Archive | December 30th, 2013

War criminals by default



UN Security Council Five

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council

By Alan Hart

My last thought for 2013 is that for their failure to cooperate and coordinate to make the United Nations work to stop the slaughter and destruction in Syria, the leaders of the five permanent and controlling members of the Security Council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – are war criminals by default.

And I agree with an end-of-the-year review comment by Basma Atassi for Al-Jazeera. As more videos emerged of atrocities, “the international community’s inaction continued to give Syrians the message that their human worth is insignificant. The perpetrators (on all sides) have a free ride to kill and the victims have no place to go for justice.”

Civilization vs jungle law

There are only two ways to run this world of ours.

One is in accordance with the rule of law and respect for the human and political rights of all people. In this way of managing Planet Earth, the governments of all nations, without exceptions (so including those of Israel and the US), would be called and held to account by the Security Council and punished as necessary and appropriate when they demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and their various treaty obligations and other commitments.

The other way is in accordance with jungle law. For some years it has been my view that our leaders are taking us back to the jungle. What has been allowed to happen in Syria has only reinforced my fear on this account.

From the moment in April 2011 when the Syrian army was deployed to quell the uprising and fired on demonstrators across the country, it ought to have been obvious (I’m sure it was) to the governments of the major powers that the minority Alawite standard bearers, President Bashar al-Assad and his top military and other security people, would kill and kill and kill to stay in power and, if necessary, would die fighting rather than let go the levers of their power.

Missed opportunity

In my analysis. the real tragedy is that something could have been done at a very early stage to stop the killing and destruction. What was needed was for President Obama to have a private conversation with President Putin along something like the following lines;

It’s not in any of our interests that this conflict be allowed to escalate and spread. What’s your price for using your influence to require Assad to step down and make way for elections? I understand, of course, that you’ll only be able to use your influence to this effect if there is a firm and absolute guarantee that after elections the wellbeing and security of the minority Alawite population will be assured. There must be no recriminations and revenge for decades of police state rule by the Baath Party of Assad father and son. I give you my word that the United States, through the Security Council, will play its necessary role in making good this guarantee… And one more thing, Vladimir. I also give you my word that the US will not seek to make use of regime change in Syria as a means of trying to have Russia kicked out of Tartus, the only Mediterranean naval base for your Black Sea Fleet.

If Obama had been wise enough to take such an initiative, I think it much more likely than not that he would have got a positive response from Putin.

It’s worth noting that after the G20 Summit in Mexico in October 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that during the meeting President Putin had shifted his position and wanted Bashar Assad out of power. Cameron said:

There remain differences over sequencing and the shape of how the transition takes place, but it is welcome that President Putin has been explicit that he does not want Assad remaining in charge in Syria. What we need next is agreement on a transitional leadership which can move Syria to a democratic future that protects the rights of all its communities.”

Probably Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was partly right when he said that Cameron’s statement about Putin’s position was “not corresponding to reality”.

But Putin did say: “It is important after regime change, if it happens, and it must happen only by constitutional means, that peace comes to the country and bloodshed stops.”

The reality as it seemed to me at the time, and which Cameron put his own spin on, was that Putin had indicated that he could live with regime change in Syria if it happened by constitutional means. And that’s why I think it was much more likely than not that Obama would have got a positive response from Putin at a very early point in the conflict if he had had the wisdom to make his case along the lines I suggested above.

Zionists and jihadists

A question arising is why didn’t Obama take such an initiative to protect the best interests of all concerned? My guess is that it was more than a lack of wisdom and global leadership on his part. For far too long he was listening to those (Zionism’s verbal hit men in particular) who were telling him that regime change in Syria, assisted as required by American military force and therefore on American-and-Israeli terms, was a necessary step on the road to regime change in Iran.

Today I think it can be said without fear of contradiction that Putin is as alarmed as his Western counterparts by the prospect of jihadists of various kinds establishing a safe haven and engine room in Syria. I also think Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was correct when he recently indicated, by obvious implication, that behind closed doors American and Western European leaders are beginning to understand that they may now need Assad and his ruthless war machine if the forces of violent Islamic fundamentalism are to be prevented from having a permanent base in Syria from which to create regional and even global havoc.

The next test of what if anything is left of Obama’s credibility as a leader who can bring positive influence to bear on events in Syria is fast approaching. With a Geneva meeting to chart the way to ending the conflict scheduled for 22 January, he has to decide whether or not Iran should be a party to the talks. Russia and Lakhdar Brahimi, the very experienced UN special envoy to Syria and chief mediator, insist that Iran must be represented to improve the prospects of the Geneva talks being something less than a complete failure. I agree.

The Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress, plus Israel’s Arab state allies-of-convenience in the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia, are opposed to Iran’s participation in the Geneva talks.

Will Obama have the will and the courage to defy them?

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Assailing the right, Zio-Nazi Livni says settlements harm I$raHell’s security



With her most intense and confrontational style of delivery, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday said that “the settlements are not part of Israel’s security, they are hurting it.”

Livni was speaking about the connection between the peace process and the economy at the Calcalist conference in Tel Aviv with Housing Minister Uri Ariel in the audience.

Giving an example of what she meant, she slammed groups sending families to establish new illegal outposts, implying that they endanger and encumber the IDF with defending them as well as misusing the state’s funds which could otherwise be used to improve the inflated housing prices across the country.

The justice minister also said that she was angry with those who “are happy whenever they can say that there is no peace partner,” so they tell us “do not even try.”

She added that really these same groups would say that “even if there was a partner we should not give up one meter of land, because they are not really ready for any compromise.”

Livni continued on the attack, saying that these groups “use ‘security’ as an excuse to convince the public that there is no option” for peace.

Next, Livni said that some people focused on the world’s and the Palestinian’s hypocrisy and challenges in negotiations to say that “the whole world is anti-Semites” and try to “ignore the world.”

She predicted that this strategy would be disastrous as there was “already a glass ceiling on the Israeli economy” because of the dispute with the Palestinians and that “the ceiling is constantly coming down” on the state in a negative way.

Despite the conference poll prior to her speech where 52% of the business attendees surveyed thought nothing would change with the Palestinians in 2014, she summed up her speech, noting that “we are obligated to resolve the dispute” with the Palestinians.

Livni’s top deputy, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, told Israel Radio on Monday that the recent vote by the Ministerial Legislative Committee approving the annexation of the Jordan Valley pushed Israel into an “unnecessary diplomatic pirouette from which it will be hard to get out of.”

The largely symbolic vote by right-wing ministers in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s center-right coalition who are skeptical of chances of clinching a two-state agreement with the Palestinian Authority was assailed by Peretz and former Labor chief Shelly Yacimovich on Monday.

In a show of support for the valley that the Palestinians claim should be an essential part of their state, the Ministerial Legislative Committee voted eight to three to annex it to Israel.

