1. Mossad agents who stole Iran’s nuclear files nearly captured in Tehran
Mossad operatives, who made off with 55,000 documents exposing Iran’s secret plans to develop atomic warheads for their ballistic missiles, were nearly caught, Hadashot News reported Tuesday.
Another revelation in the report is that President Donald Trump was notified about the complex and dangerous operation ahead of time. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him about it when they met at Davos, Switzerland.
The stunning intelligence operation netted a total of 110,000 documents (half in digital form on compact discs). The Mossad lifted the information, weighing half-a-ton, by working between guard shifts and through the night at the “dilapidated warehouse” where they were being held and then spiriting them out of the country in a single night.
Netanyahu stood in front of a large screen with images projected behind him. Next to the screen was a bookshelf containing file binders and next to that a display case with CDs.
Just over a week later, Trump announced he was exiting the Iran deal. Trump referred to the evidence obtained by Israel in his address declaring his intention to put a stop to a deal he said he intended to leave while still on the campaign trail.
Hamas frees 3 Italians suspected of being Israeli agents
Three Italian policemen, suspected of being part of an Israeli undercover unit, were released Tuesday night after being held by Hamas for 24 hours.
The men, part of a diplomatic team that arrived in Gaza for security preparations ahead of a visit to the Gaza Strip by Italian Ambassador to Israel Gianluigi Benedetti, reportedly drove through a checkpoint, prompting Hamas forces to give chase.
The men took refuge in the United Nations office in Gaza. Hamas cordoned off the building and questioned the suspects, after which they were satisfied that the three were indeed Italian citizens and not Israelis.
“Investigations enabled us to ascertain the identity of the three Italians as well as the security of the procedures for their entrance into Gaza,” Hamas’s interior minister said, according to the ANSAmed news agency.
Since a botched IDF secret reconnaissance operation on the outskirts of Khan Younis in November, Hamas forces have been particularly vigilant.
An IDF soldier and six Hamas fighters, including a senior officer, were killed in a shootout that the terror group has been touting as a success.
“The IDF attempted to plant listening devices [in Gaza], but the Palestinian resistance stood guard,” al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, stated in an interview with Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV at the time.
TREASURY JOINS WHITE HOUSE, PENTAGON IN WARNING ISRAEL OVER CHINESE ENCROACHMENT
Foreign and defense ministry officials have internally lamented that the SIPG agreement was not vetted through an inter-agency process.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 20, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS/LINTAO ZHANG/POOL)
WASHINGTON – Yet another Trump administration official expressed alarm this week over China’s creeping influence over Israeli infrastructure.
Following statements of concern from the White House and Pentagon, a top official at the Treasury Department has now told Israeli cabinet members during a visit to the country that Chinese technology companies working in Israel pose a threat to intelligence cooperation between the longstanding allies.
Interest by Huwaei and ZTE in Israel has worried its US ally, as has the green light it granted China’s Shanghai International Port Group in 2013 to build a private port near Haifa, a berth for the US Mediterranean fleet.
In December, The Jerusalem Post first reported of concern within the Navy over China’s future role at the port. A spokesman for the Sixth Fleet said that its use of the port might be in doubt once the Chinese arrive in 2021.
Foreign and defense ministry officials have internally lamented that the SIPG agreement was not vetted through an inter-agency process. Transportation Minister Israel Katz has told the Post that the security cabinet is now reviewing Washington’s concerns.
Days later, US National Security Adviser John Bolton visited Israel and raised the administration’s concerns with China’s various investments in the country with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, two White House officials told the Post.
“We know that the threat of cyber attacks is growing each and every day,” US Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said in a statement to Reuters during a visit to Israel this week.
One of Brouillette’s hosts, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, said in a statement after their meeting that the US deputy secretary had “raised their concern about the issue of foreign investments in the State of Israel.”
Asked separately about Chinese investment in Israel, Brouillette said in remarks aired by Israeli Army Radio: “If done incorrectly, you inhibit the other allies from sharing intelligence with you.”
In December 2016 Huawei acquired Israel’s HexaTier, whose technology secures databases in the cloud, for $42 million. This followed a visit to Israel by the Chinese technology giant’s CEO. That same month, it also acquired IT research firm Toga Networks for an undisclosed amount.
According to Israeli media, ZTE has shown interest in Israel’s tech sector since sending a senior delegation to the country in 2013.
Reuters contributed to this report.
GAZA HEALTH MINISTRY WARNS OF HOSPITAL SHUTDOWNS DUE TO FUEL CRISIS
The source of the current fuel crisis is unclear; the ministry hinted that there was a shortage in donor funds.
Gaza hospitals are in danger of shutting down due to a fuel crisis, in particular the hospital in Beit Hanoun, the Gaza Health Ministry warned on Tuesday in an English language post on its Facebook page.
“In an unprecedented and rapid tragedy, the fuel crisis in hospitals and primary care centers continues to hit critical levels,” it said.
Gaza has a chronic electricity crisis and operates on only about ten to twelve hours of electricity a day. As a result, its hospitals run on generators so that there will be a continual flow of electricity.
But those generators need fuel operate.
“Today, few hours left for the beginning of interruption of the services in Beit Hanoun Hospital due to the shortage of fuel required to operate the generators, which means depriving 350,000 people of the service and health care [we provide],” the hospital said.
The Health Ministry’s warning comes as the Gaza electricity situation was presumed to be stabilized and improved compared to last year, when there was electricity for only four to six hours a day.
The electricity supply increased late last year when Qatar began to fund fuel shipments into Gaza, a move which doubled the supply of electricity in the Hamas-run enclave that is home to 2 million Palestinians.
The source of the current fuel crisis is unclear. The Gaza Health Ministry hinted that there was a shortage in donor funds.
THE MYTH OF THE ISRAEL-DIASPORA ‘SCHISM’
Every year, the American Jewish Committee, in its annual survey of US Jewish public opinion, asks respondents how much they care about Israel. And every year, the results are the same.
Some 58 years ago this spring, an Israeli secret agent stepped off a plane in the Buenos Aires airport, armed with false identity papers and a cover story about working in the Foreign Ministry’s accounts department. He was actually on the trail of one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals. He could not have imagined that he would soon trigger one of the most unpleasant clashes in the history of the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community – a clash with important lessons for those who are worried about the state of Israel-Diaspora relations today.
The Israeli agent, Isser Harel, arrived in Argentina on March 1, 1960. Two months later, Harel’s team captured Adolf Eichmann. When the news broke, more than a few prominent Diaspora Jews were outraged.
Alan Stroock, a prominent official of the American Jewish Committee, asserted that the capture of Eichmann constituted “an unlawful abduction,” and his trial would be “doubtfully legal.” Stroock claimed the episode could transform Israel from “a whole generation of idealists into hangmen.”
Harvard University history professor Oscar Handlin claimed Israel’s “underhanded kidnapping, the violent spiriting of an individual away from a foreign jurisdiction” was a violation of “the right of refuge – the principle that fugitives could be seized only be a legal process and only for crimes they had personally committed.”
When Eichmann was sentenced to death, American Jewish voices of opposition were again heard. The Central Conference of American (Reform) Rabbis urged clemency for Eichmann, on the grounds that capital punishment was immoral under all circumstances.
Chicago rabbi Arnold Goodman, writing in the official magazine of the American Jewish Congress, argued that taking any human life, no matter what the reason, was morally wrong and “might open Israel to changes of vengefulness and rancor.”
Journalist and activist Paul Jacobs wrote that the Eichmann episode demonstrated “Israeli parochialism, chauvinism and distrust… of the Gentile world” (although he somewhat condescendingly conceded that he now “understood better” the reasons for the attitudes he ascribed to Israel).
So, was there a schism between American Jewry and Israel over Eichmann, comparable to “The Great Schism” today about which journalist Jonathan Weisman recently wrote on the op-ed page of The New York Times?
The voices of the critics are amplified precisely because their perspective runs contrary to that of most American Jews. From the point of view of the news media, Jews supporting Israel is a boring dog-bites-man story; Jews denouncing Israel, however, is man-bites-dog. The Internet and 24-hour cable news have created new and faster ways for the minority to make itself heard.
But the notion that there is a substantial new split between American Jews and Israel, that relations are reaching “a breaking point,” as Weisman and others are claiming, is contradicted by years of public opinion polling.
