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Türkiye ve Rusya arasında Suriye görüşmesi
Türk ve Rus heyet yarın saat 12’de Moskova’da bir araya gelecek.
Rusya: Türkiye’nin operasyonuna Suriye’nin toprak bütünlüğü açısından bakıyoruz
Rusya Dışişleri Bakanı Lavrov: “(Türkiye’nin gerçekleştireceği) Operasyona Suriye’nin toprak bütünlüğünün yeniden sağlanması açısından yaklaşıyoruz.”
Lavrov, Ürdünlü mevkidaşı Ayman Safadi ile yaptığı görüşme sonrasında düzenlenen ortak basın toplantısında Suriye’ye ilişkin soruları cevaplandırdı.
ABD’nin Suriye’de hangi amaca ulaşmaya çalıştığını anlamanın zor olduğunu belirten Lavrov, Amerikalıların her zaman verdikleri sözü yerine getirmediğini, Tanaf’tan da daha önce ayrılacaklarını duyurdukları halde daha sonra fikir değiştirdiklerini hatırlattı.
Moskova’nın Washington’un mevcut kanallar aracılığı ile Suriye’den asker çekme planlarını açıklayacağını umduğunu aktaran Lavrov, ABD’nin askerlerini geri çekme planına rağmen koalisyonun Suriye’de kaldığını anımsattı. Lavrov, “Görünüşe göre, Washington sorumluluğu koalisyon ortaklarına kaydırmak istiyor.” dedi.
Türkiye’nin Suriye’nin kuzeyine ilişkin olası operasyonu hakkında da değerlendirmelerde bulunan Lavrov, “Ankara’nın Suriye’nin kuzeydoğusunda ilave terörle mücadele operasyonuna, terörün ortadan kaldırılması, Suriye’nin toprak bütünlüğünün ve egemenliğinin yeniden sağlanması açısından yaklaşıyoruz. Türkiye Dışişleri Bakanı ve Savunma Bakanı Moskova’ya geldiğinde Türk ortaklarımızla ABD’nin Suriye’den askeri birliklerini çekmesi ile ortaya çıkan bu konuyu tartışacağız. Sonra ne hakkında konuştuğumuzu açıklayacağız.” ifadelerini kullandı.
Suriye meselesinde Astana formatı çerçevesindeki tüm çabaların siyasi çözüm ve barışın tesis edilmesi olduğunu belirten Lavrov şunları dile getirdi:
“Elbette ki Astana formatındaki Türkler ve İranlılar ile tüm çabalarımızın hedefi, Ürdünlüler ve ABD ile koordine ettiğimiz çabalarımızın nihai hedefi, Suriye’nin teröristlerden arındırılması, barışçıl hayatın canlandırılması, Suriye’de barışın yeniden sağlanması ve siyasi sürecin başlaması için Kürtler de dahil olmak üzere tüm etnik ve dini grupların kendilerini güvende ve rahat edeceği şartların oluşmasıdır.”
Öte yandan Kremlin Sözcüsü Dmitriy Peskov da, Beşşar Esed rejimine bağlı birliklerin Münbiç’e girmesini “memnuniyetle” karşıladıklarını söyledi.
Peskov, “Bu, bölgedeki durumun istikrara kavuşturulması bakımından olumlu bir adım.” dedi.
Son Dakika! Erdoğan’dan Münbiç Bilmecesine İlk Yorum: Kesinleşmiş Bir Şey Yok, Psikolojik Bir Hareket
Son dakika! Suriye ordusunun Münbiç’e girip bayrak diktiği haberlerini değerlendiren Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan, “Kesinleşmiş bir şey yok. Bu psikolojik bir hareket” yorumunu yaptı.
FETÖ’nün kilit adamı yakalandı! Türkiye’ye gönderildi
ABD beslemesi FETÖ’nün kilit adamı Hüseyin Atik, KKTC’de gözaltına alınarak Türkiye’ye gönderildi.
28 Aralık 2018
Israel Building New Super-Stealth Wings For Its F-35Is
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced Wednesday it had begun production of a custom outer wing design for its F-35I Adir stealth fighters, a $2.5 billion deal that will see the contractor build hundreds of wing pairs for the Israel Defense Forces over the next 10 to 15 years.
Israel is one of the few nations permitted to modify Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter, which it has dubbed the F-35I Adir (“Mighty One” in Hebrew).
The Adir fighter actually isn’t in use yet by the IDF – that’s what these wings will go towards. Israel currently has 14 F-35s, but they’re boilerplate A-models, not the modified Adirs, and will have to be retrofitted later. After it receives its first complete batch of 19, the subsequent 35 planes delivered will become the Adirs, the blog National Interest noted. The IDF should receive all those planes by 2024.
The deal signed with IAI by Lockheed Martin will see the company build 811 pairs of F-35 outer wings by 2034. The product itself is a sort of shealth for the wing below, made of a state-of-the-art composite material called Automated Fiber Placement (AFP), a 3mm-thick thread material woven together to create a surface that won’t appear on radar screens, the Jerusalem Post explained.
The F-35 is already built to be nearly invisible on radar.
“The construction of the new production line significantly upgrades IAI’s technological capabilities, automation and robotics, and will enable the company to establish itself as a major player in the military and civilian aerostructures,” IAI said in a statement Wednesday.
“The opening of the production line constitutes a significant milestone in the realization of the company’s strategy for building advanced capabilities in the field of composite materials manufacturing technology. Thanks to this move, IAI will belong to a ‘limited club’ of companies with these manufacturing capabilities,” IAI vice-president Shlomi Karako, said, World Israel News reported.
Israel became the first country to use the F-35 in combat this past May, according to the Israeli Air Forces, which said at the time the stealth plane had been deployed on two missions.
Turkey would not allow US to inspect Russian S-400 missile systems: Official
Iran Press TV
Dec 27, 2018
A senior Turkish official says Ankara would not provide the United States with the opportunity to study the advanced Russian-built S-400 air defense missile system, regardless of strong opposition from Washington and warnings that Turkey should not buy the anti-aircraft platform.
“Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has assured Russian Ambassador to Ankara Alexei Yerkhov that there are no talks that Turkey will give the United States the chance to inspect S-400 air defense systems,” Russia’s Sputnik news agency quoted the unnamed official in the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying on Thursday.
English-language Bloomberg news network, citing two sources, recently reported that Turkey had offered the US to survey the S-400 air defense systems, which Russia is set to deliver in the near future.
On November 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would pay either in ruble or lira for the S-400 missile systems.
The remarks came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was impossible to seal the S-400 agreement with Turkey in dollar.
The Russian president said he and Erdogan had agreed on another option.
Putin also criticized the US for using the dollar as a pressure tool, stating that Russia and its trade partners were working to create interbank payment systems independent of the Belgian-based SWIFT global payment network.
A number of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states have criticized Turkey for its planned purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, stating that the move could jeopardize Ankara’s acquisition of F-35 fighter jets.
