Kerry: Assad, ISIS relationship symbiotic, not real enemies

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend said that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has “cut his own deal” with ISIS and that the two are “symbiotic,” in response to Assad blaming France for the spread of the Islamic State. Secretary Kerry said in June 2014 that “President Assad is one of the principal reasons – the principal reason – that ISIS exists. President Assad is a magnet for jihadists and foreign fighters from around the world.” Secretary Kerry explained that the Assad regime and ISIS “have only rarely targeted one another…they even do business with each other, buying and selling oil.” He went on to say that “neither peace nor the defeat of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS] is possible with Assad in power."

In response to the terror attacks carried out by the Islamic State in Paris on Friday, some analysts have suggested that the Europeans and Americans work with Iran, Syria, and Russia to defeat them. However, in an interview with journalist Armin Rosen in April, former Defense Department advisor in Iraq Michael Pregent explained that “Iran needs the threat of ISIS and Sunni jihadist groups to stay in Syria and Iraq in order to become further entrenched in Damascus and Baghdad.” Pregent also tweeted that “Iran has no intention of defeating ISIS in Iraq - Iran will use threat of ISIS to stay - an unstable Iraq is the goal.” Iran, the primary backer of the Assad regime, also seeks to protect its access to its Lebanese proxy group Hezbollah, as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson acknowledged to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October. At Iran’s command, Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops to fight in Syria, in order to prop up the regime. Iran spends approximately $6 billion per year on President Assad, and the Islamic Republic sends an estimated $200 million per year to Hezbollah.

Bassam Barabandi, a Syrian Foreign Ministry defector, writing about the Syrian strategy, explained: “The Assad regime and Iran have meticulously nurtured the rise of al-Qaeda, and then ISIS, in Syria…Now that ISIS has fully matured, the Assad regime and Iran offer themselves as partners to the United States."

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Israeli Foreign Ministry to lodge a complaint with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) over the reported failure of a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance to treat Jewish terror victims on Friday,Ha’aretz reported Sunday.

The Red Crescent ambulance reportedly passed by the Litman family after a Palestinian gunman ambushed their car near Hebron, but did not stop to offer assistance. Ya’akov Litman and his son Netanel were killed and two other members of the family were injured in the terror attack.

Netanyahu has directed Israel’s Foreign Ministry to file a protest with the International Committee of the Red Cross after accusing a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance of not stopping to help Jewish victims of a terror attack.

“If things are indeed as they seem to me today, the State of Israel will take appropriate steps against the Red Crescent,” Netanyahu said Saturday night in a phone conversation with Noa Litman, wife and mother of the two men slain late Friday afternoon.

Litman told Netanyahu during the call that the Red Crescent ambulance did not stop to assist the victims, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. In a recording of the call made to emergency services by Litman’s 16-year-old son, broadcast Friday night on Israeli television, it appears that the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance did not stop for the injured victims after realizing that they are Jewish.

While talking to the emergency dispatcher, Litman’s 16-year-old son said, “There are two wounded here, but we have the Red Crescent with us.” He then added, “The Red Crescent ambulance drove away from us, I don’t know why.”

The Red Crescent has denied the charges, claiming that the ambulance did stop and the crew had started treating the victims, but left after Israeli ambulances arrived on the scene. However, one of the Israeli ambulance drivers said that the Palestinian crew never left their vehicle.

The Times of Israel explained that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society is bound by the ICRC’s mission, which is based on the 1949 Geneva conventions and defines the ICRC as an “impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.”

Ha’aretz also reported that the suspect in Friday’s terror attack, Shadi Ahmed Mataua, has been arrested by Israeli authorities after his father and brother turned him in. According to the Shin Bet, Mataua is associated with the Iranian-backed terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Both the gun and the vehicle used in the attack were reportedly recovered. (via TheTower.org)

 

Oil spills are a fact of life, along with their negative environmental impacts. Large ships, ports, rigs and even cruise ships are always at risk of accidentally creating the next major oil catastrophe. HARBO Technologies is an Israeli company with an innovative cleanup product that could save companies billions of dollars and save our environment, too. The company has created a lightweight, easily deployed floating barrier – known as a containment boom — that can prevent disastrous consequences of marine oil spills within minutes of leak detection. “Oil spills today still turn into major disasters because there are no immediate containment systems onsite. There is nothing onsite to keep oil from spreading. So when the oil spill response team arrives on the scene, it’s always too late,” cofounder Haim Greenberg tells ISRAEL21c. “We have a disruptive concept of immediate response because there is none today.” Standard booms are too big to keep onboard major spill sources like large ships and oil rigs, and must be stored offshore. When an oil spill occurs, disaster crews need to make their way to the storage site, load the boom onto two ships, sail to the spill and deploy the barriers. This can take a day or more. And the damage that ensues in the meantime can be extensive. The 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, took 87 days to contain. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil leaked into the waters. HARBO’s T-fence Immediate Booming System is 15 to 20 times lighter than regular containment booms and can be preinstalled onboard large ships and rigs. It includes a compact vessel the size of a lifeboat. “[We wanted it to be] very simple to operate and enable non-trained oil spill professionals to contain the spill in those first few hours when it is most critical,” Boaz Ur, HARBO’s cofounder and chief executive officer told the Ohmsett (New Jersey) Gazette. “In our product development work we found that this piece is critical, since professionals on ships, rigs or at oil terminals cannot be expected to operate complex emergency equipment. So we made it simple; push a button — just like a lifeboat.” In October 2014, HARBO tested its product at the Ohmsett facility, the only one of its kind where full-scale oil-spill response equipment testing, research, and training can be conducted in a marine environment. Other booms that arrive for testing usually come in shipping containers. HARBO’s 100-foot boom arrived in two suitcases and contained approximately two tons of oil with no losses. (via Israel21c)

