Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Netanyahu To Putin: Israel Is Prepared To Intervene In Syria To Counter Iranian Influence, Peace Deal Must Include Full Withdrawal Of Iranian Forces



Netanyahu to Putin: Iran must withdraw from Syria or Israel will ‘defend itself’


Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel is prepared to intervene in Syria to counteract the Iranian influence in the conflict. Moscow, which views Iran as key to resolving the crisis, said it will note Israeli interests.
When the two leaders met in Sochi on Wednesday, Netanyahu told Putin that any peace deal in Syria must entail the full withdrawal of any Iranian forces from the area.
"Iran is already well on its way to controlling Iraq, Yemen and to a large extent is already in practice in control of Lebanon," Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying. "We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel."


"Israel opposes Iran's continued entrenchment in Syria. We will be sure to defend ourselves with all means against this and any threat."
Iran supports Syrian President Bashar Assad in the civil war that has been gripping the country for six years. Israel considers the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah to be little more than a proxy of Tehran, and fears a Syrian government victory will further amplify Iranian influence at its borders and give Tehran access to the Mediterranean.

Israel publicly considers Iran an even bigger threat to its security than Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
"It is not an exaggeration to think that within a certain period of time, the Islamic State will lose its territorial footholds in Syria,"said Netanyahu, as quoted by Haaretz. "There will be a much better prospect for cutting the current civil war short and preventing a future war if Iran is not in Syria."
"I made it clear to Putin that Iran's establishing itself in Syria will not aid stability in the region, and I told him that we want to prevent a future war and therefore it is important to warn in advance."


Israeli officials may be particularly concerned about an Iranian presence near the Golan Heights, a disputed territory between Israel and Syria, part of which is under Israeli occupation. In July, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) opened fire on Syrian positions in response to two stray shells landing on the Israeli-claimed side.


The Israeli Air Force (IAF) have repeatedly carried out air strikes on the Syrian territory since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. In July, it was reported that Israel has carried out dozens of strikes in Syria, allegedly targeting Hezbollah arms convoys. Netanyahu seemingly admitted to that during a meeting with the prime ministers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

“We built the wall because there was a problem with ISIS and Iran trying to build a terror front [in the Golan Heights]. I told Putin, when we see them transferring weapons to Hezbollah, we will hurt them. We did it dozens of times," the Israeli prime minister said at that time, referring to an earlier meeting with the Russian president.
In April, Reuters reported that the IAF targeted Hezbollah’s “arms supply hub” near Damascus Airport used to stockpile weapons and ammunition coming from Iran on “commercial and military cargo aircraft.”

At that time, Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz commented on the issue by saying that the incident in Syria “corresponds completely with Israel’s policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah.”

In March, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to Moscow, Gary Koren, to demand explanations for the airstrikes Israel conducted near the Syrian city of Palmyra after the IDF warplanes hit several targets near the ancient city, allegedly destroying advanced arms provided to Hezbollah.

In January, Damascus accused Tel Aviv of bombing the Mezzeh military airport west of the country’s capital.









Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel was willing to act to prevent a continued Iranian military presence in Syria, during a three-hour meeting between the two leaders in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

“Most of the discussion dealt with Iran’s attempt to establish a foothold in Syria in the places where ISIS was defeated and is leaving,” Netanyahu said following the meeting.

“The victory over ISIS is welcome. Iran’s entry is unwelcome, endangering us, and in my opinion, endangering the region and the world,” Netanyahu added.

His comments echoed those of Mossad intelligence agency chief Yossi Cohen, who was also present at the Sochi meeting, who said last week that as the Islamic State group is beaten back, Iran and its proxies are rushing in to take over its territory.


Netanyahu said that he “spoke to President Putin very clearly about our positions on this matter and the fact that this is unacceptable to us.”


