US drone strike kills 5 in northwestern Pakistan

US drone missile launch

Press TV
July 29, 2013

The casualties come after two missiles hit a convoy of people in the Shawal area of North Waziristan Sunday evening.

Photo By : Debra Sweet

Photo By : Debra Sweet

Local security officials say several people were also severely injured in the fatal attack, which sent shock waves across the troubled region.

The latest attack come as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has recently blasted US assassination drone strikes in his country, describing them as a violation of international law and the UN charter.

Islamabad has repeatedly condemned the attacks, saying they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Washington claims that the airstrikes target militants, but reports on the ground show that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.

US President Barack Obama recently defended the use of the controversial drones as “self-defense.”

The aerial attacks, initiated by former US president George W. Bush, have been escalated under President Obama government.

The United Nations and several human rights organizations have already identified the US as the world’s number one user of “targeted killings” largely due to its drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The United Nations says the US-operated drone strikes in Pakistan pose a growing challenge to the international rule of law.

Philip Alston, UN special envoy on extrajudicial killings, said in a report in late October 2010 that the attacks were undermining the rules designed to protect the right of life.

Alston went on to say that he fears the drone killings by the US Central Intelligence Agency could develop a “play station” mentality.

Reversing policy, US will sell Israel aerial refueling planes

Cutting-edge items in massive new arms deal to be finalized during Hagel visit reflect ‘understandings’ over possible Israel strike on Iran, Israeli TV reports

KC-135 refuelling Stratotanker, photographed in 2010 (photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Angelique Perez)

KC-135 refuelling Stratotanker, photographed in 2010 (photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Angelique Perez)

SOURCE

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will finalize a huge arms deal with Israel during his visit starting Saturday, under which Israel will for the first time be permitted to purchase US aerial refueling planes and other ultra-sophisticated military equipment that could prove vital to any Israel strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Secretary of Defense Hagel alongside Israel's previous defense minister, Ehud Barak, in early March at the Pentagon (Photo credit: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/ Ministry of Defense/ Flash 90)

Secretary of Defense Hagel alongside Israel’s previous defense minister, Ehud Barak, in early March at the Pentagon (Photo credit: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/ Ministry of Defense/ Flash 90)

The deal is to be finalized during Hagel’s visit — his first stop on his first overseas trip since taking over from Leon Panetta — during his talks with Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. But most of its content was agreed upon with Ya’alon’s predecessor Ehud Barak. Hagel’s first meeting with a foreign counterpart after taking up his post was with Barak at the Pentagon in early March. Hagel said at that meeting that, while the US continues to believe there is still time to address the threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons through diplomacy, that window is closing.

Prominent among the Israeli purchases are an undisclosed number of KC-135 aerial refueling planes. Previously, the US refused to sell such planes to Israel. “The change of policy,” Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Friday night, constitutes “something of a hint over the understandings between the two nations regarding the possibility that Israel will seek (US assent) to strike at Iran.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaking to Barack Obama in the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem in March. (photo credit: Pete Souza/Official White House)

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaking to Barack Obama in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem in March. (photo credit: Pete Souza/Official White House)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long indicated a readiness to resort to force if all else fails to halt Iran’s nuclear program, and has repeatedly alleged that the West is being duped by Iran in diplomatic contacts, and that Tehran is merely “buying time” while it advances toward the bomb. The danger posed by Iran was the key issue discussed by Netanyahu and Barack Obama when the US president visited Israel last month.

The “new generation of KC-135 refueling tanker planes would let Israel’s warplanes stay in the air longer, an ability essential for any long-range mission — like a strike by Iran,” the New York Times reported Friday.

KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft “would allow Israeli war planes to stay in the air for longer to carry out long-range missions — such as a strike on Iran’s nuclear installations,” echoed London’s Daily Telegraph.

Also being purchased by Israel are V-22 Osprey aircraft, a tilt-rotor hybrid that can take off and land like a helicopter and then fly like an airplane, as well as precision-guided missiles and advanced radar for Israeli fighter aircraft. It would be the first sale of the V-22 to a foreign nation. “Israel could use the Osprey for patrolling its borders, coastline and out to sea, and for moving troops to troubled areas,” Friday’s Times report said.

The Times added: “Israel also would receive antiradiation missiles. Launched from a warplane, they can home in on an adversary’s air-defense radar signals and destroy those sites. New, advanced radars for Israel’s military jets also would be in the package.”

