Recently in Middle East Category

The nations of the Middle East have always been isolated from each other - never combining forces to form a political front. Part of this is that a hundred years ago, the individual tribes were at each others throats competing for scant resources. The discovery of oil has shifted them away from being from nomads but not changed their cultural makeup. President Trump is going to be doing something very interesting. From The Washington Post:

Trump to unveil plans for an ‘Arab NATO’ in Saudi Arabia
When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an “Arab NATO,” to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history.

Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions began shortly after the presidential election, when Mohammed, known in Washington as “MBS,” sent a delegation to meet with Kushner and other Trump officials at Trump Tower.

After years of disillusionment with the Obama administration, the Saudi leadership was eager to do business. “They were willing to make a bet on Trump and on America,” a senior White House official said.

Very clever idea - make each Arab nation have some skin in the game. NATO members pay about 2% of their relative GDP to fund it. The Arab nations could fund their own NATO with the coins they find under their sofa cushions. We seem to actually have some intelligent foreign policy being done - what a breath of fresh air.

President Trump will be visiting the seats of the three Abrahamic religions: the Vatican, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, which is home to Mecca. From the United Arab Emirates' The National:

Trump’s Saudi visit sends ‘clear and powerful message’
The US president Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia will enhance cooperation between the United States and Muslim countries in the fight against extremism, the kingdom’s foreign minister said.

Describing the visit as historic, Adel Al Jubeir said Mr Trump’s time in Saudi Arabia would include a bilateral summit, a meeting with Arab Gulf leaders and another with leaders of Arab and Muslim countries.

"It’s a clear and powerful message that the US harbours no ill will" toward the Arab and Muslim world, he said.

"It also lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim. It’s a very clear message to the world that the US and the Arab Muslim countries can form a partnership," Mr Al Jubeir said.

"It will lead to, we believe, enhanced cooperation between the US and Arab and Islamic countries in combating terrorism and extremism, and it will change the conversation with regards to America’s relationship with the Arab and Islamic world."

A bit more:

The United States is leading an international coalition against ISIL of which Saudi Arabia is a member, and both countries have voiced concern about Iranian attempts to expand its influence in the Middle East.

Mr Al Jubeir praised the Trump administration’s tougher stance against Iran.

"I don’t think this administration is about rhetoric. I think the administration has taken firm steps in terms of making it clearer to Iran that its behaviour has to change."

Riyadh and Washington had a testier relationship under former Democratic president Barack Obama’s administration, which Saudi Arabia felt placed less importance on the Saudi-US relationship than on securing a nuclear deal with Iran.

Wonderful - I love that the article's author used the word rhetoric to describe Obama's dealings - that is exactly what it was. Dialectic in the original definition is what Trump uses - numbers, knowledge, facts. Obama and the progressives were all about doing things that sounded good regardless of their true consequences.

And the hits just keep on coming - Iran

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From The Wall Street Journal:

Trump White House Puts Iran ‘On Notice’ After Missile Launch
The White House sharply condemned a recent Iranian ballistic missile test launch and warned of consequences including the possibility of new U.S. sanctions, in a more confrontational approach to Tehran that lays the groundwork for a potential early clash between the two countries.

Calling Iran a “destabilizing influence” in the Middle East, National Security Adviser Mike Flynn declared Wednesday: “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.”

It will be interesting to see Iran's reaction.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Congress to Freeze State Department Funds Until U.S. Embassy Moves to Jerusalem
A delegation of Republican senators is moving forward with an effort to freeze some funding to the State Department until the U.S. embassy in Israel is formally moved to Jerusalem, according to new legislation.

The legislation comes as the Obama administration continues to face criticism over its behind-the-scenes effort to forward a United Nations resolution condemning Israel.

A bit more:

The effort is being spearheaded by Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Dean Heller (R., Nev.), all of whom support efforts by the incoming Trump administration to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem after years of debate.

“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Cruz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth—let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel—is shocking in some circles.”

“But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel,” Cruz said.

The legislation orders the White House to identify Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which the Obama administration has refused to do. The bill will freeze a significant portion of the State Department’s funding until it completes the relocation.

The depths of the Obama administration's egregiousness:

In the past, the Obama White House has been caught scrubbing captions on official photographs that labeled Jerusalem as part of Israel. The administration also was entangled in a Supreme Court case when it refused to permit an American family to list its child’s birthplace as “Jerusalem, Israel.”

Good - it is time to recognize our friends and allies and to soundly trounce those who would stand in their way. Gutting the State Department's funding is an excellent tactic. Put their balls in a vice and their hearts and minds will soon follow.

A bit of push-back to that UN vote

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Great - from The Times of Israel:

Congressional Republicans push to condemn anti-settlement UN vote
Republicans in both chambers of Congress are moving quickly to condemn the United Nations for passing a Security Council resolution last week that said Israeli settlements had “no legal validity” and constitute “a flagrant violation under international law.”

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran (R) and Florida Rep. Dennis Ross (R) both indicated that they are planning to introduce separate measures of disapproval over UNSC Resolution 2334 once Capitol Hill lawmakers reconvene next week.

More than 100 Members of Congress have issued statements opposing the resolution, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The resolution, which passed by a vote of 14-0 following a US abstention, calls for a complete end to all construction in areas Israel gained after the 1967 Six Day War, territory that includes the Old City, with the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

Furthermore, the text calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” Israel fears such language will lead to an uptick in boycott and sanctions efforts, and Israeli officials have warned it will provide “a tailwind for terror.”

