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Obama surrenders the Middle East to Russia, and it matters

Putin asserts it is difficult to defeat ISIS without the current Syrian government. Whether that government is a puppet of Iran and Russia, is currently irrelevant. Putin is correct. Syria could act as a magnet to draw in ISIS fighters, and a kill box within which to defeat them, or at least eliminate a not insignificant number of their fighters.

Putin has doubled down on Syria in recent days. No news there. He has had bases in that beleaguered nation for years. He is in a good position to weaken ISIS in the process – to a far greater degree than the US has been willing to do.

Speaking of which, Obama, not having learned anything from his many foreign policy misadventures in the region, has decided to invest in Syrian “rebels” who somehow have become virtuous patriots – instead of merely another assemblage of Jihadists, former mujahideen, current members of the various Al Qaeda franchises, and to be clear, NOT friends of democracy or freedom fighters. Obama just doesn't get it. There are no freedom fighters or prodemocracy plays in that region. It is a war of the roses based upon religion, anti-West sensibilities, adherence to Sharia, tribal power skirmishes, and territorial control. The old saw ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend' is both tired, misrepresentative of the landscape, and a dangerous game for amateurs to play.

Syria is an important place – geographically and geopolitically. Putin knows this. More importantly, Assad is his ally. Putin – spy master, politician, businessman, diplomat, quasi-dictator, martial artist, energy expert, possible assassin, and global force to be reckoned with – recognizes the importance of supporting your allies. We could learn something from him, as we continue to abandon our friends, and give benefits to our enemies. Reputations matter. Consider this….If you had to select a second for a street fight, would you pick Putin or Obama? A sad reality, but who does the world trust more? Not who does the world use more, or misuse more, or abuse more, but trust or fear more….

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Israel's Survival Amid Expanding Chaos

In world politics, preserving order has an understandably sacramental function. The reason is plain. Without minimum public order, planetary relations would descend rapidly and perhaps irremediably into a “profane” disharmony.

It has happened before, since time immemorial.

To be sure, generalized anarchy is not entirely new. In fact, in one form or another, it has long been an integral feature of international relations. This unsteady condition of structurally decentralized authority was even codified at the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648. Nonetheless, it should be borne in mind, anarchy is always less threatening or destabilizing than true chaos.

Today, in the Middle East especially, the fully “normal” absence of supranational authority is being transformed and worsened by something unique and potentially devastating. This “something” is the palpable and simultaneous disintegration of national boundaries, classical power balances, and collective security remedies. Within this literally dreadful pattern of system-wide dissolution, tens of millions of stateless refugees now wander desperately across the earth. At the same time, presumptively sober jurisprudential limits on the spread of nuclear weapons have come to represent little more than a humiliating parody of effective legal controls.

Soon, too, a conspicuously stark juxtaposition of pre-modern ideologies with futuristic weapons could define an unprecedented challenge for dealing with chaos….

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Israelis Fear Start of Third Intifada Following Series of Deadly Terror Attacks

Israeli police standing near the body of a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed a 15-year-old man outside Jerusalem’s Old City early Sunday morning, October 4, 2015. (Photo: Flash90)

Israelis are bracing for what many have begun to call the start of a Third Intifada following a series of deadly and violent Palestinian terror attacks across Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

Late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, two incidents in Jerusalem’s Old City left two Israeli men killed and three others injured.

Following the conclusion of the Sabbath, a Palestinian terrorist, identified as 19-year-old Muhanad Shafeq Halabi from al-Bireh, near Ramallah, stabbed Rabbi Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Bennett to death. Bennett’s wife and two-year-old son were injured in the attack.

Israeli security forces responding to the attack shot dead the terrorist. Bennett’s wife remains in serious condition after undergoing emergency surgery. The baby was lightly wounded and remains in stable condition….

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Palestinian Stabbings Cause Jewish Blood to Flow in the Streets of Jerusalem

An upsurge of Palestinian terror attacks against Jews during Sukkot has killed 4 innocent Israelis and orphaned 14 children. As Jewish blood flows in the streets of Jerusalem, the Palestinians are celebrating, calling the terrorists “heroes.”

A series of deadly Palestinian attacks shook Jerusalem, sparking protests, demonstrations and tension throughout the capital.

On Saturday night – a day after the burial of Eitam and Naama Henkin, who were murdered Thursday evening in Samaria on their way home from Sukkot festivities, in the presence of their children – a Palestinian terrorist stabbed four Israelis in the Old City, killing two men. The victims were Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi, 41, a father of seven, and Aaron Bennett, 24, a father of one.

Bennett’s wife Adele and their baby were also wounded in the attack….

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Iran: Missiles Pointed at U.S. Targets

The chief of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, left, listens to an unidentified colonel as he points to US RQ-170 Sentinel drone/AP

A senior Iranian military leader warned this weekend that “all U.S. military bases in the Middle East are within the range of” Iran’s missiles and emphasized that the Islamic Republic will continue to break international bans on the construction of ballistic missiles.

Much of this missile work, like the details of Iran’s advanced arsenal, remains secret, according to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force.

Hajizadeh dismissed the threat of military action by the United States, warning that all U.S. assets and allies are in range of Iran’s current missile arsenal, according to comments made Sunday in Tehran and recorded by Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency.