One goal of the overall arms deal, the Times said, was “to ensure that Israel continues to field the most capable armed forces in the region to deter Iran and counter a range of threats.”

The arms sale was outlined to Congress on Thursday, the Times said. “Congressional officials said members were seeking assurances that the package was in keeping with American policy to guarantee Israel’s ‘qualitative military edge’ while not recklessly emboldening Israeli hawks,” it added — a presumed reference to any possible Israeli military intervention in Iran. Obama made clear while in Israel that he did not believe time had run out on a diplomatic solution.

In all, the US Defense Department is working out final details of a huge $10 billion in sales of warplanes, transport aircraft, and advanced missiles to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, amid concerns about the growing threat from Iran, Pentagon and congressional officials said. Israel’s purchases will largely be financed out of the annual US military aid package to Israel.

The US has spent the past year negotiating with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates on the deals.

The United Arab Emirates would purchase 26 F-16 warplanes under the deal, as well as advanced air-launched missiles. Three Pentagon officials who briefed reporters on the arrangement Friday said the UAE segment of the deal is valued at $4 billion to $5 billion. They did not specify the value of the sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are expected to buy advanced air-launched missiles.

One official said the deals were briefed to Congress on Thursday by Wendy Sherman, the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, and James Miller, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy.

Hagel will visit Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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US Secretly Deploys B-1 Strategic Bombers, E-6 “Doomsday” Planes Near North Korea

Zero Hedge
April 6, 2013

First the US fanfared the placement of two F-22 Raptors in the Osan airbase of South Korea. Then it demonstratively launched a B-2 stealth bomber on a training mission over a South Korean gunnery range. Then it deployed an anti-ballistic missile defense system to Guam and positioned two guided-missile destroyers in the waters near Korea. And now, courtesy of the Aviationist, we learn that the Pentagon has escalated once more in an ongoing cat and mouse game with North Korea, of who blinks first, and dispatched several B-1 (“Bone”) Lancer strategic long-range bombers to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. What is different this time, however, is that unlike the previous very public and widely trumpeted reciprocal escalation steps, this particular deployment has been kept secret from the public (at least the broader public), “a fact that could be the sign that the U.S. is not only making symbolic moves (as the above mentioned ones), but it is preparing for the worst scenario: an attack on North Korea.”

How has the Aviationist learned this?

From his station in Amarillo, Texas, author, investigative journalist, technologies expert Steve Douglass heard something interesting. In a message he sent us on Facebook he said:

“Late last night I monitored “DARK flight of seven” on PRIME (311.000 MHZ STRATCOM PRIMARY) asking for current weather for UAM [airport code for Guam – Andersen Air Force Base]. On the frequency of 251.100 Mhz,DARK flight also was calling for “GASSR 11 and GASSR 12? (KC-135s)  for “Tanker drag to BAB [Beale AFB, California]“.

“Dark” is the standard radio callsign for the 7th Bomb Wing’s B-1s based at Dyess AFB, near Abilene, Texas.

Even if U.S. bombers routinely deploy to Guam (where at least two B-2s are reportedly already based), the fact that seven “Bones” were apparently moving together is something a bit unusual, even if they were not going to Andersen AFB (they might need the weather report for UAM because it was an alternate airfield or simply a stopover on their way to somewhere else).

Actually, it’s also weird that some many big bombers were flying together (as the “flight of seven” heard by Douglass seems to suggest) since a standard ferry flight of multiple planes would normally see the aircraft move individually. And, another strange thing is that the pilot talked about their destination in the clear: if they wanted it to be secret, they would speak on secure radios.

Nevertheless, this might have been a non-standard deployment; a move ordered hours after U.S. satellites and spyplanes from South Korea and Japan had spotted North Korean missiles being readied for launch.

What is even more curious is that instead of merely serving as very expensive deterrence props, the squadron has a very offensive role, and is preparing for attack:

Earlier [Douglass] had intercepted an interesting communication off a military satellite in which an Ellsworth AFB’s B-1B, callsign “Slam 1?, was training to hit a “missile facility” in Snyder, Texas.

A practice run for a mission in the DPRK with a school bus depot standing in for the real thing?

Maybe.

American B-1 bomber pilots have reportedly shifted their training programs, focusing on in East Asia, more than Afghanistan and the Middle East. And, above all, any training mission has many similarities with actual sorties that would be flown against a real enemy in combat.