Every year, the American Jewish Committee, in its annual survey of US Jewish public opinion, asks respondents how much they care about Israel. And every year, the results are the same.
For the past 20 years – whether Israel’s prime minister was Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, or Benjamin Netanyahu; whether America’s president was Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump – between 70% and 75% of American Jews have said they care “strongly” or “somewhat strongly” about Israel, and between 20% and 30% have said they feel “fairly distant” or “very distant” from Israel.
The number who feel “very” distant is always the smaller of the two, ranging from 2% to 13% (during the period from 1997 to 2018). The number who care “strongly” about Israel (as opposed to just “somewhat strongly”) has actually been increasing steadily over the years. It was in the 20s in 1997-2002, the 30s in almost every year from 2003 to 2015, and has reached the 40s each of the past three years.
A “great schism” between American Jews and Israel? Hardly. It’s loud, passionate, and interesting – but it’s a small fracture, the size of which has remained unchanged despite the latest well-publicized quarrels.
The writer is the co-author, with Chaim I. Waxman, of The Historical Dictionary of Zionism.
ISRAELI CYBER EXPERTS REVEAL FORTNITE FLAW THREATENING MILLIONS OF GAMERS
The vulnerabilities, if exploited, would have enabled full access to a user’s account and their personal information, including purchasing in-game currency using their payment card details.
Twenty Seven-year-old Christian Acevedo plays the video game ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’ from his home in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., on April 21, 2018. Acevedo says if he doesn’t have to work the next day, he often stays up all night to play the popular game. (photo credit: JILLIAN KITCHENER/REUTERS)
First released in 2017 by American video game developers Epic Games, Fortnite is a free-to-play battle game available on a range of platforms and consoles.
The vulnerabilities, if exploited, would have enabled full access to a user’s account and their personal information, including purchasing in-game currency using their payment card details, as well as listening to in-game chatter and surrounding sounds and conversations within the user’s home or playing location.
“Fortnite is one of the most popular games played mainly by kids. These flaws provided the ability for a massive invasion of privacy,” said Oded Vanunu, head of products vulnerability research for Check Point.
We see “how susceptible cloud applications are to attacks and breaches. These platforms are being increasingly targeted by hackers because of the huge amounts of sensitive customer data they hold. Enforcing two-factor authentication could mitigate this account takeover vulnerability.”
Researchers discovered multiple vulnerabilities in Epic Games’ online infrastructure, which enable hackers to exploit Fortnite’s user login process.
Researchers were able to demonstrate the token-based authentication process used in conjunction with Single Sign-On (SSO) systems such as Facebook, Google and Xbox to steal the users access credentials and take over their accounts. To fall victim, users needed only to click on a crafted phishing link fraudulently coming from an Epic Games domain.
Once clicked, the user’s Fortnite username and password could be immediately captured by the attacker without the user entering any login credentials.
Check Point notified Epic Games of the vulnerability, which has since been fixed, but warned users to always remain vigilant when exchanging information digitally and to question the legitimacy of links to information seen on user forums and websites.
Previous scams targeting Fortnite gamers have primarily focused on deceiving users into clicking on offers for “free” in-game currency and then requesting their Fortnite login details and other personal information.
Over a one-month period from early September to early October 2018, Maryland-based cybersecurity company ZeroFOX identified over 50,000 examples of Fortnite scams across social media and digital platforms.
SECRET KREMLIN DOCUMENTS TELL A STORY HARDLY ANYONE KNOWS
Vladimir Bukovsky’s book exposes the Soviet regime’s collaboration with our own political class.
I will never forget the day Vladimir Bukovsky, the celebrated Soviet dissident, walked unsteadily across a bridge to freedom, having been swapped with the head of the Chilean Communist Party. He was one of my heroes, and became a friend while studying psychology at Stanford University. He spent years in the Gulag, but the KGB was unable to break him, and his first book, To Build a Castle, will long remain one of the classic testimonies to the evils of Soviet Communism.
When the Soviet Empire fell, in part as the result of Bukovsky’s tireless efforts to destroy Communism, many of us hoped it would be possible to get our hands and minds on the Kremlin’s archives, but there were endless bureaucratic hurdles, some of them shamefully on our side of the great divide. In the end, many of these were overcome by a handful of private citizens. A group of us bought a laptop computer and a scanner, taught Bukovsky how to use them, and off he went to Moscow.
For a brief period, the Soviet archives, even the secret ones, were accessible to investigators, and we thought Bukovsky might well be able to get his electronic hands on the documentary history of Soviet Communism, one of the most malevolent forces in twentieth-century history. We hoped that the Soviet documents would enable our citizens to understand what had really happened in the Cold War, and help us frame a more realistic foreign policy in the future. Moreover, we and Bukovsky wanted to stage a trial of the Communists, along the lines of the Nuremburg trials of the Nazi leaders after World War II.
We didn’t get that trial, and the documents have been locked up by Putin. But Bukovsky got a lot, and now his book on his discoveries is about to be published in English (Judgment in Moscow), after its original appearance in French and German twenty years ago. It’s a fascinating saga. Once there, Bukovsky scanned tens of thousands of Politburo documents into his laptop, and brought them back to the free world. You can find them all in the Bukovsky Archive, and read about them in his book. He recounts such secrets as the Kremlin’s clandestine payments to foreign Communist parties and leaders, covert paramilitary training in places like Czechoslovakia for their foreign comrades, and extensive disinformation campaigns throughout the “West.” He also details the cooperation between the Kremlin and our own political class.
You might expect that such a detailed documentary expose would attract great attention, but no. There were sparse reviews in France and Germany, and no major American publishing house would agree to bring it out (there are important details in the book). Yet it remains an extremely powerful and important source for anyone who wants to understand the true nature of our deadly adversary.
Why is this book not on the desk of all self-proclaimed foreign policy gurus? For that matter, why is Bukovsky not widely known? At a luncheon in Washington recently with very well-educated and well-read gentlemen, not a single man at the table had even heard of him — a tribute to the ignorance of our ruling class.
Part of the problem is political/ideological. As Bukovsky put it in a very recent interview with Epoch Times, “The Western elite is socialist. They were never serious about fighting Soviet power.” That is why Communism has made such a comeback in recent years, even in the United States, which rests on a foundation of capitalist success. Our current generation of emerging leaders speak openly and enthusiastically about Communism and socialism: “The absence of leadership is frightening. Our so-called elites became rotten. In the past, in history, the elites would be periodically wiped out in revolutions. In our time, it does not happen. We are too civilized.”
Try to imagine what it must have been like for a group of brilliant, eloquent and courageous Soviet dissidents to come to the West, having been inspired by Ronald Reagan’s brave words and actions against the tyranny under which they had suffered, only to find that very few Western leaders, such as Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, properly understood what they were up against.
For me, the most awful moment came when Stanford University, where Bukovsky was then studying and working, invited a group of Soviet “scientists” to visit and lecture. Bukovsky went to the university president in protest. “You can’t have those people,” he observed, “they tortured me for years.” The invitation stood. Bukovsky, true to his principles, left America for a sanctuary in Cambridge, England, where he still resides.
Judgment in Moscow will soon appear in English. Time for you to catch up on the corruption of our elite, on the basic facts of the Cold War, and on one of the most remarkable men I know.
Trump discussed pulling US out of NATO last year: Report
Iran Press TV
Tue Jan 15, 2019
US President Donald Trump, who has made a reputation for abandoning a great number of important international pacts, discussed leaving the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with his aides last year, according to a new report.
The president floated the idea several times throughout last year out of frustration over NATO allies’ refusal to increase military funding and compensate Washington for burdening most of the alliance’s funding since its establishment in 1949, The New York Times reported Monday, citing current and former administration officials.
The Times reported that pro-NATO officials within the administration were concerned that Trump might actually act on his threats and abandon the organization as members lagged behind his funding goals.
A US exit, the report suggested, would be “tantamount to destroying NATO.”
In July 2018, when all NATO leaders gathered in Brussels for what turned to be a tumultuous summit, Trump told his aides that the alliance was a drain on US economy and he could no longer see what point it served.
Michèle A. Flournoy, an undersecretary of defense who worked for former President Barack Obama, said leaving NATO would be “one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests.”