On July 15, the top American Air Force general in Europe warned that the Turkish government’s plan to purchase Russian S-400 systems would give the advanced air defense shield deep insight into the US radar-evading F-35 fighter jets.
“Anything that an S-400 can do that affords it the ability to better understand a capability like the F-35 is certainly not to the advantage of the coalition,” General Tod Wolters, who is also the NATO Allied Air Commander, said.
Erdogan has emphasized that Ankara would utilize sophisticated S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems if necessary.
“We will not just buy the S-400s and place them in a storehouse. We will use them if need be. These are defense systems. What are we going to do with them if not use these defense systems? Are we going to depend on the United States again? We have been demanding them for years, but the answer given to us has been: The [US] Congress is not allowing. We are tired of this,” he said in remarks broadcast live by private Turkish-language TGRT Haber television news network on June 12.
Erdogan and his Russian counterpart said in the Turkish capital Ankara on April 3 that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of S-400 missile systems. The delivery is expected to start between late 2019 and early 2020.
Turkey’s English-language Hurriyet Daily News newspaper reported on December 29 last year that the loan deal for four S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries had been signed in Ankara.
The developments came only two days after Chief Executive Officer of Russian state corporation Rostec Sergey Viktorovich Chemezov told the Kommersant daily newspaper that Russia would supply Turkey with four batteries of S-400, worth $2.5 billion each, and Moscow was expected to begin the first deliveries in March 2020.
Chemezov added that Turkey would pay 45 percent of the cost of the agreement up front, while Russia would provide loans to cover the remaining 55 percent.
The S-400 system, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Turkey is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkey’s border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues.
Erdogan has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey.
The Turkish leader has also slammed American officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt.
Turkey Conducts Successful Test of Its First Air Bomb
Turkey has successfully tested its first domestically manufactured air bomb, the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology said on Thursday.
“The tests of the first air bomb MK-84 developed by our defence industry at the base HABRAS. Turkey’s Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank has been observing the tests. The air bomb weighing 1 ton managed to strike the wall as wide as 1 metre which was fortified with a steel carcass,” the ministry said in a statement.
Commenting on the tests in a Twitter post, Varank specified that the test base, HABRAS, in the Karapynar district of the province of Konya, became operational at the end of October.
The opening ceremony was attended by Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan and other officials.
The base is used to tests weapons systems produced by Turkey at the early stage of development, and foreign armaments. Furthermore, military hardware is also tested at HABRAS just before entering serial production.
Trump: Israel gets $4.5 billion a year, ‘defends itself very well’
By David Isaac, World Israel News
“We give Israel 4.5 billion dollars a year. And they are doing very well at defending themselves,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday after visiting U.S. troops at an American base in Iraq.
Rejecting criticisms that his decision to pull 2,000 special forces troops from Syria would somehow weaken Israel, Trump said, “I’m the one that moved the embassy to Jerusalem. I was the one who was willing to do that. So that’s the way it is – we are going to take great care of Israel. Israel is going to be good.”
Trump said that America gives more than the $4.5 billion “if you look at the books.”
The U.S. president surprised members of his own administration when he made the announcement last week that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria. The news led to the resignation of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and his special envoy fighting ISIS, U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk.
Both Mattis and McGurk appeared to take issue with the fact that a withdrawal of U.S. troops was an abandonment of America’s ally, the Kurdish fighters in Syria, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
According to The New York Times, McGurk told colleagues in an email that Trump’s move “came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us … It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered.”
In his resignation letter submitted on Dec. 20, Mattis wrote:
“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. While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.”
Trump also came in for criticism from GOP leaders and American Jewish organization heads. The main arguments against the move are that it would create a vacuum in which Iran could operate as well as paving the way for the revival of ISIS, which has largely been defeated.
However, Israel, on the surface at least, played down the impact of the president’s decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would continue to maintain its security.
Israel Army Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot echoed this view, saying it was important not to overstate the importance of Trump’s decision — that Israel had acted alone in Syria before U.S. troops arrived and would continue to do so afterwards.
Former IDF chief names new party: ‘Israel’s Resilience’
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News
Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (res) Benny Gantz announced that he has registered a new political party, which he will head, in advance of the April Knesset election. The name of the party is Hosen L’Yisrael (“Israel Resilience”).
A Gantz spokeswoman said that there were no additional details at this time.
Gantz has been doing well in public opinion polls, with the latest Yisrael Hayomsurvey showing him gaining 15 parliamentary seats in the upcoming election, second only to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, which would earn 31 seats.
Though his political views are not known to the public, Gantz is seen by some as the key to a center-left bloc capable of taking down Netanyahu.
In fact, public opinion polls show that his entry into the race would hurt the leading opposition faction in the outgoing Knesset, Zionist Union. This would explain why Gantz reportedly was offered by Zionist Union head Avi Gabbay to take over the top spot. He declined and has now registered his own party.
The 59-year-old Gantz served as Israeli military chief from February 2011 to February 2015. He is seen as having a certain flair that combines his military experience with a boyish face and charm. The Ynet news service posted a video to its website showing Gantz bringing out coffee to its camerawoman who was staked outside his house. It’s that combination which supporters hope can lead to his success in the April ballot, countering the image of Netanyahu as Mr. Security while offering a softer tone with his demeanor.
Ynet reports that Gantz has hired the services of publicists who have worked with the Labor Party and Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich in the past.
Τρις ισόβια ζητά ο εισαγγελέας της Κωνσταντινούπολης για τους 8 Tούρκους αξιωματικούς οι οποίοι διέφυγαν στην Ελλάδα με στρατιωτικό ελικόπτερο, μετά την απόπειρα του πραξικοπήματος του 2016 και αργότερα πήραν άσυλο.
Η δίκη των 19 πρώην πια αξιωματικών, ανάμεσα του και οι 8, συνεχίστηκε σήμερα στην Κωνσταντινούπολη με αυτούς που βρίσκονται στην Ελλάδα να δικάζονται ερήμην.
Ο εισαγγελέας τους 19 τους κατηγορεί για «απόπειρα πραξικοπήματος, για προσπάθεια ανατροπής νόμιμα εκλεγμένης κυβέρνησης , απόπειρα κατάργησης του Κοινοβουλίο και δολοφονίες πολιτών» και ζητά τρις ισόβια κάθειρξη.
Παράλληλα για τους. 8 ζητά επιπλέον ποινές κάθειρξης από 9 έως και 15 έτη για «δραπέτευση σε ξένη χώρα, κλοπή στρατιωτικού υλικού και πρόκληση ζημιάς σε στρατιωτικό υλικό».
Ο εισαγγελέας παράλληλα ζήτησε να διαχωριστεί ο φάκελος των 8 από τους υπόλοιπους κατηγορούμενους καθώς «έχουν διαφύγει σε άλλη χώρα».