Anyway, Douglass has recorded an audio snippet of the exercise (available here). Based on the coordinates for Snyder, Texas here‘s the target on Google Maps.

Finally, and most disturbing, is that another aircraft also in the process of deployment is none other than the E-6 Mercury “Doomsday” plane, which are among the pinnacle in US Airforce nuclear war preparedness, tasked with “providing command and control of U.S. nuclear forces should ground-based control become inoperable” and whose core functions include conveying instructions from the National Command Authority to fleet ballistic missile submarines and also to further command post capabilities and control of land-based missiles and nuclear-armed bombers.

You can read more about the military air activity recently monitored by Steve Douglass in an extremely interesting article he posted on his blog that not only summarize the contents of the messages he sent to The Aviationist, but provides some more details about the alleged overseas deployment of E-6 Mercury “doomsday” planes from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

Perhaps to Kim Jong-un the military escalation to nuclear war is only one big joke, but to the US it is increasingly appearing very serious. And perhaps this is precisely what the Pentagon wanted all along?

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‘HARBINGER’ AUTHOR SAYS ALMIGHTY WARNING U.S.

‘We are now the nation that has known God, and is turning from God’

SOURCE

It’s not complicated, according to “Harbinger” author Jonathan Cahn, America once knew God, but is turning away and the Almighty is trying to get the nation’s attention.

That’s the substance of a message from the author who now also has released a new teaching series.

Cahn was on the Christian Broadcast Network with Rev. Pat Robertson recently to discuss the message that is catching fire across the nation – with more than a million of the books already sold.

“The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” a two-hour DVD documentary released last March that contains the message in the “Harbinger,” and illustrates the striking parallels between ancient Israel’s fall and the decline of America since 9/11, has been the No. 1 faith movie in the country for an unprecedented 40 weeks.

It has also been ranked near the top 10 of all documentaries in that time period.

Producer Joseph Farah said he is immensely pleased with the performance of the movie, which is a documentary treatment of the message found in the best-selling book “The Harbinger,” which has been on the top-10 New York Times list every week since last year when it was released.

Robertson cited the stock market crash of 2008 and the horrors of 9/11, and Cahn also said he’s had inquiries recently from members of Congress with questions about his interpretation of events and the Bible.

Cahn said the message is that Israel was a nation that knew God, then turned away. The verse in Isaiah 9:10 talks about its attitude when God allowed a limited judgment to fall, and that was that they would not return to God, they did not want Him and they would rebuild their nation themselves.

“We are now the nation that has known God, and is turning from God, and God is warning,” Cahn said.

He said disgraced Sen. Tom Daschle, who was the Senate Majority leader at 9/11, read those words in promising that America would rebuild – apparently without God. And Cahn said Sen. John Edwards read the same passage a few years later, and President Obama paraphrased the words.

Cahn’s teaching series includes:

  • “The Masada Mystery”: For 2,000 years, God kept a scroll hidden on top of Masada in the Israeli wilderness waiting for the Jewish people to come back to the land and uncover it. Discover this awesome prophecy of God and what it has to do with you.
  • “The Sanhedrin Secret”: Did Jesus (Yeshua) really rise from the dead? Or was his body stolen from the sealed tomb guarded by Roman soldiers as the Jewish Sanhedrin charged? The gospel record is clear on the risen Christ. But what about the charges of the Sanhedrin? Did they even believe their own cover story for the empty tomb? Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn looks at the evidence and finds historical confirmation for the Resurrection of Yeshua in an unlikely source – the rabbinical writings of the Sanhedrin itself.

  • “The Hanukkah Endtime Mystery”: Hanukkah contains one of the most amazingly detailed revelations of the end times – Jonathan Cahn opens up the endtime mysteries of Hanukkah, with stunning detail on what is yet to come, and what is already happening right now before our eyes! Most people are somewhat familiar with the Hanukkah story as related in the Book of Maccabees, an extrabiblical history of Israeli rebellion against a Greek tyrant who desecrated the Temple. They know the story of the lighting of the menorah and the miracle of the oil that burned beyond any reasonable expectation. But even Bible scholars and Christians knowledgeable about the Hebrew Roots of their faith don’t know about the ancient endtime mystery revealed in the story of Hanukkah.

It was a year ago that “The Harbinger,” by Cahn, a messianic rabbi from New Jersey, exploded onto the publishing scene, immediately becoming a surprise New York Times bestseller, already read by hundreds of thousands nationwide.