Good - people need to email their congresscritters and get them on board with this. Doing nothing sends a horrible message. To do this, go here: - you will see the list and when you click on the link, you will see a link to their contact website. Good resource.

The United Nations vote

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An interesting possibility from The Washington Free Beacon:

Biden Denies Lobbying Foreign Leaders to Back Anti-Israel U.N. Resolution
Vice President Joe Biden is denying accusations that he personally lobbied foreign leaders to vote in favor of a hotly contested anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations last week that has brought U.S.-Israel relations to an all time low, according to sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

Insiders familiar with the matter said Biden spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to ask that his country vote in favor of the resolution, which was passed by the U.N. Security Council last week when the United States, in a reversal of longstanding policy, did not exercise its veto power to kill the measure.

A bit more:

Sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon described Biden as personally lobbying in favor of the resolution, which comports with claims by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed.”

Just counting the days until we get an adult in the room instead of the petulant little boy.

Good for them - Israel

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Good news from Israel - they are not listening to the United Nations - after all, it is less than 30 days until President Trump takes office. From the New York Times:

Defying U.N., Israel Prepares to Build More Settlements
Undeterred by a resounding defeat at the United NationsIsrael’s government said Monday that it would move ahead with thousands of new homes in East Jerusalem and warned nations against further action, declaring that Israel does not “turn the other cheek.”

Just a few days after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements, Jerusalem’s municipal government signaled that it would not back down: The city intends to approve 600 housing units in the predominantly Palestinian eastern section of town on Wednesday in what a top official called a first installment on 5,600 new homes.

The defiant posture reflected a bristling anger among Israel’s pro-settlement political leaders, who not only blamed the United States for failing to block the Council resolution, but also claimed to have secret intelligence showing that President Obama’s team had orchestrated it. American officials strongly denied the claim, but the sides seem poised for more weeks of conflict until Mr. Obama hands over the presidency to Donald J. Trump.

Good to hear - it is not like there ever was a "palestinian" people anyway, they are actually Hashamite Jordanian and their history was fabricated by the KGB when they installed Yasser Arafat into power in 1969. Read your history.

Those fires in Israel

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From The New York Times:

As Wildfires Rage, Israel Suggests Arson and Asks for Foreign Help
Parts of the port city of Haifa in northern Israel were ablaze on Thursday as wildfires raged through the country for a third day, devouring forests, damaging homes and prompting the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

Asked how long Haifa was likely to be battling the blazes, Mayor Yona Yahav told reporters, “This is a question that has to be referred to God.”

Israeli officials said the fires had been fanned by unusually strong winds and made worse by a dry atmosphere, but they also said they suspected that many of them had been caused by arson and negligence. Dozens of people have been slightly affected by smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries or fatalities have been reported.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s public security minister, told Army Radio that the professional assessment was that almost half the fires were the result of arson.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attributed the fires to “natural and unnatural” causes and said that “any fire caused by arson or incitement to arson is terrorism in every sense of the word, and we will treat it as such.”

Arson is terrorism and the Israelis need to punch back twice as hard when confronting it. The so-called Palestinians (actually Hashamite Jordanians) do not consider Israel to be a valid state and have no desire for peace. A group of people brainwashed by a false prophet and corrupt leadership. I truly pity them for one day they will wake up and see the black cloud they have been living under.

I am liking President Trump more and more

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From Israel's English news service Haaretz:

Trump Tells Netanyahu: If Elected, U.S. Would Recognize Undivided Jerusalem as Israel's Capital
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for an hour and 20 minutes on Sunday at Trump Tower in Manhattan. He will meet with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton later Sunday, at 6:30 P.M. EST (1:30 A.M Israel time).

According to a Trump campaign press release, Trump told Netanyahu that if elected, "a Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel."

The Trump campaign statement said during the meeting, "Trump agreed that the military assistance provided to Israel and missile defense cooperation with Israel are an excellent investment for America," amid the backdrop of speculation that Trump would support cutting U.S. military aid to Israel.

Trump told Netanyahu that if elected, "there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries." Trump added that Israel is a "vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism." The two also discussed the nuclear deal with Iran and the fight against ISIS.

The two also "discussed at length Israel's successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders." The Republican candidate declared several times throughout the campaign that he will build a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border and force Mexico to pay for it.

Great news. Israel is one of our best friends and strongest allies in the war against Islamist terror.

The stream of refugees

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Coming into the US is unchecked. We have zero idea who these people are, what their medical history is, etc... We have seen cases of drug-resistent Tuberculosis and now this - from the UK Independent:

Cutaneous leishmaniasis: Disfiguring tropical disease sweeps across Middle East
A disfiguring tropical disease is sweeping across the Middle East as a combination of heavy conflict and a breakdown of health care facilities in Isis-occupied areas leaves swathes of people vulnerable to the illness.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite in the blood stream transmitted through sand fly bites. The disease can result in horrible open sores as well as disfiguring skin lesions, nodules or papules.

The incubation time is interesting:

“When people are bitten by sand flies - which are tiny and smaller than a mosquito - it can take anything between two to six months to have the infection.

“Someone might have picked it up in Syria but then they may have fled into Lebanon or Turkey, or even into Europe as they seek refuge.

“Prior to the outbreak of war there was good control of diseases, parasites and sand flies but when the conflict started no one cared, conditions worsened and the health system broke down, which has created an ideal environment for disease outbreaks.”

So they get to Europe or the USA and then fall sick. I feel sad for these people but nothing is being done about the parent cause - the outbreak of fighting by corrupt groups of people jockying for positions of power.

