Latest Analysis and Commentary

Next for Turkey? Nuclear Weapons!

by Burak Bekdil  •  September 18, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now wants to make Turkey a rogue state with nuclear weapons.

  • For several decades, Turkey, being a staunch NATO ally, was viewed as the trusted custodian of some of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In the early 1960s, the U.S. started stockpiling nuclear warheads at the Turkish military's four main airbases

  • Presently, the nuclear warheads in Turkey at Incirlik airbase still remain at the disposal of the U.S. military under a special U.S.-Turkish treaty. That treaty makes Turkey the host of U.S. nuclear weapons. According to the launch protocol, however, both Washington and Ankara need to give consent to any use of the nuclear weapons deployed at Incirlik.

  • "Countries that oppose Iran's nuclear weapons should not have nuclear weapons themselves." — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hürriyet, 2008.

  • If Turkey overtly or covertly launched a nuclear weapons program -- as Erdoğan apparently wishes -- the move could well have a domino effect on the region. Turkey's regional adversaries would be alarmed, and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Greece might be tempted to launch their own nuclear weapons programs. Erdoğan should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now wants to make Turkey a rogue state with nuclear weapons. (Photo by Getty Images)

During the 17 years he has ruled NATO-member Turkey, the country's Islamist strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has rarely missed an opportunity stealthily to convert Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's secular, pro-Western establishment into a rogue state hostile to Western interests. Erdoğan now wants to make it a rogue state with nuclear weapons.

"They say we can't have nuclear-tipped missiles, though some have them. This, I can't accept," Erdoğan said in a September 4 speech, while conveniently forgetting that Turkey has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1980. In other words, Turkey's elected leader publicly declares that he intends to breach an international treaty signed by his country. Turkey is also a signatory to the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear detonations, for any purpose.

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"Jack... Is a Really Kind, Funny Kid... Totally Non-violent."

by Andrew Ash  •  September 18, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • "He [Jack] is a very humane person and he wanted to do something to help." Mr Letts said about his son, then adding, "He is a really kind, funny kid who is very gentle. He is totally non-violent."

  • As with so much of the mitigating rhetoric that follows the imprisonment of captured British Muslims, Mr Letts's words sit very much at odds with his son's previous murderous statements. How mystifying then, that such a peacenik should end up in the bloody killing-fields of Raqqa.

  • A far bigger problem than what to do with the likes of Jack Letts and Shamima Begum is the possibility of missing British ISIS fighters returning and making their presence felt.

  • No matter how heartfelt a plea their parents might make on their behalf after they are captured, their children's real inclinations might best be measured by their actions while they were free to do as they wished.

As with so much of the mitigating rhetoric that follows the imprisonment of captured British ISIS jihadists, the words of John Letts sit very much at odds with his son's previous murderous statements. How mystifying then, that such a peacenik should end up in the bloody killing-fields of Raqqa. Pictured: John Letts and Sally Lane, the parents of Jack Letts, dubbed "Jihadi Jack". (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

"This power [to remove citizenship] is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe." — UK Home Office spokesperson, August 2019.

Jack Letts, dubbed "Jihadi Jack", the British convert to Islam who travelled to Syria in 2014 to join ISIS, has been stripped of his British citizenship. The former dual-national, whose British mother and Canadian father stand by their son, exchanged his picturesque hometown of Oxford for Raqqa, to join the ranks of ISIS. He is currently awaiting his fate in the custody of Kurdish forces.

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UK: The Push to End Free Speech

by Judith Bergman  •  September 17, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "We are concerned that the definition... could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states. There is also a risk it could also undermine counter-terrorism powers, which seek to tackle extremism or prevent terrorism." — Martin Hewitt, Chair, National Police Chiefs' Council.

  • Islam represents an idea, not a nationality or an ethnicity. The conventional purpose of most hate-speech laws is to protect people from hatred, not ideas.

  • The new proposed definition would criminalize criticism of Islam. Considering the origins of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, that is probably the whole point.

  • "[A]n alternative definition of Anti-Muslim Hatred should be specific and narrow. It should focus on addressing bigotry directed at individuals, and avoid censoring debate or freedom of expression on religion. Finally, a comprehensive definition of Anti-Muslim Hatred must take intra-Muslim hatred into account to protect those who want to speak freely or express themselves differently." — Nikita Malik, Forbes, May 20, 2019.