“A number of years ago, as I was standing at the edge of Ground Zero in New York City, I came across the first puzzle piece of an ancient biblical mystery and a prophetic message known as ‘The Harbinger’ that concerns the future of America,” explains Cahn, who helped write the two-hour documentary “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” and narrates it.

Cahn says he has found nine harbingers that tie the problems America has experienced beginning Sept. 11, 2001, together, with parallels to events that led to the destruction of ancient Israel.

“Before God judges a nation, He sends warning,” explains Cahn. “He sent warnings to ancient Israel. He even allowed its enemies to breach its borders in a devastating strike that would traumatize the nation. It was a wake-up call, the call to return to God. But the nation responded with defiance. God then gave nine harbingers of judgment, nine prophetic signs, alarms and foreshadows of what was to come. Now America is the nation in rapid departure from God’s will. And God likewise allowed an enemy to breach its borders in a devastating strike – the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was, likewise, a wake-up call. But America, like Israel, has not responded with repentance, but with defiance. And now the nine harbingers of judgment have reappeared and have done so on American soil.”

Isaiah 9:10 is a verse in which Israel’s national leaders utter a vow of defiance following an attack by Assyria. It declared that the nation would not repent before God, but would defy Him instead. Cahn reveals in “The Harbinger” – and in even more dramatic fashion in the movie – that beginning the day after Sept. 11, 2001, American leaders began repeating that 2,500-year-old vow, word for word.

Cahn, the pastor of the Jerusalem Center-Beth Israel Congregation in Wayne, N.J., says America simply is uncannily re-enacting ancient Israel’s behavior prior to its judgment and eventual fall.

Cahn has found some eerie parallels to the recorded fate of Israel.

“In the aftermath of the attack, the nation was stunned,” said Cahn. “Everyone was trying to make sense of what had happened – this unprecedented attack on America. The very next day, Sept. 12, then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle presented America’s response to the world. And what did he say?”

Daschle said: “America will emerge from this tragedy as we have emerged from all adversity – united and strong. Nothing … nothing can replace the losses of those who have suffered. I know there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible from Isaiah that speaks to all of us at times like this.”

He then went on to read Isaiah 9:10.

“Daschle has no idea what he is doing here,” explains Cahn. “He thinks he’s offering comforting words to a grief-stricken people, but he is actually embracing the spiritually defiant and arrogant words of the children of Israel, proclaiming the ancient and ominous vow of the leaders of that nation. He doesn’t realize it, but he is actually inviting more judgment on the nation.”

It might be of some significance that Daschle, one of the most powerful men in the nation when he spoke those words, later fell into disgrace – to the point where he couldn’t even serve in Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

That might have been the end of the story – if no other top leader in the nation uttered those strange and obscure words after 9/11. But that’s not the case.

On the third anniversary of the attack, Sept. 11, 2004, another powerful U.S. senator running for vice president that year and who would famously run for the presidency four years later, gave a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus.

This time, John Edwards’ entire speech was built on a foundation of Isaiah 9:10:

“Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord’s Word to get us through,” he said. He then read Isaiah 9:10. He went on to talk about how America was doing just that – rebuilding with hewn stone and planting cedars.

“Like Daschle, Edwards thinks he’s invoking inspirational and comforting words from the Bible, but he’s actually inviting judgment on America,” says Cahn. “He’s repeating the vow that provoked God to bring calamity on ancient Israel.”

Even more astonishing, Daschle and Edwards were not alone among U.S. leaders in making similar statements, as “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” shows.

The book and video document a long list of other eerie parallels.

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American Way: Barack Obama ducked the chance to tackle America’s financial death-spiral

When Barack Obama won a second term in office last November a tiny, guttering flame of hope was observed in the breasts of many hard-pressed Americans who wanted common sense to prevail in Washington.

American Way: Barack Obama ducked the chance to tackle America's financial death-spiral

‘Mr Obama is absolutely right that America’s future depends on investment – the country’s infrastructure is crumbling, its education system is failing while global competition advances – but just plain wrong to suggest these programs are sustainable without entitlement reform.’ Photo: EPA
 

That hope centered not on any naive expectation that Democrats and Republicans would suddenly learn to love each other, but that Mr Obama, freed from having to run for office again and in search of a personal legacy for his presidency, might start to show some leadership.

Last week, sad to report, those hopes flickered and died when Mr Obama delivered a State of the Union address that showed he has absolutely no intention of getting serious about arresting America’s long-term financial death-spiral.

