Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hizbullah Threatens Israel—As Its Own Support Sinks - P. David Hornik

by P. David Hornik

Even the terror group’s longtime Lebanese backers are fed up.

How is Hizbullah doing after about four years of fighting in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime, as part of the axis led by Iran?

In terms of bluster, and particularly threats against Israel, Hizbullah hasn’t changed much. But in other ways—and not only with regard to the often-cited 1500 fighters Hizbullah has lost on Syrian soil—the war is taking a toll on the Shiite terror organization. That includes growing unpopularity in Lebanon itself—even among its traditional supporters.

On June 18, speaking to a Lebanese audience on Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV channel (as translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI), Hizbullah MP Walid Sukkarieh painted a scenario in a future war between Hizbullah and Israel.

He asked: “What would the capturing of settlements mean?”

Hizbullah has indeed been planning for years to capture Israeli communities in the Galilee in a prospective war. 

Answering his own question, Sukkarieh said:

First, we would be liberating land. Second, we would take hostages, prisoners. The Israeli people would be a prisoner in your hands. This would prevent Israel from targeting civilians on your side. It would not be able to implement the Dahiya Strategy. They have threatened that in the next war, they will implement this strategy and destroy all of Lebanon. What will they destroy if we hold settlements hostage? We will have hostages. If they kill us, we will kill them.

The term Dahiya Strategy refers to the Israeli air force’s attack on the Dahiya neighborhood of Beirut, a Hizbullah stronghold, in the 2006 Israel-Hizbullah war. Although that war had mixed results for Israel, the Dahiya strike is now regarded as a devastating blow that produced deterrence and has helped keep the Israeli-Lebanese border quiet for ten years.

For his part, Israeli intelligence minister Yisrael Katz had warned a few days before Sukkarieh’s statement that “a war in Lebanon and an attack on the Israeli home front will bring about the ousting of [Hizbullah leader Hassan] Nasrallah and will bring ruin to Lebanon”—one of many Israeli warnings that another Israeli-Hizbullah war would be a bad proposition for Lebanon as a whole. 

MP Sukkarieh’s televised statement to the Lebanese public was an attempt to reassure them that Hizbullah has tricks up its sleeve that can prevent such outcomes.

But these days, reassuring the Lebanese public about Hizbullah is an increasingly difficult task. 

In another dispatch, MEMRI describes a situation in Lebanon where, amid the fierce fighting in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, Hizbullah’s support is tanking even among Lebanon’s Shiite population—including even Hizbullah’s longtime supporters.

It turns out that:
  • On May 1 an anti-Hizbullah, secular Shiite party called Lebanese Option staged a demonstration in central Beirut. The party decried Hizbullah’s “sacrificing the lives of Lebanon’s Shiite youth,” and emphasized that not all Lebanese Shiites are followers of Nasrallah. A student leader of Lebanese Option, Sally Hafez, said: “[Hizbullah], you bought and sold the blood of our young people…. We are only citizens who [love] their land and want to live in their country in peace.”
  • Anti-Hizbullah Shiite journalists are also speaking up. One of them, Nadim Koteich, wrote that Hizbullah is in “political, military, and security crisis in Syria, but also in deep moral crisis that is leading its program and its existence to suicide….” He also tweeted: “If only Israel would annex Aleppo—because then it would be quiet like the Golan. Better for Aleppo’s residents to be under the occupation regime than under the ruins.” 
  • An anti-Hizbullah Shiite cleric, Sheikh ‘Ali Al-Amin, declared that “fighting alongside the Syrian regime is against the Shiite view…. The slogans that Hizbullah is using as an excuse [for intervening military in Syria] are disproved and invalid.”
  • Hizbullah faces draft-dodging—even among children of its own officials. An April 28 article on the Alarabi21 website “revealed that young Shiites are leaving Lebanon so that Hizbullah cannot recruit them into its ranks to fight in Syria.” An UAE journalist says that Hizbullah officials have been smuggling their sons into Europe to keep them out of the fighting. Bereaved mothers have been “shouting in rage against Nasrallah at their sons’ funerals.”
  • Hizbullah has been losing strength in local elections—“particularly in the organization’s areas of influence in the northern Beqa’a, southern Dahiya, and South Lebanon…. [Pro-Hizbullah daily] Al-Safir stated that in light of the results of the local elections, the South Lebanese were no longer deluded that it was not possible to run against the Hizbullah-Amal list.”
Is Hizbullah’s grip on Lebanon finally loosening? It is probably too soon to answer affirmatively. But whenever Hizbullah does finally come limping home from Syria—if and when that conflict finally winds down—it may well not be eager to launch a war with Israel compared to which its involvement in Syria will have been child’s play. Especially not when that will be the last thing an increasingly resentful Lebanese population wants.

Meanwhile, for the United States and other Western powers, the time is ripe to put more and more pressure on Hizbullah and try to pry Lebanon loose from its claws. Congress has already taken a step in that direction by passing the Hizbullah sanctions bill last December, which has already led to Lebanese banks closing Hizbullah accounts

Whoever is the next U.S. president should work to strengthen the anti-Hizbullah elements in Lebanon and put the terror group—spearhead of Iran’s expansionist ambitions in the Middle East and the world—out of business.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. His memoir, Destination Israel: Coming of Age and Finding Peace in the Middle East, is forthcoming from Liberty Island later this year.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/263307/hizbullah-threatens-israel%E2%80%94-its-own-support-sinks-p-david-hornik

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Why we must support Donald Trump - Carol Brown

by Carol Brown

Choose one. “Conscientious objector” is an adolescent cop-out. Our nation is at war (albeit a one-sided one we refuse to fight). All adults are needed on deck.

I supported Ted Cruz during the primaries and struggled mightily with Donald Trump (and in many ways, still do). But I will vote for Trump in November because as intrigued as I was early on by the NeverTrump movement, it’s clear these folks (who stand on soap boxes of personal integrity) are putting self before country.

David Horowitz and Daniel Greenfield of Front Page Magazine are two conservatives among many who have been covering the urgent need to get behind Trump. Writing in forceful and eloquent ways, they are sounding the alarm, pointing out critical differences between Trump and Clinton. Most recently Horowitz wrote:
Barack Obama delivers nuclear weapons and $150 billion to America’s mortal enemy in the Middle East…
But when Donald Trump insinuates the president is a man of uncertain loyalties, Republican leaders back away from him. When Trump proposes fighting “radical Islam,” securing America’s borders, stopping unvetted immigration from Muslim terrorist states, surveilling mosques, and scrutinizing the families of terrorist actors, Republicans join Democrats in denouncing him, or take an uncomfortable distance or maintain a silence that leaves him to fend for himself. [snip]
…Democrat betrayers of America are on the attack, while Republican leaders who claim to be patriots are on the run…This is the sad state of the Republican forces in retreat in an election campaign that will decide the fate of our country.
The threat of Islam, terror, and open borders drives home the fact that without national security, all else is moot. And on this front alone, Donald Trump’s views are dramatically different from Hillary Clinton’s. The gap between Trump and Clinton on national security is so wide it is one that might one day save your life. Or mine. Or the lives of Republicans who will not vote for Trump because, you know: integrity. As if casting a vote that helps ensure that a criminal, socialist, Islamist sympathizer gets to plop herself down in the oval office in order to continue the destructive and downright evil work of the past eight years is an act brimming with integrity.

