The Rising of the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan is making pro-active moves towards playing a more significant role as a military might, especially in the wake of the need to balance China’s ‘expansionary attitude and manoeuvres’.

The Sydney Morning Herald story:

Australia-Japan military ties are a ‘quasi-alliance’, say officials

Date October 26, 2014 – 11:45PM

John Garnaut

Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media
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Tony Abbott with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Parliament House in July. Photo: AFP
Military ties between Australia and Japan have been growing so fast that they amount to a “quasi-alliance”, according to Japanese officials.

Ties have expanding so rapidly that each country had become the other’s most important defence partner behind the United States, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another official, Takuma Kajita, principal deputy director of the National Security Policy Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview that an unprecedented decision this month to explore the possibility of jointly developing Japan’s coveted submarine technology showed the “two countries would be tied up in the most important area of security”.

He said this and other recent moves, including the sharing of Australian space surveillance intelligence (which could potentially be linked to ballistic missile defence systems) reflected years of bipartisan commitment, recent challenges from China and also a close personal rapport between prime ministers Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe.

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“Mr Abe wants to raise the relationship between Japan and Australia considerably, his instructions are very clear, and he wants good trilateral relations between Japan, Australia and the US,” said Mr Kajita.

A unique “Australia-Japan Defence Co-operation Office” was established within Japan’s Ministry of Defence on April 1 this year in order to handle the rapid escalation of activity.

Publicly, especially in Australia, officials have been circumspect about the pace of change in part to avoid triggering an escalatory response from China.
Officials say there are no plans to progress the relationship into a formal treaty that would include reciprocal obligations to defend each other in the event of war.

And Japan is constrained by a sceptical population and pacifist constitution imposed in the wake of World War II that, among other things, requires its armed forces to operate as the Japanese Self-Defence Forces.

But some analysts warn that the Australian public has not yet grasped the dimensions and implications of deepening military ties, including the possibility of being drawn into armed conflict over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) in the East China Sea.

“The dual-tightening of Australia’s alliance with the US and its defence partnership with Japan is the most important strategic decision that Australia has made in the post-cold war era,” said Malcolm Cook, a regional security expert at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian studies.

“If there is fighting in the East China Sea then the US will be drawn in. And can you imagine the pressure for Australia to become involved?”

Japanese sources say that the two most dangerous incidents occurred just months ago, in May and June, when Chinese fighter planes used provocative measures including firing afterburners to intercept Japanese surveillance planes at a time of Sino-Russian military drills.

But the temperature has cooled considerably since then.

A high-level maritime co-operation forum resumed on September 25, after a 28-month interregnum. And what had been almost daily Chinese maritime incursions into Japanese-controlled waters have dropped substantially in frequency and intensity.

“Chinese ships now enter Japanese territorial waters every two weeks, for exactly two hours,” said one Japanese official who was present at the maritime meeting. “It used to be four, six or even eight ships but now it is only three or four,” said the official, while noting that Chinese activities in the “contiguous zone” had not diminished at all.

Japanese officials say the continuing incursions are “unacceptable” but nevertheless the atmosphere had become conducive to a first meeting between Mr Abe and China’s President Xi jinping on the sidelines of next month’s APEC meeting in Shanghai.

The new Australia liaison office in Tokyo illustrates how Australia has leapfrogged all nations except the US in Japanese military thinking.

South Korea was listed as Japan’s second most important military partner in a strategy document released less than a year ago, but those ties have cooled due to disagreements over the memory of World War II.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australiajapan-military-ties-are-a-quasialliance-say-officials-20141026-11c4bi.html#ixzz3HFyCH2fS

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Japan  under Prime Minister Shintaro Abe is seeking to reinterpret ate and probably to amend the ‘pacifist’ post World War Two Constitution, paving the way for Japanese military forces to fight abroad. Since the times of General of the Army Douglass McArthur, Japan only allowed to have a ‘Defence Forces’.

United States supports this notion with the excuse that Japan should play a more significant role to defend itself.

Obviously, China is disturbed by this development.

The BBC story:

9 October 2014 Last updated at 07:10

China media criticise ‘growing’ US-Japan military ties

Papers in China criticise the US for pursuing closer military ties with Japan and Vietnam.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained in recent months over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

According to reports, Japan and the United States are revising their mutual defence guidelines to pursue a wider partnership.

The US, in an interim report released on Wednesday, said that the new guidelines “are in response to new threats extant in the world and to a new willingness of Japan to embrace a greater role in the world”.

Responding to the report, an article in the Liberation Army Daily warns the US is “inviting calamities by nurturing a tiger”.

“By requesting Tokyo to support its military actions, the US is still sticking to the old arrangement of Japan taking instructions,” notes the article written by Liu Qiang, a strategic expert at the Liberation Army Institute for International Relations.

Japan may become the “destroyer of peace” because it feels threatened and wants to expand its military, and Washington may not be able to control it, he cautions.

“If Washington is not on its guard against Tokyo’s military development and continues to allow it to expand, the US may not be able to control its development effectively in the future. By turning a blind eye to Japan’s actions, Washington is inviting trouble, and that is worrisome,” he adds.

A commentary in the People’s Daily overseas edition points out that the US and Japan are treating China as an “imagery enemy”.

“The idea of sharing hegemony between Washington and Tokyo is secretly developing. With the permission of the US, Japan may become a new international police…Such dangerous development is worrying many countries,” it says, warning that the alliance will instead “increase distrust and worsen conflicts” in the region.

Chen Yan, an expert on Japan affairs with the Qianjiang Evening News, however, points out that the new guidelines will not affect China.

“The US will not confront China because of Japan, and in reality, Japan will not want to go to war with China too. Both are only putting up a gesture to pressurise China,” he argues.

Defence capability
Meanwhile, several state-run media outlets, including Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily website, have published photos of a completed airport runway and ongoing construction works on Yongxing Island (Woody Island), the largest of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and Vietnam are two of several nations currently engaged in territorial disputes with China over the islands.

Several other media outlets note that the completion of the 2,000m-long runway will allow military jet to station, and “it will hugely raise China’s defence capability in the Spratly and Paracel Islands”.

Elsewhere, some state-run media outlets criticise US-Vietnam ties as Washington eases its ban on arm sales to Hanoi.

The US announced last week that it would partially lift its decades-old embargo on providing lethal military support to Vietnam to help improve its maritime security.

“Hanoi is looking to the US for support in its maritime territorial dispute with China, especially since tensions between Vietnam and China escalated earlier this year amid a dispute over China’s oil drilling operations in the South China Sea,” notes an article in the China Daily.

However, the commentary reminds the Southeast Asia state that “it is only one small piece on the US’ strategic rebalancing chessboard” and there is “deep acrimony and distrust” between the two countries.

“Besides, both need to be mindful that their strengthened military ties do not compromise each country’s relationship with Beijing. After all, a head-on confrontation in the South China Sea would serve no one’s interests,” it warns.

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In the wake against China’s aggressive military-centric expansionary attitude and premonition, Japan started to exert herself into the clout of anti-China sentiments around Asia. Despite China’s strong opposition, Japan has continued on the new policy which would see a balance to China’s military might in East Asia.

*Updated midnight

Published in: on October 26, 2014 at 21:00  Comments (9)  

Eagles Vs Dragon

The most productive and economically progressive region in the world has come much closer into threats of Super Powers flexing their muscle in more aggressive manner, which in turn would compound the escalation into a race of demonstration of serious military presence and projection and power.

President Barack H. Obama is asserting a more protagonist role in East and South East Asia as “A top priority”, in the wake of China’s ‘expansionary attitude and manoeuvres’ of late.

A detailed map of China's claims into ASEAN nations' EEZ

A detailed map of China’s claims into ASEAN nations’ EEZ

This China’s ‘expansionary attitude’, is vastly demonstrated in the claims over disputed territories all over South China Sea at the ‘Nine Dash Line’. Most of these territories have been defined as part of an ASEAN nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which China is a signatory.

Reuters story:

Chuck Hagel Accuses China Of ‘Destabilizing’ Asia Over South China Sea Claims

Reuters
Posted: 05/31/2014 7:50 am EDT Updated: 07/31/2014 5:59 am EDT

HAGEL

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By David Brunnstrom and Lee Chyen Yee

SINGAPORE, May 31 (Reuters) – The United States and China squared off at an Asian security forum on Saturday, with the U.S. defense secretary accusing Beijing of destabilizing the region and a top Chinese general retorting that his comments were “threat and intimidation”.

Using unusually strong language, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took aim at Beijing’s handling of territorial disputes with its Asian neighbors.

“In recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” Hagel said.

He warned Beijing that the United States was committed to its geopolitical rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and “will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged”.

Hagel said the United States took no position on the merits of rival territorial claims in the region, but added: “We firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims.”

His speech at Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialog, Asia biggest security forum, provoked an angry reaction from the deputy chief of staff of the Chinese Army, Lieutenant-General Wang Guanzhong.

“I felt that Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of hegemonism, threat and intimidation,” he told reporters just after the speech.

Wang said the speech was aimed at causing trouble in the Asia-Pacific.

Hagel’s comments followed the keynote address by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the same forum on Friday evening, who pledged “utmost support” to Southeast Asian countries, several of which are locked in maritime disputes with China.

“I felt that they were just trying to echo each other,” Wang said.

Hagel later held a bilateral meeting with Wang, where the Chinese military leader expressed his surprise at the U.S. defense secretary’s speech.

“You were very candid this morning, and to be frank, more than our expectations,” he said. “Although I do think those criticisms are groundless, I do appreciate your candor  likewise we will also share our candor.”

A senior U.S. defense official said that, despite Wang’s opening remarks, the tone of the meeting had been “businesslike and fairly amicable”.

While Hagel went over ground he covered in his speech, Wang spent most of the meeting talking about U.S.-China military-to-military contacts, including Chinese participation in forthcoming military exercises, the official said.

The U.S. official said Hagel’s speech had been well received by other Asian delegations with the exception of China.
ONLY IF PROVOKED

In Beijing, President Xi Jinping said China would not initiate aggressive action in the South China Sea but would respond if others did, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

“We will never stir up trouble, but will react in the necessary way to the provocations of countries involved,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying in a meeting on Friday with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia.

China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Seas, and dismisses competing claims from Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Japan also has a territorial row with China over islands in the East China Sea.

Tensions have surged in recent weeks after China placed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, and the Philippines said Beijing could be building an airstrip on a disputed island.

Japan’s defense ministry said Chinese SU-27 fighters came as close as 50 meters (170 ft) to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane near disputed islets last week and within 30 meters of a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo perceived an “increasingly severe regional security environment”.

“It is unfortunate that there are security concerns in the East and South China Seas,” he said. “Japan as well as all concerned parties must uphold the rule of law and never attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pitched his plan for Japan to take on a bigger international security role and told the Singapore forum that Tokyo would offer its “utmost support” to Southeast Asian countries in their efforts to protect their seas and airspace.

In a pointed dig at China, he said Japan would provide coastguard patrol boats to the Philippines and Vietnam.
JAPAN OFFER SNUBBED

Wang, China’s deputy chief of staff, also snubbed an offer for talks with Japan made by Defense Minister Onodera, the semi-official China News Service said.

“This will hinge on whether the Japanese side is willing to amend the erroneous policy towards China and improve relations between China and Japan,” he said. “Japan should correct its mistakes as soon as possible to improve China-Japan ties.”

The strong comments at the Shangri-La Dialog come as Abe pursues a controversial push to ease restrictions of the post-war, pacifist constitution that has kept Japan’s military from fighting overseas since World War Two.

Despite memories of Japan’s harsh wartime occupation of much of Southeast Asia, several countries in the region may view Abe’s message favorably because of China’s increasing assertiveness.

Hagel repeatedly stressed Obama’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific rebalance and said the strong U.S. military presence in the region would endure.

“To ensure that the rebalance is fully implemented, both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” he said. (Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong and Masayuki Kitano in Singapore and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)

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United States, which is maximising this “China’s expansionary attitude and manoeuvres” by exerting its diplomatic and military might around the region, is also attempting to play the international diplomacy drama by asking China to ‘cool off’. As expected, it was ignored.

Reuters story when ASEAN Head of Government met at Myanmar:

U.S. call for South China Sea ‘freeze’ gets cool response from China

BY PAUL MOONEY AND LESLEY WROUGHTON
NAYPYIDAW Sat Aug 9, 2014 1:46pm EDT

CREDIT: REUTERS/NICOLAS ASFOURI/POOL
RELATED NEWS
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(Reuters) – A U.S. proposal for a freeze on provocative acts in the South China Sea got a cool response from China and some Southeast Asian nations on Saturday, an apparent setback to Washington’s efforts to rein in China’s assertive actions.

To China’s annoyance, the United States is using a regional meeting in Myanmar this weekend to step up its engagement in the maritime tension by calling for a moratorium on actions such as China’s planting of a giant oil rig in Vietnamese waters in May.

Its ally the Philippines has also called for a freeze as part of a three-step plan to ease tension in the resource-rich sea, through which passes $5 trillion of trade a year.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, on Saturday for the ASEAN Regional Forum, joining foreign ministers and other top diplomats from China, Russia, Japan, India, Australia, the European Union and Southeast Asia among others.

“The United States and ASEAN have a common responsibility to ensure the maritime security of critical sea, lands and ports,” Kerry said in opening comments.

“We need to work together to manage tensions in the South China Sea and to manage them peacefully, and also to manage them on the basis of international law.”

But Le Luong Minh, secretary-general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the U.S. proposal was not discussed by ASEAN ministers because there was already a mechanism in place to curtail sensitive action such as land reclamation and building on disputed islands.

CHINA SAYS SITUATION STABLE

The top ASEAN diplomat said it was up to ASEAN to work with China to reduce tension by improving compliance with a 2002 agreement, as they also work to conclude a binding Code of Conduct for maritime actions. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea.

“It is up to ASEAN to encourage China to achieve a serious and effective implementation of this commitment, rather than ASEAN asking whether it should support or not support the (U.S.) proposal,” he said.

Most claimants have flouted the 2002 guidelines, leading to rising tension in the South China Sea between four ASEAN claimant nations and China, which claims 90 percent of the waters. The rancour has split ASEAN, with several states including some of the claimants reluctant to antagonize Asia’s economic giant.

China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute and has already dismissed the proposal for a freeze. China accuses the United States of emboldening claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam with its military “pivot” back to Asia.

“Currently the situation in the South China Sea is stable on the whole. There has not been any problem regarding navigation in the South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters.

“Someone has been exaggerating or playing up the so-called tensions in the South China Sea. We don’t agree with such a practice.”

Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario also appeared to tone down his proposal for a freeze or moratorium on activities causing tension in the South China Sea, calling instead for a “cessation” in remarks to reporters on Friday.

A senior U.S. official said the change in language was not significant. “Maybe they just want to differentiate their proposal from our proposal.”

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Robert Birsel)

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Also the dispute which has escalated into a military stand off with Japan at Senkaku Island, a couple of rocks in the middle of huge hydrocarbon deposits off Taiwan.

Reuters:

China criticizes U.S. missile defense radar in Japan

BEIJING Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:56am EDT
(Reuters) – The United States is damaging stability in the Asia-Pacific region by positioning a missile defense radar in Japan, China said on Thursday.

Japan, an ally of the United States, has voiced growing anxiety over China’s more assertive posture in the East China Sea, where the neighbors are locked in a dispute over control of a group of uninhabited islets.

North Korea has carried out a series of missile tests this year, including two medium-range missiles capable of hitting Japan. Pyongyang has also threatened another nuclear test.

Japan’s defense ministry has said an X-Band radar system was delivered on Tuesday to the U.S. military’s communication facility in Kyoto in the western part of the country. It is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of the year.
“Neighboring countries pushing forward the deployment of anti-missile systems in the Asia-Pacific and seeking unilateral security is not beneficial to strategic stability and mutual trust in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing.

“It is not beneficial to peace and stability in Northeast Asia.”

Countries should not use “excuses to harm the security interests of other countries,” Hua added, describing the situation as “deeply concerning”.

China has racheted up military spending in recent years, putting in place new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles, which the U.S. sees as a counter to its military presence in the region.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said two Navy destroyers equipped with missile defense systems would be deployed to Japan by 2017 in response to provocations from North Korea.

(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan, Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in TOKYO; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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That invited reciprocity from the Dragon of East Asia. The fact is that as part of China’s military build up, the Peoples’ Liberation Army has planned and acquired various nuclear weapon systems and programs, which include nuclear submarines with ICBM capability.

