Latest Analysis and Commentary

Greece: A "No-Go" Zone in Athens?

by Maria Polizoidou  •  April 20, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "[T]he neighborhood has... platoons, companies, battalions, Kalashnikovs. I don't know any more if we, as a police force, have the political mandate to clear the area. This region is a matter for the army now." — Stavros Balaskas, vice president of the Greek Federation of Police Officers, April 6, 2019.

  • "...[T]here are now too many illegal immigrants in Exarchia who are drug traffickers [and] gun traffickers... they have essentially taken over the whole place." — Michalis Chrysochoidis, a former Greek Minister of Citizen Protection, who was responsible for the 2002 dismantling of the "November 17" domestic terrorist organization, April 8, 2019

  • In Exarchia, these groups -- which conduct criminal activities and terrorize local residents -- have, in effect, created a "no-go zone," where even police are afraid to enter.

According to Stavros Balaskas, vice president of the Greek Federation of Police Officers, anarchist gangs in the Athens neighborhood of Exarchia have "platoons, companies, battalions, Kalashnikovs. I don't know any more if we, as a police force, have the political mandate to clear the area. This region is a matter for the army now." Pictured: A street in Exarchia following a riot, in December 2008. (Image source: Xenos2008/Wikimedia Commons)

An assault on members of the Hellenic Coast Guard during a drug raid in Athens on April 4 highlights a growing problem in Greece. Some opponents of the far-left Syriza-led government attribute the increasing drug traffic in the country to a dangerous alliance between political anarchists and illegal immigrants. The anarchists might be considered the Greek equivalent of the "far left". According to Reuters:

"Many self-proclaimed anarchists - the word stems from the Greek 'anarchia' or absence of authority - say they are pacifist, but certain groups have few qualms about using violence. Six years of recession have fuelled a new wave of left-wing militancy, according to officials, anarchists and court testimony."

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Spain: Does the Term 'Islamist' Constitute Hate Speech?

by Soeren Kern  •  April 19, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "The external enemies want to tell us how to run our country.... Angela Merkel and her fellow travelers, George Soros, the immigration mafias, believe that they can tell us who can and cannot enter our country. They demand that our boats pluck so-called castaways out of the sea, transfer them to our ports and shower them with money. Who do they think we are?" — Ortega Smith, Secretary General of the Vox party, Spain.

  • "These.... groups stand out not because of prejudice ('Islamophobia' or racism) but due to their being the least assimilable of foreigners, an array of problems associated with them, such as not working and criminal activity, and a fear that they will impose their ways on Europe.... Other concerns deal with Muslim attitudes toward non-Muslims, including Christophobia and Judeophobia, jihadi violence, and the insistence that Islam enjoy a privileged status vis-à-vis other religions" — Daniel Pipes, historian, "Europe's Civilizationist Parties," Commentary, November 2018.

  • "We all know about the lack of freedom, if not direct persecution, suffered by women and Christians in Islamic countries, while here they enjoy the generosity characteristic of freedom, democracy and reciprocity, of course, all of which they systematically deny...." — Santiago Abascal, President of the Vox party, "Trojan Horse," Libertad Digital, December 2014.

  • "The left defends any gratuitous offense, even the most beastly ones, against Christians as 'freedom of expression.' At the same time, the mere fact of criticizing Islam is branded as 'Islamophobia.' .... Is this still Spain or are we in Iran?" — Elentir, blogger, Contando Estrelas.

Vox, a fast-rising Spanish populist party, describes itself as is a socially conservative political project aimed at defending traditional Spanish values from the challenges posed by mass migration, multiculturalism and globalism. Vox's foundational mission statement affirms that the party is dedicated to constitutional democracy, free-market capitalism and the rule of law. Pictured: Santiago Abascal, President of Vox, arrives at a party rally in Granada, Spain on April 17, 2019. (Image source: David Ramos/Getty Images)

Spanish prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation to determine whether the secretary general of Vox, a fast-rising Spanish populist party, is guilty of hate speech for warning of an "Islamist invasion."

The criminal inquiry, based on a complaint from a Muslim activist group, appears aimed at silencing critical discussion of Islam ahead of national elections on April 28. More broadly, however, the case poses a potentially immeasurable threat to the exercise of free speech in Spain.

Prosecutors in Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, said that they were investigating Javier Ortega Smith, the second-ranking leader of Vox, for an alleged hate crime after they received a complaint from a Muslim group called "Muslims Against Islamophobia" (Musulmanes Contra la Islamofobia).