She said the move particularly play well into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has time and again warned the alliance against amassing weapons and equipment on Russia’s western borders.
Since 2014, when NATO severed ties with Moscow over the reintegration of the Crimean Peninsula to Russia, the US-led alliance has been deploying troops and advanced weaponry to the Baltic region to ward off what it calls possible “Russian aggression.”
Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, said an American withdrawal from the alliance would be “the gift of the century” for Putin.
To shield last year’s NATO summit from Trump, some US national security officials had secretly pushed the alliance’s ambassadors “to complete a formal agreement on several NATO goals – including shared defenses against Russia,” the report further claimed.
But that was not enough to stop Trump, who broke the alliance’s protocols on discussing internal matters in public and blasted members for not meeting his demands.
NATO members are required to spend at least 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on military affairs. This is while the US currently spends around 4 percent.
According to the report, Trump was specifically mad at German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the summit, whose country spent only around 1 percent of its GDP on military.
Trump’s was so mad at Merkel that he decided to get up and leave during her speech, European and American officials present at the meeting confirmed to the Times.
Trump further surprised NATO leaders by urging them to aim for 4 percent, a demand that is essentially impossible for some members to fulfill.
He also threatened that Washington would “go its own way” in 2019 if other NATO countries did not increase their military spending levels.
Concerns for a Trump withdrawal from NATO have prompted some officials to prepare legislation that block such decisions.
Under Article 13 of the Washington Treaty, NATO members are allowed to withdraw only after invoking a one-year notification period. This allows Congress to try and stop Trump in his tracks.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, the US ambassador to NATO, who is also a former Republican senator, has already launched a bid to build support for the alliance in Congress, the report said.
Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis was a strong supporter of the alliance, a point he made clear in his resignation letter last month.
His replacement, Patrick Shanahan, backs NATO but has also said that the Pentagon should not be “the Department of No” to Trump’s orders.
Russia, US: No Progress in Talks Over 1987 Nuclear Arms Treaty
Russia and the United States said Tuesday there was no progress in talks over Washington’s intention to withdraw from a 1987 nuclear arms treaty because it says Moscow is violating its terms.
“On the whole, we are forced to state that there is no progress. The U.S. position is frozen in its uncompromising and peremptory demands,” state news agency Tass quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying after talks with U.S. Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson in Geneva.
The U.S. side described the meeting as “disappointing.”
The three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty bans production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. President Donald Trump said the U.S. would abandon the pact on Feb. 2 because of Russian violations.
Ryabkov contended that “responsibility for (the possible demise of the treaty) fully and completely rests with the American side.” He said the two sides failed to agree on anything and that Washington did not appear to be willing to negotiate further.
The U.S. has demanded that Russia dismantle missiles that Washington claims violate the treaty.
Ryabkov said Russia proposed holding more negotiations but got no answer from the U.S.
“We are ready for dialogue on the basis of equality, mutual respect, (and) without putting forward ultimatums,” Ryabkov said.
Ryabkov said Russia would brief European diplomats Friday on the status of the talks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that collapse of the treaty would threaten a new arms race. Putin suggested that he was open to other countries joining the INF treaty or to starting talks on a new agreement.
ΣΗΚΩΣΑΝ ΚΕΦΑΛΙ ΟΙ ΦΟΝΙΑΔΕΣ ΤΩΝ ΒΑΛΚΑΝΙΩΝ! Οι Τσάμηδες ζητούν απελευθέρωση εδαφών και απειλούν να εισβάλουν στη…
Τις τελευταίες ημέρες κυκλοφορούν πάλι, στα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης, φωτογραφίες ένστολων ακροδεξιών Τσάμηδων, που φέρουν το έμβλημα του «UÇÇ», δηλαδή του λεγόμενου «Απελευθερωτικού Στρατού Τσαμουριάς»- [Ushtria Çlirimtare e Çamërisë] να κάθονται σε έναν τυπικό αλβανικό οντά (odë). / (Δωμάτιο)
Φαίνεται ότι το θέμα των Τσάμηδων κάνει πάλι την εμφάνισή του, όπως είχε ανακοινωθεί από τον φερόμενο αρχηγό αυτής της οργάνωσης, που έχει έδρα την Ολλανδία, τον Φεστίμ Λατό.
Σύμφωνα με αλβανικό δημοσίευμα που αναδημοσίευσε το “Βαλκανικό Περισκόπιο”, «είναι ακόμη άγνωστο εάν οι ενώσεις των τσάμηδων (στην Αλβανία) υποστηρίζουν αυτήν την ομάδα ή η ομάδα είναι ένα σενάριο από άλλα κράτη».
Τσάμηδες ισχυρίζονται ότι έφτιαξαν στρατό για να εισβάλουν στην Ελλάδα.
Οι Αλβανοί της λεγόμενης «Δημοκρατίας της Τσαμουριάς», με αρχηγό τον αμφιλεγόμενο Φεστίμ Λατό, πρόσωπο που οι άλλοι τσάμηδες -όπως εκείνοι του κόμματος του “PDIU” στην Αλβανία- αποκαλούν τον ίδιο και τους οπαδούς του «μαϊμού-τσάμηδες», προέβησαν στις αρχές του 2018 σε πολεμική απειλή κατά της Ελλάδας, στη σελίδα τους στο Facebook.
Διαχειριστής της εν λόγω σελίδας έγραψε ένα σχόλιο, όπου αναφερόταν σε «φόβο της Ελλάδας» από «επιθέσεις των τσάμηδων από τον Βορρά».
Στο ίδιο σχόλιο παρέθετε δήλωση βουλευτή της Νέας Δημοκρατίας, που δεν τον κατονόμαζε, ο οποίος φέρεται να είπε ότι «αυτό που έγινε στο Κουμάνοβο των Σκοπίων, θα μπορούσε να γίνει και στη βόρεια Ελλάδα από μια ομάδα που αυτοαποκαλείται ««Απελευθερωτικός Στρατός της Τσαμουριάς» – (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Çamërisë ή με τα αρχικά «UÇÇ»).
Ο διαχειριστής της ίδιας «τσάμικης» σελίδας στο Facebook έγραψε ακόμα ότι «ως υπουργός Άμυνας της Κυβέρνησης της «Δημοκρατίας της Τσαμουριάς» σας ενημερώνω ότι αυτός ο στρατιωτικός σχηματισμός δεν είναι είδηση αλλά μια δομή του υπουργείου της “Δημοκρατίας της Τσαμουριάς” και δημιουργήθηκε με απόφαση της κυβέρνησης της Τσαμουριάς και την έγκριση από το κοινοβούλιο…».
Πανηγύρισαν όταν παραιτήθηκε ο Κοτζιάς!
Οι τουρκόφιλοι Αλβανοτσάμηδες πανηγύρισαν όταν παραιτήθηκε ο Νίκος Κοτζιάς. Είχαν βγάλει και ανακοίνωση, στην οποία επιτέθηκαν κατά του Αλβανού υπουργού Εξωτερικών, Ντιτμίρ Μπουσάτι, επειδή έγραψε ανάρτηση στο Twitter για την καλή του συνεργασία με τον Νίκο Κοτζιά.
Η αλβανική εφημερίδα “Πανόραμα” και η ιστοσελίδα www.shqiptarja.com, δημοσίευσαν την αντίδραση του κόμματος των Αλβανοτσάμηδων PDIU, εναντίον του Αλβανού υπουργού Εξωτερικών Ντιτμίρ Μπουσάτι, για την ανάρτησή του αφιερωμένη στον κ. Κοτζιά.
Η ανακοίνωση του αλβανοτσάμικου κόμματος “PDIU” αναφέρει:
«Ο Αλβανός ΥΠΕΞ ευχαρίστησε, λέει, τον ΥΠΕΞ της Ελλάδος Κοτζιά που παραιτήθηκε.