A Wall Street Journal story:

Deep Threat

China’s Submarines Add Nuclear-Strike Capability, Altering Strategic Balance

BY JEREMY PAGE

One Sunday morning last December, China’s defense ministry summoned military attachés from several embassies to its monolithic Beijing headquarters.

To the foreigners’ surprise, the Chinese said that one of their nuclear-powered submarines would soon pass through the Strait of Malacca, a passage between Malaysia and Indonesia that carries much of world trade, say people briefed on the meeting.

Two days later, a Chinese attack sub—a so-called hunter-killer, designed to seek out and destroy enemy vessels—slipped through the strait above water and disappeared. It resurfaced near Sri Lanka and then in the Persian Gulf, say people familiar with its movements, before returning through the strait in February—the first known voyage of a Chinese sub to the Indian Ocean.

The message was clear: China had fulfilled its four-decade quest to join the elite club of countries with nuclear subs that can ply the high seas. The defense ministry summoned attachés again to disclose another Chinese deployment to the Indian Ocean in September—this time a diesel-powered sub, which stopped off in Sri Lanka.

China’s increasingly potent and active sub force represents the rising power’s most significant military challenge yet for the region. Its expanding undersea fleet not only bolsters China’s nuclear arsenal but also enhances the country’s capacity to enforce its territorial claims and thwart U.S. intervention.

China is expected to pass another milestone this year when it sets a different type of sub to sea—a “boomer,” carrying fully armed nuclear missiles for the first time—says the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, or ONI.

China is hardly hiding its new boomers. Tourists could clearly see three of them at a base opposite a resort recently in China’s Hainan province. On the beach, rented Jet Skis were accompanied by guides to make sure riders didn’t stray too close.

These boomers’ missiles have the range to hit Hawaii and Alaska from East Asia and the continental U.S. from the mid-Pacific, the ONI says.

“This is a trump card that makes our motherland proud and our adversaries terrified,” China’s navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli, wrote of the country’s missile-sub fleet in a Communist Party magazine in December. “It is a strategic force symbolizing great-power status and supporting national security.”

To naval commanders from other countries, the Chinese nuclear sub’s nonstop Indian Ocean voyage was especially striking, proving that it has the endurance to reach the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s headquarters in Hawaii.

“They were very clear with respect to messaging,” says Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, a former submariner who commands the U.S. Seventh Fleet, “to say that, ‘We’re a professional navy, we’re a professional submarine force, and we’re global. We’re no longer just a coastal-water submarine force.’ ”

In recent years, public attention has focused on China’s expanding military arsenal, including its first aircraft carrier and stealth fighter. But subs are more strategically potent weapons: A single one can project power far from China and deter other countries simply by its presence.

China’s nuclear attack subs, in particular, are integral to what Washington sees as an emerging strategy to prevent the U.S. from intervening in a conflict over Taiwan, or with Japan and the Philippines—both U.S. allies locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.

And even a few functional Chinese boomers compel the U.S. to plan for a theoretical Chinese nuclear-missile strike from the sea. China’s boomer patrols will make it one of only three countries—alongside the U.S. and Russia—that can launch atomic weapons from sea, air and land.

“I think they’ve watched the U.S. submarine force and its ability to operate globally for many, many years—and the potential influence that can have in various places around the globe,” says Adm. Thomas, “and they’ve decided to go after that model.”

China’s nuclear-sub deployments, some naval experts say, may become the opening gambits of an undersea contest in Asia that echoes the cat-and-mouse game between U.S. and Soviet subs during the Cold War—a history popularized by Tom Clancy’s 1984 novel “The Hunt for Red October.”

Back then, each side sent boomers to lurk at sea, ready to fire missiles at the other’s territory. Each dispatched nuclear hunter-killers to track the other’s boomers and be ready to destroy them.

The collapse of the Soviet Union ended that tournament. But today, as China increases its undersea firepower, the U.S. and its allies are boosting their submarine and anti-sub forces in Asia to counter it.

Neither China nor the U.S. wants a Cold War rerun. Their economies are too interdependent, and today’s market-minded China doesn’t seek global revolution or military parity with the U.S.

Chinese officials say their subs don’t threaten other countries and are part of a program to protect China’s territory and expanding global interests. Chinese defense officials told foreign attachés that the subs entering the Indian Ocean would assist antipiracy patrols off Somalia, say people briefed on the meetings.

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Asked about those meetings, China’s defense ministry said its navy’s activities in the Indian and Pacific Oceans “comply with international law and practice, and we maintain good communication with all relevant parties.”

Submarines help Beijing fulfill international duties without changing its defense policy, says China’s navy spokesman, Sr. Capt. Liang Yang. “If a soldier originally has a handgun, and you give him an assault rifle, you’ve increased his firepower, but his responsibilities haven’t changed.” He declines to comment on boomer patrols.

Still, the U.S. has moved subs to the forefront of its so-called rebalancing, a strategy of focusing more military and diplomatic resources on Asia. Sixty percent of the U.S. undersea force is in the Pacific, U.S. naval commanders say, compared with half the U.S. surface fleet. The U.S. Navy plans to station a fourth nuclear attack sub in Guam next year, they say.

Since December, the U.S. has positioned six new P-8 anti-submarine aircraft in Okinawa, Japan. The U.S. has also revitalized an undersea microphone system designed to track Soviet subs and is testing new technologies such as underwater drones to search for Chinese subs.

Related Article: As China Deploys Nuclear Submarines, U.S. P-8 Poseidon Jets Snoop on Them

Several nearby countries, including Australia, have said they plan to expand or upgrade their submarine and anti-sub forces. Vietnam, which is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China, has since December received at least two of the six Russian-made attack subs it has ordered.

Australia’s navy chief, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the 12 subs his country is buying to replace its six-strong current fleet would need to operate far afield, potentially in contested areas of the South China Sea. “There are other nations in the area that are building their submarine forces as well,” he said. “The issue for us is to be able to consider that we may need to counter those things.”

Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, the commander of U.S. submarine forces in the Pacific, says that many more submarines are now operating in the region than during the Cold War. “One of my biggest concerns truthfully is submarine safety,” he says on a recent dive aboard the USS Houston, a nuclear-attack sub based in Hawaii. “The more submarines you put in the same body of water, the higher the probability that they might collide.”

China now has one of the world’s biggest attack-sub fleets, with five nuclear models and at least 50 diesel models. It has four boomers, the ONI says.

Beijing’s quest for a nuclear-sub fleet dates to the 1960s, say Chinese historians. Mao Zedong once declared, “We will build a nuclear submarine even if it takes us 10,000 years!”

China has used diesel subs since the 1950s, but they have proved easy to find because they must surface every few hours. Nuclear subs are faster and can stay submerged for months. China launched its first nuclear sub on Mao’s birthday in 1970 and test-fired its first missile from underwater in 1988, although its first boomer never patrolled carrying armed nuclear missiles, U.S. naval officers say.

China officially unveiled its nuclear undersea forces in October 2013 in an unprecedented open day for domestic media at a nuclear-sub base. Its capabilities aren’t close to those of the U.S., which has 14 boomers and 55 nuclear attack subs.

The U.S. concern is how to maintain that edge in Asia when the Navy projects that fiscal constraints will shrink its attack-sub fleet to 41 by 2028.

Beijing isn’t likely to try matching the U.S. sub force, having studied the way the Cold War arms race drained the Soviet Union’s finances. “We’re not that stupid,” says retired Maj. Gen. Xu Guangyu, a former vice president of the People’s Liberation Army Defense Institute.

“But we need enough nuclear submarines to be a credible force—to have some bargaining chips,” he says. “They must go out to the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the world.”

On his desk is a glass-encased naval chart with white labels marking China’s submarine bases. Drawn on the map are two lines marking “First Island Chain” and “Second Island Chain.”

Over the past few years, Chinese attack subs have broken beyond the first chain to operate regularly in the Philippine Sea and have started patrolling year-round, Adm. Sawyer says. Penetrating the second chain is the next logical step, he adds: “They are not just building more units and more assets, but they’re actually working to get proficient with them and understand how they’d operate in a far-away-from-home environment.” Related article: When Sub Goes Silent, Who Has Control of Its Nuclear Warheads?

Adm. Sawyer declines to say whether China has sent a sub as far as Hawaii but says the December Indian Ocean expedition shows that it has “the capability and the endurance” to do so.

That was a Shang-class sub, a type naval experts say China first launched in 2002 that can carry torpedoes and cruise missiles. In peacetime, China would probably use these hunter-killers to protect sea lanes, track foreign vessels and gather intelligence, naval experts say. But in a conflict, they would likely try to break through the First Island Chain to threaten approaching vessels and disrupt supply lines.

Still, the two recent sub voyages highlighted a weak point for China. Its subs must use narrow straits to reach the Pacific or Indian Oceans. Those chokepoints—among them, the Malacca, Sunda, Lombok, Luzon and Miyako Straits—can be relatively easily monitored or blockaded.

Moreover, China’s anti-sub capabilities remain relatively weak. U.S. subs can track their Chinese counterparts even near China’s shores, where U.S. ships and planes are vulnerable to Chinese aircraft and missiles, American naval officers say.

Adm. Sawyer declines to say whether the U.S. tracked the Shang or how close U.S. subs get to China, saying only: “I’m comfortable with the U.S. submarine force’s capability to execute whatever tasking we’re given.”

The USS Houston returned recently from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific. Its commanding officer, Cmdr. Dearcy P. Davis, declines to say exactly where the sub went but adds, “I can say that we went untracked by anyone. We have the ability to break down the door if someone [else] can’t. That’s not trivial.”

China’s missile-carrying boomers present a longer-term challenge.

From the Lan Sanya beach resort in Hainan, guests can easily make out the matte-black hulls of what naval experts say are three of China’s new boomers, known as the Jin-class, and one Shang-class attack sub. As he threw open a hotel room’s curtains, a bellboy beamed with pride and pointed out the vessels across the bay. “Better not go that way,” joked a Jet Ski guide on a recent ride. “They might shoot at us.”

China hasn’t said when it might launch boomer patrols. But Western naval officers saw the October nuclear-sub event as a signal that the Jin subs and their JL-2 missiles were ready to start.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, a former submariner who is now the U.S. chief of naval operations, says that the U.S. is waiting to see how China will use its new boomers. “Is it an occasional patrol they’re going to choose to do? Is it going to be a continuous patrol? Are they going to try to be sure that this patrol is totally undetected?” he says. “I think that’s all going to be in the equation as to our response.”

Soviet boomers ventured far into the Pacific and Atlantic into the 1970s because their missiles couldn’t reach the U.S. from Soviet waters. As missile ranges increased, Soviet subs retreated to so-called bastions, such as the Sea of Okhotsk. The U.S. deployed hunter-killers around those bastions.

Similar dynamics are at play as China decides whether to send its own boomers into the Pacific. Their JL-2 missiles can travel about 4,600 miles—possibly enough to strike the U.S. West Coast from East Asia, the ONI says. To strike more U.S. targets, they would need to lurk throughout the Pacific.

But China’s boomers probably couldn’t pass undetected through many straits, say U.S. officers and Chinese experts. “The Jin class is too noisy: It’s probably at the level of the Soviets between 1970 and 1980,” says Wu Riqiang, a former missile specialist who studies nuclear strategy at Beijing’s Renmin University. “As long as you are noisy, you won’t even go through the chokepoints.”

Early in the Cold War, the U.S. built a network of seabed microphones to listen at chokepoints leading to the Pacific and Atlantic. In recent years, the U.S. has revitalized parts of that network, called the Sound Surveillance System, or Sosus. The U.S. is also now adding mobile networks of sensors—some on underwater drones—and seeking surveillance data from Asian countries. Related Article: Underwater Drones Join Microphones to Listen for Chinese Subs

Meanwhile, China is trying to replicate Sosus, say several naval experts. A government-backed scientific journal reported last year that China had built a fiber-optic acoustic network in the South China Sea.

Last November, China declared an “air-defense identification zone” over the East China Sea and warned of measures against aircraft that entered without identifying themselves in advance. Many U.S. officials expect China to do the same over the South China Sea, although Chinese officials say they have no immediate plans for that.

In August, the Pentagon said a Chinese fighter had flown dangerously close to a U.S. P-8 near Hainan. China’s defense ministry publicly said that its pilot flew safely and asked the U.S. to cease such operations.

The problem with confining boomers to the South China Sea is that Beijing fears that missiles fired from there could be neutralized by the next stages of a U.S. regional missile-defense system, Chinese nuclear experts say.

Prof. Wu, who has taken part in nuclear-strategy negotiations with the U.S., predicts that over the next two decades, China will make quieter boomers that can patrol the open sea even as the U.S. pursues a global missile-defense system.

“I hope the U.S. and China can break this cycle,” he says, “but I’m not optimistic.”

—Rob Taylor in Canberra contributed to this article.

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Another interesting fact is that the truth about the United States has never faced with a Super Power like what China is today, so economically driven and progressing but backed and controlled by sophisticatedly strategically minded communists leaders and their plans to move forward.

The Hufftington Post story:

Bob Hawke Headshot

America Has Never Faced a Power Like China

Posted: 06/19/2014 11:38 am EDT Updated: 08/19/2014 5:59 am EDT 125941046
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The article is an excerpt from a speech delivered at the 2nd International Symposium on Security and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region, hosted by the China Institute for International Strategic Studies in Beijing.

BEIJING — There can be no doubt that the biggest question today about Asia’s future order revolves around the relationships among three nations — the United States, China and Japan. If a solid and durable foundation can be found for cooperative relations among the three powers, building a sustainable new order in Asia will not be difficult. If rivalry among them escalates, it might become impossible.

STATUS QUO VS. A NEW ORDER

The differences between their separate visions are not hard to see. America wants to preserve the status quo in which its leading position remains the keystone of the regional order, and the Chinese acceptance of U.S. leadership is the basis of U.S.-China relationship. While it is willing to consult more closely with China on a wide range of issues as China’s power grows, it does not envisage any fundamental change in the nature of their relationship, or of China’s role in Asia, over the coming years.

Americans argue that this status quo has worked very well for Asia — including for China — for many years, and they believe that it remains the best basis for regional stability in the future.

China, on the other hand, wants to change the status quo. President Xi Jinping has made this quite clear in his repeated calls for a “new type of major-power relationship.” By this, he does not just mean that he hopes the U.S. and China can avoid the rivalry that throughout history has so often escalated between rising and established powers.

He also means that to avoid escalating rivalry, America and China should agree on a new basis for their relationship, different from the basis that was agreed between Chairman Mao Zedong and former U.S. President Richard Nixon back in 1972. Clearly, China does not believe that Chinese deference to the U.S. leadership is any longer an acceptable basis for U.S.-China relations.

From America’s side, there seems to be increasing concern that China’s real aim is to push America out of Asia and establish its own version of regional primacy. They point to China’s assertive diplomacy over regional maritime sovereignty questions as evidence of China’s malign intentions, and its willingness to use force to shape the regional order in its favor.

From China’s side, there is an equal but opposite fear that America’s real aim is to contain China’s rise in order to preserve U.S. primacy. China points to U.S. President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” including its highly-publicized military elements designed to bolster U.S. combat power in Asia, as evidence of America’s mala fide intentions and its willingness to use force to achieve them. These suspicions clearly make it much harder for the two sides to contemplate serious accommodation with one another.

Many Americans seem still to underestimate just how much China’s wealth and power have grown, and how strong China’s ambitions have become. They do not yet take China’s challenges to the status quo in Asia seriously.

On April 30, London-based Financial Times had a front-page banner headline that read, “China to take over from U.S. as top economic power this year.” The story beneath the headline reported the World Bank’s latest comparative survey of the size of national economies in 2011 based on their relative purchasing power.

It showed that on this measure, China’s economy in 2011 was 87 percent the size of America’s, and was trending to overtake it this year. Perhaps it has already done so.

The word “historic” is often applied rather freely, but this really is a historic moment. As the Financial Times noted, America overtook Britain to become the largest economy in the world in 1872. For almost 150 years U.S. economic preeminence has been the foundation and the source of American power, and the American power has done more than anything else to define a whole era in world history, and shape the world as we know it today.

It would be a profound mistake for America not to see what this means. It does not mean that America is in decline. Nor does it mean that China will necessarily replace America at the pinnacle of global power that it has occupied for so long: China will not “rule the world.”

But it does mean that China today is a country that is fundamentally more powerful than any that America has ever had to encounter before. It is also a country that has a stronger sense of its place and status than any country in the world except perhaps America itself.