“The ministerial vote and the expected announcement of new building in the settlements harms all of the achievements we have gained thus far,” Peretz told Israel Radio, referring specifically to Horizon 2020, the European Union’s flagship research and development program. 

Israel’s participation was in doubt after a diplomatic row with Brussels ensued over punitive guidelines which the EU issued against companies doing business over the Green Line.

Peretz, the former defense minister who jumped from the Labor Party to Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua faction because of its decidedly pro-peace platform, called on his boss to launch a diplomatic initiative.

“Israel could gain a lot of from a diplomatic move,” Peretz told Israel Radio. “Are we going to prevent this from happening because of some worthless political trick?”

Yacimovich said that Israel’s current geopolitical situation allows it to make compromises on the Jordan Valley since there are no threats from the east.

The former Labor chair said she believes the United States will offer its own proposal for a framework agreement. “Netanyahu will say ‘yes,’ and then nothing will happen,” Yacimovich told Israel Radio.

“Netanyahu is a right-winger,” she said. “There is no difference between him and [Economy Minister] Naftali Bennett.”

Palestinians warned Sunday that the symbolic Israeli ministerial vote to annex the Jordan Valley could destroy the peace process that US Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing to advance by heading to Jerusalem and Ramallah later this week.

The vote “shows the extent of Israeli disrespect for international law and the efforts of the [Middle East] Quartet,” Palestinian Liberation Organization chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

Livni, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Health Minister Yael German and Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, have all said they will appeal the vote.

Such an appeal places the matter directly in the hands of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a move that many believe effectively kills the legislation.

The Ministerial Legislative Committee must now revote the issue and that vote can only be held with Netanyahu’s approval. The legislation would also have to pass the Knesset before it becomes law.

The bill, which was sponsored by MK Miri Regev (Likud) had the support of ministers from her party as well as those from Yisrael Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi on the legislative committee.

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Out of the horse’s mouth–Peres: ‘It is impossible to Separate Judaism from the State of I$raHell’



Israel National News

There is no way to separate Judaism from the state of Israel, President Shimon Peres said Sunday. On a visit to the Machon Lev Jerusalem Technology College, Peres said that despite the efforts of secularists, Israel would always remain a Jewish state.

Peres addressed a question from a student who said that “in recent months we have seen an unparalleled attempt to defame the haredi religious public, especially when it comes to serving in the IDF.” Did Peres believe that it was necessary to force haredi religious yeshiva students into the army in order to get them into the workforce?

In response to the question, Peres said that throughout Jewish history, there were yeshivas and students studying in them. “It is out of the question that Israel would be the only place without yeshivas,” Peres said. “We have no choice but to bring haredi and secular groups together to discuss how we will manage affairs in this country. It is illogical and impossible to say that we will have a secular state.”

The Biblical Moses, said Peres, “was the first philosopher of democracy in the world. He established that all people were born in G-d’s image and were equal, he called for people to love each other. I do not see how you could separate Judaism from the state. There is a wide range of opinions and ideas on Judaism, but there is a basic core philosophy, which is found in the Ten Commandments.”

Speaking in response to a question from the student audience, Peres said that he planned to dedicate his final months in office to ensuring that Jonathan Pollard was released from prison.

Peres said that while Israel would do what it could to get Pollard out of prison, “we must remember that it is the decision of the President. However, we have a good relationship with him, and we will speak to him about it, and try to convince him.


“I do not believe that this issue will be decided with public declarations and announcements,” Peres added. “The best way to accomplish this is through quiet discussion and diplomacy, and this is what we are doing.”

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High Court affirms restrictions on nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu


Israel Hayom

The restrictions on convicted Israeli nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu are appropriate, the High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday.

The panel, chaired by Chief Justice Asher Grunis, denied Vanunu’s request for an interim order that would have lifted the travel restrictions on him and allowed him to contact foreigners.

A former employee of the Nuclear Research Center in the Negev, Vanunu in 1986 revealed details of Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal to the British press. In a mission attributed to the Israeli Mossad, Vanunu was captured in Rome and put on trial in Israel, where a special tribunal convicted of him espionage and treason.

In 2004, Vanunu was released from prison, having completed an 18-year sentence. The state has since invoked special statutes to ensure he does not reveal any classified information.

Vanunu is not allowed to change his place of residency unless he clears his plans 48 hours in advance, and must remain in Israel and stay out of diplomatic missions. He must also refrain from any contact with foreign nationals, including by means of online chats.

“The evidentiary material suggests that there is still additional privileged information that [could be jeopardized] by the petitioner,” Grunis wrote.

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New ‘kosher police’ planned by Religious Affairs Ministry along with badges and uniforms


ed note–but, but, but…I thought that Judaism and Zionism were TOTALLY DIFFERENT from each other…That is what so many people say…And yet, in THE JEWISH STATE, the ‘zionists’ are going to implement JEWISH DIETARY LAWS???


Times of Israel

A government bill presented to the Knesset on Sunday would grant the Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut inspection unit sweeping new powers to enforce the rabbinate’s rules for certification.

The inspectors, who belong to the rabbinate’s Kashrut Fraud Prevention Unit, currently lack the ability to enter establishments that they inspect without the agreement of owners, or to take samples of food, necessary to determine that ostensibly kosher food does not contain nonkosher ingredients such as dairy product in meat dishes or animals that are not approved for consumption by Jewish dietary laws.

Perhaps in expectation of criticism at the expansion of the much-critiqued rabbinate’s powers, Chief Rabbi David Lau insisted the new bill did not add new kashrut rules, but was merely intended to prevent fraud.

“I believe that all Israelis, those for whom kashrut is important and those for whom it is less important, understand the importance of honesty for citizens who ask for kashrut but fall victim to fraud,” Lau told Israel National News.

The bill is being advanced by Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs Eli Ben-Dahan, a former director of Israel’s rabbinical court system.

Eli Ben Dahan in 2010 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Eli Ben Dahan in 2010 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

It seeks to grant the inspectors powers similar to those possessed by the police, including the right to demand entry to an establishment under supervision, to take food samples, to demand identification papers from citizens, and to investigate restaurant owners suspected of fraud.

The investigative powers granted by the bill also include the confiscation of property believed to have been involved in the fraud, and ordering suspects to appear before the inspectors for the purposes of the investigation.

It also gives Kashrut Fraud Prevention Unit inspectors, for the first time in the unit’s 14-year existence, uniforms and identification badges.

“Until today, inspectors have felt a lack of authority, and this has weakened them in their dealings with kashrut criminals, who have been able to escape without punishment,” said Ben Dahan. “This bill is meant to give inspectors the tools to fight effectively against kashrut fraud and kashrut criminals.”

