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Do You Trust The Russians?

DO YOU TRUST THE RUSSIANS? FDD’s Jim Woolsey and Rebeccah Heinrichs write:
President Barack Obama’s administration recently threatened to veto the defense budget, citing “serious concerns“ over provisions that limit the U.S. missile defense know-how that the White House is permitted to share with Moscow. This is the sort of information that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in his earlier days, would have assigned his spies to steal. Through its single-minded pursuit of “resetting” relations with Russia, the Obama administration may simply be willing to hand over this information and, in doing so, weaken U.S. national security. …

Tehran is thumbing its nose at Washington and doubling down on its missile program. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told a congressional panel in March that Iran “would likely choose missile delivery as its preferred method of delivering a nuclear weapon” and that the Islamic Republic “continues to expand the scale, reach and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces, many of which are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear payload.”

Russian assistance has contributed to the progress made by Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. Should the United States share critical information about its missile defenses with the Russians, a Russian entity -- official or otherwise -- could pass that information along to Tehran, enabling the Iranians to capitalize on the weaknesses in the U.S. system.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration continues to demonstrate its penchant for bargaining away missile defense, and the United States is not currently developing and deploying missile defense technology at the rate and quantity the threat demands. …

The House defense bill added funds for short-range defenses, the GMD system, and Aegis; and perhaps most strikingly, it mandated the administration to conduct a study on the technical and operational feasibility of space-based interceptors -- the ideal type of system to intercept missiles at the optimal point, during their boost phase.

But as the administration’s veto threat demonstrates, the future of U.S. missile defense requires more than Congress alone can provide. Here’s hoping that the White House comes to its senses and stops trying to use a degradation in U.S. national security to purchase a Russian “reset.”
More here.
“Progressive” scientist Yousaf Butt offers a rebuttal here.
PEACE PROCESS, RIP: Among the points I make in my column this week:
Palestinian leaders, both those from Hamas and from Fatah, say they now plan to hold elections in 2012. Obama and European leaders have the clout to ensure that Palestinian voters are given a clear choice. Do they want peace with Israel and, if so, are they willing to make concessions and accept sacrifices to achieve it? Or would they prefer to continue the conflict, to fight as long as it takes to defeat and destroy Israel, no matter the cost?

The data — including numerous polls as well as a Foundation for Defense of Democracies study of Palestinian sentiment as expressed through social media — indicate that most Palestinians are likely to choose war over peace. Better to wage an exterminationist jihad than tolerate an infidel nation — the only one left in the broader Middle East from Morocco to Pakistan — as a neighbor. But a free and fair campaign, one that includes a real debate about the choices facing Palestinians might focus minds. It might even change minds.
More here.
SAUDI RULES: The thanks Obama gets for bowing to King Abdullah and not mentioning the lack of basic rights in Saudi Arabia during his “Arab Spring” piece: a direct threat from the House of Sa’ud:
In September, the kingdom will use its considerable diplomatic might to support the Palestinians in their quest for international recognition. American leaders have long called Israel an “indispensable” ally. They will soon learn that there are other players in the region — not least the Arab street — who are as, if not more, “indispensable.” …

Commentators have long speculated about the demise of Saudi Arabia as a regional powerhouse. They have been sorely disappointed. Similarly, history will prove wrong those who imagine that the future of Palestine will be determined by the United States and Israel. There will be disastrous consequences for U.S.-Saudi relations if the United States vetoes U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. It would mark a nadir in the decades-long relationship as well as irrevocably damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and America’s reputation among Arab nations. The ideological distance between the Muslim world and the West in general would widen — and opportunities for friendship and cooperation between the two could vanish. …
More here.
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes:
Former U.S. ambassador to Martin Indyk is sadly representative of the cult of peace processors. His penchant for moral relativism (with the mandatory trumped-up criticism of Israel) and selective memory has in the Obama administration been coupled with cheering the White House’s more hostile stance toward the Jewish state. We might suspect the latter has something to do with ambitions to replace George Mitchell. His latest missive in the Financial Times personifies the intellectual cul-de-sac into which the non-peace. non-process has led us. …

He proclaims, “Mr Obama should announce during the summer that he is inviting them to resume the negotiations on the basis of these terms of reference with a timeline for an agreement by the September 2012 UNGA meeting.” Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies e-mails me, “Indyk apparently thinks that Obama can slap together a serious diplomatic summit in a few weeks and then hammer out an agreement (which has eluded us for a century) before September. For those counting, that’s three months from now.”
EGYPTOLOGY: FDD’s Khairi Abaza reports that the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood
now insist on holding elections in September, and allowing the winners to draft the new constitution.

