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79 items tagged "Barack Obama"

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Obama: US had no precise intelligence warning of Paris attacks

Category: News
Created on Monday, 16 November 2015 12:25
Barack ObamaUS President Barack Obama said Monday the United States had no precise intelligence warning of the Paris bombing and shooting attacks that have been claimed by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists.
The United States has agreed to speed up its sharing of military intelligence with France to try to avert such assaults, the US leader added in a news conference after a summit in Turkey.  
"There were no specific mentions of this particular attack," Obama said following a gathering of leaders of the Group of 20 top world economies in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya.  
The United States is working closely with France in its investigation of the attack and its hunt for suspects in the "heinous" attacks, he said.
"France is already a strong anti-terrorism partner and today we are announcing a new agreement: We are streamlining the process by which we share intelligence and operational military information with France."
The agreement would allow US personnel to pass threat information including on Islamic State jihadists to France "even more quickly and more often" Obama added.
"We need to be doing everything we can to protect against more attacks and protect our citizens."
Obama also hailed "modest progress" in diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the Syria conflict, after high-level talks between world powers including Russia in Vienna.
"We have begun to see some modest progress on the diplomatic front, which is critical," Obama told reporters.
"The Vienna talks mark the first time that all the key countries have come together... and reached a common understanding."
The Vienna talks have seen the world powers find common ground on the need for a ceasefire in Syria, UN-brokered peace talks and a political transition.  
"These are obviously ambitious goals. Hopes for diplomacy in Syria have been dashed before," cautioned Obama.  
"There are any number of ways in which this latest diplomatic push could falter," he added.  
Obama, who held an informal coffee-table summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, said there were still differences between the two leaders over the future of President Bashar al-Assad "who we do not believe has a role in Syria's future because of his brutal rule."  
"What is different this time, and gives us some degree of hope, is that for the first time all major countries on all sides of the Syrian conflict agree on a process to end this war," he said.  
As world leaders grapple with a migrant crisis in Europe and elsewhere, Obama also warned against "equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism."
"Many of the refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves, that is what they are fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values," the US leader said.

Obama and Erdogan Agree to Cooperate Against ISIS

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 29 July 2015 20:10
Obama and Erdogan0United States President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a telephone call on Wednesday night to work together to "stem the flow of foreign fighters and secure Turkey's border with Syria," the White House said in a statement, quoted by Reuters.
According to the statement, the two leaders also discussed deepening their cooperation in the fight against Islamic State, which has grabbed swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory and declared a caliphate.
Thousands of foreign fighters have crossed through Turkey, a NATO member, to join ISIS over the past few years.
The conversation between Obama and Erdogan took place two days after a suicide attack in Turkey, in the town of Suruc near the border with Syria, killed 32 people.
It was the deadliest attack in Turkey since 2013, and if ISIS involvement is confirmed, would be the group's first suicide attack on Turkish soil.
The Turkish government has rejected accusations from the opposition that it has in the past tacitly supported ISIS jihadists operating from Syria and had unwittingly opened the door to the suicide bombing in Suruc.
Turkish authorities have cracked down on ISIS networks, arresting dozens of suspects in recent weeks, and the country beefed up its border with Syria with tanks and anti-aircraft missiles as well as additional troops.
The White House said Obama had condemned Monday's bombing.
"He conveyed condolences on behalf of the American people to the families of the victims, and the two leaders affirmed that the United States and Turkey stand united in the fight against terrorism," the statement said, according to Reuters.
It is unclear as of yet how Washington and Ankara will cooperate against ISIS. Turkey has hesitated to join the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
American intelligence chief James Clapper recently said Turkey does not place a high priority on fighting ISIS, and added he was not optimistic that Turkey would take a more active role in the war against the jihadist group.

Obama: Netanyahu's Comments Have 'Consequences'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 22 May 2015 16:46
muslim-brotherhood-receives-157-billionPresident Barack Obama is continuing his criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments on a Palestinian state and Arab-Israelis before the last elections.
In an interview with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Obama said that the security relationship between the United States and Israel will remain strong, but reiterated that there will be “consequences” from Netanyahu’s remarks.
“In every public pronouncement I’ve made, I said that the bedrock security relationships between our two countries—these are sacrosanct. Military cooperation, intelligence cooperation—none of that has been affected. I have maintained, and I think I can show that no U.S. president has been more forceful in making sure that we help Israel protect itself, and even some of my critics in Israel have acknowledged as much,” Obama said.
“I said that none of this should impact the core strategic relationship that exists between the United States and Israel, or the people-to-people relations that are so deep that they transcend any particular president or prime minister and will continue until the end of time,” he added.
“But what I did say,” Obama continued, “is that when, going into an election, Prime Minister Netanyahu said a Palestinian state would not happen under his watch, or there [was] discussion in which it appeared that Arab-Israeli citizens were somehow portrayed as an invading force that might vote, and that this should be guarded against—this is contrary to the very language of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which explicitly states that all people regardless of race or religion are full participants in the democracy.
“When something like that happens, that has foreign-policy consequences, and precisely because we’re so close to Israel, for us to simply stand there and say nothing would have meant that this office, the Oval Office, lost credibility when it came to speaking out on these issues,” he added.
“And when I am then required to come to Israel’s defense internationally, when there is anti-Semitism out there, when there is anti-Israeli policy that is based not on the particulars of the Palestinian cause but [is] based simply on hostility, I have to make sure that I am entirely credible in speaking out against those things, and that requires me then to also be honest with friends about how I view these issues,” Obama clarified.
His comments were referring to Netanyahu comments on election day that "huge numbers of Arabs" were coming out to vote, adding that many were being brought to the polling booths by V-15 and other NGOs funded from abroad.
Netanyahu's remarks caused a firestorm in Israeli media, with many accusing the Prime Minister of using racism to win over voters. 
The United States was similarly displeased with Netanyahu's comments. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest noted that they were "deeply concerned by decisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens."
Netanyahu subsequently apologized for the comments, but Washington was not convinced and said the United States expects Netanyahu’s words to backed by actions.
The other comment that irked Obama was Netanyahu’s statement, in a series of interviews during the election campaign, that he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
He appeared to backtrack after the election, explaining in an interview, but once again the White House was not impressed. Obama’s spokesman declared that since Netanyahu had said he was no longer committed to the two-state solution, “that means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward."

Obama Says Gulf Leaders Agree with Him On Iran

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 16 May 2015 12:07
Obama greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef - ReutersPresident Barack Obama on Thursday said that leaders of Gulf allies at a summit have agreed that a comprehensive, verifiable deal that blocks Iran's pathway to a nuclear weapon would serve everyone's interests, reports The Associated Press (AP).
He added that the United States and the Gulf nations had pledged to work together to address threats to the region, including those blamed on destabilizing behavior by Iran.
Obama pledged America's "ironclad commitment" to the Persian Gulf nations to help protect their security, pointedly mentioning the potential use of military force and offering assurances that a potential nuclear agreement with Iran would not leave them more vulnerable.
He said the U.S. would join the Gulf Cooperation Council nations "to deter and confront an external threat to any GCC state's territorial integrity."
"Let me underscore, the United States keeps our commitments," Obama said at a news conference in Camp David.
The summit is meant to assure Gulf leaders over the impending deal with Iran, as Gulf states have been repeatedly expressing their concern about the terms of a potential nuclear deal and warning that a final agreement could allow Iran to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
The summit got off to a rocky start when Saudi King Salman decided at the last minute that he would skip the meeting in order to focus on the Yemen ceasefire and humanitarian aid effort.
The move was interpreted by many as a deliberate rebuff to Obama, but Saudi Arabia insisted the king did not intend to snub the President.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday Arab leaders were "assured that the objective is to deny Iran the ability to obtain a nuclear weapon" and that all pathways to such a weapon would be cut off.
He added that it was too early to know if a final nuclear agreement would be acceptable, saying, "We don't know if the Iranians will accept the terms they need to accept."

Obama: 'Two-State Solution' Best for Israel's Security

Category: News
Created on Friday, 15 May 2015 17:43
Obama speaks at news conference in Camp David - reutersThe United States still believes Israel's long-term security is best served by reaching an agreement to live alongside a recognized Palestinian state, President Barack Obama said Thursday, according to AFP.
Obama was speaking shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formed a new coalition, which the world sees as likely to further strain ties with the Palestinians.
"I continue to believe a two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state," Obama told a press conference at Camp David, where he is meeting Gulf leaders for talks on the impending Iranian deal.
"I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don't necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise," he added.
Noting that he was speaking at Camp David, Obama referred back to a 1978 deal negotiated at the same presidential retreat that brought peace between Israel and Egypt.
"Israel is better off for it. I think the same would be true if we get a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.
"That prospect seems distant now, but I think it's always important for us to keep in mind what's right and what's possible," added Obama.
Thursday’s comments are the latest in what appears to be growing international pressure on Israel to accept the “two-state solution” in order to achieve peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Earlier this week, Obama said in an interview that he expects Netanyahu’s new government to work towards the “two-state solution”,
“We look to the new Israeli government and the Palestinians to demonstrate—through policies and actions—a genuine commitment to a two-state solution,” Obama told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, adding, “Only then can trust be rebuilt and a cycle of escalation avoided.”
During the recent election campaign in Israel, Netanyahu angered several Western leaders when he declared in a series of interviews he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
He appeared to backtrack after the election, explaining in an interview that he wants “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution" but adding that his earlier comments were a reflection of changing conditions on the Palestinian side, pointing to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s pact to form a unity government with Hamas.
The White House, however, was not impressed with Netanyahu’s backtracking. Obama’s chief of staff, in fact, dismissed the comments and bluntly warned Israel that its "occupation of Palestinian land" must end.
Obama’s spokesman also declared that since Netanyahu had said he was no longer committed to the two-state solution, “that means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward."
Other leaders have called on Israel to commit to the “two-state solution” as well, notably the European Union’s Federica Mogherini and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Obama Hails Friendship with Saudi Arabia as King Skips Summit

Category: News
Created on Friday, 15 May 2015 15:35
Barak ObamaPresident Barack Obama on Wednesday hailed America's "extraordinary friendship" with Saudi Arabia as he hosted skeptical Gulf leaders for a summit beset by disagreements and royal no-shows, AFP reports.
Describing "an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to Franklin Roosevelt and King Faisal," in the 1940s, Obama heaped praise on two the powerful Saudi princes who visited the Oval Office.
"We are continuing to build that relationship during a very challenging time," Obama said, a nod to conflagrations in Yemen, Syria and Iraq that have reverberated across the Middle East.
Obama praised his guests Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for their work on counterterrorism, which he described as "absolutely critical" to the United States.
During the meeting, the Saudi Crown Prince lauded "the strategic and historic relationship" between the two countries.
The meeting precedes a summit at Camp David, in which the Gulf states will be seeking assurances from Obama that he is ready to push back against Iranian proxies, in particular in Syria, even if it causes turbulence in sensitive nuclear talks.
They will also want assurances the nuclear deal between Iran and the West does not represent a broader "grand bargain" with Iran.
The summit did not get off to a particularly good start, with Saudi King Salman deciding at the last minute that he would skip the meeting in order to focus on the Yemen ceasefire and humanitarian aid effort.
The move was interpreted by many as a deliberate rebuff to Obama, but Saudi Arabia insisted the king did not intend to snub the President.
Tensions between Washington and the Gulf states over Iran has been high, with Arab governments repeatedly expressing their concern about the terms of a potential nuclear deal and warning that a final agreement could allow Iran to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia’s former Foreign Minister recently said that Iran should not be given “deals it does not deserve”.
The Arab concern over the deal with Iran is actually shared with Israel, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned against the framework agreement.
The concern in Saudi Arabia over the nuclear deal with rival Iran is so great that a columnist in a Saudi-controlled government newspaper recently expressed support for Netanyahu’s warnings against a deal with Iran.

Obama Expects Israel to Work Towards 'Two-State Solution'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 15 May 2015 10:12
Bemoaning the loss of his anonymity AFPPresident Barack Obama expects Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government to work towards the “two-state solution”, he told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in an interview.
“I will never give up on the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the United States will never stop working to realize that goal,” Obama said in the interview which appears in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper.
“As I said when I visited Ramallah two years ago, Palestinians deserve an end to the occupation and the daily indignities that come with it; they deserve to live in an independent, sovereign state, where they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity,” he continued.
“And as I said in my speech to the Israeli people on that same trip, peace between Israelis and Palestinians is necessary, it is just, and it is possible. It is also in the national security interest of the United States. That’s why we’ve worked so hard over the years for a two-state solution and to develop innovative ways to address Israel’s security and Palestinian sovereignty needs,” said the American president.
“We look to the new Israeli government and the Palestinians to demonstrate—through policies and actions—a genuine commitment to a two-state solution,” Obama told the newspaper, adding, “Only then can trust be rebuilt and a cycle of escalation avoided.”
“Addressing the lasting impact in Gaza of last summer’s conflict should also be central to any effort,” he continued. “Ultimately, the parties will need to address not just Gaza’s immediate humanitarian and reconstruction needs, but also core challenges to Gaza’s future within a two-state context, including reinvigorating Gaza’s connection with the West Bank and reestablishing strong commercial links with Israel and the global economy.”
Obama’s comments are a continuation of recent world pressure on Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
During the recent election campaign in Israel, Netanyahu angered several Western leaders when he  declared in a series of interviews he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
He appeared to backtrack after the election, explaining in an interview that he wants “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution" but adding that his earlier comments were a reflection of changing conditions on the Palestinian side, pointing to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s pact to form a unity government with Hamas.
The White House, however, was not impressed with Netanyahu’s backtracking. Obama’s chief of staff, in fact, dismissed the comments and bluntly warned Israel that its "occupation of Palestinian land" must end.
Obama’s spokesman also declared that since Netanyahu had said he was no longer committed to the two-state solution, “that means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward."
Other leaders have called on Israel to commit to the “two-state solution” as well, notably the European Union’s Federica Mogherini and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Saudi King to Skip Summit with Obama

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 14 May 2015 19:34
Obama-SalmanSaudi Arabia’s King Salman will skip a May 14 summit of Persian Gulf leaders with President Barack Obama, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
At the summit Obama is expected to offer the Gulf leaders reassurances over the efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
The decision marks a diplomatic snub from one of the top leaders in the region, and follows U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Saudi capital last week, noted the report.
Saudi’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in a statement on state media that the king decided not to attend the meeting, which will be hosted at Camp David.
The king instead would focus on the Yemen ceasefire and humanitarian aid effort, according to the statement. Saudi Arabia is currently leading an air offensive against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Saudi Foreign Minister said that the king had delegated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef to lead the Saudi delegation, which will also include Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials.
Arab governments have been expressing their concern about the terms of a potential nuclear deal with Iran. The major Sunni states have warned that a final agreement could allow Shiite-dominated Iran, their regional rival, to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, recently said that Iran should not be given “deals it does not deserve”.
The United Arab Emirates indicated last week that it would be seeking a written guarantee from the United States with regards to the threat from a nuclear Iran.
At Camp David, Obama is expected to try to reassure Arab Gulf allies, who remain suspicious over the Iranian nuclear deal pursued by his administration.
“We make clear that we remain concerned about Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region, and it is precisely because of those concerns that we believe it is so important that Iran not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” Kerry told reporters in Riyadh Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal. “And we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the region to define America’s and the GCC’s security relationship going forward.”
Among leaders of the six GCC states, the rulers of Kuwait and Qatar have been confirmed for the Camp David summit.
Bahrain said Sunday that its King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had opted not to attend. The Bahraini crown prince would lead the country’s delegation instead.

UAE Seeks Written Guarantee from Obama on Iran

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 20:15
Guarantee on IranThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seeking a written guarantee from the United States with regards to Iran, its ambassador to Washington said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
That request will come at President Barack Obama's Camp David meeting with the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations, the ambassador said.
"We are looking for (some form of) security guarantee given the behavior of Iran in the region," Ambassador Youssef Al Otaiba was quoted as having said at a Washington think tank.
"In the past, we have survived with a gentleman’s agreement with the United States about security ... I think today we need something in writing. We need something institutionalized," he added.
Obama has invited GCC leaders for meetings in Washington and at the Camp David presidential retreat on May 13-14, an offer he made following the conclusion of a framework nuclear agreement with Iran.
The GCC is comprised of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
Arab governments have been expressing their concern about the terms of a potential nuclear deal with Iran. The major Sunni states have warned that a final agreement could allow Shiite-dominated Iran, their regional rival, to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, recently said that Iran should not be given “deals it does not deserve”.
The Arab concern over the deal with Iran is actually shared with Israel, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned against the framework agreement.
The concern in Saudi Arabia over the nuclear deal with rival Iran is so great that a columnist in a Saudi-controlled government newspaper recently expressed support for Netanyahu’s warnings against a deal with Iran.
Meanwhile, a report Thursday in The Washington Times suggested that Obama might offer Saudi Arabia advanced GBU-28 bunker buster bombs – so far only provided to Israel – in order to beef up Saudi Arabia's ability to lead Gulf countries in defending themselves against Iranian moves in the region.

Iran Military Chief Celebrates 'Diplomatic Jihad' Victory

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 09 April 2015 08:09
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali JafariIranian officials continue to bask in the afterglow of the framework deal reached with world powers last week over the Islamic regime's nuclear program, and joining the victory parade this week was Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari.
At a conference of Revolutionary Guards officers Jafari spoke about the deal, which temporarily limits Iran's nuclear program while leaving all its nuclear facilities intact and allowing it to continue enriching uranium in return for sanctions relief.
According to Jafari, one of the most influential figures in Tehran, Iranian firmness made the American attempt to "impose its will" on Iran ineffective.
America sought to change Iran's policies and in the end the US changed its own policy, crowed Jafari at the conference. He explained that the US had in the past threatened that all options - including the military option - were on the table, but in the end US President Barack Obama said only the diplomatic option could resolve the standoff.
Jafari elaborated that Obama himself said the military option and continued sanctions on Iran will only strengthen the Islamic regime and make it more intransigent.
The statement on changing US policy comes after US representatives last week said the original US position of having Iran dismantle much of its nuclear infrastructure was scrapped in the face of Iranian opposition, and instead the US changed its position to increasing Iran's nuclear breakout time. The US settled on a year as the time it would be willing for Iran to need to obtain a nuclear weapon - although Obama has admitted that at the end of the deal Iran would have a "zero" breakout time.
The Revolutionary Guards Commander emphasized that the Iranian people stood firm on its red lines, and that the "diplomatic jihad (holy war - ed.)" was difficult due to the American "lack of integrity" and its "not sticking" to obligations it placed on itself.
Jafari also accused the US of misinterpreting the deal, saying Iran's delegations succeeded in standing firm on their lines including the "right" to enrich uranium, to continue nuclear research and development, and to demand the end of all sanctions against Iran.
Israel has pointed out that of the 17 states with peaceful nuclear programs, none enrich uranium as Iran will be allowed to continue doing at limited rates under the deal. It also will be able to continue developing advanced centrifuges which will allow for a rapid ability to produce nuclear weapons in the future.

Obama Releases Military Aid to Egypt

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 04 April 2015 18:16
Obama met Al-SisiPresident Barack Obama on Tuesday released military aid to Egypt that was suspended after the 2013 overthrow of the government, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
The White House said that Obama notified Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in a phone call Tuesday that the United States would be sending 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 missiles and up to 125 tank kits, while continuing to request $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt.
The White House said Egypt will remain the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing worldwide, according to AP.
The funds were suspended 21 months ago when al-Sisi, then military chief, overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Washington could not provide almost half of the annual aid package - along with assistance held up from previous years - until it certified advances by al-Sisi's government on democracy, human rights and rule of law or issued a declaration that such aid is in the interests of U.S. national security.
American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and had been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
The U.S. has been providing hundreds of millions in counterterrorism assistance to its ally, which didn't stall as a result of the government overthrow. Egypt has been arguing it needs the money to face growing threats from extremists creeping over the border from lawless Libya or operating in the Sinai Peninsula, and the U.S. sees the funds as critical for stability in the volatile Middle East.
Al-Sisi recently appealed to the United States to play a greater role in helping his country fight terrorism, telling Fox News that while the U.S. has helped Egypt for decades, Egypt needs that help "more than ever," and wants to see a "big response from capable countries."
White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said on Tuesday the assistance will help address the growth of the Islamic State-affiliated Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which has attacked Egyptian soldiers and civilians.
The White House said it is not issuing a certification that Egypt has made progress toward democracy, noted AP. Instead, the U.S. said it is maintaining that the aid is in the interest of U.S. national security.
The White House said Obama, during his call to al-Sisi, "explained that these and other steps will help refine our military assistance relationship so that it is better positioned to address the shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region, consistent with the longstanding strategic partnership between our two countries."
Last year, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed the United States would deliver 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt meant to support Cairo's counter-terrorism efforts. Those helicopters were indeed delivered in December.