Martin Hewitt, Chair of Britain's National Police Chiefs' Council, recently said: "We are concerned that the definition... could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions... There is also a risk it could also undermine counter-terrorism powers, which seek to tackle extremism or prevent terrorism." (Photo by Anthony Devlin - WPA Pool / Getty Images)

In April 2018, Britain's All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims began work on establishing a "working definition of Islamophobia that can be widely accepted by Muslims, political parties and the government".

In December 2018, the group concluded its work with a "Report on the inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia / anti-Muslim hatred." The report defines "Islamophobia" as a form of racism, conflating religion with ethnic origin or nationality: "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness."[1]

The report, furthermore, claims that a definition of Islamophobia is "instrumental" to "the political will and institutional determination to tackle it."

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Turkey: Alarming Crackdown on Journalists, Desperate Appeal to UN

by Uzay Bulut  •  September 17, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was held on September 13. Sadly, no one at the meeting addressed the persecution of journalists in Turkey -- not José Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group, nor Béla Szombati, who represented the European Union, nor any other participant.

  • Amnesty International recently tagged Turkey the "world's largest prison for journalists."

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council, if it wishes to change its image from that of a laughing stock, should put at the top of its agenda calling Ankara to task. Meanwhile, however, Erdoğan's violations of freedom of speech need to be exposed daily and loudly condemned -- not only by members of the UN and the media, but by any and all allies of Turkey -- and freedom of expression -- in the West.

(Image source: iStock)

International human-rights and press-freedom organizations recently appealed to the United Nations to take action against the ongoing abuse of journalists by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on September 3, eighteen organizations -- led by the group ARTICLE 19, which promotes freedom of expression -- called on "all Member and Observer States committed to media freedom, democracy and the rule of law" to "speak out and address the Turkish government's repressive campaign against freedom of expression" in the forum of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention during the UNHRC's 42nd regular session.

The letter reads, in part:

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Palestinians' Blood Libels Against Israel, Jews

by Bassam Tawil  •  September 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Instead of acknowledging their responsibility for failing to combat the drug trafficking, the leaders of Hamas have been trying to blame everyone but themselves.... These leaders are trying hard to convince Palestinians that Israel and Hamas's rivals in the Palestinian Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, are responsible for flooding the Gaza Strip with illegal drugs.

  • The Palestinians' attempt to establish a connection between Israel and illegal drugs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is no less dangerous than their terrorist attacks against Israel. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are sending the following message to their people: The Jews are conspiring to destroy Palestinians by delivering illegal drugs to our communities. Therefore, we need to fight these Jews to prevent them from achieving

  • The Palestinians have never provided a shred of evidence to corroborate this false accusation against Israel. Why should they allow the truth to get in the way of a good story? Palestinian leaders are experts when it comes to blaming Israel and Jews, instead of the real sources, for all the miseries of their people.

  • Palestinian leaders are also unlikely to denounce the criminals and terrorists who planted the narcotics in the shampoo and cream bottles of ill women before they traveled for medical treatment in Egypt. Instead, Palestinian leaders will continue to incite their people against Israel and Jews, spreading blood libels of every sort at every turn. In that way, Palestinians will continue to hunt down Jews -- whether they are behind trees and rocks or in plain sight.

Palestinian journalist Mirvat Oaf has noted that smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt have long been playing a major role in flooding the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave with various types of illegal drugs. Pictured: A Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip, working as a tunnel-digger, is lowered into a smuggling tunnel that is being dug under the border with Egypt, on April 22, 2009. (Photo by Ahmad Khateib/Getty Images)

The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has long been serving as a center for various terrorist groups that are responsible for thousands of terror attacks against Israel. In the past few decades, these groups have engaged in smuggling various types of weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian terrorists also appear to be smuggling various types of illegal drugs into the Gaza Strip. Alarmed by the increased smuggling of illegal drugs, Hamas has begun waging a campaign against the drug-traffickers.

Earlier this year, Hamas announced that its security forces seized a large shipment of hashish smuggled from Egypt into the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Later, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior launched a hotline for anonymous feedback and tip-offs on drug-related crimes.

The crackdown came in the aftermath of charges that the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip were not serious about dealing with the problem of drug trafficking.

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A View of the U.S. from Across the Atlantic

by Andrew Ash  •  September 16, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • My friends assured me there were terrible, terrible things that would become apparent in the ensuing months.

  • Even in the extended echo-chamber of social media, there appeared to be a seemingly pathological fear of anything even remotely resembling a balanced view.

