‘Egyptian president is a Jew,’ claims Muslim Brotherhood journalist
The British Army used a cutting-edge Israeli-developed anti-drone system to defeat the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that brought about the 36-hour shutdown of the Gatwick Airport and the cancellation of some 750 flights last week.
The UK’s Daily Mail reported Friday that the British Army bought six Drone Dome systems for £15.8 million in 2018, and the technology is used by the Army in Syria and Iraq to take down UAVs flown by the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
Police tried to use the technology they had in their possession, which proved useless because the drone used at Gatwick was either hacked or an advanced drone, and therefore the Army’s Drone Dome system made by Israel’s Rafael was called in.
“GOOD news for travelers, BAD news for those peddling a boycott of Israeli goods,” he added.
Rafael, an Israeli defense technology company, describes the system as “designed to provide effective airspace defense against hostile drones used by terrorists to perform aerial attacks, collect intelligence, and other intimidating activities.”
It uses four radars to give full 360-degree coverage to scan the entire skyline.
Police arrested two suspects late Friday in the worst drone-inflicted travel chaos to hit Britain. Suspects are a 47-year-old man his 54-year-old wife from Crawley. They were arrested on suspicion of disrupting civil aviation and could face a punishment of life in prison.
AP contributed to this report.
Greece and Cyprus, with the backing of the European Union, joined Israel to work on the world’s longest and deepest undersea gas pipeline, in addition to a hos of other initiatives.
Here are five ways the three countries are addressing the challenges of the future.
Mattis Pledges Smooth Transition for Replacement
23 December 2018
Trump names acting Pentagon chief, forcing Mattis out earlier
(Xinhua) December 24, 2018
WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) — U.S. President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he has picked Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan as the acting Pentagon chief, forcing outgoing James Mattis to step down earlier than planned.
Shanahan will assume the role starting Jan. 1, 2019, Trump said in a tweet Sunday noon.
“Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!” The president added.
The announcement came only days after Trump announced that Mattis, the current defense secretary, will retire at the end of February next year.
Shortly before Trump tweeted his decision on Sunday, news broke out that the president was furious at days of negative news coverage over Mattis’ resignation and his rebuke over the administration’s treatment of U.S. allies in a resignation letter.
“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships,” Mattis wrote Thursday.
The 68-year-old former Marine Corps general said that his views on treating the allies with respect are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.
“Because you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours” on many subjects, “I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis added.
Mattis offered his resignation a day after Trump ordered the withdrawal of the 2,000 or so U.S. troops from Syria and declared victory over the Islamic State militant group, a move that Mattis reportedly disagreed strongly.
The scope of Mattis’ divergence with Trump went far beyond the U.S. military mission in Syria.
Mattis is a defender of the U.S. alliance with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), while the president once bashed NATO for being “obsolete” and often scolded member countries for failing to contribute sufficient funds.
The two also disagreed on issues such as banning transgender recruits from the military, canceling the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as deploying troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship – but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important – but not when they take advantage of U.S.”
During the Obama administration, Mattis was forced out as head of U.S. Central Command in 2013 over differences about handling Iran.
Mattis’ leaving the Trump administration earlier means that he will not oversee U.S. troops withdrawn in Syria as well as reported reduction of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Seen by his supporters as the only remaining force of stability in the Trump administration, Mattis was the latest in a slew of cabinet members and administration officials who either resigned or were forced to quit within the last two years.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy for the global coalition to defeat Islamic State, also resigned earlier in the past week, another sign of senior officials’ objection over the U.S. troops withdrawal from Syria.
Trump said Thursday Mattis would “be retiring, with distinction”, but did not mention him in announcing the replacement.
Shanahan, 56, became deputy secretary of defense in July 2017. The former longtime Boeing executive reportedly has strong relationships with both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence but is set to face questions over his lack of foreign policy or government experience.
A spokesperson for Shanahan said he will accept the appointment as acting secretary.
“Deputy Secretary will continue to serve as directed by the president, and the Department of Defense will remain focused on the defense of the nation,” the spokesperson said on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for Mattis, Dana White, said on Twitter that the outgoing secretary will focus over the next week on ensuring a smooth transition.
The reshuffle at the Pentagon also comes as parts of the U.S. federal government are shut down over a budget impasse.
