Category Archives: Middle East News

Middle East News

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn: Iran ‘On Notice’

National Security Advisor Mike Flynn said today “we are officially putting Iran on notice” after a missile test and an attack on a Saudi frigate that the Pentagon believes was an attack meant for a US warship.

“The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms.  The Trump Administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk.”

Full text:  The White House Office of the Press Secretary, February 01, 2017 Statement by the National Security Advisor

Video: National Security Advisor Michael Flynn: ‘We Are Officially Putting Iran On Notice’ For Missile Launch

Saudi Frigate Attacked

“A Saudi frigate on patrol west of the port city of Hodeida was hit by a terrorist attack from three suicide boats belonging to the Houthi militias,” the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said, according to Reuters.

In the attack, two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded.

Footage claiming to show the attack surfaced Monday.  In the video, you can hear shouts in Arabic, “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to the Jews.”


Initially, Iranian media reported that the Saudi frigate had been hit by an anti-ship missile, much like the kind Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen had fired in October at an Emirati ship and several US Navy vessels.

Later, Saudi media reported the incident as a terrorist attack carried out by “suicide boats,” or small craft laden with bombs, which left two Saudi sailors dead. BusinessInsider

Pentagon believes attack on Saudi frigate meant for US warship

U.S. defense analysts believe those behind the attack either thought the bomber was striking an American warship or that this was a “dress rehearsal” similar to the attack on the USS Cole, according to one official.

The attack, near the Bab al Mandab Strait connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, occurred in the same area where U.S. Navy warships came under missile attack in October.

An American destroyer shot down those incoming missiles — the first successful engagement in combat using an American SM-2 missile. FoxNews

President Trump Says Persecuted Christians Will Be Given Priority As Refugees

(b)Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization. Executive Order Jan. 27, 2017 

It only makes sense to give priority to those persecuted.  ‘Persecuted’ would include many religious minority groups in the region; Christians, Yazidis…

In an exclusive interview with The Brody File, President Donald Trump says persecuted Christians will be given priority when it comes to applying for refugee status in the United States.

“We are going to help them,” President Trump tells CBN News. “They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair.” CBN

Video:  Brody File Exclusive:  President Trump Persecuted Christians

Christian Freedom International president Jim Jacobson praised the order.

“This means that persecuted Christians will finally be considered for resettlement. Under the Obama administration, persecuted Christians from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere were either essentially ignored or flatly denied consideration for resettlement to the U.S,” Jacobson said in a statement. “The Trump administration has given hope to persecuted Christians that their cases will finally be considered.”  ChristianPost

On Friday President Trump signed an executive order that bans Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, and blocks entry into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Ammar Sawan is a Syrian now living in Jordan who applied to resettle in the U.S.   Sawan and his family is safe in Jordan, he can put all your dreams in the country he is now in – Jordan.

A refugee who fled worn-torn Syria and dreamed of living in the United States with his family is among those who have spoken out following Trump’s immigration ban.

Ammar Sawan took his first step toward resettlement in the US three months ago by submitting to an initial round of security screenings.  But his plan for a better life fell apart when President Donald Trump enforced an indefinite ban on Friday on displaced Syrians entering the United States.

Sawan, who is a Syrian refugee living in Amman, Jordan with his family, revealed on Saturday that he learned of Trump’s decision from TV news the night before.  ‘When we heard of the order, it was like a bolt of lightning, and all our hopes and dreams vanished,’ the 40 year-old said.

The upholsterer, who supports his family with odd jobs in Amman, said he was especially disappointed for his four children who he had hoped would get a good education in the U.S.  DailyMail

Support And Opposition Of US Embassy Relocation To Jerusalem

Video:  Jerusalem: 4000 Years in 5 Minutes

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital.  Currently, no country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

President Trump is not the first President to promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem in line with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which was passed by Congress in 1995. But every president since has signed a national-security waiver suspending the act, arguing that Jerusalem’s status will be determined only after a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Economist

Thanks to a law signed by Bill Clinton, Trump will face a decision on whether to move the embassy within his first six months in office. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 mandates that the U.S. Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or risk a massive cut in State Department funding, but allows the president to postpone the move for reasons of national security.

Since the law’s passage, successive presidents have issued such a waiver every six months. The most recent one, signed by Obama on Dec. 1, expires in May 2017, meaning it will be up to Trump to decide the embassy’s fate. Politico

Christians – Support

Aside from its centrality to Jewish history, and its role as Israel’s capital, Jerusalem is also a holy place for many Bible-reading Christians. As such, prominent pro-Israel Christian organizations are lining up to express their support for President Donald Trump’s campaign vow to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to hold the president accountable for his words.