This was an infuriatingly dishonest speech. Mr Obama spelled out very clearly America’s impending demographic crunch – too many baby-boomers, not enough money to pay for their benefits – but then falsely pretended the problem could be solved by tinkering around the edges.

“Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms,” he allowed, warning that failure to fix America’s unsustainable entitlement system would “crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardise the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.”

All true, except for that one word, “modest”. There is nothing modest about the size of America’s financial problems, as Doug Elmendorf, the director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, explained last week when he was up on Capitol Hill spelling out budgetary home truths.

In plain English, that either means less generous benefits delivered at a later stage in life, or higher taxes across the board – or, in a common-sense world, a bit of both. But whatever the combination of spending cuts or new revenues, the changes required are “significant”, not “modest”, and the longer America waits, the more painful and damaging those costs will be.

Put another way, America, the “hope of the earth” and the standard bearer for the free-world, is suffering from financial dry-rot. If some curative treatment is not applied, by the end of the next decade Mr Elmendorf calculates that the US will be “bearing risks of a sort that we have not [had] in our history except for a few years around the end of the Second World War.”

This is where Mr Obama comes in. Or could have, had he chosen a more courageous path last Tuesday night and dared to take on the left wing of his party who continue to delude themselves – as Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader observed before the speech – that America doesn’t really “have a spending problem”.

It does – which means by definition it also has as a taxation problem which the Republican Party, in its refusal to countenance any further revenue raising, is being just as one-eyed and intransigent about as Democrats who think somehow the debt doesn’t matter.

But in the middle of that spectrum sit more than three-quarters of hard-working Americans who, according to a poll released last week, are deeply unsatisfied about the workings of their Congress.

For their sake, Mr Obama had a chance – very likely his last, given the political shelf-life of second term presidents – to offer a real fix and call the bluff of Republicans like House speaker John Boehner who predicted before the speech the president didn’t “have the guts” to confront his own party.

If that was a challenge to Mr Obama, he ducked it. Very likely you would have heard a pin drop on both sides of the aisle if the president had actually proposed something meaningful, but sometimes shocked silence from your own side, rather than the empty acclaim he received, is what true leadership sounds like.

Even clear-thinking Democrats were disappointed. As Matt Bennett, a former Clinton White House staffer who co-founded the centrist Third Way think-tank, put it: “This was the moment to put the chips on the table and press Democrats the way he’s pressed Republicans on everything else, and make some concessions. He left the door ajar, but he didn’t make a strong case that Democrats need to walk through it. That was the big missing piece.”

Instead, Mr Obama chose the path of timidity and half-truths. He offered a laundry-list of goodies – universal pre-school education, Space Race-levels of scientific research, new roads and bridges – while falsely promising these are affordable with only ‘modest reforms’ to entitlements that accounted for 43 per cent of all federal spending in 2012.

Mr Obama is absolutely right that America’s future depends on investment – the country’s infrastructure is crumbling, its education system is failing while global competition advances – but just plain wrong to suggest these programs are sustainable without entitlement reform.

Indeed, just how unsustainable became apparent within 24 hours, as Mr Obama embarked on a three-day national tour to trumpet his plans for universal pre-school, fixing infrastructure and raising the minimum wage, and all, he promised to widespread scepticism, without adding ‘a dime’ to the deficit.

But as the president waved to crowds in North Carolina, Georgia and Illinois, promising free pre-school education for all, his education secretary, Arne Duncan, was on Capitol Hill, drowning.

Nearly 100,000 American school children will be kicked off the Head Start school programme, he told senators, because of the automatic $85bn in cuts that are due to kick in on March 1, mostly to “discretionary” items like education.

This latest budget meltdown – the so-called “sequester” was designed to put a gun to the heads of both parties, in the belief no-one would dare pull the trigger. Now they are, sparking exactly the kind of chaotic, growth-wrecking budget crunch that the affordable, phased restructuring of a fiscal grand bargain is designed avoid, but which Mr Obama is plainly no longer serious about even trying to achieve.

Perhaps he thought it a fool’s errand dealing with today’s Republican Party, but still Mr Obama had a fleeting chance to reframe the debate; to play the role of deal-maker and save the entitlement system his party cherishes, possibly before a future Republican president does something far more drastic.

He elected not to take it; preferring to tell America you can still have your cake and eat it. So what is the true State of the Union? Like one of those morbidly obese folk you see all too often here, waddling up to the fast-food counter to order a super-sized meal and then taking a diet soda on the side, because they’re “watching their weight”, it is dangerously self-deluded.