Ο Μεβλούτ Τσαβούσογλου πριν από λίγες ημέρες είχε υπενθυμίσει πως η Ελλάδα δεν έδωσε στην Τουρκία τους 8 τούρκους αξιωματικούς που η Τουρκία τους κατηγορεί ως πραξικοπηματίες και ως μέλη της τρομοκρατικής οργάνωσης FETO ( Γκιουλενιστές).
HILLEL’S TECH CORNER: SPARKBEYOND
The core philosophy of SparkBeyond is to leverage advanced data sets and transform them into a predictive hypothesis that connects artificial intelligence to have both business and social impact.
DECEMBER 27, 2018
Artificial intelligence. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Founded: October 2013 by Sagie Davidovich and Dr. Ron Karidi
Capital Raised: $35 million
Why this company is impactful: While artificial intelligence is becoming mainstream and is used by organizations across the globe to deal with the most complex challenges, SparkBeyond realized that to truly find answers to the complexities of the world, we first have to make sure we are asking the right questions.
Due to our natural cognitive bias as human beings, we are actually not attacking the greatest challenges of our society in the most objective and optimal manner. SparkBeyond created an “Ideation Machine” or a hypothesis algorithm to make sure we are asking the right questions. The company uses its technology in the business sector to power offerings from some of the world’s most successful companies including a leading global management consulting firm and Microsoft, but much more importantly, SparkBeyond’s engine is used in areas from advanced cancer research to fighting human trafficking, all while generating over $1 billion across 20+ industries with Fortune 500 and Global 1,000 companies.
It has been said that in today’s era, data is the new currency replacing things like oil, and given the tremendous amount of data to which we are exposed, the name of the game is to build the tools we need to extract, analyze and leverage that data to build hypotheses and solve problems. That data is simply raw material that needs to be filtered and crystallized in order to make it actionable.
SparkBeyond takes the client’s data, and harnesses humanity’s collective intelligence to solve the very specific client problem. Its technology correlates or augments it with other external data sets, essentially connecting the many dots that are produced by the immense amount of data in our day-to-day lives.
How all of this manifests itself, for example, is when a business is looking to optimize its processes, looking for better ways to increase its bottom line. As human beings, they are inclined to miss out on opportunities because certain hypotheses were simply not raised. SparkBeyond’s engine might raise an idea, correlate it with available data, offer actionable insights to be implemented by the team, and prove to be the missing link that ends up bringing the necessary edge to boost the business and bring deep impact.
The other side of the coin is how SparkBeyond’s technology is utilized in areas of deep impact. The team’s philosophy at its core is “To do well by doing good.” The way they do this is by using their platform to offer creative and often, unthought of solutions for problems like human trafficking, to name one example.
The core philosophy of SparkBeyond is to leverage advanced data sets and transform them into a predictive hypothesis that connects artificial intelligence to have both business and social impact. Without a sales team, SparkBeyond continues to power some of the most advanced and successful solutions used in our daily professional lives. SparkBeyond’s engine helps companies gain meaningful insights, which lead to meaningful outcomes, and eventually meaningful solutions. All of that makes a deep impact!
12. SYRIA WAS NEVER A JUST WAR
The West should fight wars based on the principles of Augustine, not Mohammed.
December 28, 2018
“Moral factors cannot be ignored in war . . . Moral elements are among the most important in war,” wrote Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz. “Without just cause nothing that follows can be justified, even if it can be more and less virtuous,” writes ethicist Nigel Biggar in his book In Defence of War.
Almost unique among modern ethicists, the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford University presents a forceful case against the pacifist “virus of wishful thinking.” He even contends, rather provocatively, that the 2003 Iraq invasion was justified. Biggar rejects “Hobbesian realism” and declares himself an adherent of “Augustinian realism,” drawing deeply on the Augustinian tradition of Just War.
There are times when war can be and indeed should be the moral response to grave wrongdoing. The most serious flaw in the West’s intervention in Syria’s civil and religious war (for that is what it is) is our lack of justification for the morality of going to war with Assad and sending American troops to Syria in the first place.
Pragmatic arguments about regional politics and supporting the Kurds are valid but not sufficient to go to war or to expend American lives in theatre. At the end of the day, “there are no good guys in an Islamic civil war,” writesDaniel Greenfield. Moreover, “there are no innocent victims in an Islamic civil war because neither side believes in anything except demonstrating the Allahu Akbaring supremacy of their religious doctrine by subjugating the other,” he adds.
Hence exploring the moral question becomes an even greater imperative. So far, no religious or political leader has argued persuasively the morality of even one of the six criteria of the Just War model to justify the morality of our intervention in Syria. Are we on the ground or in the air over Syria because of just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, last resort, proportionality or prospect of success?
In 2013, Trump tweeted: “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” Later, in April 2018, Trump added that the US had gotten “nothing out of $7 trillion [spent] in the Middle East over the last 17 years.”
A cause cannot be just if it is not based on truth. The Just War theory flounders in a postmodern society where justice and truth have parted company. Justice is redefined as ‘social justice’ and ‘truth’ is jettisoned in favour of relativism, perspectivalism, propaganda, pragmatism, and the will to power.
Justice cannot be based on falsehood or error. In formulating the Just War theory, Augustine of Hippo and his predecessors would have presumed the overlapping of justice and truth. The Bible treats justice and truth as synonyms when used in poetic parallelism.
“Justice is turned back,” writes the prophet Isaiah, “for truth has stumbled in the public squares. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” God asks Jeremiah to search the public squares in Jerusalem “to see if you can find a man who does justice and seeks truth.”
In justifying the strike on Syria or in debating troop-withdrawal, General Matthis and the Western coalition must answer the just cause criteria on two grounds: First, is it true that Assad was responsible for the chemical attack on civilians in Douma killing 42 and injuring 500 others? Second, does this cross the threshold for intervention as laid down by international conventions?
In February 2018, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis categorically stated that the US had no evidence to confirm reports that the Syrian government had used sarin on its citizens. The jury was still out on earlier chemical attacks such as Ghouta (2013) and Khan Sheikhoun (2017).
In April 2018, Mattis told Congress he “believes” (not “knows”) that there was a chemical attack at Douma on April 7 and “we are looking for the actual evidence” (not “we have found actual evidence”). “As each day goes by – as you know, it is a non-persistent gas – so it becomes more and more difficult to confirm it,” he said.
Syrian physician Dr Assim Rahaibani, a source on the ground (though not an eyewitness) in Douma, said that his patients were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the tunnels and basements in which they live on a night of heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.
One thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history if we ignore the error on the part of the intelligence services, not just of the UK and the US, but also of all other Western countries and of Russia when it claimed Saddam Hussein was in possession of WMD. Even Hans Blix, the head of the 2003 UN weapons inspection team, believed it.