Speaking to Israeli journalists in a conference call after the meeting, Netanyahu said he told Putin that Israel would take action if its “red lines” were crossed.
“We will act when necessary according to our red lines,” Netanyahu said. “In the past, we have done this without asking permission, but we have provided an update on what our policy is.”
Cohen reportedly provided Putin with “sensitive, credible and very disturbing detailed intelligence” on Iran’s military presence in Syria during the meeting.
The visit comes after a senior Israeli delegation reportedly shared the same evidence with the Americans last week. Israel is striving to limit Iran’s expansion in the region.
Iran is said to be trying to forge a land corridor from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, to Lebanon, where its ally Hezbollah operates.




Iran's Growing Threat To Israel: Setting The Stage For Ezekiel 38-39



Netanyahu to Putin: Iran's growing Syria role threatens Israel



 Iran's growing role in Syria poses a threat to Israel, the Middle East and the world, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
"Mr. President, with joint efforts we are defeating Islamic State, and this is a very important thing. But the bad thing is that where the defeated Islamic State group vanishes, Iran is stepping in," Netanyahu told Putin during talks at Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel," Netanyahu said. "It (Iran) arms terrorist organizations, it sponsors and initiates terror."
Netanyahu also said that "Iran is already well on its way to controlling Iraq, Yemen and to a large extent is already in practice in control of Lebanon".
Iran denies sponsoring terrorism.
Putin, in the part of the meeting to which reporters had access, did not address Netanyahu's remarks about Iran's role in Syria.
Russia intervened in Syria on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, its forces fighting what it deems Islamist terrorists. Russia is acting in partnership with Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah group, Israel's arch-foes.
In the past few months, Russia has been the main broker of de-escalation zones set up in Syria. Israel worries those zones will allow Iranian troops and Hezbollah forces to deploy in greater strength.
Moscow argues its big-power clout deters Iran or Hezbollah from opening a new front with Israel.
In comments published last week, the chief of Israel's air force said Israel had struck suspected Hezbollah arms shipments in Syria around 100 times during the Syrian civil war, apparently without Russian interference and rarely drawing retaliation.






Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Russia on Wednesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and give him top-secret intelligence on Iran’s military expansion in the region.

Netanyahu was joined on his trip to the Black Sea resort of Sochi by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, who will reportedly provide Putin with “sensitive, credible and very disturbing detailed intelligence” on Iran’s military presence in Syria, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily’s intelligence correspondent reported.

The visit comes after a senior Israeli delegation reportedly shared the same evidence with the Americans last week. Israel is striving to limit Iran’s expansion into the region.

However, there was “grave concern” in Israel after Cohen and other senior intelligence officials failed to obtain an American commitment during their trip. Israel has been pushing the US, and now Russia, not to support a peace deal in Syria that allows Iran and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group to keep boots on the ground.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday that Israel has updated the US on the upcoming meeting with Putin, the Walla news site reported.

Perhaps reflecting the seriousness of the issue, Netanyahu received a rare display of support from his political foes for his mission to Putin.
“The Iranian effort to establish a continuous territorial arch from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea is a danger to security. It is good that Netanyahu is trying to block the intolerable front of threats against Israel,” former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon tweeted. Ya’alon has been one of Netanyahu’s most vocal foes in recent months since he was fired from his position.

Labor party head Avi Gabbay said he “wishes the prime minister luck in his meeting with the Russian president, although I am not optimistic.”
“The Iranians, mainly the Shiite militias they brought to Syria, are the true power on the ground,” he added.

“I will discuss with (Putin) Iran’s accelerated attempt to establish a military presence in Syria,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
“This attests, of course, to Iran’s aggression which has not lessened in the wake of the nuclear agreement,” Netanyahu said, adding that “this also presents a problem not only to Israel, but rather to all the nations of the Middle East and the entire world.”
In addition to Cohen, Netanyahu is also being joined on the trip by newly appointed National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat.








Thousands of Iranian-backed fighters in Syria’s central desert region are advancing east, bringing Tehran closer to its goal of securing a corridor from its border, through Iraq and all the way to the Mediterranean and providing it unhindered land access to its allies in Syria and Lebanon for the first time.

The land route would be the biggest prize yet for Iran in its involvement in Syria’s six-year-old civil war.

It would facilitate movement of Iranian-backed fighters between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as well as the flow of weapons to Damascus and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran’s main proxy group. It also positions Iran to play a prime and lucrative role in what is expected to be a massive rebuilding effort in both Iraq and Syria, which have been devastated in their ongoing wars.