Ben Dahan has further plans for the Kashrut Fraud Prevention Unit, the deputy minister told Haaretz. Currently, the inspectors’ salaries are paid by the business owners being inspected. Ben Dahan hopes to legislate a separation between the inspectors and the businesses they were responsible for.

The bill has already drawn criticism from opponents of the Chief Rabbinate.

“There are few bodies that trample over the rule of law as systematically as the Chief Rabbinate, especially when it comes to kashrut,” charged Rabbi Uri Regev, head of Hiddush, a group that calls for the dismantling of the rabbinate’s monopoly on Israeli religious institutions. Regev cited the rabbinate’s refusal to grant kashrut certificates to businesses open on Shabbat, despite a High Court of Justice injunction on the matter.

“Before the rabbinate demands additional enforcement powers, it must announce that it accepts the rule of Israeli law,” he said.

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Peres sends condolences to Putin following Volgograd attack



Suicide bombing in southern Russia kills 15, injures 50, in stark reminder of the threat as Olympic games approach

Times of Israel

President Shimon Peres on Sunday sent a letter of condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin, following a deadly suicide bombing attack in southern Russia which killed 16 people.

“My heart goes out to those who have been affected by the heinous deed and by previous attacks which have afflicted Russia,” wrote Peres. “I cannot but strongly condemn attacks on innocent people by terrorists who are driven by hate and a thirst for destruction.”

“I wish to extend my condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Russia,” the president wrote.

Earlier Sunday, a suicide bomber struck a busy railway station in southern Russia, killing at least 15 other people and wounding scores more, officials said, in a stark reminder of the threat Russia is facing as it prepares to host February’s Olympics in Sochi.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Volgograd, but it came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Sochi Games.

A police officer guards a main entrance to the Volgograd railway station hit by an explosion, in Volgograd, Russia, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (photo credit: AP)
A police officer guards a main entrance to the Volgograd railway station hit by an explosion, in Volgograd, Russia, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (photo credit: AP)

Suicide bombings have rocked Russia for years, but many have been contained to the North Caucasus, the center of an insurgency seeking an Islamist state in the region. Until recently Volgograd was not a typical target, but the city formerly known as Stalingrad has now been struck twice in two months — suggesting militants may be using the transportation hub as a renewed way of showing their reach outside their restive region.

Volgograd, which lies close to volatile Caucasus provinces, is 900 kilometers (550 miles) south of Moscow and about 650 kilometers (400 miles) northeast of Sochi, a Black Sea resort flanked by the North Caucasus Mountains.

The bombing highlights the daunting security challenge Russia will face in fulfilling its pledge to make the Sochi Games the “safest Olympics in history.” The government has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers, police and other security personnel to protect the games.

Through the day, officials issued conflicting statements on casualties. They also said that the suspected bomber was a woman, but then reversed themselves and said the attacker could have been a man.

The Interfax news agency quoted unidentified law enforcement agents as saying that footage taken by surveillance cameras indicated that the bomber was a man. It also reported that it was further proven by a torn male finger ringed by a safety pin removed from a hand grenade, which was found on the site of the explosion.

The bomber detonated explosives in front of a metal detector just beyond the station’s main entrance when a police sergeant became suspicious and rushed forward to check ID, officials said. The officer was killed by the blast, and several other policemen were wounded.

“When the suicide bomber saw a policeman near a metal detector, she became nervous and set off her explosive device,” Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the nation’s top investigative agency, said in a statement earlier in the day. He added that the bomb contained about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of TNT and was rigged with shrapnel.

Markin later told Interfax that the attacker could have been a man, but added that the investigation was still ongoing. He said that another hand grenade, which didn’t explode, was also found on the explosion site.

Markin argued that security controls prevented a far greater number of casualties at the station, which was packed with people at a time when several trains were delayed. About 40 were hospitalized, many in grave condition.

Earlier,, a Russian news portal that reportedly has close links to security agencies, even posted what it claimed was an image of the severed head of the female’s attacker. It even said the attacker appeared to have been a woman whose two successive rebel husbands had been killed by Russian security forces in the Caucasus.

Female suicide bombers, many of whom were widows or sisters of rebels, have mounted numerous attacks in Russia. They often have been referred to as “black widows.”

In October, a female suicide bomber blew herself up on a city bus in Volgograd, killing six people and injuring about 30. Officials said that attacker came from the province of Dagestan, which has become the center of the Islamist insurgency that has spread across the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya.

As in Sunday’s blast, her bomb was rigged with shrapnel that caused severe injuries.

Chechnya has become more stable under the grip of its Moscow-backed strongman, who incorporated many of the former rebels into his feared security force. But in Dagestan, the province between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, Islamic insurgents who declared an intention to carve out an Islamic state in the region mount near daily attacks on police and other officials.

Rights groups say that authorities’ tough response involving arbitrary arrests, torture and killings of terror suspects has fueled the rebellion.

The Kremlin replaced Dagestan’s provincial chief earlier this year, and the new leader abandoned his predecessor’s attempts at reconciliation and his efforts to persuade some of the rebels to surrender in exchange for amnesty.

Security camera images broadcast by Rossiya 24 television showed Sunday’s moment of explosion, a bright orange flash inside the station behind the massive main gate followed by plumes of smoke.

“All the doors, windows scattered. I got a concussion and smoke billowed from inside.

Another witness, Roman Lobachev, told Rossiya television that he was putting his bags on a belt for screening when he heard the sound of an explosion. “I heard a bang and felt as if something hit me on the head,” said Lobachev who survived the attack with minor injuries.

The bombing followed Friday’s explosion in the city of Pyatigorsk in southern Russian, where a car rigged with explosives blew up on a street, killing three.

Following Sunday’s explosion, the Interior Ministry ordered police to beef up patrols at railway stations and other transport facilities across Russia.

Russia in past years has seen a series of terror attacks on buses, trains and airplanes, some carried out by suicide bombers.

Twin bombings on the Moscow subway in March 2010 by female suicide bombers killed 40 people and wounded more than 120. In January 2011, a male suicide bomber struck Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, killing 37 people and injuring more than 180.

Umarov, who had claimed responsibility for the 2010 and 2011 bombings, ordered a halt to attacks on civilian targets during the mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in the winter of 2011-12. He reversed that order in July, urging his men to “do their utmost to derail” the Sochi Olympics which he described as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.”

A group calling itself Anonymous Caucasus said in a statement Friday on the Caucasus rebel web site,, that it would launch cyber-attacks to avenge Russia’s refusal to acknowledge the 19th-century expulsion of Chirkassians, one of the ethnic groups in the Caucasus.

The International Olympics Committee expressed its condolences over the bombing, but said it was confident of Russia’s security preparation for the games.

“At the Olympics, security is the responsibility of the local authorities, and we have no doubt that the Russian authorities will be up to the task,” it said in a statement.

Russian authorities have introduced some of the most extensive identity checks and sweeping security measures ever seen at an international sports event.