First, there is the question of motive. Assad has been winning the war against the rebels. His use of chemical agents would snap his precarious position with the West. Why not use conventional weapons as he has in the past with devastating brutality? Why chlorine and not sarin? Chlorine is a choking agent not considered a weapon of mass destruction. Assad’s regime has stocks of sarin and mustard gas, not chlorine, according to the US Congressional Research Service report.
If chlorine was used, why has the West ruled out the possibility that the rebels may have been responsible for the attack? The rebels are radical Muslim groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra—an al-Qaeda affiliate, as Charles Lister documents in The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency.
Al-Qaeda has been working to acquire chemical, biological and radiological weapons. Al-Qaeda in Iraq detonated a series of crude chlorine bombs in Iraq from late 2006 through mid-2007. A study by the New America Foundation found a total of 16 chlorine gas bombings in Iraq, the last of which was in June 2007. On October 21, 2006, al-Qaeda in Iraq launched chlorine bomb attacks by detonating a car loaded with mortars and chlorine tanks in Ramadi.
According to the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee Butler report (2004), between October 2002 and February 2003 al-Qaeda was involved in the production of chemical and biological agents in Kurdish northern Iraq. Rolf Ekeus, Swedish head of the UN Special Commission on Iraq from 1991-1997, warned in 2003 of “the chance that Iraqi chemical weapons specialists would sign up with terrorist networks such as al Qaeda . . . The chemical and biological warfare structures in Iraq constitute formidable international threats through potential links to international terrorism.”
Islamic terrorists such as Hamas who use women and children as human shields will have no compunction unleashing a chemical attack against civilians to provoke Western military intervention against Assad. Islam, particularly in the theatre of jihad, sanctions the stratagem of Taqiyya or dissimulation.
Second, for a war to be just its cause would have to be sufficiently grave. The only kind of sufficiently grave reason specified by international law is genocide. The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty report The Responsibility to Protect specifies the “just cause threshold” and extends genocide to a “large-scale loss of life” or “large-scale ethnic cleansing.” The massacre in Douma does not satisfy this requirement.
Ethicist Michael Walzer argues that the first questions asked when states go to war, such as “who started the shooting?” are “questions of fact, not of judgment, and if the answers are disputed, it is only because of the lies that governments tell. The lies don’t, in any case, detain us long; the truth comes out soon enough.” It did in the case of Iraq; it has in the case of Syria.
Thirdly, it was the French who created Syria as a political fiction. The Greeks had bestowed this nomenclature to describe this geographic region, but there was never a “Syrian” nation before 1946. The forced clumping together of Alawite, Druze, Kurd, Assyrian Christian and Sunni Arab has been an unmitigated political disaster but the perfect opportunity for Islam to establish its supremacy.
“Russia and the West are fighting to decide whether Syria will be run by Sunni Islamists backed by Saudi Arabia or Shiite Islamists backed by Iran,” warns Daniel Greenfield. Deciding whether to support Sunni or Shiite Muslims in a holy war is a casus belli devoid of any Just War morality.
“This insane civil war has burned up countless lives, not to mention plenty of dollars, rubles, euros and pounds. The only certain winners of this war, once the dust has settled, will chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ and call for the death of the infidels.”
For the Augustinian-influenced West, a “holy” war must be a Just War or we will, by proxy, end up fighting an Islamic holy war. It is a war only Islam can win.
Sinaloa Cartel recruiting gangster jihadists.
December 27, 2018
Chérif Chekatt, the 29-year-old perpetrator of the December 11, 2018, mass shooting in Strasbourg, France was designated a gangster jihadist by French Police. The term refers to people previously convicted of various crimes and radicalized in prison. Chekatt, a French born citizen was a hardened criminal with 27 convictions in France, Germany, and Switzerland.
Gangster-jihadists are not just recruited in prison by Islamic extremists. The Sinaloa Cartel appears to have seized upon the opportunity to recruit and exploit hundreds of locals in France and Germany, including children and refugees already primed by jihadist propaganda, many possessing criminal records and combat experience. International law enforcement agencies have long known that Hezbollah launder money for the Sinaloa cartel. Recently, German law enforcement have been aggressively disrupting the criminal operations of traditional Arab Clans in Berlin and even the operations of La Cosa Nostra. Neither are known to have been affiliated with Sinaloa or Hezbollah. Sinaloa have quickly filled the narco-vacuum, similar to how the Cali Cartel took over Pablo Escobar’s market after his death. The sudden and alarming proliferation of top-shelf weaponry among Hamas and Hezbollah on the Israeli border is very likely the consequence of a renewed and strengthened alliance between them and Sinaloa, in which German-based “refugees” deal Sinaloan coke and heroin and kick part of the profits back to their Iran-based handlers, Hezbollah who, in turn, shuffle weapons over to Lebanon. This arrangement provides Iran deniability, while also providing Sinaloa broader access to and deeper penetration of the German narco market, as well as plenty of easy money to SUV-driving, Gucci-toting “refugees.”
Music and accompanying videos of German Rappers further indicate a new alliance of transnational criminal organizations drug trafficking and Islamic State terrorism. Jihadist sympathizers and Islamic State fighters have long embraced hip-hop culture, specifically gangsta rap, to promote and disseminate their message via the Internet and social media. ‘Jihad Rap’ was a successful recruitment tool targeting young men who felt dispossessed and marginalized, one of the most notorious being the German rapper and ISIS terrorist, Denis Cuspert, aka “Deso Dog”. After the fall of the Islamic State Caliphate a new form of gangsta rap emerged in Germany. Best described as ‘Cartel Jihad Rap’ it is a combination of Islamic State nasheed, jihad rap and narco-cultura.
Fawzi Yamouni aka Fousy is a German rapper and producer of Algerian origin from Siegen, Germany. Chérif Chekatt’s most recent prison sentence was served in Singen, Germany. He was radicalized in the infamous area of Konstanz, a town that has been a hub of Islamic radicalism since the mid-1990s. Many of Germany’s prisons are now effective recruiting stations and training camps for cartel jihadis. Chekatt was expelled to France after his release in 2017.
Fousy produces and composes his own songs in the music genre Hip-Hop and Trap. Since 2017 he is under contract with the label Almaz Musiq of the Heidelberg rapper Kurdo who calls himself a “Rapper-terrorist.” On March 2, 2018, the first release of Fousy appeared on Almaz Musiq entitled “20Mille EP”. This release contains 7 songs in EP format including “Sinaloa Cartel” (featuring Kurdo)”, “Sicario” and “Narcos”. In April 2018, the “20 Mille EP” was voted the 8th best release in the month of March by 49 hip-hop releases in the user-voting on the German hip-hop portal Hiphop.de. This inspired an explosion of Sinaloa narco-cultura symbols among German youth, who are making their own narco-cultura tee-shirts, hoodies, and tattoos, imitating and honoring their “role models” like El Chapo, Pablo Escobar, “Tony Montana,” who many believe was a real person. The emergence of these symbols of narco-terrorists on the streets coincides with Fousy’s growing popularity. They were not significantly present before 2018. Chekatt, also of Algerian origin, was most likely familiar with Fousy’s music, which is especially popular among teenaged ethnic and Muslim populations in Konstanz.