The potential for a physical artery for Iran’s influence across the region is raising concern in predominantly Sunni Arab countries and in Israel, the nemesis of both Iran and the Hezbollah terror group. It poses a challenge to the Trump administration, which has vowed to fight Iran’s growing reach.

The route is largely being carved out by Iran’s allies and proxies, a mix of forces including troops of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hezbollah fighters and Shiite militias on both sides of the border aiming to link up. Iran also has forces of its own Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp directly involved in the campaign on the Syrian side.

A corridor would be a boost for Israel’s powerful enemy Hezbollah, which has an arsenal of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles. Iran currently ships weapons to Hezbollah mostly by flying them to Syria to be shipped on the ground to Lebanon.

Inside Iraq, Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen are gaining more influence in predominantly Sunni areas bordering Syria. Militiamen are involved in the battle to retake the Iraqi town of Tal Afar, which would boost the militias’ hold on the nearby border region. The Shiite militiamen are also present in Iraq’s western Anbar province bordering Syria.




From Charlottesville To Boston, America Is Falling Apart At The Seams




From Charlottesville To Boston, America Is Falling Apart At The Seams



As America once again picks up the rubble from one of its regularly scheduled race riots, the hatred and anger felt by the participants is spreading throughout the country. Black/White Left/Right division is now at one of the highest levels in recent years, again drawing Presidential commentary and endless coverage in the mainstream corporate press.

Social media is on fire with every inflammatory opinion one can imagine. All social ills are being placed on the shoulders of whites, blacks, Democrats, Republicans, and people long dead. Today, lines are being drawn between racial groups, political identities, and genders; and the average person doesn’t have a say in the matter, those lines are being drawn for them. At times, they are drawn by the media, other times by radical fanatics in the street hurling insults, fists, and feces at anyone who dares disagree or even dares not to agree with them. They are also drawn by the average American themselves, glued to their television screens and subjected to the “other” dealing verbal abuse and violence on the “us.”


Everyone is either denouncing white supremacy, white racism, and Nazis; or they are bashing Commies, blacks, and anyone on the left. Everyone is joining their “team” and preparing for battle, as if some racial or ideological coup will result in the betterment of their situation. Keyboard commandos are typing away that if the “us” can rid ourselves of the “other” we will somehow reach a new utopia. Fanatical ideologues from both the left and the right are in the streets preaching the same message.


Trump, whatever he may be, has been linked with white supremacy, white nationalism, and general racism when nothing in his campaign or his presidency has ever suggested that this is the case. The “left” in America immediately linked Trump with the Unite the Right Activists and demanded that he condemn only the right wing troublemakers. Trump, to his credit, denounced racism, hatred, and violence on both sides. For the “left,” however, that was not enough. Nothing is ever enough. Trump had to call out only whites and right wingers or he is a Nazi.
As a result of political pressure – itself a result of insanity and culture creation – Trump finally condemned the white protest groups and only the white protest groups, announcing a violation of the First and probably the Fourth Amendment should his new policy be taken to its logical conclusion. But that was not enough for the “left” because, like flag worship and worship of military “service” on the right, nothing is ever enough. But it might be enough to initiate an impeachment proceeding at some point in the future if he goes ahead with plans to target participants. 

Once again, it looks like Trump has been routed by the Deep State. Expect more foreign policy aggression and more domestic oppression in the very near future as the Deep State grabs the wheel and helps Trump keep it between the lines.


There are a number of questionable aspects to this event that should make people take a step back and think hard about what is happening here. The police, despite the violence and despite expecting the violence, stood down and let it continue. The car crasher narrative is full of fishy details such as his actual connection to white nationalist groups and a personal history that might raise red flags. Many white nationalist activists were not only from out of state but of questionable loyalties (from the point of view of the group itself) and Antifa had a very well-coordinated presence. Both sides were stacked with bodies from outside of Charlottesville.


