Saturday, September 30, 2017

Serving as an Example....

"[The 39,967 metric ton cache of chemical weapons, that Moscow inherited from the Soviet Union, had the capacity to] destroy all life on earth multiple times."
"I believe Russia’s efforts in liquidating its chemical weapons will serve as an example for other countries."
"The United States unfortunately hasn’t met its required deadlines in liquidating their chemical weapons, using a ‘lack of finances’ as an excuse." 
Russian President Vladimir Putin 
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke while giving a command to destroy the last chemical weapon stored in Russia via a video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke while giving a command to destroy the last chemical weapon stored in Russia via a video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Wednesday.  Alexei Nikolsky/Pool Photo via Associated Press
"[This move by Russia represents a] major milestone [in the destruction of its chemical arsenal]."
"I congratulate Russia and I commend all of their experts who were involved for their professionalism and dedication."
Ahmet Uzu, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
There's not that much good news out of Russia these days. From its interference in Georgia, to its active participation with ethnic Russian Ukrainian rebels in engaging in conflict with a Ukraine that sees its future best served with a Western rather than a Russian alliance, and its decisive highjacking of the Crimean Peninsula, then its incursion in Syria in support of mass-murdering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's and Mr. Putin's reputation in the West has sunk to a new low.

But then, this doesn't disturb either Moscow nor Vladimir Putin one bit. The Russian President had succeeded in leading the previous American President around by his diplomatic nose, had impressed even his predecessor as understood when President Bush declared he could see his friend Vladimir's soul in his eyes as a man to be trusted, and now had the eye and the ear of a fresh American President, yet it has dissolved into a sinkhole of suspicion.

Little wonder, given the security concerns expressed by eastern Europe over Russia's new assertiveness, its acquisition of new technically advanced arms and its pride in parading them in public view. The perceived threat felt by Poland and the Balkan nations has NATO's back and the alliance is prepared to counter any Russian advance to increase its hegemony reminiscent of the Soviet era, with no love lost between them.

One might well ask, with its massive new inventory of space-age armaments, its huge nuclear investment and much-vaunted ICBM cache along with anti-missile capabilities, why would antiquated chemical weapons even be in existence? They would hardly represent a sacrifice in their destruction. And certainly would go far in persuading a doubting world that Russia has all its ducks in a row.

So the last remaining artillery projectiles equipped with VX toxic agent has been destroyed, and with it the gruesome image of its use and the resulting human carnage that would devolve from such use is now where it belongs, in the trash heap of distant dread and memory. Now, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, over 96 percent of the weapons recognized by the 192 participants of the convention have been destroyed.

Mind, when the OPCW which managed the collection and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons declared them destroyed, al-Assad still managed to find some that he had deliberately withheld, to use them against his 'terrorist' Sunni Syrian population. And as we can all recall, it was Vladimir Putin's assurance to Barack Obama that there was no need to militarily intervene in Syria to stop the carnage when the first incident of a chemical attack was made known.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Crisis of Refugees, From Region To Region

"[...There is] a deeply disturbing pattern to the violence and ensuing large movements of an ethnic group from their homes."
"Displacement appeared to have continued with reports of the burning of Muslim villages, as well as looting and acts of intimidation."
"[Rohingya] are outnumbered by Rakhine communities, some of whom have engaged in violent acts of vigilantism against their Muslim neighbours."
"It is imperative that United Nations agencies and our non-governmental partners be granted immediate and safe access to all affected communities."
"[This represents] the world's fastest developing refugee emergency and a humanitarian and human rights nightmare."
"[The crisis] has generated multiple implications for neighbouring states and the larger region, including the risk of intercommunal strife."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Rohingya refugees mourn beside the bodies of relatives who died when a boat capsized. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
Rohingya refugees mourn beside the bodies of relatives who died when a boat capsized. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

From Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, there are murmurings of unrest. Not, mind, efforts to extract the Burmese Rohingya fleeing deadly persecution out of Myanmar and into Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, or Turkey, for example, but stirrings of jihad, of groups to pledge their part in the restoration of Muslim honour and commitment to come to the aid of fellow Muslims in dire straits. It is the breath of life to Islamofascist terror groups, yet another call to arms in defense of Islam against the unbelievers.

That fear, of a swell of vengeance-seeking Islamist jihadis coursing their way toward Myanmar and engulfing the region in a reactive war of revenge to redeem Islam, has Mr. Guterres quaking in his UN boots that another brutal dysfunction similar to those afflicting the Middle East is on the cusp of erupting. Because a Buddhist society feels umbrage at the abrasive presence of Muslims in their midst, identifying them as intruders who had long ago settled, uninvited in Burma, and eager to return them to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Alternatively a tiny proportion of the untold wealth of the Persian Gulf oil-rich states could conceivably be on offer to penurious Bangladesh to enable it to house and feed and welcome the desperate Rohingya fleeing death in Myanmar. But no, the Muslim world seethes with rage but will not part with any of its wealth even to bolster the strained capability of another Muslim country less fortunate than they are; so much for the munificence of Islamic charity. Of course the UN will not ask pointedly that Muslim wealth rescue Muslim refugees.

It is the fear of radicalization, of criminals and human traffickers moving in to take advantage of this dread situation of almost a half-million desperate people fleeing the violence that threatens them that offers sleepless nights to Secretary-General Guterres in prosecuting to the best of his ability a charge implicit in the authority vested in him, representing a flawed and failed world body that is the United Nations, whose purpose is to unify and to strive toward humanitarian equality.

The appeal to the UN Security Council to exert its own authority to persuade Myanmar authorities to allow "unfettered access" for humanitarian aid to reach the refugees, and to make possible "the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return" of those Rohingya whose fear for ed them to seek refuge across the border into Bangladesh, is unlikely to accomplish much. And in a reprise of the mass exodus of the underprivileged Muslim hordes from North Africa and the Middle East flooding Europe and dying at sea, so too are the fleeing Rohingya vulnerable to the very same threats.

As for Bangladesh, it has already absorbed hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who had arrived years before and still languish in refugee camps. Camps now burgeoning with the excess of newly-arrived refugees for whom there is no more room, forcing them to camp out with no protection from the elements anywhere they can find space, in fields, by the sides of roads, and begging for food.

The United Nations has called for financial support from its members in the amount of $77 million, of which under half has been received, to enable it and its partners in humanitarian assistance to answer to the needs of these people. But even that original estimate has changed; "the scale of the emergency has far surpassed initial projections and the needs are being revised" upward, stated UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq of "the largest mass refugee movement in the region in decades".