Fousy’s music video ‘Narcos’ is a high-quality polished production that glorifies narco culture and promotes Islamic terrorism. The German language video depicts a luxurious lifestyle with expensive designer watches, duffle bags, clothing, weapons, cars and equipment, but blended and back dropped with jihadi and Salafi symbolism. On the surface the Narcos video glorifies drug trafficking but also functions as a terrorism training manual pointing out specific tactics and targets. It depicts men receiving messages on a shortwave radio, creating fake identities and building a bomb. The names on the forged identification cards include standard German names as well as Arab, Kurdish, and Turkish names, which is meant to suggest a kind of multicultural gang. The pluralism of the new gang has appeal to street criminals like Chérif Chekatt, as well as war-hardened refugees seeking a new home identity.
Images of Islamic State militants fleetingly appear throughout the Narcos video. This differs from narco propaganda which emphasizes drug trafficking and cartel affiliation. These subliminal messages symbolize an ideological identification with the global jihad and a continuation of Islamic State goals. Nasheed rhythms reinforce this imagery, as well as lyrics that categorically list all the cities in which ISIS mass casualty terrorist attacks have taken place in the past four years. The attacks are praised in the name of Allah. The video also includes aerial shots and blueprints of the Port of Rotterdam Harbor, the largest port in Europe. Located in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, the harbor appears to be the terrorism target in the video.
The Sinaloa Cartel music video was written by Fousy and Kurdo and released on February 8, 2018. The German language video includes images of a homicide crime scene, expensive cars, hotel rooms, euros and mapping imagery [from Oman City, to Marseille, to Heidelberg, to Frankfurt]. One scene depicts a woman weighing, wrapping and hiding drugs in dead fish while wearing a narco / soldier skeleton bandana. The Sinaloa Cartel had previously smuggled drugs using fish.
She is the only woman in the video. She is white, covered in tattoos, has make up, black hair, long black nails and sexual clothing. She is later depicted lying dead in a bath tub with her throat slashed. Both Jihad and Narco culture is male dominated and women are considered inferior, submissive and subservient to men. Many women are labor and sex trafficked by both cartel and jihadist gangs.
Another scene depicts Kurdo rapping in front of kids from his home project and packing drugs into a duffle bag. The use of kids in the video from one of the rapper’s home projects reveals the recruitment base/target group. The projects scene is in Heidelberg, the same building that Kurdo grew up in. The kids are holding the album on which Kurdo’s hit song “Ya Salam” appears. Ya Salam means “Well done!” in this context Kurdo means, “Well done, ISIS, in Amsterdam,” and all the other cities in which ISIS conducted mass-casualty terrorist attacks. The video ends with a time bomb placed in front of the Frankfurt Opera House signaling it as a target. Jihadists have previously targeted concert venues including the Bataclan theatre in Paris on November 13, 2015.
The two main activities of the Narcos and Sinaloa Cartel music videos is running drugs and building bombs. The bomb building is associated with jihad imagery. The drug running is elaborated with narco-cultura imagery. The videos source the point of origin for the drugs in America, coming in from the West through North Africa, which may be a declaration of war on Turkish and Russian cartels who push their drugs into Germany from the East, typically through Istanbul, Prague, and along the Middle Land Canal.
The lyrics in the videos create a new gang language by introducing and effectively adding key narco-cultura Spanish terms to German street slang, terms such as “vato,” that already uses many Arabic, Kurdish, and Turkish words. Vato is cartel Spanish for what the Italian mafia call “a made man.” The lyrics repeatedly glorify Pablo Escobar, El Chapo, and other well-known narco kingpins. The lyrics strictly eschew white German or Western women in favor of Muslim or Arabic women, who are commonly called Cleopatras. White women are referred to throughout the albums in English as “hoes” or “bitches” or “whores.”
Distinctions between terrorists and transnational criminal organizations are blurred in these rap videos. The videos target juvenile criminals and jobless refugees for recruitment in Germany, France and the European Union. Cartel jihad rap is distinct from early Al-Qaeda recruitment videos that radicalized students, intellectuals or other previously non-violent individuals and were often longwinded sermons from bin Laden. They also differ from ‘jihad rap’ that specifically promoted a Salafi pro-jihad message. This album is unique in that it openly affiliates with the Sinaloa Cartel and appeals to young men like Chérif Chekatt who are already accustomed to and excited by violence. Unlike typical jihad propaganda the narco cultura aspect celebrates wealth and materialism depicting narco-culture as a Western lifestyle acceptable for the jihadi.
These videos inspire a new type of terrorist, one who wants to survive his attack, enjoy his newly acquired respect and live to kill again. If he survives, he earned his gangster jihadi street cred, if he is captured and sent to prison he is celebrated as a hero, if he is killed, he is a martyr for Islam. It’s a win-win, Paradise on earth and in heaven.
Dawn Perlmutter Bio:
Dawn Perlmutter is the Director of the Symbol Intelligence Group and one of the leading subject matter experts (SME) in symbols, symbolic anthropological methodologies, semiotics; atypical homicide and ritualistic crimes. She trains law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and presents expert witness testimony on ritual homicides.
Doyle Quiggle Bio:
Doyle Quiggle researches the anthropology of war from within the battlespace, focusing on counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency. He has deployed as a battle-space professor to US Troops downrange, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa and at FOB Fenty, Jalalabad, Afghanistan. His articles have appeared in Small Wars Journal; Journal of Terrorism Research; Foreign Policy; Arizona Quarterly; and Augean Stables.
UMass student asked to remove ‘F*** Nazis’ sign because it’s not inclusionary
Nicole Parsons, a junior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said she decided to put up this sign after a swastika was drawn over a Happy Hanukkah sign. (Courtesy of Parsons)
) — A University of Massachusetts student was asked to remove a sign from her dorm window saying “F*** Nazis, you are not welcome” because it did not foster a sense of inclusion.
Nicole Parsons, a junior, said she put up the sign following an incident in which a swastika was scrawled over a Happy Hanukkah sign on campus, BuzzFeed News reported Sunday.
“I thought maybe if I hang the sign up, maybe the person who drew the swastika will see it and see someone condemning their actions, even if the administration doesn’t do it,” she told BuzzFeed.
However, she soon received an email from a residence director informing her that although the sign was “permitted under Freedom of Speech,” he would “also like to discuss the impact on the community that this sign has had.”
“There are some in the community who have expressed that the sign should be taken down as it has created mixed emotions in the community on how to proceed, issues of inclusion, and the ability to be active members of their community,” the RA, Eddie Papazoni, wrote. “While Residence Education cannot force you or your roommate to take the sign down, I am asking that you or your roommate take the sign down so that all students can be a part of an inclusive residential experience, as well as having a respectful environment to be a part of here on our campus.”