  • The only thing that has not changed is the Democrats' make-believe view that President Trump and the Russians were somehow trying to rig the election, when it was, in fact, they themselves who were doing that.

Pictured: An aerial view of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Image source: US State Department/Flickr)

Before the advent of online news, residents of the UK had to rely on the British press to report on the minutiae of the American political system -- something that didn't happen all that often. In politics what went on in the USA, stayed in the USA, most of it at least. Beyond a major political upheaval, or the swearing in of a new president, news reportage was more concerned with the cut and thrust of our own routine domestic politics.

Only the bickering between the Democrats and Republicans rang a familiar note, mirroring as it did, our British Punch and Judy stereotype, with the stuffy old Tories on one side, and the loony-left Labour on the other.

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A "Guide" to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by the United Church of Christ

by Denis MacEoin  •  September 15, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Titled, "Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel", and sub-headed "A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders", this toxic document is a desperately one-sided, inaccurate, and counter-factual exercise in futile politics.

  • There is no room in it for a Jewish, Israeli or moderate Christian voice; just hatred of Israel and defence of the Palestinians who, time after time, have turned down generous offers of peace. The naïvety of the UCC is particularly striking in its choice to take at face value the Palestinian statement that if Israel ended its occupation, "Then they will see a new world in which there is no fear, no threat but rather security, justice and peace." That is simply bunkum. Sadly, the Palestinians have a history of regarding every goodwill gesture by Israel as a retreat, as the triumph of aggression over diplomacy -- as if to say: We shoot at Israelis and they leave; so, let's keep shooting!

  • Palestinian terrorism against Israelis has continued up to 1967, right through the period of Israeli non-occupation. There were no "settlements" then. Rather, the Palestinians have always regarded all of Israel as one big "settlement". Just look at any Palestinian maps; they cover both the entirety of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

  • The UCC boasts that it is "a just peace church", but instead of supporting peace and justice, it defends mass murderers. It complains about the defensive actions of the Jews but is knowingly silent about the horrors wrought by Palestinian wars and terrorism.

Wafa Samir al-Biss personifies the deep dehumanization of Jews by Palestinian terrorists and those multitudes who praise and honor them. Ms Biss attempted to bomb Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, Israel -- the very hospital where, as a burn victim, she had been treated for months by Jewish and Muslim doctors and nurses. Pictured: Soroka Hospital. (Image source: Avishai Teicher/PikiWiki/Wikimedia Commons)

Welcome to yet another skewed guide on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. After a vote to support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in 2015, an organization affiliated with the UCC, the UCC Palestine Israel Network (UCCPIN), published a guide to Israel-Palestine affairs. Titled, "Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel," and sub-headed "A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders", this toxic document is a desperately one-sided, inaccurate, and counter-factual exercise in futile politics. Legally, UCCPIN operates under the aegis of one of the denomination's local conferences. Its Guide is, therefore, not the direct work of the church's leadership, but is clearly endorsed by a section of it.

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Russia: Dreaming of a Return to the West

by Amir Taheri  •  September 15, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Russia may be talking in Slavophile tones but deep in its heart, desires to be readmitted into the Western camp. This is seen in the way Russians dress, the kind of food they eat, the beverages they drink, the music they listen to, the TV shows and the films they watch, and the books they read. Queues in front of McDonald's joints may be a vulgar sign of creeping Westernization.

  • The results of this month's municipal elections, declared last week, show a clear setback for Putinism in its Slavophile version. The president's United Russia party lost more than a third of its seats in Moscow that, as in other metro-centric countries, has set the tone for national politics at least since the 1920s.

  • Putin wants to fool the Western democracies into helping negotiate a bad patch before he returns to his old shenanigans. President Macron's call for reintegrating Russia into the G7 summit last month was dismissed by other participants even before it made it onto the agenda.

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has behaved much like a loose cannon, causing nasty surprises, not to say mystification, not only in the West but also in China and elsewhere. (Photo by Kenzaburo Fukuhara - Pool/Getty Images)

If every nation, like every language, has its grammar, what is the grammar that might help us understand Russia today?

Even the least observant foreign visitors to Russia these days are likely quickly to discover the first rule of that metaphorical grammar: the unity of opposites. On one side, we have a Russia that is attached almost obsessively to its "otherness". On the other, we have a Russia that craves after "sameness" as a member of the family of Western nations.

This "otherness-sameness" duality is not new in Russian history.