This is a formula for allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to supplant the military as the arbiter of another authoritarian system. The military council knows well what Western leaders fear when they see the brutal work of largely extremist groups such as the Salafis, who have been involved in a growing number of attacks against Christians and other Muslims in Egypt.

Whether or not they support these attacks, the military leaders may benefit from them politically, as the violence allows less radical but still religious groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to present themselves as more mainstream. This drags the country’s political center farther toward the theocratic extremes, worrying Washington.

The Obama administration must make clear that the money it has promised Egypt’s transitional government -- $1 billion, plus another billion in loan guarantees -- is tied to ongoing political and economic reforms, including respect for human rights, a truly democratic constitution with checks and balances, equality for all Egyptians under the law and a commitment to a free-market economy. These steps will help keep Egypt from sliding back to despotism.
More here.
Yale University last week killed the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism -- the only program of its kind in the country, an academically stellar one-stop anti-Semitism research shop. Worse, it almost certainly did so because YIISA refused to ignore the most virulent, genocidal and common form of Jew-hatred today: Muslim anti-Semitism.

Citing an official review by a faculty committee that it refuses to identify, Yale will shut down the program at the end of next month. The university’s top flack, Director of Strategic Communications Charles “Robin” Hogen, wrote an e-mail claiming that YIISA had failed a key test: It was supposed to “serve the research and teaching interests of some significant group of Yale faculty and . . . be sustained by the creative energy of a critical mass of Yale faculty.”

Funny, last year, at YIISA’s hugely successful inaugural conference on global anti-Semitism, Yale Deputy Provost Frances Rosenbluth said just the opposite, noting that YIISA was “guided by an outstanding group of scholars from all over the university representing many different disciplines,” including professors of history, sociology, comparative languages, psychiatry, economics and political science.

Actually, Hogen’s e-mail itself contradicts Yale’s stated excuse: He notes that “the steering committee did express continued support for the faculty reading group on anti-Semitism.” Plus, “institutional support will remain for the group of faculty who wish to continue their scholarly exploration of this important subject.”

Which is it -- no faculty interested in studying anti-Semitism, or lots of faculty interest in studying anti-Semitism?

It apparently depends on which anti-Semitism. Christian anti-Semitism is fine; political Jew-hatred, like communist or fascist anti-Semitism, no problem. But get anywhere near Muslim or Middle Eastern anti-Semitism, as presenters at YIISA’s conference did last year, and you’ve crossed the line.

Yale certainly got an earful after the conference. The PLO representative in America scolded the school’s president, Richard Levin, complaining of the attention paid to anti-Semitism among Palestinians and Muslims.

“It’s shocking that a respected institution like Yale would give a platform to these right-wing extremists and their odious views,” PLO “Ambassador” Maen Rashid Areikat wrote. “I urge you to publicly dissociate yourself and Yale University from the anti-Arab extremism and hate-mongering that were on display during this conference.”

Other attacks came from left-wing bloggers and anti-Israel bigots, as well as one Yale law student who complained about the conference’s potential dangers.
More here.
DID PAKISTAN TIP OFF MILITANTS AHEAD OF A U.S. STRIKE? Outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta just took an unannounced trip to confront Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, over the accusations:
During an unannounced trip to Pakistan’s capital on Friday, Mr. Panetta met with the leader of the Pakistani intelligence service, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and showed him satellite photographs and other evidence of what the C.I.A. believes to be two facilities for the manufacture of bombs used by militants based in Pakistan against American forces in Afghanistan, the official said. The bomb facilities were in the northwestern districts of North and South Waziristan, both havens for militants.

The official said Mr. Panetta was compelled to confront General Pasha after the C.I.A. alerted the Pakistanis about the existence of the bomb-making facilities several weeks ago and asked them to raid the locations. But when the Pakistani Army showed up, the militants were gone, making the C.I.A. suspicious that the militants had warning from someone on the Pakistani side.