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The United States Food Stamp Program added approximately an average 11,269 recipients per day

 

(CNSNews.com) – Since taking office in 2009, food stamp rolls under President Barack Obama have risen to more than 47 million people in America, exceeding the population of Spain.

“Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity,” said Obama during his first joint session address to Congress on Feb. 24, 2009.

Since then, the number of participants enrolled in food stamps, known as the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP), has risen substantially.

When Obama entered office in January 2009 there were 31,939,110Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012—the most recent data available—there were 47,692,896 Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.

According to the 2011 census, Spain had a population of 46,815,916.

Furthermore, between January 2009 and November 2012 the food stamp program added approximately an average 11,269 recipients per day.

President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address Tuesday evening.  Obama is expected to focus on jobs and the economy.

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Report: Iraq PM ‘Invites’ Iran to Seize US Embassy in Baghdad

Iraq allegedly has agreed to allow 50,000 Iranian Basij militia to help suppress riots against the government and seize the US embassy.

www.israelnationalnews.com  –  By Chana Ya’ar

Grieving for Iranian dissidents in Iraq
Grieving for Iranian dissidents in Iraq

Reuters  Iraq allegedly has agreed to allow 50,000 Iranian Basij militia troops into the country to help suppress riots against the government and seize Arab and other foreign embassies, including that of the United States. The two leaders allegedly agreed to allow the Basij forces to attack and occupy the foreign embassies considered hostile to Iran in Baghdad, and to detain their staffs.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iranian military commander Qassaem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Al Qods Force, allegedly shook hands on the plan over the weekend at a meeting in Baghdad.  Pledging 50,000 Basij military troops to help al-Maliki put down the nationwide riots against his government, Soleimani was quoted as saying “the Iraqi Front is the last front to defend the security of Iran.”

The report, which appeared Saturday on the Voice of Iraq website and that of the Nashwan News, apparently offered enough evidence to create concern among analysts in the United States. “Even if there is a slim chance that the report is true, it should be published immediately,” commented U.S.-based Middle East strategy expert Mark Langfan.

U.S. embassies have become an increasingly popular target for disgruntled Islamists who wish to whip up popular support, attempt to terrorize Western leaderships or terrorize a local population into submission, such as last year’s September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which four American diplomats were killed — including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

In 1979, Iranian radical Islamists seized the American Embassy in Tehran and took 52 hostages captive on November 4 to express their support of the Iranian Revolution. A U.S. attempt to rescue the hostages on April 24, 1980 ended in failure and the deaths of eight American soldiers, one Iranian civilian and the destruction of two U.S. aircraft. Three months later, Iraq invaded Iran, leading to negotiations between the U.S. and Iran for release of the hostages, brokered by Algeria. The hostages were not freed until January 1981.

The current alleged Iranian-Iraqi plot has been hatched against the backdrop of a greater strategy to put down Sunni-led popular protests against the Shi’ite-led government run by al-Maliki, who heads the Shi’ite Islamic Dawa Party. A source quoted by Nashwan News reported, “after control of the embassies and the detention of its staff, go some Iranian forces (Basij) to the north and west of Iraq for the purpose of suppression of the demonstrators by force.”

At least six people were killed and 100 others wounded, including women, in a dawn attack on the Camp Liberty transit camp west of Baghdad that once was a U.S. Army base near Baghdad International Airport. At least 40 Iranian Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) members were among the wounded, along with a number of Iraqi police officers.

Attackers fired 35 mortar shells and Katyusha rockets at the camp, said a statement issued by the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), known also as the MEK. Supporters in London demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy on Saturday following news of the dead and wounded in the attack on the Iranian dissident camp in the Iraqi capital, police sources said.

The camp is home to some 3,000 Iranian dissidents, mostly members of the MEK led by Maryam Rajavi. The group calls for the overthrow of Iran’s Islamic leadership. It was founded as the MKO in 1965 to overthrow the Shah of Iran, and fought alongside Iraqi forces in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Iran’s religious sector and government have been held under the iron grip of Shi’ite Islamic clerics since the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, calling on Iraqi authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations is currently in the process of determining whether the camp’s residents meet criteria for refugee status.

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North Korea Plans Nuke Test Aimed at U.S.