Obama: Disagreement with Netanyahu 'Isn't Personal'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 22:05
Netanyahu-and-Obama-meetingUS President Barack Obama said Tuesday that his disagreement with Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over how to pursue a Middle East peace deal was substantive, not personal.
"I have a very business-like relationship with the prime minister," Obama told reporters at a joint White House news conference with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani.
"He's representing his country's interests the way he thinks he needs to, and I'm doing the same. So the issue is not a matter of relations between leaders.
"The issue is a very clear, substantive challenge. We believe that two states is the best path forward for Israel's security, for Palestinian aspirations and for regional stability.
"That's our view and that continues to be our view. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has a different approach."
Obama said the dispute would not be solved by he and Netanyahu putting aside any personal rivalry to sit down and "sing kumbaya," but would be a matter of political negotiation.  
"This is a matter of figuring out how we get through a knotty policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and the region," he said.
The comments come after an unprecedented period of tension between the White House and Jerusalem.
Following Binyamin Netanyahu's election victory last week, Obama raised eyebrows by being the last world leader to congratulate him, taking a full two days to call the Israeli prime minister.
The American President's feet-dragging came after an election campaign which saw widespread allegations of White House attempts to directly influence the outcome and "oust" Netanyahu via leftist NGOs, most notably the so-called "V15" campaign.
But while Obama was apparently reluctant to congratulate Netanyahu, he wasted no time criticizing him over comments he made rejecting the possibility of the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state given the current turmoil in the region. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Obama even hinted the US could reconsider defending Israel from the Palestinian Authority's hostile moves at the UN.
Earlier Tuesday, an Israeli diplomat claimed Obama was conducting no less than a campaign of "revenge" against Netanyahu for thwarting Washington's attempts to meddle in the Israeli elections.
Also Tuesday, a report in the Wall Street Journal cited unnamed US officials accusing Israel of "spying" on ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.
Those claims have been flatly denied by Israel and brushed off by the US State Department, but such allegations being made by unnamed but presumably senior US diplomats is being seen as yet another indication of the Obama administration's hostility towards Netanyahu.

Obama Seeking 'Revenge' on Netanyahu

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 21:30
Obamas dreamUS-Israel relations have been especially tense over the past several days, with US President Barack Obama giving a particularly cold reception to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's re-election last week. 
The many harsh statements that have been made over the past week are not in a vacuum, according to a senior diplomat - who claims that the multiple condemnations are indeed a form of "revenge" from the Obama Administration against Netanyahu.
"The White House has three main motives," the source explained to Walla! News. "One, revenge (for Netanyahu's speech in Congress). Two, frustration. It's no secret that they were involved in an attempt to bring down the Netanyahu and we know that clearly, and they have failed. Three, the government's attempt to shift the focus from them because the negotiations with Iran to the Palestinian issue."
According to the expert, Obama is specifically attempting to use "deterioration in the Palestinian territories" as an excuse to draw attention away from the disastrous - and unpopular - Iran nuclear deal, despite the fact that "he knows that the only place preserving the stability of the Middle East at the moment is here." 
The senior official heavily criticizes the Obama administration's handling of Israel and the issue of peace talks, asking why the issue of "settlements" in Jewish areas of Judea and Samaria are suddenly the most important policy issue on the agenda.
"Look what we have done so far with the construction in the settlements," the official fired. "We took upon ourselves all of the restrictions from the [Ariel] Sharon - [George W.] Bush era, which allowed natural growth but not the establishment of new settlements."
"But this administration does not understand the Sharon-Bush terms," he continued. "Their policy is a "no brick" policy, and it doesn't make any sense." 
The White House has levied toward Israel since Netanyahu's victory, including a set of remarks later Monday night whereby it stated that Israel's "occupation must end." 

It’s the 6,000 Centrifuges, Stupid

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 07 March 2015 14:22
A uranium enrichment facility in Natanz Iran. File Photo- AFPIn July of the 1973 Season, Yogi Berra’s Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9 ½ games in the National League East.  That’s when Berra coined his famous phrase “It ain’t over, till it’s over.”  Berra’s Mets when on to rally, and win the division title for a pennant ride which ended with the Mets losing in the 1973 World Series. 
If Israel waits “till it’s over” to criticize Obama’s tacit nuclear-weaponization of Iran, it will be over for Israel.  The final countdown to Iran’s annihilation of Israel will have begun.
John Kerry and Barack Obama aren’t as honest or as funny as Yogi Berra.  But, they are trying to use a variant of Yogi’s famous tautology to deceive people into accepting a fait accompli Iranian nuclear deal when it will be impossible to improve any of the terms.  At a recent Senate hearing, Kerry bloviated:
Kerry: "I can't state this more firmly, the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Anyone running around right now, jumping to say we don't like the deal, or this or that, doesn't know what the deal is. There is no deal yet.
"I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce.
"Since 2013 we have been testing whether or not we can achieve that goal diplomatically. I don't know yet. But it's the most effective way to solve the problem and we will prove that over the course of these next weeks and months.”
So, Kerry’s and Obama’s newest Big Lie is a retread of Yogi’s “Ain’t over” saying: “How can you criticize the deal, when the deal isn’t final yet?”  The answer is easy, stupid: It’s the range of the base number of centrifuges that the United States has already offered Iran it would agreed to let it keep.
It’s clear Obama has already agreed to Iran to keep, at least, over 6,000 centrifuges.  Israel has maintained Iran cannot  be trusted with even 100.
On to a concrete example.  Let’s say your husband is negotiating to sell your house.  You know the value of the house is over one million dollars: $1,000,000.  But, you overhear your husband secretly negotiating with the buyer where the buyer is offering $100,000 and your husband is asking only $125,000, or at least $875,000 less than you know what it’s worth.  Do you wait until your husband has signed the contract to start yelling at him?  You scream at him immediately, he is cheating his family out of $875,000 dollars.
If your husband is as much of a liar as Obama is and slyly responds to you saying, “Well, we haven’t signed the final contract yet for the $100,000 the buyer is offering, so you don’t know what the final price is!”  File for divorce.  The issue isn’t whether the final number between 100k and 125k has been finally agreed to.  It’s the very range of the numbers to begin with that is the problem.  If the buyer accepts your husband’s current asking price of $125,000, you will have lost $875,000.
With Iran, we are not talking about money.  We are talking empowering Iran to be able to nuke Israel, and wipe 6 million Jews off the map.  So, it’s a bit more serious.
And from the very numbers of centrifuges that are now being negotiated between Obama and Iran, the “best” number of centrifuges Obama is now offering Iran to keep spinning and enriching is so catastrophic that one doesn’t need to wait until the “deal is done” to know it’s a horrible deal.  Obama is offering Iran to keep around 6,000 centrifuges and that is 6,000 centrifuges more than Iran should have.  
You don’t have to be a nuclear scientist in order to understand something is very wrong with Obama’s Iran-nuclear deal.  Obama and Kerry’s hysterical attacks against anyone criticizing the Iran deal’s general outlines is so false that it’s clear Obama has already anointed Iran as a nuclear-weapons’ state.
PM Netanyahu is a modern day hero to fight for Israel and the Jewish people.  Anyone claiming, “It’s personal between, Bibi and Obama” is either delusional or lying.  It’s not personal, although they don't like one another.  But Obama is knowingly enabling Iran to wipe out Israel.  That’s not personal.
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who specializes in security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at

Al-Arabiya Editor Demands Obama Listen to Netanyahu

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 05 March 2015 21:16
Netanyahu-and-Obama-meetingAl-Arabiya's English edition editor-in-chief Faisal J. Abbas wrote a surprising op-ed on Tuesday, calling on US President Barack Obama to listen to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the latter addressed Congress on the dangers of an Iran nuclear deal being formulated.
Abbas, whose paper is openly anti-Israel and Saudi-owned, began by scornfully conceding "it is extremely rare for any reasonable person to ever agree with anything Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says or does. However, one must admit, Bibi did get it right, at least when it came to dealing with Iran."
The editor backed Netanyahu's recent comment that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing creating a void being filled by "terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran," in an op-ed following an article by a Saudi columnist similarly supporting Netanyahu's appraisal.
"What is absurd, however, is that despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World’s biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei," Abbas wrote.
Criticizing Obama for his mismanagement of the region, Abbas continued by saying the president rid Syria of its chemical weapons but left the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in place to continue "to slaughter their own people."
Using this example of Iran's ally Assad, he opined "the real Iranian threat is not JUST the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but its expansionist approach and state-sponsored terrorism activities which are still ongoing."
Iran today is no longer plotting its "terror activities in secret," he wrote, instead documenting openly how Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' covert operations Al-Quds Force and formerly a very secretive person, is actively managing the fighting in Iraq and being photographed while doing so.
"Among his many handlings, Soleimani is the godfather of Iraq’s infamous 'Asaa’ib Ahl Al-Haq' (AAS) brigade, a Shiite paramilitary terrorist group responsible for dozens of atrocious attacks and murdering of both Iraqis and Americans," wrote Abbas.
"Not only is Iran responsible for sponsoring Shiite terrorist groups, but Sunni ones too," he added. "In fact, according to the U.S.’s own State Department, Tehran was home to a number of Al-Qaeda facilitators and high ranking financiers. These accusations are also backed by findings of the U.S. Treasury Department as well."
Defending Saudi Arabia, which as noted is a key owner of his paper, Abbas said some would argue other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia should not be left out of the equation in blaming most regional problems on Iran.
"On the contrary, it would be biased and/or naïve NOT to blame Iran for such problems," he said. "After all, yes there are terrorists in Saudi Arabia and there are people who financed terrorism, but these are officially outlaws, who are either in jail, being hunted down or are hiding in the caves of Tora Bora or some other remote area."
"The same, sadly, doesn’t apply to the terrorists of Iran; these are in uniform, hold government positions and are not bothering to hide their evil plots anymore!" concluded the editor.
Abbas's op-ed comes as Netanyahu warned in Congress that Iran's regional expansionism threatens Arab states as well as Israel, and if unchecked will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel Supports Netanyahu's Congress Speech

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 15 February 2015 19:01
Elie WieselNobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has lent his support to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's March 3 speech to Congress, which has become an issue of contention between Democrats and Republicans as well as between Israel and the United States.
According to the Reuters news agency, Wiesel is urging President Barack Obama to attend the speech and hear what Netanyahu has to say about the threat from Iran’s nuclear program.
Well-known Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Reuters reported, said on Thursday he is placing full-page advertisements in The New York Times and The Washington Post, featuring Wiesel's endorsement of Netanyahu's speech.
The advertisement quotes Wiesel as saying he plans to attend Netanyahu's address "on the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran." He then asks Obama and others in the ad, "Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?"
Speaking to Reuters by phone, Boteach said, "There's no personality more respected in the global Jewish community and few in the wider world than Elie Wiesel. He is a living prince of the Jewish people."
"He is the face of the murdered 6 million (Jews killed in the Holocaust). So I think that his view on the prime minister's speech sounding the alarm as to the Iranian nuclear program carries a unique authority that transcends some of the political circus that has affected the speech," he added.
House of Representatives Speaker Republican John Boehner invited Netanyahu to make the speech without the knowledge of either the White House's or Democratic leaders in Congress, leading to tensions between Democrats and Republicans.
Obama's allies fear the trip could be used by Israel and by Republicans, who control Congress and issued the invitation, to undercut ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.
Boehner defended the action, saying Congress has every right, as a separate branch of government, to operate without the administration's input.
The White House has made clear that neither President Barack Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry would meet Netanyahu while he is in Washington, explaining that American policy is not to meet foreign leaders on dates that are close to national elections in their countries.
Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has announced that he will be travelling abroad during the joint session of Congress and will not be present when Netanyahu gives his speech.
Meanwhile, some Democrats have been considering not attending the speech, though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said last week that there will be no “organized” boycott of Netanyahu’s speech among Democrats. She suggested, however, some lawmakers might “just be too busy” to attend.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, said in a speech Monday at the Brookings Institution he would not attend the Netanyahu event and “may watch it on TV”, thus becoming the first senator to publicly declare he would not attend.
He was followed by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, who also said he would not attend the speech and accused Republican leaders in the House of Representatives of "unilaterally" arranging and politicizing Netanyahu's planned address.
Wiesel is not the only one to have expressed support for Netanyahu’s speech. He was preceded by groups such as the Zionist Organization of America and Americans for a Safe Israel.
Not everyone has been on board with the speech, however. This week, J Street, a far leftist NGO, started a new campaign calling on American Jews to sign a petition against Netanyahu's Washington visit. The campaign is entitled "I am a Jew, and Bibi does NOT speak for me".

Erdogan Slams Obama's Silence Over North Carolina Murders

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 14 February 2015 14:42
obama-without-a-clueTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday criticized U.S. President Barack Obama over his silence following the killings of three young Muslims in North Carolina this week, Reuters reported.
Speaking alongside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a state visit to Mexico, Erdogan said the silence of Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry was "telling" and they should take a position following such acts.
"If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this, and don't make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you," Erdogan charged, according to Reuters.
The three Muslims were shot dead on Tuesday near the University of North Carolina campus in an incident police said was possibly a hate crime. The White House said on Wednesday it would await the results of the police investigation before commenting.
Newlywed Deah Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University, were gunned down on Tuesday.
Police charged the couple's neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, with murder. Investigators say initial findings indicate a dispute over parking prompted the shooting but they are looking into whether Hicks was motivated by hatred toward the victims because they were Muslim.
Erdogan has been in “attack mode” recently as he becomes increasingly outspoken about what he sees as rising Islamophobia in the West.
In December, Erdogan slammed European countries for criticizing deteriorating press freedom in Turkey, saying they should instead try to find a solution for the increasing Islamophobia in Europe.
"We are not Europe's scapegoat," Erdogan said at the time, adding, "We are definitely not a country that Europe can point its finger at and scold. Instead of criticizing us, Europe should find a solution to increasing racism and Islamophobia.”
Erdogan became president in August after more than a decade as prime minister, but the opposition accuses him of transforming the state by imposing a gradual Islamization and riding roughshod over democracy.
Throughout his time in power there have been more signs of Turkey turning more extremist. In 2013, for example, the Turkish Parliament tightened restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages.
A year earlier, a Turkish court formally charged internationally known pianist and composer Fazil Say with insulting Islamic religious values, in comments he made on Twitter.
In December, Erdogan vowed to make lessons in the Arabic-alphabet Ottoman language compulsory in high schools, despite objections from secularists.
Last year, noted Reuters, Erdogan said his relations with Obama had become strained and that he no longer spoke directly with him as he was disappointed by a lack of U.S. action over the war in neighboring Syria. Erdogan said he instead spoke with Biden over issues such as Iraq.
Washington, for its part, has been critical of Erdogan at times, particularly over his continuous verbal attacks on Israel, and has also expressed concern over the growing anti-Semitism in Turkey.

Obama Condemns 'Outrageous' Murders of Muslims in North Carolina

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 14 February 2015 10:55
Islamic statmentUnited States President Barack Obama on Friday condemned what he called the “brutal and outrageous murders” of three young Muslims in North Carolina this week, saying the FBI had opened an inquiry into the murders.
“No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship. Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones,” Obama said in a statement.
“As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family. Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives – and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours,” he added.
The three Muslims were shot dead on Tuesday near the University of North Carolina campus in an incident police said was possibly a hate crime.
Newlywed Deah Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University, were gunned down on Tuesday.
Police charged the couple's neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, with murder. Investigators say initial findings indicate a dispute over parking prompted the shooting but they are looking into whether Hicks was motivated by hatred toward the victims because they were Muslim.
Obama’s failure to comment on the incident right away raised the ire of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on Thursday said the silence of Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry was "telling" and they should take a position following such acts.
"If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this, and don't make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you," Erdogan charged.

'Obama Needed to Put on His Big Boy Pants and Welcome Netanyahu'

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 February 2015 00:03
BB - ObamaSenior political analyst Brit Hume spoke on Fox News this weekend about the uproar surrounding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's impending speech before the United States Congress. 
According to Hume, the situation is a "regular mess, which possibly could have been avoided if the Speaker of the House of Representatives had notified the White House of the invitation."
John Boehner raised eyebrows two weeks ago when he announced that Netanyahu had accepted his invitation to address a rare joint session of Congress – an invitation extended without consulting Democratic leaders in Congress or the White House.
Boehner defended the action, saying Congress has every right, as a separate branch of government, to operate without the administration's input.
Hume agreed that Boehner had the right to extend the invitation, just as Netanyahu had the right to accept it, but suggested that much of the fallout could have been prevented if Boehner had gone to US President Barack Obama's administration ahead of time.  
Addressing, the White House's purported response of "anger and fury" to Netanyahu's speech, Hume noted that "it's no secret the relationship between the President and Mr. Netanyahu has been tense and difficult" in the past. 
However, Hume criticized Obama for not taking the high road once the news of the invitation became publicized. 
"What needed to happen here... is the President kind of needed to put on his 'big boy pants' and say we'll welcome the Prime Minister to Washington and I'll look forward to meeting with him." 
Such a move "might have been from the President's point of view" and also more tactical. 
According to Hume, if Netanyahu knew that he would be meeting with Obama after his Congress speech, "he probably would have been a little loathe to even indirectly criticize the administration on Capitol Hill." 
Instead, the "President obviously got annoyed" and we are left with "not a particularly nice situation for US-Israel relations." 

Saudis Seek Greater US Role in Mideast as Obama Visits

Category: News
Created on Monday, 26 January 2015 13:15
Obama bowing to Saudi's kingNew Saudi King Salman is expected to use President Barack Obama's stopover on Tuesday to push for greater US involvement in resolving Middle East crises, analysts say.
Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle, is cutting short a visit to India to convey his condolences after the death of ailing King Abdullah last Friday.  
Following the death, Obama in a statement paid tribute to the late king as a bold leader who made an enduring contribution to Middle East peace.
The American president praised Abdullah's "steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship."
But despite the longstanding strategic partnership between the world's biggest oil exporter and one of its major buyers, analysts say Riyadh has grown dissatisfied with what it sees as a lack of US engagement with the region's key issues.  
Anwar Eshki, chairman of the Jeddah-based Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, said "divergences persist" between the two sides.
These differences include the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group, Yemen, Syria and Libya, Eshki said.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors in September joined a US-led coalition conducting air strikes against ISIS in Syria.
Despite this cooperation, Riyadh thinks "it is necessary to eliminate the underlying reasons" that led to the emergence of ISIS, chiefly discrimination against Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Eshki said.
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said in New Delhi confirmed that Yemen's turmoil and the battle against ISIS would figure on the agenda.
"I'm sure that while we are there, they will touch on some of the leading issues where we cooperate very closely with Saudi Arabia," he said.  
"Clearly that would include the continued counter-ISIL campaign where the Saudis have been a partner and have joined us in military operations," he said, using another term for ISIS.
"That of course also includes the situation in Yemen where we have coordinated very closely with Saudi Arabia and the other countries."
Relations not ideal
Riyadh would like Washington to exercise more pressure to get the protagonists in both Yemen and Libya back to negotiations, Eshki said.
Libya has two rival governments and powerful militias are battling for territory.
In Yemen, on Saudi Arabia's southern border, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, a key US ally in the fight against Al Qaeda, tendered his resignation last week after Shiite militiamen kidnapped his chief of staff and seized key buildings.
Seen from Riyadh, US Secretary of State John Kerry has failed to achieve a breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 13 years after the kingdom launched its own initiative for peace with the Jewish state, Eshki pointed out.
Ties between Washington and Riyadh have not been at the ideal level in recent years, said Jean-Francois Seznec, a Middle East specialist at Georgetown University in the United States.
"The Saudis at all levels think that the Americans are no longer reliable," said Seznec.
However, he said the Saudis view in "a quite positive way" international negotiations with Iran and a potential agreement on Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
The US and four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council face a June 30 deadline for a final deal with Iran.
Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia and Shiite-dominated Iran are regional rivals.
According to Seznec, the Saudis are convinced that if international powers reach an agreement with Tehran, the Saudis could then strike their own deal with Iran to "restore order" in the region, starting in Syria and Yemen.
Frederic Wehrey, of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Middle East Program, said disagreements between Saudi Arabia and the United States are manageable.
"But the Saudis are still looking for greater collaboration and coordination," he said.

Obama Reiterates: I Will Veto New Sanctions on Iran

Category: News
Created on Monday, 19 January 2015 23:28
Barack Hussein Obama  U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday reiterated once again that he will veto proposed bipartisan legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran so long as diplomatic negotiations over a nuclear deal remain underway.
"I will veto a bill that comes to my desk," Obama said in response to a question from ABC News at a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.
"There is no good argument for us to undercut, undermine the negotiations until they play out," Obama said, adding that hitting Iran's economy with new sanctions in the next 60 to 90 days would violate an interim agreement reached last year, deepen recriminations, and heighten the risk of a military confrontation.
"Congress needs to show patience," Obama said, according to ABC News, though he stressed that if a deal is not reached, "I would be the first one to come to congress to say we need to tighten the screws.”
The comments come as Republican and Democratic lawmakers continue to press ahead with a plan for more sanctions on Iran despite Obama’s objection.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez are finalizing a bill for tougher sanctions on Iran if there is no final nuclear deal by June 30.
The bill, introduced by the two last year, was gaining momentum in Congress, but Obama lobbied hard against it.
At Friday’s press conference, Prime Minister Cameron also warned Congress against new sanctions and said he would personally call lawmakers to express the UK view.
"I have contacted a couple senators this morning, and I may speak to a few more this afternoon," he said, "simply to make the point that as a country that stands alongside America in these vital negotiations that it’s our opinion that further sanctions won't help."
Talks between Iran and the six world powers, aimed at turning the interim agreement into a permanent one, have not made substantial progress.  The two sides failed to clinch a definitive deal by a November deadline and agreed to extend the talks for another seven months.
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met in Geneva and held what was described as “intensive talks” on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Obama to Netanyahu: The PA Isn't a State, Can't Join ICC

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 10:48
BB - ObamaPresident Barack Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday, and reiterated that the United States opposes the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“On the Palestinian ICC bid, President Obama reiterated the United States’ position that the Palestinian Authority does not yet constitute a state and is therefore not eligible to accede to the Rome Statute,” the White House said in a statement on the phone call. 
“President Obama underscored that the United States does not believe Palestinian accession to the ICC is a constructive way forward. The United States continues to strongly oppose actions by both parties that undermine trust and encourages both sides to seek ways to deescalate tensions,” the statement added.
The conversation between Obama and Netanyahu comes a week after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that the PA will join the ICC on April 1. The announcement came several days after the PA formally presented a request to the United Nations to join the ICC.
Obama’s remarks echo those of State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who said last week that “the United States does not believe that the state of Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and does not recognize it as such.”
According to the White House statement, Obama and Netanyahu also spoke about recent developments in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
“The President reaffirmed to the Prime Minister that the United States is focused on reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and verifiably assures the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program,” the statement said. 
“The President underscored the United States’ enduring commitment to the security of Israel and the importance of continuing close cooperation with Israel on this issue,” it added.