WWIII - Saudi Arabia

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Now this wiill be interesting to see - will Congress cave to the Saudis - from the New York Times:

Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill
Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Several outside economists are skeptical that the Saudis will follow through, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom’s economy. But the threat is another sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

A bit more:

The administration, which argues that the legislation would put Americans at legal risk overseas, has been lobbying so intently against the bill that some lawmakers and families of Sept. 11 victims are infuriated. In their view, the Obama administration has consistently sided with the kingdom and has thwarted their efforts to learn what they believe to be the truth about the role some Saudi officials played in the terrorist plot.

“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and who is part of a group of victims’ family members pushing for the legislation.

Time to send a letter to my congresscritters promoting the bill - the truth needs to be brought to light. The Wahhabist sect in Saudi Arabia is funding the building of mosques in the USA - mosques that are promoting terrorism. This is a known fact and is constantly being ignored in the media.

Great news from Israel

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Want to visit there sometime. From The Times of Israel:

Major oil reserve said found on Golan
A company drilling for oil on the Golan Heights claims to have found “significant amounts” in the plateau.

“We’re talking about a layer 350 meters thick,” Yuval Bartov, chief geologist of Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the American company Genie Energy, told Channel 2.

The layer is ten times larger than the average oil find worldwide, Bartov said, “and that’s why we’re talking about significant amounts. What’s important is to know that there’s oil in the rock, and this we know.”

Three drilling sites on the Golan have uncovered what is potentially billions of barrels of oil, enough to fulfill the Israeli market’s 270,000-barrel-per-day consumption for a very long time, the report claimed.

This comes at an interesting time as troubles in neighboring Syria are brewing and Russia is trying to bring the price of oil back up.

Not a good idea

Oil revenues are down for the Saudis - what are they doing? From the UK Financial Times:

Saudi Arabia burns through foreign reserves
Saudi Arabia is burning through its foreign reserves at a record rate, as the kingdom seek to maintain spending plans despite lower oil prices.

The central bank’s foreign reserves have dropped by $36bn, or 5 per cent, over the past two months, as newly crowned King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud dips into Riyadh’s rainy-day fund and increases domestic borrowing to fund public-sector salaries and large development projects.

The latest data show Saudi’s foreign reserves dropped by $16bn to $708bn in March, driven by public-sector bonuses paid by King Salman after he assumed power in January. This follows a fall of $20bn in February. Saudi has spent $47bn of foreign reserves since October.

5% in two months and it is being spent on bonuses? Now would be the time to retrench and cut spending, not increase it. They don't know when the OPEC monopoly will resume, if...

Inequality in Israel

Those poor Palestinians Hashemite Jordanians - from The Times of Israel:

Palestinians better off working in settlements, says PA daily
The Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper praised conditions for Palestinians working for Israelis in West Bank settlements, while decrying the low salaries and lack of benefits for those workers employed by Palestinians.

The September 21 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida article, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, said that “whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers, they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers – for reasons having to do with salaries and other rights.”

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida interviewed a group of Palestinian workers for the piece, and found that those with Israeli bosses earned much more than those working for Palestinians.

Workers employed by Palestinians all said they do not have medical insurance, which is not mandated by Palestinian law, and do not receive stipends for transportation. Israeli employers usually pay for workers’ transportation in both directions, the newspaper found.

Israeli employers can also be relied upon to pay salaries.  “The only cases in which a Palestinian worker does not receive the salary his Israeli [employer] determined for him are those cases in which the middleman is Palestinian,” said Muhammad Hassan, an agricultural worker. “This is because he employs the workers at his own expense, and he is the one who pays their salaries, which puts the worker at risk of being exploited or having his wages withheld.”

“I work 10 hours a day and receive a monthly salary of not more than 1,900 shekels, and we have no additional rights like yearly vacations, travel expenses and so on,” said Fuad Qahawish, a waiter in a Palestinian restaurant. “My colleagues who do the same work for Israelis receive 4,000 shekels a month for the same number of hours.’

And we all remember that the "Palestinian" people are a myth invented in the 1950's by the Russian KGB and brought to life by their Egyptian stooge, Yasser Arafat. The Russians were worried about the oil deposits and wanted to destabilize the area.

Now this will be interesting to follow

From The American Interest:

Pay Attention to this Gas Deal
Israel is fast becoming a serious regional energy player. If it wasn’t clear before, it became clear earlier this month with the announcement of a $15 billion gas deal with Jordan. According to the Times of Israel, the deal is the largest energy collaboration with Jordan to date, and it makes Israel Jordan’s chief supplier.

Over the past five years, Israel’s energy fortunes have transformed dramatically, a development that has the potential to shift the region’s geopolitical and geo-economic landscape. Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir once only half-joked that Moses led the Children of Israel to the one spot in the Middle East that had no oil. This turns out not to have been true: over the last decade, Israel has found major oil and gas reserves just off its coast.

The entire global landscape for energy is changing, and the Middle East is a key part of this change. Traditional producers in the Gulf are becoming consumers as their populations demand a lifestyle that is more energy intensive, and traditional consumers like Israel are emerging as new producers through scientific and technological innovation. Discovered offshore in deep water near Haifa in 2009, Israel’s Tamar field holds an estimated 8-9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas. Israel began commercial production in 2013. The Leviathan deep-water gas field could hold as much 19 Tcf and is expected to begin producing in early 2017. Oil & Gas Journal estimated that, as of January 2014, Israel’s proven oil reserves are 11.5 million barrels, a fivefold increase from what was thought just a few years ago. The country’s potential reserves are likely substantially higher. In the last couple of years, Israel’s natural gas production more than doubled, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Although these numbers don’t put Israel into the top quartile of the world’s energy producing states, Prime Minister Netanyahu has estimated that $60 billion will accrue to Israeli coffers as a result and the new finds will dramatically improve Israel’s energy security for the next forty years, at least.