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Wisdom That Transcends Time: Self Esteem and Public Service

by Lawrence Kadish  •  September 14, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel." — Socrates, "On Personal Service," 469-399 BCE.

  • "With no attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation. So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do." — William James, "The Strangest Lightness."

  • Those in public service have a daily opportunity either to welcome that challenge of advancing our nation or to retreat into mediocrity.... [I[t becomes evident that securing self-esteem is the true benefit from such a career and one that every public servant should aspire to.

  • "You will learn that those with ideas and enthusiasm to work hard and improve services may be ostracized by the status quo elements.... Set goals, dream big, and ask 'why not.' Maintain an exemplary standard of ethics. Begin with the end in your sights. And, above all, maintain your sense of humor!" — Larry J. Gordon, Gordon Visiting Professor, UNM School of Public Administration, 1994 Commencement Address.

When it came to the role of teachers in our society, Socrates knew exactly what their role was. He observed, "Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel." Pictured: The Statue of Socrates, by Leonidas Drosis (d. 1880), at the Academy of Athens. (Image source: C messier/Wikimedia Commons)

That most precious of resources, time, gives us the means to think, ponder, reflect and acquire that most coveted of treasures: wisdom. The thought-provoking writings of three eminent scholars -- Socrates, William James and Larry J. Gordon -- bridge the centuries to provide us with the means better to understand ourselves and our era. Take the time to read their essays.

When it came to the role of teachers in our society, Socrates knew exactly what their role was. He observed, "Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel." He reminded all of us that the educator's real goal is to excite a student with the love of learning -- perhaps one of the most crucial responsibilities in any society. More than any paycheck, pension or summer recess, creating a legacy that ensures a new generation will welcome that "flame" of wisdom elevates our teachers far beyond measure, a fact too often lost amidst the debate over benefits and course curriculum.

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Iranian Tanker Fiasco Exposes Britain's Muddled Thinking

by Con Coughlin  •  September 13, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The ensuing diplomatic stand-off between London and Tehran eventually resulted in Britain agreeing to release the Grace One, but only after the British authorities received written assurances from Iran that the oil would not be delivered to Syria.

  • Now it appears that Iran has deliberately misled the British government about its intentions after satellite photographs revealed the ship, which has now been renamed the Adrian Darya 1, is in Syria, where its $130 million oil cargo has been handed over to the Assad regime.

  • "Anyone who said the Adrian Darya-1 wasn't headed to #Syria is in denial. Tehran thinks it's more important to fund the murderous Assad regime than provide for its own people. We can talk, but #Iran's not getting any sanctions relief until it stops lying and spreading terror!" — Ambassador John Bolton, then US National Security Advisor, September 7, 2019.

When Iran seized the British-registered tanker Stena Impero on July 19 as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz, it caused deep embarrassment for the government of then British Prime Minister Theresa May, which had failed to put adequate measures in place to protect British shipping from any act of Iranian retaliation. Pictured: The Stena Impero and one of the Iranian gunboats that seized it. (Image source: Fars News/CC BY 4.0 [cropped])

The sorry saga of the Iranian oil tanker that was originally seized by Britain before making its way to Syria to unload its cargo in breach of EU sanctions highlights the confusion that lies at the heart of the British government's policy towards Tehran.

The Iranian-registered tanker, which at the time sailed under the name Grace One, was seized by British Royal Marines in early July off the coast of Gibraltar on suspicion that it was delivering its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil to Syria, a clear violation of EU sanctions that are in place against the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Iran responded two weeks later by seizing the British-registered tanker Stena Impero as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz, thereby causing deep embarrassment for the government of then British Prime Minister Theresa May, which had failed to put adequate measures in place to protect British shipping from any act of Iranian retaliation.

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UK: Tony Blair Think-Tank Proposes End to Free Speech

by Judith Bergman  •  September 12, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Disturbingly, the main concern of Blair's think-tank appears to be the online verbal "hatred" displayed by citizens in response to terrorist attacks -- not the actual physical expression of hatred shown in the mass murders of innocent people by terrorists. Terrorist attacks, it would appear, are now supposedly normal, unavoidable incidents that have become part and parcel of UK life.

  • Unlike proscribed groups that are banned for criminal actions such as violence or terrorism, the designation of "hate group" would mainly be prosecuting thought-crimes.

  • Democratic values, however, appear to be the think-tank's least concern. The proposed law would make the British government the arbiter of accepted speech, especially political speech. Such an extraordinary and radically authoritarian move would render freedom of speech an illusion in the UK.