Both need to rid themselves of the assumption that the other cannot be a trusted partner in such a deal. There is no reason at all to assume that a mutual accommodation cannot be reached between them. America will not accept the establishment of Chinese primacy over Asia, but it might well be brought to accept that it should share the leadership in Asia with China, thus according China far more status and influence in Asia than it has enjoyed for centuries.

As Japan considers how far it can rely on U.S. assurances of support for its position on the disputed islands, it is also wondering how far it can continue to rely on the U.S. for Japan’s overall security as America’s relative power and influence in Asia decline.

Likewise as America considers how far it should go in supporting Japan in the East China Sea dispute, it is also thinking about the consequences for the U.S.-Japan alliance, and for the whole U.S. position in Asia, of any failure to fulfill its alliance commitments.

The stakes therefore could hardly be higher for all three countries, which is what makes the situation rather risky. And it suggests that to reduce those risks, it will be necessary not just to reach some agreement on the islands themselves, but to address the underlying questions about the roles of the U.S., China and Japan in Asia’s new order.

MORE:

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Since 2008, China has openly demonstrated its aggressiveness to be a Super Power when it embarked on various nuclear weapon programs that followed suit the admission of its military might expansionism.

That actually brought various Asian nations to work closer together and in a metaphoric way diplomatically isolating China as the ‘neighbourhood bully’.

The Bloomberg story:

Japan and India Pledge to Strengthen Ties as China Rises

By Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Takahashi Sep 2, 2014 10:05 AM GMT+0800 – Comments Email Print

Japan, India Look to Strengthen Ties
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged an upgrade of economic and security ties with India, saying Japan would double investment and expand defense cooperation amid concerns about China’s growing influence in the region.

Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at a summit meeting in Tokyo yesterday agreed to elevate ties to a special strategic and global partnership. Abe offered 50 billion yen ($480 million) in infrastructure loans and pledged 3.5 trillion yen of public and private investment and financing in India in five years.

“I often say that Japan-India relations have more potential than any other ties in the world,” Abe said. “This time, hand in hand with Prime Minister Modi, I want to boost ties in every possible field and elevate this to a special strategic and global partnership.”

The declaration comes three months after Modi took office pledging to take a tougher stance with neighbors China and Pakistan on border disputes, and hours after Japan said three Chinese coast guard vessels entered waters near disputed islands. Japan is courting India as it seeks to counter China and deter the use of force in disputes over contested territory.

The two leaders are known to have a close relationship, and Abe made the unusual gesture of traveling to the ancient capital of Kyoto at the weekend to host an informal dinner for Modi. Abe also accepted an invitation to visit India for a summit in 2015. Modi, 63, brought a delegation of executives with him on the four-day trip. He was set to meet Emperor Akihito and deliver a speech today, before leaving Tokyo tomorrow.
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, gestures as he makes a speech during a luncheon… Read More
‘Strong Bond’

China remains India’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 9 percent of the country’s total commerce, more than four times that of Japan, according to Indian Commerce Ministry data. Japan is the fourth-largest foreign direct investor in India, while China is not in the top 10, the data show.

“We are determined to increase our economic cooperation and the magnitude to which Japan is offering financial support signals a strong bond between our two countries,” Modi said after the meeting. “The success of the 21st century will largely depend on the path our two nations follow.”

Japan and India agreed to speed up talks on the transfer of US-2 amphibian rescue aircraft to India and on the signing of an agreement on civil nuclear power. They consented to look into ways to cooperate on defense technology.

Territorial Spats

The two leaders also affirmed their commitment to maritime security, freedom of navigation and the peaceful settlement of disputes under international law, a veiled dig at China, which is involved in disputes with at least half a dozen Asian nations over territory in the East and South China Seas and in the case of India, on land.

Modi earlier criticized the expansionist policies of some countries during a speech to business leaders in Tokyo.

“The world is divided in two camps. One camp believes in expansionist policies while the other believes in development,” Modi told a gathering of business leaders in Tokyo. “We have to decide whether the world should get caught in the grip of expansionist policies or we should lead it on the path of development and create opportunities that take it to greater heights.”

Japan and China have been embroiled in a dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, while India accuses China of occupying 38,000 square kilometers (about 15,000 square miles) of its territory.

When asked about these comments, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China and India are strategic partners that seek common development.

“The increasing intimacy between Tokyo and New Delhi will bring at most psychological comfort to the two countries,” China’s Global Times said today in an editorial. “If Japan attempts to form a united front centered on India, it will be a crazy fantasy generated by Tokyo’s anxiety of facing a rising Beijing.”

2

To contact the reporters on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net; Maiko Takahashi in Tokyo at mtakahashi61@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Davis at abdavis@bloomberg.net Andy Sharp, Neil Western

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It is no mystery that China is hungry for energy, around the region, to power and drive its near galloping economy. That is a threat to the West. Never the less, China too is very aggressive to exert control over the world’s most productive and potential trade area, where the second most busiest and strategic waterway runs through.

The fact that China’s attitude of ‘Take All and Sundry’, is the worrying bit for the rest of Asia plus friends (United States and Australia) that when China devours, there would nothing left to be shared by others.

The rest of East and South East Asia do not wish to be sovereign but subservient states and serve China, economically and most of all, politically.

Published in: on October 25, 2014 at 12:00  Comments (5)  

Congratulations, Anifah

Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

It has just been confirmed that Malaysia is the new Non Permanent Member of United Nations Security Council for 2015-6, after polling 187 out of total 192 votes casted. The South East Asian nation is in the cohort of New Zealand, Venezuela and Angola, for a two years term beginning 31 December 2014.

UN General Assembly voting to elect non-permanent Security Council members

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16 October 2014 –

With one round of voting complete, the United Nations General Assembly has just elected Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand to serve as non-permanent members on the Security Council for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2014.

The new members will take up their seats on 1 January 2015 and will serve on the Council until 31 December 2016.

The Assembly will move into a round of restricted balloting to choose either Spain or Turkey to fill the remaining seat on the Council open to the Western European and Other States Group.

The five seats available for election in 2014, distributed regionally, are: one seat for the African Group (currently held by Rwanda); one seat for the Group of Asia- Pacific Group (currently held by the Republic of Korea); one seat for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, (currently held by Argentina); and two seats for the Western European and Others Group (currently held by Australia and Luxembourg).

Lithuania will maintain for another year, the seat for the Eastern European Group.

The respective contenders for the upcoming vacancies were Angola (Africa), Malaysia (Asia-Pacific) and Venezuela (Latin America and the Caribbean). There were three nations vying for the two seats designated for Western European and Other States – New Zealand, Spain and Turkey.

New Zealand was selected in the first round of voting.

The five permanent Council members, which each wield the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Along with Lithuania, the non-permanent members that will remain on the Council until the end of 2015 are Chad, Chile, Jordan, and Nigeria.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Each of the Council’s members has one vote. Under the Charter, all UN Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations. And, together with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.

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The Malaysian foreign policy of a moderate muslim nation under Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak and consistent hardwork of Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman in the international politics and diplomacy arena, provided the confidence of this membership the most strategic defense and security forum.

Malaysia also provided pivotal role in regional security when peace was managed to be brokered in South Thailand and Southern Philippines.

Malaysia’s foreign policy is an extension of the attitude and strategy as a trading nation, which befriends all nations based on universally accepted international law and bi-lateral relationship.

This is the fourth time Malaysia was accepted into the UN Security Council as a Non Permanent Member, after stints in 1965. 1989 and 1999.

*Updated 17 October 2014 0830hrs

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak who is in Milan, Italy for the ASEM summit with EU leaders, accolades Malaysia’s consistent policy as a moderate muslim nation as they point of getting the international community trust and confidence for the two years stint at UNSC:

The Star story:

Published: Friday October 17, 2014 MYT 8:36:00 AM
Updated: Friday October 17, 2014 MYT 8:46:38 AM

Najib: Malaysia’s stand in moderation helped country clinched UN seat

BY ESTHER NG

MILAN (Italy): Malaysia won a seat in the United Nations Security Council largely because of the country’s stand in moderation and its international relations, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

The Prime Minister, who described the success in securing a seat in the 15-man body as “extremely meaningful”, said he believed the international community reacted positively to Malaysia’s policies, its responsible approach to issues and principle-based measures.

“They know we absolutely reject extremism which I made very clear in my speech at the United Nations last month,” he told reporters here, Friday.

Najib, who was delighted with the results, said Malaysia’s success in winning over 187 out of 193 votes was excellent.

On Thursday night, Malaysia was “returned” to the UN Security Council after a 15-year absence, representing the Asia Pacific region.

Malaysia had officially put in its bid for the seat, one of five vacancies of the total 10 non-permanent seats. Five others are permanent members.

He said the number of countries, which supported Malaysia exceeded that of the two previous occasions – 143 votes (for the 1989 to 1990 term) and 174 votes (the 1999 to 2000 term).

Najib said Malaysia’s success reflected the acceptance of the international community towards the country’s principled-based foreign policies.

“This also means they think we are highly credible and deserve to have a say in the Security Council,” he added.

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Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 23:30  Comments (17)  

Militant Wahabism on global dominance

The current self declared ‘Islamic State’ crisis (previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS]) is sending never before shivers deep along the spine of leaders and people alike around the West Asia region and most of the free Western world.

The Guardian posting:

Obama meets foreign military chiefs to discuss Isis strategy

US president gathers foreign defence chiefs at Andrews air force base in attempt to strengthen coalition response to crisis

 

Agencies in Washington and Mursitpinar
The Guardian, Tuesday 14 October 2014 08.06 BST

Obama critic Senator John McCain said on Sunday that ‘they’re winning and we’re not,’ referring to Isis.
Barack Obama is to discuss the US-led strategy to counter Islamic State (Isis) with military leaders from 20 countries including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, amid growing pressure for the US-led coalition to do more to stop the militants’ advance.

President Obama will attend a meeting on Tuesday led by Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, with foreign defence chiefs at Andrews air force base outside Washington.

“It is part of ongoing efforts to build the coalition and integrate the capabilities of each country into the broader strategy,” said Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the White House national security council.

The meeting comes after the US-led coalition launched air strikes on Monday evening on Isis positions in Syria, most on the town of Kobani near Turkey.

The coalition’s strategy is being called into question. The Republican senator John McCain, a frequent Obama critic, said on Sunday that “they’re winning and we’re not”, referring to Isis.

The UN said on Monday that fighting in Iraq’s western Anbar province had forced up to 180,000 people to flee after Isis captured the city of Hit.

“This is a long campaign. It hasn’t gone badly, but it certainly hasn’t gone well,” said Anthony Cordesman, national security analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

“It is very important, quite aside from trying to show Americans that he’s [Obama is] leading, that he shows other countries he’s committed,” Cordesman said, adding that the defence officials from abroad were in many cases more involved in setting policy than their US military counterparts.

Representatives from Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates were expected to attend.

Col Ed Thomas, Dempsey’s spokesman, said no major policy decisions were expected at the meeting, adding: “It’s about coming together in person to discuss the vision, the challenges, the way ahead.”

Having Turkey at the table will be key. Ankara has come under some pressure to send its own ground troops into Syria against Isis forces. The country could announce after the meeting that it will join Saudi Arabia in training moderate Syrian rebels, Cordesman said.

Turkey has not reached a new agreement to let the US use its Incirlik air base but reached an agreement with Washington on training Syrian rebels, sources at the Turkish prime minister’s office told reporters on Monday, without saying who would train the insurgents or where.

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These are some interesting perspective on ISIS and political development around the Arabian subcontinent and the West Asia region.

Former MI6 analyst Alastair Crooke’s posting on The Hufftington Post:

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

Posted: 08/27/2014 11:56 am EDT Updated: 09/05/2014 5:59 pm EDT

BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.

THE SAUDI DUALITY

Saudi Arabia’s internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom’s doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)

The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz’s subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse — and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export — by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world.

But this “cultural revolution” was no docile reformism. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him — hence his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries.

MUSLIM IMPOSTORS

The American author and journalist, Steven Coll, has written how this austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who travelled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”

In Abd al-Wahhab’s view, these were not Muslims; they were imposters masquerading as Muslims. Nor, indeed, did he find the behavior of local Bedouin Arabs much better. They aggravated Abd al-Wahhab by their honoring of saints, by their erecting of tombstones, and their “superstition” (e.g. revering graves or places that were deemed particularly imbued with the divine).

All this behavior, Abd al-Wahhab denounced as bida — forbidden by God.

Like Taymiyyah before him, Abd al-Wahhab believed that the period of the Prophet Muhammad’s stay in Medina was the ideal of Muslim society (the “best of times”), to which all Muslims should aspire to emulate (this, essentially, is Salafism).

Taymiyyah had declared war on Shi’ism, Sufism and Greek philosophy. He spoke out, too against visiting the grave of the prophet and the celebration of his birthday, declaring that all such behavior represented mere imitation of the Christian worship of Jesus as God (i.e. idolatry). Abd al-Wahhab assimilated all this earlier teaching, stating that “any doubt or hesitation” on the part of a believer in respect to his or her acknowledging this particular interpretation of Islam should “deprive a man of immunity of his property and his life.”

One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine has become the key idea of takfir. Under the takfiri doctrine, Abd al-Wahhab and his followers could deem fellow Muslims infidels should they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority (that is, the King). Abd al-Wahhab denounced all Muslims who honored the dead, saints, or angels. He held that such sentiments detracted from the complete subservience one must feel towards God, and only God. Wahhabi Islam thus bans any prayer to saints and dead loved ones, pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, religious festivals celebrating saints, the honoring of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and even prohibits the use of gravestones when burying the dead.
“Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. “

Abd al-Wahhab demanded conformity — a conformity that was to be demonstrated in physical and tangible ways. He argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. The list of apostates meriting death included the Shiite, Sufis and other Muslim denominations, whom Abd al-Wahhab did not consider to be Muslim at all.

There is nothing here that separates Wahhabism from ISIS. The rift would emerge only later: from the subsequent institutionalization of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s doctrine of “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque” — these three pillars being taken respectively to refer to the Saudi king, the absolute authority of official Wahhabism, and its control of “the word” (i.e. the mosque).

It is this rift — the ISIS denial of these three pillars on which the whole of Sunni authority presently rests — makes ISIS, which in all other respects conforms to Wahhabism, a deep threat to Saudi Arabia.

BRIEF HISTORY 1741- 1818

Abd al-Wahhab’s advocacy of these ultra radical views inevitably led to his expulsion from his own town — and in 1741, after some wanderings, he found refuge under the protection of Ibn Saud and his tribe. What Ibn Saud perceived in Abd al-Wahhab’s novel teaching was the means to overturn Arab tradition and convention. It was a path to seizing power.

“Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. “
Ibn Saud’s clan, seizing on Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine, now could do what they always did, which was raiding neighboring villages and robbing them of their possessions. Only now they were doing it not within the ambit of Arab tradition, but rather under the banner of jihad. Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab also reintroduced the idea of martyrdom in the name of jihad, as it granted those martyred immediate entry into paradise.

In the beginning, they conquered a few local communities and imposed their rule over them. (The conquered inhabitants were given a limited choice: conversion to Wahhabism or death.) By 1790, the Alliance controlled most of the Arabian Peninsula and repeatedly raided Medina, Syria and Iraq.

Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. In 1801, the Allies attacked the Holy City of Karbala in Iraq. They massacred thousands of Shiites, including women and children. Many Shiite shrines were destroyed, including the shrine of Imam Hussein, the murdered grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

A British official, Lieutenant Francis Warden, observing the situation at the time, wrote: “They pillaged the whole of it [Karbala], and plundered the Tomb of Hussein… slaying in the course of the day, with circumstances of peculiar cruelty, above five thousand of the inhabitants …”

Osman Ibn Bishr Najdi, the historian of the first Saudi state, wrote that Ibn Saud committed a massacre in Karbala in 1801. He proudly documented that massacre saying, “we took Karbala and slaughtered and took its people (as slaves), then praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and we do not apologize for that and say: ‘And to the unbelievers: the same treatment.'”

In 1803, Abdul Aziz then entered the Holy City of Mecca, which surrendered under the impact of terror and panic (the same fate was to befall Medina, too). Abd al-Wahhab’s followers demolished historical monuments and all the tombs and shrines in their midst. By the end, they had destroyed centuries of Islamic architecture near the Grand Mosque.