Bulgarian President Slams Buying US F-16 Fighters as “Triumph of Lobbyism“
The country’s government announced recently that they recommended replacing its existing air fleet of MiG-29s with jets by Lockheed Martin. They picked them over a bid by Sweden with its newly-made Gripens and Italy’s used Eurofighters, despite exceeding the planned budget.
President Rumen Radev has strongly criticised the tender process, which resulted in the recommendation to negotiate with the US to purchase F-16 fighters for the Bulgarian Air Force.
The country’s Defence Ministry announced that the committee, exploring this bid along with the offers by Sweden and Italy, opted for the US jets on 21 December, although this offer exceeds the planned budget. According to the ministry, a discount can be negotiated in direct government-to-government talks; however, they still asked the government to seek parliament’s approval for a higher budget.
Radev, who is a former Air Force commander and fighter pilot, said both Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and parliamentary leader from the governing GERB party, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, had predetermined the choice, praising the US jets, the Sofia Globe reports.
“It was a triumph of lobbyism. I do not want to defend one or another type of aircraft – for me, all three are wonderful, I flew them and against them. But unlike other people, I defend that the process should be transparent, open and objective. There are two types of choices – the first is when the government says that it will bet on a strategic partnership and pick an aircraft from country X without being interested in details. But this requires political courage and above all a responsibility that is not inherent to our government”, Radev said in an interview with Sofia’s Darik Radio.
He criticised the predisposition that the US would comment on the conditions only after negotiations kick off, which would mean the Parliament is to approve the deal in the dark.
The Bulgarian president also pointed out that the F-16 would be the most expensive option, entailing a change in the terms of the purchase, the Bulgarian government outlined earlier. The first delivery of 8 jets could be fulfilled in 6 years despite a 2-year-deadline, so the military would still have to invest in the MiG-29s, the Bulgarian fleet now operates.
The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) echoed Radev, expressing “great disappointment and concern” over the decision to recommend purchasing F-16s instead of its Gripen. Head of export and international operations Joakim Wallin pointed out that their offer was “significantly below” the designated budget, “thus leaving a substantial reserve for the purchase of weapons and equipment, including those for which US licences are sought” and fell in line with the precise tender criteria. Incidentally, in 2017 the committee also ranked the Swedish bid as the best.
The air fleet’s modernisation is a part of a two-stage plan to improve Bulgaria’s compliance with NATO standards, according to Reuters. Bulgaria has approved a plan to spend around $1 billion on purchasing at least eight fighters for its Air Force. It planned to purchase 16 fighter jets to replace the existing MiG-29s. Apart from offers from the US for Lockheed Martin F-16s and Gripen jets from Sweden, the Defence Ministry of Bulgaria considered second-hand Eurofighters from Italy.
The latest announcement was preceded by a telephone conversation between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov on December 18, and a visit by Pompeo’s deputy to Bulgaria. Pompeo also publicly voiced commitment to cooperate with Bulgaria on the matter.
“The United States is committed to working with the Bulgarian government to tailor the final scope of a potential F-16 sale to fit its budgetary and operational requirements, while still offering superior capabilities”, his statement from 20 December reads.
Israeli government calls for early elections.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
On Monday, coalition leaders in Israel’s government voted unanimously “out of national and budgetary responsibility” to go to elections in early April.
Sources within the government said even prior to this afternoon’s meeting that it would decide whether of not the coalition would continue, Israel’s Channel 11 website reports.
The decision, if approved by a Knesset vote necessitated by Israeli law, would come just over four years after the last Knesset elections, held on March 17, 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called the coalition meeting in an unsuccessful effort to save his coalition by finding an agreement on a haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, draft bill. The bill concerns the Army enlistment of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
On Sunday, ultra-Orthodox members of the coalition expressed anger that they weren’t informed about renewed discussions in the Knesset committee preparing the recruitment law, Channel 11 reports.
The haredi recruitment law has threatened to bring down the Netanyahu government multiple times in the past.
Netanyahu’s coalition had already been on shaky ground since mid-November when then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced his resignation over the government’s handling of Hamas violence emanating from the Gaza Strip.
With the departure of Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, Netanyahu’s government was left with a razor-thin 51 vote majority.
WITHDRAWING FROM SYRIA IMPLEMENTS THE TRUMP DOCTRINE
That’s what it takes to actually win.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
“We need to be more unpredictable to adversaries,” President Trump had declared.
In the spring of the year, he pounded Syria with air strikes after chemical weapons were used, obliterating Obama’s red line disgrace, and restoring American deterrence and credibility.
