What’s Happening in the Middle East While All Eyes Are on Obamacare?
USA Today reported on October 25th that Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month. Despite this, the Obama Administration has been trying to convince Congress not to go ahead with a bill to tighten sanctions against Iran, and to stall Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to keep the sanctions tight until strict conditions are met.
Top diplomats are warning that Iran is capable of purifying its stockpile to 90% weapons grade levels in a matter of weeks. Iran has spent much of the last year installing more, and more sophisticated, centrifuges in its nuclear enrichment facilities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said on October 27th that “Iran is prepared to give up enriching uranium to 20 percent and therefore debate on this subject is unimportant… The important part stems from technological improvements which allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5 percent to 90 percent in a number of weeks. Pressure on Iran, which continues enrichment while negotiating, must be intensified.”
NOW Media reported that Iran is to hold a new round of talks on the issue with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany in Geneva on November 7-8. Talks have been going on between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi, and American officials trying to work out an accord to end production of weapons grade materials while allowing Iran to go ahead on energy producing nuclear power, even though Iran has more than enough energy in oil.
Israel, who would be the first to face a nuclear threat should Iran develop nuclear weapons, wants Iran agree to four conditions before the sanctions are eased: halting all uranium enrichment; removing all enriched uranium from its territory; closing its underground nuclear facility in Qom, and halting construction of a plutonium reactor.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said Israel reserves the right to launch unilateral military action against Iran if necessary to stop it developing the ability to build a nuclear bomb.
On October 31st Debkafile reported that during talks, Sec. of State Kerry and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is the senior US negotiator, are handling the second level of direct negotiations opposite Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araqchi. According to the article, ‘Kerry sounded unusually impatient Monday October 28, when he said, “Some have suggested that somehow there’s something wrong with giving diplomacy a chance. We will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise.” And he ‘lashed out against what he regards as the prime minister’s “fear tactics.” Neither did he admit how much progress had been made in the direct US line with Tehran.’
As far as Congress is concerned about tighter sanctions, Sen. Mark Kirk (R) Illinois whose Senate Banking Committee is considering legislation to tighten Iran sanctions, said reports shows that Iran is expanding its nuclear capabilities under the cover of negotiations and that “The Senate should move forward immediately with a new round of sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring an undetectable breakout capability.”
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for Obama’s National Security Council said that the administration would continue consulting with Congress “so that any congressional action is aligned with our negotiating strategy as we move forward.”
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani still maintains that Iran has no interest in nuclear weapons but that producing nuclear fuel is their right, yet Iran has blocked international inspectors from facilities to verify they are being used for peaceful purposes, access required under international agreements it has signed. UN inspectors have found evidence of a weapons program in violation of Iran’s commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is why the sanctions were put in place. Now it would seem Obama wants to loosen sanctions as “dialogue” continues.
Next, we have things going on with Israel. Five IDF soldiers were wounded in southern Gaza on the evening of October 31st when terrorists detonated an explosive device as IDF soldiers were working to blow up parts of the terror tunnel that was recently discovered. As the soldiers crossed the border fence, the device was detonated. In response to the attack, the IDF fired a shell at terror suspects in the nearby Gazan district. One Palestinian gunman was killed and a second was wounded, according to Palestinian medical sources. IAF aircraft also struck an attack tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip. Three members of the Hamas Kassam Brigades were killed in the strike east of the town Qarara, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
In the latest in talks between Israel and the Palestinians which John Kerry has been trying to negotiate peace deals with, Debkafiles reported on the 28th of October that since Israel gave into demands and released 26 jailed Palestinians serving life sentences for murdering Israelis; Mahmoud Abbas has outlined some more incredible demands.
Forget Obama’s demand of 1967 lines- Abbas wants an Israeli pullback going all the way to the 1949 armistice lines! Among the areas that the Palestinians want are districts between the Old City and West Jerusalem, all parts of East Jerusalem including shrines sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, which would be under sole Palestinian authority (but hey, they did promise to allow of freedom of worship!). Also the Golan slopes running down to the Sea of Galilee and the Nitzana section north of the Gaza Strip – plus one third of Dead Sea water and shore.
They demand that electromagnetic space (radio frequencies, satellite and other communications) be under sole Palestinian control- I guess that’s so they can air more quality programming to their children.
They also demand that all parts of the Palestinian state be clear of Israeli civilian and military presence, so in essence, they expect to be allowed to be ethnically cleansed of Jews, yet they demand that every Palestinian “refugee”(as per the Palestinian Authority’s definition of up to the fourth generation) will be free to choose between three options: settlement in Israel or the Palestinian state or staying at their present locations and whichever option is chosen, they will be entitled to “appropriate restitution”.
Sounds fair. What is it that Palestinians must pledge? Oh right. Peace.
Speaking of Peace, there were supposed to be Pro-Morsi coalition protests last week in the Sinai, inspired by ‘resistance to Israel’ and the coalition also announced there would be protests at home and abroad on November 4th outside consulates and human rights organizations because, “The legitimate president supported our just cause in Palestine, this is why they turned against him and ousted him by force. He was resilient and was framed with charges usually used by Zionists against the resistance, i.e. he was accused of spying for Hamas.” This according to a statement put out by the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy.
Elsewhere around Egypt, Students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood blocked the Al-Azhar University administration building on October 30th, then they stormed the building and kept university head Osama al-Abd and other employees locked inside until police forces were able to free them. Also on the 30th, six students were injured, including two who received gunshot wounds at Zagazig University when fights broke out between pro and anti Morsi student groups. Other schools saw clashes including Helwan, Assiut and Cairo Universities.
While the Egyptian Court recuses itself from the trial of Brotherhood leaders and is turned over to the Cairo Court of Appeals, some potentially good news, Egyptian authorities are lifting major restrictions on the construction of new churches which means protecting freedom of religion for the Coptic Christians who have suffered under Morsi’s brotherhood.
Since the Obama Administration now has demanded promised aid to be cut back which the State Department pegged the total cut at $260 million of Egypt’s $1.5 billion in annual U.S. assistance, Cairo made bids for brand-new Russian SS-25 ballistic missiles in major arms transaction with Moscow.
Speaking of Russia and weapons, the US leaked news that the Israeli Air Force attacked a missile consignment in Latakia in western Syria to prevent its reaching Hezbollah. Israeli officials accused the Obama government of leaking the information in breach of the agreements reached between Israel and the White House on Syria, meant to cooperate in the effort to prevent advanced weapons from reaching Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon from Syria. According to Arab sources, the weapons were Russian-made mobile missiles.
Israeli, Jordanian and Saudi commands are very wary as al Qaida groups are gathering in Syria near the borders of the three countries. Saudi intelligence services now estimate that Al Qaida groups have approximately 6,000 fighting activists in Syria with more pouring into the country from all over the world. Saudi intelligence experts calculate that the current numbers will double in the next six months and the 12,000 jihadists concentrated in Syria by next spring may grow to 15-18,000 by the winter of 2014.
Saudi Intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan has warned that Riyadh cannot afford to have al Qaida so close– in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Egyptian Sinai, and threatening to overrun Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. All of this while back at the end of September, the Obama administration waived provisions of a federal law that ban the supply of weapons and money to terrorists so they can continue to arm the terrorists in Syria against Assad.
While Fallout is happening over Obamacare in the US, the Middle East is a Mess. While everyone’s eyes have been on the failure of the Obamacare system, private policies being dropped or prices skyrocketing, most folks haven’t been paying attention to what the Obama administration’s other hand is and isn’t doing in the Middle East, which could spell more of a disaster than lousy government run socialized healthcare.