At a rally in Valencia on September 16, 2018, Ortega Smith declared that Europe's "common enemy" is the "Islamist invasion":

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China's Aggression in the South China Sea

by Debalina Ghoshal  •  April 18, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • As protesters gathered outside the Chinese Embassy on April 10 in Manila, to express their outrage at China's naval aggression, U.S. and Filipino troops conducted a joint military exercise in the South China Sea, aimed at preparing the Philippines to "deal with any potential island invasion."

  • Any such shift on the part of Manila towards Moscow should cause Washington to step up its engagement with the Philippines, to prevent Chinese and Russian attempts at controlling the South China Sea's rich resources and China possibly seizing it as a maritime chokepoint.

Increased Chinese encroachment on the Spratly Islands should be cause for alarm in Washington. This month, U.S. and Filipino troops conducted a joint military exercise in the South China Sea, partly aimed at preparing the Philippines to "deal with any potential island invasion." Pictured: The US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (top center) maneuvers alongside the Philippine Navy offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz and landing platform dock BRP Tarlac in support of Exercise Balikatan, on April 5, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker)

A long-standing territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila over Thitu Island (also known as Pagasa), one of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, resurfaced in full force recently, when more than 200 Chinese boats were spotted in the vicinity of the island. Thitu Island is controlled and administered by the Philippines, and Filipino civilians and military personnel inhabit the island. Sovereignty over the island is claimed by the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Increased Chinese encroachment on the Spratly Islands -- and a recent "goodwill visit" of Russian Navy ships to the Philippines -- should be cause for alarm in Washington.

In recent years, Beijing-Manila relations improved to the point where Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 29 cooperation agreements, including a memorandum of understanding on joint oil and gas development in the South China Sea.

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Hamas's Honesty and the Deal of the Century

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  April 17, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar's threats serve as a reminder that Hamas and other Palestinian terror group consider Israel one big settlement that needs to be annihilated. Above all, Hamas has never accepted the "two-state solution" or changed its charter, which explicitly states: "When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad [holy war] becomes a duty binding on all Muslims.... We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the [Islamic] Umma, clash with the enemies and join the ranks of the Jihad fighters."

  • Hamas cannot reach any political deal with Israel because it does not agree to Israel's right to exist. This is the message that Sinwar and leaders of all Palestinian terror groups want the world to hear. For the terrorist leaders, the only peace they will accept is one that results in the elimination of Israel and the evacuation of all Jews from their homes.

  • The Hamas Charter is a straightforward, unambiguous message that says: "[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas]....There is no solution to the Palestinian problem expect by Jihad."

  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has undoubtedly read the Hamas charter. He knows that if he accepts any peace plan that does not include the expulsion of all Jews from their homes, he will be denounced by his rivals in Hamas as a traitor. Abbas is also aware of Hamas's threats to shower Israel with rockets. He knows that at the same time as Hamas attacks Israel, it will seek to flatten him for "betraying" Arabs and Muslims in "allowing" Jews to continue living in "their" state. This is the Palestinian reality that the "Deal of the Century" is about to be dealt.

April 15 marked the 18th anniversary of the firing of the first Hamas rocket toward Israel. Pictured: Armed Hamas militiamen on parade with a vehicle-mounted rocket launcher in Gaza, in August 2016. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)

April 15 marked the 18th anniversary of the firing of the first Hamas rocket toward Israel. On this day, 18 years ago, Hamas's military wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, launched its first rocket attack at Israeli population centers near their border with the Gaza Strip.

On the eve of this occasion, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader of the Gaza Strip, threatened that his movement will continue to fire rockets at Israel. The rockets, he said, will be fired at Israeli "settlements" not only near the border with the Gaza Strip, but also at supposed "settlements" in the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Tel Aviv.

Sinwar said that the recent Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire understandings between Hamas and Israel are not a peace agreement. The understandings, he explained, do not require Hamas to disarm or halt, near the border with Israel, the weekly demonstrations, also known as the "Great March of Return."

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German Government: Anti-Israel, Pro-Iran

by Stefan Frank  •  April 17, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Supporting one-sided resolutions against Israel is not Germany's only unfriendly act against the Jewish state. Chancellor Angela Merkel has put pressure on other European Union states so that they do not transfer their embassies to Israel's capital. Stopping the murder of Israelis is also not on the German government's agenda.

  • Last year the Palestinian Authority (PA) allocated $330 million to pay terrorists, and Germany paid $100 million to the PA. So it is fair to say that Germany pays the PA to reward the murder of Jews.