“The targets seem to have been tipped off,” the American official said, adding, “There are indications that some senior Pakistani officials aren’t happy about it, and neither are we, of course.”

A senior Pakistani official said Saturday that at first there was no reason for Pakistan to be suspicious that the bomb makers had disappeared. “Extremist groups often move locations,” the official said. But, the official said, “now that the U.S. side has drawn our attention to the possibility of the Taliban being tipped off between the day the intelligence was shared and the day of our military action, we will work on finding out what happened.”

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.

Mr. Panetta’s meeting with General Pasha and the theory that there was a tip-off about the bomb-making facilities were first reported by Time magazine. ...

American intelligence and military officials have long said that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service have close links to Pakistani insurgents and the Pakistani Taliban. American officials say Pakistan supports the insurgents as a proxy force in Afghanistan, preparing for influence after American soldiers leave.

Mr. Panetta, who is due to replace Mr. Gates as defense secretary on July 1, said during his confirmation hearing last week that Pakistan, an important American ally, also remained a serious problem.

He told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the relationship with Pakistan was “one of the most critical, and yet one of the most complicated and frustrating relationships that we have.” Mr. Panetta added that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons remained a concern because of “the danger that those nukes could wind up in the wrong hands.”
More here.
SYRIAN FORCES CRACK DOWN ON NORTHERN TOWN: Bashar al-Assad’s regime is getting even nastier with the protesters who threaten it:
Syrian troops rounded up hundreds of people in a sweep through villages near Jisr al-Shughour on Monday, fleeing residents said, after President Bashar al-Assad’s army retook the rebellious town.

Nearly 7,000 Syrians have already fled the region around Jisr al-Shughour, seeking sanctuary in neighboring Turkey, while thousands more are sheltering close to the frontier in rural areas just inside Syria, activists say.

Monday’s wave of arrests followed an army assault on the northwestern town, with troops backed by helicopters and tanks regaining control one week after authorities said 120 security personnel were killed in fighting they blamed on “armed groups.”

Some residents said the killings followed a mutiny, or a refusal by some troops to shoot protesters who had joined nationwide demonstrations calling for an end to Assad’s rule.

Refugees from Jisr al-Shughour, sheltering on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, said the military was combing villages to the east of the town and arresting hundreds of men between the ages of 18 and 40, in a pattern seen in other military crackdowns since the unrest started in March.

One person who escaped from Jisr al-Shughour, called Khaled, said two mosques had been hit by tank shelling and the bodies of three fleeing residents, a man, a woman and a child laid on a road 2 km north of the town near a packing material factory.

Mustafa, a 39-year-old mason who fled on Sunday, said there were nine bodies in Jisr al-Shughour and seven on the outskirts.

“This would be a relatively light death toll,” one activist in Damascus said. “The shelling and firing have been indiscriminate and we have been fearing a higher death toll.”

Syrian rights groups say 1,300 civilians have been killed since the start of the uprising. One group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says more than 300 soldiers and police have also been killed.

The government says the protests are part of a violent conspiracy backed by foreign powers to sow sectarian strife.

Army units “have taken total control of Jisr al-Shughour and are chasing remnants of the armed terrorist gangs in the woods and mountains,” the Syrian news agency said on Sunday. ...

Residents said the army unit attacking Jisr al-Shughour was commanded by Assad’s brother Maher and employed the same tactics used to crush protests in other areas.

The United States has accused Syria’s government of creating a “humanitarian crisis” and urged it to halt its offensive and allow immediate access by the International Committee for the Red Cross to help refugees, detainees and the wounded.
More here.
THE ARAB SPRING? Lee Smith writes:
Half a year after the fall of Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, it’s time for a partial reckoning of the Arab Spring. Verdict: Uncertain. …

[The Arab Spring] is the outgrowth of the Arab civil wars, with sects pitted against each other as well as tribes, clans, and families, and with states squared off against their own people. Toppling regimes like Mubarak’s and Ben Ali’s has shown the problem is not merely the regimes. The problem is the character of the societies that gives rise to these regimes.