Obama Expresses Concern Over Mass Trials in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 16:14
Obama address the American public File -ReutersU.S. President Barack Obama spoke to his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday and expressed concern over mass trials and the continued detention of journalists and peaceful activists, AFP reports.
During a telephone call, the White House said, Obama encouraged Sisi to "invest in the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people."
"President Obama also expressed concern about mass trials, the status of NGOs, and the continued imprisonment of journalists and peaceful activists in Egypt," the statement said.
Islamists have been the subject of an ongoing crackdown which began in the summer of 2013 when the army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
In early December, an Egyptian court sentenced 188 people to death for the murder of 13 police officers, the latest in a series of mass trials launched by authorities against Islamists.
A week later, a Cairo court referred four Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who are on trial for the killing of nine and injuring more than 90 in 2013, to Egypt's grand mufti to consider the death penalty.
The defendants in the case include 17 Brotherhood leaders, among which are former Parliament Speaker Saad El-Katatni, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, and his deputy Khairat El-Shater.
More than 500 people were sentenced to death in March for a separate attack on a police station in Minya on the same day.
In April, another 683 supporters of Morsi, including leading members of his Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to death as well.
The rise of mass convictions in Egypt has been described by the United Nations as "unprecedented".
Egypt has also cracked down on the press, sentencing several journalists including three from international news network Al-Jazeera to lengthy prison terms.
In June, Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian Mohammed Baher were convicted of supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.
Washington regularly expresses dissatisfaction over the country's poor human rights record, but also relies on its military alliance with Egypt as a centerpiece of American diplomacy in the Arab world.
During Thursday's telephone call, Obama emphasized the importance of cooperation between Washington and Cairo "to promote shared interests in counterterrorism and regional security."
"The president affirmed the United States’ continuing commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt and emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation," Obama said, according to AFP.
The United States announced last year it would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt over its displeasure with the military's pace of restoring democracy following Morsi’s ouster.
American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.

Top Iranian Official: Obama Begs to Meet Rouhani

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 04:42
Iranian presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani ReutersThe head of the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei insists that US President Barack Obama is chasing after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to footage provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 
"When you see the American president knocking on every door just to meet our president for a few minutes, this is no trivial matter," Mohammad Golpayegani stated in an IRINN (Iranian news channel) broadcast. "Some people lurk in the UN corridor just to get the chance to shake (Obama's) hand, and he does not deign to even do that." 
"Yet he sends mediators and goes to such efforts (in order to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani)," he continued. "This demonstrates our strength." 
The statement follows news that Obama had sent a secret letter to Khamenei in October without informing its regional partners (Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) in which he called for cooperation against Islamic State (ISIS) and a nuclear agreement.
Earlier that month, American and Arab officials revealed to the Wall Street Journal that Obama has moved closer to Iran and its terror proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, citing "secret channels of communications" to Iran via senior Shi'ite sources in Iraq.

US to Impose Sanctions Against Israel over Construction

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 04 December 2014 06:57
Barack Obama John Kerry Susan RiceThe United States is considering taking “harsher action” against Israeli construction efforts in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, reports Thursday said.
According to the report in Ha'aretz, the White House has been discussing taking “active measures” to discourage Israeli construction, instead of just issuing condemnations, as it has done until now.
But commentators on Israel's right dismissed the story as “political scare tactics” in the wake of upcoming elections in Israel.
The report said that senior American officials asked about the report “did not deny this, but refused to disclose more details.” According to the report, “a discussion on such a sensitive and politically-loaded issue in the White House is extremely irregular and shows to what extent relations between the Obama administration and Netanyahu government have deteriorated.”
According to the report, the White House decided on this new policy after the recent meeting between US President Barack H. Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The meeting occurred as Peace Now announced that Israel had approved the construction of 1,600 homes in Jerusalem's Givat Hamatos neighborhood, and activists moved into homes in the City of David neighborhood.
The report said that American actions could include abstaining in votes condemning Israel at the UN Security Council, instead of vetoing them, or banning funding of projects in Judea and Samaria.
The report comes the same day that the US Congress reaffirmed Israel as a “strategic partner,” with the House of Representatives unanimously approving the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which expands cooperation in defense and security, energy, research and development, business, agriculture, water management and academics. The measure reflects "the sense of Congress that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States," and declares Washington's "unwavering support" for Israel as a Jewish state.
The legislation would expand the U.S. weapons stockpile in Israel by some $200 million in value, to a total of $1.8 billion, so that the Pentagon can be better prepared to conduct military operations in the volatile Middle East. It also crucially allows Israel to use the weapons in the event of an emergency, as it did this summer during its operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in September, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. Ha'aretz did not say if the “actions” proposed by the White House would include vetoing this bill.
Political commentators on the right in Israel dismissed the Ha'aretz report as “election propaganda.”
The fact the report emerged a day after the Knesset decided on new elections “is more than just mere coincidence,” said one commentator.
“Whether it was the idea of Ha'aretz or a White House functionary, it's clear that the message here is that Israel will be better off with someone other than Netanyahu leading it. These kinds of stories always 'happen' to surface before elections, and nothing ever comes of them.”

Obama Pushing Saudi-Iranian Normalization for Nuclear Deal

Category: News
Created on Monday, 01 December 2014 03:32
Obama and Saudi King AbdullahAs talks on Iran's nuclear program reach their deadline today, and amid indications that America is trying to extend the talks yet again, new reports reveal that US President Barack Obama is urging Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with rival Iran in yet another sign of the White House's softly-softly approach to Iran.
According to the reports, during meetings in recent days with Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Obama asked the senior official to improve ties with Tehran, according to the Saudi site Ilaph as cited by Yedioth Aharonoth.
A source in the Gulf state told the Arabic-language paper that his government feels the White House is pressing for an agreement with Iran, warning "let them try Tehran and pay the price."
The source claimed that Obama noted several times in meetings with Abdulaziz the need for openness towards Tehran in the near future, possibly indicating plans for American concessions on Iran's nuclear program.
Last Wednesday, 43 US Senators wrote to Obama expressing their alarm at reports he intends to bypass the Congress and force through a deal with Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed Iran is not abiding by interim conditions in refusing to answer questions on the military aspects of its nuclear program. 
Iran is likewise demanding to retain enough centrifuges to build 38 atomic bombs every year, a proposition raising fears of a regional nuclear arms race with such countries as Saudi Arabia, which could turn to Sunni allies such as Pakistan for nuclear weapons capabilities.
Shi'ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have been deeply divided for years over numerous regional issues, particularly the conflict in Syria, in which Tehran has backed the Damascus government and Riyadh has been a leading supporter of the largely Sunni rebels.
Obama visited Saudi Arabia in March and told King Abdullah that the United States would not accept a “bad deal” with Iran, after Saudi Arabia expressed its disappointment with the interim deal that was signed between Iran and the six world powers last November.
A senior adviser to the Saudi royal family said after the deal was signed that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements, and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.

Get Ready for the Real War

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 07:27
ISIS fighters parade in Raqqa Syria - fileWinning the war against Islamic State would only be the beginning.
In recent weeks, the media are filled with reports on the international preparations for a war against the "Islamic State" and an International Conference was even convened in Paris in an attempt to enlist the cooperation of as many nations as possible in waging it.
At the same time, US air force planes have intensified their attacks against "Islamic State" forces, especially in the vicinity of the dams in northern Iraq, this to prevent their being blown up and causing the deaths of many thousands of Iraqis.
This week we heard a short and decisive speech by US President Barack Obama, into which he inserted rhetoric elements that he has hardly used before, certainly in comparison to the speeches of his predecessor George W. Bush.
I have not heard all of Obama's speeches, but those I did rarely included the expression "our friends and allies". Bush used those words day and night when talking about the war against terror. Does this change in rhetoric express a change in Obama's approach? I am not sure if it does.
In his speech, Obama repeated several times that Iraq is an ally of the United States. And right at the start of his words, he said that the USA cannot do for the Iraqis what they must do for themselves. That sentence is a perfect example of Obama's erroneous strategic thinking – he continues to see the Iraqis as a single group. He has still not internalized the fact that the Iraqis have never succeeded in developing the sense of unity and solidarity that defines a nation. In Iraq the tribal divisions are alive and kicking and there are over 70 of them, as well as four ethnic groups and about ten religions, all divided among a not inconsiderable number of communal sectors. The possibility that the Iraqi government can function any better than those that preceded it is not great, and therefore the assumption that the Iraqi army can be more stalwart in its battle against the knife-wielding Islamic State fighters is yet to be proven correct.
It's tough trying to build an international coalition, because there are factors unconnected to the Islamic State that come into play. There is a war in eastern Ukraine playing out in the background and Russia is the main actor in that war. Russia does not support a war against the Islamic State, so not many European countries are lining up to join Obama's coalition against Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and his jihadists.
Regional questions also play a part, including the role that will be allotted to countries in the area such as Iran and the Assad regime, both of whom have a clear interest in joining the coalition. Iran will expect to be rewarded with an easing of demands for nuclear controls and Assad will expect an insurance policy to prevent his being deposed, even though he has been defined as a "war criminal".  The West is not interested in giving Assad this insurance policy, since he has already announced that any military activity by another country on Syrian soil or over Syrian airspace will be considered an act of hostility against Syria to which that country will respond. The bigger problem is not Syria, but Russia, as any incursion on Syrian soil would be interpreted as a green light for Russia in Ukraine.
Another country in the area that poses a problem is Turkey, which has been aiding the Syrian rebel forces from the very first anti- Assad demonstrations in 2011, those very forces that spawned the "Islamic State" over a three year period. Thousands of jihadists from many different countries arrived at the bloody battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria by way of Turkey. Turkey purchases oil from the "Islamic State" at a remarkably reduced rate, and resells it in the international market, so that Turkey is basically funding the "Islamic State" while raking in huge sums for its own treasury. It has recently been claimed that Turkey gives weaponry to the "Islamic State".
Qatar is not enthusiastic about a war against the "Islamic State" either, having given it generous amounts of financial aid over a long period, knowing that its jihadists were anti-Assad. The Emir of Qatar is not eager to eliminate the "Islamic State" because he is afraid that his own state will then become the next goal of the Islamic State jihadists. In fact, he pays them off so that they expend their aggressive energies on other countries. Saudi Arabia is also not happy about destroying the Sunni Islamic State as it might further empower the Shiite axis headed by Iran. Those who identify with the Muslim Brotherhood certainly feel comfortable with the "Islamic State", even if they do not support all the brutal methods it employs.
Another point to be taken into consideration is the possible extreme reactions of Muslims around the world against the war and those taking part in it. The black flag of ISIS has been waved in country after country and the jihadist successes against the heretics of Iraq and Syria have made many Muslims around the world ecstatic, also causing many of them to identify with the "Islamic State", its goals, and first and foremost, the idea of imposing the rule of Islam on the entire world. Radical Muslims who identify with jihad, and who can be found just about everywhere, may carry out attacks, kidnappings, murder and even behead infidels in order to take revenge on the coalition which acts against the "Islamic State".
The war against the Islamic State looks like a rerun of the war fought against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan starting in 2001. Many of the elements that characterized that war are still around today, leading to the general feeling that the war against "Islamic State" will fail just as the war against al Qaeda did. The reasons are obvious: this is not a war against a state or an organization that will be defeated once its military might is destroyed. Here, we are first and foremost battling an ideology, fighting a faith vested in the hearts of millions of people who live all over the world.
The belief that Islam is the true religion and that Judaism and Christianity are false religions is a basic tenet of Islamic faith worldwide. The belief that Islam can and must rule the world is shared by many millions of Muslims. The belief that militant jihad is a legitimate tool for achieving Islamic supremacy over the world is anchored in Islamic history and the biography of Mohammed.  The belief that a Muslim must  mete out the revenge of Allah against every infidel that dares to lift his hand against a Muslim is a natural part of Islam. The belief that "Islamic State", the goal of the entire mission, reflects the real, pure and original Islam is shared by millions of Muslim worldwide.
It is  clear that once al Qaeda was destroyed, the "Islamic State" came to be – so that if the Islamic state is destroyed, another Islamic entity will take its place.and attract thousands of Muslims from just as many countries. Add to that those converting to Islam from Europe, America, and the four corners of the globe, those blond and blue-eyed men and women who will rush to join the group in order to observe all the beliefs associated with Islam.
This can also happen in Africa, under the Boko Haram, in the Saharan plains under the Libyan Jihadists, sponsored by the butchers of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.
The battle against the problematic tenets of the Islamic faith is not bound in place or time and like the genie that comes out of a bottle, cannot be put back in it. Muslim emigration to Western countries unsettles those governments internally due to the Islamic takeover of public space, politics, economics and its image in the politically correct media. In many parts of the world one can say that "Islamic State is here", in neighborhoods that the local police do not enter, in the cities where a Muslim majority forces Sharia on supermarkets, pharmacies, bars and churches – and in the parliaments where the presence of the Islamic State is becoming more and more influential and solidly based.
The really significant battle is not in Iraq or Syria, where what is happening is just the introduction that follows the preface acted out in Afghanistan 13 years ago. The real war, far-ranging and dangerous, will develop once "Islamic State" is eliminated and the vengeance resulting from that success begins to be exacted in America, Europe, Australia and every place where man-made laws are in force. Its goal will be to impose the law of Allah as it is spelled out in Islamic sources.
Anyone who thinks that destroying "Islamic State" in Iraq and Syria will solve the problem had better think again, because the problem is not this or that organization or country. The problem is the ideology that today motivates one and half billion people who believe that the "religion of Allah is Islam" (Qu'ran chap.53, v.19). This ideology will not be eliminated even if we get rid of the jihadists in Iraq and Syria down to the last man. Their followers are to be found in most parts of the world and that world must be prepared to change the rules of the game, otherwise it will find itself putting out fires instead of apprehending the pyromaniacs.
Written for Arutz Sheva, translated from the Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky
Dr. Mordechai KedarDr. Mordechai Kedar
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

Erdogan 'Not Talking' to Barack Obama

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 06:51
Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoganTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has stopped talking to US President Barack Obama on the phone, amid growing strains between Ankara and Washington over Syria and Gaza, AFP reports Tuesday. 
Turkey, a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an open supporter of armed rebel fighters, felt betrayed when the United States backed away from military action against Damascus in September.
"In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can't get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other," Erdogan said in a live interview on pro-government ATV channel late Monday. "And I have talked to (US Vice President Joe) Biden. He calls me and I call him."
"I expect justice in this process. I couldn't imagine something like this from those who are championing justice," Erdogan added without elaborating, in an apparent jibe at Washington.
The last phone conversation between the two leaders took place on February 20 after which the White House released a statement accusing Erdogan of misrepresenting the content of the conversation.
A staunch advocate of "the Palestinian cause," Erdogan has recently been at loggerheads with Washington over Israel's self-defense operation in Gaza, which is now in its fifteenth day. 
Erdogan accused the Jewish state of carrying out "state terrorism" and a "genocide" of Palestinians and criticized the United States for defending Israel's "disproportionate" tactics.
The US State Department branded his comments on Israel "offensive and wrong" but the prime minister hit back by saying the United States needed to engage in "self-criticism."
The US reiterated its stance on Erdogan's comments on Monday, noting they undermine Turkey's political clout. 
“Well, we certainly believe that comments like these undercut Turkey’s ability to effectively influence the situation,” said deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, who called Erdogan’s “offensive and awful”.
“We will continue working with Turkey on a number of issues, but comments like these really have no place in this discussion,” she added.
Erdogan is standing in August 10 presidential elections that he is expected to win.

Taliban Welcomes 'Victory' After US Exchange

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 June 2014 08:16
US ExchangeAfghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar issued a rare public statement Sunday, according to BBC News, calling the US's exchange of Islamist terrorist prisoners for an American soldier a "big victory."
"I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation," Omar said, in a video clip.
The five Afghani Taliban prisoners are widely thought to be the most senior terrorists held by the US at Guantamano Bay, and concerns have been raised that their return could facilitate a major rise in terrorism in the volatile region. 
The five include Khairullah Khairkhwa, a governor of Afghanistan's Herat province alleged to have direct links to Osama Bin Laden; Noorullah Noor, senior Taliban military commander implicated in mass murder against Shia Muslims; Mohammad Fazl, also implicated in war crimes against Shia Muslims and the Taliban's deputy defense minister during the 2001 war with the US; Mohammad Nabi Omari, senior military and security commander; and Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy chief of the Taliban's intelligence service, who was said to be a key player in the Taliban's alliances with other Islamist groups to fight the US. 
A blow to diplomatic relations?
On Saturday, US officials announced the exchange, which saw the five terrorists transferred to Qatar in exchange for US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28. Bergdahl, who went missing in 2009, is thought to be the only US soldier to have been in Taliban captivity. 
The Afghan government stated Sunday that they had not been informed of the exchange beforehand, and strongly condemned the move as a breach of international law. 
"Handing over prisoners to a third country is a breach of international law," Afghanistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated Sunday. "We are strongly opposed to it. We want Qatar and the US government to let the men go free."
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel noted Sunday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was informed of the prisoner-swap "after the fact", further angering critics abroad and in Washington.
Members of Congress noted that the exchange also stands on shaky ground on US law as well; critics say the administration violated the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which requires a 30-day warning before releasing terrorists from the compound. 
Hagel defended the move, however, insisting that it was a lifesaving mission. 
"We believed that the information we had, the intelligence we had, was such that Sgt. Bergdahl's safety and health were in jeopardy," Hagel said. "In particular his health was deteriorating. It was our judgment that if we could find an opening and move very quickly, we needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life."
He added that US President Barack Obama had the authority, under Article II of the Constitution, to bypass the Authorization Act in order to facilitate the swap. 
Hagel also insisted that the move was not a last-minute decision, despite the oversight.
"This didn't just start, this has been an ongoing effort," Hagel said. "The timing was right, the pieces came together. Our consistent efforts that we have been making over the years paid off."
Health concerns
Bergdahl himself was having trouble speaking English after so many years in captivity, family members told the press Sunday afternoon, but would give no greater details about his health. 
Rumors have swirled that he would be disciplined over the circumstances behind his captivity, which some suggest is the result of wandering off his base, but officials stated Sunday that he had suffered enough in captivity and would not be held responsible over the issue. 

Obama Close to Authorizing Training for Syrian Rebels

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 29 May 2014 08:28
Barack Hussein Obama  U.S. President Barack Obama is close to authorizing a military-led mission to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight the regime and Al-Qaeda-linked groups, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
A new military training program, if implemented, would supplement a small train-and-equip program led by the Central Intelligence Agency that Obama authorized a year ago.
In a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday, officials said Obama will signal backing for the new training effort by saying he intends to increase support to the armed opposition to fight the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, including by providing them with training.
Obama isn't expected to provide details about how, or where, that training would be done, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"The president will make clear his intention to expand our support to the moderate Syrian operation and increase our support to Syria's neighbors, who are dealing with the terrorist threats emanating from the situation Assad has created in Syria," a senior administration official said, according to the report.
Defense officials said it was unclear when training, which would be undertaken by U.S. special-operations forces, would start. They cited obstacles that include how the Pentagon will vet prospective rebels for the program.
Small-scale weapons aid and some military training has already been supplied to select rebel groups, along with "non-lethal" aid such as medical supplies and other equipment, but both Congressional caution and a hesitant White House have prevented anything further, mainly due to fear that the jihadist rebel groups would get their hands on any weapons.
A leading Syrian opposition figure said last week that western states could send desperately-needed arms to rebel groups in Syria "within weeks."
The comments were made by Syrian National Coalition (SNC) president Ahmed Al-Jarba in an interview with the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat, and came on the heels of whirlwind of meetings in the U.S., UK and France, in which Al-Jarba appealed for greater support for the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Syria's fractured rebel movement has faced a series of setback in the past few months, with regime forces capitalizing on infighting to claw back territory from opposition factions.
In March, an American official said the Obama administration was considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to Syrian rebels.

