find it so normal” despite the difficulties between the two countries:

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Monday he believed in Iranian’s genuine desire to “turn a page” with the West and develop better ties.

Hammon spoke at the end of a two-day visit to Tehran and a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to mark the reopening of the two nations’ respective embassies after a break of several years.

While he stressed that the countries’ relations remained complex and difficult, he said Iran as a regional power was too important to ignore on Middle East issues.

“It’s hard to see what is the point of advocating dialog with someone who you know has a very different view of the world from you, unless you are anticipating some give and take,” he said, according to the UK’s Telegraph.

He added that the visit had changed his view of the Islamic republic.

“I suspect that I, like many people in Britain and the West, will have had an image of Iran as a desperately theocratic, deeply religious society motivated by ideology,” she said. “What I’ve seen is a perfectly normal, bustling, dynamic, entrepreneurial, thrusting, middle income developing world city, which has clearly enormous potential. You only need to look at it to see the enormous potential.”

Of the regime, he added: “I don’t get the impression of a population cowed by authority. It’s a much more bustling, dynamic place than I had expected — a much more diverse place than I had expected — and the message I’m getting from our interlocutors is that they do want to see the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions as an opportunity to turn a page. That doesn’t mean we can wipe out history — and in particular some very difficult history between Britain and Iran. But it does mean we can agree to draw a line and move on.”

How much of a line is Britain prepared to draw and under what circumstances? For example, Al-Monitor says that Hammonds words on Israel struck a nerve in Iran:

His comments that Iran has shown a more nuanced approach with Israel and “what we’re looking for is behavior from Iran, not only towards Israel but towards other players in the region” has caused a controversy inside the country.

A Fars News headline quoted Hammond as saying “Iran’s position with Israel has changed a little” and that “Iran is no longer a threat to Israel.” However, the text of the article did not include those explosive and incorrect translations.

When asked about Hammond’s comments at a news conference Aug. 25, Rouhani’s media adviser Mohammad Reza Sadegh said, “The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the Zionist regime has always been clear and will remain clear.”

Tasnim News Agency reported that Marzieh Afkham, spokeswoman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, denied that during Hammond’s visit “there were negotiations about the Zionist regime or that Tehran has a different position regarding this regime.”

Iranian member of parliament Fatemeh Alia said on the parliament floor Aug. 25, “On our soil, UK’s foreign secretary spoke with BBC radio and said we will judge Iran’s approach with respect to Israel based on their actions and Iran is no longer a threat to Israel. Presumably, as those who justify [his comments], our foreign minister will once again say the comments are for domestic consumption.”

Alia also criticized Zarif by saying he “didn’t dare use the word the Zionist regime” in his news conference with Hammond. She added, “Unfortunately, some of our officials are faithful and are not traitors, [but] have committed crimes in pursuing normalization in relations with America and Britain.”

So will Britain agree for sanctions to be lifted by next spring despite Iran’s unbending harsh stance towards Israel?

International sanctions on Iran could start to be lifted as early as spring next year, Britain’s foreign secretary said on Monday, as Iran and the West rebuild ties and potentially open up billions of dollars of trade deals.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told Reuters he expected Iran and the United States could officially approve the deal by October. Combined with Iran meeting its commitments in the deal, that could see the start of trade restrictions being lifted.

It’s more than probable, given that lifting the sanctions means money, money, money for the greedy British and Europeans:

Eyeing deals between British firms and Iran, particularly in the oil and financial sectors, Hammond said preparatory work should be done ahead of lifting sanctions so investment can start to flow as soon as the measures are removed.

“There is very clear pitch here not to wait until then,” he said. “There are things that can’t be done. Investments can’t be made, items can’t be imported or exported or whatever. But the business negotiation can start to take place well ahead of that.”

Hammond has previously estimated that $150 billion of Iranian assets frozen outside the country would be released by the nuclear deal. That has prompted a flurry of European visits, including from German and French ministers.

A delegation of senior business leaders flew with Hammond from Britain to Iran, including representatives from Royal Dutch Shell, energy and mining services company Amec Foster Wheeler and Scottish industrial engineering firm Weir Group.