Parsons told BuzzFeed that she was in shock and that she believed the email showed that “the university cares more about the feelings of Nazis than the safety of their students.”
The university appeared to backtrack on its request, posting on Facebook that “a poorly worded email from Residence Life staff asking students to take down the sign does not reflect the values of the campus, and it should not have been sent. UMass Amherst emphatically rejects Nazis, and any other hate group, a view expressed in the students’ sign. However, we are sensitive to the use of profanity, which some could find inappropriate. The university respects the students’ right to display the sign and it may remain up.”
In June, the Anti-Defamation League reported that white supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses had risen by 77 percent over the past nine months.
Turkey warns France against supporting Kurdish YPG militants
Iran Press TV
Dec 25, 2018
Turkey has warned France against supporting US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision last week to withdraw American troops from the war-ravaged Arab country.
“If France is staying to contribute to Syria’s future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militants), this will bring no benefit to anyone,” Turkish-language Hurriyet daily newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying on Tuesday.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Cavusoglu further noted that Ankara has “the power to neutralize Daesh alone” amid speculations that the US exit from Syria would influence the military campaign against the Takfiri terrorist group.
The top Turkish diplomat then criticized French “support” of the YPG, which he said was “no secret.”
He also slammed French officials’ meetings with senior officials from the political wing of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has YPG as its backbone, in Paris last week.
Cavusoglu said the US withdrawal “should not serve the YPG’s separatist agenda.”
Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that a Turkish delegation would head to Moscow “today or tomorrow” to discuss the planned US troops pullout from Syria.
Erdogan added he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for face-to-face talks about the issue.
‘Turkey’s preparation for operation in east of Euphrates going as planned’
Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said preparations for a military operation campaign in the eastern bank of the Euphrates River against Kurdish YPG militants are proceeding as planned.
“Everything has been planned and programmed. Everything is going according to it [the plan] and in line with the schedule,” Akar told reporters ahead of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.
He noted that talks will be held with US officials within the next few days on a roadmap for Manbij.
“Work on the Manbij roadmap is continuing intensively,” Akar pointed out.
He said Turkish military officials are in contact with their US counterparts, adding that further information on the roadmap’s timetable will be released once it is finalized.
The northern Syrian town of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, has been a major bone of contention between Ankara and Washington.
Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal reached with the United States in June, which would see the YPG ousted from the town and moved back to the eastern bank of the river.
Over the past few days, the Turkish military has been sending reinforcements to frontline areas with YPG militants in northern Syria.
The Turkish military, with support from allied militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, has launched two cross-border operations in northern Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch”, against the YPG and Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
US establishes two new military bases in Anbar province: Iraqi official
Iran Press TV
Dec 25, 2018
The US Army has set up two new military bases in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, an Iraqi official says, days after Washington announced the pullout of American forces from Syria.
“The US Army has established two new military facilities in uninhabited parts of the province,” Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency quoted Farhan al-Duleimi, a member of Anbar’s provisional council, as saying on Tuesday.
The move comes less than a week after US President Donald Trump announced his unexpected decision to pull all the 2,000 American ground troops out of the war-ravaged Syria. He said on Wednesday that the withdrawal would be slow and gradual, without providing a timetable.
According to al-Duleimi, the first base had been established in the northern Rumana sub-district in al-Qaim district, in the vicinity of the Syrian border, some 360 kilometers west of the provincial capital Ramadi.
The second base, he added, had been set up east of the city of al-Rutbah, about 310 kilometers west of Ramadi and less than 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.
The official added that the American bases were purportedly intended to assist Iraqi forces “secure the country’s borders and prevent infiltrations by the Daesh terrorist group.”
“Scores of US soldiers are currently stationed at the two bases, along with drones and other equipment,” added al-Duleimi, without providing further details.
The central government in Baghdad and Washington have yet to comment on al-Duleimi’s statement, but if confirmed, the total number of US bases in Anbar will reach four.
Nearly 5,000 American troops have remained in Iraq since Washington, leading a military coalition, began its so-called anti-terror operations in the Arab country in 2014 with the declared aim of defeating the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, which managed to overrun roughly two-thirds of Iraq, mainly in the country’s north and west, in June that year.
Late last year, Baghdad declared that the military presence of Daesh in Iraq had come to an end following a three-year conflict that ended with the fall of the Daesh-held city of Mosul. The terror group lost all its urban strongholds in the Arab country but its remnants launch sporadic terror attacks against government troops and civilians alike.
Iraqi forces, however, continue counterterror operations against the Daesh “sleeper cells,” which purportedly remain active in certain parts of the country.
By: United with Israel Staff
Islamic terrorists in the Gaza Strip have warned local Christians against celebrating their end-of-the-year holidays.
The Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of armed Palestinian terror groups, published a flyer featuring a burning Christmas tree and threats in Arabic forbidding the Christian celebrations, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The flyer from the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades features a verse from the Quran, warning Muslims “not to go the way of the Jews and the Christians” because “indeed God is not for the evil people.”
The terror organization cautioned that it is “absolutely forbidden” to celebrate the holidays in any capacity, and the Jerusalem Post cited a Gaza government source as saying that the flyer was aimed at both Muslims and Christians living in Gaza.
Hamas, the Islamic terror group that rules the Strip, has in previous years issued notices to restaurants and hotels, banning establishments from throwing New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Before Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, the Christian population in the coastal enclave was over 3,000. Today, just 1,000 Christians remain, most of them Orthodox.
Christians and their property have occasionally come under attack since Hamas seized power.
Christians in Israel Celebrate Freely
While the Christian population is shrinking under Palestinian rule, it is steadily growing in Israel, the only country in the Middle East that safeguards Christians and enables them to practice their faith freely and safely.
Israeli authorities have worked to facilitate Palestinian celebrations, easing security restrictions in honor of the season’s holidays.
In Israel, Christian pilgrims and locals held mass celebrations on Monday night at various locations throughout Israel to celebrate the holidays.
CAN HAMAS ROCKETS THREATEN BEN-GURION AIRPORT FLIGHTS?
Much of the answer depends on what one’s threshold is for what constitutes a “threat.”
DECEMBER 25, 2018
Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display home-made rockets during an anti-Israel military parade, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 21, 2016. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)
There is no easy answer to the question of whether Hamas rockets can viably threaten flights at Ben-Gurion Airport as they publicly sought to do last month.
Following threats to fire rockets at Ben-Gurion last month, the Israeli Airports Authority adjusted flight routes for incoming flights.
Much of the answer depends on what one’s threshold is for what constitutes a “threat.”
Also key is if the question is whether rockets can hit aircraft or whether the threat can project a serious enough risk getting foreign aviation authorities to halt flights to Israel.