To those whose delicate sensibilities are offended by Trump, I ask: Are your sensibilities not offended by Clinton? Because if they’re not, then you should register as a Democrat. And if they are, then the reality is that it will be Clinton or Trump.

Choose one. “Conscientious objector” is an adolescent cop-out. Our nation is at war (albeit a one-sided one we refuse to fight). All adults are needed on deck.

As Daniel Greenfield wrote concerning those who are committed to abandoning our presumptive nominee and helping to “usher in eight years of left-wing rule” that embraces “positions well to the left of Obama”:
Political campaigns can get ugly and Trump’s style is, at times, to get as nasty as possible, but it’s a sign of misplaced insider priorities to allow personal animus to matter more than the war against the left. It’s not unreasonable for some conservatives to be angry at Trump and his tactics. It is unreasonable to let that anger turn into a petulance that would let the left rule the nation for another eight years.
So to those holier-than-thou conservatives who refuse to vote for Donald Trump because their personal integrity will not allow them to do so, I say: If you want more jihad, don’t vote for Trump and help Hillary win. If you want to be sure our borders remain open, don’t vote for Trump and help Hillary win. And if you want the next president to be someone who got Americans killed and then lied about it, don’t vote for Trump and help Hillary win. And when Hillary Clinton is sworn in as the next president, you can pat yourself on the back, know you did the right thing, and raise a glass to your integrity, which will have served your ego but not the nation.

The primaries are over. Whatever happened, happened. Whatever rude, obnoxious, manipulative behavior Trump engaged in is in the past. Voting for him doesn’t mean you condone such behavior, you support everything he has expressed, you trust him implicitly, or that you even like the guy. It means you understand what’s at stake and have the maturity to move beyond your own ego in order to be a true patriot.

We either have a shot at a future or we don’t.

Trump gives America a chance to survive. And maybe even do better than that.

Carol Brown

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/06/why_we_must_support_donald_trump.html

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UK Labour Party: Haven for Racists? - Robbie Travers

by Robbie Travers

I am not a Jew, and I have no links to Judaism. But if being a Jew offends antisemitic racists, then I am happy to call myself Jew, and to stand up and be counted with the Jews as a minority facing increased persecution across Europe.

  • It is hard to believe that the party once led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who assisted President Bush in leading the war on terror and fighting expansionist Islamist movements, is now being fought over and led by a man who voted against banning Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization.
  • The idea that a single totalitarian Caliphate would bring increased democracy and stability, let alone civil and political rights, to an increasingly factional, corrupt and unstable Middle East, appears more a childlike, logic-defying fantasy.
  • Isn't it usually secular societies that protect the rights of religious minorities, including Muslims, to practice their faith?

The UK Labour Party, which once stood proudly in solidarity with the victims of terrorism, now, under the would-be leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, seems to have become a haven for anti-Semites, Islamists and their apologists.

It is hard to believe that the party once led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who assisted President Bush in leading the war on terror and fighting expansionist Islamist movements, is now led by a man who voted against banning Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization months after more than 200 people were killed in the 1998 terrorist attacks on the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Jeremy Corbyn alleges that he stands on a platform where "There is no place for anti-semitism or any form of racism in the Labour Party, or anywhere in society." He also says that Labour have taken "decisive action."

Despite Corbyn's protestations that he is an avowed anti-racist who condemns Islamism, and that he continually condemns anti-Semitism, this leadership has tolerated anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic dialogue and has drawn Islamists into the Labour Party. When Corbyn was asked to do more to tackle the rising climate of anti-Semitism, which has seen Labour MP Louise Ellman face anti-Semitic abuse, his brother, Piers Corbyn, tweeted: "ABSURD! All Corbyns are committed Anti Nazi. Zionists can't cope with anyone supporting rights for Palestine."

The remark suggests that anti-Semitism is just a recent prejudice, created only to aid Zionists, as response to the pro-Palestinian movement, rather than a movement of a people who have inhabited that area -- a sizeable section of which is even called Judea -- for nearly 3000 years. Until 1948, Palestinians did not even exist -- except as the accepted name of those Christians Arabs and Jews who lived under the British Mandate (1923-1948), after the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

Corbyn's followers, however, do not seem to be as keen as he claims them to be to condemn the rising culture of anti-Semitic mythology that tends to be propagated by many of his self-proclaimed acolytes.

The party that claims to be the epitome of anti-racism, has, in recent months has, rightly suffered at the hands of UK media exposés for its tolerance of racism -- in this instance anti-Semitism. It is a view that often seems to go hand in hand with apologists for extremist Islam and radical Islamic terror.

Labour Party MP Naz Shah (left), was recently suspended from the party for composing and sharing anti-Semitic tropes. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right), has a tendency to hang around with Holocaust deniers, anti-Semitic hate-preachers and others of a similar ilk, and is a self-declared "friend" of the terror outfits Hamas and Hezbollah.

John Tummon, for one, repeatedly called, at the Left Unity 2014 Conference, for the restoration of a Caliphate comprising the entirety of the Middle East. He posited that a Caliphate, with the strict imposition of Islamic sharia law, would see that "diversity and autonomy are protected and nurtured and the mass of people can effectively control executive authority."

What strict implementation of Islamic sharia law usually sees, however, are women's personal, economic and political rights obliterated. The rights, in fact, of other religious minorities such as Yazidis, Alevis and Baha'i, as well as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and the Jews, would also suffer extreme persecution, as the latter already has, often with calls for annihilation, such as "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas."

The idea that a single totalitarian Caliphate would bring increased democracy and stability, let alone civil and political rights, to an increasingly factional, corrupt and unstable Middle East, appears more a childlike, logic-defying fantasy.

Tummon's motion also condemns secular politics by disparaging notions -- such as rights for the religious to worship free of persecution, and the separation of church and state -- as a "Eurocentric brand of secularism" which, he claims, forces Middle Eastern people to abandon their religious faith.

Wait, isn't it usually secular societies that protect the rights of religious minorities, including Muslims, to practice their faith? And that prevent religious extremists from dominating state politics and forcing their beliefs on others? Were the Christians in orange jump suits who had their throats slit by ISIS allowed to practice their faith? Was Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in Pakistan, on death row for having drunk water from the same well as Muslims and then refusing to convert to Islam, allowed to practice her faith?

Is it nations such as Saudi Arabia that Tummon apparently aspires to emulate: those with sharia law that do not allow a single place of worship for those outside Islam?

John Tummon has described the Islamic State (IS) -- a terrorist organization trying to convert or wipe out Yezidis, Kurds, and Christians in Syria and Iraq -- as an organisation with "progressive potential."

"Progressive potential"? Why is Tummon not defending LGBT rights instead of defending an organization that throws gays off rooftops?