»Για ποιο πράγμα τον ευχαριστεί ο Μπουσάτι, τον ομόλογο του ούζου και του χορού του Ζορμπά;
»Τον ευχαριστεί για τα νεκροταφεία των Ελλήνων στρατιωτών που ήρθαν ως κατακτητές στην Αλβανία, τη στιγμή που οι Τσάμηδες δεν έχουν και σήμερα ακόμα, τάφους;
»Τον ευχαριστεί για την επαίσχυντη Συμφωνία για τα τοπωνύμια, τον ευχαριστεί για τη Συμφωνία για τις θαλάσσιες ζώνες, για την οποία ο Κοτζιάς δήλωνε ότι η Ελλάδα επεκτείνει τα χωρικά της ύδατα στα 12 μίλια;
»Τον ευχαριστεί που η Ελλάδα διατηρεί ακόμα το νόμο του εμπολέμου με την Αλβανία, ευχαριστεί τον υπουργό μιας χώρας, με την οποία η Αλβανία είναι επίσημα σε πόλεμο;
»Τον ευχαριστεί για τις δηλώσεις του περί ανυπαρξίας του “τσάμηκου” και για συνεργασία των Τσάμηδων με τους ναζί;
»Να ξέρετε όμως, κ. Μπουσάτι, ότι η “τσαμουριά” θα σας παγώσει το χαμόγελο στα χείλη, έτσι όπως του κ. Κοτζιά», καταλήγει η ανακοίνωση του αλβανοτσάμηκου κόμματος, το οποίο στο παρελθόν (μόνο;) έχει χρηματοδοτηθεί από την Τουρκία.
Τί είναι το «Τσάμηκο»
Μετά την ιταλική κατοχή της Αλβανίας το 1939, οι μουσουλμάνοι Τσάμηδες που ζούσαν στην Θεσπρωτία χρησιμοποιήθηκαν ως όργανο προπαγάνδας από τους Ιταλούς για να δικαιολογήσουν την εισβολή στην Ελλάδα.
Κατά τη διάρκεια της κατοχής (1941-1944), η πλειοψηφία συντάχθηκε με τις δυνάμεις του Άξονα με αλυτρωτικούς σκοπούς, για τη δημιουργία της «Μεγάλης Αλβανίας».
Ως απόρροια των ακροτήτων που διαπράχθηκαν από Τσάμηδες εκείνο το διάστημα (1941-1943), σε συνεργασία με τις κατοχικές Αρχές, ο τοπικός χριστιανικός πληθυσμός είτε μεταναστεύει, είτε αντιστέκεται με τη δημιουργία μικρών αντιστασιακών ομάδων, ή εντάσσεται στο ΕΑΜ και στον ΕΔΕΣ.
Προς το τέλος του πολέμου ένας πολύ περιορισμένος αριθμός πρώην δοσίλογων Τσάμηδων εντάσσεται στον ΕΛΑΣ.
Στις 17-18 Αυγούστου του 1944 διεξήχθη η μάχη της Μενίνας, που ήταν η σημαντικότερη που δόθηκε από τις αντιστασιακές δυνάμεις κατά των Γερμανών κατακτητών στην Ήπειρο.
Εκεί οι ενωμένες δυνάμεις του ΕΔΕΣ νίκησαν τους Γερμανούς.
Ανάμεσα στα θύματα καταμετρούνται και 86 νεκροί και αρκετοί αιχμάλωτοι ανάμεσα στους οποίους και 9 Τσάμηδες.
Μετά το τέλος του πολέμου, ολόκληρος ο πληθυσμός των μουσουλμάνων Τσάμηδων διέφυγε στην Αλβανία, λόγω της δοσιλογικής δραστηριότητας με αμφότερες τις ιταλικές και γερμανικές κατοχικές Αρχές.
Οι περισσότεροι εγκαταστάθηκαν στην Αλβανία και μικρότερος αριθμός στην Τουρκία και τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες.
Το σταλινικού τύπου καθεστώς της “Λαϊκής Δημοκρατίας της Αλβανίας” τους παραχώρησε σπίτια, με σκοπό να διασπάσει τη συμπαγή παρουσία σε περιοχές που διαβιούσαν ελληνικοί πληθυσμοί (Βόρεια Ήπειρος).
Παράλληλα, περίπου 8.000 Έλληνες που ζούσαν στην Αλβανία, υπό καθεστώς πιέσεων, διέφυγαν στην Ελλάδα εκείνη την περίοδο (1945-1946).
Στην Ελλάδα, από τους περίπου 20.000 Τσάμηδες που υπήρχαν προπολεμικά στην Θεσπρωτία, σύμφωνα με την απογραφή του 1951 είχαν παραμείνει μόνο 127.
Στις 23 Μαΐου 1945, το “Ειδικό Δικαστήριο Δοσιλόγων Ιωαννίνων” καταδίκασε ερήμην ομαδικά 1.930 Τσάμηδες, κλείνοντας οριστικά τον δρόμο του επαναπατρισμού τους.
Για την Ελλάδα δεν υφίσταται «τσάμικο» ζήτημα…
ISLAMIC ACTIVIST ADVOCATES USING PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO CONVERT AMERICANS TO ISLAM
“We want to turn them into Muslim individuals.”
In a video clip that has recently gone viral, Islamic activist Sharifa Alkhateeb talks extensively about using U.S. public schools to proselytize Islam and convert America to an Islamic nation.
“We are in the process of developing Islamic education for our children. And yes, all of us have the hope and dream…of creating not only Islamic schools that cooperate with each other but Islamic schools systems that would span the country, that’s what our further objective is,” Alkhateeb explains. “So as we approach the public school system, we have to approach it with that credo, that we see ourselves as worshipping Allah in being involved with them in any way.”
“If we are Islamic individuals and we come to our relationship and our connection with the public school system as Islamic individuals then we will not be part of the great, what they call, American melting pot,” she asserts. “We do not want to melt into American society and disappear. We want to go into American society with Islamic ideals and revamp their thinking. We want to revamp them. We want to turn them into Muslim individuals.”
The recording is in fact not new, but was made during the “Muslim Americans Political Awareness Conference” in 1989. Alkahateeb, now deceased, was the managing editor of the International Institute for Islamic Thought’s American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences. She was a prominent member of the Muslim Students Association, an organization tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and also served as president of the Hamas-linked North American Council for Muslim Women. She was also employed as a diversity consultant with the Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Virginia.
Leftist video outlets have dismissed the clip as “old news” and mocked the right for giving credence to a video three decades old. But much of what Alkhateeb advocates for in the video is already taking place in contemporary America where public school indoctrination in Islam is commonplace.
To cite just a few examples:
*Public high school students in Newton, Massachusetts were provided with history lessons from the Arab World Studies Notebook, a textbook which is funded by a Saudi Arabian oil company which also funds the terrorist groups Hamas and Al-Qaeda. The textbook claims that there is a “Hollywood Jewish conspiracy” to portray Arabs negatively in film and that Jerusalem is “Palestine’s capital.”
*Students at Maryland’s La Plata High School were ordered to copy the Islamic creed “Shahada” which states in part, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” One worksheet distributed by the school stated, “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.”
*Lessons for students at Mountain Ridge Middle School in West Virginia included lessons on Islam as part of a unit on world religions which encouraged students to study and identify with Islam’s key religious beliefs. Assignments given in class included writing the Islamic conversion creed, the Shahada, which states, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” in Arabic, reading chapters from the Koran, and fasting for 24 hours while giving lunch money and food to a food bank, in order to empathize with Muslims observing Ramadan.
*The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an Islamist group with extensive ties to extremist Islamic organizations, has relationships with public school districts in at least three states including California, Washington, and Minnesota. CAIR accuses school districts of failing to prevent “Islamophobia,” thereby necessitating an “anti-Islamophobia bullying initiative” developed by CAIR. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) alleged in a legal suit that CAIR’s relationship with the San Diego Unified School District created a “subtle, discriminatory scheme that establishes Muslim students as the privileged religious group.”
Numerous other instances of Islamic indoctrination in the classroom are detailed in Robert Spencer’s new pamphlet Readin’, Writin’, and Jihadin’: The Islamization of American Public Schools. This Islamic indoctrination has occurred despite several Supreme Court decisions over the past few decades mandating the constitutional separation of church and state as applying to prayer and religious teachings in public schools. Without exception, these cases were supported by the left in order to limit Christian speech and prayer in public schools. But when it comes to Islam, the same rules are not applied, and the left champions the inclusion of Islam in public school curricula in the interests of diversity and inclusion.