But in November of 1803, a Shiite assassin killed King Abdul Aziz (taking revenge for the massacre at Karbala). His son, Saud bin Abd al Aziz, succeeded him and continued the conquest of Arabia. Ottoman rulers, however, could no longer just sit back and watch as their empire was devoured piece by piece. In 1812, the Ottoman army, composed of Egyptians, pushed the Alliance out from Medina, Jeddah and Mecca. In 1814, Saud bin Abd al Aziz died of fever. His unfortunate son Abdullah bin Saud, however, was taken by the Ottomans to Istanbul, where he was gruesomely executed (a visitor to Istanbul reported seeing him having been humiliated in the streets of Istanbul for three days, then hanged and beheaded, his severed head fired from a canon, and his heart cut out and impaled on his body).

In 1815, Wahhabi forces were crushed by the Egyptians (acting on the Ottoman’s behalf) in a decisive battle. In 1818, the Ottomans captured and destroyed the Wahhabi capital of Dariyah. The first Saudi state was no more. The few remaining Wahhabis withdrew into the desert to regroup, and there they remained, quiescent for most of the 19th century.

HISTORY RETURNS WITH ISIS

It is not hard to understand how the founding of the Islamic State by ISIS in contemporary Iraq might resonate amongst those who recall this history. Indeed, the ethos of 18th century Wahhabism did not just wither in Nejd, but it roared back into life when the Ottoman Empire collapsed amongst the chaos of World War I.

The Al Saud — in this 20th century renaissance — were led by the laconic and politically astute Abd-al Aziz, who, on uniting the fractious Bedouin tribes, launched the Saudi “Ikhwan” in the spirit of Abd-al Wahhab’s and Ibn Saud’s earlier fighting proselytisers.

The Ikhwan was a reincarnation of the early, fierce, semi-independent vanguard movement of committed armed Wahhabist “moralists” who almost had succeeded in seizing Arabia by the early 1800s. In the same manner as earlier, the Ikhwan again succeeded in capturing Mecca, Medina and Jeddah between 1914 and 1926. Abd-al Aziz, however, began to feel his wider interests to be threatened by the revolutionary “Jacobinism” exhibited by the Ikhwan. The Ikhwan revolted — leading to a civil war that lasted until the 1930s, when the King had them put down: he machine-gunned them.

For this king, (Abd-al Aziz), the simple verities of previous decades were eroding. Oil was being discovered in the peninsular. Britain and America were courting Abd-al Aziz, but still were inclined to support Sharif Husain as the only legitimate ruler of Arabia. The Saudis needed to develop a more sophisticated diplomatic posture.

So Wahhabism was forcefully changed from a movement of revolutionary jihad and theological takfiri purification, to a movement of conservative social, political, theological, and religious da’wa (Islamic call) and to justifying the institution that upholds loyalty to the royal Saudi family and the King’s absolute power.

OIL WEALTH SPREAD WAHHABISM

With the advent of the oil bonanza — as the French scholar, Giles Kepel writes, Saudi goals were to “reach out and spread Wahhabism across the Muslim world … to “Wahhabise” Islam, thereby reducing the “multitude of voices within the religion” to a “single creed” — a movement which would transcend national divisions. Billions of dollars were — and continue to be — invested in this manifestation of soft power.

It was this heady mix of billion dollar soft power projection — and the Saudi willingness to manage Sunni Islam both to further America’s interests, as it concomitantly embedded Wahhabism educationally, socially and culturally throughout the lands of Islam — that brought into being a western policy dependency on Saudi Arabia, a dependency that has endured since Abd-al Aziz’s meeting with Roosevelt on a U.S. warship (returning the president from the Yalta Conference) until today.

Westerners looked at the Kingdom and their gaze was taken by the wealth; by the apparent modernization; by the professed leadership of the Islamic world. They chose to presume that the Kingdom was bending to the imperatives of modern life — and that the management of Sunni Islam would bend the Kingdom, too, to modern life.

“On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.”
But the Saudi Ikhwan approach to Islam did not die in the 1930s. It retreated, but it maintained its hold over parts of the system — hence the duality that we observe today in the Saudi attitude towards ISIS.

On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.

ISIS is a “post-Medina” movement: it looks to the actions of the first two Caliphs, rather than the Prophet Muhammad himself, as a source of emulation, and it forcefully denies the Saudis’ claim of authority to rule.

As the Saudi monarchy blossomed in the oil age into an ever more inflated institution, the appeal of the Ikhwan message gained ground (despite King Faisal’s modernization campaign). The “Ikhwan approach” enjoyed — and still enjoys — the support of many prominent men and women and sheikhs. In a sense, Osama bin Laden was precisely the representative of a late flowering of this Ikhwani approach.

Today, ISIS’ undermining of the legitimacy of the King’s legitimacy is not seen to be problematic, but rather a return to the true origins of the Saudi-Wahhab project.

In the collaborative management of the region by the Saudis and the West in pursuit of the many western projects (countering socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet and Iranian influence), western politicians have highlighted their chosen reading of Saudi Arabia (wealth, modernization and influence), but they chose to ignore the Wahhabist impulse.

After all, the more radical Islamist movements were perceived by Western intelligence services as being more effective in toppling the USSR in Afghanistan — and in combatting out-of-favor Middle Eastern leaders and states.

Why should we be surprised then, that from Prince Bandar’s Saudi-Western mandate to manage the insurgency in Syria against President Assad should have emerged a neo-Ikhwan type of violent, fear-inducing vanguard movement: ISIS? And why should we be surprised — knowing a little about Wahhabism — that “moderate” insurgents in Syria would become rarer than a mythical unicorn? Why should we have imagined that radical Wahhabism would create moderates? Or why could we imagine that a doctrine of “One leader, One authority, One mosque: submit to it, or be killed” could ever ultimately lead to moderation or tolerance?

Or, perhaps, we never imagined.

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And the continuum:

Alastair Crooke Become a fan
Fmr. MI-6 agent; Author, ‘Resistance: The Essence of Islamic Revolution’

Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia

Posted: 09/02/2014 8:43 pm EDT Updated: 09/05/2014 5:59 pm EDT

This article is Part II of Alastair Crooke’s historical analysis of the roots of ISIS and its impact on the future of the Middle East. Read Part I here.

BEIRUT — ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the “March of the Beheaders”; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of “justice” — terrible though they are — that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.”

Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere — in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.

The clue to its truly explosive potential, as Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim has pointed out (but which has passed, almost wholly overlooked, or its significance has gone unnoticed), is ISIS’ deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine — of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project:

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the first “prince of the faithful” in the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006 formulated, for instance, the principles of his prospective state … Among its goals is disseminating monotheism “which is the purpose [for which humans were created] and [for which purpose they must be called] to Islam…” This language replicates exactly Abd-al Wahhab’s formulation. And, not surprisingly, the latter’s writings and Wahhabi commentaries on his works are widely distributed in the areas under ISIS’ control and are made the subject of study sessions. Baghdadi subsequently was to note approvingly, “a generation of young men [have been] trained based on the forgotten doctrine of loyalty and disavowal.”
And what is this “forgotten” tradition of “loyalty and disavowal?” It is Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God — who was alone worthy of worship — was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim?

He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of “unbelievers.” They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab’s vision of Islam — or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils of jihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.

“Through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.”

The point Fuad Ibrahim is making, I believe, is not merely to reemphasize the extreme reductionism of al-Wahhab’s vision, but to hint at something entirely different: That through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.

For it was precisely this idealistic, puritan, proselytizing formulation by al-Wahhab that was “father” to the entire Saudi “project” (one that was violently suppressed by the Ottomans in 1818, but spectacularly resurrected in the 1920s, to become the Saudi Kingdom that we know today). But since its renaissance in the 1920s, the Saudi project has always carried within it, the “gene” of its own self-destruction.

THE SAUDI TAIL HAS WAGGED BRITAIN AND U.S. IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Paradoxically, it was a maverick British official, who helped embed the gene into the new state. The British official attached to Aziz, was one Harry St. John Philby (the father of the MI6 officer who spied for the Soviet KGB, Kim Philby). He was to become King Abd al-Aziz’s close adviser, having resigned as a British official, and was until his death, a key member of the Ruler’s Court. He, like Lawrence of Arabia, was an Arabist. He was also a convert to Wahhabi Islam and known as Sheikh Abdullah.

St. John Philby was a man on the make: he had determined to make his friend, Abd al-Aziz, the ruler of Arabia. Indeed, it is clear that in furthering this ambition he was not acting on official instructions. When, for example, he encouraged King Aziz to expand in northern Nejd, he was ordered to desist. But (as American author, Stephen Schwartz notes), Aziz was well aware that Britain had pledged repeatedly that the defeat of the Ottomans would produce an Arab state, and this no doubt, encouraged Philby and Aziz to aspire to the latter becoming its new ruler.

It is not clear exactly what passed between Philby and the Ruler (the details seem somehow to have been suppressed), but it would appear that Philby’s vision was not confined to state-building in the conventional way, but rather was one of transforming the wider Islamic ummah (or community of believers) into a Wahhabist instrument that would entrench the al-Saud as Arabia’s leaders. And for this to happen, Aziz needed to win British acquiescence (and much later, American endorsement). “This was the gambit that Abd al-Aziz made his own, with advice from Philby,” notes Schwartz.

BRITISH GODFATHER OF SAUDI ARABIA

In a sense, Philby may be said to be “godfather” to this momentous pact by which the Saudi leadership would use its clout to “manage” Sunni Islam on behalf of western objectives (containing socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet influence, Iran, etc.) — and in return, the West would acquiesce to Saudi Arabia’s soft-power Wahhabisation of the Islamic ummah (with its concomitant destruction of Islam’s intellectual traditions and diversity and its sowing of deep divisions within the Muslim world).

“In political and financial terms, the Saud-Philby strategy has been an astonishing success. But it was always rooted in British and American intellectual obtuseness: the refusal to see the dangerous ‘gene’ within the Wahhabist project, its latent potential to mutate, at any time, back into its original a bloody, puritan strain. In any event, this has just happened: ISIS is it.”

As a result — from then until now — British and American policy has been bound to Saudi aims (as tightly as to their own ones), and has been heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia for direction in pursuing its course in the Middle East.

In political and financial terms, the Saud-Philby strategy has been an astonishing success (if taken on its own, cynical, self-serving terms). But it was always rooted in British and American intellectual obtuseness: the refusal to see the dangerous “gene” within the Wahhabist project, its latent potential to mutate, at any time, back into its original a bloody, puritan strain. In any event, this has just happened: ISIS is it.

Winning western endorsement (and continued western endorsement), however, required a change of mode: the “project” had to change from being an armed, proselytizing Islamic vanguard movement into something resembling statecraft. This was never going to be easy because of the inherent contradictions involved (puritan morality versus realpolitik and money) — and as time has progressed, the problems of accommodating the “modernity” that statehood requires, has caused “the gene” to become more active, rather than become more inert.

Even Abd al-Aziz himself faced an allergic reaction: in the form of a serious rebellion from his own Wahhabi militia, the Saudi Ikhwan. When the expansion of control by the Ikhwan reached the border of territories controlled by Britain, Abd al-Aziz tried to restrain his militia (Philby was urging him to seek British patronage), but the Ikwhan, already critical of his use of modern technology (the telephone, telegraph and the machine gun), “were outraged by the abandonment of jihad for reasons of worldly realpolitik … They refused to lay down their weapons; and instead rebelled against their king … After a series of bloody clashes, they were crushed in 1929. Ikhwan members who had remained loyal, were later absorbed into the [Saudi] National Guard.”

King Aziz’s son and heir, Saud, faced a different form of reaction (less bloody, but more effective). Aziz’s son was deposed from the throne by the religious establishment — in favor of his brother Faisal — because of his ostentatious and extravagant conduct. His lavish, ostentatious style, offended the religious establishment who expected the “Imam of Muslims,” to pursue a pious, proselytizing lifestyle.

King Faisal, Saud’s successor, in his turn, was shot by his nephew in 1975, who had appeared at Court ostensibly to make his oath of allegiance, but who instead, pulled out a pistol and shot the king in his head. The nephew had been perturbed by the encroachment of western beliefs and innovation into Wahhabi society, to the detriment of the original ideals of the Wahhabist project.

SEIZING THE GRAND MOSQUE IN 1979

Far more serious, however, was the revived Ikhwan of Juhayman al-Otaybi, which culminated in the seizure of the Grand Mosque by some 400-500 armed men and women in 1979. Juhayman was from the influential Otaybi tribe from the Nejd, which had led and been a principal element in the original Ikhwan of the 1920s.

Juhayman and his followers, many of whom came from the Medina seminary, had the tacit support, amongst other clerics, of Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Bin Baz, the former Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Juhayman stated that Sheikh Bin Baz never objected to his Ikhwan teachings (which were also critical of ulema laxity towards “disbelief”), but that bin Baz had blamed him mostly for harking on that “the ruling al-Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of westernisation.”

Significantly, Juhayman’s followers preached their Ikhwani message in a number of mosques in Saudi Arabia initially without being arrested, but when Juhayman and a number of the Ikhwan finally were held for questioning in 1978. Members of the ulema (including bin Baz) cross-examined them for heresy, but then ordered their release because they saw them as being no more than traditionalists harkening back to the Ikhwan– like Juhayman grandfather — and therefore not a threat.

Even when the mosque seizure was defeated and over, a certain level of forbearance by the ulema for the rebels remained. When the government asked for a fatwa allowing for armed force to be used in the mosque, the language of bin Baz and other senior ulema was curiously restrained. The scholars did not declare Juhayman and his followers non-Muslims, despite their violation of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, but only termed them al-jamaah al-musallahah (the armed group).

The group that Juhayman led was far from marginalized from important sources of power and wealth. In a sense, it swam in friendly, receptive waters. Juhayman’s grandfather had been one of the leaders of the the original Ikhwan, and after the rebellion against Abdel Aziz, many of his grandfather’s comrades in arms were absorbed into the National Guard — indeed Juhayman himself had served within the Guard — thus Juhayman was able to obtain weapons and military expertise from sympathizers in the National Guard, and the necessary arms and food to sustain the siege were pre-positioned, and hidden, within the Grand Mosque. Juhayman was also able to call on wealthy individuals to fund the enterprise.

ISIS VS. WESTERNIZED SAUDIS

The point of rehearsing this history is to underline how uneasy the Saudi leadership must be at the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Previous Ikhwani manifestations were suppressed — but these all occurred inside the kingdom.

ISIS however, is a neo-Ikhwani rejectionist protest that is taking place outside the kingdom — and which, moreover, follows the Juhayman dissidence in its trenchant criticism of the al-Saud ruling family.

This is the deep schism we see today in Saudi Arabia, between the modernizing current of which King Abdullah is a part, and the “Juhayman” orientation of which bin Laden, and the Saudi supporters of ISIS and the Saudi religious establishment are a part. It is also a schism that exists within the Saudi royal family itself.

According to the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper, in July 2014 “an opinion poll of Saudis [was] released on social networking sites, claiming that 92 percent of the target group believes that ‘IS conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.'” The leading Saudi commentator, Jamal Khashoggi, recently warned of ISIS’ Saudi supporters who “watch from the shadows.”

There are angry youths with a skewed mentality and understanding of life and sharia, and they are canceling a heritage of centuries and the supposed gains of a modernization that hasn’t been completed. They turned into rebels, emirs and a caliph invading a vast area of our land. They are hijacking our children’s minds and canceling borders. They reject all rules and legislations, throwing it [a]way … for their vision of politics, governance, life, society and economy. [For] the citizens of the self-declared “commander of the faithful,” or Caliph, you have no other choice … They don’t care if you stand out among your people and if you are an educated man, or a lecturer, or a tribe leader, or a religious leader, or an active politician or even a judge … You must obey the commander of the faithful and pledge the oath of allegiance to him. When their policies are questioned, Abu Obedia al-Jazrawi yells, saying: “Shut up. Our reference is the book and the Sunnah and that’s it.”
“What did we do wrong?” Khashoggi asks. With 3,000-4,000 Saudi fighters in the Islamic State today, he advises of the need to “look inward to explain ISIS’ rise”. Maybe it is time, he says, to admit “our political mistakes,” to “correct the mistakes of our predecessors.”

MODERNIZING KING THE MOST VULNERABLE

The present Saudi king, Abdullah, paradoxically is all the more vulnerable precisely because he has been a modernizer. The King has curbed the influence of the religious institutions and the religious police — and importantly has permitted the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence to be used, by those who adhere to them (al-Wahhab, by contrast, objected to all other schools of jurisprudence other than his own).

“The key political question is whether the simple fact of ISIS’ successes, and the full manifestation (flowering) of all the original pieties and vanguardism of the archetypal impulse, will stimulate and activate the dissenter ‘gene’ — within the Saudi kingdom. If it does, and Saudi Arabia is engulfed by the ISIS fervor, the Gulf will never be the same again. Saudi Arabia will deconstruct and the Middle East will be unrecognizable.”