Anyone wanting to attend the games that open on Feb. 7 will have to buy a ticket online from the organizers and obtain a “spectator pass” for access. Doing so will require providing passport details and contacts that will allow the authorities to screen all visitors and check their identities upon arrival.

The security zone created around Sochi stretches approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) along the Black Sea coast and up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland. Russian forces include special troops to patrol the forested mountains towering over the resort, drones to keep constant watch over Olympic facilities and speed boats to patrol the coast.

The security plan includes a ban on cars from outside the zone from a month before the games begin until a month after they end.

In Washington, the State Department condemned the bombing and said the US stands “in solidarity with the Russian people.”

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Oren–Iran doesn’t take Obama’s military option seriously



Ex-ambassador to the US warns the Iranian nuclear program is a ‘multiple existential threat to Israel,’ says it’s ‘much harder’ now for Israel to intervene

Times of Israel

The rogue Iranian nuclear program represents not just an existential threat to Israel, but a “multiple existential threat to Israel,” the former Israeli ambassador to the United States said in an interview. Were Iran to attain a “military nuclear capability,” Michael Oren elaborated, it would not need to perfect a missile delivery system in order to target Israel with nuclear weaponry, but could do so via other delivery systems, such as a simple container aboard a ship. Its attainment of that capability could also prompt the nuclearization of the entire Middle East.

Moreover, Oren warned, there was “nothing that would indicate” the Iranians believe US President Barack Obama would ever resort to force to prevent them from attaining the bomb.

He stressed that if Iran is not stopped at the enrichment stage, thwarting it once it had moved the key components of its bomb-making program underground would require thoroughly unlikely “massive, massive bombing campaigns” that would “flatten all of Iran.”

And any last-resort Israeli military intervention, Oren acknowledged, has become “much harder” since the charming, mild-mannered Hassan Rouhani succeeded the confrontational Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president and the US-led international community became deeply engaged in diplomacy with Iran.

Oren, who stepped down as ambassador in October, set out his profoundly worrying overview of the state of the battle to thwart the Iranian bomb in a lengthy interview, conducted at his new office at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, where he is lecturing in the Lauder School of Government and Diplomacy.

The New York-born historian and diplomat — who moved to Israel in 1979 and fought as a paratrooper in the 1982 Lebanon War, while also advancing an academic career that culminated in a PhD from Princeton — specified a long series of differences between the United States and Israel on grappling with the Iranian nuclear threat. He said personal relations between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were “perfectly fine,” but that there are structural differences, public opinion differences, and differences over “fundamental interpretations of the facts” on Iran between the two leaderships.

Oren also detailed a series of historical instances where the two countries had differed dramatically on critical issues — in 1948, 1956, and 1967 — and where, ultimately, Israel’s prime ministers took dramatic actions in defiance of the United States. He stressed that this did not necessarily mean Netanyahu was about to strike Iran. Israel “has the most to gain from a diplomatic solution,” he emphasized. “But the meaning of Jewish sovereignty is that you don’t outsource your fundamental security.”

Articulate and precise, Oren answered questions on his dealings with Arab ambassadors during his four-year term in Washington, on where the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is headed, and on Israeli-Diaspora relations. But the conversation began with, and largely focused on Iran:

‘We have zero margin for error. Can you say that about the US?’

The Times of Israel: It seems that this interim deal reached with Iran in November last month — and I understand that the prime minister does not disagree — is terrible from several perspectives. The moment to require the Iranians to acknowledge that they have been moving toward a weapons capability was lost. And there may never be permanent deal. And this interim deal doesn’t cover any of the weaponization work they’re doing…

Michael Oren (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Michael Oren: And will there be an interim deal?

Yes, despite all the handshakes and the hugging, there is no finalized interim deal yet. But Secretary Kerry says “I’m not naive and I’m not stupid”…

You got a big bump on the rial. You got a jump in the stock market in Tehran. The message has gone out that the sanctions will not be tightened, which translates as you’re loosening them. It is gain for the Iranians.

But, again, Kerry says “I’m not naive and I’m not stupid.” And President Obama says “I’m going in clear-eyed.” And yet this looks like amateur hour, with devastating consequences. How do you explain this?

You explain it by structural differences between the United States and Israel, and also public opinion differences between the United States and Israel. Structural differences: The United States is a big country. It’s far away from the Middle East. It’s not threatened with national annihilation. It has much bigger capabilities. We are a small country. We are in Iran’s backyard. We are threatened with national annihilation. And we have less capabilities.

That difference is played out in what the Americans are willing to live with, what risks they are willing to take. We have zero margin for error with Iran. Can you say that about the United States?

But that does not explain why you would be what appears to be incompetent in negotiating…

It’s not just Mr. Kerry [negotiating]. The other four members of the Security Council plus Germany have also signed on to this thing.

The P5+1 could not have got a better deal? Even though China and Russia were not pressing in the same way.

They did not think they could have gotten a better deal.

‘American policymakers are saying that, no, sanctions have basically reached their maximum capacity, that if you over-torque it they’ll begin to unravel’

So one of the differences [between the US and Israel] is of structure. There are differences of public opinion, where in the United States you have a lot of war-weariness, and actually support for the interim agreement. You have to acknowledge that there is an American public out there, whose opinion is not always heard here because all you see are American leaders. You don’t often see the American public. We learned from the Syrian episode last summer (when Obama pulled back from a threatened punitive strike after the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons) that that public can be pivotal in decision-making.

And then finally you have some different fundamental interpretations of the facts. We strongly believe that ratcheting up the sanctions, combined with a credible military threat, represent the best chance of bringing the Iranians round to actually dismantling the program. The American policymakers are saying that, no, sanctions have basically reached their maximum capacity, that if you over-torque it they’ll begin to unravel, and that a year from now we’ll be in a less good negotiating position than we are today. So there’s a fundamental difference on the facts.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, speaks during a meeting with Hasan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, on Sunday, June 16, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Office of the Supreme Leader)

There’s a fundamental difference about the Iranian leadership — whether there are genuine moderates or not. We’re highly, highly skeptical. [We consider that Iran’s President] Rouhani is part of the leadership of the revolution. He was selected by [Supreme Leader] Khamenei. And there are even doubts about whether he was selected to be the moderate candidate, whether he really was so moderate. Maybe that’s part of the whole scheme. But there are people in the United States who believe there is a distinction between moderates and radicals in Iran, and that you have to strengthen the former so that you don’t strengthen the latter.

Let me be sure I understand you: We in Israel have doubts that there is any genuine moderation here, while some in America think that possibly Rouhani is a moderate force. [Senior Likud MK] Tzachi Hanegbi, when I interviewed him, was pretty adamant that Rouhani’s election was not a planned masterstroke by Khamenei, but that he used it to his advantage.