To rebuild or merely stay solvent in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, many of the Arab states (excepting, of course, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms) need money. This will call on the resourcefulness and patience of the democracies. What the Arabs need most, though, is their own peace process, reconciliation and confidence-building among themselves. And that will call on a White House that has understood the last six months in the Middle East in all its dimensions, and comprehends the bounding hope as well as the keening despair of the Arab Spring.
More here.
FDD’s Benjamin Weinthal says that the Assad regime in Syria
is relying on its longstanding crude method of hoodwinking its population into believing that their economic malaise and lack of human freedom are the result of the existence of the Jewish state. But it’s game-over for Assad. The mini-movements popping up across Syria are seeking to dissolve his regime, and Syrians have long come to the realization that Assad’s fiercely totalitarian government is to blame for their woes. When will President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton finally declare Assad to be yesterday’s man? Crystal-clear words from President Obama would be a real shot in the arm for Syria’s democrats.
More here.
On U.S.-German relations, Ben writes that Chancellor Angela Merkel
has at least kept Germany’s roughly 5,000-strong military contingent in Afghanistan. Merkel also celebrated the success of the U.S. Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden. “I’m glad that killing Bin Laden was successful,” she said after the raid.

But she soon watered down her remarks in the face of a wave of domestic criticism, including the ironic comment of former Social Democratic chancellor and World War II–era Wehrmacht soldier Helmut Schmidt that bin Laden’s targeted killing was “clearly a violation of international law.” …

Merkel’s government has also succumbed to rising political pressure by declining to share valuable intelligence information that would enable American drones to wipe out terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. According to a Der Spiegel magazine article last month, Germany’s interior ministry and the Verfassungsschutz, its domestic intelligence agency, have stopped providing the U.S. government with data that could help locate radical German Islamists for drone strikes on the battlefields of South Asia.
More here.
AQ & IRAN: Even the leading Arabic international daily is now reporting what FDD long has been arguing:
A regional source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “we are certain that some al-Qaeda activists and leadership figures are present in Iran, but we do not know how the two sides [al-Qaeda and Iran] are dealing with each other. Yet it is definite that al-Qaeda’s followers in Iran are under control.” …

Giving an account of how al-Qaeda used Iran as a center for its operations, the regional source confirmed that the “honeymoon period” between the two sides began with the war in Afghanistan. This saw al-Qaeda members on Afghan soil fleeing to the country for three destinations; some fled to Tora Bora, whilst others infiltrated Pakistan, and others traveled to Iran.

The source stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is certain that Iran has had dealings with al-Qaeda members and leaders who took refuge in the country, fleeing from the US military that was striking Afghanistan.” The source indicated that the Iranians seem to have imposed their authority upon the al-Qaeda members who entered the country, yet they have not prevented these al-Qaeda elements from performing their assigned roles.

The regional source raised a number of questions that may help in uncovering the truth behind the relations between al-Qaeda and Iran, asking “did Iran host al-Qaeda in order to secure a truce and avoid becoming a future target? Or did Tehran exploit al-Qaeda in order to achieve its goals in certain countries with whom it differs politically and ideologically?” The source stressed that these two questions about the nature of the relationship between al-Qaeda and Iran are still being raised in political circles today.

The source hinted that al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, the majority of whose members are Saudi and Yemeni nationals, was formed as a result of orders issued by the organization’s leadership in Iran.
More here.
FUNNY MONEY: YNet reports:
Arab and European countries support Palestinian funds which donate to leftist movements in Israel “in order to influence public and legal discourse in Israeli and international media.”
More here.
NEW EUROPE: The Poles, whose troops have made outsized contributions to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, have agreed to host a permanent U.S. Air Force base:
Poland and the United States have signed an agreement that will allow U.S. Air Force to station its troops and aircraft permanently in Poland.

Poland’s Defense Minister Bogdan Klich and U.S. Ambassador Lee Feinstein signed the agreement on Monday.

According to the memorandum, starting in 2013, a U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment will be the first ever to be permanently stationed in Poland. It will provide support for U.S. F-16 fighters and C-130 transport aircraft.

Poland, a NATO member since 1999, is a staunch U.S. ally.
More here.
NAVY INTERCEPTS NORTH KOREAN SHIP SUSPECTED OF PROLIFERATING MISSILE TECHNOLOGY: U.S. officials have revealed that a U.S. Navy destroyer recently intercepted a North Korean ship, and forced it to turn back:
SEOUL, South Korea — The United States Navy intercepted a North Korean ship it suspected of carrying missile technology to Myanmar two weeks ago and, after a standoff at sea and several days of diplomatic pressure from Washington and Asia nations, forced the vessel to return home, according to several senior American officials.

