NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The United Arab Emirates’ top diplomat says evidence his country possesses indicates that recent attacks against oil tankers inside UAE waters were “state-sponsored.”
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan didn’t name the state, but said his country wants to work with other nations to prevent a further escalation of tensions in the region.
On Friday, the U.S. military released video footage it said suggested that Iran wanted to hide evidence that it was behind the attacks. Iran has denied involvement.
Al Nahyan said after talks with Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides on Saturday that the U.A.E. presented this evidence to the U.N. Security Council in a “very technical, open and transparent” manner.
He said the UAE’s conclusion is that these were “state-sponsored attacks.”
The apparent attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday represents a dramatic escalation in regional and international tensions. Coming just one month and one day after an attack on four other oil tankers in the same area, oil prices have spiked upward in fear of what might happen next.
What’s going on here? Blame Iran.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudis might want a United States showdown with Iran but they would not risk jeopardizing the U.S. relationship by conducting a false flag attack. Moreover, the damage to the two tankers in this latest incident is suggestive of a torpedo attack: video shows at least one of the tankers on fire with waterline damage amidships. Iran has an array of means for such an attack, including attack submarines of various sizes, disguised fishing and passenger boats, and military fast boats.
Regardless, this attack fits comfortably with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps penchant for thinly deniable action. Suffering deep financial losses due to escalating U.S. sanctions, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps wants to pressure the international community into restraining the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy. Iran will hope that this attack is sufficiently calibrated to avoid clear evidence of its culpability and thus avoid U.S. retaliation. In that, it is designed as a halfway measure between doing nothing and inviting U.S. retaliation by overtly attempting to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.
But Iran’s escalation should not be seen solely through the prism of this attack. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has made veiled but apparent threats of Iranian resistance to the Trump administration’s pressure. And an Iranian-enabled missile attack on Saudi Arabia this week illustrates that the Revolutionary Guards is escalating. This sits squarely within Iran’s theocratic penchant for resistance against great odds (look up the Battle of Karbala).
The question is how the U.S. and its allies should respond.
The surprise announcement came from the State Department.
Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict.
U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias may also threaten U.S. citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad.
Per news sources, the United States told people to ‘bug out” of Iraq because of “specific and credible” intelligence that Iranian forces and/or their proxies were planning to target U.S. forces in locations including Iraq. That was behind the Pentagon recommending a carrier strike group be moved to the region, and Secretary Pompeo’s rush trip to Iraq last week.
Investigative Journalist and Iran expert Ken Timmerman gave insight into the source of the Iranian threats last week. Timmerman explained there was recent intelligence that Iran was planning “imminent” attacks on U.S. persons or U.S. assets in Iraq. The intelligence came from an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) General in charge of information, who was fired by the supreme leader on April 19th and reacted to being fired by defecting to the west.
Iran Commentary, an online news portal that publishes information about Iran’s human rights abuses and illicit activity provided some of the details behind Timmerman’s Report. The defector, General Ali Nasir had a vicious argument with a superior officer, General Hossein Taeb. Nasari walked out of the meeting and left the country.
Statement from the National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton
NATIONAL SECURITY & DEFENSE
Issued on: May 5, 2019
In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force. The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.
If only that could happen here.
The most far-reaching consequence of the 2019 Israeli election may well be that it verified, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there is functionally no left left in Israel. It has become a country with a center, a right, and a far right, but no electorally viable left to speak of.
The U.S.-led coalition and its Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) allies have reduced the so-called Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) caliphate to a small collection of tents in a tiny village under President Donald Trump’s watch, several news outlets acknowledged this week.
“They try a psychological war. But that is it! The war is over, and we won,” a commander of the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters declared, asking the Associated Press (AP) that he be identified only by his nom de guerre, Baran, in accordance with SDF rules.
The commander acknowledged that the group is holding a small village and indicated that the U.S.-backed force would wait for the jihadis to run out of resources: “They don’t have supplies in the area they are in that would last for a week or more.”
Couldn’t have said it better.
In most of the world, “Never Forget” was a nice but meaningless thing to say, along the lines of, “Genocide is bad, mmkay?” To the Israeli Defense Force, it means,
“You’ve got to come through us” and they take it with deadly seriousness.
Two U.S. service members, a defense contractor and a Department of Defense civilian were killed in an attack Wednesday near Syria’s border with Turkey — a bombing claimed by the Islamic State terror group, officials said.
U.S. Central Command confirmed the four deaths in a statement, adding three service members were also injured in the explosion, which occurred while the service members were conducting a local engagement in Manbij, a key city in northern Syria patrolled by a U.S.-led coalition.
Video footage showed an explosion on a busy street and what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter evacuating the injured.
The Islamic State — also identified as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh — claimed credit for the attack on its news website Amaq.
A massive swarm of locusts plagued Mecca, Saudi Arabia, earlier this week, prompting authorities at Islam’s holiest site to launch a cleaning operation to remove them.
Videos posted to social media showed the insects swarming around cleaners and worshipers in the city’s Grand Mosque, where millions of Muslim pilgrims congregate every year.