 

Ever since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September 2000, a cluster of international human rights groups have established a standard template in response to Israeli claims about Palestinian violence directed against the citizens of the Jewish state. Whereas the Israelis place the accent on the eliminationist goals that underpin the violence—attacking Jews for the sole reason that they are Jews, with no legitimate claim to sovereignty in the land—much of the global human rights community has responded with scorn, arguing that the violence is the direct result of occupation and settlement building, that the Palestinians have the right to “resist” with all available means at their disposal, that poverty, lack of opportunity and the continuing denial of statehood are the primary causes of Palestinian anger, and that any Israeli use of force is by definition both lethal and disproportionate.

These themes have been continually emphasized during periods of crisis, from the three wars in Gaza over the last seven years to the present wave of stabbings that have targeted Israelis across the country. Organizations like Amnesty International have seized on these paroxysms of Palestinian violence to implore the governments around the world to do more to punish Israel.

At the same time, no human rights group wants to be regarded as simply parroting the claims of Palestinian officials, whether from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or the Hamas regime which still rules with an iron fist in Gaza. That’s why it helps to have partners who can be depicted as authentic representatives of Palestinian “civil society,” beholden only to their people, and therefore speaking with proud, uncompromised voices. That too many of these same voices engage in vile anti-Semitic rhetoric in their pleas for more stabbings against Israelis is an inconvenient truth which Palestine solidarity activists prefer to ignore. As far as they are concerned, Palestinian incitement—even when it extends to repeating the medieval “blood libel” against the Jews on social media or in mosque sermons—is a mere phantom. The occupation, by contrast, is held up as a brutal daily reality.

Which brings us to the small village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah in the West Bank. Nabi Saleh is a popular destination for international activists who want to experience Palestinian “resistance” up close. Clashes with the IDF are almost guaranteed during the weekly protests that have been held in the village for the past five years, and there are always professional photographers on hand who can be relied on to produce compelling images of Palestinian Davids challenging the Israeli Goliath. Some of the video footage shot during the protests has gone viral and resulted in global media coverage for the main organizers of the protests, Bassem Tamimi and his family.

Thanks to all this attention, the Tamimis have become the poster children of Palestinian civil society, promoted by Palestine solidarity activists abroad as exemplifying the grassroots, popular nature of the Palestinian struggle. Nothing better symbolized this status than the 2013 New York Times Magazine article about the Tamimis, written by a journalist who spent three weeks living in Bassem’s house. All of Bassem’s quotes in the article—”We see stones as our message,” he declared to Israelis, before chiding the Palestinian elite for its extravagant lifestyle (“I didn’t lose my sister and my cousin and part of my life for the sons of the ministers to drive expensive cars”)—reinforced the image of him as the figurehead of a classic struggle for civil rights.

While almost everyone in Nabi Saleh is a member of the Tamimi clan, Bassem’s photogenic family—particularly his teenage daughter Ahed—has always been at the center of the media attention that the Nabi Saleh protests have assiduously cultivated. In 2013, Ahed made global headlines when she was bestowed with Turkey’s Handala Award for Courage by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in recognition of her very public confrontation with Israeli security forces who had arrested her brother.

Bassem has long-served as the spokesman for Nabi Saleh’s supposedly non-violent protest movement. In an interview published in early May 2011 on the website The Electronic Intifada and promptly cross-posted at the website of the Hamas-affiliated al-Qassam Brigades, Bassem Tamimi outlined views he has since repeated many times. A quote from the interview—“our destiny is to resist”—has become something of a signature slogan for the Tamimis.

Bassem Tamimi had already expressed his hope in his Electronic Intifada interview that the regular protests in Nabi Saleh would provide “the basis for the third intifada.” Some two years later, a glowing tribute to the Tamimis featured as a New York Times Magazine cover story. In that piece, Tamimi declared: “If there is a third intifada … we want to be the ones who started it.” The hope that the almost weekly demonstrations at Nabi Saleh “could become something big”—“Like a third intifada”—has also beenexpressed by other members of the Tamimi family.

The image of the Tamimis presented in countless sympathetic media reports and vigorously promoted by their supporters is that they are courageous activists fighting for a just cause without resorting to violence. The organizers of Bassem Tamimi’s recent U.S. speaking tour describe him as “an internationally recognized Palestinian human rights activist from the West Bank farming village of Nabi Selah [sic], where weekly nonviolent demonstrations are held in opposition to illegal Israeli settlement construction and military occupation.”

Many of the organizations that sponsored Bassem’s cross-country tour during September and October are outspoken advocates of a boycott of Israel, among them Jewish Voice for Peace; Sabeel, a Palestinian-Christian organization that attacks Judaism with Islamist zeal; Students for Justice in Palestine; and the Middle East Children’s Alliance. The most prominent of all, and certainly the most recognizable, was that of Amnesty International.

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