  • While Chancellor Angela Merkel talks about "Germany's special historical responsibility for Israel's security", her government channels German taxpayer money to murderers of Jews, and President Steinmeier sends congratulatory telegrams to those who plan the annihilation of the Jewish state.

  • "We must no longer let Israel down at the UN. It is madness that we are constantly on the side of countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Yemen against Israel" — Frank Müller-Rosentritt, member of the German parliament's committee on foreign relations for the opposition Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Bijan Djir-Sarai, the Iranian-born foreign affairs spokesman for Germany's opposition Free Democrat Party (FDP), sharply criticized the German government's pandering to Iran's Ayatollahs: "You can't get up in the morning and say that you stand by Israel's side and in the evenings have tea with the Iranians and celebrate revolution parties." (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel likes to think of herself as a friend of Israel. In a speech she gave in the Knesset in Jerusalem in Mach 2008, she said:

"Here of all places I want to explicitly stress that every German government and every German chancellor before me has shouldered Germany's special historical responsibility for Israel's security. This historical responsibility is part of my country's raison d'être. For me as German chancellor, therefore, Israel's security will never be open to negotiation. And that being the case, we must do more than pay lip-service to this commitment ..."

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas claimed that Auschwitz (as a symbol for the murder of six million Jews) made him want to become a politician.

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The US Must Stop Iran's Takeover of Yemen

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  April 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • After President Trump's visit to the region, the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have ratcheted up their efforts to fight extremism. The UAE and other Gulf states have been participating with the US in a multinational mission.

  • The Islamic Republic of Iran has been encircling Saudi Arabia with the apparent goal of taking over Saudi oil fields and holy sites, and the major international shipping lanes on either side of the Arabian Peninsula: the Bab al Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has also been occupying Syria and Iraq; running Lebanon by means of Iran's terrorist proxy group, Hizballah, and funding yet another terrorist group, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, presumably in the hope of destroying Israel.

  • Even more alarming, by far, is that Iran is on the threshold of obtaining nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. Iran, in short, has adopted a dangerous, expansionist ideology that needs to be taken seriously.

  • America must stop Iran from taking over Yemen.

For the past few years, the Houthis, as puppets and proxies of Iran, have been fighting the Saudi Sunnis, apparently to ensure that the conflict continues in Yemen until they, the Houthis, take control of the country and advance the interests of the Iranian government. Pictured: Militiamen aligned with Yemen's Saudi-led coalition-backed government, at the front-line facing Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, on September 20, 2018, at Hodeidah, Yemen. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

One of the primary revolutionary ideals to which the ruling clerics of the Islamic Republic of Iran are dedicated to upholding is not to limit the implementation of its version of Islamic laws to just Iran. The ruling clerics are also committed to exporting Iran's revolutionary principle and expanding the fundamentalist mission to other nations.

How do they carry this out? By effectively taking over other countries. Lebanon, through Iran's proxy Hizballah, was the first. Then came Syria, and finally, Iraq -- with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip waiting in the wings.

With each victory, the ruling mullahs of Iran have grown increasingly lethal and increasingly bold. At present, and for several years, Iran has set its sights on Yemen.

This is not a random or new philosophy. This mission is part of Iran's constitution. Its preamble states that it "provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad."

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Denmark: Change Appears Elusive Despite Anti-Immigration Movements

by Ole Hasselbalch  •  April 16, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • In the 1980s, the Social Democrats had formed a committee to examine the results of immigration. The negative findings that emerged were rejected by the party's leaders, who instead released a pro-immigration report.

  • The bad news is that the Danish mainstream media and pro-immigration politicians do not tell voters the truth: that the presence of hundreds of thousands of unintegrated Muslims is endangering Danish society. Journalists have not been telling the truth out of denial; politicians possibly also for fear of losing immigrants' votes.

Although Denmark is home to one of Europe's most successful anti-mass-immigration movements, politicians are often reluctant to address the effects of mass-immigration. Pictured: The chamber of Denmark's parliament in Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen. (Image source: News Oresund/Wikimedia Commons)

Although Denmark is home to one of Europe's most successful anti-mass-immigration movements, the bleak facts concerning the effects of mass-immigration have not been taken seriously by the mainstream media, and politicians are often reluctant to address the matter.

How did this situation come about?