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Defaming, Threatening Critics of Islam

"Why are only Muslims mentioned by name?"
"It's not the government's responsibility to babysit just one community."
Raheel Raza, president, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

"You don't need extra regulations or motions to combat racism."
Peter Bhatti, chairman, International Christian Voice

"It's not that without this motion, nothing is being done."
"The government does an awful lot, an awful lot on this file."
Father Raymond de Souza, Catholic priest, newspaper columnist

"Racism is something you can't legislate against, per se, because it begins in the mind."
Jay Cameron, lawyer, Justice Centre of Constitutional Freedoms

"We're not following the motion [M-103] word for word."
"We're not having to slavishly follow anything in this motion."
Hedy Fry, chair, House of Commons heritage committee
Liberal MP Iqra Khalid (center left) introduced a successful motion calling on the federal government to condemn and battle "Islamophobia" last February.

The ill-informed, ill-advised and ill-directed motion M-103, controversially passed in the Canadian House of Commons, represents an anti-Islamophobia motion introduced by Liberal Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid in December of 2016. Its introduction as an "Islamophobia" backlash met a wall of resistance, not only from the opposition Conservatives in Parliament, but from Canadian society in general.

That any perceived criticism of Islam, its tenets and its actors is identified as racist and "Islamophobic" is a perverted invention to silence critics of a religion found wanting.

The first scheduled hearing coming out of the motion requiring such hearings on racism and in particular emphasis on the specious "Islamophobia" has now taken place inviting responses purportedly to accept recommendations on combating racism. How racism conflates with criticism of Islam is beyond debate, for Islam has nothing to do with race, but with a religious ideology.

It is Islam, and not discrimination against various ethnic groups that practise it that is at the crux of the public's perception that the religion fosters violence among its faithful.

But to say so is to leave oneself open to the gratuitous and demeaning charges of Islamophobia, a defaming smear meant to silence critics of Islam's call to jihad, its sermons that emphasize the superiority of Islam over all other religions, the shortcomings of unbelievers and the contempt in which Jews and Infidels are held as being offensive to Allah.

Passages in the Koran and the Hadith; sayings of the Prophet Mohammad; are rife with injunctions to violent jihad as a fundamental obligation to Islam.

Some of the witnesses appearing before the committee outlined what may conceivably occur were criticism of Islam to be banned in Canada, making it a federal offence to give offence. A law that would delight the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an influential Islamic clique in the United Nations that has been agitating for years for it to be made unlawful with attendant penalties, to criticize Islam.

Mr. Cameron pointed out that M-103, if made into law, might stop Canadians from criticizing female genital mutilation, as an example.

The opposition Conservatives' attempt to have the motion altered to remove "Islamophobia" as its lead position, and reinterpret the motion to express concern with all forms of racism and discrimination against any targeted group, religion, ethnicity or community was outright rejected by the Liberals and by the presenter of the motion, Pakistan-born Liberal MP Iqra Khalid.

Who rejected anything that would not explicitly mention Islamophobia, rather than calling for a study of say, religious discrimination altogether.

The 'Islamophobia' debate is really part of a global, inter-Muslim conflict, fought for centuries.
"....Muslims, who have formed an organization called "Muslims Against M-103," believe Canadian MPs are getting the wool pulled over their eyes.
This issue is really part of a global, inter-Muslim conflict, fought for centuries.
One in which academics, theologians, secular Muslims and Muslims of minority sects have suffered everything from ostracization, to stoning, to beheading, by those who define Islamophobia in one way when speaking English, and much differently when speaking Arabic, Urdu, Persian or Bangla.
In the Indian subcontinent, for example, the word Islamophobia is roughly translated as "Islam Dushmani" or being the "Enemy of Islam."
Muslims who oppose Islamists feel we are targeted by M-103, that its primary purpose is to drown out our voices when we denounce the polygamy, female genital mutilation, child marriage, honour killings, armed jihad and racial discrimination pervasive wherever "Islamophobia" is banned in the Islamic world.
We who fled the Islamic world to escape the tyranny of falsely being called "Islamophobes" and make Canada our home, now find our enemies have hunted us down.
While Islamists complain of Islamophobia, Muslims mock Christians and Jews when we read the opening verse of the Qur'an (Sura Fatiha) during our daily prayers.
Fatiha is the equivalent to the Lord's Prayer in Christianity, where we ask Allah to put us on the "right path", not on the path of "those who have incurred your wrath" (Jews) and "those who have gone astray" (Christians).
As for other faiths, and atheists, at every Friday congregation, the mullah prays to Allah, asking him to help Muslims defeat the "kafirs" (non-believers).
If 'Islamophobia' is ever declared a criminal offence in Canada, I will be the first to defy that law.
Will the heritage committee declare any religious prayer asking for a Muslim victory over other religions hateful?
This would appear to mandated by M-103, which calls on Parliament to "recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear," and develop a government-wide approach to reduce or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination.
If "Islamophobia" is ever declared a criminal offence in Canada, I will be the first to defy that law and go to jail to protest it."
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum

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From Out Of Nowhere ... Inciting to Terror

"I was supposed to pick him up tomorrow at the same checkpoint."
"I knew he had personal problems at home after his wife ran away ... We spoke to him about his issues but nothing we saw would indicate anything would happen like what happened today." 
"It is frightening and shocking to know that this person was the one who worked at our house. This is our reality — on one hand coexistence and on the other understanding that these things can happen."
Moishe Berdichev, a resident of Har Adar
Emergency services respond to a terror attack outside the Har Adar settlement near Jerusalem, in which three were killed and one wounded, on September 26, 2017. (Menahem Kahana/AFP PHOTO)
Emergency services respond to a terror attack outside the Har Adar settlement near Jerusalem, in which three were killed and one wounded, on September 26, 2017. (Menahem Kahana/AFP PHOTO)
"[The incident represents a] welcome message that the Palestinians prepared for American emissary Jason Greenblatt."
"American efforts must focus first on stopping the murderous Palestinian terror, before anything else."
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely

"[The terrorist] was known to those who greet the workers in the morning.” 
"[A border policeman and policewoman opened fire on the attacker] otherwise he could have entered the town and carried on with his murderous errand.”
"To my regret there is no profile for a terrorist [even one with an Israeli work permit].”
“It could just be someone who is fed up with everything and decides to take out his rage in an attack. The incitement [against Israel] is constant."
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich
Image: Attack in the West Bank
Israeli border police stand at the site of an attack at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Har Adar on Tuesday. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP - Getty Images

And there you have it. A man unknown to the Shin Bet, with no history of being involved in terrorism, 37-year-old Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, depressed and looking for some way to vent his anger and frustration over his wife having left him to raise their children himself, left a note declaring himself "a terrible husband", exonerating his wife as having "nothing to do with what will happen". What happened was that the man who worked within a West Bank settlement as a cleaner, with the required permit and who appeared to have a stable relationship with his Israeli employers, planned to shoot and kill Israelis.