Israel is already the intellectual powerhouse of the middle-east. Now, it could become the financial powerhouse as well. The arabian fields are pretty much played out.

What we are seeing with ISIS (and why are these acronyms usually letters for words in the English language) is actually a civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites.

The borders of the Mid-East Nations were artificially set initially with the 1915 McMahon–Hussein Correspondence and refined with the 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement. Israel regained their ancestral lands with the 1917 Balfour Declaration. In 1941, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem met with Adolf Hitler. From the Jewish Virtual Library:

In 1941, he fled to Germany and met with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and other Nazi leaders. He wanted to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.

Needless to say, this has been stewing since Biblical times.

Iraq is being broken up into its various tribal components, it will emerge as no longer a unified Nation but an area with shifting tribal boundaries.

That being said, the Kurds are not engaged in these ongoing hostilities and have been the scape-goat of both Sunni and Shiia (when there is not a convenient Jew to kick around).

From Oil Voice:

Kurdistan: the newest oil producer?
The world might be on the cusp of seeing a new oil producer: Kurdistan.

According to a Bloomberg report, in the last 48 hours Deutsche Bank AG said that Kurdistan oil is “poised to gain acceptance” following the apparently successful sale of an initial cargo of oil for $93M. According to Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz, four tankers in total have loaded cargoes of Kurdish crude in Ceyhan.

An analyst’s report from Deutsche Bank AG said “We expect trading houses to become increasingly comfortable handling Kurdistan Region of Iraq crude and steady-state exports to emerge.”

Very cool - neither the Kurds nor the Turks are sponsors of terrorism and have vibrant culture and a growing economy. They are living in modern times but retain those parts of their culture that they revere. Women have a voice in their culture and religion is a practice of joy and faith, not a strict dogma.

Crap - RIP Ariel Sharon

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From Haaretz:
Israel mourns Sharon's passing; Netanyahu: He was a 'brave warrior'
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon died on Saturday at Sheba Medical Center, his son Gilad Sharon said at a press conference outside the hospital. �He passed when he decided it was time to go,� said Gilad Sharon said about his father, adding, �We are grateful to all the many people in Israel and around the world who worried and prayed for him.�

Sharon's death was officially announced by hospital director Prof. Shlomo Noy at 3 P.M. after what he described as a peaceful passing, following a stubborn week-long struggle for life. The official time of Sharon's death was declared at 2 P.M, Noy said. The former prime minister died surrounded by his family, he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep sorrow after he heard the news. "The State of Israel lowers its head following the departure of Ariel Sharon,� he said. �He played a major part in the struggle for the country's security throughout all of its years. He was first and foremost a brave warrior and a great general, one of the greatest commanders the IDF has seen.

�As a youth he reported for duty on the battlefield on behalf of the people of Israel. He did so as a soldier in the War of Independence, and as a commander in the Sinai Campaign, the Six Day War and up to the Yom Kippur War. In between, he founded Unit 101 and promoted the concept of taking the initiative and payback in the war against terror that became part and parcel of Israeli policy. When he stepped out of uniform he continued to serve the people of Israel in the many posts he served in Israeli governments and, of course, as Israel's 11th prime minister. His memory will be kept forever in the nation's heart."
Will Obama go to that funeral? I doubt it. Sharon was as much a fighter for truth and liberty as Mandela.

Our work in Afghanistan

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From CNS News:
After 12 Yrs of U.S. Occupation, Afghanistan Sets Record for Growing Opium
After 12 years of occupation by U.S. military forces, Afghanistan set a record for growing opium poppies in 2013, according to newly released data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

�Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a sobering record high in 2013,� said the UNODC. �According to the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey, cultivation amounted to some 209,000 hectares, outstripping the earlier record in 2007 of 193,000 hectares, and representing a 36 per cent increase over 2012.�

In fact, according to the latest worldwide data on opium-poppy cultivation, Afghanistan dedicates more land to the cultivation of opium poppies than all of the rest of the world combined.
And, of course, the proceeds from the sale of this opium are what fund terrorism. The Afghani farmers are told to grow this by the Taliban. If they refuse, their family vanishes. We need to recognize what Russia did -- there is no winnable war in the Middle East. Back out, leave a pay-phone and a quarter and ask the surviving tribe to call us when it's over.
From Financial Times:
Alwaleed warns of US shale danger to Saudi
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire Saudi Arabian investor, has warned that his country�s oil-dependent economy is increasingly vulnerable to competition from the US shale revolution, setting him at odds with his country�s oil ministry and Opec officials.

In an open letter addressed to Ali Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, the prince called on the government to accelerate plans to diversify the economy.

�Our country is facing continuous threat because of its almost total dependency on oil,� he wrote in the letter, copied to King Abdullah, Prince Alwaleed�s uncle, among others.
We could be independent of these royal bastards in fifteen years if we showed some backbone. Natural gas, clean coal, and Liquid Fluoride Thorium nuclear. These three would deliver a huge economic and industrial renaissance to the United States and indirectly to the world.

Great news from Israel

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From Neo-Neocon:
And in other news�
Did you know that Israel appears poised to become a massive exporter of natural gas and oil? Seems that way:
Israel became energy independent on March 30, when the Tamar offshore gas field began pumping natural gas to Israel. In two to three years, when the Leviathan gas field comes online, Israel will become one of the most important producers of natural gas in the world. Moreover, in 2017, Israel will likely begin extracting commercial quantities of oil from its massive oil shale deposits in the Shfela Basin near Beit Shemesh.