Susan Michael, the US director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), said Christians already understand that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and would like to see the American government follow suit. In fact, the ICEJ has had its own “unofficial” embassy in Jerusalem since 1980, a point that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted in his 2016 Christmas address.

“Hundreds of millions of Christians around the world understand from their Bible the spiritual significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, and that it was established as the capital of Israel some 3,000 years ago by King David,” Michael told JNS.org, adding that Christians “believe the spiritual law of blessing established in Genesis 12 that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people.” Algemeiner

Political

“A U.S. administration would be seriously harming its potential role, as it has historically played, as a so-called ‘honest broker’ between the Israelis and the Arabs,” said Edward Djerejian, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and ambassador to Israel under the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. Politico

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer was an original co-sponsor on the Jerusalem Embassy Act and has expressed support for relocating the embassy.

“Senator Schumer has long supported moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and has called on both Democratic and Republican Presidents to make this happen,” Matt House, Schumer’s spokesman, told Politico in an email.

EU – Opposes

European Union foreign ministers opposed any plan to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and warned that it could ratchet up tensions with the Arab world.

“It is very important for us all to refrain from unilateral actions, especially those that can have serious consequences in large sectors of public opinion in large parts of the world,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after chairing their talks in Brussels.

“We hope that there can be reflection on consequences of any move that is taken,” she said. Mogherini declined to say what consequences could be considered as no formal decision has been made to move the embassy. USNews

Muslim Nations and Allies – Oppose

Reasons (and others) we can expect that NO Muslim nation will agree with President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Continue reading Support And Opposition Of US Embassy Relocation To Jerusalem

Under Cover Of Night, Syrian Wounded Seek Help From Israel

Nearly every night Syrian wounded come to the Golan Heights in Israel seeking medical help.  Coming into Israel challenge their perceptions about the Jewish state.

It happens nearly every night. After dark, the Syrian wounded come to known locations on the Israel-Syria front in the Golan Heights, driven by desperation to seek help from an enemy army.

Israeli soldiers on lookout or patrol spot them waiting by the fence and whisk them away to a rear position where army medics soon arrive, according to army officials operating in the Golan Heights.

Israel refuses to accept refugees fleeing the nearly six-year conflict in Syria, a country with which it remains technically at war. But it has allowed in more than 2,600 Syrians for medical care…

One man, his legs pierced by shrapnel, survived a bomb attack in his village in which 23 people were killed.

“In the past we used to know Israel as our enemy. That’s what the regime used to tell us,” he said. “When we came to Israel we changed our minds, there is no enmity between us.

“In the end we discovered that our regime is the enemy of us all,” he said, referring to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.  Reuters

Video: Under the Cover of Night, Syrians Seek Help From Israel

Video: Fatah Members Wear “Suicide Belts” And Carry Knives To Commemorate Party’s Anniversary

Fatah-run Awdah TV reporter: “The Fatah Movement will defend the Palestinian national project. Fatah will continue to be like the phoenix that rises out of the fire and the ruins. Dear viewers, the anniversary of the Palestinian revolution, the 52nd anniversary of the Launch of Fatah.”

A young girl’s chant that encourages violence against Israel and glorifies death was posted by Fatah on Facebook.

…at a rally marking Fatah’s anniversary this month, the young Palestinian girl encouraged death for “Palestine,” for which “blood is spilled.”

“This is what Yasser [Arafat] called for…He announced: For the sake of Jerusalem my path is burning,” the girl said, according to PMW, citing a Jan. 8 post on Fatah’s official Facebook page.

At the same rally, the honorary plaques were given to the families of Palestinian terrorists Zaid Younes, who was involved in a 2002 suicide attack in Tel Aviv that injured 23 people, and Nael Yassin, who murdered Israeli Border Police officer Yosef Tabjeh in 2000 and was involved in dozens of other attacks until he was arrested in 2006. JNS

Iran Repopulating Syria With Shia Muslims

This is extremely wrong!

New communities of Shia Muslims are being settled in areas where Sunnis have fled or been forced out as Tehran seeks an arc of control stretching from its borders to Israel.  There would be Iran controlled areas just above Israel.

In the valleys between Damascus and Lebanon, where whole communities had abandoned their lives to war, a change is taking place. For the first time since the conflict broke out, people are starting to return.