Obama May Provide Syrian Rebels with Manpads

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 30 March 2014 17:09
Moderate Syrian RebelsThe Obama administration is considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to Syrian rebels, a U.S. official said Friday, according to The Associated Press (AP).
President Barack Obama’s possible shift would likely be welcomed by Saudi Arabia, which has been pressing the White House to allow the man-portable air-defense systems, known as “manpads,” into Syria.
Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday for meetings with King Abdullah.
Allowing manpads to be delivered to Syrian rebels would mark a shift in strategy for the U.S., which until this point has limited its lethal assistance to small weapons and ammunition, as well as humanitarian aid.
The U.S. has been grappling for ways to boost the rebels, who have lost ground in recent months, allowing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to regain a tighter grip on the war-torn nation.
A report in January said that the U.S. had been supplying “moderate” rebel groups with light arms and that Congress had approved funding for months of further deliveries.
There has been pressure to arm the Syrian rebels for quite some time, particularly since the U.S. government confirmed that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel forces on multiple occasions, thus violating the “red line” set by President Obama.
However, lawmakers were concerned that weapons could reach factions like the Al-Nusra Front, which has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Islamist rebel factions such as Al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)  have performed atrocities during the ongoing civil war, including publicly beheading those accused of collaborating with the Assad regime, and even executing members of rival rebel groups.
According to Friday’s AP report, if Obama does indeed decide to supply rebels with manpads, the actual manpad shipments could come from the Saudis, who have so far held off sending in the equipment because of U.S. opposition.
The president is not expected to announce a final decision on the matter during his overnight trip to the Gulf kingdom, according to the report. U.S. and Saudi intelligence officials have been discussing the possibility of injecting manpads into the crisis for some time, including during a meeting in Washington earlier this year.
Rebels said back in June of 2013 they had received Russian-made “Konkurs” anti-tank missiles supplied by Saudi Arabia. Other reports said that the Central Intelligence Agency had begun moving weapons to Jordan from a network of secret warehouses and plans to start arming small groups of vetted Syrian rebels within a month.
Earlier this week, Syria's opposition called for "sophisticated" arms at an Arab summit in Kuwait. At the same summit, Saudi Arabia stressed the need for a change in military balance to "end the impasse".
The Syrian rebels recently suffered a series of setbacks, particularly after Assad’s troops captured the key town of Yabroud on the Lebanese border from rebel groups.
The more moderate rebel groups have also been dealing with attacks from the jihadist rebel groups, who consider fighting the moderates “more important than fighting Jews and Christians

U.S. Blasts Saudis for Barring American-Israeli Reporter

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 07:53
056f534057d551c349211be2f22d88d8The United States on Tuesday slammed Saudi Arabia for refusing a visa to a an American journalist working for Israeli media who planned to cover President Barack Obama's visit to the kingdom, AFP reported.
The Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief, U.S. citizen Michael Wilner, was the only journalist to be denied a visa to Saudi Arabia to cover Obama's brief visit on Friday, according to AFP.
In response, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that Washington was "very disappointed by the Saudi decision."
"It certainly should not be the case that the affiliation of a journalist should in any way count against their ability to do their job, just because they work for The Jerusalem Post," Rhodes said.
Rhodes said that the White House made clear its concerns to Saudi Arabia.
The Jerusalem Post, in an editorial quoted by AFP, said that top U.S. officials, including national security adviser Susan Rice, personally appealed to the kingdom to issue a visa but to no avail.
A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The White House Correspondents Association said that the refusal of the visa to Wilner, who planned to travel directly to Saudi Arabia, was "outrageous."
"The denial is an affront not only to this journalist, but to the entire White House press corps and to the principle of freedom of the press that we hold so dear," it said, according to AFP.
Like most Arab countries, Saudi Arabia has no formal relations with Israel, but Iran, the Saudis’ rival, has claimed that Israel and Saudi Arabia are conducting secret contacts.
In late December the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency claimed that a Saudi Arabian delegation had flown to Israel for meetings with high-ranking Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Israel did not respond to the report.
Two weeks earlier, an Iranian report claimed that the head of the Saudi intelligence service met with several senior Israeli security officials, including the head of the Israeli Mossad, in Geneva on November 27.
An earlier Fars report said that Israel and Saudi Arabia had teamed up to launch a virus against Iran’s nuclear program.
Last month, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of the Saudi intelligence services, complimented Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at the international security conference in Munich. In December, the same Prince Turki Al-Faisal met and spoke with MK Meir Sheetrit of Livni’s Hatnua party and with Itamar Rabinovich, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
The Saudis insist, however, that they will not recognize Israel or hold contacts with it as long as it refuses to accept the Arab Peace Plan which Riyadh introduced in 2002.
The plan says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible and narrow pre-1967 borders and Israeli acceptance of the "right of return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.

US Hiding Report on Radical Saudi School Textbooks

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 14:19
KoranUS President Barack Obama stands poised to visit Saudi Arabia later in the month, to discuss "countering violent extremism" among other things. However, a report has revealed the US has kept secret an extensive study of Saudi textbooks, traditionally rife with Islamic extremism, since the end of 2012 - casting doubts over the seriousness of the administration to tackle the root causes of Islamic extremism.
The study, commissioned in a reported $500,000 State Department contract in 2011, was the most comprehensive ever commissioned. Completed in late 2012, the findings with their implications on radical indoctrination and anti-Semitism have been kept hidden from the public.
However, a new report published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think-tank, quoting sources familiar with the hidden study, notes Saudi textbooks still “create a climate that fosters exclusivity, intolerance, and calls to violence that put religious and ethnic minorities at risk.”
Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in Obama's first term when the study was commissioned, told The Daily Beast that the option was always open to publish the study, even if that wasn't the original intention.
“We commissioned the study to assess and evaluate the content of the textbooks with the intention of sharing our findings with the Saudi government and with the option, depending on the findings, of making it public if the problems persisted,” Posner remarked.
Posner noted the security dangers associated with Saudi Arabia's traditionally hateful textbooks, given that such learning materials radicalize the next generation. Alarmingly, the textbooks aren't only used in Saudi schools; they are sent free of charge to Muslim schools worldwide, including in the US.
"Jews are pigs and monkeys"
“Among the references that were most offensive were commentaries that linked Christians and Jews to apes and pigs,” Posner revealed. “If those references are still in some textbooks then the problem hasn’t been solved.”
An example of the anti-Semitic content in Saudi textbooks was revealed in a 2006 cable from the US embassy in Riyadh. Disclosed on WikiLeaks, the cable reports that an eighth grade textbook reads "God will punish any Muslim who does not literally obey God just as God punished some Jews by turning them into pigs and monkeys.”
This is not the first time that the standards of the Saudi education system have been brought up in a questionable light; in February it was revealed that education departments in several regions banned female employees and visitors who do not wear a face veil from entering girls’ schools.
More recently, Saleh Al-Fawzan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, claimed on Saudi TV that the sun revolves around the earth, quoting the Koran as his source.
A possible factor behind US reservations in exposing Saudi textbooks could be attempts to avoid exacerbating the growing rift between the two countries. The widening gap in relations is seen in part as stemming from Obama's spoken support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is opposed by the Saudis, and Obama's limited response to the ongoing Syrian war.

Russia Rejects Obama's Criticism Regarding Syria

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:18
Obama - PutinRussia on Wednesday rejected U.S. President Barack Obama's criticism of its stance on Syria, a day after Obama criticized Moscow for threatening to veto a UN Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions against the Syrian government.
On Tuesday, during a press conference with French President Francois Hollande, Obama slammed the Russians over their threat to veto the resolution, which is a measure to help millions in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
"It is not just the Syrians that are responsible" for the plight of civilians but "the Russians, as well, if they are blocking this kind of resolution," Obama declared.
Commenting on Obama's criticism of Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday accused Washington of a "biased distortion" of the Russian stance on Syria, reported The Associated Press (AP).
It said that Russian diplomats were working with Syrian authorities to help humanitarian efforts and challenged the U.S. to use their influence with the rebels for the same purpose.
The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the Western-backed UN draft resolution raising the prospect of sanctions on Damascus if it fails to create conditions for unrestricted humanitarian aid deliveries as "unbalanced and counterproductive."
Russia is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has blocked all attempts to condemn him at the Security Council.
The last time Russia vetoed a resolution on Syria was in January, when it blocked a UN Security Council statement that would have expressed outrage at deadly airstrikes by Assad's forces and condemned the use of missiles and "barrel bombs" in towns.
The longstanding deadlock on the Security Council was briefly broken in late September and early October when the 15-nation body agreed a resolution demanding the eradication of Syria's chemical weapons program and a statement calling for increased aid access and humanitarian pauses in the fighting.
Russia supplies Assad with ground-to-surface interceptor missiles as well as warplanes and helicopters and other heavy machinery meant for national self-defense.

Obama Lauds Kerry's Peace Efforts Amid Israeli Criticism

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 08 February 2014 18:18
obama-netanyahuU.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday expressed his appreciation towards his Secretary of State’s peace efforts in the Middle East.
Speaking at an interfaith breakfast in Washington, D.C., Obama said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East. Thank you, John.”
“As we support Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in direct talks, we’ve made clear that lasting peace will require freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all faiths,” he added.
The expression of support for Kerry’s efforts comes after the top diplomat was heavily criticized by Israeli officials in recent days, over his threats that Israel will be boycotted if peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) fail.
On Monday, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice responded to the criticism and blasted Israel on Twitter.
“Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable. John Kerry’s record of support for Israel’s security and prosperity rock solid,” Rice wrote, adding, “POTUS and Sec Kerry remain committed to negotiations that can secure Israeli and Palestinian futures.”
Her last tweet read, “U.S. Govt [sic] has been clear and consistent that we reject efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel.”
On Wednesday, Kerry’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki took Israel to task for criticizing his efforts to achieve peace.
“Any rhetoric that is inaccurate and critical as this is unhelpful. These kind of attacks are unacceptable. They not only distort his record but they distract from the key issues at hand,” she said.
“Peace isn’t a favor we’re doing for the Israelis and Palestinians, it’s something that the Israeli people and the Palestinian people want,” added Psaki.
Kerry himself responded to the criticism on Wednesday, telling CNN that he was unfazed by it because, as he said, “I’ve been, attacked before by people using real bullets, not words, and I am not going to be intimidated.”

Obama's America, Going the Way of Rome

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 21 December 2013 14:37
ht bo obamaBarack Obama is a creature of relativism, even though, without logical consistency, this “post-American” president exalts Islam.
The longest chapter in Machiavelli's "Prince" is devoted to conspiracy. No conspiracy—if it may be called that—is more significant than the one enfolding in the United States under its “post-American” president, Barack Hussein Obama.
Let us try to place Obama in historical context.   
The context is one of contradiction.  Obama is the creature of rootless modernity and a ruthless Islam. The two have a single enemy, Judaism, the religion of reason. The primary target of modernity, beginning with Machiavelli, was the Bible of Israel. None of Machiavelli’s followers is more insidious than Thomas Hobbes, a closet atheist who, to be “politically correct,” punctuated his seminal work, the Leviathan, with the word “G-d.” What is paradoxical about Hobbes is that he is linked to the Age of Reason, even though he is the most obvious and toxic critic of reason.     
According to Hobbes, the primary motive of man is the desire for riches, safety, and glory—or as Harold Lasswell, once president of the American Political Science Association put it, the desire for "income, safety, and deference." This is one way of saying that all politicians are egoists. Lasswell put Lenin and Lincoln on the same level.
This leveling “reductionism” is rooted in Hobbes’ contention that reason is merely an instrument of the passions. Freud followed suit: man as simply an ensemble of desires—the Id—and reason is only an instrument for determining how to obtain the object of one’s desires. As Hobbes says, “The thoughts are to the desires, as scouts and spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things desired.” Freud will call this instrumental reason the Ego. And since man regards the objects of his desires “good,” Freud will call this translation the Super-ego.  Freud therefore explained the "higher"—say moral values—in terms of the "lower": what is noble is henceforth explained in terms of what is commonplace. Enter the era of Democratic Man.
This debased or democratic conception of human nature has dominated the social sciences for more than a century. It is rooted in subjectivism—meaning, there are no objective standards of right and wrong, the position of moral relativism. European philosophy via relativism has undermined the cherished beliefs and values of America.
For example, relativism rejects the semi-classical and semi-Jewish concept of the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" affirmed in the American Declaration of Independence. Therein is the source from which was derived our rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
The protection of these rights necessitates limitations on the powers of the State. Ignore those limitations and you get “Statism." Statism can take the form of fascism, socialism. or the "Nanny" State of “entitlements.” Health care, social security, etc., has been evolving in American society in tandem with the university-bred doctrine of moral relativism.
Barack Obama is a creature of this relativism, even though, without a stitch of logical consistency, this “post-American” president exalts Islam. His mentality may be traced to Herbert Marcuse, who was driven not by logic but by resentment against Tradition. Marcuse deified Change, the mantra of Obama’s first presidential campaign.
Known as the "philosopher of the Left," Marcuse was an eclectic who combined the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre, the psychology of Freud, and the communism of Marx—all moral relativists. These thinkers produced the mentality of Barack Obama, the first full-blown relativist to become President of the United States.  
Obama’s teleprompter has virtually nothing to say that is clearly and logically related to the political heritage of “G-d damn America”—the malediction of his mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  Obama attracts alienated youth, knee-jerk liberals, and people who see only the self-aggrandizing side of Capitalism, but who therefore disregard its creativity and contribution to America wealth. This wealth liberated countess men and women from toil and tribulation.
But the wealth produced by Capitalism has made America the home of countless immigrants—a land of opportunity for the talents of oppressed mankind. America is the universalistic nation par excellence.
Obama calls himself a “cosmopolitan.” Devoid of the learning required to be a genuine cosmopolitan, Obama is really a man without a country. He is ignorant of the blessings of individualism for which America stands; he is ignorant of America’s unequalled contribution to human freedom as well as to Nobel Prizes.
Like his pastor Jeremiah Wright, Obama harbors a deep racial hatred of America. Steeped in racial resentment, and influenced by half-educated left-wing intellectuals, Obama wants to unravel America, which is rooted in the Bible of Israel. Enough to recall Edward Alexander’s article "Obama Demotes the Jews," which appeared in the April 10, 2009 edition of Commentary Magazine. Alexander writes:
"In his inaugural address President Obama jettisoned the long-established locution that embodies the generally-accepted notion of 'the Judeo-Christian tradition.' That tradition, in America, mandates the phrase 'Christians and Jews' … Obama, however, said on January 20, 2009, that 'We are a nation of Christians and Muslims,' and then, after a slight pause, 'Jews and Hindus,' another slight pause, 'and unbelievers.'
"Later, in his Al-Arabiya interview, he demoted the Jews still further, calling America a country of 'Muslims, Christians, and Jews.' Obama's actions (and inactions) with respect to Jewish concerns suggest that this demotion [of the Jews] is real and not merely verbal."
It’s hard to say whether Obama is merely a fool or a fraud or a person devoid of any cultural depth or spiritual identity. One thing is quite clear: he hates American supremacy, just as he hated white supremacy. But given his ego-enhancing Arabic middle name—which means handsome—magnified by the arrogance of his unlearned mind, Obama is oblivious of the arrogance underlying Islamic supremacism. It was Islamic supremacism that incited the genocides Islam committed against the race with which Obama identifies.
It will not be easy to undo his “obamanation” of America. His relativism is entrenched in his appointments to the Supreme Court; and his left-wing party has tens of millions of rootless supporters and immigrants—voters who live on the handouts of his "nanny" state.
If America could rightly be called a Judeo-Christian civilization, it is undergoing the fate of Rome.
Prof. Paul EidelbergProf. Paul Eidelberg
Prof. Paul Eidelberg (Ph.D. University of Chicago), former officer U.S. Air Force, is the founder and president of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI),, with offices in Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He has written several books on American and on Jewish Statesmanship. His magnum opus The Judeo-Scientific Foundations of American Exceptionalism: Today’s Choice for the “Almost Chosen People" is in process of publication. Prof. Eidelberg lives in Jerusalem.

Obama Calls Saudi King Amid Tense Relations

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 28 November 2013 13:17
Obama- Saudi King
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz received a phone call on Wednesday from U.S. President Barack Obama during which the two leaders discussed bilateral ties and regional issues, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The phone conversation came days after the United States and other major world powers signed an interim deal with Iran about its nuclear program and amid tensions in relations between the Americans and the Saudis.
Saudi Arabia initially said that the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program could be a step towards a comprehensive solution – and hoped it could lead to the removal of weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East.
Later, however, a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family said that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.
The advisor, Nawaf Obaid, told a think tank meeting in London "we were lied to, things were hidden from us. The problem is not with the deal that was struck in Geneva but how it was done.”
The Saudi call for independent policy comes after an interview appeared last Friday in which Saudi Arabia’s UK ambassador, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, said his country would not "sit idly by" if the West failed to stop Iran's nuclear program.
Relations between Washington and Riyadh have reportedly been strained since the U.S. backed away from military action against Syria over President Bashar Al-Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Saudi King Abdullah earlier this month, perhaps signalling a shift towards alignment with the Russians.

Ashraf Ramelah,joins Rick Wiles to discuss Barack Obama's longstanding allegiance to MB in Egypt

Category: Interviews
Created on Sunday, 24 November 2013 14:53

Rick WilesAshraf Ramelah, President and founder of "Voice of the Copts," joins Rick to discuss Barack Obama's longstanding allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and how recent developments in the Mohamed Morsi trial could further implicate his direct involvement with the terrorist organization. Later in the program, attorney and Retired Navy Commander, John B. Wells, returns to discuss his ongoing legal battle against Christian persecution in the military and what people can do to deter Obama's communist purge of the armed forces



Obama to Personally Appeal to Senators: Wait with the Sanctions

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 21 November 2013 17:33
obama-laughPresident Barack Obama plans to personally appeal to senators and ask them to hold off on passing new sanctions on Iran.
According to Fox News, Obama is preparing to meet on Tuesday with key senators as part of an ongoing campaign by the administration to convince Congress not to pass new sanctions on Iran while talks in Geneva are under way.
A Senate Democratic leadership aide confirmed to Fox News on Monday that Obama will meet with members of the Senate leadership, as well as the chairmen and top Republicans on several key committees.
The administration is concerned that Congress might press ahead with a new round of tough sanctions on Iran. While lawmakers think additional sanctions could help make Iran more pliable at the negotiating table over its nuclear program, the administration argues it would have the opposite effect.
Tuesday’s meetings will come days after Obama issued a public warning to Congress, saying that a deal in the works could prevent the "unintended consequences" of war.
Obama warned that military action, if diplomacy fails, would have dangerous effects and only fuel an Iranian desire for nuclear weapons.
Over the past few weeks, the President has sent his top officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, to meet with senators and convince them to drop their plans to impose new sanctions on Iran.
The Senate Banking panel has been considering whether to act on legislation hitting Iran’s oil industry. The House overwhelmingly passed such legislation in July, but the White House has been urging Senate Democrats to hold off while multilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear program continue.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry briefed members of the Banking Committee and reportedly told the senators they should ignore anything Israel says about the Iranian nuclear issue.
Negotiators are to meet again later this week in Geneva in hopes of concluding a deal.

Obama: A Deal with Iran is Better than a Confrontation

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 09 November 2013 19:23
Bemoaning the loss of his anonymity AFPU.S. President Barack Obama thinks that a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is better than a confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
Obama made the comments on Thursday in an interview with NBC News, which came amid rampant rumors that a deal was imminent between the West and Iran over its nuclear program.
Secretary of State John Kerry will reportedly fly to Geneva on Friday to take part in the talks with Iran. As this trip is a last-minute one and was previously not on Kerry’s schedule, it has set off speculations that a deal with Iran will be signed very soon.
Obama told NBC that an interim deal with Iran on its nuclear program would provide only "very modest relief" from the sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
He added that the agreement being worked out in Geneva would keep the bulk of sanctions on the Islamic Republic in place.
"We don't have to trust them. What we have to do is to make sure that there is a good deal in place from the perspective of us verifying what they're doing," Obama told the network.
"There is the possibility of a phased agreement in which the first phase would be us, you know, halting any advances on their nuclear program, rolling some potential back, and putting in place ... some very modest relief, but keeping the sanctions architecture in place," he added.
Obama stressed that the limited relief from sanctions could be reversed if it was determined that Iran was not living up to its end of the bargain.
"If they're not willing to go forward and finish the job of giving us assurances that they're not developing a nuclear weapon, we can crank that dial back up," Obama told NBC.
“What we have to do is to make sure that Iran is going in the right direction, otherwise the situation could deteriorate into some sort of conflict, including a military one,” he said.
Obama’s comments seem to confirm that some sort of deal between Iran and the West is on the way, though it remains to be seen what its details are.
According to one report in the British Telegraph on Thursday, the U.S. was planning to propose a short-term nuclear agreement with Iran which would allow Tehran to continue enriching uranium at low levels.
Iran’s Foreign Minister was optimistic on Thursday that an agreement on his country's nuclear program is within reach, but his deputy emphasized that Iran would not stop enriching uranium.
Responding to the reports of a possible breakthrough with Iran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Thursday evening that signing an interim deal with Iran would be a mistake of “historic proportions,” but that appears to be precisely the deal being hammered out.
On Wednesday, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) blasted Obama over his failure to live up to his promises to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In a statement, ZOA national president Mort Klein said that while Obama has repeatedly claimed the he will not allow Iran to obtain such weapons, his record indicates otherwise.
“The ZOA is deeply concerned that his Iranian pledge is as untrue as his health care pledge,” said Klein.