Hammond mentions the diplomatic difficulties with Iran over its role in Syria:

Underscoring the tentative nature of the rapprochement, Hammond said Britain still had fundamental differences with Iran over the long-running conflict in Syria, where Iran gives support to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The thing we disagree on is the role of one single person, Bashar Assad, in this process,” he said.

“The Iranians take the view that, for better or for worse, without Assad there cannot be a political process — he is the glue that holds much of Syria together.

“We take a different view: That a man with so much blood on his hands cannot be part of the future of this country.”

However, Hammond stressed that any form of dialogue between the West and Iran over Syria should be taken as a positive.

However he appears willing to put all that “nastiness” behind him as he displays Britain’s pathetically eager and craven crawl to Iran:

Britain has been cast for decades by opponents inside Iran as a perfidious “Old Fox” or “Little Satan” who does the bidding of “Big Satan,” the United States.

“I sense we are seen now more as part of Europe — a European country with whom Iran will be engaging alongside France, Germany, Italy and others — and less of the imperial Britain of the past with its legacy of involvement in Iran and the region,” Hammond said.

It is interesting to keep in mind the far less forgiving attitude that the very same Philip Hammond took towards Israel during his recent visit, as he slammed Israel for its objections to the Iran deal: To remind you, these are the outrageously patronising and slanderous words that he uttered about Israel – besides getting our capital city wrong:

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told parliament Tuesday that Israel would not have been satisfied with any agreement world powers reached with Iran, and announced he was heading to Israel to personally explain the nuclear deal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv. The answer of course is that Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran,” Hammond told lawmakers ahead of his visit.

“Israel wants a permanent state of standoff, and I don’t believe that’s in the interests of the region. I don’t believe it’s in our interest,” Hammond said.

Well, he was correct about one thing only. It is definitely not in Britain’s interest for Israel to object to the deal. After all, that is the only thing standing between Britain and lots of luvverly Iranian money, all waiting to slide into those greasy British paws.

This all ties in with my previous post in which I quoted from Debka report on Israel’s purchase of Kurdish oil, which mentioned how Britain made a strategic decision to emulate its European counterparts in their rush towards benefiting economically from the new acceptance of Iran into the community of nations. The Debka report notes (emphases are mine):

Even before sanctions were lifted and Tehran had demonstrated its compliance with the nuclear deal signed with the world powers in Vienna on July 14, European ministers were knocking on the door in a quest for financial relations. The Islamic Republic was deemed rehabilitated by the nuclear accord; and the UK saw no reason to lag behind the others. And so Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was personally in attendance at the ceremonial reopening Sunday of the Tehran embassy.

The FT’s report’s timing fitting in perfectly with the British government’s plans to quickly develop profitable ties with the Islamic Republic in the following arenas:

1. The oil industries in Iran and Iraq. London seeks as large a slice as possible of the $150 billion worth of oil and gas contracts on offer by Tehran.

2.  The Islamic Republic was also meant to infer from the FT report that British intelligence resources and its powerful media were available as tools for beating Israel out on the world’s energy markets.

3. Britain’s foreign policy is grounded in accentuating its common interests with Washington. The Obama administration may pose as a champion of Masoud Barzani, President of the autonomous Kurdish Republic of northern Iraq. His peshmerga army has after all distinguished itself in its dogged fight against the Islamic State. But in practice, things are different:  the US administration, to meet the wishes of Tehran and Baghdad, consistently withholds from the Kurds the heavy weapons they need to rout ISIS.

So Britain got a twofer – selling out both Israel and the Kurds. Now that is good economics!

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Iran, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Israel assists the Middle East through oil and trash

A couple of stories caught my eye this week through which a common thread runs – that of Israel being able to provide a solution to assorted Middle Eastern problems.

A Lebanese man passes a pile of garbage blocking a street in east Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. AP

Lebanon is in the throes of a trash crisis, as a simple labour dispute has degenerated into widespread  violent “You Stink” demonstrations; the army has moved in and people have even been injured. Hundreds of tons of uncollected rubbish are strewing the streets causing an environmental and health danger.

Incredibly the UN urged restraint! Do they ever urge anything else? What has restraint got to do with civic protests against the lack of refuse collection?