It’s also ironic that so many radicalized leftists are now arguing that “free speech is just a cover for Nazism” and warn against the dangers of becoming a “free speech fetishist.” If this doesn’t solidify a person’s position as an enemy of free people, I don’t know what will.
There’s nothing like seeing a young lesbian being labeled a bigot and symbol of “Nazi hate.” There’s nothing like seeing a self-described “radical feminist” from the ’60s being shouted down as a “Nazi” by a man proclaiming to be fighting for “women’s rights.” Watching the live stream, I saw this very “radical feminist from the ’60s” trying to reason with unreasonable people, pointing out that, without free speech, she would never have been able to speak out for her cause decades ago. She was immediately decried as a fascist by the very group of people who are trying to eliminate her right to free speech. Is this not a hallmark of fascism? This level of cognitive dissonance is scarcely conceivable.

In another example of cognitive dissonance, the radicals of the “revolutionary left” claim that “free speech” is cover for Nazism and, since Nazism killed 6-14 million people, free speech should not be allowed in their case. However, following that logic, shouldn’t we prioritize banning the free speech of Antifa and BLM? After all, Communism killed at least 150 million people in two countries alone. Wouldn’t Communism then be the greater danger?

Obviously, free speech is free speech. So long as speech doesn’t become an overt act of violence (saying we should do something is different from actually doing it) or restriction of rights, etc., it must be allowed and protected. This is the case for BLM, Communists, flag burners and, yes, even Nazis. Freedom of Speech is the most basic human and civil right. It is the last line of defense for anyone with a grievance and for any oppressed minority. It must be protected and defended at all costs.


What is clear, though, is that Love did not Trump Hate in Boston. Hate and Fascism Trumped Freedom and Free Speech.
It is also important to point out that, while 40k leftists found it possible to march in the streets against Nazis that were never even there, they were quiet as mice for eight years as their messiah bombed the s**t out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, destroyed Ukraine, and aided in the bombing and destruction of Yemen. Even now, with the ultimate orange-haired Satan in office, leftists still can’t find it in their hearts to oppose bombing any of the aforementioned countries.
So congratulations to all the protesters who flooded the streets to protest free speech and have the most basic of human rights dismantled. You have made yourself the enemy of free people and of oppressed minorities everywhere.
Make no mistake, the events in Charlottesville and Boston are only the beginning of what is coming to America. This is not the result of two opposing sides at the grassroots; it is the Hegelian dialectic playing out once again, and the American people, true to form, are falling for it. Out of this problem, we have already seen the reaction and, soon, we will see a solution. Of course, that solution will come from the top down. I, personally, am convinced that these marches, rallies, and events have been carefully constructed to achieve an ultimate goal. The overwhelming majority of white supremacist groups have long been infiltrated and controlled by agents of the federal government, and there is scarcely a leftist group that can survive longer than two weeks without a paycheck from George Soros.
America is falling apart at the seams. It may soon become an unlivable country. As its empire continues to spread across the world and as the once most powerful economy on the face of the earth continues to hemorrhage jobs, the junk heap of infrastructure that was once the envy of the world is now the scene of skirmishes between increasingly radicalized people, hyped up on political and racial ideology, gender issues, sexuality, and religion. Unlike Rome, America won’t need Barbarians to crash its gates. They’re already inside.
The country that baptized itself in blood from the very beginning and has created entire generations of bloodthirsty citizens will then see the chickens of war and collapse come home to roost.





















Trump Demands UN Not Blacklist Companies That Do Business With Jewish Settlers,




Trump Demands UN Not Blacklist Companies That Do Business With Jewish Settlers



The Trump Administration is again demanding that the UN Human Rights Council refrain from publishing a "blacklist" of international companies that are in any way engaged in business in the Jewish settlements.
The UN hopes to scare these companies -- which include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com and Airbnb -- to shun those Jews who live in the so-called "West Bank" as a means of ultimately driving the Jews out.
The Trump Administration, which has already once forced the UN to postpone publishing the blacklist, called it a totally counterproductive move.
"The United States has been adamantly opposed to this resolution from the start," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, adding, "These types of resolutions are counterproductive and do nothing to advance Israeli-Palestinian issues."
But UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein signaled that he is determined to publish the list by the end of the year, and start pressuring large public firms to join the anti-Israel boycott.