Obama Pushing Lawmakers to Hold Off on New Iran Sanctions

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 02 November 2013 18:44
obamaTop Obama administration officials have been pushing U.S. lawmakers hard to hold off on new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Some key lawmakers, however, have clarified they are not yet convinced to support a delay.
Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which is considering the sanctions package, said lawmakers were skeptical because they felt they had to push the White House to back strict sanctions on Tehran.
"It's incumbent upon them over the next 24 to 48 hours to persuade folks like me and others that the course of action they want to follow is a sound one," Corker told Reuters.
"I think ... because Congress had to push the administration into the sanctions regime in the first place, there is a degree of skepticism. But from my standpoint I'm certainly open to listening," he added.
Corker met on Wednesday with Secretary of State John Kerry. On Thursday, Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew were to hold a classified briefing on the status of talks with Iran for the Senate banking panel.
"The point that they are making is that they are at a point in these negotiations where they believe that additional sanctions coming out of the committee are counterproductive to the negotiations that are under way," Corker said.
The banking panel had been expected to vote on the sanctions in September, but held off after the Obama administration asked for a pause while negotiations with Tehran got under way.
Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican member of the banking panel who is a strong backer of tougher sanctions, said he opposed any further delay.
"Every day the Senate delays consideration of new sanctions, Iran installs more centrifuges, enriches more uranium and improves its nuclear breakout capability," he said, referring to the ability to enrich uranium for use in a bomb.
"If Iran is capable of negotiating while violating international law, the United States should be equally capable of negotiating while imposing new sanctions pressure," Kirk said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
Members of both the Republican and Democratic parties have overwhelmingly backed tougher economic pressure on Iran in recent years amid concern it is closing in on nuclear weapons capability.
Two weeks ago, six Democratic and four Republican senators called on Iran to end all its uranium enrichment activity and pushed for a speedy escalation of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
In July, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill blacklisting Iran’s mining and construction sectors.
While Senators have called to toughen sanctions, President Barack Obama has welcomed the moderate statements made by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, and has said he wants to test their sincerity.
Iranian negotiators recently met in Geneva with representatives of the so-called P5+1 - the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany. During the two-day session, Iran presented what it described as a breakthrough proposal that would include snap inspections of its atomic sites.
The proposal was described by the White House as "useful". White House spokesman Jay Carney said it showed a "level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before." Western negotiators described the talks as the most detailed and serious to date.

Obama at UN: 'End Occupation of West Bank'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 27 September 2013 07:00
Barack Hussein Obama  United States President Barack Obama lauded Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders in a speech Tuesday at the United Nations.
Obama spoke in support of the ongoing Israel-PA peace talks, and said he was glad to see what he termed "a growing recognition within Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish state."
Young Arabs in Ramallah are “understandably cynical” regarding the talks and "frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation,” he said.
The “West Bank” is the term American and other international leaders use to refer to Judea and Samaria (Shomron). The territories were settled by both Jews and Arabs until 1948, when Jordan won control of the area in a war with the fledgling Jewish state and expelled its Jewish residents.
Israel won the territory back 19 years later, in 1967, and an estimated 600,000 Israeli Jews currently live in the region. Estimates of the number of Palestinian Authority Arabs in the region range from 1.5 million to 2.4 million.
The PA has claimed the area as Arab territory, to be used to establish a PA-led Arab state of “Palestine.” PA leaders term Jews living in the region “settlers” and insist that all Jews be forced to leave.
Allowing the PA to create the Arab state it seeks is the only way to peace, Obama declared. “Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security… depends on the realization of a Palestinian state,” he said.
“Arab states - and those who have supported the Palestinians - must realize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution with a secure Israel,” he added.
"Already, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks," Obama said. "President Abbas has put aside efforts to short-cut the pursuit of peace and come to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Netanyahu has released Palestinian prisoners, and reaffirmed his commitment to a Palestinian state."
Peace between Israel and the PA “will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region,” he said.
World Sometimes Called to Act
Obama also addressed instability in Egypt and Syria. He hinted at a continued willingness to back military intervention in Syria over the use of chemical weapons.
Sometimes, he said, violence against civilians becomes so bad “that the international community will be called upon to act.”
“Even when American interests are not directly threatened, we stand ready to do our part… to protect basic human rights,” he said.
Obama continued to insist that the Syrian regime was behind a chemical weapons attack in August that left at least 600 Syrian civilians dead. "The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st.
U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood, and landed in opposition neighborhoods.
It is an insult to human reason – and to the legitimacy of this institution – to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack," he argued.
However, he continued, "As I've discussed with President Putin... my preference has always been a diplomatic resolution to this issue."

Obama's UN Speech a Victory for Iran, Says Media

Category: News
Created on Friday, 27 September 2013 06:44
obama0CanadaA senior Iranian official welcomed on Wednesday the "moderate and respectful tone" of U.S. President Barack Obama's speech to the UN General Assembly, as newspapers hailed a new path for the Islamic Republic, reports AFP.
"It seems a new climate has been created with the rise to power of a new Iranian government, and all international parties are trying to react to this new climate," said Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi.
"For example, Barack Obama has tried to use a more moderate and respectful tone," he said, in remarks quoted by the ISNA news agency.
"But no doubt what's important in foreign policy are actions," he said. If the world's major powers "respect Iran's nuclear rights under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, I think reaching a solution is imaginable."
Meanwhile, the Iranian press welcomed Obama's speech, saying it recognized Washington's “past mistakes."
In remarks before the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the U.S. president pushed for a “diplomatic path” with the new Iranian government.
The moderate Donya-e-Eqtesad daily greeted Obama's “different tone," while the conservative Jomhouri Eslami reveled in a declaration that “the United States does not seek regime change” in Iran.
The reformist Shargh newspaper hailed Obama’s speech for opening up “a new path” for the relationship between the two arch-foes, which have had no diplomatic ties since the Islamic Revolution.
“Even those most pessimistic to an opening in relations have accepted that the time for change has arrived,” its editorial said, according to AFP.
It added that the international situation has “significantly changed in Iran’s favor," and argued that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would be “isolated” as a "warmonger."
Engaging in negotiations with Washington and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear drive, Shargh said, would culminate in the recognition of Iran’s “rights."
Etemad, another reformist daily, quoting ex-deputy foreign minister Mehdi Mohtashami, said Obama acknowledging “past mistakes” was a sign that the two sides “have the will to fight against mistrust."
Several newspapers, including the government-run Iran daily, reveled in Obama’s declaration in recognizing a religious decree by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a ban against weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms.
However, optimism was not shared by all the Islamic republic's media.
The hardline Kayhan daily mocked Obama’s “jabbering against Iran," while saying his declared respect for Tehran to operate a peaceful nuclear program was “a sign of Iran’s power."
Political analyst Saeed Leylaz, writing in Shargh, was critical of “the illusion of a magic wand” that possible rapprochement with the United States would solve all of Iran's problems.
“Negotiations cannot solve the economic and political problems of Iran,” he said. “The solution must come from within.”
Since Rouhani was elected president, he has called for "constructive interaction" with the world, a dramatic shift in tone from the anti-Western and anti-Israeli rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rouhani has exchanged letters with Obama, who wrote to him that the United States is ready to resolve its nuclear dispute with Iran in a way that allows Tehran to show it is not trying to build weapons.
Senior administration officials said Tuesday that Obama was open to meeting Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, but Rouhani refused.

Obama Meets Abbas: Peace Won't be Easy

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 September 2013 10:33
Bemoaning the loss of his anonymity AFPHours after he called on Israel to “end the occupation of the West Bank”, U.S. President Barack Obama met Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.
During the meeting, reported the Associated Press, Obama said that no one is under the illusion that peace between Israelis and Arabs will be easy, but claimed PA Arabs realize that negotiations are the best and only way to achieve a two-state solution.
Obama also praised Abbas for consistently rejecting violence and being open to negotiations, according to the report.
Abbas said he remained fully committed to the peace process and thanked the U.S. for supporting the process. He added that the goal is an independent Palestinian state.
The peace talks between Israel and the PA resumed this past summer following shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry asked both sides to keep the details of the negotiations secret in order to give the process a chance to work and, while Israeli officials have remain tight-lipped about the talks, PA officials have made several leaks to the press.
A recent leak involved a PA official saying that during the negotiations, Israel agreed to a wholesale deportation of thousands of Jews from Judea and Samaria and the transfer of their property to PA Arabs. However, the PA official who reported on that Israeli offer added that the PA side had rejected it as not going far enough. 
In an earlier leak to the press, the PA's chief negotiator , Saeb Erekat, told an Arabic radio station that the US has guaranteed the PA all of its key preconditions in advance of negotiations.
Abbas, who has for years demanded a state based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, recently stated that unless Israel meets all of his preconditions, there will be no peace.
In recent days there have been calls on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to stop the peace talks with the PA unless Abbas condemns the murder of two IDF soldiers in two separate incidents.
Dozens of Knesset members, including deputy government ministers, have signed a letter calling on Netanyahu to cancel all planned releases of terrorist prisoners as part of a series of "goodwill gestures" to the PA.
Abbas, who met representatives of the Jewish community in New York on Monday night, reportedly said that he condemned the killing and all other acts of violence, but also said that he expected Israel to condemn recent deaths of four Arab youths from Israeli gunfire.

Obama to Rouhani: Prove Your Nuclear Program is Peaceful

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 19 September 2013 14:18
Iranian presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani Reuters
The White House revealed on Wednesday the contents of the letter that President Barack Obama had sent Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
In it, said White House spokesman Jay Carney, Obama told Rouhani that the United States is ready to resolve its nuclear dispute with Iran in a way that allows Tehran to show it is not trying to build weapons.
"In his letter the president indicated that the U.S. is ready to resolve the nuclear issue in a way that allows Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes," Carney said.
"The letter also conveyed the need to act with a sense of urgency to address this issue because, as we have long said, the window of opportunity for resolving this diplomatically is open, but it will not remain open indefinitely," he added.
Rouhani, a centrist cleric who has been described by the West as a moderate, has pledged to improve Iran’s relations with the world and ease international sanctions imposed by Western powers over his country’s nuclear program.
Last week, Rouhani said that the time for resolving Iran's nuclear dispute with the West was limited, urging the world to seize the opportunity of his election.
He has also made it clear recently that Iran will not give up "one iota" of its nuclear rights.
Obama exposed the letter exchange with Rouhani in an interview this past weekend. On Tuesday, he told the Spanish language network Telemundo that he wants to test whether Rouhani is serious when he says he wants to open a dialogue with the United States.
The comments have led to speculations that Obama and Rouhani would meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but the White House denied on Monday that Obama has any intention of meeting Rouhani.
Carney confirmed Wednesday that while both leaders plan to be in New York next week for the UN General Assembly, they do not currently have plans to meet one another.

Iranian Media Lauds Humiliating Blow for U.S.

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 14 September 2013 15:46
Hassan RowhaniIran's conservative press trumpeted as a "humiliating blow" the decision by its arch-foe the United States to put on hold plans for a military intervention in Syria following a surprise Russian initiative aimed at defusing the stand-off.
"By taking the Russian initiative seriously, Washington will send a signal to Tehran that it's willing to take risks and make compromises for peace," Reza Marashi of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based advocacy organisation, told the AFP news agency.
Moscow's initiative came as US President Barack Obama was seeking congressional approval to launch punitive strikes against the Damascus regime for allegedly using deadly sarin gas against its own people last month.
Amir Mohebian, a Tehran-based conservative commentator, says Obama's decision to put possible military action on hold "strengthens Iran's position in the region".
Tehran has provided Damascus with material and intelligence support, but denies accusations that it has armed the Assad regime to fight the uprising-turned-civil war that has claimed more than 110,000 lives since 2011. "Perhaps the Americans now understand that it is less costly to solve the Syrian crisis with Iran's help," Mohebian told AFP. "
It may also affect the issue of (Iran's) nuclear program " which Western powers and Israel suspect has military objectives despite Iranian denials. A Western diplomat in Tehran, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iranian leadership, who had feared a military escalation in the region, was now "relieved". "The Russian proposal has given Iran more room" over Syria, the source said.
The US, France and Israel have maintained that any action against Syria would also send a message to Iran, which is embroiled in a decade-long stand-off with world powers on its nuclear ambitions. US Secretary of State John Kerry warned last week that inaction on Syria would embolden Iran, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Syria must be stripped of its chemical weapons as a lesson to the Islamic republic.
Rouhani on Tuesday insisted that Iran would not give up "one iota" of what it considers its right to develop a nuclear program for peaceful purposes. This strong stand, which echoes the position of his hardline predecessor Mahmud Ahmadinejad, comes as world powers prepare to restart negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.

Official Quoted Saying: Obama's a Coward

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 September 2013 08:51
Bemoaning the loss of his anonymity AFP
Maariv quoted an unnamed diplomatic source in Jerusalem Sunday who bluntly called US President Barack Obama a "coward" for stepping back from an attack on Syria.
"Obama is a coward; it is obvious that he does not want to attack and is looking for reinforcement [for this approach]. It is hard to believe that after Congress turns down his request, he will go on an operation like this on his own, without support from the international community, without the suport of public opinion and without Congress,” the source said.
Maariv says that while Israel's official position on the possible intervention in Syria is a neutral one, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would very much like to see a limited US strike in Syria, which would bring back credible US deterrence to the region.
However, sources in the prime minister's office told the newspaper that the Obama administration does not want to become involved in Middle Eastern wars. Netanyahu is concerned, they said, that US hesitancy on acting in Syria also sends a negative message to Iran, that the US will not act militarily to stop Tehran's nuclear weapons program.
The sources added that US vacillation means that Israel will probably have to take action on its own against Iran's nuclear weapons project. 

First They Came for the Sunnis...

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 06:11
Islams Cultural RevolutionPastor Martin-Niemöller, who was arrested by Hitler in 1937, stated:
“First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.”
In the end, 85,000,000 died in World War II.
Assad and Iran just mass-murdered 1,200 human beings, mostly women and little children, because they were Sunnis.  U.S. President Barack Obama does absolutely positively nothing.  The world does nothing.  Today there are 120,000 dead Sunnis; in a year or two, there will likely be 500,000 dead Sunnis.  If Israel doesn't stop Assad and Iran now, the next stop on Iran's genocide spree will be Israel.
What does Obama's total inaction in the face of clear Iranian chemical genocidal mass-murder really mean?  Well, it's not just 1,200 Sunnis. In Syria, Iran has murdered 120,000 Sunnis, and Obama hasn't lifted a single finger.  In the face of massive covert Iranian weapons air-trains to Assad, Obama hasn't even covertly sent many, if any, weapons to the Syrian rebels. The only conclusion is that Obama is somehow under Iranian control. 
It doesn't matter whether Obama's obsequiousness to Iran is due to a "legitimate" policy analysis, such as Obama's desire for a "Nuclear Grand Bargain" with Iran, or due to another darker hold on a US president.  The bottom line is if Obama walks like an Iranian shill, quacks like an Iranian shill, or passively watches Iranian genocide like an Iranian shill, he's an Iranian shill.
But let's look at the most "positive" reason for Obama slavishly kowtowing to the Iranians: Obama doesn't want to rock his coming "Nuclear Grand Bargain" with Iran.  If Obama is willing to pay the price of allowing Iran to murder 120,000 Sunnis for an Iranian nuclear deal, can anyone imagine Obama's deal will disallow Iranian nukes? For, if Obama has appeased Iran with the appetizer of 120,000 dead Sunnis, Obama will clearly serve Iran the "Grand Bargain" entree of a full nuclear arsenal.
From a different angle, if Obama was taking a hard line “no nuke” stance with Iran in the nuclear talks, would he take such an appeasing “it’s ok to murder 120,000 people” stand with Assad, Iran’s proxy?  Also, If Obama ignores the murder of 120,000 Sunnis to “make a deal” with Iran, before Iran even has the nuclear bomb, what price will Obama be willing to pay after Iran has a nuclear bomb?  Obama wouldn't, and couldn't, stop Iran from murdering millions of Sunnis or Israelis.
U.S. Joint Chief Martin Dempsey quakes in his boots at the mere prospect of intervening in Syria now, when the Iran-proxy Assad doesn't have an Iranian nuclear umbrella.  Just imagine Dempsey's stark raving horror at actually attacking Iran, or one of its proxies, when Iran is armed with a nuclear arsenal.  In the Korean War, America was totally paralyzed from defeating North Korea due to China's nascent nuclear program.  Obama's excuse for inaction will turn from "I want a Grand Nuclear Bargain" to "Iran has a nuclear arsenal."
If Obama is paralyzed from stopping Assad’s chemical mass-murder, due to Obama’s belief that he needs to clench an Iranian nuclear deal, he will be even more paralyzed from stopping Iran’s nuclear program if Obama’s subservience to Iran is due to a darker reason.
Now, after Iran has murdered millions of Sunnis under Obama's nose, what will be Iran's next genocide?  You've got it:  Israel.  If Obama and the world have quietly watched Iran mass-murder millions of Sunnis without the nuclear bomb, what is Obama or the world going to do if Iran murders Israel and its six million Jews when Iran has a nuclear bomb?  Does the world today care more for Israel's six million Jews in Iran's 2015 Holocaust 2.0, than it did for Europe's six million Jews in Hitler's Holocaust 1.0?  Does Obama or the world care more for six million dead Israelis than it does six million dead Sunni Muslims?  I don't think so.
And after Obama leaves the US presidency, any future US president will have to deal with a nuclear Iran armed with what Bibi says will be hundreds of nuclear bombs.  If the United States was paralyzed into inaction when Stalin conventionally murdered millions of people because the Soviet Union was a nuclear power, the US will passively watch when Iran conventionally murders millions of Israelis when Israel has created a Palestinian Arab State.
Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) works both ways.  Even if MAD would work with a suicidal Iran, MAD is a double-edged sword that would work to stop both parties from acting, not just Iran.  MAD stopped both the Soviet Union and the United States from using nuclear weapons. So, if Iran mass-murders Israel with chemical-warheaded Katyushas or 109mm shells, or even just thousands of PA-launched regular rockets into Tel Aviv, America will be just as constrained from retaliating against a nuclear-armed Iran as it was from retaliating against the nuclear-armed Soviet Union.
In short, what is an Iranian genocide against the Sunnis today will turn into an Iranian genocide against Israel tomorrow.  If Iran had no compunction in murdering hundreds of thousands of fellow Muslims, it will take supreme religious delight in mass-murdering six million Jews that are defiling the Muslim Holy places, and occupying Muslim lands and people.
If Israel doesn't ally with and protect the Sunnis of today, there will be no one left to ally with against Iran tomorrow.
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who often writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at

Obama Meets Advisers to 'Gather Facts' on Syria Attack

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 25 August 2013 21:33
Barack Hussein Obama  U.S. President Obama met on Saturday with top national security advisers following widespread reports about the Syrian government using chemical weapons on civilians.
The president will continue to gather facts before deciding on a course of action, the White House said, according to Fox News.
The reports of thousands killed or stricken by chemical weapons Wednesday near Damascus is the latest allegation about such tactics in the Middle East country’s roughly two-year-long civil war.
A preliminary assessment made by U.S. and allied intelligence agencies has concluded that chemical weapons were indeed used by Syrian forces in an attack near Damascus this week.
It is believed the attack was carried out with high-level approval from the government of President Bashar Al-Assad.
Obama said last year that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad would “cross a red line.”  However, the White House has been reluctant to take direct military actions, instead supplying rebel forces with non-lethal aid, weighing military options and trying to garner international support.
The president and his National Security Council considered eyewitness accounts and medical-records reports but “the U.S. intelligence community continues to gather facts to ascertain what occurred,” the White House said Saturday.
In addition to the president holding the meeting, he spoke Saturday with United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron.
The leaders talked about shared security challenges, including the continued violence in Syria, and expressed their “grave concern” about the reported use of chemical weapons. And they will continue to consult closely about “possible responses by the international community,” the White House said.
The White House meeting was attended by at least 15 members of the president’s security council, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Hagel suggested Friday that the Pentagon might move Naval forces closer to Syria in preparation for a possible decision by Obama to order military strikes.
However, U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press on Saturday that the Navy has already sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea, but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria.
In a CNN interview, Obama on Friday called the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians "a big event of grave concern," but was very cautious as regards the possibility of using force in Syria, noting that there is still a war going on in Afghanistan.

Obama: Time is Nearing for a Definitive Response on Syria

Category: News
Created on Friday, 23 August 2013 19:51
Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is under pressure to act on reports that the Syrian government staged a chemical attack on civilians, said on Friday that the time is nearing for a potentially definitive U.S. response to the alleged Syrian government atrocities.
The U.S. remains "one indispensable nation" in the volatile Middle East and elsewhere, Obama told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
"We have to think through strategically what's going to be in our long term national interests," he said.
Asked whether the U.S. government is now facing a "more abbreviated time frame" on key decisions in Egypt and Syria, Obama repeatedly gave a one-word response: yes.
Asked about claims by anti-regime activists in Syria that Bashar Al-Assad's government used chemical weapons in an attack that was said to have killed more than 1,300 people, Obama responded that officials are "right now gathering information" and that "what we've seen indicates that this is clearly a big event of grave concern."
"It is very troublesome," he stressed. On Thursday, Obama ordered local spy agencies to urgently probe claims of the chemical attack in Syria.
He said U.S. officials are pushing "to prompt better action" from the United Nations, and are calling on the Syrian government to allow an investigation of the site of the alleged attack outside Damascus.
"We don't expect cooperation (from the Syrian government), given their past history," Obama conceded.
He quickly followed up with a warning, however, that "core national interests" of the U.S. are now involved in Syria's civil war, "both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region."
Cuomo asked Obama to respond to harsh criticism from his 2008 presidential rival, Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, who told CNN a day earlier that America's credibility in the region has been damaged by a slow administration response in both Syria and Egypt.
"When the president of the United States says that if he uses these weapons that it would be a, quote, 'red line and a game-changer,' (Assad) now sees that as a green light," McCain said.
In response, Obama said, "I am sympathetic to Senator McCain's passion for helping people work through what is an extraordinarily difficult and heartbreaking situation, both in Syria and in Egypt. But what I think the American people also expect me to do as president is to think through what we do from the perspective of what is in our long term national interests."
Obama said last year that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a "red line" and force a tough U.S. response, but so far has failed to deliver such a response other than deciding to directly arm selected Syrian rebel groups without publicly specifying the extent of the support.
"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it," Obama told CNN.
"Do we have the coalition to make it work?" he asked. "You know, those are considerations that we have to take into account."
The costs of military action "have to take those into account as we try to work within an international framework to do everything we can to see Assad ousted," Obama concluded.