In a manner of speaking, he would also have been planning his death by suicide, since the chances of achieving that state by attacking armed Israeli military and police personnel is almost guaranteed to result in his firing on them inspiring return fire. Numerous Palestinians living in the West Bank are unable to find employment. The opportunity to work for Israelis, within settlements or within Israel's borders result in employment and permits are much sought-after. This man was one of those securing employment working for Jews.

In his choice to attack Jews, seeking to victimize them as he felt fate had victimized  him, he had essentially also decided to make life extremely difficult for his own close relatives, similarly given work permits enabling them to work for Israeli employers. Because Mr. Jamal had presented as a stable, reliable worker with no visible ax to grind, all other such workers will now come under intensified scrutiny and few will be trusted as they had been, to respect the right of other human beings to live without fear of violent attacks, attacks which are all too common.

Attacks in actual fact that the Palestinian culture as exemplified by Fatah and Hamas, emphasize are required to ensure that 'normalization' in accepting the presence of the Jewish state must be avoided at all costs. And the cost is martyrdom, selected suicide-by-killing. It is an option that many Palestinians view as their obligation to the Palestinian 'cause' a cause that calls for the elimination of the State of Israel and the geography upon which it sits being bequeathed through the conquest of jihad to the Palestinians.

What has been normalized by the Palestinian Authority is the challenge to Palestinians to 'resist' the 'occupation', an occupation that occurred resulting from the all-too-often violent attacks carried out by Palestinians against Israelis; a vicious cycle if there ever was one, and one that appears unsolvable by appealing to reason over the passion of hatred, resentment and victimization."Israel holds the responsibility for any Palestinian attack because these attacks come as reactions to the Israeli crimes against our people", offered Munir al-Jaghoub, a midlevel official in Fatah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded in the only way that Israel is capable of doing. Bearing in mind that it is not Israelis that are continually on the offensive; their action is reaction; defensive in nature. The attacker's home is now scheduled for demolition, permits giving members of his extended family the opportunity to enter Israel for work are to be revoked. The villagers of Beit Surik where the attacker lived, will also bear the brunt of Israel's response to the murder of the three Israelis outside the Har Adar settlement. His brothers have been arrested.

And, in the manner in which the Palestinian Authority reacts to all such atrocities, the attacker will now be recognized as a 'martyr' to the Palestinian cause. His family will be receiving a hero's pension hereafter, its size reflecting his success in killing three Israelis, and seriously wounding yet another. His death will be recognized as yet another 'sacrifice' to be honoured by Palestinians. As though such deaths by 'martyrs' do anything at all to advance the Palestinian cause...

"Before talking about any kind of [peace] negotiations, the world must demand of the Palestinian Authority to stop its incitement and encouragement of terror", remarked Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. As though 'the world' is prepared to do that, as though the Palestinian Authority would see the justice in its responsibility to influence Palestinians to accept the presence of the Jewish State if they truly aspire to achieving one of their own.

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A Trend? Never Too Late

A Saudi woman walks near car down a street in the Saudi capital Riyadh on September 27, 2017.
A Saudi woman walks near car down a street in the Saudi capital Riyadh on September 27, 2017.  CNN

"Life will be faster."
"I live in a country that I can't explore. I've always wanted to explore the kingdom's coasts... I can't take someone I don't know to drive me to these places and my brothers are too busy to take me on long trips." 
Nouf Alosaimi, 29-year-old diving instructor, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
"[Being allowed to drive is a] very important step. [However, there is still a long way to go for Saudi women]."
"This prohibition on driving is just one in a vast series of laws and policies which prevent women from doing many things."
"The guardianship rule stops women from making every decision in her life without the assistance of a male relative, even if that relative is her 7-year-old son."
Liesl Gerntholtz, executive director, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
Saudi women who have long chafed at the many restrictions imposed upon their freedom of choice and movement and opportunities are now rejoicing at the simple enough agreement that henceforth in Saudi Arabia they will now be able, should they wish, to drive a vehicle. Many young Saudi women are ecstatic at the thought of owning their own car, of driving it wherever they would like to go, of not being stopped and placed under arrest for doing what women everywhere else in the world do, without fear of punishment.

Yet, consider this: in Saudi Arabia women are expected by cultural tradition and religious authority to be 'modest' in public. And modest in Saudi Arabia translates to wearing a niqab or a burqa; long, dark flowing robes completely covering a woman's body is de rigueur as is permitting only the eyes to be seen, the face and hair covered. This is a desert kingdom, it is hot and uncomfortable to wear such restricting garments. And how outlandish it looks to Western eyes to see a woman garbed in such a manner, driving.

The safety element is another consideration; wearing a niqab how well can a woman practise road awareness? Long flowing robes present a potential threat of entanglement and injury. To confine a woman in such a manner to satisfy a patriarchal society that bristles at viewing women's skin or hair as a breach of conduct that reveals a woman to be indecent, is the hallmark of a truly backward society.

Nowhere in the new announcement is there set out whether or not a woman will have to secure the agreement of her father, her brother, her uncle, her son, to allow her to drive.

That agreement is fundamental to anything a Saudi woman attempts to do, from leaving the country, taking a trip, signing legal documents, or being in the company of non-family males. The ban on driving is finally to be altered under a formal royal decree. "Praise God", said Loujain Hathloul, responsible for the women's right to drive movement, who was incarcerated for 73 days for her impudence in driving a car in 2014.

Conservative Saudi clerics whose influence on the judiciary is vast, have warned that permitting women to drive would have dire consequences, corrupting society and inevitably leading to degradation. Women have been arrested and sentenced to receive lashes in the past. A prominent cleric had made the assertion that medical studies had shown that a woman's ovaries would be damaged by driving a car.

If Saudi woman want to marry they must have permission from a male 'guardian'. A guardian, despite that a woman would be of mature years, capable of asserting her independence, and free choice; not free, not independent. They cannot rent an apartment without the guarantee of a guardian, nor file legal claims. "We all have to live in the borders of the boxes our dads or husbands draw for us", stated 25-year-old Zahra, a Saudi woman.