According to a Begin-Sadat Center of Bar-Ilan University report by former IDF intelligence Lt.-Col. (res.) Raphael Bouchnik-Chen, the likelihood of Hamas rockets – which are still mostly primitive – “is more a propaganda message than a concrete threat.”
He makes several arguments in support of that contention.
Bouchnik-Chen acknowledges that Hamas possesses rockets with a range of more than 70 kilometers which could reach Ben-Gurion, and that in 2014, one of its thousands of rockets hit Yahud, a mile from the airport.
However, he says that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other such authorities have a double standard for Israel.
BASED ON the ICAO’s own guidance from its Conflict Zones Risk Information report and 2015 clarifications, the three threats posed to civil aviation operations near conflict zones are surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), man-portable air defense systems and air-to-air attacks.
Noting that, “There is not a single word about rockets or ballistic missiles,” he argues that this means that any warnings of flying through conflict zones because of Hamas rockets should be viewed with suspicion and as potentially having political undertones.
The political undertones which Bouchnik-Chen is referring to are theories held by a sizable number of Israeli authorities that part of the FAA’s 2014 decision to briefly suspend flights to Ben-Gurion was an attempt to pressure Israel into a premature ceasefire with Hamas.
In addition, he offers Saudi Arabia as an example: “When ballistic missile barrages were launched on an almost daily basis by the Yemenite Houthi rebels towards several Saudi main airports…no flight prohibitions were even considered.”
Backing up this double-standard idea, he writes that following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014 by Russia, a senior ICAO official admitted that “different political perspectives” among member states have rendered the organization “unable to provide a common global assessment of risk for aviation operations.”
In other words, argues Bouchnik-Chen, the ICAO’s warnings cross into the political sphere and are not merely security based.
He cited former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, US Senator Ted Cruz and Israeli officials who all questioned the credibility of canceling flights to Ben-Gurion Airport for security reasons.
TOP FORMER defense ministry missile-defense expert and Jerusalem Institute of Security Studies fellow Uzi Rubin, while sympathetic to some of Bouchnik-Chen’s ideas, approached the issue differently. He told The Jerusalem Poston Tuesday that the relevant question is not whether Hamas rockets can hit civilian aircraft coming into Ben-Gurion, but whether the FAA, ICAO and others will issue warnings.
Rubin also thought that there were questions about the mix of Obama administration considerations for why the FAA issued a no-flight directive for Ben-Gurion during the 2014 Gaza war.
But he said that even without politics, it is understandable for a bureaucrat running the FAA to put safety or even the perception of safety first.
Though for Israel, losing flights even temporarily to Ben-Gurion is a major economic and psychological negative, the harm for aviation bureaucrats of losing flights to one location for a short period is nothing compared to risking the safety of those flights, however low the risk may be, Rubin said.
Going forward, Rubin said that even though Iron Dome has performed remarkably, Hamas is not static, and it could not be assumed that missile defense would be hermetic.
Rather, he said that even last month, when Israel and Hamas were close to war on November 12-13, Hamas had managed to outfox Iron Dome somewhat more than in 2014.
This meant, said Rubin, that even if Hamas’s chances of hitting an aircraft or the airport were low, they could not just be summarily dismissed.
Also, he disputed the comparison to the Saudi case, saying that there were eight relevant instances of rocket attacks toward Saudi airports and Riyadh has insisted that none of them landed near or really threatened the airports.
Acknowledging that some analysts have argued that Saudi denials of threats to their airports are false, Rubin said that it was still not as serious as where Israel publicly admitted that a rocket hit one mile from the airport.
In the meantime, even as Hamas failed to get close to Ben-Gurion in 2014, the debate will probably be rekindled whenever the next conflict explodes.
Trump ‘open’ to Turkish invitation to meet Erdogan
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The White House confirmed Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has officially invited President Donald Trump to meet with him in Ankara early in 2019, although no date has been mentioned as yet. “While nothing definite is being planned, the president is open to a potential meeting in the future,” the statement said.
Even before the U.S. president would make his trip, an American military delegation is to visit Turkey this week. “They will discuss how to coordinate [the withdrawal] with their counterparts,” Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said at a news conference.
The invitation follows Trump’s sudden decision
last week during a phone conversation between the Turkish and U.S. leaders to withdraw all 2,000 American troops from Syria. The move is something that Turkey, Russia and Iran have all been urging for months, as they maintained that the U.S. was not invited in by Syria and that its presence was therefore an “invasion” of sorts.
Trump, meanwhile, had kept the troops there that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had sent, in an effort to defeat the ISIS terrorists who still maintained a grip on a small slice of Syrian territory. However, the American presence was especially unwelcome by Ankara as the main American role was to help train Kurdish forces to fight the Sunni Muslim extremists near the Syrian-Turkish border. The Kurds currently control some 30% of Syrian territory, and their aspiration is to set up an autonomous region there, something both Damascus and Ankara reject.
Ankara has long claimed that these men are affiliated with Kurds in their own country whom they deem to be terrorists. Once the U.S. withdraws, Erdogan will have almost a free hand to take harsh measures against these Kurds, and a Turkish military buildup on the joint border has already reportedly begun.
The U.S. president has pushed back against those who have criticized his move for several reasons, including the question mark it leaves over the fate of his erstwhile Kurdish allies. The American mission was always to defeat ISIS, he said, and it seems he was convinced by Erdogan that Ankara could finish the job for its NATO ally.
In a “long and productive call,” the two discussed “the slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “President @RT Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria….and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right “next door.” Our troops are coming home!”
Former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon declares new party
By World Israel News Staff
Former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon announced a new party to compete in the coming elections for the 21st Knesset in a Facebook video on Tuesday.
“All my life I was a soldier in the state, I call on you to come under the stretcher,” he said in the video, referring to a well-known training ritual among IDF soldiers where they practice carrying their fellow wounded soldiers.
In the social media video, Yaalon declared, “I promised and I am fulfilling that promise. I am starting out as a party leader with political power under my leadership for the upcoming elections which are so crucial to Israel.”
“In the list I will present soon you will find the good Land of Israel with clean hands,” he said, an apparent reference to the many corruption cases facing Israel’s current leadership.
The former defense minister appealed for a merging of parties to better compete in the elections. “I also call for a combination of forces to put an alternative to the leadership of the state and work to advance it. The time has come for us to take responsibility.”
In his plea for a united front, Yaalon echoed the call of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who also served as IDF chief of staff and defense minister. In a Monday interview with Israel Radio, Barak said that only a bloc of several parties could beat Likud and its leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
20. Trump Authorizes 115-Mile Wall Construction in Texas
Working on Christmas Eve and through the government shutdown over border wall funding, President Donald Trump tweeted he had authorized the construction of a 115-mile stretch of border wall in Texas.
“I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas,” President Trump tweeted Monday night. “We are already building and renovating many miles of Wall, some complete.
“Democrats must end Shutdown and finish funding. Billions of Dollars, & lives, will be saved!”