A wounded woman is moved on a stretcher by medics during a protest against corruption and rubbish collection problems near the government palace in Beirut, August 22, 2015. (Reuters)

However what should have been a relatively minor domestic labour dispute has the menacing potential of turning into something much worse as it emerges that Hezbollah might be trying to exploit the political tension behind the crisis in order to topple the government:

The goal of Hezbollah, the Lebanese politicians told Al-Arab, is “to create a power vacuum amid the [Lebanese] parliament’s failure to elect a new president who is acceptable to everyone.”

These politicians see proof of this in the fact that at the beginning of the “You Stink” protests, Lebanese citizens critical of the government’s inability to deal with trash were holding up signs to this effect. But, as soon as Hezbollah operatives joined in, placards suddenly appeared, calling for the toppling of the government, with a focus on two of Hezbollah’s political foes — Prime Minister Salam, and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.

But help might be at hand from an unlikely source! An Israeli startup has provided a solution to the Bedouin of the Negev for their manure disposal problem. (In fact I blogged about this almost a year ago).

HomeBioGas, based in the Beit Yanai moshav in central Israel, has invented a portable “anaerobic digester” that turns kitchen waste and livestock manure into cooking-gas.

Installing a HomeBioGas ‘digester’ in al-Awja in the Jordan Valley.

“Families in these areas not only live off the grid,” HomeBioGas sales manager Ron Yariv told The Algemeiner. “But they dwell in tents or tin huts.” This, he said, forces them to burn wood from trees or goat manure to generate fire for cooking.

“This is arduous and dangerous,” he said, adding that more than four million people across the world die annually from the toxic fumes emitted during this process. “It is also very harmful to the environment.”

So far, the company has installed 37 systems, one per family. Most of these are in the Palestinian village of al-Awja in Jordan Valley, with a smaller number provided to Negev Bedouins. In two months, another 37 will be delivered.

The portable product is 1.6 by 1 meters, as unobtrusive as the individual gas tanks commonly used in Israel, hooks up to the stove, also provided by the company, with a pipe.

The families in the pilot project were given instructions on how to save and funnel their organic waste into the device for optimal use. And subsequent follow-up visits have been regular, according to Yariv.

The project, in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Peres Peace Center, is funded by the European Union to the tune of half a million euros.

Gas is produced in the “digester” through fermentation of organic waste mixed with water and certain bacteria, which then multiply. An added benefit, said Yariv, is that a liquid is created from the process that can be used as organic fertilizer for crops. The price for consumers has not yet been determined, but the device itself costs a few hundred dollars in materials and construction.

Well, you can’t argue with success can you? If it works for the Bedouin why shouldn’t it work for the Lebanese? Think how much fuel they could produce at the same time. It’s a win-win situation as far as I can see. They just have to get round that little problem called Hezbollah who won’t be too happy to see any cooperation with Israel.

On a much more serious note, Israel needs oil and ISIS are a menace to the entire world. Israel’s latest oil purchase has the potential to solve two problems at once.

Israel Hayom reports that according to the Financial times, Israel bought $1 billion worth of oil from the Kurds, thus financing their fight against ISIS in a roundabout fashion:

Israel has imported around 75% of its oil in recent months from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the British Financial Times newspaper reported on Sunday.

A Kurdish oil ship off the coast of Israel | Photo credit: Reuters

The report called the Israeli oil purchases “a vital source of funds” for the Kurdish fight against the Islamic State group. Other major purchasers of Kurdish oil include Italy, France and Greece.

According to shipping data, trading sources and satellite tanker tracking cited by the report, Israeli refineries and oil companies imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between the beginning of May and August 11 this year, a total worth around $1 billion based on international prices during that period.

The report said the sales to Israel represented “another fissure” between the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government in Baghdad. The Iraqi government does not recognize Israel and has no official ties with it.

So much for the American attempt to install a pro-Western (and therefore pro-Israel?) government in Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government said it did not sell oil “directly or indirectly” to Israel, but, according to the report, ties between the Kurds and Israel go back several decades.