 North Korea warns of nuke test, more rocket launches

news-general-20130123-AS.NKorea.Nuclear

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a banquet for rocket scientists in Pyongyang, North Korea.
(AP Photo/KRT via AP Video, File)

www.xfinity.comcast.net  –  By HYUNG-JIN KIM, AP

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s top governing body warned Thursday that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. punishment, and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads aimed at striking the United States.

The National Defense Commission, headed by the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, denounced Tuesday’s U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s long-range rocket launch in December as a banned missile activity and expanding sanctions against the regime. The commission reaffirmed in its declaration that the launch was a peaceful bid to send a satellite into space, but also clearly indicated the country’s rocket launches have a military purpose: to strike and attack the United States.

While experts say North Korea doesn’t have the capability to hit the U.S. with its missiles, recent tests and rhetoric indicate the country is feverishly working toward that goal.

The commission pledged to keep launching satellites and rockets and to conduct a nuclear test as part of a “new phase” of combat with the United States, which it blames for leading the U.N. bid to punish Pyongyang. It said a nuclear test was part of “upcoming” action but did not say exactly when or where it would take place.

“We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the commission said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival,” the commission said.

It was a rare declaration by the powerful commission once led by late leader Kim Jong Il and now commanded by his son. The statement made clear Kim Jong Un’s commitment to continue developing the country’s nuclear and missile programs in defiance of the Security Council, even at risk of further international isolation.

North Korea’s allusion to a “higher level” nuclear test most likely refers to a device made from highly enriched uranium, which is easier to miniaturize than the plutonium bombs it tested in 2006 and 2009, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea. Experts say the North Koreans must conduct further tests of its atomic devices and master the technique for making them smaller before they can be mounted as nuclear warheads onto long-range missiles.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate response to Thursday’s statement. Shortly before the commission issued its declaration, U.S. envoy on North Korea Glyn Davies urged Pyongyang not to explode an atomic device.

“Whether North Korea tests or not, it’s up to North Korea. We hope they don’t do it. We call on them not to do it,” he told reporters in Seoul after meeting with South Korean officials. “It will be a mistake and a missed opportunity if they were to do it.”

Davies was in Seoul on a trip that includes his stops in China and Japan for talks on how to move forward on North Korea relations.

South Korea’s top official on relations with the North said Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development is a “cataclysm for the Korean people,” and poses a fundamental threat to regional and world peace. “The North Korean behavior is very disappointing,” Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a lecture in Seoul, according to his office.

North Korea claims the right to build nuclear weapons as a defense against the United States, its Korean War foe.

The bitter three-year war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by the world’s most heavily fortified demilitarized zone. The U.S. leads the U.N. Command that governs the truce and stations more than 28,000 troops in ally South Korea, a presence that North Korea cites as a key reason for its drive to build nuclear weapons.

For years, North Korea’s neighbors had been negotiating with Pyongyang on providing aid in return for disarmament. North Korea walked away from those talks in 2009 and on Wednesday reiterated that disarmament talks were out of the question.

North Korea is estimated to have stored up enough weaponized plutonium for four to eight bombs, according to scientist Siegfried Hecker, who visited the North’s Nyongbyon nuclear complex in 2010.

In 2009, Pyongyang declared that it would begin enriching uranium, which would give North Korea a second way to make atomic weapons.

North Korea carried out underground nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, both times just weeks after being punished with U.N. sanctions for launching long-range rockets.

In October, an unidentified spokesman at the National Defense Commission claimed that the U.S. mainland was within missile range. And at a military parade last April, North Korea showed off what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Satellite photos taken last month at a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in far northeast North Korea, showed continued activity that suggested a state of readiness even in winter, according to analysis by 38 North, a North Korea website affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

Another nuclear test would bring North Korea a step closer to being able to launch a long-range missile tipped with a nuclear warhead, said Daniel Pinkston, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

“Their behavior indicates they want to acquire those capabilities,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to have a robust nuclear deterrent.”

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U.S. gift of F-16 fighters headed to Egypt, despite Morsi’s harsh rhetoric

www.foxnews.com  – By

Four F-16 fighter jets left the U.S. this morning, bound for Egypt as part of a foreign aid package critics say should have been scrapped when the nation elected a president who has called President Obama a liar and urged that hatred of Jews be instilled in children. 

A source who works on the Naval Air Force Base in Dallas confirmed the departure of the state-of-the-art fighter planes to FoxNews.com. Sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks are to be given to the Egyptian government before the end of the year under a foreign aid deal signed in 2010 with then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally..