King Abdullah in 2013 stated his intention to extend a number of freedoms for Saudi women and in 2014 women were given permission to legally vote in and run for office in municipal council elections. Yet women in Saudi Arabia have a higher attendance rate than men in colleges. With the ascension of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32 years old, the kingdom's overhaul of its economy and society (and military decisions) are taking place.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Visualizing a Dream

"I hope the northern Iraqi administration gathers itself together and abandons this adventure with a dark ending ."
"The moment we shut the valve [for the pipeline through Turkey] it’s finished for them. [No country other than Israel supports the] invalid, fraudulent] Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence]."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"[The landmark vote represents a] historic and strategic mistake by the Kurdish leadership."
"I will not give up on the unity of Iraq, that is my national and constitutional duty."
"[The vote and its outcome] threatens Iraq, is a danger to the region."
"We will take measures to safeguard the nation's unity and protect all Iraqis."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
A Syrian Kurd takes a selfie in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on Tuesday, during a gathering in support of the independence referendum in Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region.
A Syrian Kurd takes a selfie in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on Tuesday, during a gathering in support of the independence referendum in Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region.  (DELIL SOULEIMAN / GETTY IMAGES)
Turkey remains the conduit for landlocked Kurdistan to export its oil. But Erdogan is bypassing the reality that Moscow has signed a deal with the Kurds for their oil production, and it is highly, hugely unlikely that Ankara is prepared to dispute Moscow over Kurdish oil exports. Empty bluff. What may not be so empty is the military option that Erdogan could always muster. And if it is done alongside Iraq's threat to use force to impede Kurdish sovereignty, a problem could arise. On the other hand, would Sunni Turkey ally itself with Shiite Iraq?

The independence referendum that the Kurdish leadership lauded as a long-awaited exercise in self-determination brought out a strong response in the Kurdish population, as an estimated five million Kurds went to the polls, determined to finally see themselves as a sovereign nation whose geographical rights to their heritage status would be internationally recognized. That intent is viewed as a hostile act by both Iraq and Turkey, fearing that their own Kurdish population will be emboldened, as will those in Syria.

Baghdad visualizes the unsupportable, a redrawing of its borders, with a significant portion of the country's oil wealth slipping away along with that changing border. Iran too has its own fears that the independence of Kurdistan will persuade their own long-suffering Kurdish populations to agitate anew for the same recognition from the international community. Though the international community has not responded positively, with the exception of one sole country whose own trajectory toward sovereign status was hard come by and remains contested.

The 'yes' vote will not immediately serve to bring independence to the region which won autonomy a short few years ago, after suffering horrendous violence from the previous Iraqi government ruled by Saddam Hussein. The referendum, carried resoundingly by the anxious assent of its residents has raised tensions and apprehensions of instability in Iraq and the larger Middle East. Which, in fact, is already in a semi-permanent state of tension and instability. Kurdistan above all, represents the success of regional stability, a bastion of human rights and democracy.

Intimidation is seen to be in order, as hours following the closing of polls across northern Iraq's Kurdish region, Baghdad's Defence Ministry announced a "large-scale" joint military exercise to take place with its neighbour, Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the irascible Islamist that he is, had already threatened military intervention, while Iran held its own military exercises along their border with Iraq. The territory that Kurdish peshmerga captured fighting the Islamic State is considered by them as part of their territory.

Kirkuk included, along with its petroleum resources, a bitter pill for Baghdad to choke on. Masoud Barzani has congratulated his people on asserting their determination to achieve independence, a long-held dream so dear to the hearts of the Kurds and so distant in the past, brought to a head with the referendum that succeeded in shouting out to the world that it is past time that justice be done. "We are ready to pay any price for our independence" calmly stated this world-class leader.

Iraq’s Kurdish leader, Masoud Barzani
Iraq’s Kurdish leader, Masoud Barzani, appealed for ‘peace and dialogue’ and said: ‘Threats will solve nothing.’ Photograph: Depo Photos/REX/Shutterstock

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Neighbourly Frisson 

"Russia is acting on a faulty threat assessment and seeks to fashion a military response to largely imaginary threats and challenges that are not military in nature."
"It's all about strategic messaging of coercion and compellence directed at the U.S. and NATO, to prevent things the West has no intention of doing or the capability to accomplish."
Vladimir Frolov, independent foreign policy analyst, Moscow

"In 24 to 48 hours, some parts of the Russian armed forces could be ready to invade one Baltic state or all of them."
"It’s clear that it’s not only defense but it’s also about offense."
Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis
Zapad Joint Military Exercises Between Russia And Belarus
Helicopters take part in the Zapad 2017 military exercises at the Asipovichy military training ground on September 18, 2017, in in Asipovichy, Belarus. 
Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Russia's neighbours are nervous. The Russian military paired with Belarus for war games. At one time, during the glory days of the USSR, war games, with the name of "Zapad" [West] took place with the collaboration of its satellite countries that comprised the Soviet Union. Now, most of those satellites are fully independent and have joined the 'West' [Zapad], as members of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, representing the combined military might that Vladimir Putin detests and fears.

The Zapad-2017 war games were mounted as an exercise-in-training against the sinister anti-Russian plans of three non-existent states. They were named as Veishnoriya, Lubeniya and Vesbasriya, proxies for the Baltic states whose alliance with Moscow's perceived Western enemies rate them as the games' targets to be challenged and militarily defeated. To that end, Russia and its sidekick Belarus brought out all the advanced military hardware it could muster to put on a Big Show with the intention of intimidating whomever it might.
Armored personnel carriers drive along a dirt road at the Asipovichy military training ground during the Zapad 2017 military exercises on September 18, 2017, in in Asipovichy, Belarus.
Brendan Hoffman/Stringer/Getty Images

The production certainly rated high on the anxiety scale. Officials in the Baltics and Poland felt the tremors of 2014 when the games were the occasion to be used as a screen, riveting attention on Zapad-2014 while preparations were underway for Crimea's annexation and Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, alongside the ethnic Russian Ukrainian rebels.

Russia's anxiety-ridden neighbours were fairly convinced of a certainty that Russian troops would number up to 100,000. According to a convention signed by Russia and Western nations, called the Vienna Document, all exercises whose troop presence exceeds 13,000 or 300 tanks would be expected to permit the presence of foreign monitors. As pointed out by Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, Moscow understates troop numbers by tens of thousands.

This handily bypasses the need to permit the presence of monitors, interfering with Moscow's freedom to design the games as it sees fit, including the numbers participating. Zapad exercises this year came under conjecture as a hidden purpose given past scenarios, where Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, head of the U.S. Army forces in Europe, conjectured that Zapad was launched as a possible "Trojan horse", where Russian troops would be sent in to the games and many would remain.