The future Alkhateeb envisioned in her speech is already coming to pass and Americans committed to ensuring that our nation’s classrooms be places of objective and unbiased learning would be wise to take notice.
DO PAKISTAN’S BLASPHEMY LAWS TRUMP AMERICA’S 1ST AMENDMENT?
The new globalization of Sharia.
The religious police who patrol the precincts of Twitter recently slapped Jamie Glazov, the editor of Frontpagemag.com and the author of Jihadist Psychopath: How He Is Charming, Seducing, and Devouring Us, with anti-free speech blasphemy codes. The social media giant threatened Glazov with the Section 37 of PECA-2016, Section 295 B and Section 295 C of the Pakistan penal code.
Jihad Watch‘s Robert Spencer has documented how Twitter, along with other leading social media venues, is enforcing Sharia compliance. In the new world of Western dhimmitude, Twitter, acting on behalf of the Pakistan government, is informing American citizens that they could be imprisoned or hanged for insulting Islam.
This new global imposition of Islamic blasphemy law is the handiwork of a leftist playboy on a Muslim prayer mat. This figure of utter incongruity, loved by liberal Westerners, was once a world-class cricketer and Pakistan’s most successful cricket captain—and cricket, a sport foreign to Americans, is the quintessential sport of the gentleman.
As a cricket-loving boy growing up in Bombay, my walls were plastered with posters of Imran Khan. The cricket captain is now Pakistan’s Prime Minister and a poster boy for his nation’s barbaric blasphemy laws – search no further for a striking study in cognitive dissonance.
Oxford-educated Imran Khan, dressed in a mink coat and Mao cap, is equally fluent in the double-speak of radical Islam to his in-house audience and moderate Islam as a mode of public relations discourse. Since his time at Oxford University, Khan also learned to speak the progressive tongue of the social justice warrior tribes.
Khan’s carefully cultivated and calibrated image of incongruity is directed at reinforcing and expanding Islamic hegemony over the West. In the last few days, while the Western politicians were fast asleep like Rip van Winkle and the media were dancing like witches around John McCain’s coffin, Khan nuked free speech in Europe and at the United Nations. And nobody said a mumblin’ word.
In June 2018, Geert Wilders, Dutch Member of Parliament, invited artists to submit cartoons of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. He offered a prize of £7,700 ($10,000) for the winner. The competition was due to be held in November. Wilders received over 200 entries.
Pakistan, the powder keg of Asia, erupted with outrage. Tehreek-e-Labbaik, the main political party organising the protests, called for jihad against the West. Its leader, Khadim Rizvi, had earlier said he would order a nuclear strike against the Netherlands (if he came to power in the elections) were the cartoon contest to go ahead.
The elections went ahead. Imran Khan was elected prime minister. The useful idiots walking European corridors of power all thought that Imran Khan was “our man” because he was a Western-educated “moderate Muslim” who was three times divorced and married to a sex bomb like Jemima Goldsmith.
Instead, Khan turned the volume of Islamic fundamentalism to a full fortissimo and resoundingly affirmed that he’d defend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to the hilt if his party won the elections. At the end of August 2018, Pakistan’s senate passed a resolution condemning the competition and Khan turned his firepower on the West vowing to take the matter to the UN General Assembly in September.
Khan is asking Islamic countries to create laws against blasphemy similar to those against Holocaust denial in European countries. He said: “Our government will raise the matter in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and ask the Muslim countries to come up with a collective policy that could then be brought up at international forums.”
Another Pakistani cricketer, Khalid Latif, has joined Khan’s chorus of “death to free speech” and “death to the West.” Latif, who was banned from cricket for five years for his role in match fixing during Pakistan Super League 2017, has placed a three-million-rupees bounty on the head of Geert Wilders.
To top it all, Pakistani pop star Rabi Pirzada, who dresses like a Westerner in modern clothing and pretends to be a “moderate Muslim,” has used her verified Twitter account to call for cartoonists who draw the Prophet Mohammed to be “hanged immediately.” This prima donna in Pakistan’s opera buffa claims that drawing Islam’s founder is “the worst act of terrorism.”
Pirzada’s tweets are a compendium of contradictions. She parrots the mantra of “Islam is peace” and tweets, “We never did never will do such a barbaric act ever (sic). In islam (sic) we are not allowed to kill innocent people, women or children.” But it’s fine to bump off Wilders because he isn’t innocent. “But that doesn’t mean we can let any dog bark on our Prophet…” is how Pirzada justifies killing blasphemers.
And Twitter never says a mumblin’ word to the threats of violence issued in the name of the religion of peace.
Geert Wilders cancelled the cartoon contest “to avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence.” While Wilders has stuck out his neck for free speech and continues to do so, what is staggering beyond belief is the pusillanimous acquiescence of the West to the fatwas of religious fanatics in a backward nation stuck in seventh-century Arabia.
Instead of the civilized West civilizing Pakistan, backward and barbaric Pakistani hotheads led by a turncoat Prime Minister are de-civilizing the freedom-loving Western world. Islam sentences apostates to death. But apostates are Muslims, to begin with. With blasphemy, Islam sentences even non-Muslims to death, thus declaring its rule over everyone who is not a Muslim. This is an outrage against the most basic tenets of liberty and justice and free speech.
By not standing up to Imran Khan and his bloodthirsty hate-mongers and by acquiescing to Islam’s blasphemy laws, we in the West are submitting to the religion of Islam and to the rulings of its four schools of law (within Sunni practice)—all of which prescribe the death penalty for blasphemy.
If only we could look in the mirror, we will see an even more striking study in incongruity—our cowardly, spineless selves. By and large, we in Western Europe have rejected religion—i.e. Christianity, the religion of our heritage and culture. Paradoxically, we have capitulated to the authority of another religion “Islam”—which does not mean “peace” but “submission.”
Khan’s strategy is perilously clear for all who have eyes to see. And it just isn’t cricket, it just isn’t fair, it’s just isn’t sportsmanlike. Our response is pathetically obvious for Pakistan and the rest of the Islamic world to see. It is a response of silent submission. And that is just what Islam means: submission.
WHAT DOES BREXIT MEAN FOR BRITISH-ISRAEL TRADE?
Britain is Israel’s leading export destination within the EU, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May welcomes Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Downing Street in London, June 6, 2018. (photo credit: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)
While situated far way from the boisterous debates of the House of Commons, governments across the world are intently following every speech and parliamentary vote as the clock ticks down to Britain’s scheduled divorce from the European Union on March 29.
Tuesday’s crushing defeat in Westminster appeared to kill off British Prime Minister Theresa May’s two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce, in which a status-quo transition period would be followed by Britain operating an independent trade policy alongside close ties to the EU, the world’s biggest market and Israel’s premier trading partner.
These records will be shattered after British exports to Israel soared by some 75% in the first half of 2018. Bilateral trade stood at $4.3b., up from $4b. during the same period in 2017.
Accordingly, with only 10 weeks to go to avoid a no-deal Brexit, Israeli trade officials will be keeping track of every development in the deepening stalemate in London, but are eager to reassure Israeli exporters that there will be seamless continuity in trade. As the British once said, keep calm and carry on.
“In terms of direct trade between Israel and the UK, there is no need for concern,” Yariv Becher, the Economy and Industry Ministry’s commercial attaché in London, told The Jerusalem Post.
“The ministry is working very closely with the UK to make sure there is continuity in existing trade relations between the countries. For exports from Israel to the UK, there will be no fracture – it will be seamless.”
For nearly two decades now, Israeli-British trade has been conducted through the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a legal framework that encourages both political dialogue and economic cooperation.
Britain will no longer benefit from the agreement after Brexit, as will be the case for several dozen other free trade agreements that the EU has negotiated over the last two decades with almost 60 non-EU countries.
In order to ensure a smooth transition of the trading relationship between Britain and Israel, a new UK-Israel Trade Working Group was established and held its first meeting on March 29, 2017 – the same day that the UK invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to commence its withdrawal process.
The working group was one of the first four to establish a deal in post-Brexit trade, apparently demonstrating the importance placed by Whitehall on the trading relationship with Israel.
“What the British are saying is that they want to take the existing infrastructure that they have as part of the EU, and sort of replicate the existing agreements… to make sure that there is continuity,” said Becher.