Geologists assess that the field alone contains some 250 billion barrels of oil, giving Israel oil parity with Saudi Arabia. Chinese, Russian and Australian firms are lining up to sign contracts with Israeli energy companies. International analysts assess that Israel�s emergence as an energy power will have a stabilizing impact on the global economy and international security. Israel can end Asia�s oil and gas hunger. It can reduce European dependence on Russia. It will remove OPEC�s ability to dictate world oil prices through supply manipulation.
And in a very clever move, they have signed on with the Russians to do a lot of the development. Some arab nation looking to take over will certainly think twice about pissing the Russians off...

Fun times in the Middle East - a two-fer

First - Egypt - from Israel National News:

Egypt Struck by Swarm of Locusts Ahead of Passover
As a reminder to those who thought the account related in the Passover Haggadah might have been an exaggeration - think again. Millions of locusts have swooped down in a swarm from the sky on to the land of Egypt.

The locust plague struck over the weekend in the Giza region, home to a cluster of famous pyramids, according to reports in Arab media.

Next - Afghanistan - from Le Monde diplomatique:

The new normal in Baghdad
After violence that shattered hundreds of thousands of lives and left nearly everyone with a tragic story to tell, life in Iraq has settled into a strange normality - with no discernible direction or clear future. "How do you make sense of the last ten years?" said a novelist, who is trying to do just that. "The problem is not the starting point, but where to end. To write the history of the Algerian civil war, you had to wait till it was over. Here, we are still in the middle of a sequence of events whose outcome we cannot see." The structure of his novel, in which each chapter relates to a different year, means he remains hostage to a political system that continues to keep the country in suspense.

A decade after the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains in crisis, although you wouldn't know it from visiting Baghdad. The suicide attacks, car bombs and other explosive devices used, and abused, by the resistance and sectarian militias are much rarer than they were a few years ago, leading the world's media to lose much of its interest in Iraq.

More - Obama's quick pull-out:

All these mistakes could have been gradually corrected, but the US sinned above all by omission. It ignored the objectives it had set itself and withdrew before agreement had been reached on the issues that will continue to haunt Iraq for years: revision of the constitution, allocation of disputed territories, distribution of resources, relations between central and regional government, the prime minister�s prerogatives, the institutionalisation of counter-powers, the bylaws of parliament, the structure of the security forces, etc. Everything has yet to be negotiated and renegotiated, from one political crisis to the next.

A bit more:

The US turned Iraq into a parody of itself by projecting a simplistic vision of society, imposing crude concepts of Ba'athism, Saddamism, terrorism, sectarianism and tribalism, and building a political edifice founded on these cliches. Such self-fulfilling stereotyping is reminiscent of the colonial mindset, even though the US invasion was never meant to colonise.

A long and sobering read -- we went in -- we should have stayed in to finish the job.

Good news for Israel

From Associated Press:

Israel may feel need to strike Syria again
An Israeli air attack staged in Syria this week may be a sign of things to come.

Israeli military officials appear to have concluded that the risks of attacking Syria are worth taking when compared to the dangers of allowing sophisticated weapons to reach Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon.

With Syrian President Bashar Assad's grip on power weakening, Israeli officials fear he could soon lose control over his substantial arsenal of chemical and advanced weapons, which could slip into the hands of Hezbollah or other hostile groups. These concerns, combined with Hezbollah's own domestic problems, mean further military action could be likely.

Israel is not getting any support from us for the next four years -- time for her to step up to her own defense. Sad to say but true -- Iran cannot get a nuclear bomb.

Israel moves on Syrian weapons

From Sky News:

Israel Strikes Convoy On Syria-Lebanon Border
Israeli jets have attacked a suspected weapons convoy on the border of Syria and Lebanon, according to multiple sources.

Warplanes carried out the strike overnight on the convoy, which was said to be on its way into Syria.

Three waves of four jets carried out three separate strikes against the convoy, hitting it near the Lebanese village of Nabi Chit, about half way up the border with Syria in central Lebanon.

Before our first invasion of Iraq, there was a three-day convoy of trucks from Iraq into Syria -- Saddam's missing WMDs?

Good on Israel -- stay proactive, stay free. My prayers go out to her.

Could not happen to a nicer bunch of people

From Walter Russell Mead, writing at The American Interest:
Saudis Sweat Bullets As Energy Revolution Changes the Rules
The US shale gas boom, drastically cutting the cost of gas, is shaking the foundations of the Saudi Arabian economic model�and more is coming. The highly profitable $100bn Gulf petrochemical industry is taking a hit as its biggest customer�the U.S.�is importing less and relying instead on domestic production.

US petrochemical companies, propelled by cheaper access to raw materials, are competing effectively against companies like the Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic), the world�s largest chemical maker. Sabic also has some home-grown problems. The rapidly growing Saudi population wants to consume (subsidized) petrochemicals at home, air conditioning Saudi houses and running Saudi cars instead of exporting product abroad. Falling production, demand, and prices are beginning to hurt the once stalwart $89bn company. The Financial Times reports:
�The cyclical Gulf petrochemicals industry is already suffering, as lower prices have coincided with higher raw material costs. Sabic�has reported declining profits in every quarter so far this year.