“We do not care where the oil goes once we have delivered it to the traders,” a senior Kurdish government adviser in Erbil was quoted as saying. “Our priority is getting the cash to fund our Peshmerga forces against Daesh [Islamic State] and to pay civil servant salaries.”

Good for the Kurds for turning a blind eye to where their oil goes to, and I’m sure they know very well that its destination is Israel. I hope that it’s only political necessity that makes them deny any connection to Israel, and not enmity. Good for Israel too for turning to unconventional sources for our fuel needs, although we Israelis are still waiting for those natural gas fields to start delivering.

A side-effect of this deal is yet another possible confrontation between Netanyahu and Obama, as the blogger War Sclerotic reports via Debka:

That Israel and other nations were buying oil from the Kurdish republic of Iraq had been published before and was no secret. The Financial Times broke its “discovery” Sunday, Aug. 23, just by chance? on the day that Britain and Iran reopened their respective embassies in Tehran and London after a four-year breach resulting from a mob attack on the Tehran embassy.

Even before sanctions were lifted and Tehran had demonstrated its compliance with the nuclear deal signed with the world powers in Vienna on July 14, European ministers were knocking on the door in a quest for financial relations. The Islamic Republic was deemed rehabilitated by the nuclear accord; and the UK saw no reason to lag behind the others. And so Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was personally in attendance at the ceremonial reopening Sunday of the Tehran embassy.

The FT’s report’s timing fitting in perfectly with the British government’s plans to quickly develop profitable ties with the Islamic Republic …

The pejorative depiction of Israel’s purchase of Kurdish oil was meant to gain London points – not just with Iran and Iraq, but also with the Obama White House.

In serving this purpose, TheFinancial Times found no editorial need to fill in the pertinent Middle East background of the trade.

Exactly a year ago, debkafile discovered and reported that Kurdish oil was being delivered to Israel. Several media discovered an American warship that was described at the time as stalking the United Kalvyrta tanker which carried a million barrels of Kurdish oil. The warship planned to prevent the oil being unloaded at any port, since Washington viewed the cargo as the legal property of the Iraqi government – not the KRG which had put it up for sale. Had the oil reached its purchasers, it would have been nearly impossible to cut off Kurdistan’s export trade to clients outside Iraq.

This American step was part and parcel of the US negotiating tactics for a nuclear accord, then at one of their critical moments. The Obama administration was anxious to show Tehran how closely the US would play ball with Iran and Shiite-dominated Iraq on the vital issue of oil, once the nuclear accord was in the bag.

But the episode did not pan out as expected.

This is what happened: “The partially full Kamari tanker carrying Kurdish crude oil disappeared from satellite tracking north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Two days later, the empty vessel reappeared near Israel.”

No one in the trade doubted for a moment that the vanishing oil had been unloaded at an Israeli port.

Since all matters relating to energy are made in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office, it stands to reason that the decision to buy oil from the KRG came from the top.
Netanyahu’s readiness to go head to head with the Obama administration on this issue had two motives:

First, Kurdish oil was cheap. Irbil denies undercutting the market, but debkafile’s sources report that it was willing to do so in the case of Israel.

Second, the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration don’t see to eye to eye not just on nuclear Iran, but on Middle East policy in general – and the autonomous Kurdish republic of Iraq, in particular.

This week, as Netanyahu marked the first 100 days of his fourth term as prime minister, his critics described him as weak and lacking in accomplishments. The Kurdish enterprise was one of several cases in which he quietly took a strong initiative.

This is a very interesting theory – and I hope it’s correct and not just Debka day-dreaming.

I like the idea of Israel putting one over the White House, and I also like the idea of Israeli trash recycling saving Lebanon from terrorism. It all fits so nicely!

Posted in energy sources, Israel news, Mideast news, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jeremy Corbyn, the Left, and its antisemitism problem

The hitherto almost-unknown British Labour MP and backbencher Jeremy Corbyn has surged ahead in the Labour elections for a new leader, and to the establishment’s surprise and utter horror, it looks like he will become the new leader.

I wrote about Corbyn’s very anti-Jewish and anti-Israel “friends” Hamas, Hezbollah and others, last week. This week there has been an outpouring of horrified British commentators on the possible election of Corbyn.