It is even possible too for Shiite residents of eastern Saudi Arabia to invoke Ja’afri jurisprudence and to turn to Ja’afari Shiite clerics for rulings. (In clear contrast, al-Wahhab held a particular animosity towards the Shiite and held them to be apostates. As recently as the 1990s, clerics such as bin Baz — the former Mufti — and Abdullah Jibrin reiterated the customary view that the Shiite were infidels).

Some contemporary Saudi ulema would regard such reforms as constituting almost a provocation against Wahhabist doctrines, or at the very least, another example of westernization. ISIS, for example, regards any who seek jurisdiction other than that offered by the Islamic State itself to be guilty of disbelief — since all such “other” jurisdictions embody innovation or “borrowings” from other cultures in its view.

The key political question is whether the simple fact of ISIS’ successes, and the full manifestation (flowering) of all the original pieties and vanguardism of the archetypal impulse, will stimulate and activate the dissenter ‘gene’ — within the Saudi kingdom.

If it does, and Saudi Arabia is engulfed by the ISIS fervor, the Gulf will never be the same again. Saudi Arabia will deconstruct and the Middle East will be unrecognizable.

“They hold up a mirror to Saudi society that seems to reflect back to them an image of ‘purity’ lost”

In short, this is the nature of the time bomb tossed into the Middle East. The ISIS allusions to Abd al-Wahhab and Juhayman (whose dissident writings are circulated within ISIS) present a powerful provocation: they hold up a mirror to Saudi society that seems to reflect back to them an image of “purity” lost and early beliefs and certainties displaced by shows of wealth and indulgence.

This is the ISIS “bomb” hurled into Saudi society. King Abdullah — and his reforms — are popular, and perhaps he can contain a new outbreak of Ikwhani dissidence. But will that option remain a possibility after his death?

And here is the difficulty with evolving U.S. policy, which seems to be one of “leading from behind” again — and looking to Sunni states and communities to coalesce in the fight against ISIS (as in Iraq with the Awakening Councils).

It is a strategy that seems highly implausible. Who would want to insert themselves into this sensitive intra-Saudi rift? And would concerted Sunni attacks on ISIS make King Abdullah’s situation better, or might it inflame and anger domestic Saudi dissidence even further? So whom precisely does ISIS threaten? It could not be clearer. It does not directly threaten the West (though westerners should remain wary, and not tread on this particular scorpion).

The Saudi Ikhwani history is plain: As Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab made it such in the 18th century; and as the Saudi Ikhwan made it such in the 20th century. ISIS’ real target must be the Hijaz — the seizure of Mecca and Medina — and the legitimacy that this will confer on ISIS as the new Emirs of Arabia.

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The truth is the ISIS phenomena became a very quick developing crisis where exactly a year ago, the concentration was only on the several factions fighting along the Western backed Free Syrian Army and the involvement of several ‘terrorist organisations’ namely the Al Qaeda in their attempt to topple Bashar Assad’s regime.

Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 00:01  Comments (11)  

(Not) Getting wiser after the event

Sedition Act

Sedition Act

In the wake of the recent public outcry for the support of doing away with the Article 15 of the Federal Constitution, the Sedition Act and equivalent vocal and thundering defence of the same act, Minister of Information, Communication and Multimedia Dato’ Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek assured that the new law would be a better one.

Bernama.com story:

Sedition Act to be replaced with comprehensive law

14 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 4:13 PM

SUNGAI BESAR: The current Sedition Act 1948 will be replaced with a new act which is more comprehensive, says Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

He said the act was needed to monitor writings and publications which could disrupt the harmony and unity among people of various races.

“As such, any seditious writing or words if not nipped in the bud, could lead to more serious problems,” he told reporters when asked to comment on calls by some quarters who wanted the act to be retained, while others wanted it repealed.

Ahmad Shabery said this after opening the Sungai Besar Umno division delegates meeting in Sekinchan here today.–BERNAMA

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In theory, the newly enacted laws should be better for the Malaysian society in moving forward and making the nation and her people better. However, that is not true for the Internal Security Act (ISA) which was repealed by the surprised announcement made on this day exactly three years ago.

Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 which came into affect on 22 June 2012 did not have the necessary ‘fangs’ for the security agencies particular the Ministry of Home Affairs, Royal Malaysian Police to ensure the protection of internal and homeland security and prevention of hedious crimes.

This include other law enforcement agencies such as Immigration Department, National Anti-Narcotics Task Force, Royal Malaysian Customs, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency, Malaysian Maritime Enfrocement Agency, Military Intelligence coupled with Attorney General’s Chambers  powers to prevent hedious crimes.

The Policemen brutally killed in the Lahad Datu and Semporna, March 2013

The February 2013 incursion of Sulu MILF bandits armed with military weapons in Kampung Tanduo near Lahad Datu, the brutal killings and cold blooded murder of Policemen in Kampung Simunul, Semporna, both in East Sabah.

This is on top of the incessant public killings and assassinations and increased activities related to drug processing, manufacturing, importation, exportation and distribution believed to be related to lords of the underworld criminal groups and vices released after the Emergency Ordinance was repealed together with the ISA.

This is reflective in the calls made by the Home Minister and Inspector General of the Police.

The sudden rise of serious and violent crimes related to the release of more than 2,500 detainees held under ISA and EO was felt across the board by Malaysians in all walks of life.

The Malay Mail Online story:

Former EO detainees involved in 67 violent crime cases
JULY 16, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 – Police have detected 67 violent crime cases committed by former detainees under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) 1969 over the first six months this year.

Bukit Aman Anti-Vice, Gambling and Secret Societies Division (D7) principal assistant director Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan said the number was a 100 per cent increase from the 33 cases detected in the corresponding period last year.

“The number of violent crime cases committed by former EO detainees has increased after 2,473 of them were released in July last year following the abolition of the EO in 2011.

“Among the violent crime committed by the former EO detainees are murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, criminal intimidation and rioting,” he said here today.

He said although the police were aware of the former detainees’ latest addresses, the police had no power to order or ensure that they would stay at the given addresses.

“Following release, some of them have to work and this forced them to move to other places. When opportunity exists like this, some of them may have returned to crime,” he said.
Abdul Jalil said police could only monitor them in terms of job movements, besides asking their families to inform the police of their whereabouts.

Recently, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported as saying that 90 per cent of serious crime were committed by former EO detainees released from Simpang Renggam Detention Centre.

Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police had given their input and suggestions to the ministry for the drafting of a new law to replace the EO. – Bernama

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This is not withstanding the fact during the campaign of the 13GE, Deputy Director General of Royal Customs Dato’ Shaharuddin Ibrahim was assassinated near Putrajaya Police HQ, on his way to work.

Without the ISA, the work to prevent anti-terrorism activities which include Malaysians suddenly became more uphill. Malaysians are being networked by international terrorist organisations such as cells of Al Qaeda to recruit gullible Malaysians for so called ‘Jihad’ fights, in places like Syria and Iraq.

They guised themselves through social media such as Facebook, blogs and Twitter to recruit, sow their ideology and issue instructions for cells to be activated. Pockets of Malaysians leave the country as ‘tourists’ or even some as ‘Umrah pilgrims’, with the intent to join all these terrorist organisations such as ISIL.

Today, it was reported about former PAS Kedah Information Chief Ahmad Lotfi and other members were killed recently in Syria for fighting for the so-called Islamic Jihadists in the rebellion against Bashar Assad’s legitimate government.

The Sun story:

Sacked PAS member Mohd Lofti killed in Syria

Former PAS Kedah Information Chief Lotfi, killed while fighting in Syria

Former PAS Kedah Information Chief Mohd. Lotfi Ariffin, killed while fighting in Syria

Posted on 15 September 2014 – 12:32am
Last updated on 15 September 2014 – 02:40am
Charles Ramendran
newsdesk@thesundaily.com
Print

KUALA LUMPUR: Sacked Kedah PAS information chief turned jihadist Mohd Lofti Ariffin (pix), who was seriously wounded in an air raid in Syria last week, died just days after slipping into a coma on Saturday.

The 46-year-old was among a group of Isis militants and other Malaysian jihadist engaged in a gun battle when Syrian military fighter jets bombed their location during the skirmish last Tuesday.

It is learnt that Malaysian authorities are aware of his death following intelligence reports received from their international counterparts.

It was also reported that Mohd Lofti’s older brother had confirmed the death of his sibling when contacted by the media.

It is learnt that another Malaysian, Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi Mohammad Khir, 21, was killed instantly during the air strike while another, identified only as Abu Afghan, was injured.

Mohammad Fadhlan, who was also from Kedah and the youngest among Malaysian jihadists in Syria, left to join the group in May.

Mohd Lofti, a father of eight children was last seen in Malaysia in January before he left for Syria without informing his family in Kuala Ketil.

He posted several photos of himself in military fatigues with other militants at a Syrian battlefield on Facebook revealing that he had joined a hardline Islamist group called “Ahrar al-Sham” to fight “Allah’s cause”.

PAS distanced itself from Mohd Lofti, condemning his participation in the Syrian civil war, before announcing his sacking from the party in May.

Mohd Lofti, who was the fourth Malaysian to be killed in Syria, had previously been involved in several other holy wars in other countries. He is said to have undergone extensive militant training during that time before heading to Syria where he was tasked to take charge of the Malaysian factions.

There are about 30 Malaysians including a family of four and five former detainees of the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) who are in Syria fighting the civil war alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) militants.

Malaysian police sources said it was highly unlikely the remains of locals killed in Syria will be repatriated here as the process was complicated and the cost of doing so is high.

Police are powerless in acting against those who leave for Syria or planned to do as these individuals leave the country on a “multi-point” air travel to avoid detection, sources told theSun.

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This include the first Malaysian suicide bomber. It is unsure how many Malaysians have been recruited to fight as terrorists in these rebellions, which have now become fashionable globally in the skewed guise and excuse for Islam.

The Malaysian Insider story:

More than 100 Malaysians still fighting in Syria and Iraq, say intelligence officers

BY LEE SHI-IAN

Published: 28 June 2014

Shia volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), taking part in a parade on a street in Kanaan, Diyala province. There are more than 100 Malaysian jihadists fighting for Isil, say the police. – Reuters pic, June 28, 2014.
Shia volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), taking part in a parade on a street in Kanaan, Diyala province. There are more than 100 Malaysian jihadists fighting for Isil, say the police. – Reuters pic, June 28, 2014.
More than 100 Malaysian radicals are in the Middle East fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), police revealed today.

The number is based on intelligence reports which Special Branch had received, a senior police officer from Bukit Aman told The Malaysian Insider.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officer said an accurate figure was difficult to estimate as there were many different routes to troubled Middle East countries.

On Tuesday, Wisma Putra released a statement saying 15 Malaysians had been killed in Syria while allegedly fighting for Isil, a splinter group of al-Qaeda seeking to set up an Islamic caliphate encompassing both Iraq and Syria.
Putrajaya is still waiting for confirmation on the “dead Malaysians” as it was difficult to ascertain the identities of the victims because of a lack of documentation.

“Those who have been detected travelling to Syria and Iraq to wage jihad come from different walks of life,” the police officer told The Malaysian Insider.

“Some are students, some hold regular jobs, some are school dropouts. They are easily influenced by ‘Internet clerics’.”

The police officer said unlike 10 years ago when militant sympathisers conducted their recruitment in religious schools, most of the recruitment now was online.

“Social media has emerged as a powerful tool for these groups to generate support and new manpower. There is also plenty of extremist material on the Internet.”

The police officer revealed there were many videos posted on the Internet which challenged Muslims to rethink their lifestyles.

“Are you willing to sacrifice the fat job you have got, the big car you have, the family you have? Are you willing to sacrifice this, for the sake of Allah?

“Definitely, if you sacrifice something for Allah, Allah will give you 700 times more than this,” the police officer quoted one of the videos.

“These are among the many videos available on the Internet used to influence youths and impressionable Malaysians.”

The police officer warned that Malaysians who participated in jihad abroad posed a threat to national security when they returned home.

“If any Malaysian is found to have participated in a Middle East jihad, they can be charged with promoting acts of terrorism,” the police officer revealed.

“Police have already detained about 16 people over the past two months for planning to participate in jihad in the Middle East.”

Isil, which has seized large swathes of territory in Iraq, is also fighting in Syria and has become a magnet for jihadists from Asia and Europe.

The Sunni insurgent group reportedly seized large amounts of weaponry from the Iraqi army which fled.

On Thursday, PAS revealed that it had sacked cleric Lotfi Ariffin last month after learning the latter had signed up with a militant group fighting in Syria. – June 28, 2014.

****************

It is very damning the problem of more Malaysians getting involved in global terrorism is getting chronic. It is not surprising at all very soon, this so called ‘Jihadist War’ would eventually reach our shores.

Not at the Al Maunah scale but much more lethal and damning proportions. Especially when these battle-hardened fighters with the tight and well networked international terrorist groups come back, as if they are tourists or even pilgrims wandering all over West and Central Asia for convenient excuse of “spiritual journey “of some sort.

The fact is that, ISA was designed for hedious crimes against the His Majesty, the Federation of Malaysia Constitution, His Majesty’s Government and law enforcement and security agencies and the defense of the realm.

Even immigration officers involved in the illegal sales and distribution of MyKads and passports and Royal Customs officers involved in smuggling activities were arrested and detained under ISA and EO.

The law enforcement system is already impaired without both laws and now the Malaysian Government wants to do away with the Sedition Act, the very law inacted and validated by the democratic system via the Parliament to ensure that individuals and pockets of notorious and obnoxious persons do not spew voracious and poisonous opinions that would enrage any groups within the Malaysian society.

These are the provisions as the most important bits of the Sedition Act:

Under section 3(1), those acts defined as having a seditious tendency are acts with a tendency:

“ (a) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government;
(b) to excite the subjects of the Ruler or the inhabitants of any territory governed by any government to attempt to procure in the territory of the Ruler or governed by the Government, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established;

(c) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Malaysia or in any State;

(d) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or of the Ruler of any State or amongst the inhabitants of Malaysia or of any State;

(e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia; or

(f) to question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of part III of the Federal constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution.

************

The fact is that sedition is an act of crime against Malaysian society. There are notorious individuals who continuously, systematically and structurally challenge and provoke sentiments and emotions of the majority, the law, Islam as the religion of the Federation of Malaysia and even the position and role of His Royal Highness Rulers and His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong, with voracious and poisonous opinion and uttering.

In in effort to do away with the Sedition Act now on top of throwing away the necessary laws such as ISA and EO which has been described by too many law enforcement professionals and analysts as “A big mistake”, may come as a compounded mistake. Considering there are growing pockets of notorious Malaysians which include the Bar Council that continuous challenge many sensitive matters and pushing the envelope further to the edge.

Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is very stern in his opposition against the doing away of the Sedition Act.

The nation lost its powerful tool to prevent and preserve the internal security three years ago today. Malaysians are on the brink of losing another one, where obnoxious individuals and groups could after this freely challenge insult the position and role of HRHs as the Constitutional Head of Islam and protector of the State Constitutions, Islam as the religion of the Federation of Malaysia in the pre-text of ‘Freedom of Speech’ and human rights.

53% of Malaysians are the Malays who proudly want status quo to be maintained and many of them are not shy in reciprocating against any attempts to demean the position and role of HRHs, specific provisions in the Federal Constitution and most of all, whenever Islam as the religion of the Federation of Malaysia is being challenged for what ever excuse or punt intended.

Any challenge against this in any form which include the skewed interpretation by professionals in intellectual discourses would just invite reciprocity by a large number of Malaysians who felt the matter is close to their heart as the role and position of ‘Islam as the religion of the Federation of Malaysia’ is a defining  provisions for the nation itself.

Until recent times, there have been little attempt to openly challenge the position and role of Islam as the religion of the Federation of Malaysia and HRHs as the Constitutional Head of Islam in their respective states. Hence the problem is escalating where as the tool to defend this is being threatened to be changed.

Article 3.1 & 3.2 of the Federal Constitution

Article 3.1 & 3.2 of the Federal Constitution

The challenge is if the Harmony Act which is supposed to be ‘more comprehensive’ compared the Sedition Act is unable to curb the growing challenges and insults against Islam, HRHs and the process to manage and bring matters pertaining to Islam through the Syariah High Court system. This would simply invite ill feeling of the majority and compounded, it could turn into something ugly.