In the third quarter net income fell 23 per cent from the year-earlier period; it fell 35 per cent in the second and 5 per cent in the first quarter.�
US gas prices have plummeted due to new techniques, known as fracking and horizontal drilling, developed to extract the vast deposits of shale gas in the North American bedrock. Production has jumped by nearly a quarter since 2000, reducing demand for Saudi gas. If China figures out how to exploit its own shale gas reserves the Saudis will have every reason to be nervous. The two pillars of the Saudi economy�oil and petrochemical exports�will both be on shaky ground.
One time when I will say: "Go China!" The sooner we starve these oil ticks, the sooner the world will be a lot more peaceful. The Wahhabist faction in S.A. (petro-islam) are the ones funding the majority of the terrorism around the world. Like I said, a nice bunch of people. The sooner they get retired back to their original status, the better.

A Middle East link dump

Egyptian forces intercept 17 rockets headed for Gaza -- from David Barnett at Threat Matrix Head of Syria's military police becomes latest to defect to join the rebel uprising -- UK Telegraph Nobody loves these people: Why Arabs Hate And Kill Palestinians -- Gatestone Institute And why should they -- they are an artificial creation of the KGB back in the 1950's. Russia created and supported Yasser Arafat and the Middle East has been worse off ever since. They are Hashamite Jordanians but are so full of ideology that Jordan doesn't want them back. Merry Christmas: Muslim Terrorists Attack Midnight Mass, Kill Pastor, Set Church on Fire -- Front Page Magazine Not surprised -- this is not a new behavior for him: Obama Gives Cold Shoulder to Egypt's Secular Democrats -- Breitbart

Some good news from Israel

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From Al Arabiya News:
Israel kills 10 Palestinians, destroys Hamas Cabinet building
Israeli air strikes killed 10 Palestinians and destroyed the Hamas government building on Saturday as the Jewish state called up thousands more reservists for a possible ground war.

�The cabinet headquarters was targeted with four strikes and the government stresses that it remains committed to its positions and its stand alongside the people,� the Hamas government said in a statement.

Eyewitnesses and Hamas officials said the building located in the Nasser neighborhood of Gaza City was virtually leveled in the strike.

�The headquarters was completely destroyed and neighboring houses were damaged as a result of the barbaric Israeli bombing,� a Hamas official said.

After Palestinian militants fired rockets at the heart of Israel on Friday, Israeli warplanes carried out 180 air strikes overnight, Israel television reported.
In Egypt, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel would be held to account for the children killed.

�Everyone must know that sooner or later there will be a holding to account for the massacre of these innocent children killed inhumanely in Gaza,� he said in a speech in Cairo.
Ham-ass is specifically locating their munitions stores and rocket firing positions in civilian residential areas, playgrounds and mosques -- when Israel retaliates, their toadies in the complicit media can photograph all the poor wounded children with blood running down their faces. Like this account from the BBC, or this account from Anderson Cooper at CNN.

And it starts - Israel kills Hamas leader

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Good news -- Israel got tired of waiting for Obama to step in so they are now ramping things up. From Reuters:
Israel launches Gaza offensive, kills Hamas commander
Israel launched a major offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza on Wednesday, killing the military commander of Hamas in an air strike and threatening an invasion of the enclave that the Islamist group vowed would "open the gates of hell".

The onslaught shattered hopes that a truce mediated on Tuesday by Egypt could pull the two sides back from the brink of war after five days of escalating Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli strikes at militant targets.

Operation "Pillar of Defence" began with a surgical strike on a car carrying the commander of the military wing of Hamas, the Iranian-armed Islamist movement which controls Gaza and dominates a score of smaller armed groups.

Within minutes of the death of Ahmed Al-Jaabari, big explosions were rocking Gaza, as the Israeli air force struck at selected targets just before sundown, blasting plumes of smoke and debris high above the crowded city.
A bit more:
Hamas is also supported by Iran, which Israel regards as a rising threat to its own existence due to its nuclear program.

Helped by the contraband trade through tunnels from Egypt, Gaza militias have smuggled in better weapons.

But their estimated 35,000 Palestinian fighters are still no match for Israel's F-16 fighter-bombers, Apache helicopter gunships, Merkava tanks and other modern weapons systems in the hands of a conscript force of 175,000, with 450,000 in reserve.
Sorry progressives and anti-semites, Israel has the moral high-ground here. If you study your history, you will learn that there were no Palestinians -- they are an invention of the Soviet KGB who groomed Yasser Arafat and funded him to destabilize Israel. They wanted the oil.

Lord knows Obama certainly does not like Israel so after this disastrous election, they know that they are on their own.

From Associated Press:

Israel drawn into Syria fighting for first time
Israel was drawn into the fighting in neighboring Syria for the first time Sunday, firing warning shots across the border after an errant mortar shell landed near an Israeli military installation in the Golan Heights.

While Israel appeared eager to calm the situation, its response was a potent reminder of how easily the Syrian civil war - already spilling across borders with Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan - could explode into a wider regional conflagration.

A bit more:

They have feared that the instability in Syria over the past 19 months could spill across the border into Israel, particularly as President Bashar Assad's grip on power grows increasingly precarious.

Israel has little love for Assad, who has provided refuge and support to Israel's bitterest enemies through the years. But the Syrian leader - and his father before him - have kept the frontier quiet for nearly four decades, providing a rare source of stability in the volatile region.

The Israeli military said the mortar fire caused no injuries or damage at the post in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and then annexed.

In recent weeks, incidents of errant fire from Syria have multiplied, leading Israel to warn that it holds Syria responsible. Israeli officials believe most of the fire has come from Syrian government forces, although they think it has been inadvertent and not been aimed at Israel.


The Israeli military also said it filed a complaint through United Nations forces operating in the area, stating that "fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity."