“Specialized teams have been directed to work in the fight to eliminate these insects,” authorities in Mecca said, according to the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news site.
“We have harnessed all efforts available to speed up the eradication of the insects in the interest of the safety and comfort of guests of God’s house,” the authorities said.
According to CNN, officials identified the locusts as migratory “black grasshoppers” and said that 22 teams consisting of 138 people were dispatched to deal with the infestation.
Well all righty then.
A tale of two terrorist organizations
For the first time ever, a U.S.-led campaign to condemn the anti-Semitic terrorist organization Hamas was supported by a record number of 87 states at the United Nations. However, in keeping with its systemic moral bankruptcy and institutionalized anti-Israel bigotry, the UN ultimately failed to acknowledge that Hamas is an anti-Semitic terrorist organization whose racist charter openly demands the Jewish state’s destruction, and the U.S. resolution fell short of the two-thirds majority required to pass.
While many countries voted to condemn Hamas, hardly any countries condemn its supposedly “moderate” political rival Fatah. Most of the world still insists that the Ramallah regime led by Mahmoud Abbas is a crucial partner in the Arab-Israeli peace process. It is no secret that Hamas and Fatah are bitter political rivals. After military clashes in 2007, Hamas defeated Fatah and took over control of the Gaza Strip. Under Abbas, Fatah has responded by increasingly imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
When it comes to the Jewish state, however, Fatah and Hamas may differ on tactics but are ultimately two sides of the same terrorist coin. In fact, Fatah strongly supported Hamas during the U.S.-led UN vote. Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki declared: “If Hamas, which is involved in resistance, is considered a terrorist movement, this means that all groups of the Palestinian people are involved in terrorism.This contradicts reality, as Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian factions are national liberation movementsthat are involved in resisting an Israeli occupation that is implementing terrorism against the members of our people…”
Osama al-Qawasmi, official Fatah spokesperson, concurred: “We firmly oppose the American-Israeli attempts to denounce Hamas as terrorist at the UN, and we will fight to thwart the proposal.”
To many Western post-Christian liberals, a “secular” Fatah official in a Brooks Brothers suit seems like a reasonable peace partner. In contrast to the openness of Islamist Hamas’s calls for Israel’s destruction, Fatah has successfully duped gullible Westerners with a false “peace” message in English while regularly inciting terrorism against Israel in Arabic. When addressing the West, Fatah skillfully deceives liberals by co-opting liberal concepts like “national liberation” and “freedom.” In reality, Fatah advocates oppression of its own population and ultimately the destruction of the Jewish state.
Western liberals mistakenly think the Arab-Israeli conflict is about specific borders — territorial. But as far as Fatah and Hamas are concerned, the term “occupation” refers to Israel’s very existence within any borders. In this context, Jews are demonized as “illegal settlers” whether they live in Israeli communities in the disputed territories or in Tel Aviv. Israel within internationally recognized boundaries is frequently erased from official Fatah maps.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley blasted the anti-Jewish bigotry at the UN: “There is nothing more anti-Semitic than saying that terrorism is not terrorism when it is used against the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”
Terrorism against Israel and civilian Jews is driven by the genocidal goal of wiping the Jewish state off the map. Israel’s withdrawals from Gaza and other territories led to even more anti-Israel terrorism.
Just as no sane person would suggest that reconciliation is possible with al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, the latest candid statements from senior Fatah officials make it abundantly clear that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate peace with Hamas and Fatah terrorists who want Israel to rest in peace.
Iraq has made Christmas Day a national holiday, its government confirmed this morning.
The Iraqi Cabinet approved an amendment to its national holidays law which creates a new official one ‘on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ’.
Previously, Christmas Day had been designated as a religious break only for the Iraqi Christian community, but the amendment extends the holiday to everyone.
‘Happy Christmas to our Christian citizens, all Iraqis and to all who are celebrating around the world,’ the Iraqi government wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul-Mahdi (centre), whose Cabinet announced today that it is extending the holiday of Christmas Day, originally just for Christians, to everyone in Iraq
Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul-Mahdi (centre), whose Cabinet announced today that it is extending the holiday of Christmas Day, originally just for Christians, to everyone in Iraq
‘We extend our warmest wishes to Christians in Iraq and around the world for a very happy and peaceful Christmas,’ it added.
Iraq is a 95 per cent Muslim country – 66 per cent are Shia and 29 per cent Sunni.
There are thought to be only around 300,000 Christians remaining in the country, the vast majority of whom are
President Trump has decided to order a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. ground troops from Syria, where they have been assisting local Kurdish and Arab forces fighting ISIS, according to several reports.
There are currently some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria as part of Operation Roundup, the final push to eliminate ISIS is in its final stages. A defense official as saying the withdrawal is expected to occur as quickly as possible.
After the reports were published, Trump took to Twitter to declare, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday morning local time that Australia would recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
However, he declared that Australia would hold off on moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and acknowledged Palestinian demands to a capital in East Jerusalem as part of an eventual peace agreement.“Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said at a press conference in Sydney.