Working in the Oval Office after canceling his trip to Mar-a-Lago in Florida because of the shutdown, President Trump met Monday with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials to discuss border security issues as a partial government shutdown over his U.S.-Mexico border wall entered Christmas without a clear resolution in sight.
Though both sides have traded offers over the dollars, they remain far apart on the wall. The White House insisted Trump will reject any deal that does not include money for a wall or fence; Democrats held firm in their opposition to a wall or other physical barrier.
In a joint statement Monday, the Democratic leaders of Congress, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, said as long as Trump keeps listening to the House Freedom Caucus and others on the right flank, there is no easy resolution to the impasse.
“It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos,” the leaders said. They pointed to problems beyond the shutdown, including the plunging stock market and the president’s firing of the defense secretary. “The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it.”
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said a counteroffer was presented over the weekend to Schumer. Mulvaney would only say the offer was between Trump’s $5.7 billion request and $1.3 billion Democrats have offered.
“We moved off of the five and we hope they move up from their 1.3,” Mulvaney said Sunday, a day after a senior administration official insisted Congress would have to cave into Trump’s spending demand for the shutdown to end. The comments highlighted Trump’s unpredictable negotiating style.
A Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the private talks confirmed the White House offered $2.5 billion, an initial $2.1 billion plus $400 million Democrats called a “slush fund” for the president’s other immigration priorities.
Mulvaney said he was awaiting a response from Schumer, whose office said the parties remained “very far apart.”
Trump chimed in from the White House, where he has been cooped up since the shutdown began early Saturday.
“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security,” Trump tweeted. “At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!”
Trump blamed Democrats for the stalemate, tweeting Monday that “Virtually every Democrat we are dealing with today strongly supported a Border Wall or Fence. It was only when I made it an important part of my campaign, because people and drugs were pouring into our Country unchecked, that they turned against it. Desperately needed!”
However, an AP Fact Check found that U.S. arrests on the Mexican border jumped 78 percent in November from a year earlier to the highest level in Trump’s presidency. Increased arrests indicate that more people are trying to cross the border illegally.
Several Cabinet departments and agencies have been closed since Saturday after their funding lapsed. The closure affects hundreds of thousands of federal workers across the country and was expected to last at least through Thursday, when the House and Senate meet again.
Monday and Tuesday, Christmas Eve and Christmas, respectively, are federal holidays, meaning the government is closed anyway. That means Wednesday is the first day the public could begin to feel the effects of lost government services, Mulvaney said.
The routines of about 800,000 federal employees, meanwhile, were about to be disrupted.
Material from the Associated Press was used in compiling this report.
21. Amos Oz, a ‘saintly intellectual’ who turned Israel’s national reality into art
Amos Oz, shown here in 2015, often blurred the personal and the political in his writing. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
(JTA) — Amos Oz would often speak in the kind of tossed-off epigrams that come only with a lot of practice. But just when you wanted to smack him for his breezy erudition, he would redeem himself with a flash of spot-on — and hilarious — self-awareness.
In 2011, speaking at the 92nd Street Y about the novel he’d just published in English, “Scenes From Village Life,” Oz said that 99 percent of the typical media coverage of Israel involves extremist settlers, ultra-Orthodox fanatics and brutal soldiers, “and 1 percent saintly intellectuals like myself.”
Oz died Friday at age 79, having won nearly every literary prize short of the Nobel and having become perhaps Israel’s most widely translated author. If Jews were in the canonization business, Oz would have earned his wings (halo? robe? my theology is shaky) on the basis of “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” his 2002 novel cum memoir. Like so much of what he wrote, the book is not just autobiographical, but a biography of Israel itself. Although his story ends before he is out of his teens, the young Amos bears witness to the destruction of European Jewry, the height of the British mandate, a Hebrew renaissance in Jerusalem, the great Zionist debates (and debaters) of the day, the rise of the kibbutz movement and the birth of the state.
The book’s brilliance is its blurring of personal memoir and national drama, as in an unforgettable description of the night in 1947 when the United Nations voted to partition Mandatory Palestine, giving international legitimacy to a Jewish state. His father, Yehuda Klausner, still “drenched in sweat from the crush of the crowds” celebrating the U.N. vote, crawls into bed with the young narrator. He tells the boy of the “hooligans” who tormented him and his brother back in Odessa and Vilna, and how the bullies forced the boy’s grandfather “down on the paving stones and removed his trousers too in the middle of the playground.”
And still in a voice of darkness with his hand still losing its way in my hair (because he was not used to stroking me) my father told me under my blanket in the early hours of November 30, 1947, “Bullies may well bother you in the street or at school some day. They may do it precisely because you are a bit like me. But from now on, from the moment we have our own state, you will never be bullied just because you are a Jew and because Jews are so-and-sos. Not that. Never again. From tonight that’s finished here. Forever.”
In his 92Y talk, Oz explained that the book was neither a memoir nor a novel, but in fact a “tale,” a designation that unfortunately has no category in the Library of Congress. Instead, “A Tale of Love and Darkness” combines Oz’s strengths as both a novelist and a writer of impassioned political nonfiction — as he often would put it, he had two pens on his desk, “one pen to tell stories and another pen to tell the government to go to hell.”
If quips like that sound rehearsed — well, considering his body of work, Oz earned a pass. Besides, you can’t plagiarize yourself. And what quips they were! Asked why so many of his stories seemed so downbeat, he would reply, “If I were to sum up my books in one word, I would say they are about ‘families.’ If you gave me two words, I would say ‘unhappy families.’” Explaining what makes for a good story, Oz would say that a bridge that carries thousands of cars each day is no story at all.
“It is only when the bridge collapses that the story begins,” he said.
Oz also would distinguish Israel from other countries in the way it came into being: Other countries were born out of geography, history, politics or demography, he’d say. Unfortunately for Israel, it was born out of a dream.
“The only way to keep a dream intact is never to live it out,” he said. “Israel is a dream come true, and therefore it is disappointing.”
Inevitably with Oz, Israel’s left-wing conscience as well as perhaps its greatest writer of fiction, there was the temptation to read politics into his prose.
“There are political overtones,” he would acknowledge when asked whether this character or that setting was meant to be a stand-in for one Israeli crisis or another. When he tried to deny such meanings, he said, “I am wasting my time. People will see it as an allegory.”
Oz died at time when so many of the things he stood for — a vital Israeli left, a robust peace process, a vision for sharing the land — are in retreat, if not dead and buried. But even until the end, he never gave up trying. His latest book, “Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land,” published last month in English, contained essays on the rise of zealotry in Israel and around the world.
Discussing it with The Washington Post, Oz insisted that neither he nor the book was pessimistic. And in doing so, he seemed to be passing a baton.
“Politically speaking, I have been engaged and involved in writing articles, making speeches for 60 years,” he said. “Now it is my time, not to retire but to provide my ammunition, my experience to the younger generation and let them take it from here.”