In moving considerably greater numbers of troops into Belarus than would be withdrawn, a permanent military base would be established directly on the border with NATO countries. This theory fits well with Poland's and the Baltics' concerns about Vladimir Putin's plans. The exercise, commented Mr. Stoltenberg, fits a "pattern of a more assertive Russia, exercising more aggressively" to demonstrate "it is willing to use military force against its neighbours".

No so, Russia responds to Western concerns over its showcasing of new military technology. The exercises -- despite being conducted under the premise that three fictional countries must be defeated in response to their sinister plans to attack Russia -- are meant for defence, purely. No offence intended. Which is precisely the argument that North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran insist is their goal in achieving ICBM and nuclear efficiencies.

"We all hoped that the Cold War or something comparable would never happen again.  So it is a kind of deja vu for me to be here", commented German Army Lt. Col. Thorsten Gensler, commander of the German-led, multinational NATO battalion deployed to Lithuania one of four such Baltic/Polish situated NATO-member battalions hoping to persuade Russia from attacking NATO territory.

A general view of the military exercise at a training ground a training ground September 18, 2017, at Luzhsky range near St. Petersburg, Russia. The Zapad 2017 (West 2017) military maneuvers have caused concern among some NATO members neighboring Russia, who have criticized a lack of transparency about exercises and questioned Moscow's intentions.
Mikhail Svetlov/Contributor/Getty Images

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Bellicose Threats and Orwellian Rejoinders

"This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat."
"North Korea's weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the United States homeland and our allies."
Dana White, spokesperson, U.S. Defence Department

"[North Korea's nuclear force is] to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the U.S. and for preventing its military invasion and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S."
"[Trump's description of Kim as] Rocket Man [ensures] our rocket's visit to the entire United States mainland inevitable all the more."
"[The American president is] a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency], his finger on the] nuclear button."
"[Trump's] reckless and violent words [have insulted] the supreme dignity [of North Korea]."
"[Trump has transformed the White House] into a noisy marketing place [and attempts to turn the United Nations] into a gangsters' nest where money is respected and bloodshed is the order of the day."
"[Trump would] pay dearly [for his threat to] totally destroy [North Korea]. [The North's response] could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific."
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho
"Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!"
"North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime."
U.S. President Donald Trump
Donald J. TrumpVerified account @realDonaldTrump
Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel.They are also working with North Korea.Not much of an agreement we have!

President Trump's United Nations address of last week was notable for his coherent and justified statements of regret and disgust at the actions of regimes that have destroyed the stability of their very own nations' trusts (Syria and Venezuela) as well as those whose clear support for terrorists, supplying them with weaponry and opportunities to wreak havoc and destroy hopes (Iran and North Korea) and the position of the United States in working alongside other nations to bring them to account (China) may result in measures to limit the damage they wreak.

Verbal commitment was made to remedial and protective action by the United States against those plotting to upend the global community's security. It was a good speech, particularly emanating from the mouth of a man not normally given to concise and practical utterances, but it was, for all that, only a speech. Bolstered, since Iran's response was to test another ballistic missile, and North Korea's stepped-up threats, by a show of American military force in joint exercises with South Korea.

It is still show-and-tell, with no direct action to quell the unease being felt in the Korean Peninsula, nor in the Middle East, with Israel clearly in the range of Iran's new and improved rocketry. American B-1 bombers alongside fighter jets flew international waters close to the North Korean flight zones and beyond the Demilitarized Zone, furthest than such warplanes have ever flown north in a hundred years; its purpose clear enough, as a direct warning.

It's doubtful that either Tehran or its close ally Pyongyang blinked. They know bluster when they see it and hear it since both are masters at it. It is when those bombers, equipped with conventional but powerful explosives are used to destroy both countries' arms and research sites as Israel has done in the past, that those threats will be taken seriously enough to persuade each of those belligerent nations that it is time to back down and back off.

Kim Jong Un has been clear enough in his cheerful pronouncements of his intentions. To build a missile powerful enough to strike anywhere in the United States with nuclear tipped missiles. As a crude way to project threat and power to nudge the United States over on the world stage to make way for another super power vested in the persona of a megalomaniac tyrant of a country struggling with a national pathology of power and prestige belying its state of endemic poverty depriving its population of a normal existence, it would be a comic performance if it were not so bleakly sinister.
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, prepares to take off from Andersen AFB, Guam, Sept. 23, 2017.
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, prepares to take off from Andersen AFB, Guam, Sept. 23, 2017. CNN

Farce aside in its delusional use of language and turning meaning and reality inside out, the threats are all too real, and casting counter-threats and schoolyard demonstrations of hoped-for intimidation in a situation calling for immediate and direct action to cut North Korea's ambition down to the size more approximating its place in world affairs, and this time with the reluctant assistance of its mentor-state China, is long overdue.

If China does undertake to yank its 90% of the North's income through trade to impose reality on a delusional juvenile delinquent with the means to kill hundreds of thousands near at hand in the close future, well and good. Should that reluctantly imposed effort fail, other, more persuasive measures must be undertaken where mass casualties will be assured, but far less so than should North Korea proceed unregulated to its goal.

That conclusion will guide the Islamic Republic of Iran to a wake-up understanding that its goals are next to be addressed.

A TV grab taken on September 23 from state broadcaster IRIB shows a Khorramshahr missile being launched from an undisclosed location, a day after the missile was first displayed at a high-profile military parade.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Israel, Silently Cleaning Up Threats

"Just before midnight on September 5, 2007, four F-15s and four F-16s took off from Israeli Air Force bases, including Ramat David, southeast of Haifa. After flying north along the Mediterranean Coast, the planes turned east and followed the Syrian-Turkish border, to avoid detection by radar. Using standard electronic scrambling tools, the Israelis blinded Syria’s air-defense system. In Tel Aviv, in a room of the underground I.A.F. command-and-control center known as “the pit,” Olmert, Barak, Livni, and senior security officials followed the planes by radar. The room would serve as a bunker for Olmert in the event that the strike sparked a war; the Israelis had also prepared a military contingency plan."
"General Shkedi tracked the pilots by audio in an adjacent room. Sometime between 12:40 and 12:53 A.M., the pilots uttered the computer-generated code word of the day, “Arizona,” indicating that seventeen tons of explosives had been dropped on their target. 'There was a sense of elation,” one participant recalled. “The reactor was destroyed and we did not lose a pilot'."
"The next day, the Syrian Arab News Agency announced that Israeli planes had entered Syrian airspace but had been repelled: 'Air-defense units confronted them and forced them to leave after they dropped some ammunition in deserted areas without causing any human or material damage'."
"The Israelis say that not a single Syrian air-defense missile was launched. At least ten, and perhaps as many as three dozen, workers were killed in the strike."
David Makovsky, The New Yorker
image description
Target: North Korean missiles Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
"This morning (Saturday March 19, 2017), Arab media outlets reported that Israel conducted yesterday’s airstrike in Syria in order to prevent North Korean missiles from reaching Hezbollah. As reported yesterday by JOL, an anti-aircraft missile was shot at Israel in response to the airstrike, which was intercepted by the IDF’s Arrow System."
"According to a report on the Arab news website Rai al-Youm, political groups and reliable Jordanian sources believe that there is a connection between recent Israeli military and intelligence operations along Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon and between leaked information claiming that Hezbollah has obtained extremely technologically advanced missiles from North Korea."
Photo published for Syrian threats to Israel continue
Following last night events between the IDF and Syria, Syria continues to threaten Israel.
North Korea threatens, bellows its hatred of the United States, South Korea and Japan, triumphantly tests its ballistic missiles and nuclear devices, each time chortling how technologically advanced they have become, joyously pronouncing its intention to obliterate its enemies, continually startling its neighbours by faster,  higher flights of missiles over Japanese territories and occasionally attacking its neighbour South Korea at sea. The North has succeeded in even making its sponsor, China, extremely nervous about the intentions of Kim Jong-Un.