In the complex but compelling reality, all the challenges and insults against the position and role of Islam and HRHs as the Constitution Head and Custodian of Islam could be portrayed and manipulated in the tone and perspective where Islam is being threatened. Compound this with frequency and intensity, then the battled-trained ‘Jihadists’ would eventually come out of the woodworks and network themselves to start a Jihad War here in Malaysia, which has now a major international problem in Syria, Iraq and India.

If it is not clear why Sedition Act needs to be maintained as status quo, then it is only apt to relate the famous quote by philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is as relevant today as it ever was.

Let us hope learning from past cock-ups isn’t a defective virtue identifiable to the Malaysian Government under Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s leadership. In the era of vast agenda of transformation, too much hope rest on Shabery’s statement in UMNO Sungai Besar Annual Division meeting.

*Updated 0900hrs

Published in: on September 15, 2014 at 00:01  Comments (32)  

Justice for a very hedious massacre and crime against humanity

An Italian paper carried a story how a pro-Russian Ukrainian militia officer admitted that their faction shot down a commercial airliner, believed to be Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER 9M-MRD designated an MH17 AMS-KUL on 17 July 2014 in East Ukraine.

Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera story dated 22 Aug 2014:

Esplora il significato del termine: How Malaysian Plane was Shot Down

Pro-Russian militiamen describe tragedy: “Superiors told us about plane carrying paratroopers from Kiev”

di Lorenzo Cremonesi in Ukraine

“We shot down a Kiev plane, our superiors told us. We thought we were looking for baled-out Ukrainian pilots but instead we found dead civilians”. The aftermath of the shooting down of the Malaysian Boeing from Amsterdam last Thursday, as told to the Corriere della Sera by a pro-Russian militiaman, is something of an eye-opener. Moscow claims there was a Ukrainian fighter in the area, Kiev denies this and Obama has called for investigations to go ahead without hindrance. Meanwhile, the remains of 282 of the 298 victims – 16 are unaccounted for – are in a refrigerated train waiting to set off for Holland.
“We thought we were going to fight but instead we found dead civilians”
“We thought we would have to fight baled out Ukrainian pilots but instead we found dead civilians. All those poor people with baggage that certainly wasn’t military”. We spoke to a militiaman from the Oplot (stronghold) combat unit at midday yesterday on the concrete platforms of Torez railway station. He was standing beside five rail wagons – four refrigerated and the fifth with the refrigeration unit’s diesel geneerators – containing the human remains collected among the sunflower fields in pro-Russian separatist-held Ukraine. His words are revealing because he spoke them quite naturally, without reflecting, after telling us about the international representatives’ recently completed inspection of the bodies and his unit’s orders to stand guard over the wagons. In its innocence and simplicity, the story is significant. In fact, it could provide new evidence for those who blame the pro-Russians for mistakenly launching the fatal missile under the impression that their target was a Ukrainian military aircraft.
“I was looking for a parachute and I found the body of a little girl”
“On Thursday afternoon, our commanders ordered us to get into the lorries with our weapons and plenty of ammunition. Perhaps ten minutes earlier, there had been a huge explosion in the sky. ‘We’ve just shot down one of the Kiev Fascists’ planes’, they told us, warning us to take care because at least some of the crew had reportedly baled out. White objects had been seen floating in the clouds. We might have had to fight to round them up”, the soldier explained. He had orders not to reveal his name or rank and neither would his Oplot companions. About ten militiamen were on the platform while the others stood guard on the track or on the edge of the village. My soldier told me he was thirty-one, lived in Torez and worked locally as a miner. He was happy to be photographed with the fresh seals on three of the wagons applied by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Two hundred and eighty-two bodies had been collected and the fourth wagon remained open to receive the last few. The soldier made a point of telling me the area was calm. “We’re doing a good job. The European inspectors said the bodies were satisfactorily conserved. The temperature inside the wagons is kept between 0 °C and -5 °C”, he told me, before continuing his account of the tragic day: “My men and I were looking for parachutes on the ground and in the trees. All of a sudden, I saw scraps of material in a clearing. Underneath I found the body of a little girl, who can’t have been more than five. She was lying face down. It was awful. That was when I realised it was a civilian plane. Not a military one. And all these dead people were civilians. A heap of burst suitcases confirmed it”. The Oplot unit has been at the site ever since. They were the first to be tasked with identifying the bodies and then kept watch over the wreckage of the Malaysian jet before guarding the mortuary wagons. Yet the militiamen showed no sense of guilt, contradicting their commander who supplied the official version. “Obviously, it wasn’t us that shot the jet down. We haven’t got missiles that reach that high. This crime was committed by the bandits who take orders from the Kiev government. One of their fighters could easily have shot down the Malaysian Airlines plane”, they point out.
Agreement for handover of bodies
The militiamen’s hostility to Kiev was accompanied yesterday afternoon by sporadic fighting at the airport and railway station in Donetsk, the separatists’ capital. At least four people were killed in the city centre, all of them near the station. As evening drew in, however, the tension appeared to ease. Bursts of gunfire ceased to echo in the streets. Crucially, an agreement was reached to hand over the bodies and the stricken aircraft’s black boxes in a deal clinched during a phone call between the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, and the self-proclaimed separatist prime minister, Alexander Boradai. It’s a solution that seemed to satisfy the pro-Russians, given that it leapfrogged the Kiev government. The refrigerated wagons with the remains of at least 282 bodies – the other sixteen are understood to have been destroyed in the blast – are due to move off during the night for Donetsk, and then the terminal at Kharhiv controlled by Ukrainian regular forces. The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has confirmed the agreement. This means that the remains and black boxes should be flown to Amsterdam in a Dutch C130 Hercules, escorted by a team of Danish and Dutch experts.
English translation by Giles WatsonHow Malaysian Plane was Shot Down
Pro-Russian militiamen describe tragedy: “Superiors told us about plane carrying paratroopers from Kiev”
di Lorenzo Cremonesi in Ukraine
shadow
“We shot down a Kiev plane, our superiors told us. We thought we were looking for baled-out Ukrainian pilots but instead we found dead civilians”. The aftermath of the shooting down of the Malaysian Boeing from Amsterdam last Thursday, as told to the Corriere della Sera by a pro-Russian militiaman, is something of an eye-opener. Moscow claims there was a Ukrainian fighter in the area, Kiev denies this and Obama has called for investigations to go ahead without hindrance. Meanwhile, the remains of 282 of the 298 victims – 16 are unaccounted for – are in a refrigerated train waiting to set off for Holland.
“We thought we were going to fight but instead we found dead civilians”
“We thought we would have to fight baled out Ukrainian pilots but instead we found dead civilians. All those poor people with baggage that certainly wasn’t military”. We spoke to a militiaman from the Oplot (stronghold) combat unit at midday yesterday on the concrete platforms of Torez railway station. He was standing beside five rail wagons – four refrigerated and the fifth with the refrigeration unit’s diesel geneerators – containing the human remains collected among the sunflower fields in pro-Russian separatist-held Ukraine. His words are revealing because he spoke them quite naturally, without reflecting, after telling us about the international representatives’ recently completed inspection of the bodies and his unit’s orders to stand guard over the wagons. In its innocence and simplicity, the story is significant. In fact, it could provide new evidence for those who blame the pro-Russians for mistakenly launching the fatal missile under the impression that their target was a Ukrainian military aircraft.
“I was looking for a parachute and I found the body of a little girl”
“On Thursday afternoon, our commanders ordered us to get into the lorries with our weapons and plenty of ammunition. Perhaps ten minutes earlier, there had been a huge explosion in the sky. ‘We’ve just shot down one of the Kiev Fascists’ planes’, they told us, warning us to take care because at least some of the crew had reportedly baled out. White objects had been seen floating in the clouds. We might have had to fight to round them up”, the soldier explained. He had orders not to reveal his name or rank and neither would his Oplot companions. About ten militiamen were on the platform while the others stood guard on the track or on the edge of the village. My soldier told me he was thirty-one, lived in Torez and worked locally as a miner. He was happy to be photographed with the fresh seals on three of the wagons applied by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Two hundred and eighty-two bodies had been collected and the fourth wagon remained open to receive the last few. The soldier made a point of telling me the area was calm. “We’re doing a good job. The European inspectors said the bodies were satisfactorily conserved. The temperature inside the wagons is kept between 0 °C and -5 °C”, he told me, before continuing his account of the tragic day: “My men and I were looking for parachutes on the ground and in the trees. All of a sudden, I saw scraps of material in a clearing. Underneath I found the body of a little girl, who can’t have been more than five. She was lying face down. It was awful. That was when I realised it was a civilian plane. Not a military one. And all these dead people were civilians. A heap of burst suitcases confirmed it”. The Oplot unit has been at the site ever since. They were the first to be tasked with identifying the bodies and then kept watch over the wreckage of the Malaysian jet before guarding the mortuary wagons. Yet the militiamen showed no sense of guilt, contradicting their commander who supplied the official version. “Obviously, it wasn’t us that shot the jet down. We haven’t got missiles that reach that high. This crime was committed by the bandits who take orders from the Kiev government. One of their fighters could easily have shot down the Malaysian Airlines plane”, they point out.
Agreement for handover of bodies
The militiamen’s hostility to Kiev was accompanied yesterday afternoon by sporadic fighting at the airport and railway station in Donetsk, the separatists’ capital. At least four people were killed in the city centre, all of them near the station. As evening drew in, however, the tension appeared to ease. Bursts of gunfire ceased to echo in the streets. Crucially, an agreement was reached to hand over the bodies and the stricken aircraft’s black boxes in a deal clinched during a phone call between the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, and the self-proclaimed separatist prime minister, Alexander Boradai. It’s a solution that seemed to satisfy the pro-Russians, given that it leapfrogged the Kiev government. The refrigerated wagons with the remains of at least 282 bodies – the other sixteen are understood to have been destroyed in the blast – are due to move off during the night for Donetsk, and then the terminal at Kharhiv controlled by Ukrainian regular forces. The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has confirmed the agreement. This means that the remains and black boxes should be flown to Amsterdam in a Dutch C130 Hercules, escorted by a team of Danish and Dutch experts.
English translation by Giles Watson

************

This matter must be investigated with highest urgency. The downing of a commercial airliner by the use of deadly force is a nothing but a massacre and hedious crime against humanity.

The international community must quickly come united to resolve this claim and get justice for the 298 innocent civilian souls perished on that fateful late summer afternoon.

It is a real test of dealing with a 21st century armed struggle where separatists are armed with highly sophisticated weapons that already caused civilian carrier downed in tragedy.

Published in: on August 23, 2014 at 01:00  Comments (7)  

The Chief strikes back, Pt VII

Messrs. Bon & Associates representing MB Selangor Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim filed a complaint with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) for wrongful dismissal from PKR as a party, which would eventually see the party formed for the struggle of Anwar Ibrahim’s interests be deregistered.

Renown lawyer New Sin Yew of the legal firm representing Khalid told some mainstream media journos at a Hari Raya Open House in Kuala Lumpur earlier tonight.

Khalid felt that he was wronged in the decision of the sacking made by the PKR Leadership Council and breached its own party constitution. The process of the sacking via improper inception of the Disciplinary Board had breached the party constitution, which was felt flawed and illegal.

Hence, the illegal breach of the party’s own constitution should brought upon the implication of the political organisation of being deregistered by the ROS.

“Khalid is firm and consistent right from Day One about his sacking from PKR is against the principle of natural process of justice and it was flawed and unlawful”, said New based on the principle of Nullum crimen sine lege.

Many PKR supporters attacked pro-Opposition lawyer Bon for defying party interests and provided Khalid legal representation, in the political impasse which was created by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to ascend as MB Selangor, as a staging platform for his morbid desire to conquer Putrajaya.

When the Court of Appeal in January 2014 decided against the Kuala Lumpur High Court of acquitting him from Sodomy II in January two years ago, he created the ‘Kajang Move’ and pitted his wife and PKR President Wan Azizah Wan Ismail instead for the top job in the most wealthiest and populous state.

However, the argument was rebutted by many legal professionals.

The Star story:

Published: Friday August 15, 2014 MYT 1:17:00 PM
Updated: Friday August 15, 2014 MYT 7:13:14 PM

Selangor MB crisis: ‘Bon has done no wrong in defending Khalid’

BY TAN YI LIANG
PETALING JAYA: Lawyers have come out on blogs and social media to defend Edmund Bon representing embattled Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in his defamation suit against The Malaysian Insider.

According to them, Bon has not done anything wrong by acting for Khalid.

According to a post by lawyer Khabir Dhillon on the legal affairs blog LoyarBurok on Thursday, those who said that Bon sold out his principles by taking up Khalid’s defamation brief against online portal The Malaysian Insider were “silly”.

“An essential ingredient of defamation is that the statement complained of must be false. If the statement complained of is true, there is no defamation. Edmund as a lawyer does not know whether the statement complained of is true or false. Only his client, Khalid, knows,” said Khabir.

Khabir, in his post, added that Bon would only be guilty of a crime or disciplinary wrong if he issued a letter of demand against The Malaysian Insider if he knew the instructions he was receiving from his client, Khalid, were false.

He said that Bon was legally obliged to take the brief if there was no conflict of interest, practices in the area of defamation law, and that Khalid agrees to pay a reasonable price for Bon’s work.

“We cannot expect Bon to simply dismiss his client’s instructions as false and refuse to take the brief. That would actually be a disciplinary wrong and Bon would be subject to censure,” said Khabir.

He questioned what would have happened if lawyers were allowed to take and refuse cases at their own whims and fancies, reminding them of the cab-rank rule.

“It would be like living in a country where the taxi drivers can choose whether to take their customers or not! That’s so third-world-nation, dudes. He’s just following the Common Law as it truly is and acting with common sense,” said Khabir.

Similar views were shared by criminal defence lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad who said in a post on his Facebook page, Thursday, that he felt it was improper for anyone to question Khalid’s lawyers on their motives for defending the Selangor Mentri Besar.

“We must understand that a lawyer has a duty to represent anyone, even the most despicable person, provided there is no conflict of interest. It is the lawyer’s role to present the client’s perspective zealously within the bounds of law and ethics,” said Amer.

He described a lawyer as being akin to a surgeon in an operating room whose only goal is to save the patient, whether that patient is a good person or a bad person, a saint or a criminal, requiring a lawyer to subordinate all other interests – ideological, career, personal – to the legitimate interest of the client.

“In respect of the the Selangor Mentri Besar crisis, Khalid is entitled to file any legal action against any individual, institution and/or organisation whom he feels had infringed on his rights. Of course, one may question his motives or moves for doing so. One may even disagree with him,” said Amer.

****************

Bon first came into the light when PKR Disciplinary Board Chairman Dato’ Dr Tan Kee Kwong issued Khalid a showcase letter and the latter responded. Then PKR Central Leadership met on 9 August 2014 and unanimously sacked Khalid from PKR.

As a response, Khalid send a letter via Bon’s firm to protest against the sacking and complained the action to be unjust and unlawful.

If PKR Leacership Council erred in the sacking of Khalid as a member, then this complaint by the PKR’s star choice to lead the Selangor State Government after the unholy-marriage-of-(in)convenience-between-backstabbing-strange-bedfellows gained control in five state governments after the 12GE would open the party to be investigated.

 

Published in: on August 15, 2014 at 23:30  Comments (10)  

Double standards

US Navy F/A-18F similar like this one dropped laser guided missiles onto ISIL positions near Erbul

US Navy F/A-18F similar like this one dropped laser guided missiles onto ISIL positions near Erbul

US Forces started to launch air strike against ISIL militant artillery batteries in North Iraq, which recently shelled into Kurdish and Yazidi positions.

BBC story:

 

8 August 2014 Last updated at 13:13

US launches Iraq militant air strike

The US says it has launched an air strike against militants from the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.

The Pentagon said American aircraft attacked artillery that was being used against Kurdish forces defending the northern city of Irbil.

President Barack Obama authorised air strikes on Thursday, but said he would not send US troops back to Iraq.

The Sunni Muslim group IS, formerly known as Isis, now has control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

In June, IS took control of the city of Mosul. Its fighters seized Qaraqosh, Iraq’s biggest Christian town, earlier this week.

‘Carefully and responsibly’
According to the Pentagon statement, two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery near Irbil.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said IS had been using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Irbil, where US personnel are based.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Obama said the Iraqi government had requested assistance and the US would act “carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide” against the Yazidi and Christian communities – both minority groups in Iraq.

Dr Marzio Babille, Unicef’s representative in Iraq, said the Yazidis were in an extremely precarious situation because of the “very aggressive and brutal” IS militants.

He said there were many “logistical and strategic difficulties”, but added that a humanitarian corridor needed to be established.