Wall Street Journal: Netanyahu Has Red Lines, Obama Doesn't

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 18 July 2013 08:55
Netanyahu embraces ObamaA Wall Street Journal editorial has claimed that Israel has attacked Syria at least four times in 2013.
The editorial, which appeared in the print edition of the newspaper on Tuesday, was critical of U.S. President Barack Obama over his inaction on Syria, while noting that Israel has red lines and it acts on them when they are crossed.
It asserted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments during an interview with CBS this week were confirmation that Israel had carried out air strikes near the Syrian port city of Latakia to destroy Russian-supplied anti-ship missiles.
I'm not in the habit of saying what we did or we didn't do," Netanyahu said, adding, "My policy is to prevent the transfer of dangerous weapons to Hizbullah and other terror groups.”
“So Israel has red lines after all,” said the Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Netanyahu's non-denial amounts to confirmation that Israel has launched at least four attacks on Syrian targets this year. Previous targets include a convoy of surface-to-air missiles headed for Lebanon, and an arms depot near Damascus believed to contain Iranian ballistic missiles that could have brought Tel Aviv within Hizbullah’s range.”
The article then went on to criticize Obama, who has in the past said that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would be a red line that “would change my equation.” The editorial quoted two similar statements by Obama, one dated August 2012 and another one from this past March.
“As everyone—most especially Bashar Assad—now knows, Mr. Obama has no red lines regarding Syria or chemical weapons,” the editorial charged. “Even his belated policy change to deliver small arms to the opposition is bogged down in bureaucratic inertia and congressional resistance. Readers may or may not think the U.S. should involve itself in Syria, but serious powers cannot issue empty threats and not expect consequences.”
The U.S. government, which has confirmed that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel forces on multiple occasions, has said it will increase the “scope and scale” of its assistance to rebels in Syria in response.
U.S. sources said last week that congressional committees are holding up a plan to send U.S. weapons to rebels fighting Assad, fearing such deliveries will not be decisive and the arms might end up in the hands of Islamist rebel groups.
Finally, noted the Wall Street Journal editorial, “In his CBS interview, Mr. Netanyahu was also asked when he would be prepared to take military action to stop Iran's nuclear programs. ‘Well, I can tell you I won't wait until it's too late,’ he replied. The Prime Minister has been saying this for nearly two years, perhaps waiting for the U.S. to act instead, but he is learning in Syria that Israel will have to enforce its own red lines.”

Obama Orders Review of U.S. Aid to Egypt

Category: News
Created on Friday, 12 July 2013 10:36
Bemoaning the loss of his anonymity AFP  
Hours after United States officials confirmed that plans to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Egypt will go ahead despite the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, President Barack Obama took a step back and ordered a review of U.S. assistance to Egypt's government.
"Given the events of last week, the President has directed relevant departments and agencies to review our assistance to the government of Egypt," said a Pentagon statement quoted by Al Jazeera.
Earlier Wednesday, officials told the Reuters news agency that the United States plans to go through with the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks.
"There is no current change in the plan to deliver F-16s to the Egyptian military," said one official.
In February, Egypt received four F-16 aircraft from the United States, part of a group of 20 F-16s that are expected to be delivered to Egypt this year. They are part of the US$1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.
The White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”
A decision to brand Morsi’s ouster a coup would, by law, require the Obama administration to halt aid to the Egyptian army.
On Saturday, Obama said the United States is “not aligned” with any political party or group in Egypt following Morsi’s ouster.
Last week, protesting Egyptians blamed Obama, who was a principal backer of the revolution against Hosni Mubarak and enthusiastically endorsed the election of Morsi, for the ousted president's repressive ways.
Republican Senator John McCain has called for a suspension of United States military aid to Egypt following the latest events.
“I’ve thought long and hard about this, but I believe that we have to suspend the aid to the Egyptian military, because the Egyptian military has overturned the vote of the people of Egypt,” McCain said.
“We cannot repeat the same mistakes we made at other times in our history by supporting the removal of freely elected governments,” the 2008 presidential candidate said.

U.S. Cautious on Egypt, Calls for Quick Return to Democracy

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 06 July 2013 10:45
Barack Obama addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 25 2012. Reuters 
U.S. President Barack Obama held a meeting with members of his national security team on Thursday to discuss the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a White House spokeswoman said, according to Politico.
Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry were among those joining the meeting in the White House Situation Room, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said, adding that some officials took part by secure video conference.
"Members of the president's national security team have been in touch with Egyptian officials and our regional partners to convey the importance of a quick and responsible return of full authority to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible; a transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups; avoiding any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters; and the responsibility of all groups and parties to avoid violence," Meehan said, according to Politico.
The meeting came one day after Egypt's army ousted and detained Morsi, after a week of deadly clashes and mass protests calling for him to go.
After Morsi was forced out, Obama issued a statement saying he was "deeply concerned" by the role of the Egyptian military in the Egyptian president's ouster, which followed massive street protests. However, Obama's statement did not call Morsi's ouster a coup, which could trigger a halt on U.S. aid.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr on Thursday told Kerry that the overthrow of Morsi had not been a military coup.
"I hope that they read the situation in the right way, that this is not a military coup in any way. This was actually the overwhelming will of the people," Amr said.
Meanwhile on Thursday, the spokesman of Egypt's military said the army would not carry out any exceptional or arbitrary measures against any political group.
Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on his official Facebook page that the armed forces and security agencies want to "ensure national reconciliation, constructive justice and tolerance."
He noted that said only peaceful protests will be tolerated, urging Egyptians to avoid attacks on Brotherhood offices to prevent an "endless cycle of revenge."
Earlier, Obama said he was "deeply concerned" over Morsi's ouster and urged the army to refrain from "arbitrary arrests".
After Morsi’s ouster, the military arrested several Muslim Brotherhood officials, including its chief Mohammed Badie.
The Egyptian Islamic Coalition, headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, has called on supporters to take to the streets after Friday prayers and hold huge rallies.
Citizens were asked told to “demonstrate peacefully and say 'no' to the army's arrests and 'no' to the military coup.

Egyptians Blame Obama for Morsi Repression

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 04 July 2013 07:22
Egyptians Blame Obama for Morsi RepressionEgyptians have been protesting by the millions against now ex-President Mohammed Morsi, but there have been other noticeable themes among protesters – specifically, the anti-American theme. While Morsi's dictatorial ways and bumbling of the economy have been the central complaint of protesters, the image of U.S. President Barack H. Obama has been prominent on many protest signs.
Obama, it will be recalled, was a principal backer of the revolution against Hosni Mubarak, and enthusiastically endorsed the election of Morsi as the first democratically elected leader of Egypt ever. When Morsi was elected in June 2012, Obama called him to congratulate him on his victory. In a statement, the White House said that the U.S. “will continue to support Egypt’s transition to democracy and stand by the Egyptian people as they fulfill the promise of their revolution.” The statement also “emphasized [Obama's] interest in working together with President-elect Morsi, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States.”
It later became clear that the Egyptian people did not necessarily appreciate Obama's expressions of support for Morsi. In September, an Egyptian mob stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, at the same time the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. In an interview, Obama said of Egypt that “I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy.” Regardless, he said, the current government in Egypt was “democratically elected. I think it's a work in progress.”
As protests began to mount towards the end of 2012, Obama began expressing concern over Morsi's repressive ways. In a statement on December 6, the White House said that “President Obama called President Morsi today to express his deep concern about the deaths and injuries of protesters in Egypt. The President emphasized that all political leaders in Egypt should make clear to their supporters that violence is unacceptable. He welcomed President Morsi’s call for a dialogue with the opposition but stressed that such a dialogue should occur without preconditions... He reiterated the United States’ continued support for the Egyptian people and their transition to a democracy that respects the rights of all Egyptians.”
Still, Obama was clearly on Morsi's side; in May 2013, he overrode a Congressional effort to withhold military funding to Egypt, issuing a waiver authorizing transfer of the aid over restrictions imposed by Congress, which had sought to tie the assistance to progress in human rights efforts. According to senior Congressional officials, it was unlikely Egypt could have met those criteria.
The funding was not widely publicized in the U.S., but it was noticed by the Egyptian people, who began blaming the U.S., and particularly Obama, for supporting the repressive Morsi regime. During the recent protests that led up to Morsi's ouster, many signs and shouts accusing Obama of supporting repression could be seen in Tahrir Square, and in other protest centers.
The phenomenon was clear to CNN's Reza Sayah, who on Wednesday night commented on the signs claiming that Obama “had allied himself with terrorists,” “Obama backs a fascist regime in Egypt,” “Obama is killing Egyptians,” and others. “Egyptians love Americans,” Sayeh said, “but they don’t love U.S. foreign policy. Remember, they will never forget that for decades, it was Washington that supported the dictator Hosni Mubarak and his brutal police state.”
On Thursday, the State Department ordered the departure of all non-essential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. A skeleton staff will be kept on at the site, with families and non-essential personnel to be evacuated from the country. The State Department did not say if it feared a takeover of the embassy. So far, no other foreign governments have ordered an evacuation of their personnel from Egypt.

West rebukes Putin over Syria at G8 summit

Category: News
Created on Monday, 17 June 2013 18:18
British PM David Cameron L and Russian President Vladimir Putin  AFP 
Western leaders rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad attempt to crush a two-year-old uprising, setting the stage for a tense G8 summit of the world’s most powerful nations.
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to use his first face-to-face meeting with Putin in a year to try to persuade the Kremlin chief to bring Assad to the negotiating table to end a conflict in which at least 93,000 people have been killed.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is chairing the G8 summit in a remote golf resort in Northern Ireland, conceded there was “a big difference” between the positions of Russia and the West on how to resolve the war.
In some of his most colorful remarks on Syria, Putin described anti-Assad rebels as cannibals who ate human flesh and warned Obama of the dangers of giving guns to such people. Moscow also said it would not permit no-fly zones over to Syria.
For their part, Western leaders have criticized Russia, Syria’s most powerful ally, for sending weapons to Assad forces and considering deliveries of a sophisticated missile system.
“How can we allow that Russia continues to deliver arms to the Bashar al-Assad regime when the opposition receives very few and is being massacred?” French President Francois Hollande asked.
Stung by recent victories for Assad’s forces and their support from Hezbollah guerrillas, the United States said last week it would step up military aid to the rebels including automatic weapons, light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
In an apparent response to this development, Assad said Europe would “pay the price” if it delivered arms to rebel forces, saying that would result in the export of terrorism to Europe.
“Terrorists will gain experience in combat and return with extremist ideologies,” he said in an advance extract of an interview due to be published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday.
Divisions over Syria dominated the atmosphere as global leaders streamed into the heavily guarded resort in Northern Ireland, a place once rocked by decades of violence but which Cameron now wants to showcase as a model of conflict resolution.
Despite the disagreements over Syria, Putin and his Western counterparts appeared cordial in their public appearances. The Kremlin chief cracked a grin as he shook Cameron’s hand outside the venue, as police helicopters surveyed the site overhead.
Moscow and Washington both agree that the bloodshed in Syria should stop and say they are genuinely trying to overcome mistrust between them. They had earlier agreed to set up a Syrian peace conference in Geneva but progress has been slow.
The European Union has dropped its arms embargo on Syria, allowing France and Britain to arm the rebels, though Cameron expressed concern about some of Assad’s foes.
“Let’s be clear - I am as worried as anybody else about elements of the Syrian opposition, who are extremists, who support terrorism and who are a great danger to our world,” Cameron said.
Syria aside, Cameron wants to focus on the formal agenda on tax, trade and transparency, dubbed “The Three Ts,” topics expected to dominate discussions on Tuesday.
As the summit kicked off on Monday afternoon, the United States and the EU opened negotiations for the world’s most ambitious free-trade deal, promising thousands of new jobs and accelerated growth on both sides of the Atlantic.
Obama-Putin talks
The spotlight was on Obama and Putin who were due to meet at about 6:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) at the Lough Erne golf resort about10 km (7 miles) outside the Northern Irish town of Enniskillen, scene of an IRA bomb attack in 1987 that killed 11 people.
Security was tight and the venue was surrounded by a 15-ft high steel fence. Unlike previous summits which have seen often turbulent anti-capitalist protests, the meeting failed to attract any crowds, possibly due to its remote location.
In a speech in Belfast, Obama urged young people in Northern Ireland to finish making “permanent peace” and set an example to other areas of the world stricken by conflict.
Cameron could also face some awkward questions at the G8 table after a Guardian newspaper report that Britain spied on officials taking part in two Group of 20 meetings in 2009.
In a report published just hours before the G8 summit, the daily said some delegates from countries in the Group of 20 - which comprises top economies around the world - used Internet cafes that had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their emails.
“If these allegations prove to be true, it will be condemned in the strongest fashion and the necessary action taken,” said Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, who the Guardian said had his calls intercepted by Britain.
The leaders of the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and Italy - representing just over half of the $71.7 trillion global economy - will also discuss global economy and trade.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders are likely to say they are not content with progress so far in fixing their economies in the wake of the global financial crisis, according to a draft communique seen by Reuters.
Abe will use the opportunity to explain his blend of fiscal and monetary stimuli known as ‘Abenomics’ to the leaders as investors try to absorb the implications of a signal by the U.S. Federal Reserve it may start to slow its money-printing.

Obama Slaps Sanctions on Iran's Currency and Auto Industry

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 07:38
Iranian Rial AFPThe Obama administration on Monday announced new sanctions on Iran, targeting the country's currency and automobile industry, USA Today reports.
An executive order by President Barack Obama authorizes sanctions on foreign financial institutions that make transactions in Iran's currency, the rial, or keep accounts denominated in the rial outside the country.
The new rules, which go into effect July 1, penalize the sale of goods and services to Iran's auto industry, a key part of the country's economy, the report said.
"The steps taken today are part of President Obama's commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, by raising the cost of Iran's defiance of the international community," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
"Even as we intensify our pressure on the Iranian government, we hold the door open to a diplomatic solution that allows Iran to rejoin the community of nations if they meet their obligations," he added.
The latest executive order is the ninth Obama has signed on Iran since the start of his presidency and the sixth in the last two years.
It marks the first time the White House has taken aim at Iran's currency. Administration officials aim to effectively make the rial unusable outside of Iran.
The value of the rial has fallen by more than half since the beginning of last year as Iran has endured mounting sanctions from the United States and international community. Several months ago the Iranian currency plummeted to an all-time low. Previous sanctions targeting Iran's oil industry have resulted in the country's exports also falling dramatically.
Ahmadinejad at UN - ReutersIran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a rare acknowledgment several months ago of the economic challenges his country is facing.
“This was a very difficult year for our economy,” Ahmadinejad said, accusing the United States of using its vast economic might to exert unfair pressure on the much smaller Iranian economy.
The country’s Finance Minister, Shamseddin Hosseini, recently said that international sanctions against his country had pushed inflation above 30% and were causing "a lot of trouble.”
At the same time he stressed that Iran's nuclear drive would not be halted.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that he is not optimistic that Iran's upcoming presidential election will result in any change in the country's nuclear ambitions.
"I do not have high expectations that the election is going to change the fundamental calculus of Iran," Kerry said. "This is not a portfolio that is in the hands of a new president or the president; it's in the hands of the supreme leader. And the supreme leader ultimately will make that decision, I believe."
Kerry said the U.S. would continue to pursue a peaceful resolution to the impasse but warned that time is running out. Iran's persistent defiance of international demands to come clean about its nuclear program makes the world more dangerous, he said.
"Iran needs to understand that the clock is ticking," warned Kerry.

Rebels clash with Syrian government forces AFP file

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 April 2013 13:15
Rebels clash with Syrian government forces - AFPPresident Barack Obama authorized the release of as much as $10 million in additional aid to rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, as calls continued for the U.S. to arm the rebels.
The president, in a directive to the secretaries of state and defense, said the U.S. would draw on the inventories of government agencies to provide “nonlethal commodities and services” as well as food and medical supplies, Bloomberg reported.
“The humanitarian crisis has gotten worse” in Syria, Obama told reporters at the White House before starting a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The president said he and Ban share the view that the conflict there is “at a critical juncture.”
Senator Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who heads the Foreign Relations Committee, said he will introduce legislation to allow the U.S. to provide weapons to the Syrian opposition.
“The time has come, in some form, to provide military aid,” to Syrian rebels, Menendez said at a committee hearing, according to Bloomberg. The chairman also proposed that the U.S. give Syrian rebels training and intelligence on the Assad regime’s assets.
"Shouldn't we do something to prevent this massive slaughter that's going on?" said Senator John McCain during a heated exchange that ended with him walking out of the hearing, as Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, was replying to one of his questions.
The administration is discussing different ways to step up support for rebels who are demanding more U.S. involvement in the two-year conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people.
The UK and France are pushing to lift a European Union arms embargo on Syria and already supply rebels with military-style equipment such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.
Syrian opposition leaders renewed their appeals for arms at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, but the White House has been reluctant to do more because weapons could end up in the hands of Islamic terrorists.
A statement on Wednesday by the head of Syria's jihadist Al-Nusra Front pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri will only increase Western doubts about arming the rebels.
The statement came several days after leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged rebels to fight to establish an Islamic state in Syria.
Islamist rebel groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, which has links to Al-Qaeda, have eschewed the main opposition National Coalition.
Al-Nusra is one of 13 factions in the radical Islamist rebel council that announced its secession from the main opposition force and declared its own Islamic state in Aleppo.

Hizbullah Slams Obama for Calling it a 'Terrorist Organization'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 24 March 2013 19:11
HezbollahThe Hizbullah terrorist group on Friday slammed U.S. President Barack Obama's demand that nations list it as a terrorist organization, AFP reported.
The group said Obama spoke like "an employee of the Zionist entity."
"He speaks like an employee of the Zionist entity (Israel) and not the highest-ranking official in the administration of the independent state that is the United States," the group said in a statement issued overnight, according to AFP.
"Obama wants the Arabs to accept the enemy entity as a Jewish state in the region and begin complete normalization with it while he fails to mention any of the just demands of the Palestinians," it added.
"In addition, to please the enemy entity, he is calling on the world to consider Hizbullah, one of the main parts of the resistance, as a terrorist group. This confirms the folly of counting on negotiations and proves that the choice of resistance is correct," said the Lebanon-based organization.
The statement came a day after Obama, speaking during his speech to Jerusalem, urged foreign governments to blacklist the group as a "terrorist organization."
"Every country that values justice should call Hizbullah what it truly is -- a terrorist organization," he said, in remarks apparently aimed at the European Union, which has declined to put the group on a list of terrorist movements.
Hizbullah has been on a U.S. terror blacklist since 1995, after a series of anti-American attacks including the bombing of the embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in the 1980s.
Pressure on the EU to add Hizbullah to the list of recognized terror groups has increased since Bulgaria named the terror group as being behind the attack in Burgas last July, in which five Israelis were killed.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the EU to follow Washington's lead by designating Hizbullah as terrorists in a move that will notably lead to a crackdown on its fund-raising activities.
However, diplomats have indicated that it is unlikely that Europe will name Hizbullah a terrorist organization because of its political strength in Lebanon.
Shortly after the Burgas bombing, the EU decided not to list Hizbullah as a terrorist group.
On Thursday, a Cypriot court convicted a self-confessed Hizbullah operative who had been accused of involvement in a plot to attack Israeli interests on the Mediterranean island.
Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a dual Lebanese and Swedish citizen arrested in the port of Limassol in July last year, was found guilty on five counts -- including participating in a criminal organization, taking part in a criminal act and money laundering.

US Pres. Obama in Israel: ‘Peace Must Come to Holy Land’

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 11:00
Obama in Israel“Peace must come to the Holy Land,” proclaimed US President Barack Obama on Wednesday after stepping down on to the tarmac at Ben Gurion Int’l Airport.
“We will never lose sight of an Israel at peace with its neighbors,” Obama insisted, making clear his determination to again try to revive the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Obama’s visit to the region in this, his second term, differs from his previous tour of the Middle East when he skipped Israel altogether and instead headed to Egypt, to make a speech from Cairo that some analysts believe may have contributed to the region wide Arab Spring uprisings.
Straight and to the point, the American president told Israelis on the tarmac Wednesday morning, “Our alliance is eternal. It is forever.
"On this land I walk with you, on the historic homeland of the Jewish people," President Obama stated. "Over 3,000 years ago your people lived here, tended the land here, and prayed to God here. And after centuries of exile and persecution unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption," the president said.
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded in the red-carpet welcoming ceremony by thanking Obama for standing up for Israel’s right to defend its own existence.
“This is an historic moment,” Netanyahu said. “You have chosen to come to Israel as the first foreign visit of your second term, you the leader of the United States, the world's greatest democracy, have chosen to come to our somewhat smaller but no less vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East, the one and only Jewish state of Israel.
“On behalf of the government and the people of Israel, I come here today with a simple message for you and the American people:   Thank you. Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East.
“Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat. Thank you for enhancing Israel’s’ ability to exercise that right through generous military assistance, revolutionary missile defense programs, and unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for upholding the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state in our historic homeland, and for boldly defending that right at the United Nations. And thank you for strengthening the unbreakable alliance between our two nations during your Presidency.
“The people of Israel are honored to have you visit our country.  We warmly welcome you as a cherished guest. We deeply appreciate your friendship. And we share your hope that the Middle East will enjoy a future of freedom, prosperity and peace.
"Mr. President, Baruch HaBa L'Yisrael: welcome to Israel."