The reason that Donald Trump won the Republican nomination was that he stood up for ordinary Republican voters that liberals routinely name and shame as racists, sexists, and homophobes. That’s why he beat out Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the GOP squishes.
Ordinary middle-class Republicans know that, at any moment, they could be accused of racism by some SJW at work and lose their job. They are afraid; they want a president who will stand up for them.
The reason Donald Trump won the election was that his economic nationalism appealed to the white working class that is dying of despair, abandoned by the Democrats forty years ago. They want a president who will Make America Great Again.
Then came Charlottesville, and Donald Trump showed that he had our back. The problem, he said, is both sides. If President Trump does nothing more in his presidency, he has at least declared left and right extremists equivalent.

But is he right? Is the problem really “both sides?” Or is one side more to blame? When you lay Black Lives Matter and Antifa against Stormfront and the modern KKK, which is the bigger threat to democracy?







I think that the answer depends on which groups deliver “muscle” for their side.

Let’s go back to Reconstruction and the decade of 1865 to 1876. In that era the KKK, according to lefty Eric Foner in his Reconstruction, operated as a guerrilla force making the occupation of the South an expensive proposition for the Union Army and its associated scalawags and carpetbaggers. In 1876 the Republicans gave up on the South; they had bigger fish to fry up north, and so they abandoned the black freedmen to the tender mercies of the Democrats.

In the Jim Crow South, the KKK guerrillas now became the “muscle” for the Democratic Party. And the KKK role, apparently, was not so much to lynch blacks as to intimidate whites who might have a soft spot for the freedmen.
Now, ask yourself: are Stormfront and today’s KKK anyone’s political “muscle” today? Certainly not. For just about anyone on the right they are an embarrassment. We wish they would go away.
Now let us turn to Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Are they marginalized groups that liberals and Democrats are ashamed of? Certainly not. All over my liberal neighborhood in liberal Seattle there are We Believe yard-signs that proudly announce that Black Lives Matter. And just this weekend the New York Timesand the Washington Post have written pieces saying there is nothing to see here on leftist violence.

The conclusion is obvious. Black Lives Matter and Antifa are “muscle” groups that perform the same function for today’s Democrats that the KKK performed for the Jim Crow South. They intimidate from Berkeley to Middlebury to Charlottesville, and the ruling class gives them a pass, just as the police and the judges did for the KKK back in the days of the Solid South.
Is their job to “muscle” ordinary middle-class Republicans, or rank-and-file Democrats?

I don’t know. I suspect that the job of the liberal “muscle” groups is to make the utterly marginalized Stormfront and KKK and associated groups into a menace, to justify the escalation of the liberal war on the ordinary Americans that SJWs call racists, sexists, and homophobes.

Otherwise people might get the idea that the job was done 50 years ago when the Civil Rights Acts made it illegal in these United States to discriminate on the basis of race or sex. People might ask: are there no police? Are there no FBIs? Are there no Civil Rights Divisions?
Otherwise people might get the idea that America under the liberal ruling class is a country designed by, for, and on behalf of liberals. Just this week Richard Florida, he of the “creative class” and yeasty “ideopolises,” has a book out admitting that the creative class cities are just places that cater for the well-to-do and banish ordinary people to the margins. They “created economic growth only for the already rich, displacing the poor and working classes.”
On this view you might think that the Trump voters are not racist sexist homophobes, but genuinely suffering under the unjust rule of the liberal “creative classes” and their BLM/Antifa enforcers, and that they elected Donald Trump to redress their grievances.
But I couldn’t possibly comment.














Tensions Increase On Israel's Northern Border




Can Putin keep Hizballah from Israel’s borders?


Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon were on edge this week, as Prime Minister Binyamin prepared to raise Israel’s concerns about southern Syria at a critical meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Mossad Director Yossie Cohen. He has just returned from a failed attempt in Washington to draw the Trump Administration’s attention to the deteriorating security situation on Israel’s northern borders, where Russian Muslim troops are already in position.