*****************

The Sunni hardliners militant group recently threatened with ready force onto many minority groups and the Shiite majority and gave them ultimatum to follow them, as these ISIL fighters began to occupy towns in North Iraq.

Multinational volunteers of their interpretation of Jihad, ISIL intended to install a hardline Sunni government in Iraq.

Israeli Merkava tanks prepared to push into densely populated districts in Gaza

Israeli Merkava tanks prepared to push into densely populated districts in Gaza

However, there was no consistency when Israeli Forces started shelling into civilian population in the second half of Ramadhan. Even when Israeli Forces committed infantry and heavy armoured units deep into Gaza, in the Zionist excuse of destroying Hamas militant units.

United States did very little when the Israeli Forces were brutally conducting massacre of 1,800 Gazans within three weeks and almost completely destroyed several villages. What is more shocking as infrastructure and essential services supply include water and electricity were completely obliterated to the 1.5 million Palestinians who have been living as refugees since 66 years ago, the Americans just lip service.

The Guardian UK story:

US ‘appalled’ by ‘disgraceful’ Israeli shelling of Gaza UN school

Agencies in Washington
theguardian.com, Sunday 3 August 2014 19.51 BST
Rafah UN school strike
Men inspect dead and wounded Palestinians outside a UN-run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sunday. Photograph: APAimages/REX
The United States said on Sunday it was “appalled” by the “disgraceful” shelling by Israel of a United Nations school sheltering some 3,000 displaced people in southern Gaza.

In language that was rare in its directness and severity, the US denounced the attack which occurred earlier in the day and killed 10 people, noting that the school had been designated a protected location and the Israel Defense Forces had been informed numerous times of the school’s coordinates.

The State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, called on Israel to do “more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties”.

“The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least 10 more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed,” Psaki said in a statement.

On Wednesday, at least 15 Palestinians who sought refuge in a UN-run school in Jabalya refugee camp were killed, and the UN said Israeli artillery had apparently hit the building. The Israeli military said gunmen had fired mortar bombs from near the school and it shot back in response.

The US called that attack “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”.

Psaki said UN facilities should not be used as bases from which to launch attacks.

“The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians,” she said.

The US condemnation followed similar words one by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who said the shelling near the Rafah school was “a moral outrage and a criminal act”.

On Friday, answering questions in a White House briefing, President Barack Obama condemned Hamas’s then-reported abduction of an Israeli soldier – since reported by the Israeli army to have been killed, not abducted – but also said: “We must be clear that innocent civilians in Gaza caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience and we have to do more to protect them.”

The fighting on Sunday pushed the Gaza death toll given by Palestinian officials to 1,775, most of them civilians. Israel has confirmed that 64 of its soldiers have died in combat, while three civilians have been killed in Israel.

******************

US Secretary of State John Kerry described the ISIL Forces against the Shiites, Yazidis and Christians as “Its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide”.

BBC story:

John Kerry: IS campaign in Iraq is a ‘wake-up call’

2 hours ago

The US has launched an air strike against militants from the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.

The strike comes after IS, formerly known as Isis, took control of large areas of Iraq and Syria, driving minority groups from their homes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry described the IS “campaign of terror” as a wake-up call: “Its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide”.

****************

Distraught Gazan fathers and elders over their dead children, as a result of incessant and indiscriminate Israeli shelling into civilian population

The Israeli Forces were the ones which committed brutal deadly force against civilian Gazans, which tantamount nothing but genocide. The tragedy is heart wrenching when children were amongst those brutally murdered in these incessant shelling and bombing.

The New York Times story:

Israel’s Supporters Try to Come to Terms With the Killing of Children in Gaza

AUG. 7, 2014

Four children, three boys and a girl, all under the age of 8, were killed by an Israeli attack in Gaza City on July 17.

Credit Tyler Hicks/The
By ROBERT MACKEY

While the precise number of civilians killed in Israel’s monthlong bombardment of Gaza is once again the subject of a debate, outrage over the hundreds of Palestinian children killed has been expressed by partisans on both sides of the conflict.

The two sides differ sharply, however, over the question of who is ultimately to blame for the Israeli strikes that killed, according to a count from Unicef, 400 children and wounded over 2,500 more.

An interview with an 8-year-old Palestinian boy who was injured in an Israeli missile attack on Gaza last month. Unicef, via YouTube
For supporters of the Palestinian cause — as well as senior United Nations officials and some foreign correspondents who observed the carnage at close range — Israel’s military bears responsibility for firing shells and missiles that took so many young lives.

Palestinians evacuating a survivor after an Israeli airstrike hit a family building in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sunday.Israeli Procedure Reignites Old DebateAUG. 7, 2014

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said most deaths could have been avoided had Hamas accepted an earlier cease-fire.Israeli Premier Voices Regret for Civilian Casualties, but Blames HamasAUG. 6, 2014
Palestinian business leaders said Israeli artillery damaged many of Gaza’s most successful industrial plants, including this biscuit factory in Deir al-Balah.Conflict Leaves Industry in Ashes and Gaza Reeling From Economic TollAUG. 6, 2014
The body of a child in the morgue at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, six infants under age 1 were killed during Israeli military operations.Civilian or Not? New Fight in Tallying the Dead From the Gaza ConflictAUG. 5, 2014
But many Israelis and their supporters abroad, forced to grapple with the moral implications of backing a military campaign against guerrilla fighters embedded in a densely populated area, have embraced the rationale offered by Israel’s government that Islamist militants are guilty of provoking the carnage by launching missiles from residential neighborhoods.
“Every civilian casualty is a tragedy, a tragedy of Hamas’s own making,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday. He did not address the objection, raised by some of his critics, that Israel’s own military command center is close to a Tel Aviv hospital.

Not all Israel’s supporters agree. “A provocation does not relieve one of accountability for how one responds to it,” Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, wrote on Wednesday, echoing an argument made last month by the Palestinian-American legal scholar George Bisharat. “For this reason,” Mr. Wieseltier added, “the war has filled me with disquiet, which my sympathetic understanding of Israel’s position has failed to stifle.”

Mr. Wieseltier then reminded his readers that “On the Slaughter,” a poetic meditation on a bloody pogrom in czarist Russia cited by Israel’s prime minister last month after the killing of three Jewish teenagers by Islamist militants, argued explicitly that the the killing of children was an unfathomable outrage. “After all, even Satan has not yet devised the proper vengeance for the death of a child,” he wrote, paraphrasing the Hebrew poet Hayim Nahman Bialik.

“I have been surprised by the magnitude of the indifference in the Jewish world to the human costs of Israel’s defense against the missiles and the tunnels,” Mr. Wieseltier wrote. “Some of the emails I have received have been lunatic in their lack of compassion. According to a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, 95 percent of Jewish Israelis believe the war in Gaza is just. It is easy to see why: Self-defense is also a moral duty. But only 4 percent believe that the Israeli military has used excessive force. This makes me queasy.”

Asked to explain how an offensive that has claimed so many lives is nonetheless supported in Israel, Eva Illouz, a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told the German magazine Der Spiegel: “Israelis have a strong sense of their own moral superiority. ‘We ask people to get out of their houses; we call them on the phone to make sure civilians are evacuated. We behave humanly,’ the Israeli thinks. An army with good manners.”

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Most of her fellow citizens, Ms. Illouz added, “judge by the intention, whereas the world judges by the consequences.”

Others, including the Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, have attempted to draw a bright line between Israel’s conduct and that of Hamas and other militant groups who stand accused of using Gaza’s children as “human shields.” In an essay printed this week in the pages of major American newspapers, including The New York Times, as a paid advertisement, Mr. Wiesel invoked the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac to accuse the Islamist fighters of practicing a form of “child sacrifice.”

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Though that faith-based advertising campaign, paid for by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Values Network, was endorsed by Israel’s foreign ministry, even some supporters of the military campaign remain unconvinced by the argument that Israel is free of blame for the death of Gaza’s children.

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David Landau, a former editor of the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz, who supported a ground invasion of Gaza, argued forcefully that the inevitable killing of civilians in aerial bombardment made that part of the operation a violation of a principle of Halakha, or Jewish religious law. Specifically, he said, there is a “ruling based on the Talmud,” which holds “that the defense of ‘something unintended’ does not apply in cases where a sinful outcome is inevitable.”

Referring to a Jewish moral tale about a farmer who chopped off the head of a chicken not to kill it but to give his child something to play with, Mr. Landau wrote: “Like the lopped chicken’s head, there is no defense of no intent when the unintended offense is inevitable. The record shows the death and wounding of noncombatants as virtually inevitable in the bombing of the crowded Gaza Strip.”

The Israeli government’s accusation that Islamist militants knowingly used Gaza’s civilians as shields has been disputed by Palestinians. Noura Erakat, a Palestinian-American legal scholar at George Mason University, insisted in a televised debate with Amos Guiora, an Israeli-American professor of law at the University of Utah, that there was simply no evidence for that contention.
Noura Erakat and Amos Guiora debated the legal and moral implications of the fighting in Gaza last month. PBS NewsHour, via YouTube
Ms. Erakat has also argued that “Israel does not have the right to self-defense in international law against occupied Palestinian territory.” (Israel’s argument that it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip has been dismissed by some scholars like Lisa Hajjar of the University of California, who has called it “a self-generated ‘license to kill.’”)

Still, the accusation that Hamas used children as shields has become so widely accepted by many supporters of Israel that it has given rise to crude speculation, like the conspiracy theory that four boys killed on a Gaza beach last month by Israeli shelling were sent to their deaths by ruthless militants hoping to tarnish Israel’s reputation. In an interview on Israeli television last week that was shared by Israel’s defenders, the American comedian Joan Rivers repeated that unsubstantiated claim.
Joan Rivers discussed the conflict in Gaza on Israeli television last week. Channel 10 Israel, via YouTube
The day after Ms. Rivers’s interview, an Australian editorial cartoon depicted a militant putting a child in danger for the benefit of public relations.
The bombing campaign and the indelible images of dead children have alienated some otherwise staunch defenders of Israel. Louise Mensch, a conservative British politician with a large Twitter following and a track record of support for Israel, was so distressed by the conduct of the Gaza campaign that she lambasted the Israeli government last weekend.
Ms. Mensch, whose husband is Jewish, even suggested that Mr. Netanyahu — who told CNN that Hamas had baited Israel into killing civilians to “use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause” — should undertake a closer study of his faith’s ethical teachings if he felt no responsibility for children killed by Israeli shelling as they played hide-and-seek on a beach.

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It is obvious the so called champions of ‘democracy and human rights’ are grossly inconsistent, hypocrites and practice morbid double standards.

*Updated midnight

Published in: on August 8, 2014 at 20:30  Comments (3)  

Butchers taking a breather

The “Butchers of Gaza” Israeli Forces had to hold back on their massacre of Palestinians at Gaza because a third United Nations sponsored school was bombed.

The Guardian UK story:

Israel calls partial truce amid outrage at third strike on UN school

• Troop withdrawal under way in Gaza with ceasefire called for Monday
• UN chief Ban Ki-moon tells Israel to ‘end this madness’ after bombardment kills at least 10 people and injures dozens

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem and Jason Burke in Rafah
The Guardian, Sunday 3 August 2014 19.56 BST

 

Palestinian men carry an injured man following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Rex Features

Palestinian men carry an injured man following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Rex Features

A third deadly attack on a United Nations school sheltering people fleeing bombardment in Gaza was strongly condemned by both the UN and the US on Sunday, with UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, calling it a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and pleading for an end to “this madness”.

The Israeli defence ministry said on Sunday night that Israel would hold a truce in most of Gaza for seven hours on Monday for humanitarian aid and to allow displaced Palestinians to return to their homes, but would fight back if attacked.

The humanitarian truce, beginning at 10am (0700 GMT), would not apply in areas of Rafah, the ministry said, because Israeli forces are remaining on the ground in and around the southern Gaza town to destroy a cross-border tunnel.

The US said it was appalled by the “disgraceful” school attack, which killed at least 10 people and injured dozens just days after the shelling of two other UN schools in Gaza caused international shock and anger.

A hospital near the site of the attack, in the southern town of Rafah, was overwhelmed with the dead and injured. Children’s bodies were stored in an ice-cream freezer as the morgue ran out of room.

It was, said Ban, “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities”. He called for a swift investigation, saying “those responsible [must be] held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.”

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) had been “repeatedly informed of the location of these sites”, Ban added.

In an unusually severe statement, the US state department called on Israel to do “more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties”.

The Israeli military was investigating the incident, said a spokesman, but preliminary inquiries had shown that its forces were “targeting a number of terrorists on a motorbike near the school, and we did identify a successful hit on a motorbike. We do not target schools. We certainly do not target civilians. We are still reviewing the incident.”

The attack came as Israeli forces began withdrawing most troops from Gaza in what the military described as a “new phase” in the 28-day conflict. Air strikes and shelling continued alongside the troop redeployment and Hamas continued to launch rockets at Israel.

“The troops are in the midst of a redeployment to other parts of the border,” said IDF spokesman Lt-Col Peter Lerner. “We are releasing troops from the frontline but the mission is ongoing. Ground forces are operating. Air forces are operating.”

Troops were “extremely close” to completing a mission to destroy Hamas’s network of attack tunnels, he said. The IDF had “a rapid reaction force on the ground that can engage Hamas if required”.

Residents of some areas of Gaza, who had been warned to evacuate, were told they could return to their homes. The IDF has dropped leaflets in parts of Gaza telling residents to “tell your hidden leaders the battle is over” and that “all members and leaders of Hamas and other terrorist movements are unsafe”.

Residents, who reported limited shelling overnight in the northern areas, were reluctant to return to their homes following the breakdown of previous ceasefires.

Israeli analysts said that Israel was effecting a unilateral winding down of the military operation rather than engage in truce negotiations with Hamas. Yossi Melman, a respected commentator, wrote in Ma’ariv: “After 27 days of fighting and 63 IDF soldiers killed—the war is over … It is a unilateral political decision that is based on a military assessment. The IDF will deploy along defensive lines in a security zone inside the Gaza Strip and, at the same time, will reduce the number of troops and redeploy many of them in staging grounds inside Israel.”.

Despite the truce, the international community is likely to be alarmed at Israel bypassing negotiations. Political leaders and senior diplomats have repeatedly stressed that the two sides must address and resolve underlying issues that led to the current conflict to break the cycle of violence.

Efforts to forge a truce resumed in Cairo on Sunday, with Middle East envoy Tony Blair and US special envoy Frank Lowenstein flying in, along with a Palestinian delegation which included representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main militant groups in Gaza.

Israel declined to send a team to join the talks, , an indication that it wants to proceed on its own terms, diminishing prospects for an early breakthrough.

Among demands tabled by the Palestinians were an end to the blockade of Gaza, extending the permitted fishing zone at sea and the removal of the no-go buffer zone inside the border, as well as the rehabilitation of Gaza, emergency aid and a release of prisoners.

As diplomats prepared for talks in Cairo, the funeral took place of Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old soldier whom Israel originally said had been captured by Hamas during an attack near Rafah on Friday. Hamas denied it was holding the soldier. Israel retaliated for the attack – in which two other soldiers were killed – with massive bombardment of the area.

In a statement issued on Saturday night, the IDF said Goldin had been killed in battle, bringing the number of soldiers killed to 64. It also confirmed he was related to the defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas’s spokesman in Gaza, told reporters: “Israel tricked and deceived the world when it claimed a soldier had been abducted and then admitted that he had actually been killed in battle in Rafah. It did this only in order to breach the 72-hour ceasefire agreed upon with the UN and the US, in order to commit massacre in Rafah.”

Praising the soldier as a “great hero”, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told Goldin’s parents: “I hope that you will find consolation in the fact that he fell to uphold the people of Israel in the struggle for our independence.”

The UN warned of a rapidly unfolding health disaster in Gaza, with overwhelmed medical services on the verge of collapse. It said a third of hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics and 29 ambulances had been damaged in the fighting, at least five medical staff had been killed on duty and more than 40% of medical staff were unable to get to places of work.

Critical supplies of medicines and other supplies were almost depleted and damage and destruction of power supplies had left hospitals dependent on unreliable generators.

The Palestinian death toll passed 1,750, 80% of whom are civilians, according to UN estimates. About 460,000 people have been displaced since the start of the conflict.

The UN said many were “now living in overcrowded conditions in schools, with relatives or in makeshift shelters. This, coupled with lack of inadequate water and sanitation, poses serious risks of outbreak of waterborne and communicable diseases.”

Meanwhile, a statement signed by the EU and European commission presidents on behalf of 28 member states has called on Israel and Hamas to “immediately stop” hostilities and condemned the loss of life.