Israeli defense officials said the incident was not considered a serious military threat, but Israel felt the need to respond in order to set clear limits for the Syrians.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israeli defense forces have been instructed "to prevent the battles from spilling over into our territory."

"Additional shelling into Israel from Syria will elicit a tougher response; exacting a higher price from Syria," Barak said.

Well, the ball is now in Assad's court. Crap...

Interesting -- from today's (October 20, 2012) New York Times:
U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks
The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran�s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, a senior administration official said, telling their American counterparts that they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.

News of the agreement � a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama�s term � comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world�s major powers to curb Tehran�s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time.

It is also far from clear that Mr. Obama�s opponent, Mitt Romney, would go through with the negotiation should he win election. Mr. Romney has repeatedly criticized the president as showing weakness on Iran and failing to stand firmly with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat.
Emphasis mine. About 30 years ago, on President Jimmy Carter's watch, 52 Americans were taken hostage in Iran and held for 444 days only to be freed when Ronald Reagan was elected President. Carter oversaw such delicate negotiations -- delicate and thoughtful negotiations. He was nuanced, an intellectual. He met them at the table. President Ronald Reagan swept into office and a few minutes after Reagan's inauguration, all 52 hostages were released. This is not diplomacy, this is a bunch of theocrats filling their Depends(r) in fear because we could very well have some adults in the White House next year.

Unreal -- the Poop Snake

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The nation of Dubai has no in-ground sewage system. They rely on trucks to haul the waste to processing plants.
Language has a lot of poop jokes. NSFW :-) Talk about priorities. This is the nation that paid for some contractors to come in and build the worlds tallest building as well as a bunch of artificial islands and they still do not have a decent plumbing system? I would hate to know what their water system is like... Tip of the hat to Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

Mr. Popularity

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From The Times of Israel:
Ahmadinejad�s cameraman defects, seeks asylum in US
A lawyer for a cameraman who was accompanying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the US for the United Nations General Assembly in New York says his client has defected.

Paul O�Dwyer, a New York City-based lawyer who is representing Hassan Gol Khanban, confirmed Sunday that his client is seeking asylum in the US He provided no other details.

It wasn�t immediately clear when the Iranian defected or his current whereabouts.

A message left with Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission to the UN, was not immediately returned.

Ahmadinejad addressed the assembly on Wednesday, his last as president of Iran.
Heh -- must be rough when you can't keep your hand-picked staff from defecting to the Great Satan...
And what do the United Arab Emirates do? Route around the damage. From the Christian Science Monitor:
Sorry, Iran: UAE opens pipeline around Strait of Hormuz
The United Arab Emirates on Sunday inaugurated a much-anticipated overland oil pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz, giving the OPEC member insurance against Iranian threats to block the strategic waterway.

The 380-kilometer (236-mile) Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline snakes across western desert dunes and over the craggy Hajar mountains to the city of Fujairah on the UAE's Indian Ocean coast, south of the strait.

Until now, all Emirati exports were loaded in the Gulf and then sailed out through Hormuz. Once it is running at full capacity, the pipeline could allow the country, OPEC's third biggest exporter, to ship as much as two-thirds of its peak production through the eastern port city.
Heh -- it doesn't handle the full capacity but once it is up and running, they can use the revenues to build a second pipeline along side the first. Iran just lost a major bargaining chip...
From the UK Telegraph:
Titanic discoverer locates Turkish pilots shot down by Syria
The discovery of the two corpses on the seabed could help to settle an argument over whether the plane was shot down in international airspace or over Syrian territorial waters.

Turkey recruited the services of Robert Ballard, a renowned oceanographer who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985, to locate the remains of the F-4 Phantom and its two missing crew members.

The bodies of Gokhan Ertan and Hasan Huseyin Aksov were located by the MV Nautilus, an American deep-sea exploration vessel led by Mr Ballard. The boat is now attempting to retrieve the remains of the two men.

The wreckage of the plane itself has yet to be found. Turkey will hope that its retrieval will boost its case that Syria shot the aircraft down deliberately and without warning in international airspace -- although it has acknowledged that the plane probably drifted into Syrian waters when it crashed.
I have had a huge man-crush on Dr. Ballard for a long long time. Turkey is an Islamic state but it is also a fully functioning Democracy and it doesn't mess in other Nations politics(that much). Syria on the other hand... Cool that Dr. Ballard was able to do the work that he is doing -- I do not know but he is probably continuing his work on Noah's Flood in the Black Sea.

Now this will be fun

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From Gizmodo:
This Treasure Hunter Says He Has Located Bin Laden�s Body
That smiling guy is Bill Warren, the Californian treasure hunter who claimed he was searching for Osama Bin Laden's dead body back in June 2011. He didn't find him then, but now he claims he has located the cadaver.

Talking to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Warren says he has no doubt about where Osama is:
I've located where they threw him away. I'm the only one with this information. He's 200 miles to the west of the Indian city of Surat.
Warren �- who claims he has discovered more than 200 shipwrecks during his career as a treasure-hunter -� says that bin Laden's body is still at that same location, deep under water. His thought is that, since the Navy weighted down the bag, the body hasn't moved from where it was dropped. He is now trying to rent Russian deep diving equipment to locate his payload, and to conduct DNA tests once he finds him.

At least, that's what he believes. He says he pinpointed the drop point from photos recently released by the US Navy.
The article concludes with the obvious:
But who knows, maybe Bill will prove himself right this time. Or maybe the body will not be there because Osama bin Laden is alive and well, playing cards and drinking mai tais with Elvis and Marilyn, in that secret government paradise island in the middle of the Pacific.
Hell, I'd pony up $100 just to feed the corpse a BLT sammitch. Mmmmm Bacon!