In 1983, the Danish Parliament enacted a new "foreigners' law", the "Memorandum on Migration policy." Preparatory work for the new law was performed by an official committee of public servants and Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen, chairman of the private (heavily subsidized) Danish Refugee Council. Going against the majority of the committee, which included the president of the Supreme Court, Gammeltoft-Hansen succeeded in promoting an alternative bill that opened Denmark's borders to anyone claiming asylum.

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The EU Still Appeasing the Mullahs

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  April 15, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Despite Iran's destructive behavior, such as support for terror and militia groups across the region, the European Union has chosen to help the ruling mullahs of Iran, ostensibly to maintain the flimsy, illegal, never-signed, unratified "nuclear deal" -- but possibly even more as an embarrassingly transparent attempt, if the EU could be embarrassed, to navigate around US economic and political pressure and continue doing business with the regime.

  • If the EU does not change its position and continues its support of Iranian leaders and the nuclear deal, Tehran's aggressive policies in the Middle East will persist, and Tehran will keep on pursuing its subversive agenda of attacking Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States via Yemen, Israel through Syria and Lebanon, and the US via Venezuela.

  • While President Donald Trump may have his critics, his hard-line sanctions are the only kind of political message the Iranian leaders can understand.

The Trump administration's decision to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization is part of its tougher stance towards Iran's dark and hegemonic ambitions. Meanwhile, the European Union has chosen to help the ruling mullahs of Iran. Pictured: IRGC "ground commandos". (Image source: Tasnim/Wikimedia Commons)

The European Union, in an unfathomable move, has been taking the side of the Iranian government, and turning its back on its old transatlantic partner, the United States, which recently announced plans to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), reportedly to take effect this week.

The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance towards Iran's dark and hegemonic ambitions. Meanwhile, despite Iran's destructive behavior, such as support for terror and militia groups across the region, the European Union has chosen to help the ruling mullahs of Iran, ostensibly to maintain the flimsy, illegal, never-signed, unratified "nuclear deal" -- but possibly even more as an embarrassingly transparent attempt, if the EU could be embarrassed, to navigate around US economic and political pressure and continue doing business with Iran's regime.

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Germany: Talk of 'European Army' was Meant 'Allegorically'

by Stefan Frank  •  April 15, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Since taking office in 2013, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has done little to alleviate the problems in the military. The best-known projects during her tenure were kindergartens for the soldiers' families; the procurement of flat screen television sets and mini-fridges for the barracks; the announcement of efforts to make the German army "more attractive for gay, lesbian and transgender people"; buying uniforms for pregnant soldiers, and making battle tanks suitable for pregnant soldiers. As worthwhile as these efforts may be, they do little to address the core problems.

  • "Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it." — Tobias Lindner, a Greens Party member, serving on the budget and defense committees.

The German government recently revealed that when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in November that she wanted to "create a real, true European army", she was only speaking "allegorically" -- not about instituting a new military project, but merely diplomacy between European countries. Pictured: Soldiers of the Franco-German brigade, a military unit founded in 1989, jointly consisting of units from the French Army and German Army. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

"We are committed to the emergence of a European army", German chancellor Angela Merkel pledged in January, backing a plan first launched by French president Emmanuel Macron in 2017. Merkel thus confirmed a position she had voiced in November 2018, when, speaking to the European parliament in Strasbourg, she said: "We have to look at the vision of one day creating a real, true European army."

Members of the opposition Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the German federal parliament (Bundestag) wanted to know what was meant by the term "European army" and submitted this question to the government.

In early March 2019, Die Welt reported the answer and voiced surprised about how long it had taken the government to reply:

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European Churches: Vandalized, Defecated On, and Torched "Every Day"

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  April 14, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • In Germany, four separate churches were vandalized and/or torched in March alone. "In this country," PI-News, a German news site, explained, "there is a creeping war against everything that symbolizes Christianity: attacks on mountain-summit crosses, on sacred statues by the wayside, on churches... and recently also on cemeteries."

  • In virtually every instance of church attacks, authorities and media obfuscate the identity of the vandals. In those rare instances when the Muslim (or "migrant") identity of the destroyers is leaked, the desecraters are then presented as suffering from mental health issues.

  • "Hardly anyone writes and speaks about the increasing attacks on Christian symbols. There is an eloquent silence in both France and Germany about the scandal of the desecrations and the origin of the perpetrators.... Not a word, not even the slightest hint that could in anyway lead to the suspicion of migrants... It is not the perpetrators who are in danger of being ostracized, but those who dare to associate the desecration of Christian symbols with immigrant imports. They are accused of hatred, hate speech and racism." -- PI News, March 24, 2019

In February, vandals desecrated and smashed crosses and statues at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, France, and mangled the arms of a statue of a crucified Christ in a mocking manner. In addition, an altar cloth was burned. (Image source: Eutrope/Wikimedia Commons)

Countless churches throughout Western Europe are being vandalized, defecated on, and torched.