Why is Tummon not defending women's rights instead of defending an organization that forces its sex slaves to take contraceptives so they can be raped without consequences? (In Islam, it is forbidden to rape a woman if she is pregnant.)

What sort of person would want to be associated with a party whose members have views such as these?

The headache for Labour does not simply end with Tummon's support for a Caliphate; he has also said: "and I advocated critical support for the development [of] ISIL." Is he arguing that that the UK should be providing military support for ISIL -- an organization that commits genocide against the religious minorities Tummon claims a caliphate protects?

Consider also the case of Gerry Downing who, until March was a Labour member. In March, live on UK television, Downing refused to condemn the murderers of 2,996 people in the 9/11 attacks, and continued on to say that the 9/11 attacks "must never be condemned." Does he therefore find some part of 9/11 supportable?

Downing was reinstated to Labour after his suspension, even after his comments on various blogs were known to the party. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, challenged Corbyn on Downing's views in Parliament, Corbyn didn't reply to the question.

Corbyn not only seems slow to react to issues of anti-Semitism; he also does not seem to stand in solidarity with the victims of terrorism. And that is supposed to be a qualification for a leader of the Labour Party? Was the association of Gerry Downing with the Labour Party desirable or even morally correct?

Another, member of the Labour Party, Vicki Kirby, was originally suspended in 2014 from the party for tweeting that "Hitler was a Zionist God," and "We invented Israel when saving [the Jews] from Hitler."

Kirby's views provide a greater insight into her, and possibly other individuals joining Corbyn's Labour Party, than into Israel or Jews.

Kirby seems to completely misunderstand the nature of Zionism, which is not to strip Arabs of their rights to land or form an expansionist Israeli state, but rather to protect Jews from being attacked and safeguard their rights. She also argued that "ISIS should attack Israel" -- a sentiment less than neighbourly. She also didn't fail to deploy the cliché that "Jews have big noses," apparently failing to observe that many Italians, Arabs and other people do too.

By mid-March, it must have been apparent even to Corbyn that Kirby might be a liability. An "investigation" into her remarks is still pending. Kirby is still suspended.

And what is Corbyn's answer to Beinazir Lasharie, who said that "Many people know about who was behind 9/11 and also who is behind ISIS. I've nothing against Jews... just sharing it!" Such remarks -- which wrongly attribute Islamist terrorist attacks to Jews -- seem intended to marginalize them in Britain; no wonder British Jews might feel at risk.

After being expelled from the Labour Party for her anti-Semitic views, Lasharie was quietly readmitted to the party in December .

Did I forget to mention Tony Greenstein, who, it is alleged, has claimed that Jews supported the Third Reich's Nuremberg Laws, which restricted Jews in virtually every area -- including political involvement, clothing, marriage, employment, and ultimately their existence. How then is it that there are many Arab members of Israel's Knesset? Greenstein maintains he is not anti-Semitic.

Khadim Hussain, a Labour Councillor and the former Mayor of Bradford, seems another part of the same pattern. He posted an image claiming, "[The UK] school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed."

Not only is he falsely conflating Jews with Zionists; what is at least as worrying is that his remark indicates that the extermination of six million people is, or should be, forgettable. It also implies that the history of young Anne Frank, forced to hide, then herded into a concentration camp where she died for the "crime" of being a member of a religious and ethnic group -- a circumstance she did not choose and which occurred in another European country -- is not necessary to teach to children.

It is, and remains, absolutely necessary to teach children what people can do to each other when slaughter is officially sanctioned.

If these are the folks who make up Corbyn's Labour Party -- people who defend 9/11, support ISIS, marginalize Jews and liken Israel to Hitler -- are we all really supposed to rush out and vote for them?

I used to be a member of the Labour Party, until it was Corbynized. I do not feel like celebrating Hitler, demeaning the Holocaust, spreading racial smears about the Jews -- or anyone for that matter -- or claiming that Islamism and sharia law are "progressive."

I am not a Jew, and I have no links to Judaism. But if being a Jew offends anti-Semitic racists, then I am happy to call myself a Jew, and to stand up and be counted with the Jews as a minority facing increased persecution across Europe.

When I was growing up, my grandfather showed me a picture:

A now-famous photograph, in which a man identified as August Landmesser refuses to give the Nazi salute, was taken on 13 June 1936.

"Be like this guy," he said," no matter what the personal cost, because you should always do the right thing." My grandfather was right. I want to be that "guy" in the photograph who is standing up against the anti-Semitism re-emerging then in Europe and saying that enough is enough. I only wish more people in UK Labour were half as impressive and had half his character.

Robbie Travers, a political commentator and consultant, is Executive Director of Agora, former media manager at the Human Security Centre, and a law student at the University of Edinburgh.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8340/labour-party-racists

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Hillary, Muslims, and the 'tools' of terror - Carol Brown

by Carol Brown

Every terror attack perpetrated by a Muslim is driven by Islamic teachings and is part of 1500 years of bloodshed in the name of Allah.

“Mass shooting” is the left’s latest lying label to mask the truth about Islamic terror. It’s part of a rigorous campaign to whitewash what the Quran mandates. Violence committed in the name of Allah is an act of war as spelled out in a codified totalitarian doctrine otherwise known as the Quran (or the “Holy Quran” if you are the current president of the United States). As noted at Jihad Watch:

As in any case of trying to determine Islamic teaching on a particular matter, one must look to the Quran and the Sunnah. From those sources…it is evident that a Muslim is required to struggle against a variety of things: laziness in prayer, neglecting to give zakat (alms), etc. But is it also plain that a Muslim is commanded to struggle in physical combat against the infidel as well. Muhammad’s impressive military career attests to the central role that military action plays in Islam. [snip]
Below are excerpts from Hasan Al-Banna’s treatise, Jihad. In 1928, Al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood, which today is the most powerful organization in Egypt after the government itself. In this treatise, Al-Banna cogently argues that Muslims must take up arms against unbelievers. As he says, “The verses of the Qur’an and the Sunnah summon people in general (with the most eloquent expression and the clearest exposition) to jihad, to warfare, to the armed forces, and all means of land and sea fighting.”

Because the Quran and the Sunnah require Muslims to wage war against non-believers, there is no such thing as a “lone wolf” attack (which is another phrase from the progressive propaganda playbook).  Every terror attack perpetrated by a Muslim is driven by Islamic teachings and is part of 1500 years of bloodshed in the name of Allah. It’s part of a long continuous war – a war the West refuses to acknowledge, much less fight. Instead, the left wants the fight to be about gun control.

Most recently when referring to gun control, Hillary Clinton stated that we must stop the terrorists from getting the tools they need to carry out attacks. But if she genuinely thinks we need to stop terrorists from having access to “tools” to carry out attacks, we’ll need to monitor their access to Home Depot, Loews, Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, Amazon.com and a host of other businesses to reduce the chances of terrorists buying box cutters, knives, pressure cookers, ball bearings, fertilizer, matches, and lighter fuel, not to mention vehicles and airline tickets, among a plethora of other “tools” used in schemes against us. The possibilities are endless. We are, after all, talking about a belief system where rocks are lethal weapons and magazines such as Inspire provide a litany of ideas replete with detailed instructions on how to carry out terror attacks.