I’m not an expert on Iran. I’ve heard people who are who think that this was possibly planned from the get-go.

Where do things stand and how will they play out?

To the degree that they can, Israeli leaders and representatives are going to be engaged in this intensive dialogue with their American counterparts, and with all the representatives of the P5+1, in order to clarify our position and our expectations regarding any type of final arrangement with the Iranians — the necessary components — all the while keeping our options on the table.

What constitutes a threshold state?

There was supposed to be a six-month period after the Geneva deal was done, in which they were aiming to reach a permanent deal.


Has that six month period begun?

No, I don’t think it has begun.

So we have this deal which has been done but not finalized. A month has passed. They’ve broken up for Christmas, meanwhile…

Meanwhile, they’re continuing to work on [the heavy water] Arak [facility]. Meanwhile, they continue to build and do research for the centrifuges. Meanwhile, they have their stockpiles [of enriched uranium].

And meanwhile, they’re doing who knows what on weaponization, which is not covered by the deal.

Weapnization is off the table. So the program in fact is progressing. Maybe they’re not breaking the 20% [enrichment] red line, but they’re expanding out horizontally, and in depth in terms of the weaponization. The Iranians are gaining.

Is it fair to define them now as a nuclear threshold state?

Our experts say no.

What would bring them to that point?

[First,] if they had all the centrifuges running. They have 10,000 out of 19,000 running. If they had installed the IR2s, which increase the accumulation rate four-fold.

More sophisticated centrifuges?

Right, the next generation.

Which they haven’t installed?

They have not installed… [Second,] we don’t know what’s going on with weaponization now. The weaponization would have to proceed to a certain point as well, [for Iran] to be truly threshold.

But we don’t think they’re at that yet?

No we don’t. But Netanyahu made a very important point a year and a half ago to the UN. He said it’s not important when Iran gets the bomb. The only important question is when will we no longer be able to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.

Understand this: The only part of the Iranian nuclear program we can observe is the enrichment part. We know where they are on enrichment. They have enough in their 3.5% stockpile for more than four bombs. But [things change] once they get to a certain point where they can break out and reach SQ — which is sensitive quantity; which you need for one bomb. If they’re within four weeks of SQ, then the enriched uranium disappears. It goes into a room not much bigger than this [very small] room, where you have your components: You have your fuses. You have your timers. You have your spherical device.

You won’t know where that [room] is. This is a country that’s half the size of Europe. And you won’t know.

Now the United States says, We’ll know when they move the uranium. And during the vice presidential debates, Biden was very adamant: We’re gonna know. We’re gonna know. Okay. You know. But what if you only have a couple of weeks to know. Will you move that fast?

Centrifuges enriching uranium (Photo credit: US Department of Energy/ Wikimedia Commons)

They have the 19,000 centrifuges. They haven’t been dismantled. They have the facilities. They haven’t been dismantled. They have the stockpile, which hasn’t been shipped abroad; they’re just getting rid in some way of the 180 kilograms of 20%. But if you have 6,000 or 7,000 kilograms of 3.5%, you’ve got enough for at least four bombs. So that’s all there.

Now think about it. I don’t know how long it takes to install those centrifuges. If the talks break down, or if there’s this fuzzy period at the end — very similar to what’s going on right now — and you quickly install your additional 9,000 centrifuges, among them the IR2s, which really give you [the equivalent of] about 24,000 centrifuges. And you have a stockpile. And maybe you’ve done some research and development, that actually gives you some closer to an IR3, which has an even higher rate of accumulation than the IR2s, how long is it going to take you [to break out]?

And the answer is?

Weeks. Now the international community moves slowly. It’s the old speedboat versus the aircraft carrier. You’ve got to move the world’s biggest aircraft carrier: the entire international community. And get them on board with what? Military action? Play the scenario out. Would the Chinese and Russians agree on military action?

The constant paradox of the military threat, as we always said, was: the more credible, the less the chance you have to use it.

But it’s also: If you do have to use it, the earlier you use it, the less damage there will be than later. Why? Because if you can still stop [the Iranian program] at the enrichment cycle, then you are neutralizing certain facilities before they can move out [the enriched material]. But once they move it out, and it goes underground, you’re going to flatten all of Iran. Then you’re talking about massive, massive bombing campaigns. So the military option is only a real option if it’s used, you know, incredibly early on.

It’s only credible if it’s pinpoint, if it’s surgical. Because if you miss that moment, then you’ve got to bomb all of Iran. You don’t know where this room is.

And nobody would contemplate doing that?

Much more difficult.

Unthinkable because of the civilian casualties…

Everything. You’re talking a much bigger operation.

How credible is [the talk of a resort to force] at any point? The Russians and the Chinese would not go along under any circumstances, surely, would not be part of or sanction military intervention even if it’s clear that Iran is becoming a nuclear weapons state.

I know the American part. President Obama says that he’s serious, that all options are on the table — he just said this again in Washington — and that he’s not bluffing. They certainly have the capabilities.

The question is not whether the president says, All options are on the table. The question is whether the Iranians believe it. And there is nothing that would indicate — at least to us, to Israeli observers — so far that the Iranians believe it.

‘The Iranians planned to blow up a restaurant in Washington. They planned to blow up Israel’s embassy, in downtown Washington. Now a country that’s planning that type of terrorist attack in the capital of the United States is not particularly afraid of military retribution. Agree?’

On the contrary, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the Iranians don’t believe it.

Such as?

They planned to blow up a restaurant in downtown Washington. They planned to blow up my embassy, Israel’s embassy, in downtown Washington. Same plot.

The Saudi plot?

Yes. I wrote about it in an op-ed.

Now a country that’s planning that type of terrorist attack in the capital of the United States is not particularly afraid of military retribution. Agree? That would be one indication.

Obama told AIPAC that containment…

… is not an option.

Do you see that reflected in US policy? Is he showing that he’s prepared to live with an Iran with a nuclear weapons capability?

He claims that he is not.

Well, he says that he won’t allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons. (At the Saban Forum last month, Obama said his “goal is to make sure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.”) Aren’t we seeing Obama pursuing containment?

The question is whether we have different definitions of containment. For us, what is very important is that Iran does not have the breakout capability. And we don’t want to see them contained, with what is sometimes referred to as Japan-like [capabilities]. Because [an Iran] even with breakout capabilities has an immense impact on our security. It will adversely impact our ability to deal with terrorism, especially Iranian-backed terrorist groups. And even the attainment of “mere” breakout capability could trigger the nuclear arms race in the entire Middle East. At that point the Saudis, the Egyptians and others will start going…

The United States can live with an Iran that has breakout capabilities? That’s what you’re seeing?

No, but the United States has made clear that it can live with a certain amount of Iranian nuclear capabilities. I’m not saying military capabilities, but nuclear capabilities. The administration said two things: It said it had not recognized Iran’s right to enrich. And yet you look at the [interim] agreement and it says that the question of enrichment will be addressed in a mutually agreed way.