Critics, including several in Congress, say it doesn’t make sense to follow through with the package, given that new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, elected last summer, has given decidedly mixed signals about relations with the U.S. While he has toned down his rhetoric since his election, in 2010 – the same year the aid package was struck – Morsi attacked Obama for supporting Israel.

“One American president after another — and most recently, that Obama — talks about American guarantees for the safety of the Zionists in Palestine,” Morsi, then a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said on Egyptian television in reaction to Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo. “[Obama] was very clear when he uttered his empty words on the land of Egypt. He uttered many lies, of which he couldn’t have fulfilled a single word, even if he were sincere — which he is not.”

In the comments translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Morsi went on to urge that children be taught to hate Jews.

“Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them,” he said. “They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.”

Lawmakers told FoxNews.com that even if Morsi has softened his stance, it makes no sense to arm his Islamist government with weapons that could one day be used against Israel or even Egyptians.

“It is appalling that the Obama administration would send F-16s and 200 military tanks to Egypt in the wake of the instability, [and the] anti-American and anti-Israel atmosphere,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, (R-Texas), told FoxNews.com.

The U.S. government ordered the planes for Egypt from Lockheed Martin in 2010, as part of an annual aid package that regularly topped $1 billion. But the very next year, a popular revolution began which ultimately resulted in Mubarak’s ouster and imprisonment, and the election of Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. In November, Morsi tried to claim dictatorial powers, but was forced to back down from his claim after massive protests against the move.

Many worry that arming such a volatile Egypt will endanger Israel.

“My hope and prayer is that someone in this administration will wake up and smell the burning of [Israel’s] future and rescind the supply of planes and tanks,” Gohmert said. “If they do not, then perhaps there will arise leaders within our Congress with newfound courage to stop the lunacy.”

“It is appalling that the Obama Administration would send F-16s and 200 military tanks to Egypt in the wake of the instability, [and the] anti-American and anti-Israel atmosphere.”

– Rep. Louie Gohmert, (R-Texas)

Rep. Vern Buchanan, (R-Fla.), who recently called for ending foreign aid to Egypt altogether, told FoxNews.com the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi government has been sending increasingly troubling signals to Washington, and giving it state-of-the-art fighter jets is a dangerous idea.

“American tax dollars must not be used to aid and abet any dictatorial regime that stands with terrorists,” Buchanan said.

Others note that Egypt’s leaders could use the weapons on their own people.

“Tens of billions in U.S. aid has enhanced Cairo’s capacity for internal repression,” Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, told FoxNews.com.

“U.S. aid accounts for as much as 80% of the Egyptian Defense Ministry’s weapons procurement costs… In essence, American taxpayers have been Egypt’s major arms supplier, subsidizing the supply of F-16 jet fighters, M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, Apache helicopters, and hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus military equipment.”

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment about the pending delivery. But earlier this month, a spokesperson said the Obama administration seeks to “maintain a strategic partnership with Egypt that enhances the security and peace of the region.”

But Anthony H. Cordesman, who has served as a consultant for the State and Defense departments and who holds the Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the administration is right to send the planes.

“If you were to suddenly end this partnership with Egypt — if you were to make Egypt feel that somehow it were not trusted or second-best, what would the security implications be? It certainly would justify or encourage all of the extremist elements that are trying to push Egypt away from both the peace process and the security partnership with the U.S.,” he told FoxNews.com.

He said that the cost of providing the weapons is worth it.

“We need to remember that Egypt isn’t just important to Israel. It is critical to us, because it controls the Suez Canal. It has been a vital staging point for U.S. operations in the gulf.”

Cordesman argued that the F-16 fighter jets are unlikely to be turned against us or our allies, as they are too complex to be used effectively without U.S. maintenance.

“These weapons systems are certainly extremely effective, but no one can sustain them unless that partnership with the United States continues,” he said. “The modern software, the computer systems, the munitions that make this weapons system so lethal — other than us, there are no alternative suppliers. There are European states who can provide parts of the aircraft, but F-16s and most modern systems are basically dependent on U.S. manufacturers.”

“In some ways, the more sophisticated the system, the safer it is to transfer,” Cordesman said, while noting that there are still risks.

“There’s no such thing as an arms transfer that is totally risk-free,” he said.

According to a U.S. Air Force description, the planes’ “maneuverability and combat radius exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft.”

“The F-16 can fly more than 500 miles, deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point,” the description states. “An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions.”

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