And what about the Muslims who don’t need to buy any “tools” because they already have all they need to terrorize and destroy? Such as occurred recently in Twin Falls Idaho when a 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a group of Muslim “migrants” (and, as is now predictable, the Obama administration inserted itself into the situation in order to silence free speech and protect Muslims, see here). Or, also recently, when a Muslim mob that pledged allegiance to ISIS descended upon a Philadelphia restaurant and attacked patrons by grabbing and punching them.

For our future, the future of our children and grandchildren, and in memory of those who have died at the hands of devout Muslims, fight back against the left’s lexicon of lies and speak the truth at every turn.

Hat tips: Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, Creeping Sharia, World Net Daily

Carol Brown

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/06/hillary_muslims_and_the_tools_of_terror.html

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The Turkey deal: added regional value - Ariel Bolstein

by Ariel Bolstein

It is important to ensure the renormalized relations with Turkey do not come at the expense of other ties cultivated in recent years.

The impending normalization of Israel's relations with Turkey is another triumph for Israeli diplomacy. This move carries far-reaching, long-term ramifications, and the reconciliation itself is very valuable, as Turkey is a key Muslim nation held in high regard by Muslims worldwide. 

Turkey will now have to relinquish its overt animosity toward Israel and temper its support of Hamas and other radical elements in the Arab sphere. Given its scope of influence, there is a good chance this position could permeate beyond its borders. 

The overall impression that even the great Turkey cannot emerge from a conflict with Israel victorious is very important. 

While initially Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's term in office seemed to favor Islamist elements -- the economy was booming, tensions on the Kurdish front ebbed, and he seemed well on his way to re-establish his country's prominent status -- the tides turned. Turkey clashed with every nation around it and suffered multiple diplomatic blows, making reconciliation with Israel a necessity. There is no doubt that Erdogan hoped Israel would beg to normalize relations, but to his chagrin, Israel stood its ground, and he was the one left cajoling it to strike a deal.

Turkey was the first Muslim nation to recognize Israel following its inception in 1948, and over the decades it became a very close ally. We are unlikely to see such warm ties again, at least not as long as Erdogan's AKP party is in power, but the impending reconciliation is enough to give Israel impressive leverage. 

This extends to more than the potential economic boon of having Turkey as a market for Israel's natural gas. A nation dependent on Israel for its gas supplies is unlikely to pursue further provocations such as the 2010 Gaza Strip flotilla. On the contrary: Protecting the Israeli offshore gas rigs will become a Turkish interest as well.

It is important to ensure the renormalized relations with Turkey do not come at the expense of other ties cultivated in recent years. Erdogan's enemies in Moscow and Athens should not fret over the deal, as Jerusalem values its ties with them as much as it does its ties with Ankara.

Israel can also further pursue developing its friendship with the people of Kurdistan. Erdogan is not a fully invested partner, and Israel can conduct itself opposite Turkey without unnecessary sentiment, on the basis of Israeli interests only. 

It is equally important for the Turkish leadership to understand that the time when it could do as it pleased in the Middle East is over. The reconciliation with Turkey does not, in any way, tie Israel's hands in fighting terrorism or Hamas. On the contrary: It has placed the burden of proof on Erdogan's shoulders, as any attempt he makes to support terrorist organizations or other agitating elements will not be tolerated. 

Normalizing relations with Turkey is a welcome move, but there are no guarantees. If Erdogan appears to abuse Israel's hopes for friendship and cooperation, Israel will know how to guard its interests, even at his expense. 

Ariel Bolstein is the founder of the Israel advocacy organization Faces of Israel.

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=16515

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Obama's Iran appeasement and Brexit - Richard Baehr

by Richard Baehr

If there is one factor above all others that probably led to the victory for the "Leave" side, it had to be the refugee and immigration disorder that has resulted from the war in Syria.

The catastrophe that has hit Syria -- hundreds of thousands dead, millions dislocated, and a multi-year stream of refugees headed to Europe that now numbers in the millions -- is a political and human disaster with multiple godfathers. After several years of war, there is still no evidence that the fighting will soon end, or that a political solution is at hand. 

One of the biggest reasons for this calamity has been the near complete abdication of responsibility for or interest in addressing the conflict by the Obama administration, a neglect that history will not regard as benign. When over 50 State Department officials expressed their dismay at American policy towards Syria in a written statement, and their disgust was made public, it was, unfortunately, only a one-day story for the national networks and leading papers.

This is, after all, a press corps that was never eager to embarrass the administration, which they have so ably served for more than seven years. This history of journalistic obeisance was what enabled White House adviser Ben Rhodes to gloat over how easy it was to deceive the reporters on what was really in the Iran nuclear deal. Rhodes classified most of the reporters as young know-nothings. Of course, there were also those who were knowingly in the bag for the deal for other reasons (such as former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who was bought and paid for by Boeing while he was lobbying Congress for the Iran deal, never disclosing his financial arrangement with the plane manufacturer).

It is obvious in one regard why the Obama administration shied away from any serious military involvement in Syria, including the time when the president reversed course on responding to Syria's use of chemical weapons, the supposed red line that he set up that was crossed and presumably demanded military action. The president saw his role as being the un-Bush, the leader who would take America out of conflicts into which his predecessor had led it. These conflicts included the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The president put little effort into achieving a separation agreement with the Iraqi government that would have enabled a modest American force to remain in the country. The rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was hastened by the American withdrawal and the perception in Iraq among the minority Sunni population that the Shiite government in power, now linked up with Iran, would make life miserable for the country's Sunnis. The American "surge" effort in the final years of the Bush administration enabled President Barack Obama to begin his term with the country in far better shape than had been the case a few years earlier in terms of both military status and political arrangements. Today Iraq and Syria are in a state that makes the worst days of the conflict during the Bush years seem like a stroll in the park. 

Were the Obama policy of disengagement merely that, it might at least be one consistent with someone whose views toward the military and war were in tune with the likes of folk singer Pete Seeger: time to lay down our sword and shield. But there has been a second, if not overarching, foreign policy mission in the Obama years, during both his terms in office, despite the lies repeatedly told to reporters and members of Congress suggesting the Iran initiative only began when a more moderate government came to power in [T]ehran in his second term. The Obama team was on a mission from the start to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran, really any deal with Iran, that would serve as the president's signal foreign policy achievement. This "achievement" turned out to be on a par with Obama's major domestic policy achievement: the creation of Obamacare, the health insurance program which to date has run up far higher costs to serve far fewer of the previously uninsured than advertised. 

The administration, particularly Secretary of State John Kerry, has been scrambling to make sure Iran is happy and receives everything he promised them in the negotiations, the promises he has always meant to keep as opposed to those he made to members of Congress, which were largely fictions.