“We are definitely in line with that, and there is cooperation between both sides to make sure it happens,” he said.
Liam Fox, the UK Secretary of State for International Trade and a minister responsible for ensuring trade continuity, visited Israel in November 2018 to discuss post-Brexit trade opportunities, including meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, major investors and hi-tech companies.
Speaking in September 2018, May expressed her desire to see not only continuity, but the deepening of the UK-Israel trade relationship following Brexit.
“As the United Kingdom forges a bold new future outside the European Union, we will be seeking free trade deals with our partners around the world. And as a great start-up nation, an engine of enterprise, a world leader in technology and a great friend of Britain, I want to see an ambitious free-trade deal between our countries,” May told a United Jewish Israel Appeal dinner in London.
“And as I have said to Prime Minister Netanyahu, I want to build on this – deepening our links in particular in sectors like agriculture, health, science, technology and innovation.”
While May asked party leaders on Thursday to forget self-interest to find a solution, there was little sign that either of the two major parties – which together hold 88% of the 650 seats in parliament – were prepared to compromise on key demands.
No matter the outcome of the months to come, Israeli authorities are eager to assure exporters that it will be business as usual come Britain’s departure from Europe.
Reuters contributed to this report.
MY WORD: MILITARY CEREMONIES, CHANGES AND CHALLENGES
Israelis, and particularly Jerusalemites, have unfortunately learned to “keep calm and carry on” under rocket attack and waves of terrorism.
INCOMING IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi attends a handover ceremony at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on January 15, where he replaced Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Israelis, and particularly Jerusalemites, have unfortunately learned to “keep calm and carry on” under rocket attack and waves of terrorism. Those are known as “routine emergencies.” It’s snow that we can’t handle. Or even the threat of it. As forecasters predicted possible light snowfall in the capital, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion took no chances and ordered that schools would be closing early. Shoppers rushed to supermarkets to pick up extra bread, milk and canned goods – regardless of the calming announcement that the snow was not expected to settle. Jerusalem siege-time mentality set in, backed by the weight of several thousand years.
It was one of those days of Israeli extremes – sunny weather before a storm; tradition in face of the unknown.
The ceremony (or ceremonies, to be precise) at the Military Headquarters at the Kirya in Tel Aviv were a pleasure to watch. “It’s like a British royal wedding,” one radio commentator enthused. But unlike royal nuptials, the handover between one IDF chief of staff to the next takes place every four to five years. It is a changing of the guard ceremony. The marching tunes were inspiring, as marching tunes are meant to be. The parade ground was strikingly orderly. It reminded me of the only-in-Israel transition ceremony that takes place every year on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, marking the move from Remembrance Day to Independence Day – another set of extremes.
Listening to the speeches, I realized with a jolt that this chief of staff is likely to be the one in the top spot when my 12th grader does his military service. So far, so good, I thought. But it was only Day 1 and it’s clear the former paratrooper has to hit the ground running. Rain and snow can bring the country to a halt, but they are not the real challenges.
“My chief of staff,” head of the IDF when I joined almost 40 years ago, was “Raful,” Raphael Eitan. (I love the Israeli habit of calling the chief of staff by his nickname. Raful was followed by Moshe ve’hetzi, Moshe-and-a-half, the extremely tall Moshe Levy.)
To the outside world, Raful is probably best known as the officer who led Israeli forces into southern Lebanon in 1982 in what was to become known as the First Lebanon War, in which some of the friends I recall on Remembrance Day fell. While I was still serving, however, he was known more for his project helping soldiers from disadvantaged homes, a popular program; basically abolishing army entertainment troupes (less popular); and the seriously disliked order that soldiers must wear their berets at all times in public. Both the command and the headgear were better suited to different climates and temperaments.
It’s impossible to predict what Kochavi’s legacy will be, but as a vegetarian in charge of what has been monikered the most-vegan army in the world, he’s already being seen as something different.
The challenges Kochavi faces are legion. Although Operation Northern Shield officially ended this week, still on Eisenkot’s watch, with the discovery of the sixth Hezbollah terror tunnel stretching under the border with Lebanon, it’s clear that the threat is far from over. Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure was a declaration of intent. Moreover, the patron of both Hamas and Hezbollah – Iran – has neither given up its intention to eventually nuclearize nor its current funding of terrorism around the world.
Through Lebanon and Syria, Iran now has a border with Israel.
To the South, Gaza (and Sinai, where Egypt is tackling Islamist terrorism) also remains a hot spot. The bad weather might have put an end to the wave of arson balloons and incendiary-loaded attack kites, but it hasn’t calmed the situation. As Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas grows older and frailer, we can expect the inter-Palestinian rivalry between Fatah and Hamas to intensify at Israel’s possible expense, with more attempts at terror attacks.
When President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin received the 2019 Strategic Assessment of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) from the head of the institute, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin on January 16, Yadlin said: “The gravest threat we face is not the Third Lebanon War, but the First Northern War – simultaneous conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria and Iran, which Hamas in the South is likely to join.”
The list of leading threats, according to the INSS assessment, includes a deterioration of the situation in Judea and Samaria.
Psychological warfare via social media, is also likely to play a bigger role for tomorrow’s soldiers. The rumor mill – known in Hebrew as Rav Seren Shmuati, Major Rumor – has fertile playing fields and fertile minds.
As the storm approached this week, a colleague reminded me of the viral video clip Washington, DC council member Trayon White Sr. posted last March in which he claimed, after a brief snowfall, that it was the result of “the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities.” Iran has accused Israel of stealing its rain clouds to create a drought.
We’re less powerful than the conspiracy theorists would love to believe, but I did note something almost miraculous this week: The Jerusalem Post’s Eytan Halon reported that Watergen, an Israeli start-up which has developed technology to extract fresh water directly from the air, has partnered with the Red Cross to develop a new Emergency Response Vehicle to provide fresh water to disaster zones. Creating water from thin air? To save people? My kind of conspiracy and people. Technological developments in the military will continue to help keep the country safe in the future, but the humble foot soldiers still have a serious role to play.
Kochavi has been warned that, especially ahead of the elections, he will need to be alert to political maneuvering and will have to remain faithful to his own moral principles and professionalism.
At the ceremony in Tel Aviv, after his wife helped the prime minister pin on his new rank of Lt. General, as his proud father looked on, Kochavi said he owed a lot to his parents “who gave me my first compass, a moral compass.”
Promising a military based on preparedness and adaptability, in his first “Order of the Day,” on January 15, Kochavi, wrote: “The IDF is the people’s army, to protect the people, from all parts of the people, which respects its soldiers, is strengthened by the support of the people and represents the best of the people.”
Kochavi, who worked his way up through the ranks, generates an image of determination mixed with modesty. I salute him, and I salute the soldiers serving under him – particularly those out in the rain and cold – staying awake and on guard so that everyone (but their parents) can sleep well at night, no matter the weather.
Trump Calls for Expanded Missile Defense Program
17 January 2019
President Donald Trump is calling for an expanded missile defense program to better protect the United States.
During an appearance at the Pentagon Thursday, he said, “our goal is simple: that we can detect and destroy” any incoming missile.
The president said America’s adversaries are “increasing their lethal strike capabilities” and that his “first duty is defense of our country.”
The administration’s Missile Defense Review is the first such program since 2010. The strategy pushes for studies. No testing is mandated, and no final decisions have been made.
Pakistan Trying to Arrange US-Taliban Meeting
Pakistan has intensified efforts to keep the U.S.-led dialogue with the Afghan Taliban on track by attempting to arrange a meeting between the visiting chief American negotiator and insurgent representatives, highly placed sources told VOA Thursday.
These official sources appeared confident about bringing the two sides to the table, but maintained that the responsibility for the “success or failure” of the fledgling Afghan peace process rests “exclusively” with the two negotiating sides.
The caution comes as U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, landed in the Pakistani capital Thursday amid expectations a direct meeting could take place between his delegation and Taliban negotiators during his stay in the country.
Prior to his departure Wednesday from Kabul, Khalilzad told reporters that talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon. That’s what we’re working toward.” He did not elaborate.
Officials representing the insurgency were not available immediately to respond to queries about the latest developments.
Official sources in Islamabad expected “important developments” in the coming days but would not share further details. “There is no room for missed opportunities” under the circumstances, they said.