Our sources report that he left Washington empty-handed for three reasons:

1. The White House was inundated in political crises on the home front.
2.  President Donald Trump had resolved to cut to the bone any US military involvement in the Syria conflict outside of the war on the Islamic State.
3.  Trump refused to hear of any compromise on his deal with Putin for cooperating in Syria, especially in the creation of de-escalation zones for gradually winding down the conflict.

Israel, like Jordan, repeatedly put forward objections to this arrangement, especially in relation to its Golan border with Syria. Neither Washington nor Moscow was interested.

This week, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Amman to discuss Jordan’s concerns about the pro-Iranian Shiite militias landing close to its border with Syria.

Both their concerns were borne out in the last few days, when the Syrian army and its pro-Iranian Shiite allies including Hizballah launched four simultaneous warfronts at Deir ez-Zor in the east, Sweida in the southeast, Hama in the center and the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syrian-Lebanese border in the west - all with Russian air support, often including paratroop drops.

Gaining the upper hand on those four fronts, our sources point out, will restore Syria’s border regions with Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon to their status quo ante the outbreak of the 2011 civil war,  and bring Israel’s enemies closer than ever before to its northern door.

Their rapid battle momentum will effectively override the effect of the de-escalation zones established by the two presidents on two of Syria’s borders - with Russian support! Their Sweida offensive has already brought the Syrian army and Hizballah right up to the Jordanian border by circling around the Daraa de-escalation zone - under Russian cover.

This tactic is expected to be repeated in short order in the Quneitra zone which faces Israel’s Golan border, even though Russian troops are installed there as monitors, just as they are in Daraa..  

Furthermore, as Syrian government and pro-Iranian forces gain ground, the Syrian anti-Assad rebel front is breaking up, except for the Islamic State and other Islamist groups. Some former rebels are throwing in the towel or crossing the lines to Assad’s army. The disintegration of the Syrian resistance, if not halted, will sooner or later reach the rebel groups entrenched on the Syrian Golan. Israel will then see the buffer which served it as a security barrier for the past four years melting away.


Even if a Russian guarantee against Syrian and pro-Iranian forces reaching the Golan border is offered by Putin to calm Netanyahu’s worries, it will be of limited value - first, it was refused by Washington and second, it is unlikely to be respected. 

Although Russia is in a dominant position for determining Syria’s agenda, it is not the sole arbiter in Damascus. Iran and Hizballah - and even Bashar Assad - are quite capable of taking matters in their own hands and embarking on a limited expedition for heating up the border with Israel - if only as a reminder to Putin, Trump and Netanyahu that Israel will not be permitted to determine the situation on that border, only their own interests.








Moscow has fired back at the latest round of US sanctions targeting Russian interests, as Washington blacklisted one Russian company and four individuals for their alleged dealings with North Korea.
On Tuesday, the US Treasury revealed it had imposed sanctions on 16 Russian and Chinese nationals and companies for their alleged dealings with North Korea. The Treasury claims the sanctions are in line with the internationally agreed measures against North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs. The companies are accused of working with blacklisted individuals, helping develop the North Korean energy sector, help it place workers abroad or move money from abroad. As a result, their US assets are frozen and Americans are forbidden from doing business with them.
“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region,”Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

Reacting to the sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov issued a statement expressing disappointment, and warning Washington that Russia was working on a response.

Andrey Klimov, a senior Russian senator, said that the US sanctions against Gefest-M and the others lack legitimacy.

“These sanctions are illegal in themselves, because the only thing recognized by international law is the sanctions of the UN Security Council,” Klimov told Interfax. “We must react in principle to this insane and confrontational policy. The toolbox is rich, let’s hope that we will act consistently, reasonably, professionally and effectively.”

Klimov’s words were echoed by the Chinese government, with a spokesperson saying Beijing “opposes unilateral sanctions out[side] of the UN Security Council framework.”
“We strongly urge the US to immediately correct its mistake, so as not to impact bilateral cooperation on relevant issues,” the spokesperson said, as quoted by the Financial Times.