Iran is the U.S.'s new regional ally -- a regime favored with more positive attention than any nation in Europe, or Israel, or its former Sunni Arab allies in the Middle East. Some Treasury Department officials are outraged with Kerry's efforts to override their efforts over the years to set up various sanctions regimes related to banking and the use of the American dollar in transactions, which Obama is eager to ignore to make the mullahs' economy grow faster. The propaganda is that faster economic growth will make Iran more moderate.

The Obama administration's Iran swoon is a major reason for its hands-off policy on Syria. The Assad regime is tightly linked to the Iranian regime, one of its closest allies. Iran regularly arms its terror army Hezbollah by first shipping weapons to Syria, which are then transferred across the border to Lebanon to threaten Israel. Both the Iranian military and Hezbollah have been fighting in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. Iranian forces have worked with the government forces in Iraq to battle Islamic State, a threat to the Iran-friendly Shiite regime now in place in Baghdad. 

The Obama team has talked about elevating Iran's regional position as a counterweight to Sunni regimes. This new balance of power would somehow play out peacefully among the contending parties once the U.S. is out of the way and Iran is restored to its rightful place among the community of nations. It is at times hard to believe that the people who run foreign policy for the United States could say these things without laughing at each other.

Britain's exit from the European Union is not a laughing matter for the United Kingdom or for what remains of the EU. If there is one factor above all others that probably led to the victory for the "Leave" side, it had to be the refugee and immigration disorder that has resulted from the war in Syria. If you cannot control who comes into your country, you are no longer a country. Britain's annual immigration levels recently (350,000 a year) are, on a per capita basis, nearly double the legal immigration levels in the United States. 

The chaos in the Middle East -- from Libya (another disastrous Obama initiative) to Iraq and Syria, and the resulting mass flight from these countries -- are reasons for many to fear that Great Britain and much of Europe will be overwhelmed by the tide. German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the floodgates with a warm welcome to the refugees. A majority of the people of Britain and some other EU countries were not on board with the welcome mat. Maybe the next Brexit like vote will be Finish, or Czeckout, or Italeave, or Deportugal. In any case, when America withdraws, from Europe or the Middle East, there is likely trouble ahead.

Richard Baehr

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=16511

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Terror Investigation Obstructer Nominated for Secretary's Award for Valor - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

DHS manager gets honored for thwarting the San Bernardino investigation.

I have written a follow-up article to my March 18, 2016 piece with the sarcastic title, “Are DHS Leaders Seeking an MVP Award From ISIS? - The day after the San Bernardino terror attack, why exactly did USCIS managers block a team of ICE agents from entering their facility?

I began my original commentary by saying that I was not trying to go “over the top” with the title of my article and that I had not lost my mind but that I was infuriated that a manager of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) would block ICE agents from entering that facility.

It is worth noting that both USCIS and ICE are component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

At the time I wrote my original article, the actual identity of the manager who blocked five ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents was not known however, it has been disclosed that the manager is Irene Martin.

It must be noted that these ICE agents were assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the office that they sought to enter was located in San Bernardino, the very same city where less than 24 hours earlier, on December 2, 2015, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook carried out a terror attack that resulted in the murder of 14 and the wounding of 22 innocent victims.

Furthermore, Enrique Marquez, the individual the ICE agents were hoping to locate at the office, was believed to have provided the weapons used in carrying out that terrorist attack.  They had discovered that Marquez was scheduled to appear for an interview that day, in conjunction with the application he filed for his wife to provide her with lawful immigrant status.

The agents were not only concerned about questioning and arresting Marquez because of the crimes he was alleged to have already committed in providing weapons and possibly other material support to the two terrorists, but the agents were greatly concerned that Marquez may have provided similar assistance to other terrorists who had not yet carried out additional attack(s).  Time was obviously extremely critical and potentially innocent lives were hanging in the balance.  The clock was ticking and time was not on the side of the agents- or of possible additional victims, for that matter.

As for the supposed “marriage” between Marquez and his “wife” Chernykh, they have subsequently been charged with others, to have entered into a conspiracy to commit immigration/marriage fraud.  I addressed this issue in My May 3, 2016 article, “Immigration Fraud Linked to San Bernardino Jihadist's Family.”

On April 28, 2016 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a press release about this case,  “3 people tied to shooter in San Bernardino terrorist attack arrested on federal conspiracy, marriage fraud and false statement charges.”

Additionally, it must be pointed out that if ICE agents had information about anyone who was seeking an immigration benefit for an alien, even if terrorism is not a component of the case, the adjudications officers should welcome any information that would provide relevant material information about the bona fides of the petition/application that is to be adjudicated.  Immigration fraud is a felony without any other factors being involved.  Furthermore the 9/11 Commission noted that immigration fraud and visa fraud were key entry and embedding tactics of terrorists.

I am intimately familiar with these issues inasmuch as I served as an Adjudications Officer for one year, many years ago.  I volunteered to the assignment to a pilot project that paired adjudications officers with Criminal Investigators (Special Agents) of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) to uncover fraud.  During that assignment my colleagues and I collaborated closely with the agents.  When I became an INS Special Agent I worked closely with the Adjudications Officers who, back then, were referred to as Examiners.

However, in this case, Ms Martin refused the ICE agents entry into her facility for reasons that have never been made clear.  This is especially insane given the nexus this all has with a terror attack that was conducted in the very same city as her office less than 24 hours earlier.

On March 16, 2016, Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) requested that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this monumental screw-up.  

On June 1, 2016 the OIG report of the investigation was made public.

That OIG report noted, in part:

At approximately 12:20 p.m., December 3, 2015, less than 24 hours after the shooting, HSI was notified that the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), San Bernardino, CA, had developed information that Mariya Chernykh, a Russian national attempting to adjust her immigration status, was married to EnriqueMarquez, an associate of Syed Rizwan Farook, and that she had an appointment at 12:30 p.m. on December 3, 2015, at the USCIS Office, San Bernardino, CA.
The JTTF believed that Marquez might accompany her to the appointment. HSI dispatched a team to go to the USCIS office to prevent any possible further attacks as well as to detain Marquez and Chernykh for questioning.

The OIG report noted that the five ICE agents were wearing tactical gear and that they explained the importance of their mission and that time was critical.  They were delayed by approximately 30 minutes and when they were finally admitted into the offices, they were brought to an interview room.

This is how the GAO report described this meeting:

The Field Office Director told the agents they were not allowed to arrest, detain, or interview anyone in the building based on USCIS policy, and that she would need to obtain guidance from her superior before allowing them access. During this exchange, the agents also spoke by phone with the Acting Chief, Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS), USCIS, Los Angeles. According to the HSI agents, he told the agents that it was USCIS policy not to arrest, detain, or interview on USCIS property.

The OIG report also noted that Ms Martin made statements that were contradicted by statements made by others- she apparently lied to OIG investigators.  Such lies are felonies and also subject employees to dismissal.

USCIS adjudicate more than 6 million applications for various immigration benefits. This process has serious national security implications.

Page 47 of “9/11 and  Terrorist Travel - Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” includes this paragraph that draws a clear nexus between immigration fraud and national security:

“Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.” Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.