In France, two churches are desecrated every day on average. According to PI-News, a German news site, 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols (crucifixes, icons, statues) were registered in France in 2018. This represents a 17% increase compared to the previous year (2017), when 878 attacks were registered — meaning that such attacks are only going from bad to worse.

Among some of the recent desecrations in France, the following took place in just February and March:

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Iran: The Ventriloquist Dummy's New Lexicon

by Amir Taheri  •  April 14, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Russia has imposed the Caspian Convention it dictated, but vetoes Iran's membership in the Euro-Asian "economic family" and the Shanghai Group. Russia's interest is keeping Iran out of the international gas market, thus holding Moscow's Damocles Sword above the EU's head.

  • As for Turkey, its chief interest in the Islamic Republic is to secure support for killing Kurds, something that runs counter to Iran's own national interests.

  • As long as the Islamic Republic believes that it can do whatever it likes without risking any punishment it would make little difference through which dummy the ventriloquist utters his text.

Muhammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, tried to concoct a new text centered on the illusion that the European Union will rein in the Trumpian bull and allow the Islamic Republic to pursue its shenanigans at no cost to itself. In every speech, he used the word "Europe" as a talisman while heavily courting Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign affairs tsarina who has been nursed on the bitter milk of anti-Americanism. (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images)

Though it is too early to assess the impact of President Donald Trump's decision to harden US policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran, one thing is already clear. Trump's rhetoric and the reactivation of sanctions suspended by President Barack Obama, plus new measures against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are making it harder for the leadership in Tehran to pursue its forked-tongue diplomacy designed to hoodwink bleeding heart liberals in the West while fanning the fires of hatred in the global anti-West constituency.

The ventriloquist running that diplomacy used loudmouths like Dr. Hassan Abbasi (aka the Kissinger of Islam) to peddle a pseudo-Islamicized version of the anti-American narrative created by people like Noam Chomsky and Louis Farrakhan in the United States and Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen in France.

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EU's Collusion with Iran

by Judith Bergman  •  April 13, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The main purpose of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) is to ensure that Europe -- and potentially third countries -- can continue doing business with the mullahs in Iran without risking US penalties for contravening US sanctions.

  • EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini seems strongly committed to ensuring that Iran -- and Europe -- continue receiving economic benefits from the illegal, unsigned, and unratified Iran nuclear deal. Mogherini insisted that Iran is complying with the JCPOA. It is not. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, referring to documents seized by Israel, stated that the nuclear deal was "built on lies" .

  • No amount of human rights abuses, however atrocious -- or terrorism, even against its own citizens; or cheating to acquire deliverable nuclear capability to unleash on Israel, the US and eventually threaten the entire West -- will, it seems, deter the EU from its criminal collusion with Iran. Europe seems determined to wade into its own destruction with its eyes wide open.

The European Union insists that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal (JCPOA). It is not. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, referring to documents seized by Israel, stated that the nuclear deal was "built on lies."(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On January 31, Britain, France and Germany announced a new payment mechanism known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). It was designed to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, after the US left the deal in May 2018 and reinstated -- as well as broadened -- US sanctions on the country in November 2018. The main purpose of INSTEX is to ensure that Europe -- and potentially third countries – can continue doing business with the mullahs in Iran without risking US penalties for contravening US sanctions.

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What Happens to Palestinians Who Demand a Better Life?

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  April 12, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Mohammed Safi is reported to have lost his eyesight while being held in a Hamas prison. His crime: participation in demonstrations calling for an end to the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip and protesting new taxes imposed by the Hamas rulers.

  • "The interrogator hit him in the head from behind three times and told him: 'This is so you won't be able to see at all.'" — Ahmed Safi, Mohammed Safi's brother.

  • Safi simply sought to communicate that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are living under a brutal Islamist regime that has offered them nothing but terror -- directed towards Israel and towards themselves. He wanted the world to know that Palestinian leaders deflect the heat on the Palestinian street towards Israel.

  • Safi chose to speak truth to power and place the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza squarely where it belongs: at the feet of Hamas. He paid dearly for that choice. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders can now claim another "achievement" in their jihad against Israel: they managed to transform a clear-headed and courageous young man into a blind and disabled one.