But the day before the strikes happened, he had tweeted, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”
Now, in the last wintry days of the year, he suddenly announced a pullout of American troops from Syria. But the move only took those by surprise who hadn’t been paying attention all along.
When our first major airstrikes began, Trump had warned, “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria… under no circumstances.”
Politicians usually say things like that. But Trump remains unpredictable by actually saying what he means in a business where everyone assumes that you mean the opposite of what you say.
“I would not go into Syria, but if I did it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools,” Trump had tweeted five years ago.
Trump’s actions in Syria encompass his preference for flexibility, quick strikes or withdrawals with no long term commitment. And that’s exactly what frustrates a national security establishment whose watershed moment was still the post-war reconstruction of Germany and Japan. They foolishly misread Trump by confusing commitment with consistency, and unpredictability with inconsistency,
Our foreign policy, crafted by unimaginative diplomats, who despite their pretentions have nothing in common with the flashing wit of a Talleyrand or the cunning calculation of a Metternich, is based on creating trust by being utterly predictable. They’ve succeeded brilliantly at being utterly predictable. And they’ve failed at using this predictability as leverage to build a trustworthy international order.
Trump has brilliantly wielded his unpredictability to make America into a mobile piece on the world chessboard. America has the ability to rapidly deploy troops around the world and pull them out. But we were too bogged down in a swamp of our own ideological abstractions to make use of our capabilities.
Establishment thinking deploys American troops in the 21st century like British soldiers in the 19th. The deployments never end. Instead we set up little colonies of contractors, mercenaries, reporters, aid workers, and try to bring civilization to the savages at the cost of endless blood and treasure.
These outposts of a phantom imperial order of the new age of humanity become besieged fortresses, islands in a sea of savagery which we are obligated to defend, and they attract our enemies who immediately begin funneling money and weapons, turning the guerrillas we were fighting into an even bigger threat. These humanitarian empires end up being neither imperial nor humanitarian.
Trump understands that there’s no point in maintaining a doomed foreign colony of tens of thousands in Afghanistan, or setting one up in Syria. These colonies give meaning and purpose to their populations, experts, analysts, journalists, aid workers, who shape our foreign policy, but they don’t help America.
The Trump Doctrine rejects these nation building colonies. It wields American power as part of an enduring strategy to build up American power by establishing deterrence, strength and flexibility. Its emphasis is on inflicting rapid blows and moving on, of turning our problems into other people’s problems, and of extracting economic victories from the chaos of foreign policy strife.
It throws out the idea that America must maintain an international order at its own expense, without anyone else being willing to do their fair share or do anything meaningful to serve our own interests.
None of this is a surprise.
Trump has been very consistent in conveying this same message throughout the campaign. But a blinkered establishment refused to take him at his word and is now shocked that he really means it.
When he bombed Syria, they assumed that he had come around to their way of thinking. Instead Trump was implementing his way of thinking, punishing Assad, sending a message to Russia, and moving on.
Even Secretary of Defense Mattis had originally called the strikes on Syria, a “one-time shot.”
Trump had rejected nation building during the campaign and after taking office. Just last December, he had introduced his national security strategy by warning that, “Our leaders engaged in nation-building abroad, while they failed to build up and replenish our nation at home. They undercut and shortchanged our men and women in uniform with inadequate resources, unstable funding, and unclear missions. They failed to insist that our often very wealthy allies pay their fair share for defense, putting a massive and unfair burden on the U.S. taxpayer and our great U.S. military.”
He had also noted that, “In Afghanistan, our troops are no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies of our plans.”
Last summer, Trump’s speech on Afghanistan had described a shift away from nation-building and the ridiculous timelines for withdrawal that had defined previous administrations. We would, Trump said, “shift from a time-based approach to one of condition”. Instead of inflexible commitments, we would maintain flexible options, and respond to the situation, rather than following a fixed plan.
That’s what he’s doing.
We’re “not nation-building again,” he had declared. “We are killing terrorists.”
During the campaign, Trump had complained, “We’re nation-building, trying to tell people who have dictators or worse for centuries how to run their own countries.” He had made it clear that he might occasionally support short term interventions to solve “a problem going on in the world and you can solve the problem”, but not futile efforts to transform failed states into democracies.
Trump’s strategy has remained consistent. The only real question was not “if”, but “when”.
The establishment’s confusion is understandable. When George W. Bush ran for office, he fiercely condemned the nation-building exercises of the Clinton administration in Haiti and Somalia.