The administration has apparently decided to take action concerning Ms Martin, but it is not the action that would make sense- but then when has this administration taken actions that makes sense especially where immigration and terrorism are concerned?

In my March 18th article I sarcastically suggested that whoever interfered with the ongoing terror investigation should be given the Most Valuable Player Award by ISIS.  So far ISIS has not weighed in but unbelievably, on June 23, 2016 Fox News reported, “Immigration boss who barred feds from terror suspect up for award, but agency won't say why.”

Here is an excerpt from report about the egregious actions of the administration:

Irene Martin heads the San Bernardino U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, where last December, she allegedly blocked five armed Department of Homeland Security agents from the man authorities say supplied the firepower in the deadly attack a day earlier. Although an Inspector General's report found she acted improperly, and then lied to investigators, FoxNews.com has learned she has been nominated for the Secretary’s Award for Valor.

Generally that high honor, the Secretary's Award for Valor, is bestowed upon government employees who acting on or off duty, put their lives at risk to save the lives of others.  It is not clear if she has been nominated in spite of her outrageous actions, or because of them.

Perhaps in the twisted parallel universe of the Obama administration, Ms. Martin “stood up” to five armed ICE agents, thereby “protecting” an alleged accomplice of a massive deadly terror attack and his  alien wife.  Today we not only have the lunacy of “Sanctuary Cities” but apparently “Sanctuary DHS Agencies” where illegal aliens and criminals and terrorists are safe from detection and arrest.

Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission as well as state legislative hearings around the United States and at trials where immigration is at issue. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio. His personal website is http://michaelcutler.net/.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/263313/terror-investigation-obstructer-nominated-michael-cutler

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Both Before And After Lebanese Bank Bombing, Hizbullah Supporters Threatened Further Escalation That Would Impact Country's Future - E. B. Picali

by E. B. Picali

Hizbullah accused BLOM Bank of being so eager to implement the U.S. sanctions that it exceeded the U.S. requirements.


On June 12, 2016, shortly after 20:00, while Beirut residents were breaking their Ramadan fast, an eight-kilogram bomb went off outside the headquarters of BLOM Bank,[1] one of Lebanon's leading banks, wounding two people and damaging the building. In light of the intensive conflict in the last month between Hizbullah and Lebanon's banking sector – chiefly Lebanon's central bank and several other banks, including BLOM Bank – over the implementation of U.S. sanctions against Hizbullah,[2] suspicion immediately fell upon this organization. Lebanese media and politicians, as well as citizens on social media, claimed that the bombing was a message to BLOM Bank that it must stop implementing the U.S. sanctions, and some – including the Al-Mustaqbal daily[3] and bankers[4] – blamed Hizbullah for it. Many of the comments on social media were posted under the hashtag "Hizbullah is bombing the banks."[5] Criticism was also directed at Hizbullah's supporters, including the pro-Hizbullah Al-Akhbar daily, who were accused of inciting against the banks and against central bank governor Riad Salameh in the days prior to the bombing.

Indeed, the days before the bombing saw a harsh campaign, bordering on incitement, against Salameh and against Lebanese banks, especially BLOM Bank, by Lebanese pro-Hizbullah activists and by Al-Akhbar. The latter accused BLOM Bank of being so eager to implement the U.S. sanctions that it exceeded the U.S. requirements.

Hizbullah, for its part, did not condemn the bombing and in fact refrained from commenting on it at all. Al-Akhbar, on the other hand, denied that it was inciting against the banks and stated that Hizbullah was not responsible for the bombing. However, even after the bombing the daily continued to publish articles threatening "a further escalation [of the clash] between these banks and Hizbullah" which would impact the country's future as well as foreigners in Lebanon, including the UNIFIL forces stationed there.
In a June 24 speech, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah repeated the accusation that some Lebanese banks were being over-enthusiastic in implementing the sanctions and warned that this could harm Hizbullah members and supporters. 

In a June 16, 2016 interview on the Lebanese LBC channel, former Lebanese minister Wiam Wahhab, known as a Hizbullah supporter, said that in Lebanon it is Lebanese laws that should apply, not those of the U.S. Congress.

This report reviews the incitement against the banks by Hizbullah supporters and by Al-Akhbar both before the bombing and after it.

The BLOM Bank headquarters after the bombing (image: albawaba.com, June 16, 2016)

'Al-Akhbar' Article On Day Before Bombing: 'Hizbullah Supporters Demand Taking Punitive Measures Against The Banks' 

In the two days before the bombing, the pro-Hizbullah daily Al-Akhbar published articles stating that BLOM Bank was being "over-enthusiastic" in implementing the U.S. sanctions.[6] An article by Hassan 'Aliq published the day before the bombing, titled "Hizbullah to Banks and to [Central Bank Governor] Salameh: Stop Conspiring [against Us]," contained implicit threats against Salameh and against various banks, especially BLOM Bank. It said: "Whoever follows politics in our country can hear Hizbullah leaders saying loud and clear that the struggle against America's 'banking mandate' [over Lebanon] is no less important than the struggle against those who wish to harm the resistance and [disarm it of] its weapons. 'Aliq added, "Hizbullah's MPs, ministers and officials refuse to say [how the struggle should be waged], but the people's rage has its consequences. The public of Hizbullah's [supporters] has begun demanding to take punitive measures against the banks that want to implement the hostile American agenda... Some of the [pro-]resistance public is demanding that Hizbullah publish a black list of banks that harbor secret hostility towards the resistance, so that [people] can punish them for their actions [of closing the accounts of Hizbullah members and associates]. Some [people] propose to boycott [the banks] and withdraw deposits [from them], and call to pressure the banks that are conspiring [against Hizbullah]. Others propose more painful measures – from holding demonstrations and sit-ins in front of banks that wish to harm the [pro-]resistance public to holding protests that will keep the banks from opening [for business]... If Hizbullah is forced into an open conflict, there will be no choice but to [voice] these calls, which are [already] widespread on social media, as part of an organized [campaign]." 

Later in the article 'Aliq quotes sources in the Hizbullah-led March 8 Forces as saying that BLOM Bank is one of the banks that are  "going too far in implementing the racist sanctions, [even] exceeding the American requirements." According to these sources, "Hizbullah wants the banks and the central bank governor to stop conspiring [against it] and stop deceiving it." They stressed that Hizbullah is not demanding to take "harmful" measures against the banks, only "measures to protect the social and economic security of the Lebanese people."

'Aliq even called on Hizbullah "to do more than just deter those responsible for the banking sector," saying: "This sector, which is constantly amassing wealth, needs someone to stand up to it, in days of peace just like in days of war, and Hizbullah, which is part of the parliament and the government, must break its silence, starting today."[7] 
Threats Against Central Bank Governor, BLOM Bank Posted On Social Media In Days Before Bombing 

A campaign of verbal attacks and even threats against the Lebanese banking sector was also evident on social media in the days before the bombing, especially in the 24 hours that preceded it. Hizbullah supporters on Facebook and Twitter directed harsh words at central bank governor Riad Salameh and various banks, especially BLOM Bank. For example, on the evening before the bombing (June 11), the pro-Hizbullah "Dahiya" website posted on its Facebook page (Facebook.com/da7ye ) a photo of Salameh with the caption: "Your existence is an insult to the homeland."   