Obama: Iran a Year Away from Getting a Nuclear Bomb

Category: News
Created on Friday, 15 March 2013 22:08
Obama.Iran is "over a year or so" from getting a nuclear bomb, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News on Thursday, a week before his visit to Israel.
Obama laid out a clear timeline for Iran to acquire a military nuclear capacity, while insisting that the U.S. would not wait until the last minute to take action to stop it.
"We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously, we don't want to cut it too close," he said.
He emphasized that should diplomacy fail, all options remained "on the table" for stopping Iran.
"My message to (Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu) will be the same as before: if we can resolve it diplomatically, that's a more lasting solution. But if not, I continue to keep all options on the table," said Obama.
Asked if there was a realistic option that he would order an attack on Iran's nuclear sites, he replied, "When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table and the United States obviously has significant capabilities.
"But our goal here is to make sure that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel or could trigger an arms race in the region -- that would be extraordinarily dangerous at a time when obviously there are already a lot of things going on," he said.
Iran possessing a nuclear weapons would be "a red line" for the United States, Obama said, insisting that he would have the necessary support within his cabinet should a military strike become necessary.
"I think my cabinet is prepared for a whole range of contingencies," he said, adding, "Secretary (of State John) Kerry and Secretary (of Defense Chuck) Hagel share my fundamental view that the issue of Iran's nuclear capability is an issue of U.S. national security interest as well as Israel's national security interest."
Obama said his trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority is meant to "listen" to both sides and hear their views on how to move forward after over two years without peace talks.
"My goal on this trip is to listen. I intend to meet with Bibi (Netanyahu)... I intend to meet with Fayyad and Abu Mazen (PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas) and to hear from them what is their strategy, what is their vision, where do they think this should go?" said Obama.
"To Abu Mazen, I will say that trying to unilaterally go to, for example, the United Nations, and do an end run around Israel, is not going to be successful," he said.
"To Bibi (Netanyahu) I would suggest to him that he should have an interest in strengthening the moderate leadership inside the Palestinian Authority ...For example, making sure that issues like settlements are viewed through the lens of: Is this making it harder or easier for Palestinian moderates to sit down at the table," added Obama.
"I think we're past the point where we should be even talking about pre-conditions and steps and sequences. Everybody knows what's going to be involved here in setting up two states, side by side living in peace and security," he said.
"How we get into those conversations, whether they can happen soon or whether there needs to be some further work done on the ground, that's part of what I'll explore when I'll get there," he said.
In the same interview Obama said that he has no plan for pardoning Jonathan Pollard soon.
"This is an individual who committed a very serious crime," he said. "He has been serving his time. There is a justice system that allows for periodic review and the way I as president function here is to try and make sure that I am following the basic rules of that review.”

Hamas: Obama Visit to Temple Mount - a Declaration of War

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 10 March 2013 16:43
Visiting the Temple MountThe Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups threatened on Friday that a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Temple Mount during his upcoming visit to Israel will be a declaration of war on the Arab and the Islamic world.
A Hamas representative in the Al-Aqsa mosque, Mushir al-Masri, even called for a third intifada (uprising) and for Egyptian assistance in the "resistance" if Obama chooses to visit the Temple Mount.
According to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency, the Gaza-based terrorist organizations made the threats during a protest march on Friday over the riots that broke out earlier in the day on the Temple Mount.
According to the report, Khalid al-Batash, a senior Islamic Jihad member, also called to prevent Obama from visiting the compound.
Obama will be arriving in the region later this month, and PA media has been widely speculating that he plans to visit the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque. However, Washington is not planning such a visit.
Political and religious leaders in the Palestinian Authority have stressed that Obama should not visit the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in a way that might compromise what they called its "Muslim sovereignty."
Sheikh Akrameh Sabri, head of the higher Islamic council and former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, said that Obama must enter through a gate that was not under Israeli auspices.
"Any visitor is welcome to Al-Aqsa, but they should follow the regulations of the Waqf and enter through the Lions' Gate and not through Mughrabi Gate, to ensure Muslim sovereignty," he said.
Israel liberated the Temple Mount during the 1967 Six Day War, leaving the Waqf in charge of the compound.
The Waqf, in return, has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the Jewish holy site and has consistently destroyed Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.
Several Israeli police officers and Muslim worshippers were injured during the Temple Mount riots on Friday afternoon.
The riots began when the worshippers started throwing rocks at security forces.
Police stationed at the Mughrabi gate broke in and began to throw stun grenades to disperse the stone throwers. The rioters responded with firebombs.
According to the police, nine officers and five protesters were injured during the incident.

'Iran is Close to that Red Line; it Must Not Cross':Netanyahu

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 March 2013 18:52
Binyamin NetanyahuIn his address to the AIPAC 2013 conference Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had some advice for his American listeners: “Don't adopt Israel's system of government.” Netanyahu said that he would have liked to be at the conference, instead of speaking to the audience via video hookup, but “I am stuck here in Israel working on the fun job of putting together a coalition. You in the U.S. think you have problem with your politics, but believe me this is harder,” Netanyahu said.
Still, in the midst of the rancorous coalition negotiations, Netanyahu found time to address the thousands of delegates to the AIPAC conference, telling them that he would form a government “in the next few days. And the first thing my new government will do is welcome President Obama, and thank him for his support of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Despite the close relationship with the U.S., Israel had a somewhat different view of some of the regional issues, especially Iran - one of the three topics Netanyahu planned to discuss with Obama when he arrives for a visit in Israel later this month. The other topics, he said, included the peace process, and the growing instability in Syria.

Speaking before Netanyahu at the conference, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden praised the sanctions undertaken by many Western countries against Iran, saying that they had done much damage to the Iranian economy. “Sanctions have hurt Iran, this is true,” Netanyahu said. But it still hasn't stopped Iran from its attempts to achieve nuclear weapons, and most likely wouldn't. “Iran has made it clear that it plans to continue to defy the international community. It is running out the clock, buying time to complete its development,” the Prime Minister said.
Iran “has not crossed the red line I pointed out at the United Nations, but it is getting very close,” Netanyahu said. “We cannot allow Iran to cross that red line. We have to stop its nuclear enrichment program before it's too late.”
And declarations and penalization of Iran's economy wouldn't do the job. “Words and sanction will not stop Iran,” Netanyahu said. “They must be coupled with a clear military threat. As President Obama says – Israel must be able to defend itself,” and Israel will never let itself be in a situation where it faced annihilation. “We will never let that happen again. We have our place under the sun, and we shall defend it.” Quoting British World War II leader Winston Churchill, Netanyahu said that “the rebirth of Israel is one of the greatest events in history. We never lose sight of that perspective.”
Syria was a major security issue for Israel as well. “Over the last two years over 70,000 Syrians have been killed,” Netanyahu said, pointing out the enormity of the humanitarian crisis. “But Syria could soon become a strategic crisis,” the Prime Minister said. “It is a poor country but it has chemical weapons, and some of the most dangerous weapons in the world. And as Syria falls the danger of these weapons falling into terrorists' hands grows.” Hizbullah and other terror groups, "like leeches feeding off a live body," were striving to get control of Syria's weapons, even before Bashar Assad falls. Israel could not allow this to happen either, Netanyahu said, and would take appropriate steps to prevent it. “And I know President Obama fully appreciates Israel's need to defend itself.”
Regarding the peace process, Netanyahu said, to the applause of the audience, that “Israel is prepared for a meaningful compromise. But I will never compromise on Israel's security.” That means that the peace process, whatever its results, “must end our conflict for once and for all.”
In addition, he said, an agreement with the PA must provide “a durable and defensible peace.
A peace you cannot defend will not last five minutes. And it must be verifiable – that our neighbors keep to their commitments, and educate their children for peace.” Changing the education of the next generation of Arab youth, Netanyahu said, “is very important for Israel. With President Obama we shall work for peace,” Netanyahu declared.
In addition, the Prime Minister said, Netanyahu said he looked forward to “showing President Obama another side of Israel, a technological side” that provides much benefit for the entire world, through its breakthroughs in medical, environmental, agricultural, and other technologies. Israel, Netanyahu added, “is an oasis of liberty and progress,” and he was excited to be showing Obama what was right with Israel.

Three-way Netanyahu, Obama, Abbas Meeting Likely

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 07 February 2013 07:54
BB - ObamaAlthough details of President Barack H. Obama's visit to Israel remained murky, former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is convinced that Obama will be meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas – together. In a post on his Facebook page Thursday, Ayalon said that plans for such a summit meeting were being woven “even as I write this.”
Obama is set to arrive in the region on March 20, and will visit Israel, the PA, and various countries in the region. White House sources said that Obama would not be bringing a new peace plan with him, and that the agenda was still open.
The last time Obama came to the Middle East, he skipped Israel altogether; this time, Obama seems to be trying to “correct his error by visiting Israel first when he comes to the Middle East,” Ayalon wrote. “The purpose of the visit, it appears to me, is to restore the United States to its chief role in the Mideast peace process,” a role the U.S. has let slip over the past several years as it has been wrapped up in dealing with the financial crisis.
“After the polite talk, Obama and Bibi will get down to cases,”Ayalon wrote; specifically “joint actions to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the neutralization of the major threats against Israel in the wake of the fall of Bashar al-Assad and the unrest in the Arab world, and restoring the peace process. These are the three topics the two will speak about, in the order of their importance,” he wrote.
Although the White House claims that it has nothing “special” planned for this trip, “when the leader of the most powerful country in the world leaves his country for a visit abroad, it's logical to expect that some understandings are already in place. There is no doubt that at this moment there is active and spirited discussion on a Netanyahu-Abbas-Obama summit, that perhaps even King Abdullah of Jordan will attend as well.
“The news of the visit even while coalition talks are going strong, shows that the world is not waiting for us,” Ayalon added.

U.S. President Barack Obama to visit West Bank, Jordan and Israel

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 18:04
Netanyahu speaks to ObamaPresident Barack Obama will stop in the West Bank and Jordan on his trip to the Middle East in the coming months on a trip which will also include his first visit as U.S. leader to Israel, the White House said Tuesday.
Officials had earlier disclosed Obama would visit Israel this Spring and the White House later confirmed that the trip would also involve travel to Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, discussed the matter in a telephone call on Jan. 28, the official said.
“The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria,” the official said.
“Additional details about the trip - including the dates of travel - will be released at a later time.”

Obama Reiterates Opposition to Abbas's UN Bid

Category: News
Created on Monday, 12 November 2012 16:00
Obama and Chairman AbbasU.S. President Barack Obama told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday that his administration opposes his bid for non-state membership of the UN, both sides said, according to an AFP report.
"There was a long telephone conversation between president Mahmoud Abbas and Barack Obama," Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.
"Obama expressed the opposition of the United States to the decision to go to the UN General Assembly," he added
Abbas explained "the reasons and motives for the Palestinian decision to go to the UN ... including the continued (Jewish) settlement activity and Israeli aggression against citizens and property," Abu Rudeina said.
In a subsequent statement quoted by AFP, the White House said Obama had "reiterated the United States' opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations" in the call to Abbas.
Obama "reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security," it said.
Obama said he hoped he and Abbas would "continue cooperating closely in the future," added the statement, noting that Obama was returning a congratulatory call made by Abbas after his re-election last week.
Earlier on Sunday, Abbas used the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death to adamantly state he will submit a bid to the United Nations General Assembly this month for non-member status.
"We're going to the United Nations in November 2012, not 2013, or 2014," Abbas said at a Ramallah event commemorating the eighth anniversary of the death of Arafat. The bid is a scaled-down version of his ploy last year, when he dropped his bid for full membership in the UN after it became clear that he was one vote short of the needed two-thirds support in the Security Council.
On paper, Abbas has an overwhelming majority to win the vote in the General Assembly, where the U.S. does not have veto power as it does in the Security Council.
Last Thursday, envoys from the Palestinian Authority unveiled the resolution they hope will give them observer membership at the United Nations.
Arab League foreign ministers are to discuss the resolution sometime this week. The PA’s mission to the United Nations sent a letter to UN members with its proposed resolution, saying it would be put to the 193 member UN General Assembly "at a date to be announced in the near future."
The Obama administration indicated already two months ago that it opposes the PA’s unilateral move and said it would “make the case” at the UN for Israeli-PA talks when Abbas submits his bid.
Channel 10 News reported last week that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has threatened that if the PA goes ahead with its unilateral statehood bid he “will work to ensure the PA will collapse.”
Lieberman reportedly stressed that a unilateral statehood bid by the PA will "put an end to the chances to resume peace negotiations."
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz also threatened the PA on Saturday, saying that Israel would once again halt the transfer of the taxes it collects for the Palestinian Authority if it pursues its statehood bid.

Celebrating attack on Benghazi, 11/9/12 Reuters

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 01 November 2012 17:47
Celebrating attack on Benghazi 11912The father of ex-Marine Tyrone Woods gave an emotional interview to Fox News' Sean Hannity Monday, in which he blamed the White House for refusing to send help to the U.S. consular compound in Benghazi when it came under a terror attack September 11. Tyrone disobeyed orders to stand down and came to the assistance of the beseiged consulate. He was subsequently killed in the attack. Larger U.S. forces that could have come to the consulate's aid did not do so, upon orders from above.
"They watched my son die," said Charles Woods. "As far as I'm concerned, there are people, in the White House, whoever it was that was in that room, watching that video of my son dying, their cries for help, their order 'don't help them at all, let them die,' whoever that might be, it might be numerous people, you have the blood of my son, you have the blood of an American hero on your hands. I don't know who you are, but one of these days the truth will come out. I still forgive you, but you need to stand up."
When asked by Hannity why he thinks the White House obfuscated the nature of the attack for weeks on end, he  replied: "I don't know what their motivation is, but Hillary, a couple of days later when the bodies were flown in, she had the nerve to lie to me. I knew she wasn't telling me the truth. She's smarter than I am. She had to know the story she gave me about the film was not the truth either."
He was referring to the Obama administration spin that portrayed the attack as a spontaneous reaction by an angry Muslim crowd to an unprofessional anti-Islamic video made by a group of private citizens in California.
"I don't want to point any fingers," said Woods, "but obviously, people in the White House were watching this happen. Real time. They – someone in the White House, or many people in the White House, watched the events unfolding, and knew that if they gave the order to stand down, that my son would die. They watched my son die.
"As far as I am concerned, there are people in the White House – whoever it was that was in that room watching that video with my son dying, their cries for help, their order 'don't help them at all, let them die' – whoever that might be, it might be numerous people – you have the blood of my son; you have the blood of an American hero on your hands. I don't know who you are, but one of these days the truth will come out. I still forgive you, but you need to stand up.

Obama Watched Libya Attack Live

Category: Reports
Created on Sunday, 28 October 2012 22:49
Obama - ClintonRetired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer said Saturday on Fox News that sources told him President Barack Obama was in the White House Situation Room watching the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya as it unfolded.
Two unarmed U.S. drones were dispatched to the consulate, recording and transmitting the final hours of the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“This was in the middle of the business day in Washington, so everybody at the White House, CIA, Pentagon, everybody was watching this go down,” Shaffer said. “According to my sources, yes, [Obama] was one of those in the White House Situation Room in real-time watching this.”
Shaffer served as a senior operations officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan in 2003 and wrote a book critical of the policies there, which the U.S. government prevented from being distributed because it allegedly contained information that compromised security.
Shaffer said the question now is what precisely Obama did or didn’t do in the moments he saw the attack unfolding. The CIA reportedly made three urgent requests for military backup that were each denied.
“He, only he, could issue a directive to Secretary of Defense Panetta to do something. That’s the only place it could be done,” Shaffer said.
Col. David Hunt, a Fox News military analyst, said the military could have had jets in the air within 20 minutes and forces on the ground within two hours.
“The issue is always political with the White House, but the secretary of defense gives the order, has to be approved by the White House, they wouldn’t pull the trigger, and it’s disgraceful,” Hunt said. “We’ve got guys dead.”

Obama Loses It

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 25 October 2012 18:20
Obama speaks at a campaign event in the swng state of Iowa ReutersThey call him Cool Barry and No Drama Obama, but President Barack Obama appears to be losing his nerve in the final fortnight of the race for his second term.
Obama is quoted in an interview for Rolling Stone using the expression "bull****ter" regarding his opponent, Mitt Romney.  
In the interview, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley recorded a conversation between Obama and Eric Bates, the executive editor of Rolling Stone. Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old daughter if she had a message for the president, and she said: "Tell him: you can do it."
Obama then replied with a grin: "You know, kids have good instincts. They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bull****ter, I can tell'.
Asked to explain Obama's remark, spokesman Dan Pfeiffer told reporters that he hadn't seen the article. However, he went on to say: "Trust is a very important part of the election. The president is someone who says what he means and does what he says, and Governor Romney's answers in the debates on domestic issues and foreign policy raise real questions about that."
Civility in any presidential contest is expected, but it is probably more important in this one, because of the race factor. Uncivil language by Romney toward Obama would probably immediately be viewed as a evidence of racism, but by the same token, uncivil language by Obama could cause resentment among white supporters, and also play into the hands of people who oppose him for the wrong reasons.

Report Follows the Decades-Long Saga of Obama's 'Muslim Ring'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 11 October 2012 08:39
OBAMA-RING-closeupAccording to a news story on the respected Worldnet News Daily (WND) web site – with an accompanying array of photos as evidence – U.S. President Barack H. Obama has been wearing, since his days in college, a ring on which is inscribed the Shahada, the main Muslim prayer. The report quoted Egyptian-born Islamic scholar and author of five books on Islam, Mark Gabriel, as saying that based on the photos, Obama, if not a Muslim, had a very close connection to the religion. There can be no doubt that someone wearing the inscription ‘There is no god except Allah,’ the main feature of the Shahada, has a very close connection to Islamic beliefs, the Islamic religion and Islamic society to which this statement is so strongly attached,” Gabriel said.
Obama has for years denied any connection to Islam, stating that he is a Christian, and that he has been a long-time member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, presided over by the infamous Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But Gabriel said that Obama's wearing of the ring did not jibe with that claim. “Christians never use the statement,” Gabriel told WND. “By wearing the Shahada on jewelry, a person communicates that Allah is in control of all circumstances. Allah controls you; Allah is the one and only one.”
The article contains numerous photos of Obama throughout his academic and political career in which he is seen wearing the ring, which contains the Arabic letters representing the Shahada in gold inlay, written in a calligraphic style commonly used in Islamic design and literature for the prayers. The photos go back to 1981, when Obama was a student was at Occidental College, and continue through the period when he worked in Chicago, and throughout the presidential campaign and the years of his presidency.
The article also contains an excerpt from an interview by Nicholas Kristoff, an op-ed writer for the New York Times, with Obama during the 2008 campaign. Kristoff discussed with Obama his childhood education in Indonesia, where Obama said that he attended Islamic school, and learned the Adhan, the call to prayer that is broadcast at mosques around the world five times a day, which he demonstrated for Kristoff. The writer noted that Obama, who said the prayer in Arabic, pronounced it with “a first-rate accent.” He then went on to quote Obama as saying that the prayer, as far as he was concerned, was “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”
The ring was also described in a 2009 New York Times article recounting Obama's wedding with his wife Michelle. The article quotes the Times' piece as noting the “intricate design” on Obama's ring, unlike Michelle's, which was a traditional wedding ring. Apparently, the article said, many people who have come into contact with Obama over the years have noted the ring and questioned the President about its meaning, with Obama dodging an answer each time. The WND article cites a satirical edition of the Harvard Law Review put out by students in 1990, in which Obama is listed as having been successful at, among other things, “Deflecting Persistent Questioning About Ring On Left Hand.”
“Muslims recite the Shahada when they wake up in the morning and before they go to sleep at night,” Gabriel told WND. “It is repeated five times every day in the call to prayer in every mosque. A single honest recitation of the Shahada in Arabic is all that is required for a person to convert to Islam,” he said, adding that there was “no way” Obama could have remained oblivious to the meaning and context of the ring's inscription for so long. “By wearing this religious statement on one’s hand, it connects the person to Islam,” Gabriel said, adding that it was “a blessed statement in Islam.”