Meanwhile, in a significant move, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani telephoned Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday and discussed the efforts being made for bringing peace to Afghanistan.
Khan’s office said in a statement that Ghani expressed his gratitude for Pakistan’s “sincere facilitation” for Afghan peace and reconciliation.
It said the prime minister “assured President Ghani that Pakistan was making sincere efforts for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan through an inclusive peace process, as part of shared responsibility.”
Pakistani officials maintain in background interviews with VOA that the U.S.-Taliban talks are being facilitated in the hope that they would ultimately lead to an intra-Afghan dialogue for political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. All sides in the peace process will share “the credit and benefits of a success,” they insisted.
“Similarly, given sincere desire and efforts of everyone, no one should be exclusively blamed if the main interlocutors fail to agree due to own lack of flexibility that is very much required from both the U.S. and the Taliban at this stage,” a senior official privy to the Pakistani peace diplomacy told VOA.
Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan where he briefed Ghani and other top officials of Afghan government on the U.S.-led peace initiative.
Khalilzad’s team held a delegation-level meeting Thursday with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and her team.
Khalilzad together with U.S. commander of international forces in Afghanistan, General Austin Scott Miller, also met with Pakistan’s military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss the reconciliation process. An army statement said Bajwa “reiterated that peace in Afghanistan is important for Pakistan and assured continued efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region.”
“It was noted that taking the Afghan peace process forward remained a shared responsibility,” according to a foreign ministry statement issued after the meeting. “Both sides agreed that ultimately the intra-Afghan dialogue would be vital to agree upon the contours of a future Afghan polity where Afghanistan becomes a stable and prosperous country and at peace with its neighbors.”
The Taliban has held several meetings with Khalilzad’s team in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates but the insurgents have persistently refused to engage directly with the sitting administration in Kabul. Their refusal is blamed for a lack of progress in negotiations that started last summer, after American diplomats gave in to a major Taliban demand and met them directly.
Khalilzad, however, made it clear on Wednesday the insurgent group would have to engage with the Afghan government for the process to move forward.
“The road to peace will require the Taliban to sit with the Afghan government. There is a consensus among all the regional partners on this point,” the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy told reporters in Kabul.
He went on to warn that if the Taliban chose to fight over peace talks, the United States would support the Afghan government.
The Taliban threatened earlier in the week to pull out of all negotiations if the United States backed away from discussing the key insurgent demand for a troop withdrawal plan and pressured the insurgents into speaking to the Afghan government.
Diplomats privy to the peace process support the U.S. effort for the Taliban to speak directly to the current administration in Kabul to resolve internal Afghan matters. They see the Ghani-led National Unity government as a “legitimate” entity possessing official representation at the United Nations and maintaining diplomatic missions in world capitals.
The last substantial talks between Khalilzad and Taliban officials took place in Abu Dhabi about a month ago and Pakistan took credit for arranging it and bringing an authoritative team of insurgent negotiators to the table.
Officials in Islamabad say that Pakistan’s “biggest contribution” has been that it has “broken the political stalemate that was there in Afghanistan for several years.”
Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly stated that finding a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan is a top foreign policy priority for his government. While speaking to Khan on Thursday, Ghani invited him to visit Kabul at his earliest convenience and the Pakistani leader reciprocated by inviting the Afghan president to visit Islamabad.
Pakistan has long been accused of sheltering Taliban leaders and covertly helping them orchestrate insurgent attacks, charges Islamabad rejects.
U.S. officials, however, acknowledge the “positive role” Pakistan has played in the current Afghan peace effort. The thaw in traditionally mistrusted bilateral ties was visible earlier this month when U.S. President Donald Trump announced he intended to maintain a “great relationship” with Pakistan.
“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future,” said Trump.
Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington, though the Trump administration has so far given no such indication.
Trump Unveils Space-Based Missile Defense Strategy
President Donald Trump unveiled the military’s long-delayed Missile Defense Review (MDR), the first overhaul of U.S. missile defense policy since 2010.
Speaking at the Pentagon Thursday, Trump said his plan will allow the United states to detect and destroy missiles “anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”
“It is not enough to keep pace with our adversaries, we must outpace them at every turn,” he said.
Officials say the doctrine, initially expected in 2017, has been frequently rewritten to keep up with changing missile threats posed by North Korea, China, Russia and Iran.
Trump added that the upcoming Pentagon budget “will invest in a space-based missile defense layer.”
The MDR orders a study of space-based technologies that officials have said are “key” to the next level of defense, including weapon sensors and interceptors in space.
These technologies could help detect an enemy missile launch sooner and shoot it down in space, or possibly even as the missile is launching.
The idea is reminiscent of former President Ronald Reagan’s so-called “Star Wars” initiative in the 1980s.
U.S. officials have said a space-based defense could help protect against weapons traveling at hypersonic speeds.
In a report released earlier this week, the Pentagon warned that China has made advances in hypersonic technology that, “in some areas” “already leads the world,” potentially allowing Beijing to develop weapons that are far more difficult to detect.
Defense at home and abroad
In addition to a space focus, the MDR breaks down the threat into two camps: protecting the U.S. homeland and defending U.S. forces abroad from any missile source.
Concerning the homeland, the U.S. had already announced plans to add 20 new ground-based interceptors, increasing the number positioned at Fort Greely, Alaska, from 44 to 64 by 2023.
“We are committed to establishing a missile defense program that can shield every city in the United States, and we will never negotiate away our right to do this,” Trump said Thursday.
Trump’s rollout of the Missile Defense Review comes amid reports of possible movement toward another meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Three North Korean officials are expected to meet with White House officials in Washington this week to discuss a potential second summit between the two leaders.
The increased defenses to the homeland are scaled with respect to projected threats from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, not the much more robust threat from China and Russia.
The United States will continue to rely on nuclear deterrence, the assurance that an attack on the U.S. homeland from a major power would insure mutual annihilation, to protect against large attacks from Russia or China.
Finally, to protect against adversary advances abroad, the MDR calls for “expanding and modernizing” regional missile defenses.
The review says North Korea is fielding regional missiles capable of threatening allies and deployed forces, while Iran has a ballistic missile force that could strike throughout the Middle East and southeast Europe.
Speaking ahead of the president Thursday, Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan said North Korean and Iranian missiles “remain a significant concern” across the globe.
“To our competitors, we see what you are doing, and we are taking action.” he said.
“Defense Intelligence Agency” Releases Report on China Military Power
By DIA Public Affairs
Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 2019
James Kudla, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-231-0818
CDR Pam Rawe, email@example.com, 202-231-0808
Washington, D.C. – (January 15, 2019) The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) today released China Military Power, a product that examines the core capabilities of China’s military.
This volume in DIA’s series of Military Power reports provides details on China’s defense and military goals, strategy, plans, and intentions. It examines the organization, structure and capability of the military supporting those goals, as well as the enabling infrastructure and industrial base.
“This report offers insights into the modernization of Chinese military power as it reforms from a defensive, inflexible ground-based force charged with domestic and peripheral security responsibilities to a joint, highly agile, expeditionary, and power-projecting arm of Chinese foreign policy that engages in military diplomacy and operations across the globe,” said Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr., DIA director.
Since Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution in October 1949 brought the Chinese Communist Party to power, China has struggled to identify and align itself with its desired place in the world. Early factional struggles for control of party leadership, decades of negotiations to define territorial boundaries, and continued claims to territories not yet recovered have at times seemed at odds with the self-described nature of the Chinese as peace-loving and oriented only toward their own defense.
Chinese leaders historically have been willing to use military force against threats to their regime, whether foreign or domestic, at times preemptively. Lack of significant involvement in military operations during the last several decades has led to a sense of insecurity within the People’s Liberation Army as it seeks to modernize into a great power military.
“As China continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation’s leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests,” said Lt. Gen. Ashley. “With a deeper understanding of the military might behind China’s economic and diplomatic efforts, we can provide our own national political, economic, and military leaders the widest range of options for choosing when to counter, when to encourage, and when to join with China in actions around the world.”
The Military Power series of unclassified overviews is designed to help the public achieve a deeper understanding of key challenges and threats to U.S. national security. It focuses on our near-peer competitors, and challengers such as Iran, North Korea, and terrorism.