Yet apart from returning rhetoric and constant urging of restraint -- not of the declarations and showmanship of North Korea and its tyrannical little leader -- but of the world power that glowers menacingly at the very suggestion that Kim's intentions to attack the American Pacific coast, or its Guam protectorate -- nothing has worked to persuade Kim to cease and desist. No attacks of any kind have been launched pre-emptively against North Korea by threatened South Korea, Japan or the United States. But another country entirely has taken to the skies to launch attacks that concern North Korea's export of weapons and technology.

North Korea is regarded as a world-class outlier, a rogue nation led by a sinister little murderer who regards himself as entitled to be recognized as a world power. For a small country with a meagre GDP highly dependent on a neighbour to provide its energy needs and disposable income, it rankles at its international stature, deprived of the acknowledgement of its true status, that of a powerful nation capable of disrupting the equilibrium of pretenders-to-power like Japan and the U.S.

North Korea has no love of Israel. It has trained and armed the PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah and its specialized tunnel technology is held in high esteem by Iran to protect its secretive nuclear facilities against any conceivable attacks. The sophisticated tunnels constructed by Hamas in particular owe much to North Korean expertise enabling the terrorist group operatives to clamber into Israel undetected at times. North Korea and Iranian nuclear scientists have a vital bond; the former entertaining the latter during bomb tests.

Shipments from North Korea of high-tech munitions and missile technology along with conventional arms and chemical weaponry have been intercepted by Israel en route from North Korea to Syria where they are often directed onward to stock Hezbollah's weapons caches. Two North Korean arms shipments for the Syrian agency for chemical weapons, according to a UN report that appeared on Reuters, were intercepted by unnamed governments.

North Korea views Israel as a tough enemy it would hugely appreciate being put out of commission entirely; not surprising it is in league with other dedicated enemies of the Jewish state resolved to destroy its presence. Thirteen years ago a Mossad agent entered North Korea on a purloined Canadian passport and soon afterward a huge explosion took place killing at least a dozen Syrian nuclear scientists when a North Korean freight train conveying nuclear material was destroyed.

Having his plans thwarted by a tiny nuisance state that his friends view with as much hostility as he does himself places Israel in a very special club of nations that North Korea's Kim would prefer to see destroyed for the hindrance they provide to his aspirations. During the Yom Kippur War in 1973 North Korea sent its fighter pilots in Soviet MiG fighters to scramble in dogfights over Egypt with the Israeli air force.

That at this juncture in the sanctions program weighting North Korea's censure by the United Nations Security Council its chief source of income, arms, are being interrupted is particularly irksome. As for Israel, that North Korea is arming Iran in particular, the country that paid for the Syrian nuclear reactor, and which has been benefiting from the North's missile and nuclear technology hasn't endeared Kim to Israel. The prospect of Kim selling ready-to-go nuclear bombs does not much please Israel.

Should the U.S. continue with its verbal belligerence while refraining from taking concrete steps to disarm North Korea, it will continue to ship arms to Syria, to Hezbollah, and potentially nuclear bombs to Iran to enable the Islamic Republic to make good on its threats to obliterate the 'Zionist entity'. Failing U.S. action to ensure world stability, how feasible is it for a tiny nation to once again engage in risky action to protect itself from an existential threat?

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Self-Flagellating Avoids Offence-Giving

"There are, today, children living on reserves in Canada who cannot safely drink, or bathe in, or even play in the water that comes out of their taps."
"And for far too many Indigenous women, life in Canada includes threats of violence so frequent and severe that Amnesty International has called it 'a human rights crisis'."
"We need women and girls to succeed, because that's how we grow stronger economies and build stronger communities. That is why our government will be moving forward shortly with legislation to ensure equal pay for work of equal value."
"For Indigenous peoples, it means taking a hard look at how they define and govern themselves as nations and governments, and how they seek to relate to other orders of government. Indigenous people will decide how they wish to represent and organize themselves."
Grovelling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, United Nations

This hair-shirt sacrificing, egocentric who basks in international praise as a sensitive and emotional liberator of women from the strictures of male domination, always ready and eager to indulge in preening selfies, brought to the United Nations today Canada's lamentable relationship with its Indigenous population. The speech could have come almost verbatim from Australia, New Zealand, or the United States, anguished breast-beating about human rights violations of the past and efforts in the present to make amends.

But, as of all matters of extreme importance, the devil is in the details, and the details are far too numerous, convoluted and dense to be discussed in such a forum. Making the issue under discussion by Mr. Trudeau perversely inadequate and from a canted perspective, leaving unwarranted impressions. For one thing, the violence that Indigenous women face emanates for the most part from their intimate others, and certainly from among members of their reserves and tribes. Details, details.... Nor was there either an inclination or time to detail the unwillingness of First Nations to fairly represent their peoples' needs other than a determination to keep them in thrall to 'tradition'.

The forum of the annual UN speeches is generally an event where heads of nations vent their opinions about the world order, about how their nations position themselves on issues of great international moment, of decrying the conditions prevailing in countries where destabilizing events take place, from natural disasters to civil wars and predatory acts of terrorism. When leaders of nations speak at the United Nations they mention their own countries more in passing than in totality of measure.

But Canada's prime minister has an agenda to restore Canada to the regular roster of revolving membership in the UN governing council, where the general assembly every two years nominates member-nations to sit on the security council alongside the permanent Security Council members, Britain, France, United States, China and Russia. Under the previous Conservative-led government it was made known that respect for the United Nations had been much diminished in reflection of its corruption, its surrender to dominating cliques' agendas, its focus on condemning one single state, ignoring the human rights violations of nations that commit atrocities against their own.

When Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, he triumphantly declared on the world stage "Canada is back!", when he might have said, the ruling Liberals have returned to power with all their backroom tricks and self-entitlements, but Justin Trudeau promoted himself as a child of the sun whose smile would light up any chamber he entered and thus became adored of the socialist masses for cleaving to their view of world affairs. So, not for him to upset anyone by mentioning situations that would give offence to anyone. Every vote counts.

Trudeau's nimble and sometimes troublesome tongue could have spoken like a statesman, but he avoided any such thing deliberately. His sunny ways even extend happily to courteous meetings with the world's most human-rights defying regimes' representatives for there are votes to be had everywhere. So, from the lips of the clumsy, inarticulate buffoon who is the current American president came the statements and observations of great moment that needed to be stated before the world body.

Addressing the issues that bedevil the world, and as the world's super-power, the United States as traditional custodian of world security. The world had no need to hear of American domestic divisions in its political parties, but it did require that issues relating to global stability and security be addressed, and President Trump did not shirk, managing to present an address that made one wonder who among his advisers moved him to speak in an acceptable and needful tone of the miseries of the world and the atrocious leaders responsible.

The topic of North Korea was addressed, and attached to that was the assertion that the U.S. is prepared to take the lead to prevent a volatile conflagration lit by a juvenile delinquent in his guise as a mendacious tyrant. China did not escape criticism, but in the context of its sponsorship of the North. Cuba's lack of freedom, Iran's provocations similar to those of North Korea with which it pairs in its ICBM and nuclear files quest, alongside its support and incitement of terrorism was deplored, and Syria's "criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad" put on notice.

It remains to be seen in the long run whether America will have been well served by a man whose background and character register as totally unsuited to the presidency. For Canada, the future will also tell whether the political dynasty that brought Justin Trudeau to a position he too had no previous study for, given his work background of drama coach and snowboarding instructor, which in contrast to Donald Trump's business ventures suggests McDonald's server suitability.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Are We Worried?

"[North Korea has achieved] a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke . . . which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP [electromagnetic pulse] attack, according to strategic goals."
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

"All we have to do is launch one ballistic missile over your country and conduct an EMP attack and that would be the end of America."
Russian taunt

"It's very politically incorrect to be trying to raise awareness about EMP."
"Nine out of ten Americans could die from starvation, disease and societal collapse, if the blackout lasted a year."
Peter Pry, former staff member, American House Armed Services Committee

"[In Canada there] has never been a single attempt to introduce legislation to protect the [electrical] grid."
"The north is fully exposed."
Anthony Furey, author, Pulse Attack: The real story behind the secret weapon that can destroy North America
Nuclear Attack Bomb Explosion
EMP Pulse attack --
It is fairly well known in scientific circles, in government, throughout intelligence agencies that possession of nuclear weapons means that whoever has them and nurses malign and sinister scenarios of control and destruction could conceive of unleashing a nuclear device to demolish national infrastructure and in the process, destroy countless human lives.There are terrorist groups who have proven through their dedication to conducting atrocities of unimaginable depravity that they would suffer few qualms in unleashing such monumentally destructive devices.

We don't really think of states as prepared to unleash such grotesque means of vanquishing an enemy since most administrations that govern anywhere in the world understand very well that to mount such attacks is to invite return attacks and that whoever begins such a war will not necessarily end it. Aside from the fact that among many who come to governing power, if not all, certain constraints and restrains residing in the human psyche respecting a degree of universal respect for human life would come into focus.

And then there are nations such as North Korea or the Islamic Republic of Iran, both equally focused on the acquisition of the means to destroy other countries' capacity to endure such a massive attack as a feature of the pure unalloyed hatred they have for others in their paranoid minds, resentful of power and command held elsewhere, responding to their own inner urges to usurp command and power for themselves.

For those who may be squeamish about the potential of destroying tens of thousands of lives at one fell swoop, it can be accomplished through other means, by a different type of nuclear attack whereby populations would slowly succumb to death through the long-drawn-out and inevitable consequences of all their civilizing infrastructure upon which modern cities and states are dependent failing; their electrical grid and its connections to service deliveries, from potable water to food, health delivery to energy provisions.

A nuclear bomb detonated 400 km in the atmosphere over a populated area represents a deliberate plan for destruction and extermination. Gamma rays colliding with electrons create a physics dysfunction that immediately disables all electrical connections, from communications to transit, cutting off all electricity-driven mechanics including those operated through batteries or generators. That brief surge of energy in the atmosphere instantly and radically destroys electrical infrastructure.

Everything ... everything that we all rely upon to run and operate and manage daily life becomes void and inoperable. From a vehicle's electronic system to pumps for wells or gas stations, power for factories and supermarkets, refrigeration and computers as Supervising Control and Data Acquisition providing potable water, steering sewage and the distribution of natural gas, are finished, dead, utterly dysfunctional.

The resulting breakdown of all that is relied upon when widespread infrastructure damage occurs wreaks unspeakable horrors on a society struggling to cope with the wholly unexpected and the total annihilation of order, security and vital needs acquisition. The storage of food limps back to the Middle Ages, and spoilage and inaccessibility and shortages spell an utter nightmare along with dwindling clean water access.

There is, evidently, a solution of sorts in defence of the inevitability of this kind of descent into complete disaster. Apart from the hope and expectation that such a scenario would never develop there is the utility of redundancy; spare parts that could be instantly resourced, as well as the construction of special 'cages' to protect against EMP damages, set over vulnerable utilities systems.