Dan Hodges at the Daily Telegraph has produced an alarming prediction that:

Corbyn will be cheered by racists and terrorists:

As the Labour Party is about to learn to its cost, Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents have no need to manufacture anything. All they have to do is faithfully reproduce what he says and what he thinks.

Which is why I’m happy to acknowledge that those of his supporters protesting vociferously that their champion is not an anti-semite are correct. Jeremy Corbyn does not personally indulge in prejudice.

But he does indulge prejudice. He associates with anti-semites and other extremists. He provides a platform for anti-semites and other extremists – Dyab Abou Jahjah is on record as saying Corbyn helped make his recent visit to the UK possible. And he shares platforms with anti-semites and other extremists.

Dyab Abou Jahjah (centre) and Jeremy Corbyn (right)

Corbyn and his supporters have attempted to defend his actions in a number of ways. One is to scream “smear” a lot. A second is to claim no anti-semitism or extremism was expounded by these men in his presence. And I suppose it is conceivable he may have been duped by the odd Holocaust denier or Blood Libeler. But it is odd he has only become aware of their duplicity just at the point when he is running for the Labour leadership.

Their third justification is that Mr Corbyn feels it necessary to sit with people with a range of views (some of them unsettling), in his search for a solution to the decades-long Palestinian/Israeli conflict. …

And instead let’s consider this. Imagine if an MP attempting to understand growing public sensitivities around immigration invited Nick Griffin to the House of Commons, along with a member of the fascist-terror group Combat 18. …  What would the reaction be? What would Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters do?

The Labour party used to be clear on this stuff. Zero-tolerance of racism. Zero-tolerance of apologists for racism. No platform for racism.

And now that’s gone. It’s all gone. Holocaust deniers. Blood Libelers. Anti-semitic conspiracy theorists. Terrorist sympathisers. Terrorists. We are Labour. How wide and how high would you like your platform to be?

I have been one of the Labour Party’s fiercest critics. But I never thought I’d see this day: the day Labour started to launder prejudice. The day its commitment to standing against all forms of bigotry was so casually slaughtered on the altar of political ideology and expediency.

Soon Jeremy Corbyn will become Labour leader. When he does, his supporters will cheer his victory. And Paul Eisen and Stephen Sizer and Raed Salah and Dyab Abou Jahjah will pause a while from Holocaust denial, and conspiracy theories and Blood Libel and dreams of dead British soldiers. And they will stand at the very top of their platforms. And they will cheer his victory too.

In a similar manner, the blogger Tom Owolade also agrees that while Corbyn himself may not have actually uttered any antisemitic words or committed such deeds, he does condone such words and deeds. In a blistering attack on Corbyn’s supporters he insists that:

Corbyn’s supporters should be honest:

Those who defend Corbyn rely on two arguments: firstly, that guilt by association – attending the same event as anti-Semites – is an insufficient base on which to build an argument. Secondly, that opposition to Israeli policies doesn’t entail anti-semitism, and consequently those that criticise Corbyn are doing so from a position of bad faith; out of a wish to shield Israel from legitimate criticism or part of a general right-wing agenda. Both arguments are strawmen that rely on a misapprehension of most people’s motives and inattention to their arguments.

The argument that criticism of Corbyn comes from a position of bad faith fails to account for the fact that the people Corbyn supports don’t hate Israel but Jews – a distinction which, for them, is meaningless anyway. It fails to account for the fact that it is not just Blairites, neocons, and neoliberals who worry about a potential political leader palling with racists. People who think anti-semitism is worrisome in itself worry too – and so they should, for it is a matter of principle first and foremost.

What it irritates me most is the dishonesty with which Corbyn’s apologists have defended his links to racism. The charge is he endorses and willingly attends events organised by anti-Semites, not that he merely and accidentally associates with them. This charge is supported by evidence of him saying positive things about racists and attending events organised by groups ideologically committed to racism. Corbyn’s supporters should be honest: they should concede Corbyn supports anti-Semites. But they should then concede, that to them, this support doesn’t matter. They should be honest and concede that anti-semitism under the cover of anti-Zionism doesn’t matter to them, and is secondary to opposing austerity and opposing western foreign policy.