But the people settling in are not the same as those who fled during the past six years.

The new arrivals have a different allegiance and faith to the predominantly Sunni Muslim families who once lived there. They are, according to those who have sent them, the vanguard of a move to repopulate the area with Shia Muslims not just from elsewhere in Syria, but also from Lebanon and Iraq.

The population swaps are central to a plan to make demographic changes to parts of Syria, realigning the country into zones of influence that backers of Bashar al-Assad, led by Iran, can directly control and use to advance broader interests. Iranis stepping up its efforts as the heat of the conflict starts to dissipate and is pursuing a very different vision to Russia, Assad’s other main backer. TheGuradian 

The author of the below article is Zvi Mazel.  He is the former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Egypt, and Sweden.  Since 2006 he has been a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs – a think tank specializing in Security and Foreign Affairs of Israel.

Sunnis make up 85% of the Muslim world, while Shi’ites are less than 15%. Nevertheless, Iran enjoys an advantage because it is the supreme Shi’ite religious and political authority, whereas, in the Sunni world, every imam can issue his own fatwas – though there is no general obligation to follow them. The lack of religious solidarity – let alone a common policy – severely hampers the ability of Sunni countries to counter the Iranian threat.

While religious extremism Shi’ite and Sunni appear poised to tear apart the Mideast, the lack of religious solidarity – let alone a common policy – severely hampers the ability of Sunni countries to counter the Iranian threat.

Beginning with Khomeini, Tehran has developed a powerful and aggressive army to push its agenda: exporting its Islamic Revolution to Sunni states as a first step before attacking “the great Satan” – the U.S. and its allies. Iran was a major driving force in the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the shambles that is Lebanon. JPost

Research Findings Dating Back To Kings David And Solomon In Timna Valley

The ancient copper mines in Timna, in Israel’s Arava Valley in the Sinai Peninsula, are believed by many to be the site of King Solomon’s mines and believed to have been operated by the early Edomites.

Citing the biblical story about King David traveling with his soldiers to the land of Edom, where a major battle took place with the Edomites by the Dead Sea, Ben-Yosef said his team may have found evidence of the bloody conflict.

According to the Bible, Edom stretched from the Sinai Peninsula to the southern border of Canaan and Kingdom of Judah and as far west as Eilat, where it maintained its seaport. As David expanded his reign, Samuel 8:13 states that his army vanquished 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

Following the victory, David turned Edom into an Israelite province ruled by handpicked governors.

“You cannot overstate the importance of copper in the Levant during the 10th century BC,” said Ben-Yosef. “It was the oil of the time and produced agricultural tools and weapons.”  JPost

Archaeologists discovered elements that date back to the biblical era of King David and King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. with a highly organized defense system.

The archeological team, led by Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef, first found a wall of the 10th-century BCE copper-smelting site near Timna Park in the southern desert where the world’s first copper mine is believed to have been located.

The archaeologists, led by Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University, think these features show that this Iron Age settlement had a highly organized defense system and depended on an impressive network of long-distance trade. LiveScience

Unraveling the history of an ancient military fortification.

According to Ben-Yosef, the wall his team found was five meters high and once stretched for hundreds of meters.

In addition to the wall, the archeologists uncovered sling stones, donkey bones and dung on both sides of a gatehouse.

What the donkeys were feed.

Built of sturdy stone to defend against invasions, the fortification had pens for draft animals and other livestock. By studying pollen, seed and fauna in the dung, experts found that the animals were fed with hay and the remains of grapes, which was delivered from the Mediterranean coast hundreds of miles away.  FoxNews

“You have to remember the copper was used to [sustain life], and the nearest water source was 15 kilometers away,” he said.  JPost

Humans were not feed a slave diet.

Despite ancient accounts that the mines were operated by slaves, the researcher said mining experts likely oversaw and trained apprentices to extricate the valuable natural resource.  JPost

Previous research by Ben-Yosef’s team found that the laborers did not have a typical slave’s diet; instead, the metalworkers ate good cuts of meat, pistachios and fish imported from the Mediterranean, suggesting they had a rather high status and were valued for their craft. LiveScience

In Rare Move, UK Blocks EU Council’s Adoption Of Paris Peace Conference Statement

A decisive attempt by Theresa May to correct her government’s earlier mistake with UN Res. 2334, she sent a low-level functionary to the Paris Peace Conference, in which the UK participated as an observer only, declining to add its signature to the Paris Peace Conference final draft statement and now blocking the EU from adopting the statement.