The threats of attack on the United States were issued as Iran unveiled new high-tech torpedoes and the formation of a joint war room along with Russia, Syria, and Iraq….

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The Iran Deal is not fully agreed and no one wants to talk about it

On September 3, 2015, not two months after the July 14 announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action at Vienna and its celebration at the White House and in Europe, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dropped a bombshell.

In a speech to the Iranian Assembly of Experts, he backtracked from the agreement, demanding a new concession: that the sanctions be “lifted,” not merely “suspended.”[1] If that term is not changed, said Khamenei, there is no agreement. If the West only “suspends” the sanctions, he added, Iran will merely “suspend” its obligations. Giving further credence to his threat, he announced that it is the Iranian Majlis that must discuss and approve the agreement (or not), because it represents the people – when it is well known that the majority of its members oppose it, and Iranian President Hassan Rohani made every effort to prevent such a discussion in the Majlis from taking place.

Adding insult to injury, Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor to Khamenei and head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research, said on September 19 that the negotiations, concluded and celebrated less than two months previously on July 14, are actually “not over yet.”[2]

Khamenei’s demand to replace “suspension” with “lifting” is not just semantic. It is a fundamental change, because the snapback of sanctions – the major security mechanism for the entire agreement – cannot take place with “lifting,” but only with “suspension.”…

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Column one: Israel's risk aversion problem

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow.
(photo credit: Reuters)

On Wednesday the Obama administration was caught off guard by Russia’s rapid rise in Syria. As the Russians began bombing a US-supported militia along the Damascus-Homs highway, Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at the UN. Just hours before their meeting Kerry was insisting that Russia’s presence in Syria would likely be a positive development.

Reacting to the administration’s humiliation, Republican Sen. John McCain said, “This administration has confused our friends, encouraged our enemies, mistaken an excess of caution for prudence and replaced the risks of action with the perils of inaction.”

McCain added that Russian President Vladimir Putin had stepped “into the wreckage of this administration’s Middle East policy.”

While directed at the administration, McCain’s general point is universally applicable. Today is no time for an overabundance of caution….

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Palestinian Groups Ahead of ISIS in Destroying Antiquities

Destruction of antiquities and ancient artifacts by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has received considerable news media attention. Not so for other acts meant to erase the history of pre-Islamic peoples.

A Lexis-Nexis search shows that from July to September 2015, 13 editorials and articles appeared in The Washington Post alone on the threat to and eventual destruction by ISIS of one notable ancient site: the ancient Roman city of Palmyra in Syria. Yet, ISIS is far from alone when it comes to defacing and destroying evidence of ancient, non-Islamic civilizations.

Just as the al-Qaeda breakaway and now larger terrorist movement seeks to destroy antiquities that reflect a time before Islam (in Islamic terminology the Jahiliyyah or “age of ignorance”) and the Taliban dynamited the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan in 2001, Palestinian Arabs have sought to erase evidence of the existence of the Jews on the land of Israel (eretz Yisrael) that predates any Arab or Muslim presence.

In August 2015, ISIS destroyed a fifth-century Christian monastery in the Syrian town of Qaryatain, claiming that the monastery was “worshipped without God.” The destruction received considerable media coverage, for example “Islamic State Destroys Assyrian Christian Monastery in Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 21, 2015.
In 2013, more than 200 terror attacks occurred at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, where the Jewish matriarch Rachel is said to be buried—119 of those attacks included the use of explosives at the sacred site. Contrasted with its coverage of ISIS destructions, 2013 saw only one Washington Post three-sentence mention of attacks on Rachel's Tomb (“Palestinian inmate buried as leaders try to halt unrest,” Feb. 26, 2013). And even that was confined to the bottom of an article detailing the death of a Palestinian terrorist….

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Germany's Sharia Refugee Shelters

…Violent brawls are becoming commonplace at German refugee shelters across the country.

In the past two months alone, dozens of violent brawls and riots between different groups of migrants have erupted in Germany's refugee shelters.

On September 30, migrants went on a rampage at a refugee center in Braunschweig, a city in Lower Saxony. On September 29, Syrian migrants clashed at a refugee shelter in Gerolzhofen, a small town in Bavaria. Also on September 29, migrants from Algeria and Mali clashed at a refugee center in Engelskirchen, a town in North Rhine-Westphalia.

On September 28, more than 150 Syrians and Pakistanis clashed at a refugee shelter on Nöthnitzer Straße in Dresden. The migrants attacked each other with wooden planks and metal bars. Two dozen police officers were needed to restore order. More than 30 Syrians and Pakistanis clashed at the same shelter on August 10.

Also on September 28, between 100 and 150 migrants of different nationalities clashed at a refugee shelter in Donaueschingen, a town in the Black Forest. The trouble started over a dispute about who should be able to use the shower facilities first. On September 22, more than 400 migrants marched through town to protest conditions at the same facility. On September 15, a male migrant was attacked by another migrant for using a female bathroom at the shelter.

On September 24, around 100 Syrians and Afghans clashed at a refugee shelter in Leipzig, the largest city in Saxony. The fight broke out after a 17-year-old Afghan pulled a knife on an 11-year-old Syrian girl at the shelter, which houses 1,800 migrants. On September 23, migrants clashed at a refugee shelter for unaccompanied minors in Nuremberg….

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