Which would require an initial outlay of funding that might beggar the bottom lines of most countries' financial resourcefulness. And perhaps this is the reason that this is a seldom-discussed issue, albeit one that at some future date  may conceivably become an unfortunate reality, like some latter-day end-of-times.
VICE: First thing's first: Is an EMP a real weapon?
Sim Tack (military analyst, Stratror): It's not a work of fiction. It's an actual technology that exists. It's being played with in some capacity, and will potentially play a much greater role in future warfare. With the increasing importance of electronic circuits on the battlefield... There's only more and more reason to create weapons that specifically target networking ability and electronics dependence. 
EMP - Top 5 Dangerous Places to Be When An EMP Takes Place
Commercial jets will fall from the sky across North America. Nuclear power plants will go off-line. Hospitals will become death traps. Battles over food will be fought in the streets. And that's just day one. Welcome to the EMP nightmare.
by Mark Lawrence, Copyright ©

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Vicious Enmity Among Friends

"This whole issue of dissolving the administrative committee has no value. Even if it is dissolved, there must be another kind of committee that can run the daily and civil lives of people in the Gaza Strip."
"When Hamas said it will dissolve the administrative committee, it threw the ball into the Palestinian Authority's yard, in the sense that they have acquiesced to their demands, so now what will the PA do for Hamas? It's a tit for tat, a barter."
"If Abbas cares about the interests of the Palestinian people, Fatah should announce political elections immediately,"
"However, the one who decides the elections is Israel and the U.S. As long as Israel and the United States cannot find the right person to enter elections and win, then we will remain without any elections." 
"If one hundred agreements were made and Oslo still existed, these agreements will amount to nothing."
"Oslo pitted Palestinians against one another. Those who signed the Oslo Accords knew beforehand that this agreement would result in the bloodshed of fellow Palestinians, at the hands of Palestinians."
Abdulsattar Qassem, political science professor, an-Najah University, Nablus
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniya (R) and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah meet in Gaza city in 2014 [Reuters]
"Hamas wanted to put the ball in Abbas and Fatah's court before heading to the UN and before meeting Trump so that they remain a key actor in the political equation."
"Abbas and Fatah are expected now to offer something in return."
"Substantial lasting and positive developments can be only realised through an inclusive and participatory political process that neither Fatah nor Hamas are interested in pursuing."
Alaa Tartir, program director, Al-Shabaka Palestinian think-tank,

"What was being asked of Hamas is to completely give up administration of the Strip, which would mean the end of the movement as an organisation and a military movement."
"Based on this, Hamas announced the administrative committee in March … it was Hamas' attempt to create some new negotiating leverage in talks with Fatah."
Belal Shobaki,  Hebron-based political analyst

"These [the issues] include the PA's inability or unwillingness to assume the public burden of Gaza without Hamas relinquishing absolute control, beyond its administrative capacity; Hamas's refusal to soften its grip on Gaza, particularly over security-related issues; and, perhaps most importantly, Israel's systematic and aggressive refusal to allow Palestinian unification."
Aareq Baconi, Hamas expert, policy fellow at Al-Shabaka
A Palestinian man and children walk past graffiti reading "division" in Arabic, in Gaza City, in 2017 [AFP]

Little wonder Israel is none too thrilled of yet another reunification agreement between ruling Fatah represented by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, with its charter stating its reason for existence is the destruction of the State of Israel. Not that Fatah's ambition is any less than that of Hamas; it simply doesn't state it quite as unambiguously; its more circumspect behaviour in appearances at the United Nations to make it appear as though a peace agreement is possible but Israel keeps making it less than possible, belies its at-home incitement to violence and school curricula teaching Palestinian children that the land on which Israel now sits will one day be 'restored' to Palestinians.

Once upon a time the Palestinian Authority made the effort to appear that a democratic-style free election was of interest to them, which they swiftly rued when it became apparent that the result was that Hamas gained huge popular support from the voting public. But the two Palestinian movements, one largely secular the other oppressively religiously orthodox, only have their aspirations to destroy Israel in common, otherwise they detest one another. Hamas amply demonstrated just how much it held Fatah in contempt when it took over Gaza and promptly ousted Fatah, going so far as to toss Fatah members off rooftops.

A vacuum had resulted where Gaza, no longer under the control of the IDF at the orders of then-Israeli President Ariel Sharon who ordered a complete and unilateral evacuation of all Jewish settlers and the Israeli military was left in the hands of the Palestinians. The immediate aftermath was a free-for-all of criminal violence, destruction and threats. Once Hamas moved in it managed to install law and order, taking control of the actions of other terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad. But with Gaza restored to the control of Palestinians, Israel began to suffer constant rocket attacks, threats to Israeli border communities. Necessitating several incursions into the Strip by the IDF to quell Hamas violence.

And this is one of the two Palestinian 'authority' groups that Israel should welcome, evidently, according to the interpretations by Palestinian academics who typically ascribe all ills befalling the Palestinian community to the presence of Israel, and not that the presence of Israel -- should it finally be accepted as a Jewish State in the midst of conflicting Muslim states forever at war with one another or within their own states but whom collectively the offensive presence of a state dedicated to the well-being and security of Jews represents an unacceptable foreign incursion -- is a reality.

The shadow government that Hamas put together earlier in the year is to be disbanded. Hamas has bowed to the inevitable; the pressure of sanctions applied strenuously by PA President Mahmoud Abbas stifling the Gaza economy, depriving its people of water and electrical energy, creating misery when he disallowed exit from the Strip for medical attention or family visits, having worked its persuasive magic. In turn, Hamas has invited the PA to "carry out its duties immediately", in Gaza, providing it with all the basic necessities that the West Bank enjoys.

Hamas has been under breaking stress, its relations with Egypt strained after being named a terrorist group there for its links with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (outlawed in Egypt where it originated, but not in the United States where it has managed to infiltrate even the State Department). Its patronage by the Islamic Republic of Iran after strained relations in reaction go the Syrian conflict appears on the cusp of having its funding from that source restored. But the plight of the Gazan Palestinians living under Hamas rule has not been a happy time; civilian populations used as living shields when Hamas deliberately provoked and targeted Israel, among other issues.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, right, travelled to Cairo last week for reconciliation discussions [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Director of Passia, a think-tank located in East Jerusalem stated that Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's political director and the hard-line Yehya Sinwar, the new Hamas prime minister in Gaza, seemed prepared to break the Fatah impasse to create a release valve for the Strip: "Lift the siege, let people breathe. Electricity, water, salaries, medical -- instead of explosion", stated Mahdi Abdul Hadi. It has been a decade of attempted reconciliations, each one a failure, including the last one in 2014 followed by a new conflict between Hamas and Israel.

When Hamas stated in March its intention to create a permanent governing entity in Gaza, Abbas responded by refusing to pay Gaza's electricity bills; accordingly Israel diminished power to four hours daily during an unusually hot summer. Abbas put a stop to paying salaries for government workers in Gaza, including former Gazan prisoners. Medical border crossings for Gazans were denied, and thousands of workers lost their employment. Untreated sewage roiled Gaza, with international aid workers warning of a crisis and Israeli authorities concerned about the potential of an epidemic, or explosion of violence.

This punishing, coercive treatment by the Palestinian Authority at the authorization of Mahmoud Abbas had its desired effect. Even so, while authority is being restored to the PA for Gaza, Hamas will not disarm and in so doing, retains the upper hand militarily in the Strip, irrespective of Abbas sending in security forces, so the potential for a violent clash between the two remains quite a possibility.

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