Obama Does Not Impose Red Lines But Does Reject Containment

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 27 September 2012 17:45
Obama at UN - RutersBarack Obama's address at the UN clearly had November 6 in mind and particularly the Republican attempt to challenge Obama's reputation on national security as a result of recent events in the Middle East.
Obama defended free speech as a value enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, but also as a value that would serve Moslem countries as well, because it would help counteract tyranny.
While condemning insults to Islam such as the video that was cited in the recent round of violence, he demanded reciprocity from Muslims in terms of respect for Christianity and other faiths.
This was a point made way back by Newt Gingrich and now, belatedly, Barack Obama is embracing it.
For Israeli ears most important issue was Iran and the Israeli press noted that there was no mention of red lines requested by the Israeli government. It would have been surprising to see inclusion of the "red lines" in Obama's speech. Having rejected the notion, the administration would have lost credibility had they suddenly acceded on this issue.
This was not equivalent to the omission of Jerusalem from the Democratic platform that could be explained as an "oversight". It would have represented a total about-face.
Obama did take a step towards Israel by rejecting the idea of containment:
"Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
This is not all that Israel woul have wished, but the rejection of containment has importance. After the idea had been floated in Foreign Affairs and in the New York Times without arousing a rebuttal from the administration, Israel feared that the administration had for all practical purposes resigned itself to containment of Iran's nuclear arming.Should one take the declaration at face value or not - that is another question. However, if one believes that an administration statement on red lines would have been a positive, then a rejection of containment by that same administration is also a positive.
In the most political part of the address, Barack Obama essentially recycled parts of his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, where he claimed that the American withdrawal from Iraq and the scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan constituted progress.
"And it is because of the progress I've witnessed that after nearly four years as President, I am hopeful about the world we live in. The war in Iraq is over, and our troops have come home. We have begun a transition in Afghanistan, and America and our allies will end our war on schedule in 2014". 
To judge by recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is difficult to see where Obama draws his confidence.
Iraq is threatening to blow apart, while the recent NATO decision to cut back on joint operations with Afghan forces also belies the confidence that following the American withdrawal, Afghanistan will not revert to Taliban rule.
The writer is a political scientist who serves as Arutz Sheva's global political analyst. He is featured regularly in the Hebrew and English Israeli press, lives in Tekoa

Obama on Israel's 'Red Lines': Noise I Try to Ignore

Category: News
Created on Monday, 24 September 2012 09:13
Netanyahu speaks to ObamaU.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday likened Israeli pressure on him to draw a clear “red line” over Iran's nuclear ambitions to "noise" he tries to ignore, AFP reports.
Interviewed for Sunday's edition of "60 Minutes" on broadcaster CBS, Obama said he understands and agrees with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's insistence that Iran not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons as this would threaten both countries, the world in general, and kick off an arms race.
At the same time, however, he added, “When it comes to our national security decisions – any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out -- any noise that's out there.”
Obama then said, “Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues. Because it affects them deeply. They're one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”
The comments come after a rise in tensions between Obama and Netanyahu over Iran. Netanyahu has demanded that the U.S. set clear “red lines” that Iran cannot cross in its campaign to obtain nuclear weapons.
Obama rejected the idea of placing “red lines” for Iran during a phone conversation with Netanyahu two weeks ago, and received backing from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who said that red lines “are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner.”
On Thursday, the United States sternly warned Iran that “time is running out” for its unsupervised nuclear program, in what may have been thinly-veiled support for Netanyahu’s “red line” demands.
"We will not engage in an endless process of negotiations that fail to produce any results. We must therefore remain clear and united in seeking resolution of the international community's concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program. Time is wasting," Ambassador Rice said told a United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear sanctions against Iran.
She added, "Iran's approach remains to deny, to deceive and distract.”
Meanwhile, Obama's contender for the presidency, Republican Mitt Romney, said Obama’s behavior was no way to treat an ally.
The decision not to meet with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he said, also in an interview with "60 minutes", "is a mistake and sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends and I think the exact opposite approach is what's necessary."
A spokeswoman for Romney's campaign, Andrea Saul, argued that Obama's reference to Israel as "one of our closest allies in the region" was unacceptable.
"This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East," Saul said, according to AFP. "Romney strongly believes that Israel is our most important ally in the Middle East and president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel."

Obama Rejected Netanyahu's Request for 'Red Line'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 14 September 2012 20:35
Netanyahu speaks to ObamaPresident Barack Obama rejected, during his phone conversation with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, an appeal by Netanyahu to spell out a specific “red line” that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program, a senior administration official has told The New York Times.
The official said this deepens the divide between the allies over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
According to the official, in the hour long telephone conversation on Tuesday night, Obama deflected Netanyahu’s proposal to make the size of Iran’s stockpile of close-to-bomb-grade uranium the threshold for a military strike by the United States against its nuclear facilities.
Obama, the official told The New York Times, repeated the assurances he gave to. Netanyahu in March that the United States would not allow Iran to manufacture a nuclear weapon. The president was unwilling to agree on any specific action by Iran, like reaching a defined threshold on nuclear material, or failing to adhere to a deadline on negotiations, that would lead to American military action.
“We need some ability for the president to have decision-making room,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the talks, told The New York Times. “We have a red line, which is a nuclear weapon. We’re committed to that red line.”
Israeli officials, however, say this guarantee may not be enough for Israel, which Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened with annihilation. Diplomatic talks, the Israelis say, have done nothing to slow Iran’s nuclear program nor have economic sanctions, though they have inflicted significant damage on the Iranian economy.
The telephone conversation came after a tense day between the sides. It began with comments by Netanyahu that the Obama administration had no “moral right” to restrain Israel from taking military action on its own if it refused to put limits on Iran. It continued with reports that the White House had rebuffed a request by Netanyahu’s office for a meeting with Obama during the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. The White House denied those reports, saying the two were simple not in New York at the same time. 

Langfan Challenges U.S. Senator Over Letter to Netanyahu

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 14 September 2012 18:28
U.S. Senator Barbara BoxerNew York attorney Mark Langfan, a staunch supporter of Israel and a regular op-ed contributor to Arutz Sheva, challenged a U.S. Senator this week after she sent an angry letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He received no response.
On Wednesday, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent Netanyahu an angry letter in response to his comments that “those in the international community who refuse to place red lines before Iran have no moral right to place a red line before Israel.”
Boxer wrote Netanyahu, “I write to you as one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in Congress to express my deep disappointment over your remarks that call into question our country’s support for Israel and commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Your remarks are utterly contrary to the extraordinary United States-Israel alliance, evidenced by President Obama’s record and the record of Congress.
“As the author of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, I know that President Obama’s support for Israel is unshakeable. I cannot tell you how proud I was to stand next to the President as he signed this important legislation into law in July, further enshrining the strong security ties and friendship between our two nations.
“As you know, this law addresses many of Israel’s top security priorities, including extending loan guarantees to Israel and increasing the U.S. weapons stockpile in Israel, which is available for Israel’s use in the event of a crisis. The bill also recommits the United States to vetoing any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.
“President Obama has made clear time and time again that he will do everything in his power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Boxer went on to say. “During a speech earlier this year, he stated: ‘I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power,’ including ‘a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.’ Anyone who has watched our President go after al Qaeda knows that he is resolute.
“President Obama has also reaffirmed that Israel has the right to make its own decisions regarding its security, stating that Iran ‘should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also repeated these commitments.
“In addition, President Obama has worked tirelessly to enact a crushing sanctions regime against Iran. He has helped rally the international community to make difficult economic decisions regarding imports of Iranian oil in a time of severe economic crisis. Today, the European Union imports no oil from Iran and other countries are reducing their purchases every day. Iran is also completely isolated from international financial markets.
“In light of this, I am stunned by the remarks that you made this week regarding U.S. support for Israel. Are you suggesting that the United States is not Israel’s closest ally and does not stand by Israel? Are you saying that Israel, under President Obama, has not received more in annual security assistance from the United States than at any time in its history, including for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System?
“As other Israelis have said, it appears that you have injected politics into one of the most profound security challenges of our time – Iran’s illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“I urge you to step back and clarify your remarks so that the world sees that there is no daylight between the United States and Israel. As you personally stated during an appearance with President Obama in March, ‘We are you, and you are us. We’re together. So if there’s one thing that stands out clearly in the Middle East today, it’s that Israel and America stand together.’”
Upon reading the letter, Langfan e-mailed Boxer’s press officer Zachary Coile, who refused to answer any questions except to say that the “letter speaks for itself”.
Coile asked Langfan to supply him with written questions regarding the letter, which Langfan did on Thursday. As of the time of the writing of this article, Langfan has not received a response from Boxer’s office. The following are Langfan’s questions which refute Boxer’s letter to Netanyahu:
Did Senator Boxer seek President Obama’s, or the White House’s, approval or input before issuing her Netanyahu letter?
Did Senator Boxer seek any other Senator co-signors of the letter before she sent the letter? If so, why aren’t there any more Senator co-signors?
Did Senator Boxer call Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to privately talk to him about his concerns before she issued her public Netanyahu letter claiming she is “stunned”?
If no, then hasn’t Senator Boxer’s public letter to PM Netanyahu “injected politics onto one of the most profound security challenges of our time- Iran’s illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons”?
Does Senator Boxer agree with President Obama’s “No Iranian Red Line” policy?
Is Senator Boxer aware of the Section 721 Intelligence reports issued by the United States Director of National Intelligence (USDNI) which goes back to 2008, and earlier, which shows that virtually all of Iran’s 6000K of enriched 3.8% U235 as enriched and stockpiled solely on President Obama’s watch?
In light of the USDNI’s unclassified Section 721 reports of Iranian enriched U235 stockpiles, how can Senator Boxer claim PM Netanyahu’s “remarks” “are utterly contrary to” the Iranian nuclear evidence of “President Obama’s record.”?
In light of the USDNI’s unclassified Section 721 reports, how can Senator Boxer claim President Obama has done “everything in his power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”?
How can Senator Boxer hope to hear Netanyahu repeat “that Israel and America stand together,” when President Obama is refusing to even sit down with PM Netanyahu this trip to the US?
Does Senator Boxer believe it is appropriate to issue such a letter to what Senator Boxer claims is a US ally on the same day an American Ambassador and 3 embassy staff were murdered by Muslim extremists?
Does Boxer agree to the following deletions in the 2012 Democratic Party Platform?
On Jerusalem - “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…”
On Palestinian refugees - The peace process “should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”
On Hamas - “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”
On Israel - “Israel, our strongest ally in the region…”

Obama Hints Egypt Not an Ally, White House Clarifies

Category: News
Created on Friday, 14 September 2012 10:35
Riot policemen take cover from stones thrown by protesters near U.S. embassy in Cairo - ReutersThe White House had to do some damage control on Thursday, after President Obama hinted that the U.S. no longer considers the Egyptian government an ally.
Obama, who spoke during an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo, added that at the same time “we don’t consider them an enemy.”
The interview was held less than 24 hours after violent mobs stormed American diplomatic outposts in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya. Obama said the new Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt was still “trying to find its way.”
“They were democratically elected. I think we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident, to see how they respond to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel,” he said.
He added, alluding to the fact that Egypt was slow in responding to the attack on the American embassy in Cairo, “What we’ve seen is that in some cases, they’ve said the right things and taken the right steps. In others, how they’ve responded to other events may not be aligned with some of our interests, so I think it’s still a work in 
“But certainly in this situation what we’re going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected that our personnel is protected. And if they take actions that indicate they are not taking 
those responsibilities like all countries do where we have embassies, I think that’s going to be a real big problem.”
After eyebrows were raised over the comments, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement that “'ally' is a legal term of art. We don't have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is long-standing and close partner of the United States, and we have built on that foundation by supporting Egypt's transition to democracy and working with the new government.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the same, claiming Obama was referring to the lack of an alliance treaty with Egypt. Both Carney and Vietor clarified that Egypt is a major partner, noting that Obama spoke Wednesday with President Mohammed Morsi.
Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton adopted a pedagogical tone in a message to Muslims, explaining that violence runs contrary to the creed of their "great religion."
Clinton said the current wave of anti-American violence in the Middle East is "unacceptable." She added that while the video that Muslims say provoked their violence was indeed "disgusting," this did not justify violence. She also said that it was "especially wrong" to attack embassies.

After The Jerusalem Fiasco, Obama's Acceptance Speech Ambiguous

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 07 September 2012 11:21
Obama Acceptance speech - ReutersEven the staunchest advocates of President Barack Obama conceded that his acceptance speech was a bit of a letdown. They had heard better speeches from Obama and better speeches at the convention.
Maybe it was difficult to see Obama come down from the Olympian heights of 2008 and now asking for more time for handing in his incomplete assignment.
Following the telltale deletion of a United Jerusalem from the Democratic platform and its clumsy reinsertion, presumably on orders from the president himself, Obama's acceptance speech was naturally scrutinized in terms of what it had to say about Israel and the Middle East.
Obama took pride in ending the war in Iraq. He may not have had any other choice. given war weariness in the United States but his claim should have displayed a bit more humility and less triumphalism. By withdrawing American forces, the United States has left an uncertain situation in Iraq and the vacuum is already being exploited by Iran.
The same applies to Afghanistan, where Obama claims to have blunted the Taliban. Once American forces are withdrawn in 2014, the Taliban will be back and it is already happily beheading Afghanis for the crime of participating in mixed parties (not political ones).
The rise in the killings of NATO troops by presumably loyal Afghanis presages the realignment of forces in the country, as Afghanis make the simple calculus that tomorrow the Americans will be gone and the Taliban will remain.
Israel figured directly in one sentence in Obama's speech: "Our commitment to Israel's security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace." It is hard to fault Obama for emphasizing security, after Israeli governments have been emphasizing security to the detriment of legitimacy and rights.
The second half of the sentence creates ambiguity: Is the pursuit of peace complementary to that unwavering commitment, or is it intended to propitiate the Arab side by saying that the United States will not be influenced by Israeli security arguments in pursuing peace -  that in Obama's playbook, means a retreat to the 1967 lines.
The Obama approach to Israeli security usually begins and ends with hardware. This is epitomized in aid for the Iron Dome project (actually begun under Bush), that features in the Obama campaign advertisement targeted at Jewish voters.
No one denies that the Iron Dome project is both a technological breakthrough and an important contribution to Israeli security, but it also has a flip side. By its ability to intercept missiles from Gaza, it allows Israel to absorb more missile attacks and statistically reduces the probability that one of these missiles will cause massive civilian casualties.
Therefore, instead of fully backing an Israeli assault in Gaza that would remove the intolerable situation, Iron Dome is intended as a sop to Israeli decision-makers and public opinion that will allow them to practice greater "restraint". In the end, it is the Obama administration that wants to decide whether Israel is secure or not and how much security it is entitled to.
The phrase about Iran is also troubling. What will deter Iran from proceeding with its nuclear military program is not world unity, but what the world intends actually intends to do in order - in the immediate future - to stop that nuclear program.
By making policy on Iran captive to world unity, Obama is signaling that he wants to march in unison first with the Europeans and more importantly, with the Chinese and the Russians, who have already announced their objection to more severe sanctions against Iran.
The writer is a political scientist and Arutz Sheva's political analyst and main Global Analysis newswriter. He is featured regularly in the Hebrew and English Israeli press, lives in Tekoa.

Obama Authorized U.S. Support for Syrian Rebels

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 02 August 2012 09:15
ObamaPresident Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, U.S. sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
The sources said that Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.
Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined and the full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear, Reuters reported.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment.
The report noted that the White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that. U.S. and European officials, however, have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks.
That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterized Assad's opponents as a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble.
A U.S. government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.
Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad's opponents.
This "nerve center" of the base, according to the report, is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.
Turkey's government has been demanding Assad's departure with growing vehemence. Turkish authorities are said by current and former U.S. government officials to be increasingly involved in providing Syrian rebels with training and possibly equipment.
European government sources told Reuters that wealthy families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were providing significant financing to the rebels. Senior officials of the Saudi and Qatari governments have publicly called for Assad's departure.
On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, weapons that could be used against Assad's helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Syrian government armed forces have employed such air power more extensively in recent days.
NBC said the shoulder-fired missiles, also known as MANPADs, had been delivered to the rebels via Turkey.
Some conservative U.S. lawmakers, such as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have criticized Obama’s administration for moving too slowly to assist the rebels and have suggested the U.S. government become directly involved in arming Assad's opponents.

Bachmann Takes Off Gloves on Obama at CUFI Summit

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 19 July 2012 23:17
Michele Bachmann (Retures)Michele Bachmann, former Republican presidential contender and representative of Minnesota's 6th congressional district, challenged President Barack Obama's record on Israel during her keynote address at the 7th annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) national summit in Washington, DC. Her address took place on Tuesday evening, July 17th at the organization's "Night to Honor Israel" program.
Speaking to an audience of over 5000 at the Washington Convention Center, Bachmann underscored that the threats to Israel's survival are radical Islam, the escalating nuclear agenda of Iran and the adversarial treatment of Israel by the current US administration.
"Israel lives in a very tough neighborhood and this is precisely why Christians must stand with Israel," she declared, castigating Obama for inviting Egypt's new president Mohammed Morsi to the White House and for his "embrace" of the Muslim Brotherhood parliament of Egypt and reminding him that "the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood is the demise of America."
Quoting Morsi on Jerusalem, she said to thunderous applause, "He wants Jerusalem to be the next capital of Egypt and we tell that the world, that never, ever will the eternal capital of the Jewish people become the capital of Egypt."
Taking President Obama to task for "demonstrating weakness on the Iranian nuclear issue", Bachmann said, "I would remind you that in 2008, when Iran was well on its way to building a nuclear arsenal, our president agreed to engage in face-to-face negotiations with them without any preconditions. In his speech in Cairo, the president said that Iran should have peaceful use of nuclear power. We must never countenance a nuclear Iran."
With regard to Ahmadenijad, Bachmann said, "If we've learned anything over the last 100 years, it is that when a madman threatens the annihilation of the Jewish people, we have to listen to him, to pay attention and to take action."
"This is the first administration since Israel's re-birth in 1948 that has not supported Israel unwaveringly," observed Bachmann. "Israel must be respected and America has willingly emboldened the Palestinians by pledging support to Hamas. Article 7 of the Hamas constitution calls for the murder of all Jews. The Palestinian Authority must renounce terrorism and until such time, we should stop sending them US taxpayer money,".
Bachmann, quoted from the book of Genesis when she said, "G-d blesses those who bless Israel and curses those who curse Israel." Reminding her audience of Moses sending spies to the land of Israel while the Jewish nation was in the desert of Sinai, she said, "10 men scouted out the land and came back with reports of giants and ferocious conditions and attempted to dissuade Moses from leading the people into this land. They said they felt like grasshoppers next to the giants and they were utterly defeated. It took two men, Joshua and Caleb to say 'we can do it'; we must be strong and courageous just like them."

White House Leaks Classified Information to Hollywood

Category: Reports
Created on Saturday, 26 May 2012 15:03
The Obama administration reportedly leaked classified information to filmmakers on the raid by U.S. Navy SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden.White House Leaks Classified Information to Hollywood
According to documents released by the Judicial Watch media watchdog, the White House released the sensitive information for a film which was first scheduled to be released October 12, just in time to boost the president’s image shortly before the November elections.
Sony Pictures has since pushed the release back to December.
White House officials encouraged the filmmakers to incorporate Obama administration talking points in the film, including the “gutsy decision” to raid the Osama compound.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told NBC News on Tuesday that the Defense Department and other agencies regularly engage with the entertainment industry to inform book and movie projects.
"Many individuals in the industry expressed interest in developing projects on what can only be described as one of the top intelligence and military successes of a generation," Little said. "Our engagement on these projects was driven by a desire to inform the public, not by timing."
However, John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, and Denis McDonough, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, met with screenwriter Mark Boal, The Daily Caller reported.
“They were forward leaning and interested in sharing their point of view,” Boal said.
A June 2011 email from Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers to the Pentagon’s PR chief, Douglas Wilson, states that the filmmakers “are basically using the [White House]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.”
President Obama often prides himself on making the decision to hunt down the terrorist mastermind, calling it one of the “gutsiest decisions of any president in recent history.
However, a memo written by former CIA Director Leon Panetta recently revealed that President Obama was not, in fact, in charge of operation strategy in the hunt for the terrorist mastermind, but rather it was Admiral William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Operations Command, who was responsible for making the “gutsy call.”

US Military Ready for Iran Strike

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 17 May 2012 11:15
Dan ShapiroUS Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said this week his nation's military is ready to execute "the military option" on Iran's nuclear program if need be.
Makor Rishon reported that Shapiro, speaking at a meeting of the Israel Bar Association for Tel Aviv and the Central Region, said that not is an American military option available, but that made all necessary preparations to carry it out were complete.
"We do not know if sanctions and diplomacy will work," Shapiro said of Western efforts to force Tehran to halt its controversial uranium enrichment program. "So, all options are on the table, including the military option."
Shapiro said US President Barak Obama made it clear in previous meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu - and public pronouncements – that the US will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"I think this is a statement that America can take to the bank, that Israel can take to the bank, and that Iran should take to the bank," Shapiro said.
"We believe that there is a window – not an unlimited time – in which we can still use diplomacy to achieve our goal," he said.
Shapiro stressed "At some point we will have to decide if diplomacy has failed. What we want to do is give it any chance, because this is another thing that Israel and the US agree on – that it’s better to solve this diplomatically and through sanctions, than through military force."
"But that does not mean that the military option is not available. In fact, this is not only an available option, but as I said, it is ready. All the necessary preparations have been made to read it," he repeated.
Shapiro added that Obama considered an Iranian nuclear weapon counter to America's national interests, and was unafraid to use military force to protect those interests.
"This is a part of the fight against international terrorism," Shapiro said, adding, "Certainly it was the right decision to eliminate Bin Laden. This is a good indication of president’s ability to make hard choices when he believes the interests of the US are on the line."
Shapiro's remarks come ahead of talks between the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – and Iran in Baghdad next week.
A previous round of talks held earlier this year resulted in no progress other than an agreement for more talks.
Ahead of those talks International Atomic Energy Agency officials have pressured Iran for access to sites where they suspect Iran has conducted nuclear research of a military nature.
In particular, IAEA officials want Iran to address concerns expressed in an extensive IAEA report in November that at least until 2003, and possibly since, that Tehran has engaged in nuclear activities of a decidedly military nature.
Two previous trips to Tehran in January and February by the IAEA resulted in Iran denying international inspectors access to suspected nuclear sites.
Iran, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is obligated to allow the UN watchdog access to its site for inspections to ensure it is complying with the treaty - but has consistently refused to honor the treaty.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said recently that access to Parchin was a "priority" and said in March that "activities" spotted by satellite there "makes us believe that going there sooner is better than later."
In March, Amano charged Iran with a systemic attempt to cover up nuclear activity of a military nature saying, "Iran is not telling us everything."
Western nations have accused Iran of removing evidence from Parchin and other sites. Iran says any allegations of "sanitization" of the site were "a childish (and) ridiculous story made out of nothing."
Observers note that Shapiro's assertion that Jerusalem and Washington are in lock-step on how to deal with Iran's nuclear program is out of harmony with statements by senior Israeli officials.
While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has publicly said Western sanctions should be given more time, he has told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee he does not believe they are working. He also said that sanctions were not working openly during a trip to Cyprus earlier this year.
Israeli officials – including Defense Minister Ehud Barak – have charged that further talks are a waste of time saying Iran is using them stall for time in its bid for nuclear weapons.
Analysts believe the likelihood of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months will dramatically increase should the Baghdad talks fail.

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