Mohammed Safi (right) reportedly lost his eyesight while being held in a Hamas prison. His crime: participation in demonstrations calling for an end to the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip and protesting new taxes imposed by Hamas. (Image sources: Mohammed Safi - Ahmed Safi/Facebook; Hamas gunmen - Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Mohammed Safi, 27, is the latest victim of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that has been controlling the Gaza Strip since 2007.

While voters in Israel were heading to the ballot boxes to elect a new parliament, Safi, who is from the town of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, is reported to have lost his eyesight while being held in a Hamas prison. His crime: participation in demonstrations calling for an end to the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip and protesting new taxes imposed by the Hamas rulers.

The protests -- held under the banner "We Want to Live!" -- were the first anti-Hamas demonstrations of their kind in many years. Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip took to the streets during the protests and called for solutions to their horrific economic morass, including soaring unemployment and the skyrocketing cost of living.

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Is Iran Winning in Yemen?

by Soeren Kern  •  April 11, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "The Yemeni revolution will not be confined to Yemen alone. It will extend, following its success, into Saudi territories." — Iranian Lawmaker Ali Reza Zakani, trusted adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

  • "If the Shia rebels gain control of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Iran can attain a foothold in this sensitive region giving access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a cause of concern not only for its sworn rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, but also for Israel and European countries along the Mediterranean." — IDF Lt.-Col. (Ret.) Michael Segall.

  • "Hard-line elements [in Iran] appear to see the continuation of the conflict [in Yemen] as a relatively low-cost and low-risk means of sustaining political, economic, and military pressure on the Saudis. Saudi Arabia's intervention has reportedly cost between $5 billion and $6 billion a month, while Iran's expenditures in Yemen probably total only millions a year." — Gerald M. Feierstein, Middle East Institute.

  • "The Houthis' intransigence confirms their loyalty to Iran's negotiating tactics. These usually begin with implicit approval of negotiating solutions, followed by complete retraction in order to force the international community to make more concessions and impose a fait accompli on the Yemeni government...." — Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yemany.

Militiamen aligned with Yemen's government (supported by the US and Saudi Arabia) look for snipers from Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces, south of Hodeidah, Yemen on September 21, 2018. According to the United Nations, Iran has been supplying Houthi rebels with weapons for more than a decade. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

A ceasefire deal aimed at ending Yemen's civil war is collapsing amid disputes between the warring parties over how to implement the agreement. A resumption of hostilities would, according to aid groups, accelerate Yemen's descent into famine and threaten as many as 15 million people — more than half the population — with starvation.

Yemen's four-year conflict is generally viewed as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, which backs the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, and Iran, which backs tribal-based Shiite rebels, known as Houthis.

Iran has long denied accusations that it provides financial and military support to the Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of Allah). According to the United Nations, however, Tehran has been supplying the rebels with weapons for more than a decade.

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China Rising in the Caribbean

by Gordon G. Chang  •  April 10, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • About 55 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida on Grand Bahama Island, a Hong Kong-based business is spending about $3 billion on a deep-water container facility, the Freeport Container Port.

  • The concern is that the port will become another debt-trap, like the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka. There are concerns that Hambantota will eventually become a Chinese naval base. Will the Pentagon have to contend with Chinese warships at Freeport?

  • The Chinese military is already in the Caribbean, in Cuba, apparently to collect signals intelligence from the U.S. Washington splashes plenty of cash around the Middle East, for instance, but American policymakers need also to be concerned, urgently, about critical needy locations closer to home.

US President Donald Trump recently met with the Caribbean leaders, signaling Washington's intensified engagement with the region. But American programs need cash to back them up, as they are inadequate to meet Chinese challenges in the Caribbean, where trade and investment have made Beijing a power. Pictured: President Trump and Melania Trump welcome Caribbean leaders to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on March 22, 2019. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

There's a "Red Storm Rising" just miles from America's shores. "In point of fact, the entire hemisphere is on fire," said Lou Dobbs on his widely watched Fox Business Network show on April 4. "China and Russia are engaging us in almost every quarter in this hemisphere. Russia and China in Venezuela, but China throughout the hemisphere and throughout the Caribbean."

Throughout the Caribbean, China's influence is growing fast. Trade and investment have made Beijing a power. Chinese motives are not solely commercial, however, and do not appear benign.

We begin on the island of New Providence, in the Bahamas. The Export-Import Bank of China in 2011 extended a $2.45 billion construction loan for the Baha Mar resort, near the capital of Nassau. The project, troubled from the start, is the largest and most expensive in the Caribbean.

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