US President Barack Obama speaks during the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum in Washington, Saturday, December 7, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

And Obama at Saban said, I can envisage a deal in which they do have a limited enrichment program, much inspected…

If they have no right to enrich, why do they need centrifuges? So why weren’t they dismantled?

Then why isn’t the United States insisting on this?

The question is how we would look at an Iran that has that type of even highly inspected, limited, nuclear production capabilities: Would we view that as an Iran that is capable of breaking out?

Whereas Obama plainly under certain circumstances could live with something like that.

He said it. He said it.

A ‘multiple existential threat’

There are these structural differences between Israel and the United States. And you were the man charged with maintaining a smooth relationship somehow on a critical issue — I don’t know if you consider it an existential threat to Israel?

Yes. I think it’s a multiple existential threat. I don’t think it’s just one. It’s several.

What does that mean?

Iran with a nuclear weapon — the obvious one — is that they stick one of these bombs on top of one of the many missiles they have that are capable of carrying them and hitting any Israeli city. The “one bomb country” scenario. Two, the nuclearization of the entire Middle East. And three, Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. So once Iran gets a military nuclear capability, you don’t have to worry [only] about a rocket, you’ll have to be worried about a ship container. There are various ways in which they can deliver it. So it’s not one existential threat. It’s a multiple one.

So here you are trying to serve the interests of our country in its relationship with its best ally, in a situation of different contexts, and different threats. How are we doing in terms of that relationship. Is it okay? Are the personal withering assessments by the leaders of each other impacting on that relationship?

They had 11 meetings. Personal meetings. I was in all of them. They’re perfectly fine. They were open and candid and friendly. There were some laughs. There were some real laughs in those meetings. Obama claims to have spent more time on the telephone, and in his personal relations [with Netanyahu] than with any other foreign leader, and I think he’s probably right. A lot of hours. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with two countries whose interests on this issue cannot be entirely confluent — because of the structural differences and because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.

But who are intertwined.

They are intertwined.

So here’s Netanyahu, who thinks that the world is always going to try to wipe out the Jews, and that we have to be strong, and that we have to snuff out our enemies before they come for us. And Israel’s key ally, which is a little more distanced from this threat, but is going to be drawn into anything that we choose to do?

You think there’s anything new with this? Why do you think it’s about Netanyahu and Obama. I come with one great advantage: I come with the historical perspective. [Israel’s first prime minister] Ben-Gurion in May 1948 is under immense pressure from the Truman administration not to declare a Jewish state. George Marshall is telling [president Truman] that the Jews are going to be wiped off the face of the earth if they do this. They’ll be defeated in three weeks. [Moshe] Sharett [the first Israeli foreign minister] goes crazy. Sharett comes back to Ben-Gurion and says, You can’t do this. George Marshall, the architect of the World War II settlement, says we’re going to be destroyed.

David Ben-Gurion, flanked by the members of his provisional government, reads the Declaration of Independence in the Tel Aviv Museum Hall on May 14, 1948 (photo credit: Israel Government Press Office)

They want more time for diplomacy. Ben-Gurion has to make this terrible decision: Do I declare statehood? Existential issue for us. The risks are great. We may not have the Americans on our side.

But he did. And Truman overrode Marshall.

In 1956 — this is widely forgotten — what was the Suez Sinai campaign about? Suez Sinai was the product of an estimation made by Moshe Dayan, the chief of staff, and Ben-Gurion, that the Egypt army would within six months absorb the massive amount of Soviet weaponry given them under the so-called Czech arms deal, and that at the end of those six months, Israel would be faced with an existential threat. At the height of the Suez crisis, there’s international diplomacy going on all over the place; you’ve got John Foster Dulles, who’s no great Zionist, to say the least. Huge pressures, and Ben-Gurion has to make a decision.

1967, [prime minister] Levi Eshkol, same deal. [President] Johnson says do not do anything. Don’t go alone. We need time for diplomacy. Got to work with the international community.

Meanwhile, the Arab armies are gathering on our border. Eshkol gave time to exhaust diplomatic options. In the end, he had to do what he had to do.

That doesn’t mean that Netanyahu is going to do the same thing right now. The stakes are very, very high. Israel has the most to gain from a diplomatic solution. The most to lose from the failure of a diplomatic solution. So it’s not an easy call. But the meaning of Jewish sovereignty is that you don’t outsource your fundamental security. There’s no shirking the responsibility. This is our responsibility. It’s an onerous responsibility.

‘Our purpose here is not to draw America into anything. But we do have to ensure our survival’

But, again, we’re intertwined. That if Israel does what it feels it has to do, the United States is going to be caught up in this. And therefore you might think that the Americans would not suffice themselves with saying, ‘Our red lines are a little bit different. But we recognize your right to defend yourselves.’ They’re going to get drawn in, aren’t they, if we feel that they did a lousy deal, and Iran’s now breaking out to the bomb?

I think you’d have to ask the American ambassador, you’d have to ask Dan Shapiro, that question. I agree with you. Our purpose here is not to draw America into anything. But we do have to ensure our survival. And no Israeli leader, left, right, up, down, would make a different call. Because they’re all looking at the same information, looking at the same intelligence. Netanyahu doesn’t get up in the morning and decide on a whim to take these polices. He is conferring with a very sizable community of intelligence experts — among the world’s best, if they aren’t the world’s best — from Mossad, from military intelligence, who are basically adducing the same evidence to support a case. That’s his responsibility as prime minister.

No other conceivable prime minister, then, would have resorted to the use of force yet?

You’re turning it around. The use of force yet? That’s a different way of coming at it. What I’m saying is that every prime minister would have exhausted the diplomatic options, all the while preserving our right to possibly act if we have to, if there’s no other choice. That, I think any prime minister would do.

Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the UN Palais on November 24, 2013, in Geneva, after announcing an interim deal at the Iran nuclear talks. (photo credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

I wonder, now, with this avuncular, likable foreign minister that they have, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and their serene president Rouhani, and an international community engaged in a diplomatic process, whether it’s much harder now for Israel to act, as opposed to six months ago, when it was Ahmadinejad and no comparable international engagement…?

Much harder.

That doesn’t mean we missed the moment and should have acted already?

I cannot respond to that.

I understand. And in terms of what we can do: You spoke of the stages of a military option — at one point it’s pinpoint, and then later on it’s much more dramatic when things have disappeared [underground]. Do we have a military option beyond the pinpoint? What kind of options do we have that you can discuss?

I can’t. All I can say is that we have the capability and the ability to defend ourselves.

Our moment of potential action has not passed?