The UN has expressed “deep concerns” over the mounting number of civilian casualties in Raqqa inflicted by US-led coalition airstrikes, condemning “any attack directed against civilians or civilian infrastructure.”


"Our humanitarian colleagues tell us they are deeply concerned by unconfirmed reports of a high number of civilians killed by airstrike in Raqqa city over the last 24 hours,” St├ęphane Dujarric, the spokesman  for the UN Secretary-General, told reporters at a daily briefing Tuesday.


“In recent days and weeks scores of civilians have reportedly been killed and injured in Raqqa due to airstrikes and shelling and up to 25 thousand people remain trapped in the city,” Dujarric said.
At least 78 civilians have died in the al-Sakhani and al-Bado streets and al-Tawasuaeh neighborhood in Raqqa city as a result of the US-led coalition airstrikes over the past 24 hours, Syrian news agency SANA reported earlier Tuesday, citing local and media sources.

“The UN condemns any attack that is directed against civilians or civilian infrastructure. We urge all parties fighting in Raqqa and across Syria to take every possible measure to spare and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure as in line with obligations under international humanitarian law.”





Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lebanese Army Finds ISIS Anti-Aircraft Missile Cache





Lebanese Army Finds ISIS Anti-Aircraft Missile Cache: Could Passenger Jets Be Hit?




Does ISIS have the capability of taking out a civilian passenger jet? According to an alarming new report by Reuters the answer appears to be yes.
The Islamic State has long been rumored as in possession of surface-to-air missiles, and now it appears a US ally is providing ground level confirmation of what might be a worst case nightmare scenario come true. The Lebanese Army has recently been engaged in a fierce campaign to root out ISIS terrorists from the Arsal border pocket - a northeast region of Lebanon bordering Syria which has seen fighting rage since 2014. As we previously reported, the operation is receiving some level of assistance from US special forces advisers as well as coordination from Hezbollah, while at the same time the Syrian Army is attacking from the Syrian side of the border in the Qalaman mountains.
On Monday, Reuters issued the following report based on official statements of the Lebanese Army:

Lebanon's army found anti-aircraft missiles among with a cache of weapons in an area abandoned by Islamic State militants, it said on Monday. 

The arms cache also included mortars, medium and heavy machine guns, assault rifles, grenades, anti-tank weapons, anti-personnel mines, improvised explosive devices and ammunition.
Not only did Lebanon's army - which is working under the advisement of the Pentagon for the operation - confirm ISIS possession of anti-aircraft missiles, but last week it reported to have uncovered a similarly stocked Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) cache as well. According to the same Reuters report:

A Hezbollah offensive last month forced militants from the Nusra Front group, formerly al Qaeda's official Syrian branch, to quit an adjacent enclave on the border for a rebel-held part of Syria. 

On Friday, the Lebanese army said it had discovered surface-to-air missiles in a weapons cache left by the Nusra militants in an area captured by Hezbollah and then taken over by the army.

Such anti-aircraft missiles, commonly called MANPADS ("man-portable air-defense system": heat seeking shoulder fired missiles capable of hitting targets flying at anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 feet), have appeared on the Syrian battlefield in recent years in the hands armed opposition groups supported by the West and Gulf states, including various FSA and Islamist factions like Ansar al-Islam Front (operating in the south) and Ahrar al-Sham (operating in the north of Syria).
These groups have at various times filmed and demonstrated themselves to be in possession of externally supplied MANPADS, which are believed by analysts to have entered Syria in multiple waves via different routes and external sponsors, including old Soviet models shipped out of Libya, Chinese FN-6's provided by Qatar, and through NATO member Turkey's porous border with Syria. Some supplies were also likely gained through opposition takeovers of Syrian government storehouses as well as ISIS seizures of Iraqi government bases and equipment.