It also seems PM Theresa May understands the importance of trade deals with Trump in a post-Brexit Britain.

Britain prevented the European Union Foreign Affairs Council from adopting the closing statement from the Paris peace conference.

Britain’s action on Monday, reported by Haaretz citing European and Israeli diplomats, followed a day after Britain refused to sign the closing statement at the conference. Britain had sent a low-level diplomat as an observer to indicate its displeasure with the proceedings.

Australia also distanced itself from the closing statement and did not sign it. JTA

Times of London interview

The Brits read what Trump said and implemented it immediately,’ diplomat tells Haaretz.

What did you think of Obama’s approach towards the UN Security Council resolution on Israel just before Christmas?  I think it was terrible. It should have been a veto. I think it was terrible.

Do you think the UK should have vetoed it?

Well, the UK may have another chance to veto if what I’m hearing is true, because you know you have a meeting as you know, this weekend. And there are a lot of bad stories being circulated. The problem I have is that it makes it a tougher deal for me to negotiate because the Palestinians are given so much — even though it’s not legally binding it’s psychologically binding and it makes it much tougher for me to negotiate. You understand that? Because people are giving away chips, they’re giving away all these chips.

And do you think the UK should veto any UN Security Council resolution on Israel put forward this week so that you are in a stronger position to get the right deal for the Middle East?

Well, I’d like to see the UK veto. I think it’d be great if they veto because I’m not sure the United States is gonna veto, amazingly.

Obama Tells ’60 Minutes’ He Made Decision To Abstain On UN Israel Vote, UN Vote Didn’t Rupture US-Israel Relations

Obama:  “I don’t think it caused a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel.”

He tried to destroy the US-Israel relationship and failed in this as well.  Some unintended consequences of abstaining from that vote; end of the two-state peace solution and less funding to the UN from the US.

President Barack Obama told “60 Minutes” that he made the call for the U.S. to abstain from a vote on a U.N. Security council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, allowing the resolution to pass, and that doing so didn’t fray relations between the two countries.

The move caused a major fallout between the United States and Israel, a notion Obama demurred while speaking to Steve Kroft in an interview that aired Sunday.

“I don’t think it caused a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel. If you’re saying that [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu got fired up, he’s been fired up repeatedly during the course of my presidency, around the Iran deal and around our consistent objection to settlements. So that part of it wasn’t new,” Obama said in his final interview as president.

“And despite all the noise and hullabaloo, military cooperation, intelligence cooperation, all of that has continued,” he said. “We have defended them consistently in every imaginable way. But I also believe that both for our national interests and Israel’s national interests that allowing an ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that could get worse and worse over time is a problem. And that settlements contribute. They’re not the sole reason for it, but they’re a contributing factor to the inability to solve that problem.”  NewsMax

In 2016 U.S. State Dept. Gave Palestinians $357 Million. And That’s Not All

The U.S government gives more aid to the Palestinians than any other country.

The State Department has in fact provided Ramallah with over $357 million in financial assistance in the past year, according to information given to The Times of Israel by a US State Department official.

Additionally, in 2016 alone, the US contributed $355,177,827 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), of which $95 million was earmarked for the West Bank and Gaza. UNWRA also operates Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

In total, therefore, the US gave around $712 million in aid to Palestinians in 2016, and is the world’s largest supplier of such aid. TimesOfIsrael

In terms of per capita dollar amount, Palestinians are on top of the list for aid.

The European Union contribution in 2014 was $139,402,221; the United Kingdom’s $95,328,127; Sweden’s $79,975,260; Germany’s $54,838,742 and Norway’s $35,911,782.  Together, with other western governments including Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Italy, Belgium, Finland, and Ireland, the total came to over $1 billion. That amount reflects only government contributions and not non-governmental agencies (NGO’s). Global Humanitarian Assistance reported that the international humanitarian response from 2002 to 2011 provided the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians with $6.7 billionFrontPageMag

Video: PA Minister defends PA giving money to terrorists, they are “heroes”

PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake, at a rally, defends the use of EU aid money to pay the “salaries” of imprisoned terrorists.

In itself, humanitarian aid to the Palestinians is a positive and welcomed gesture, provided that the aid goes to build an economic, social, and political infrastructure, as well as the rule of law in the Palestinian territories.  If the funds provided by American, European governments and NGO’s were to be used for the creation of a civil society that is promoting democracy, religious tolerance, and peaceful coexistence with Israel, every cent would be worthwhile.  Regrettably, that is not the case. FrontPageMag