Another post on this Facebook page, from June 12, accused "some banks" of being more radical than the American law itself and blacklisting people not mentioned by the Americans.

Yet another post on this Facebook page, which was reposted on the website of the Kataeb party, said: "Beware the BLOM Bank, which bragged about closing [accounts] and restricting [them]!! #[This banks is] more Israeli than Israel."[8] 

The Al-Mustaqbal daily reported on a threatening tweet posted two days before the bombing by Pro-Hizbullah Journalist Ghassan Jawwad. He wrote: "Hizbullah will soon [say]: A curse upon you, upon America and upon the banks. Beware the anger of patient [men]!"[9] 
Hizbullah supporters on social media launched a "Riad Salameh Go Away" hashtag, which they appended to many messages against him. One of the posts featured a "list of shame" that included BLOM Bank, Salameh and the Association of Banks in Lebanon.[10] 

The "list of shame" of banks and bankers

'Al-Akhbar': Hizbullah Not Behind Bombing; We Are Not Inciting Against Banks But Voicing Legitimate Criticism, And Will Continue To Do So

Immediately after the bombing, the social networks were flooded with messages blaming Hizbullah for it and accusing Al-Akhbar of causing it through its incitement. The Al-Mustaqbal daily, affiliated with the March 14 Forces, as well as several Lebanese bankers, soon joined this criticism and accusations, while Hizbullah chose to remain silent, ignoring both the bombing and the allegations against it. 

Al-Akhbar, on the other hand, rushed to defend itself and Hizbullah. On June 13, 2016, the day after the bombing, the daily published two articles, one unsigned and the other by the chairman of its board of directors, Ibrahim Al-Amin, both of which denied the allegations against Hizbullah and the daily. The first article stated that Hizbullah was currently in conflict with several banks that had decided to implement the U.S. sanctions against it in order to "throttle" it and its institutions, but "some [other] element decided to enter the picture by carrying out a bombing against BLOM Bank, in order to implicate the resistance and thereby hobble it." The article suggested that ISIS or Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN) were behind the bombing, since ISIS fighters imprisoned in Lebanon had admitted to planning bombings against "non-military institutions and in crowded areas" in Beirut, and since the Lebanese Military Intelligence had indeed received information several days before the bombing that JN was planning terror attacks in a certain part of the capital. According to the article, this information had led to several foreign embassies, including the Canadian one, as well as the UN headquarters in Lebanon, to warn their staff to take precautions and stay away from that part of Beirut.[11]    

Al-Akhbar board of directors chairman Ibrahim Al-Amin wrote: "[Those who] jump to conclusions will naturally point the finger at Hizbullah,  [just] because Hizbullah accused the [BLOM] bank of excessive enthusiasm in complying with the American demands to implement the economic sanctions on the resistance, and of hastening to implement the American law... There will also be those who accuse other [elements] of being behind the attack, or of paving the way to it – like, for example, the accusations that Al-Akhbar incited against the banks, and particularly against BLOM bank, as part of its criticism of how the government and this bank dealt with the recent American law...

"A party like Hizbullah has no interest in doing something [that is, carrying out a terror attack] that would [only] justify the [American] law… Likewise, the organization knows very well that such operations will not stop the implementation of the American law... In this matter, Hizbullah, like the rest of the Lebanese, wants the truth exposed, more than anyone else... 

"With regard to the accusations of incitement by the press, particularly Al-Akhbar... ever since the daily was founded 10 years ago, we have paid the price for our criticism of the political class and of the destructive policy of the March 14 Forces. They have always accused us of conducting incitement against forces and individuals who were targets of terror attacks. Nevertheless, we do not think that we should stop our mission, that is, of criticizing a mistaken policy... 

"Al-Akhbar's criticism of the banks does not only stem from [these banks'] attempt to harm Hizbullah on the pretext of implementing the American law. [The paper] has always taken stands disliked by the banks, whether regarding their general policy from which they benefited, or by revealing corruption cases connected to their work. With regard to our criticism of how BLOM Bank is acting in the matter of implementing the American law, this is professional criticism, and includes anyone involved in measures that are ultimately aimed at hobbling the resistance. This criticism will continue, and it is completely uninfluenced by what happened. No attack here or there will stop the necessary argument about the banks' policy and actions concerning the American sanctions – otherwise we [in Al-Akhbar] will yet arrive at the accusation that the [banking] sector is behind the attack, with the aim of shutting people up."[12] 
Threats Against Banks, Governor, Al-Mustaqbal Stream, And Lebanese Government Continue Even After Bombing 

Even after the bombing, and after the accusations against Hizbullah, Al-Akhbar continued to publish articles supporting Hizbullah's demands and threatened a harsh response and dangerous escalation from it if it they were not met.

Al-Akhbar: BLOM Bank Capitulated, Hizbullah Demands That Banks Circumvent Sanctions 

The day after the bombing, the Association of Banks in Lebanon met, and later released an announcement condemning the attack on BLOM Bank that stated, inter alia: "The banks operate in a most professional manner and in the framework of the regulations that are common in global markets, and in Lebanon they are subject to the laws of the land and to the directives of the [central] bank of Lebanon, with the aim of preserving the interests of all Lebanese citizens." 

Al-Akhbar, which in several articles published prior to the bombing had said that BLOM Bank had been quite enthusiastic in its implementation of the sanctions, going beyond what was required by the governor, interpreted this announcement as capitulation on the part of BLOM and other banks, and as a withdrawal from their previous "enthusiasm" in implementing the sanctions, which, according to the paper, had been manifested in the closure of accounts whose owners were not included in the American sanctions list, of their own accord, without waiting for approval by the central bank, as noted in the governor's instructions."[13] 
At the same time, another Al-Akhbar article stated that even this capitulation on the part of the banks following the bombing – that is, their agreement to wait for the governor's approval before closing the accounts of people who are not on the sanctions list – was not going to satisfy Hizbullah. The organization, it said, was demanding that they circumvent sanctions on bank accounts whose owners actually are on the list. A June 16, 2016 article in the paper quoted sources in the Hizbullah-led March 8 Forces as saying, "Clearly, there is only one door leading to a solution [to the crisis]: The U.S. sanctions list is not sacred and the central bank governor and the banks must find the appropriate ways to circumvent it, where the national need requires it."[14] 
Even After Bombing, Al-Akhbar Threatens Al-Mustaqbal Stream And The Future Of The Country, Saying: There Will Be Further Escalation

On June 14, 2016, two days after the bombing, Al-Akhbar published another article that warned that "if some of the banks do not understand that they must be neutral" in the matter of the U.S. sanctions, then "we will witness a further escalation [of the clash] between these banks and Hizbullah, which considers itself bound to defend the economic security of its public. In this clash, the biggest loser will necessarily be the Lebanese banks."[15]

Al-Akhbar Article Warns Al-Mustaqbal Against Supporting Sanctions: It Will Have Repercussions for Lebanon's Future