“I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building,” Bush had declared.
But then he got sucked into the seductive idea that the best way to end Islamic terrorism would be to change the political conditions of the Muslim world. In the Bush era, nation-building was used to introduce democracy into anti-American Muslim dictatorships. In the Obama era, the democracy push was perverted into a means of overthrowing allied Muslim dictators and replacing them with Muslim Brotherhood regimes. And yet many establishment Republicans continued to support this policy.
Syria began as an extension of the Arab Spring. Most of the Senate Republicans who want us to stay there are the same people who voted for a pro-Iran resolution opposing the Saudi campaign in Yemen. They’re not pushing us to remain in Syria to stop Iran. And they couldn’t care less about the Kurds. They want Syria to be a repeat of Libya with American military force being used for Muslim Brotherhood nation-building. And that is not in our national interests and it’s not what Trump or Americans want.
Trump’s main critics on Syria continue lying to us and lying to themselves that Syria will turn into a free democratic and secular country. But Trump isn’t interested in living in their fantasy world.
The Trump Doctrine has clearly and consistently rejected nation-building and extended interventions. Trump has said that America is not the world’s policeman. And, unlike most politicians, he’s meant it.
But Trump also isn’t afraid to be unpredictable.
He can go back into Syria, just as he left Syria. That’s the whole point. Instead of turning American soldiers into permanent targets, protecting a population of contractors, aid workers and reporters, with young boys from Tennessee and North Dakota getting their legs blown off so that the New York Times can get a Pulitzer Prize photo and a charity org can get more donors, he’s using our military power as a foil instead of a broadsword, landing a series of quick blows and then, unexpectedly, moving on.
That’s radically different from the military strategy that has bogged us down for a century. It’s smart and brilliant in exactly the way that the foreign establishment thinks that it is, but actually isn’t.
The establishment assails Trump as “inconsistent”. It values consistency above all else because it has no strategies, only ideological commitments to abstract ideas that don’t survive places like Afghanistan.
The abstract ideas on which our nation-building is based are not strategies. They’re values. And too many administrations, Democrat and Republican, have built wishful thinking strategies around values. Ideas and values are expressions of belief. Strategies are flexible plans based on real opportunities.
The Trump Doctrine is consistent in the abstract. It’s flexible in its implementation. That’s what it takes to actually win against terrorists, guerrillas and cunning enemies that seize opportunities instead of upholding ideas. And the establishment’s failure to understand that is why we’ve spent decades losing.
HOW WILL THE ELECTIONS AFFECT TRUMP’S PEACE PLAN?
Netanyahu has reportedly requested a delay, and the administration’s desire to get on with its peace process may have factored in to his call for elections seven months earlier than necessary.
WASHINGTON – News of Israeli elections in April is certain to affect the Trump administration’s strategic plan for the rollout of its Middle East peace initiative.
Unless their proposals are intentionally calibrated to boost the electoral prospects of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – privately their preferred candidate – White House officials are likely to delay its release once again, fearing both the perception of election interference in Israel as well as any unintended political consequences sure to arise from the contents of the plan.
Having a date gives US President Donald Trump’s team some clarity on its own timeline, presuming Netanyahu emerges victorious. The election of a prime minister to Netanyahu’s political right would likely kill the plan, and US officials doubt anyone to his left could cobble together a governing coalition.
On Christmas Eve, Trump’s peace team was assessing precisely how the April date will alter their rollout. The president’s aides earlier this year had thought the release of the plan might prove an election-inducing event, but now that elections are already set, they face an entirely new calculus.
While elections may provide the White House with confidence it will release its plan with a stable Israeli government in office, they also amount to yet another hurdle toward its launch. Once slated for release in the spring, and then summer, Trump proclaimed in September that his initiative would finally launch by the end of the year. That soon slipped into February or March, only now likely to slide again even further, possibly into the heat of the 2020 US presidential election cycle.
The peace team – led by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law; Jason Greenblatt, his senior adviser and special envoy; and David Friedman, his ambassador to Israel – continues to say it will release its plan when the timing is right. But developments such as the breakdown in US-Palestinian communications and Saudi Arabia’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi have only deteriorated the environment for peace talks.
A summer release would give the Trump team just over one year to pursue peace before the 2020 US election.
“The upcoming election in Israel on April 9 is one of many factors we are considering in evaluating the timing of the release of the peace plan,” one White House official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.