Jeremy Corbyn’s pals: Head of Islamic Movement Raed Salah and the antisemitic vicar Steven Sizer

 

Let them then concede that parts of the left are now morally bankrupt on the issue of racism. They should admit that they’re diminishing the values they pretend to espouse. Let them concede all of that, and support the MP from Islington with a candid heart – but not, in reality, with an anti-racist one.

Whew! As if that’s not enough, the most serious indictment, not only of Corbyn but of the left and its antisemitism problem, comes from Stephen Daisley, of the Scottish STV news channel, who writes:

Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. It’s so much worse than that:

The Labour leadership frontrunner has a singular talent for extending a warm welcome to anti-Semites and extremists.

He invited “friends” from Hezbollah and Hamas, both proscribed terrorist organisations. …

He invited Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement, to tea on the Commons terrace. Salah promotes the blood libel that Jews murder children for blood to bake in their matzah and claims that thousands of Jews stayed home from work at the World Trade Centre on 9/11, a key component of the conspiracy theory that Jews and not Islamic fundamentalists were behind the attacks.

He invited Dyab Abou Jahjah and shared a platform with the Belgian radical. Abou Jahjah called the killing of British soldiers in Iraq “a victory” …

Elsewhere, his connections to Holocaust-denier Paul Eisen have been documented by the Jewish Chronicle. … . In fact, as JC political correspondent Marcus Dysch has revealed, Corbyn attended a 2013 event for Eisen’s Deir Yassin Remembered group.

Holocaust denier Paul Eisen sits with Jeremy Corbyn in St. John’s Wood Church in 2013

…  He cannot recall meeting Abou Jahjah, despite a picture of the two of them sitting side-by-side on a panel. He was unaware of Eisen’s views at the time. He stresses that Salah “did not at any stage utter any antisemitic remarks to me”.Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. How I wish that he were. How much easier it would make things. We could chalk all this up to the prejudices of one man and we could avoid the raw, awkward conversation we’re about to have. Because this isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn; he’s just a symptom and a symbol. The Left, and not just the fringes, has an anti-Semitism problem.

Contrary to left-wing mythology, anti-Jewish prejudice has never been the exclusive preserve of aristocratic snobs or skinhead fantasists. “The Jew is the enemy of the human race,” declared Proudhon. “One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.” Bakunin labelled Jews “bloodsucking people” while Orwell, self-consciously anti-Semitic, even obsessed over the excessive number of Jews sheltering in London’s Underground during World War II. (No matter what the Jews do to protect themselves, it’s always disproportionate.)

The contemporary Left, in most cases, would recognise these statements as irrational prejudice. But what if we substituted “Zionist” for “Jew”, what would happen then? How many would object to “Zionists” being termed enemies of the human race? How many would be glad to see the “Zionist” become impossible? Anti-Zionism has removed much of the need for classical anti-Semitism by recycling the old superstitions as a political critique of the State of Israel. Why risk the ridicule that comes with quoting The Protocols of the Elders of Zion when you can cite The Israel Lobby and win eager nods from academics and commentators? Why deny the Holocaust when you can throw it back in the Jews’ faces by fictionalising Gaza as a concentration camp? Why hurl rocks at a Jew in the street when you can hurl endless vexatious UN resolutions at Israel?

The Left’s unhinged antipathy towards the State of Israel has let loose ugly sentiments wholly unmoored from such legitimate criticisms. Israel is execrated as uniquely malignant and its enemies held up as plucky freedom-fighters or victim-idols. Corbyn and his like sup with Hamas and Hezbollah, they say, because we must talk to all sides to resolve the conflict, even the extreme and unpleasant. It would never occur to them to invite representatives of the Jewish Defence League to Parliament or to count Baruch Marzel or Michael Ben-Ari as “friends”.

Why don’t the policies of the Chinese government in Tibet or against the Uighurs in Xinjiang inspire comparable protests and boycotts?