Washington made no announcement about the operation, which paralleled a similar, far more public confrontation with North Korea two years ago. But in response to questions about what appears to be a growing trade in missiles and missile parts between North Korea and Myanmar — two of the world’s most isolated governments — American officials have described the episode as an example of how they can use a combination of naval power and diplomatic pressure to enforce United Nations sanctions imposed after the North’s last nuclear test, in 2009.

It was a rare victory: a similar shipment of suspected missile parts made it to Myanmar last year before American officials could act. Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to squeeze North Korea with both economic and trade sanctions, there are continuing reports of sophisticated missile technology exchanges, some of it by air, between North Korea and Iran, among other nations.

North Korea, aware that shipments leaving the country are under increased scrutiny, has found a profitable trading partner in the authoritarian government in Myanmar.

The extent of that trade is unclear to American intelligence agencies. Two years ago, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly expressed suspicions that Myanmar was attempting to purchase nuclear weapons technology, but it recently said it was too poor to use such technology. And the evidence has been scant at best. (In 2009, India inspected a North Korean ship that was believed to be carrying equipment for a nuclear reactor to Myanmar, but quickly discovered that its contents were legal.)

The most recent episode began after American officials tracked a North Korean cargo ship, the M/V Light, that was believed to have been involved in previous illegal shipments. Suspecting that it was carrying missile components, they dispatched a Navy vessel, the destroyer McCampbell, to track it.

“This case had an interesting wrinkle: the ship was North Korean, but it was flagged in Belize,” one American official said, meaning it was registered in that Central American nation, perhaps to throw off investigators.

But Belize is a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative, an effort begun by President George W. Bush’s administration to sign up countries around the world to interdict suspected unconventional weapons. It is an effort that, like the military and C.I.A. drone programs, Mr. Obama has adopted, and one of the rare areas where he has praised his predecessor.
More here.
AFGHAN POLICE RECRUITS IMPOSE “ISLAMIC TAX” ON CITIZENS: Some Afghan police recruits are apparently levying taxes not unlike the Taliban does on the people they are meant to protect:
KABUL, Afghanistan — Ghulam Hazrat should be a poster boy for the peaceful reintegration of insurgents who want to switch sides. Six months ago he was a Taliban commander in the troubled Imam Sahib district of northern Kunduz Province. Now he and 10 of his followers are in the process of becoming police officers, at which point the government will start paying them salaries.

In the meantime, however, Mr. Hazrat is raising money the same way he did as a Taliban commander, by imposing an “Islamic tax” on people in his district.

“The government is telling me to fight the Taliban and protect your area so we must ask people for help in order to take care of myself and my friends,” he said in an interview. He and other militiamen who have declared for the government and hope to join the local police, a group known as arbakai, insist that people give the money voluntarily.

Judging by the public outcry, however, the donors see things differently. They are often forced to hand over a tenth of their earnings, just as they were when the Taliban ran things. In Kunduz, where the police training program has been operating since late last year, radio talk shows have been flooded by angry callers complaining about the arbakai militias, meetings of elders have denounced their behavior, and even provincial government officials have expressed concern.

The American-financed program aims to convert insurgents into village self-defense forces called Afghan Local Police, distinct from the existing national police force. It is a favorite initiative of the NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who considers it a key part of his counterinsurgency strategy.

Afghan police officials see it as an inexpensive way to beef up their forces, particularly in remote areas. The Afghan Local Police are organized and trained by American Special Forces units in cooperation with the Afghan authorities and, working at the village level, are paid half of what national police officers earn.

So far the program has trained 6,200 officers in 41 districts, and aims to recruit 30,000 in 100 districts in 14 provinces by the end of the year.

But it has aroused concern among aid workers and United Nations officials, who say it risks empowering local warlords who have little regard for human rights or proper behavior.
More here.
SEX SLAVERY IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD: I kid you not. Raymond Ibrahim reports:
Last week witnessed popular Muslim preacher Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini boast about how Islam allows Muslims to buy and sell conquered infidel women, so that “When I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.”

This week’s depraved anachronism comes from a Muslim woman—Salwa al-Mutairi, a political activist and former parliamentary candidate for Kuwait’s government, no less: She, too, seeks to “revive the institution of sex-slavery.”
More here.
--Cliff May