“We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status determination,” he added while affirming his administration’s commitment to a two-state solution.
Morrison’s predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, had ruled out following the U.S. in moving Australia’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Looks to be gaining steam
The British Yellow Vests who brought Central London to a halt Friday with a flash protest have told Politicalite they plan to bring even more cities to a standstill.
The group which was made up of around 60 protesters stopped traffic and demanded action this morning on Westminster Bridge chanting: “What do we want? Brexit! When do we want it? NOW!” before Met Police arrived.
Outraged by the rising cost of living and price hikes on basic services, Israeli citizens who were inspired by the French Yellow Vest movement took to the streets of Tel Aviv demanding concessions from the government.
Wearing bright fluorescent yellow vests, symbolic of the French grassroots movement, some 600 Israeli activists blocked the Azrieli intersection and adjacent roads in the city center, accusing the government of “robbing” the people.
The United States Bishops have praised new legislation that will direct humanitarian relief to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria and hold Islamic State militants accountable for their crimes.
“Today is a signal of hope for the critically vulnerable of this region,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, who also thanked the bill’s sponsors Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), as well as President Donald Trump who signed the bill into law Tuesday.
The GOP-controlled Senate on Wednesday dealt a significant blow to President Trump by voting to advance a resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen in the aftermath of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying.
Senators agreed to begin debate on the measure despite only 11 of the chamber’s 51 Republicans joining with all Democrats to support it. The legislation would require Trump to withdraw any troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days; the president has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
The Senate could begin debating a measure as early as Monday that would override the Trump administration and force the withdrawal of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The effort is fueled in large part by a strong sense among lawmakers in both parties that the United States needs to rebuke Saudi Arabia over the murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
The Senate has never considered a measure to withdraw U.S. military forces from an overseas conflict, and the resolution would compel them to take such a vote. Many think the Senate will take it up.
The vote hasn’t been scheduled yet, but Senate lawmakers anticipate Monday’s agenda will include passage of a motion to proceed to the joint resolution.
Israeli special forces conducted a raid in the Gaza city of Khan Younis on Sunday night, apparently killing several suspected Palestinian terrorists, including a senior commander in Hamas’s military wing, and bringing the region back to the brink of war.
The IDF later confirmed that a special forces officer was killed and another injured in the raid. The military censor prevented news of the IDF officer’s death and the second officer’s injuries from being published until their families could be notified. The names of the soldiers were not released by the military, which cited national security concerns.
The fighting set off a massive round of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and at least a dozen rockets or mortar shells were fired at southern Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Sunday he would return to Israel immediately and cut a trip to Paris short.
תיעוד התקיפות בעזה- pic.twitter.com/xCd66uv15I
— שמעון ארן شمعون آران (@simonarann) November 11, 2018
— Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) November 11, 2018
Long hostile to Israel, McCollum is cheered at annual meeting of radical “U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights”
The false claim that Israel is an ‘apartheid’ state underpins the intellectual foundations of the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement. The smear actually originated in anti-Zionist campaigns that were initiated by Communist states during the Cold War.
Since the 2001 UN conference in Durban, which launched the BDS movement, the comparison of Israel with racist apartheid-era South Africa has also been a key leitmotif of anti-Israel activists.
Today, this apartheid smear has become a key strategy of the Islamist-Leftist coalition arrayed against Israel. The tactic has had some success overseas, but it hasn’t really caught on in mainstream U.S. political circles. But now the Israel haters have made inroads by getting a congresswoman with a long history of hostility to Israel to use it at the annual conference of one of America’s most virulent anti-Israel organizations.
Why McCollum was wrong to say Israel practices ‘apartheid’
It’s truly disappointing to hear that so many people were overjoyed by McCollum’s words, and that they’re so lacking in basic elementary facts about Israel that they can believe comparing it to South African apartheid is actually an “accurate description.”
The apartheid regime in South Africa was a state-sponsored segregation and subjugation of an indigenous people based on race. It was a structure that doesn’t even in the least bit begin to describe majority-minority relationships in Israel. As scholar Benjamin Pogrund, who was a leading activist in the fight to dismantle the South African apartheid regime, puts it:
Under apartheid, every detail of life was subject to discrimination by law. Black South Africans did not have the vote. Skin color determined where you were born and lived, your job, your school, which bus, train, taxi, and ambulance you used, which park bench, lavatory, and beach, whom you could marry, and in which cemetery you were buried. Israel is not remotely like that…So anyone who equates Israel and apartheid is not telling the truth.”
Russia warned the US twice on September 1 and again on September 6 that the Russian military, together with Syrian and pro-regime forces, planned to carry out counterterrorism operations inside the 55-kilometer deconfliction zone. It accused the US and its coalition partners of harboring terrorists.
Immediately following Russia’s threats, the US Marine Corps conducted a live-fire demonstration at the At Tanf garrison to drive home the point that the US military did not need Russia’s help eliminating terrorists.
In the nearly two weeks since, the Russians have not contacted the US military about operations inside the deconfliction zone, an area the Syrians and the Russians want to access to build a strategic land bridge between Tehran and Damascus.