The problem goes deeper than asymmetry. For too many on the Left, Jewish suffering does not touch them the way Muslim suffering or gay suffering or black suffering touches them. Scrutiny of Corbyn’s associations elicits cries of “smear” or just a collective shrug of the shoulders. It was always going to. We lack a language to talk about anti-Semitism because too many on the Left don’t consider it a serious problem and couldn’t recognise it as readily as racism, misogyny or homophobia anyway.

Those who are questioning Jeremy Corbyn’s associations are dismissed as “extreme Zionists” and yet I struggle to imagine critics of a politician’s links to white supremacists being shouted down as “black nationalists”. The Left gets racism; it doesn’t get anti-Semitism. It’s forever on Cable Street battling a long-gone menace while around the corner thousands march and chant “from the river to the sea”.

Israel has become the Jew of world affairs, affluent, successful, provocatively different.

If only Israel allowed Hamas to build up its terror statelet in Gaza unimpeded, angry Muslim youths wouldn’t riot in the French banlieues. If only Jews were driven once again from Kfar Etzion and Giv’on HaHadasha — this time not in blood but in cushioned, air-conditioned UN buses — there would be no more 9/11s.

To be an anti-Zionist is to say the Jews alone have no national rights. The Left are committed internationalists; they just make an exception for every country in the world besides Israel. Today a European leftist is someone who sees “Jews, get out of Palestine” on a wall and tuts, before scoring out “Jews” and writing “Zionists” above it.

Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite and nor are most people on the Left. He is a petition-signer who never reads the small-print, a sincere man blinded as so many radicals are by hatred of the United States and Western power. But his ascendancy comes at a time of great upheaval and populist torrents battering the centre-left and centre-right. It is a storm in which the organisation of politics against the Jews could once again prove an anchoring force in Europe.

Corbyn has declared: “We all have a duty to oppose any kind of racism wherever it raises its head, in whatever form it raises its head.” When he is elected Labour leader next month, Corbyn will become a pivotal figure on the international Left. He should use that office to mature his own politics and shepherd his comrades towards a civil and tolerant radicalism.

My only real quibble with Stephen Daisley is his assertion that neither Corbyn nor most people on the Left antisemites. With the wealth of evidence abounding of the outright Jew-hatred of those they associate with, with whom they share platforms and whose acts they condone, can only be blind if they wish to be so.

I don’t see a snowball’s chance in hell for Corbyn to “shepherd his comrades towards a civil and tolerant radicalism”. Daisley is blinding himself with wishful thinking. It’s tempting to follow suit but in order to fight this evil we have to keep our eyes wide open.

The last word goes to words of warning from David Hirsh who presents the Jewish point of view:

What if Corbyn should (G-d forbid) be elected:

The problem, however, is that these current challengers of the Thatcher/Reagan economic consensus appear to be intensely relaxed about anti-democratic politics, so long as it is anti-American; anti-Semitism so long as it is anti-Israel; and jihadi Islamism, which is seen as a defensive response to the real enemy, imperialism.

Corbyn does not understand the distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, and the distinction does not seem to interest him.

His political support for anti-Semitic movements leads him into a series of encounters with anti-Semitic individuals.

He says he is being smeared by association, a backbencher is busy, anyone who supports liberation movements meets some strange people along the way. But his associations with anti-Semites are not random accidents.

The worry is also that in their response to mounting criticism here in Britain, the Corbyn campaign is happiest denouncing its critics – as Tories, neo-liberals, Zionists or Blairites. It prefers to de-legitimize opponents than to relate rationally to their criticism.

In other words Corbyn’s supporters are tempted by totalitarian methods and practices, as well as alliances and worldviews.

Some Labour activists believe that if Corbyn wins then this will condemn Britain to decades more Tory government. They imagine the dismal fate of a Labour candidate in a general election who is associated with people who hope for the death of British soldiers, with anti-Semites, with homophobes and with woman-haters. But we should not entirely discount a more troubling possibility. Perhaps Corbyn could be successful in knitting together the resentments and the prejudices of those who feel all at sea in today’s frightening world: those who are anti-European Union, anti “Westminster elite,” isolationist, anti-banker, anti-Zionist, anti-American, anti-democracy and pro-conspiracy theory.

And that is the most terrifying vision of all.

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