I’ve been out of the office for three months. But as of October 1, we have the ability.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Oren–Iran doesn’t take Obama’s military option seriously

Lest We Forget–Russian President, Saudi Spy Chief Discussed Syria, Egypt in a ‘stormy meeting’


A diplomatic report about the “stormy meeting” in July between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan concluded that the region stretching from North Africa to Chechnya and from Iran to Syria — in other words, the entire Middle East — has come under the influence of an open US-Russian face-off and that “it is not unlikely that things [will] take a dramatic turn in Lebanon, in both the political and security senses, in light of the major Saudi decision to respond to Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis.”

The report starts by presenting the conditions under which the Russian-Saudi meeting was convened. It states that Prince Bandar, in coordination with the Americans and some European partners, proposed to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz that Bandar visit Moscow and employ the carrot-and-stick approach, which is used in most negotiators, and offer the Russian leadership political, economic, military and security enticements in return for concessions on several regional issues, in particular Syria and Iran.

King Abdullah agreed with the proposal and contacted President Putin on July 30. In a conversation that lasted only a few minutes, they agreed to Bandar’s visit and to keep it under wraps. Bandar arrived in Moscow. The visit was secret. The Saudi Embassy did not follow the usual protocol for Saudi officials visiting Russia.

In Moscow, a preliminary session was held at Russian military intelligence headquarters between Bandar and the director of Russian Military Intelligence, Gen. Igor Sergon. The meeting focused on security cooperation between the two countries. Bandar then visited Putin’s house on the outskirts of the Russian capital, where they held a closed-door bilateral meeting that lasted four hours. They discussed the agenda, which consisted of bilateral issues and a number of regional and international matters in which the two countries share interest.

Bilateral relations

At the bilateral level, Bandar relayed the Saudi king’s greetings to Putin and the king’s emphasis on the importance of developing the bilateral relationship. He also told Putin that the king would bless any understanding reached during the visit. Bandar also said, however, that “any understanding we reach in this meeting will not only be a Saudi-Russian understanding, but will also be an American-Russian understanding. I have spoken with the Americans before the visit, and they pledged to commit to any understandings that we may reach, especially if we agree on the approach to the Syrian issue.”

Bandar stressed the importance of developing relations between the two countries, saying that the logic of interests can reveal large areas of cooperation. He gave several examples in the economic, investment, oil and military arenas.

Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values ​​and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. … As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

Putin thanked King Abdullah for his greetings and Bandar for his exposition, but then he said to Bandar, “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned. We are interested in developing friendly relations according to clear and strong principles.”

Bandar said that the matter is not limited to the kingdom and that some countries have overstepped the roles drawn for them, such as Qatar and Turkey. He added, “We said so directly to the Qataris and to the Turks. We rejected their unlimited support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. The Turks’ role today has become similar to Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war. We do not favor extremist religious regimes, and we wish to establish moderate regimes in the region. It is worthwhile to pay attention to and to follow up on Egypt’s experience. We will continue to support the [Egyptian] army, and we will support Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi because he is keen on having good relations with us and with you. And we suggest to you to be in contact with him, to support him and to give all the conditions for the success of this experiment. We are ready to hold arms deals with you in exchange for supporting these regimes, especially Egypt.”

Economic and oil cooperation

Then Bandar discussed the potential cooperation between the two countries if an understanding could be reached on a number of issues, especially Syria. He discussed at length the matter of oil and investment cooperation, saying, “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets. … We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas present in the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to Cyprus through Lebanon and Syria. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area as well as in the areas of establishing refineries and petrochemical industries. The kingdom can provide large multi-billion-dollar investments in various fields in the Russian market. What’s important is to conclude political understandings on a number of issues, particularly Syria and Iran.”

Putin responded that the proposals about oil and gas, economic and investment cooperation deserve to be studied by the relevant ministries in both countries.

Syria first

Bandar discussed the Syrian issue at length. He explained how the kingdom’s position had evolved on the Syrian crisis since the Daraa incident all the way to what is happening today. He said, “The Syrian regime is finished as far as we and the majority of the Syrian people are concerned. [The Syrian people] will not allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain at the helm. The key to the relations between our two countries starts by understanding our approach to the Syrian issue. So you have to stop giving [the Syrian regime] political support, especially at the UN Security Council, as well as military and economic support. And we guarantee you that Russia’s interests in Syria and on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected one bit. In the future, Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime that will be directly sponsored by us and that will have an interest in understanding Russia’s interests and role in the region.”

Russia’s intransigence is to Iran’s benefit

Bandar also presented Saudi Arabia’s views about Iran’s role in the region, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain and other countries. He said he hoped that the Russians would understand that Russia’s interests and the interests of the Gulf states are one in the face of Iranian greed and nuclear challenge.

Putin gave his country’s position on the Arab Spring developments, especially about what has happened in Libya, saying, “We are very concerned about Egypt. And we understand what the Egyptian army is doing. But we are very cautious in approaching what’s happening because we are afraid that things may slide toward an Egyptian civil war, which would be too costly for the Egyptians, the Arabs and the international community. I wanted to do a brief visit to Egypt. And the matter is still under discussion.”

Regarding Iran, Putin said to Bandar that Iran is a neighbor, that Russia and Iran are bound by relations that go back centuries, and that there are common and tangled interests between them. Putin said, “We support the Iranian quest to obtain nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And we helped them develop their facilities in this direction. Of course, we will resume negotiations with them as part of the 5P+1 group. I will meet with President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the Central Asia summit and we will discuss a lot of bilateral, regional and international issues. We will inform him that Russia is completely opposed to the UN Security Council imposing new sanctions on Iran. We believe that the sanctions imposed against Iran and Iranians are unfair and that we will not repeat the experience again.”

Erdogan to visit Moscow in September

Regarding the Turkish issue, Putin spoke of his friendship with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; “Turkey is also a neighboring country with which we have common interests. We are keen to develop our relations in various fields. During the Russian-Turkish meeting, we scrutinized the issues on which we agree and disagree. We found out that we have more converging than diverging views. I have already informed the Turks, and I will reiterate my stance before my friend Erdogan, that what is happening in Syria necessitates a different approach on their part. Turkey will not be immune to Syria’s bloodbath. The Turks ought to be more eager to find a political settlement to the Syrian crisis. We are certain that the political settlement in Syria is inevitable, and therefore they ought to reduce the extent of damage. Our disagreement with them on the Syrian issue does not undermine other understandings between us at the level of economic and investment cooperation. We have recently informed them that we are ready to cooperate with them to build two nuclear reactors. This issue will be on the agenda of the Turkish prime minister during his visit to Moscow in September.”

Putin: Our stance on Assad will not change

Regarding the Syrian issue, the Russian president responded to Bandar, saying, “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters. During the Geneva I Conference, we agreed with the Americans on a package of understandings, and they agreed that the Syrian regime will be part of any settlement. Later on, they decided to renege on Geneva I. In all meetings of Russian and American experts, we reiterated our position. In his upcoming meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will stress the importance of making every possible effort to rapidly reach a political settlement to the Syrian crisis so as to prevent further bloodshed.”