About that Egyptian Spring

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Everyone was happy about the overthrow of the Egyptian government thinking that some nebulous 'democracy' was going to result. The stupid -- it burns!!! From The Washington Post:
Egypt justice minister returns letter from US envoy about citizens barred from travel
The Egyptian justice minister returned a letter Tuesday from the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt asking him to re-examine the issue of Americans barred from leaving the country.

The snub is the latest in a spat between the allies over a politically charged Egyptian investigation into foreign funded groups.

Egyptian security forces raided 17 offices of 10 pro-democracy and human rights groups last month then barred at least 10 foreigners, including six Americans, from leaving the country.

Among those stuck in Egypt is Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. On Monday, three of the Americans took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
Nothing spells 'democracy' like raiding human rights groups... And then, there is this little gem:
At the same time, the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood is leading Egypt�s newly elected parliament, seated last week.
Their motto is:
Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.
Nice people (more here, here and here)

Arab spring

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Fears have come realities as the new government in Egypt seems to be more interested in returning to the ninth century than joining the rest of the world. If you have seen the news, there have been some horrific photographs of women being beaten by police. Now it seems that destroying their antiquities is in vogue. From Mustafa Suleima writing for the Al Arabiya news service:
Failure to protect Egyptian historic sites could trigger foreign intervention, warn experts
The fire that broke out in a Cairo library that houses thousands of rare documents raised concerns over the government�s and the army�s ability to protect historic sites at times of upheaval and drove several experts to warn of a possible intervention by foreign entities to preserve the heritage at risk.

Legal and archeological experts described failure to contain the fire that devoured large parts of the Scientific Complex in downtown Cairo and to rescue the priceless maps, manuscripts, and books kept inside as a disaster and warned that the possibility of similar acts of sabotage would make foreign intervention very likely.

Haggag Ibrahim, deputy chairman of the Association for the Preservation of Heritage and member of the Higher Commission for Museums, labeled those involved in setting the Scientific Complex on fire �the new Tatars� who want to erase all aspects of culture in the country.

�Those are the grandchildren of the Tatars who burned the library of Baghdad when they invaded the Muslim world,� he told Al Arabiya.

According to Ibrahim, UNESCO is now capable of placing historic sites in Egypt under international protection since Egyptians proved unable to do so themselves.
One of the commentors summed it up perfectly: "And that's what you get when cousins marry."

Things going ka-boom

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Heh -- now this is how you wage a war -- from Haaretz:
Report: Explosion rocks Iran city of Isfahan, home to key nuclear facility
An explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city.

According to reports, frightened residents called the fire department after the blast, forcing the city authorities to admit there had been an explosion.
Of course, this never ever happened before. Interesting times...
From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Tough line: US suspends military aid to Pakistan
The Obama administration's decision to suspend $800 million in aid to the Pakistan's military signals a tougher U.S. line with a critical but sometimes unreliable partner in the fight against terrorism.

President Barack Obama's chief of staff, William Daley, said in a broadcast interview Sunday that the estranged relationship between the United States and Pakistan must be made "to work over time," but until it does, "we'll hold back some of the money that the American taxpayers are committed to give" to the country's powerful military forces.
A bit more -- Mullen is Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff:
George Perkovich, an expert on Pakistan with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said Mullen's comments and the suspension of aid represent "the end of happy talk," where the U.S. tries to paper over differences between the two nations.
"end of happy talk" indeed -- we knew what we were dealing with there and we never should have opened with happy talk. That culture only respects strength and for us to "paper over differences" is in their eyes weakness and appeasement. They were taking everything they could and laughing at us behind our backs. Looks like someone has finally found a pair.

Morocco gets it

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Good news out of Morocco -- from the Weekly Standard:
The King�s Speech
On July 1 Moroccans will vote on a set of constitutional changes proposed by their king, Mohammed VI. These new amendments guarantee the full equality of women and the rights of minorities, like the Berbers, whose language, Amazigh, will now be an official language alongside Arabic; they criminalize torture, establish the independence of the judiciary, and invest more executive authority in a head of government chosen from the party that wins the most seats in parliament.

The king�s speech announcing these proposed amendments didn�t win the international attention afforded the street demonstrations that brought down longstanding authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, but here�s a Muslim-majority Middle Eastern state where reform has become a reality, not a slogan. The pity is that the Obama administration seems oblivious.

The Moroccan reforms issue from negotiations and consultations that began in March, after Tunisia�s Ben Ali and Egypt�s Mubarak had already been swept away. Still, the reform process began much earlier than that, when Mohammed VI succeeded his father Hassan II on the throne in 1999. Over the last decade, opposition parties became restless and demanded the monarchy follow through on its promises. The Arab Spring filled the sails of reform. The proposed amendments, expected to pass by a large majority, will set Morocco on course for a constitutional monarchy resembling Spain�s​�​and, according to some analysts, will actually cede more power than Spain�s reformer king Juan Carlos was first willing to give up.
Morocco is a small nation but let us pray that with these baby steps, the other Muslim nations take notice.
One has to remember that the 'palestinian people' are a construct of the old Soviet Union. Russia took Yasser Arafat under their wing, Arafat studied in Moscow for seven years and came to the Middle East with full KGB backing. Russia wanted to destabilize the area to prevent Israel and the USA from gaining control over the oil resources. The people claiming to be palestinian are Hashimite Jordanians and Jordan is now so fed up with them that it is illegal for a palestinian to purchase land in Jordan. Read your history

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