In a move that is certain to infuriate China further and result in another deterioration in diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, moments ago the United States slapped both Chinese and Russian entities and individuals with new sanctions in the Trump administration's escalating attempts to pressure North Korea to relent and stop its nuclear program and occasional missile launches. 
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people who aid North Korea's missile program or "deal in the North Korean energy trade." The U.S. also aims to sanction people and groups that allow North Korean entities to access the U.S. financial system or helps its exportation of workers, according to the Treasury:
As a result of the latest action, "any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them."
Speaking on today's sanctions, Steven Mnuchin who, or rather whose wife today is in the news for an entirely different reason, made the following statement:


“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  

“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region.  We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”










When it comes to North Korea, there are no easy solutions. Historically, every attempt at diplomacy has failed in the long run. Every attempt to get China to reign in their buffer state has also failed. And as time goes on, the military option seems less feasible.
Several days before he left the White House, Steve Bannon did a pretty good job of explaining why going to war with North Korea would be such a bad idea. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
At the end of the day, there may be only one thing we can do, and that is nothing. We can simply keep a lid on the country until it collapses, or until the population decides that they’ve had enough, and tries to change or reform the regime.


The latter of those possibilities may be more plausible than you think. While most people in America assume that North Koreans are hopelessly brainwashed into submission, that’s not true at all. As it turns out, there’s a sign that the starving and brutalized masses of North Korea are growing increasingly restless and disillusioned with their government. They’re turning to religion in growing numbers, and in defiance of their brutal regime. For instance, according to a U.S. State Department report, the number of Christians in North Korea has increased five-fold over the past five years, to somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 people.


One thing most people forget about terrible governments is that they are kept in place by the same thing that every government relies on. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a democracy or an iron fisted dictatorship, they all rely on the consent of the governed.
In the former case, the people decide who rules them every few years. In the latter case, the people have either a literal or proverbial gun pointed at them at all times, but the government still needs either their consent or their submission. The moment the population decides that they’d rather risk death than worship the state, then that state is not long for this world.



Iran Warns It Can Make Weapons Grade Nuclear Material In Days, U.S. Navy To Consider Whether Cyber Attack Caused Crashed Warships



Iran warns it can make weapons-grade material in days if nuke deal scotched



Iran’s atomic chief warned Tuesday the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could be used for a nuclear weapon.

The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi to Iranian state television come as US President Donald Trump repeatedly has threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Salehi’s warning, along with recent comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, show Iran is willing to push back against Trump while still acknowledging they want to keep the deal, which lifted crippling economic sanctions on the country.

“If there is a plan for a reaction and a challenge, we will definitely surprise them,” said Salehi, who also serves as one of Rouhani’s vice presidents. “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days.”
He added: “Definitely, we are not interested in such a thing happening. We have not achieved the deal easily to let it go easily. We are committed to the deal and we are loyal to it.”
Iran gave up the majority of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium as part of the nuclear deal it struck with world powers, including Trump’s predecessor, president Barack Obama. The accord, which lifted sanctions on Iran, currently caps the Islamic Republic uranium enrichment at 5 percent.

The Obama administration and most independent experts said at the time of the deal that Iran would need at least a year after abandoning the deal to have enough nuclear material to build a bomb. Before the deal was struck, they said the timeframe for Iran to “break out” toward a bomb was a couple of months.

Rouhani’s comments were sparked by Trump signing a sanctions bill imposing mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The US legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.








A top admiral has said that the US Navy will 'consider' whether two fatal collisions this summer could have been the result of a cyber attack.
Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said on Monday that there were 'no indications right now' that the two ships were hacked, but added investigators 'will consider all possibilities'.
The shocking possibility emerged as the Navy ordered a broad investigation into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet.
Early Monday, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 American sailors missing and several others injured.
It was the second major collision in the last two months involving the Navy's 7th Fleet, after seven sailors died when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan on June 17.
Early Tuesday, three navies were hunting desperately for the McCain's 10 missing sailors as the search and rescue mission dragged into a second day.

As part of an ongoing investigation into the USS Fitzgerald incident the Captain, the Executive Officer and Master Chief Petty Officer were removed from duty last week.
'The collision was avoidable, and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship,' the Navy's 7th Fleet said in a statement, noting that 'flawed' teamwork among those assigned to keep watch contributed to the collision.
The Navy said the three had shown 'inadequate leadership.' Separately, seven junior officers were relieved of their duties because they had shown 'poor seamanship' and bad teamwork, 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss said on Friday.