Al-Akhbar's implied threats were also directed at the Al-Mustaqbal faction, Hizbullah's political rival. On June 17, 2016, Al-Akhbar columnist Hiyam Al-Kossayfi wrote about Al-Mustaqbal's "enthusiastic" support for the sanctions against Hizbullah, while warning of the repercussions this could have for the entire country: "Some people are reminded today of the events of 2005 [the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri], and of what came later, and also [of the events] of May 7 [2008, i.e., Hizbullah's armed takeover of parts of Lebanon],[16] and all the repercussions [of these events], including the bombings and assassinations..." Al-Kossayfi urged the Al-Mustaqbal faction not to delude itself that the U.S. law would harm Hizbullah's status in Lebanon, and warned it of the organization's possible reaction, which would not only affect the relations between Al-Mustaqbal and Hizbullah and "the internal struggle between those who defend the [U.S.] law and those who oppose it," but would impinge on "the future of Lebanon... the regime, and the role and status of the state."[17] 
Al-Akhbar Board Chairman: Hizbullah Is The Only Force That Can Fill The Vacuum If The State Collapses

In his article from June 13, Al-Akhbar board chairman Ibrahim Al-Amin even threatened that Hizbullah might take over most of Lebanon.  He speculated that the U.S. is plotting to undermine Lebanon's regime and bring about the collapse of the state, and declared that, in such a situation, Hizbullah – thanks to its military and economic abilities and its strong ties with Iran – would be the only force capable of undertaking the role of the state in large parts of the country. He wrote: "In the current state of affairs, Hizbullah may be the only force capable of best filling the vacuum that would result from the collapse of the state. This organization and the large public that supports it together form a financial force that can provide employment to nearly 1,000,000 Lebanese citizens. [I refer] not only to party members and the employees in [Hizbullah's] institutions, but to people who sell consumer products – from veils, automobiles, phones, milk and flour to weapons. Hizbullah also has close ties with Iran, and within a few months Iran can launch large-scale projects to supply electricity, water and public services to everyone living in Hizbullah's areas of influence.

"If the West thinks that the economic crisis will bring about the collapse of the [Lebanese] state and its institutions, Hizbullah is the only force that has the security and military capabilities to take over large parts of Lebanon. Thanks to its alliances [with other forces in the state,] its [area of]  influence will expand to include most of Lebanon, except for a few regions..." Asking, "What will be the fate of the banking sector itself?", Al-Amin answered that it will lose its independence and much of the wealth it has amassed.
Al-Amin concluded: "Some people need a pinch to the ear, not to the arm, in order to understand that they cannot plunge the entire country into madness... as happened after the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri. [These people] will find it difficult to force us to respect them, for they have decided to capitulate to an external [force] that has never brought us anything but trouble." 

Al-Akhbar Board Chairman Implicitly Threatens UNIFIL, Other Foreigners in Lebanon

In this article Al-Amin also directed implicit threats at UNIFIL and at other foreign nationals in the country. He asked: "[After Hizbullah takes over the country], what shall we do with some 14,000 foreigners living in Lebanon, including the soldiers and officers of UNIFIL, diplomatic staff, workers in the business, media and academic sectors, and the workers of international organizations and NGOs? What will the Western [intelligence] apparatuses operating in Lebanon do, not only against Hizbullah but also for their agents in Syria?..."[18] 
Hassan Nasrallah: We Will Not Let Our Public Be Harmed; Hizbullah's Funds Come From Iran

In a June 24, 2016 speech marking 40 days after the death of Hizbullah leader Mustafa Badr Al-Din, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah reiterated his organization's position on the U.S. sanctions, warning against their implementation and stating that they harm Lebanon's sovereignty and large sectors of the Lebanese public. He also repeated his claim that the sanctions would not harm Hizbullah, admitting for the first time that all of Hizbullah's funds come from Iran and adding that the money, just like the organization's missiles, does not come from the banks and therefore no law can prevent it from being transferred.

He stressed that Hizbullah's public is starting to suffer because some Lebanese banks, "more American than the Americans," have exceeded the American requirements by closing accounts of organizations and charities that do not even appear on the U.S. sanctions list, just because figures involved with them have family ties with Hizbullah members. Nasrallah said that this infuriates Hizbullah, and added: "We will not allow any measures that harm our members and our public." He stated that his organization was open to dialogue aimed at finding solutions and admitted that such talks were currently taking place between the sides, but that this did not imply  "any consent to the [U.S.] law on our part." He also accused unnamed "Lebanese figures" that they had visited Washington and incited the Americans to pass the sanctions law.[19] 
Three days after Nasrallah's speech, Al-Akhbar board chairman Ibrahim Al-Amin wrote in an article that former Lebanese prime minister and Al-Mustaqbal faction head Sa'd Al-Hariri had transferred to the Americans, "either directly of via his functionaries in state and private financial institutions," names of figures he wanted added to the sanctions list "on the grounds that they finance Hizbullah's activity."[20]   

Pro-Hizbullah Former Lebanese Minister Wiam Wahhab: Boycott Banks That Implement Sanctions, Switch To Euros

In a June 16, 2016 interview on the Lebanese LBC channel, former Lebanese minister Wiam Wahhab, known for his pro-Hizbullah positions, called on all supporters of the March 8 Forces to boycott the banks that implement that U.S. sanctions and start using euros instead of dollars. He also said that in Lebanon it is Lebanese laws that should apply, not those of the U.S. Congress.
For a MEMRI TV clip of excerpts from the interview, click below:

* E. B. Picali is a research fellow at MEMRI.

[1] Called the Lubnan wal-Mahjar Bank in Arabic.
[3] See articles from June 13, 14, 2016.
[4] See Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 14, 2106.
[5] Twitter.com/hashtag/%D8%AD%D8%B2%D8%A8_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87_%D9%8A%D9%81%D8%AC%D8%B1_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%81?src=hash.
[6] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 10, 11, 2016.
[7] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 11, 2016.
[8] Kataeb.org, June 12, 2016.
[9] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), June 14, 2016.
[10] See e.g., Facebook.com/Tansikeyah/photos, June 11, 2016.
[11] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 13, 2016.
[12] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 13, 2016.
[13] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 14, 2016.
[14] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 16, 2016.
[15] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 14, 2016.
[16] This refers to violent clashes that broke out on May 7, 2008, when Hizbullah took over large parts of Beirut, the Mount Lebanon region and the north of the country; paralyzed the airport and seaport; burned the studios of media networks affiliated with its political rivals, who were then in power; and besieged public institutions and government offices, as well as the homes of anti-Syrian Lebanese figures. At least 81 people were killed in these clashes and some 250 were wounded. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No.436, A Clean Sweep: Amal, Hizbullah Take Much of Beirut in Redux of Hamas' Gaza Takeover, May 9, 2008.
[17] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 17, 2016.
[18] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 18, 2016.
[19] Alahednews.com.lb, June 24, 2016.
[20] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 27, 2016.

E. B. Picali is a research fellow at MEMRI.

Source: http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/9283.htm

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