“The bloodshed needs to stop. We deplore the terrible loss of lives, including innocent women and children,” it said, saying Gaza residents were suffering “intolerable violence”. It also called the continued rocket fire by Hamas “an unacceptable threat” to Israeli citizens.

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It is tragedy that the world is lacklustre on this obvious hedious crime against humanity of Palestinian genocide.

Published in: on August 4, 2014 at 12:30  Comments (2)  

Nentanyahu’s Butchery

The ultimate arrogance of the zionists in their zest to butcher the unarmed civilian Palestianians in Gaza, mainly women and children is demonstrated when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu telling off the American allies in the midst of international outcry against the merciless slaughter. So far over 1,700 souls perished in 17 days of brutal military operation.

The Daily Main online story:

Netanyahu warns the US: Do not ‘ever second guess me again’ on Hamas

The Israeli Prime Minister hit out after a truce was broken Friday morning
In a phone call with U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Netanyahu vented
He said Washington should trust his judgment on how to deal with Hamas
He now ‘expected’ the U.S. and other countries to fully support Israel’s offensive in Gaza
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
PUBLISHED: 09:10 GMT, 2 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:37 GMT, 2 August 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the White House not to force a truce with Palestinian militants on Israel following the quick collapse of the cease-fire in Gaza,
Sources familiar with conversations between Netanyahu and senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, say the Israeli leader advised the Obama administration ‘not to ever second guess me again’ on the matter.
The officials also said Netanyahu said he should be ‘trusted’ on the issue and about the unwillingness of Hamas to enter into and follow through on cease-fire talks.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, at the cabinet meeting at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv on Thursday. On a phone call with the US Ambassador Friday, shortly after a cease fire was broken, he vented his anger and said he expects US support on how he chooses to deal with Hamas
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, at the cabinet meeting at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv on Thursday. On a phone call with the US Ambassador Friday, shortly after a cease fire was broken, he vented his anger and said he expects US support on how he chooses to deal with Hamas
The Obama administration on Friday condemned ‘outrageous’ violations of an internationally brokered Gaza cease-fire by Palestinian militants and called the apparent abduction of an Israeli soldier a ‘barbaric’ action.
The strong reaction came as top Israeli officials questioned the effort to forge the truce, accusing the U.S. and the United Nations of being naive in assuming the radical Hamas movement would adhere with its terms.

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The officials also blamed the Gulf state of Qatar for not forcing the militants to comply.
With the cease-fire in tatters fewer than two hours after it took effect with an attack that killed two Israeli troops and left a third missing, President Barack Obama demanded that those responsible release the soldier.
Obama and other U.S. officials did not directly blame Hamas for the abduction. But they made clear they hold Hamas responsible for, or having influence over, the actions of all factions in the Gaza Strip.
The language was a distinct change from Thursday when Washington was focused on the deaths of Palestinian civilians.
‘If they are serious about trying to resolve this situation, that soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible,’ Obama told reporters.
President Barack Obama spoke on Friday afternoon, in part about he Middle East. His administration condemned ‘outrageous’ violations of an internationally brokered Gaza cease-fire by Palestinian militants and called the apparent abduction of an Israeli soldier a ‘barbaric’ action
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President Barack Obama spoke on Friday afternoon, in part about he Middle East. His administration condemned ‘outrageous’ violations of an internationally brokered Gaza cease-fire by Palestinian militants and called the apparent abduction of an Israeli soldier a ‘barbaric’ action
He added that it would be difficult to revive the cease-fire without the captive’s release.
‘It’s going to be very hard to put a cease-fire back together again if Israelis and the international community can’t feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a cease-fire commitment,’ he said. His comment reflected uncertainty in the U.S. and elsewhere that Hamas was actually responsible for the incident or if some other militant group was to blame.
At the same time, Obama called the situation in Gaza ‘heartbreaking’ and repeated calls for Israel to do more to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties.
Despite the collapse of the truce, Obama credited Kerry for his work with the United Nations to forge one. He lamented criticism and ‘nitpicking’ of Kerry’s attempts and said the effort would continue.
Kerry negotiated the truce with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon in a marathon session of phone calls over several days while he was in India on an official visit.
Kerry had spent much of the past two weeks in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and France trying to mediate a cease-fire with Qatar and Turkey playing a major role because of their close ties with Hamas.
A Palestinian supporter of Hamas holds the Quran as others shout slogans against the Israeli military action in Gaza, during a demonstration in the West Bank town of Tulkarem town on Friday
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A Palestinian supporter of Hamas holds the Quran as others shout slogans against the Israeli military action in Gaza, during a demonstration in the West Bank town of Tulkarem town on Friday
Man tinkers with unexploded Israeli shell after bombardment

Those efforts failed with Israel saying it could not trust Hamas and some Israelis and American pro-Israel groups complaining that the U.S. was treating the group — a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the State Department — as a friend.
Late Thursday, however, Israel accepted Kerry and Ban’s latest proposal, despite its reservations. Once the truce was violated, though, Israeli officials hit out at not only Hamas, but the United States and Qatar for its failure.
An Israeli official said the Netanyahu government viewed both Hamas and Qatar as having violated the commitment given to the U.S. and the U.N. and that it expected the international community to take practical steps as part of a ‘strong and swift response,’ especially regarding the return of the abducted soldier.
In a phone call with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Netanyahu vented his anger, according to people familiar with the call.
Netanyahu told Shapiro the Obama administration was ‘not to ever second-guess me again’ and that Washington should trust his judgment on how to deal with Hamas, according to the people.
Netanyahu added that he now ‘expected’ the U.S. and other countries to fully support Israel’s offensive in Gaza, according to those familiar with the call.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name.
They said Netanyahu made similar points to Kerry, who himself denounced the attack as ‘outrageous,’ saying it was an affront to assurances to respect the cease-fire given to the United States and United Nations, which brokered the truce.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2713967/Netanyahu-US-Dont-second-guess-Hamas.html#ixzz39I73cLWl
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Even Jewish British politician Ed Milliband is attacking British Prime Minister David Cameron for the nonchalant attitude on the incessant but heavily indiscriminate massacre of Palestinian population in Gaza.

Another Daily Mail online story:

Miliband and PM in war of words over Gaza conflict: Accused Cameron of ‘silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians’

 

Ed Miliband accused Cameron of ‘silence’ regarding death of Palestians
Remarks sparked angry response from Downing Street amid claims Prime Minister’s views had been misrepresented
Labour leader has called on UK Government to condemn the escalating violence on both sides

By BRENDAN CARLIN, MAIL ON SUNDAY POLITICAL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 23:31 GMT, 2 August 2014 | UPDATED: 23:31 GMT, 2 August 2014

Ed Miliband last night sparked a furious political row over the conflict in Gaza by accusing David Cameron of ‘silence’ regarding the death of Palestinian civilians.
In an outspoken statement, Mr Miliband said Mr Cameron’s ‘silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel’s military action will be inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally’.
The remarks sparked an angry response from Downing Street, with aides accusing the Labour leader of misrepresenting Mr Cameron’s views.
David Cameron, pictured, was accused by Ed Miliband of ‘silence’ regarding the death of Palestinian civilians
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David Cameron, pictured, was accused by Ed Miliband of ‘silence’ regarding the death of Palestinian civilians
The No 10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has been clear that both sides in the conflict need to observe a ceasefire.
‘We are shocked that Ed Miliband would seek to misrepresent that position and play politics with such a serious issue.’

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‘If we don’t get our soldier back we should start levelling Gaza': Palestinians face new wave of bloodshed as ceasefire breaks down after Israeli soldier is ‘kidnapped by Hamas’
Mr Miliband stressed that he was ‘a supporter of Israel’ but branded its military actions in the past two weeks as ‘wrong and unjustifiable’.
He called on the UK Government ‘as a whole’ to condemn the escalating violence on both sides.
Yesterday, in the 26th day of the conflict, Israel carried out fresh attacks on Gaza while militants launched more rockets into Israel as a hunt continues for missing Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin.
The remarks by Ed Miliband, pictured, sparked an angry response from Downing Street, with aides accusing the Labour leader of misrepresenting Mr Cameron¿s views
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The remarks by Ed Miliband, pictured, sparked an angry response from Downing Street, with aides accusing the Labour leader of misrepresenting Mr Cameron’s views
Palestinian officials said 55 people had died in Israeli strikes on Saturday, most in Rafah. Some 1,655 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 66 Israelis, all but three soldiers, have so far died.
Last night Israeli officials said they would not attend truce talks in Cairo, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation in Gaza would continue ‘if required’ after the demolition of Hamas’s tunnels.
So far some 31 tunnels have been destroyed under the border with Israel.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2714441/Miliband-PM-war-words-Gaza-conflict-Accused-Cameron-silence-killing-hundreds-innocent-Palestinian-civilians.html#ixzz39IA9sg2q
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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Seasoned British politician Lord Paddy Ashdown felt the extreme Israeli Forces handedness against the Palestinians in Gaza would escalate the problem further.

The Daily Mirror story:

Gaza crisis: Paddy Ashdown brands Israel’s attacks ‘foolish and disproportionate’

Aug 02, 2014 11:24 By Nina Massey
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Lord Ashdown also said that neither side could simply ‘blast their way to victory’
Flynet / BarcroftLord Ashdown’s says Israel and Hamas need to sit down and talk
Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown has branded Israel’s attacks on Gaza as “foolish” and “disproportionate”, saying both sides need to talk to each other.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the peace envoy also said that neither side could simply “blast their way to victory”.

He compared the situation to the conflicts in Bosnia and Northern Ireland where peace deals had been brokered.

Lord Ashdown said: “Neither side can blast their way to victory, so there is only one way to get peace now, and that is for the sides to sit down and start talking to each other.

“Hamas has to be at the table. Who’s firing the rockets? It’s Hamas, and so you have to talk to them… If an individual or an organisation has the support of the people who it represents, in the end you have to talk to them. We had to talk to the IRA, for goodness’ sake.”

Lord Ashdown also said there was “no question” that Israel’s military action was “disproportionate”, telling the show: “Is it disproportionate? Yes it is, there’s no question about it.

“Israel makes the excuse that because weapons are being fired from civilian areas, it’s entitled to use indiscriminate total force against civilian areas. No you’re not.”

He added that had British troops retaliated to civilian attacks in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland, they would “have been guilty of a crime”.

The former Lib Dem leader continued: “To have accidentally, in the course of trying to be careful, hit a single UN school and haven, you could put down to an error in the process of trying to be careful. But to hit six, you have to conclude that’s either criminally careless or carelessly indiscriminate.”

Lord Ashdown described Israel’s military action as “really foolish “, adding that its actions had “created hundreds if not thousands of terrorists, created the enmity of the entire Middle East and lost the support and sympathy of world opinion”.

“That doesn’t seem to me to be a very good dividend from military action,” he concluded.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/gaza-paddy-ashdown-says-israels-3951450#ixzz39I62Jkhn

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Lord Ashdown is right. Apparently, Anti Semitism feeling in Europe is rising and more and more Europeans condemn the brutal Zionist Israeli Forces massacre against Palestinian civilian population in Gaza.

The New York Times story:

Anti-Semitism Rises in Europe Amid Israel-Gaza Conflict

By MELISSA EDDYAUG. 1, 2014
Photo

Protesters in support of Palestinians in Gaza last weekend displayed a swastika at a Paris rally. The demonstration had been banned by the government and prompted deployment of police. Credit Etienne Laurent/European Pressphoto Agency
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BERLIN — Across Europe, the conflict in Gaza is generating a broader backlash against Jews, as threats, hate speech and even violent attacks proliferate in several countries.

Most surprising perhaps, a wave of incidents has washed over Germany, where atonement for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes is a bedrock of the modern society. A commitment to the right of Israel to exist is ironclad. Plaques and memorials across the country exhort, “Never Again.” Children are taught starting in elementary school that their country’s Nazi history must never be repeated. Even so, academics say the recent episodes may reflect a rising climate of anti-Semitism that they had observed before the strife over Gaza.

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This week, the police in the western city of Wuppertal detained two young men on suspicion of throwing firebombs at the city’s new synagogue; the attack early Tuesday caused no injuries. In Frankfurt on Thursday, the police said, a beer bottle was thrown through a window at the home of a prominent critic of anti-Semitism. She heard an anti-Jewish slur after going to the balcony to confront her assailant, The Frankfurter Rundschau reported. An anonymous caller to a rabbi threatened last week to kill 30 Frankfurt Jews if the caller’s family in Gaza was harmed, the police said.

The string of incidents comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned anti-Semitic chants from pro-Palestinian demonstrators and President Joachim Gauck called on Germans to “raise their voices if there is a new anti-Semitism being strutted on the street.”

But even as the police have clamped down on demonstrators, banning slogans that target Jews instead of Israeli policies, a spike in violence has spread fear among Jews, not only in Germany but also in other European countries.

More Jews have begun leaving France in recent months, following anti-Semitism that has spilled onto the streets since the start of the Gaza conflict almost a month ago. While most of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been peaceful, a small number of violent protesters, many of them young Arab men, has targeted Jewish businesses and synagogues.

French authorities have strongly condemned the violence and, citing public-safety concerns, have refused to authorize a small number of pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Others have spoken of a need to counter anti-Semitism among certain segments of the country’s Muslim youth.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls spoke last week of a “new,” “normalized” anti-Semitism. “It blends the Palestinian cause, jihadism, the detestation of Israel and the hatred of France and its values,” he told the National Assembly.

Even in historically tolerant Italy, anti-Semitic smears have appeared on the streets of Rome. Jewish shop windows in several neighborhoods were defaced this week with swastikas and tags reading “Torch the synagogues” and “Jews your end is near.” Police suspect that right-wing extremists, possibly along with pro-Palestinian activists, carried out the acts.

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Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, said he believed that the threats were linked to tensions in the Middle East. “There is cyclically a common thread running between the dramatic tensions in the Middle East and the increase of anti-Semitic episodes,” he said.

In Austria, a preseason soccer match between the Israeli team Maccabi Haifa and Germany’s Paderborn was moved to a more secure location last weekend after a group of youths bearing Palestinian and Turkish flags stormed the field and attacked players during a previous match.

Prominent newspapers, politicians and popular stars in Austria and Germany have responded to the anti-Jewish outburst with a campaign called “Raise Your Voice,” in support of their countries’ Jewish communities. But Samuel Salzborn, a professor of political science at Göttingen University, does not believe that the effort has shifted public opinion.

“The official line of the German government is happily, clearly against anti-Semitism, but that is resulting in far too little,” Mr. Salzborn said. “There is a startling indifference in the German public to the current display of anti-Semitism.”

To many of the more than 100,000 Jews in Germany, the outburst of anti-Semitism since the conflict flared in Gaza has a troubling undertone and has stirred especially painful memories. The Central Council of Jews in Germany has received hundreds of calls from members asking whether they should pack their suitcases and leave the country.

“I have not heard that for many years,” said Dieter Graumann, the council president. “When calls for Jews to be gassed, burned and murdered are bawled on the streets of Germany, that no longer has anything to do with Israel’s politics and Gaza. It is the most abhorrent form of anti-Semitism.”

Academics who study anti-Semitism say the acceptance of disparaging remarks about Jews has become increasingly common in the educated middle class over the past two decades. Especially on social media, where hashtags such as #HitlerWasRight have appeared, there has been a significant jump in slurs against Jews.

Monika Schwarz-Friesel, a cognitive scientist at Technical University, has spent 10 years tracking anti-Semitic comments from educated Germans in letters to editors, in Internet chat rooms and on social media. She said such comments in public forums had served as kindling for the most recent outbreak.

“Violence always starts in the mind,” Ms. Schwarz-Friesel said. “Attacks like that on the synagogue in Wuppertal are not just pulled out of thin air.”

Carola Melchert-Arlt, an elementary school principal in Berlin and mother of three, said she felt afraid for the first time in her decades of living in Germany. She said her mother had asked her to stop wearing a Star of David, a family heirloom from her grandmother’s bat mitzvah, around her neck.

Friends have taken down their mezuzas, Ms. Melchert-Arlt said, and she no longer stifles a smile when a fellow Jew wonders if they are really welcome in Germany.

“We have all always felt the latent anti-Semitism here,” Ms. Melchert-Arlt said. “But what we have experienced in recent weeks and days, not only in Germany but across Europe, is a prevailing mood of outward anti-Jewish sentiment in the streets.”

Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting from Rome, Katarina Johannsen from Berlin, and Aurelien Breeden from Paris.

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Published in: on August 3, 2014 at 12:00  Comments (5)  
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