As soon as Putin finished his speech, Prince Bandar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although he appreciated the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt and their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt’s future.

The head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”

At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.

Posted in Russia, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Lest We Forget–Russian President, Saudi Spy Chief Discussed Syria, Egypt in a ‘stormy meeting’

Why PEACE TALKS ARE GOOD for Apartheid Adventures



This excellent short satirical video shows that Israel uses Peace Talks to further their Illegal Apartheid and Illegal Occupation of Palestinian Land and shows the Depravity of the Israelis’ beliefs about their Crimes against the Palestinian people./watch?v=FEOpL7CerIs#t=49

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Why PEACE TALKS ARE GOOD for Apartheid Adventures

As Russia grieves, Naziyahu sends condolences to Putin



After second attack, Naziyahu calls on nations to join forces against terror ??? , praises residents of Volgograd for ‘resilience, resolve, courage’

Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday sent his condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin after two suicide attacks in as many days in the southern city of Volgograd left dozens dead and more wounded.

On Monday, a suicide bomber blew up on a bus in Volgograd, killing 14 and wounding 30. A day earlier a suicide bombing in the city’s busy railway station left 16 people dead.

“These despicable attacks serve as a painful reminder of the urgent need for all peace-seeking nations to join forces in a united and concerted effort to eradicate the dangerous scourge of terrorism. I have no doubt that the citizens of Volgograd will continue to demonstrate the resilience, resolve and courage for which their city is renowned,” Netanyahu said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the Russian people at this difficult time,” he added.

On Sunday, President Shimon Peres offered his condolences.

“My heart goes out to those who have been affected by the heinous deed and by previous attacks which have afflicted Russia,” wrote Peres. “I cannot but strongly condemn attacks on innocent people by terrorists who are driven by hate and a thirst for destruction.”

The two explosions put the city of 1 million on edge and highlighted the terrorist threat that Russia faces as it prepares to host February’s Winter Games in Sochi. While terrorists may find it hard to get into tightly guarded Olympic facilities, the bombings have shown they can hit civilian targets elsewhere in Russia with shocking ease.

After the blasts Russian authorities ordered police to beef up security at train stations and other facilities across the country.

The heightened security comes as Russians are preparing to celebrate the New Year, the nation’s main holiday. In St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, the local governor canceled a New Year’s fireworks show.

President Vladimir Putin summoned officials to report on the attacks and sent Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency, to Volgograd to oversee the probe. The Sochi Olympics are Putin’s pet project.

After meeting with security officials in Volgograd, Bortnikov voiced confidence that officials would quickly find who was responsible for the attacks.

Volgograd, northeast of Sochi, serves as a key transportation hub for southern Russia, with numerous bus routes linking it to volatile provinces in Russia’s North Caucasus, where insurgents have been seeking an Islamic state.

Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for Russia’s main investigative agency, said Monday’s explosion involved a bomb similar to the one used in Sunday’s attack.

“That confirms the investigators’ version that the two terror attacks were linked,” Markin said in a statement.

Markin said a suicide bomber was responsible for the bus explosion, reversing an earlier statement that the blast was caused by a bomb left behind. At least 14 people were killed Monday and nearly 30 were wounded, according to public health officials. It was not clear if the dead included the bomber.

Seventeen people died in Sunday’s suicide bombing, including the bomber, authorities said.

No one has claimed responsibility for either bombing, but they came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Olympics.

Volgograd, formerly called Stalingrad, also serves as an important symbol of Russian pride because of the historic World War II battle in which the Soviets turned the tide against the Nazis.

“Volgograd, a symbol of Russia’s suffering and victory in World War II, has been singled out by the terrorist leaders precisely because of its status in people’s minds,” Dmitry Trenin, the head of the Carnegie Endowment’s Moscow office, wrote on the organization’s website.

Monday’s explosion ripped away much of the bus’s exterior and shattered windows in nearby buildings. It paralyzed public transport in the city, forcing many residents to walk long distances to get to work.

Police quickly dispersed a few dozen people who attempted to hold an unsanctioned ceremony to commemorate the victims.

Russian authorities have been slow to introduce stringent security checks on bus routes, making them the transport of choice for terrorists. A few months ago authorities began requiring intercity bus passengers to produce identification when buying tickets, like rail or air passengers, but procedures have remained lax.

But even tight rail security is sometimes not enough. On Sunday, the suicide bomber at Volgograd’s train station blew up his device in front of the station’s metal detectors when a policeman became suspicious. That policeman died and other police were among the some 40 people wounded.

The regional government has introduced five-day mourning for the victims, and nationwide TV stations said they would revise their programming to make it more solemn.

The Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified law enforcement source as saying that a Slavic resident of a Volga River province could have been the railway suicide bomber. It said the man joined the Islamic rebels in Dagestan in 2012 and took an Arabic nom-de-guerre. There was no confirmation of that report from any official sources.

Russia in past years has seen a series of terror attacks on buses, trains and airplanes, some carried out by suicide bombers.

Twin bombings on the Moscow subway in March 2010 by female suicide bombers killed 40 people and wounded more than 120. In January 2011, a male suicide bomber struck Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, killing 37 people and injuring more than 180.

Umarov, who had claimed responsibility for the 2010 and 2011 bombings, ordered a halt to attacks on civilian targets during the mass street protests against Putin in the winter of 2011-12. He reversed that order in July, urging his men to “do their utmost to derail” the Sochi Olympics, which he described as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.”

The International Olympics Committee expressed its condolences over Sunday’s bombing in Volgograd, but said it was confident of Russia’s ability to protect the Games.

Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov said Monday there was no need to take any extra steps to secure Sochi in the wake of the Volgograd bombings as “everything necessary already has been done.”

Russian authorities have introduced some of the most extensive identity checks and sweeping security measures ever seen at an international sports event.

The security zone created around Sochi stretches approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) along the Black Sea coast and up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland. Russian forces include special troops to patrol the forested mountains flanking the resort, drones to keep constant watch over Olympic facilities and speed boats to patrol the coast.

Anyone wanting to attend the games that open on Feb. 7 will have to buy a ticket online from the organizers and obtain a “spectator pass” for access. Doing so will require providing passport details and contacts that will allow the authorities to screen all visitors.

The security plan includes a ban on cars from outside the zone a month before the games begin.

Suicide bombings have rocked Russia for years, but many have been contained to the Caucasus, the center of an insurgency seeking an Islamist state in the region. Until recently Volgograd was not a typical target, but the city formerly known as Stalingrad has now been struck twice in two months — suggesting militants may be using the transportation hub as a renewed way of showing their reach outside their restive region.

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