“This product and other reports in this series are intended to inform our public, our leaders, the national security community, and partner nations about the challenges we face in the 21st century,” Lt. Gen. Ashley said.
DIA has a long history of producing comprehensive and authoritative defense intelligence overviews. In 1981, DIA published the first unclassified Soviet Military Power report, which was translated into eight languages and distributed around the world.
Two years ago, in the spirit of Soviet Military Power, DIA decided to once again produce and publish unclassified defense intelligence overviews of the major foreign military challenges we face. DIA published the first in the new series, Russia Military Power, in June 2017.
China slams Pentagon’s PLA report, said it disregards facts, uses Cold War mentality
By Yang Sheng and Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/16
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday slammed a report released by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the US Department of Defense, saying that the US is “unprofessional, hostile and biased” toward China’s military development.
“The report, in disregard of facts, made assumptions on China’s development path and strategic purposes using a Cold War mentality and zero-sum game,” Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a routine press conference on Wednesday.
China’s rapid development in the military field is quickly closing the gap with the US and its allies, and the Taiwan question might test the status quo very soon, a report that comprehensively covered China’s military development in almost every aspect, released on Tuesday from the Pentagon’s intelligence directorate, concluded.
“As it (China’s military power) continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation’s leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to US interests,” Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, director of the DIA, wrote in the report.
Hua said that China firmly opposes the report, which is “extremely unprofessional and contained absurd accusations.”
“China urged the US military to reasonably and objectively treat China’s military development and safeguard the military ties between the two countries,” she said at the press conference.
The DIA’s report also said that “Beijing’s long-standing interest to eventually compel Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence has served as the primary driver for China’s military modernization.”
Hua stressed that the Taiwan question is China’s internal matter, and China urged the US to earnestly abide by the one-China policy and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.
A Beijing-based Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday that “if there is anyone doesn’t believe world peace is now facing the challenge of great power competition, just read the US’ stance in this report.”
“The US still treats China’s military development as a threat and is suspicious of China’s intention to develop its forces, but the facts in recent years have proven that China never uses military conflicts to resolve its disputes with other countries, while the US launches foreign military interventions and operations again and again,” he said.
The report also said that “China has routinely adopted the best and most effective platforms found in foreign militaries through direct purchases, retrofits, or theft of intellectual property and that “the PLA also plays a role in cyber theft.”
Another problem of this report is that the US just doesn’t want to admit China’s military development is being achieved by the Chinese people’s own hard work and wisdom, the anonymous expert said.
“The West gives no chance to China to have any cooperation with Western military enterprises. From nuclear weapons to aircraft carriers, these huge programs of China were all completed under sanctions or containments by the US and its allies. Without successful research and exploration, no one can complete these complicated and giant programs by stealing from others,” according to the expert.
ISRAELI JETS TO TAKE PART IN FIRST EVER AIR DRILL IN THE UK
IAF jets to take part in Cobra Warrior in September and RAF jets to take part in Blue Flag 2020
British Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jet 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/SAC Neil Chapman)
The Israeli Air Force will take part in its first ever joint exercise with Britain’s Royal Air Force in September, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
Formerly named Exercise CQWI (Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor), the annual Cobra Warrior exercise at RAF Coningsby air base in Lincolnshire is the British air force’s largest collective training exercise.
With Israel’s participation in Cobra Warrior marking the first time IAF jets will fly in British airspace, RAF pilots are expected to take part in Israel’s largest international air exercise, Blue Flag, in 2020. It will be the first time RAF jets will train in Israeli airspace.
Both air forces operate the F-35 stealth fighter jet, with the RAF announcing it had achieved Initial Operating Capability last week.
With growing military ties between the two countries, a group of Israeli combat pilots took part in a joint training seminar with RAF Typhoon pilots last year, and in 2017, RAF Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier met with IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and visited several IAF bases.
“This is a significant rise compared to previous years and we’re grateful for that. We have performed mutual visits of aircrew members from both countries’ fighter divisions as well as joint training with the participation of IAF and RAF search and rescue squadrons. Alongside these, we maintain daily coordination of their flights in Israel’s skies and we are happy to provide them with a secondary base if necessary,” a senior IAF officer was quoted by the military as saying at the time.
“Both forces foresee a productive future and are interested in deepening this relationship. The RAF is a global air force, and holding mutual exercises and learning from them is important.”
Defense cooperation between Israel and Britain has increasing over recent years, with Israel being the third-largest arms provider for the United Kingdom providing weapons systems such as the Watchkeeper WK450 drone, the Exactor ground-based missile, and the Litening targeting pod carried by RAF Typhoon and Tornado aircraft.
Elbit, one of Israel’s largest defense companies is also the main partner in the UK’s new Military Flight Training System, the Chronicle reported.
According to Campaign Against Arms Trade, the UK has also sold $466 million in arms and military hardware to Israel over the past five years, including assault rifles, sniper rifles, components for submarines, military aircraft ground equipment and more.
GENERAL(MONON OI 2 ΠΡΩΤΕΣ ΠΑΡΑΓΡΑΦΟΙ)
- Meetings of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the level of Defence Ministers will be held at the NATO Headquarters on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 February 2019. All information about these meetings will be made available via the NATO website. This media advisory marks the opening of the online registration for accreditation (see below).
- The meetings will be chaired by the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.
By Aryeh Savir, TPS
“The gravest threat we face is not the third Lebanon war, but the first northern war – simultaneous conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, which Hamas in the south is likely to join,” warned IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate.
Speaking while presenting President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday with the 2019 Strategic Assessment from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) which he currently heads, Yadlin noted that “Israel of 2019 is a strong country, the IDF is extremely powerful and deters our enemies. The challenge is to take this strength and use it to reinforce the correct policy.”
The INSS research highlights the major political and diplomatic issues facing Israel in the near future. On the list of leading threats by severity, the INSS’s 2019 assessment includes war with all the enemy forces and on all fronts in the north – Iran on the Golan Heights, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Syrian regime – as well as a military conflict in the south with Hamas in Gaza and a deterioration of the situation in Judea and Samaria.
Iran uses its positions in Syria to transfer weapons and infrastructure to its terror proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, while attempting to establish another military front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights.
The IDF concluded its Operation Northern Shield this week to expose and neutralize Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels. It detected and destroyed six such tunnels over the course of five weeks of activity.
23. Report: American captured by Lebanese army after crossing border from Israel
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News
The Lebanese military has apprehended an American citizen, identified as Colin Emery, in the city of Tyre, after he had crossed the Israeli-Lebanese border, according to Al–Manar, a Lebanese satellite television station affiliated with Hezbollah. Emery is said to be Jewish.
Lebanese social media said that the man was working in “the Zionist entity,” the name given to Israel by such media which do not recognize the Jewish state. In fact, Al-Manar, in its report, referred to the border as Palestinian-Lebanese, even though the area is not disputed internationally as Israeli territory.
Emery apparently attempted to cross into Lebanon at the village of Ayta ash Shab, the same village from which a Hezbollah unit attacked IDF forces in 2006, launching the Second Lebanon War.
IDF forces searched the northern border on Tuesday using helicopters, and Lebanese army forces and Hezbollah units searched for the man on the Lebanese side of the border.
It remains unclear what motivated him to cross into Lebanon.
«BAΡΙΑ ΑΡΡΩΣΤΟΣ;» Σε περίπτωση πολεμικής σύρραξης, είναι σε θέση να προασπίσει τα εθνικά συμφέροντα και να κατατροπώσει τον εχθρό, ο ναύαρχος Αποστολάκης; Βοά το ΥΠΕΘΑ: «Στη βίλα του Βαρδινογιάννη στην Εκάλη, τον έχρισαν πιεστικά, υπουργό μαριονέτα!»
Ο εκπρόσωπος του υπουργείου Εξωτερικών της Τουρκίας Χαμί Ακσόι σε συνέντευξη Τύπου που παραχώρησε τόνισε ότι η χώρα του είναι σε διαρκή επικοινωνία με την Ελλάδα για την παράδοση στη γείτονα των Γκουλενιστών που βρίσκονται στην Ελλάδα αλλά και φια την προάσπιση της τουρκικής «μειονότητας» στη δυτική Θράκη.