  • The Home Office would be able to accuse any group it found politically inconvenient of "spreading intolerance" or "aligning with extremist ideologies" -- and designate it a "hate group".

A new law proposed by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change would make the British government the arbiter of accepted speech, especially political speech. Such an extraordinary and radically authoritarian move would render freedom of speech an illusion in the UK. (Images' source: iStock)

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has released a report, Designating Hate: New Policy Responses to Stop Hate Crime, which recommends radical initiatives to tackle "hate" groups, even if they have not committed any kind of violent activity.

The problem, as the think-tank defines it, is "the dangerous nature of hateful groups, including on the far right like Britain First and Generation Identity. But current laws are unable to stop groups that spread hate and division, but do not advocate violence". The think-tank defines what it sees as one of the main problems with hate crime the following way:

"A steady growth in hate crime has been driven by surges around major events. Often this begins online. Around the 2017 terror attacks in the UK, hate incidents online increased by almost 1,000 per cent, from 4,000 to over 37,500 daily. In the 48-hour period after an event, hate begins to flow offline".

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Turkey: Religious Backlash?

by Uzay Bulut  •  September 12, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • It is notable, however, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's efforts to create "devout generations" of Muslims, through the establishment of numerous state-funded Imam Hatip religious schools, may not be having the desired results.

  • "Since [last summer], seventeen students with headscarves who identify as atheists have come to my office and [told me that] the reason [for their atheism] is the actions of the people who say they represent religion." — Dr. İhsan Fazlıoğlu, Istanbul Medeniyet University, T24, March 19, 2018.

  • "The religion that the [Turkish] government is trying to 'impose' on society is emotionally unsatisfying: it is loveless." — Professor Murat Belge, Head of the Department of Comparative Literature, Bilgi University, Istanbul, to Gatestone.

  • "Mosques or churches in your neighborhoods are no longer your only sources of information... Of course, societal pressures and the situation of the country are also [important] elements, but they are only elements that get the questioning started. This situation makes many people ask, 'Is this what my religion is about?' or they say, 'If this is religion, I am out.'" [Emphasis added] — Selin Özkohen, head of the Atheism Association, Euronews, March 19, 2019.

A 2018 survey reveals that, over the last decade, there has been a 4% decrease -- from 55% to 51% -- in the number of people in Turkey who define themselves as "religious" and that non-believers are becoming "more visible." (Image source: iStock)

In a radio interview on July 23, Temel Karamollaoğlu -- the head of Turkey's Islamist opposition party, Felicity -- accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of driving young people, particularly those from religious families, away from Islam and towards deism, a belief in a non-interventionist creator, or a god of nature.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by Turkey's leading polling company, KONDA, Karamollaoğlu appears to be correct, at least about the growing number of young Turks who no longer consider themselves "religious" Muslims.

The survey reveals that, over the last decade, there has been a 4% decrease -- from 55% to 51% -- in the number of those who define themselves as "religious" and that non-believers are becoming "more visible."

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Why Egypt Does Not Want to Help Gaza

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  September 11, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Israel's goodwill gestures, however, have so far failed to deter Hamas and other Palestinian groups from repeatedly violating the ceasefire understandings.

  • Israel is prepared to do whatever is required to help the Palestinians in return for a cessation of terrorist attacks against Israel. Meanwhile, the Egyptians themselves offer nothing but broken promises regarding the crisis in the Gaza Strip. Egyptian policy, it appears, is based on the assumption that the Gaza Strip is – and must remain – solely the problem of Israel.

  • Why do Egyptians have to travel all the way to Israel to discuss supplying the Gaza Strip with food, medicine and fuel (through Israel) when Egypt can easily do so through its shared border with the Gaza Strip? The world seems to have forgotten that the Gaza Strip has a shared border not only with Israel, but with Egypt as well.

  • Egypt's shifting and sometimes contradictory policy toward the Gaza Strip seems to have one goal: to divert attention from Cairo's responsibility for the ongoing plight of its Palestinian neighbors.

  • Here is what Egypt and the Arab states should be telling Israel: "Thank you for all that you have done so far to help the people of the Gaza Strip. However, these are our Arab brothers. Therefore, it seems fair that we step in and assume this burden."

The world seems to have forgotten that the Gaza Strip has a shared border not only with Israel, but with Egypt as well. The Rafah border crossing (on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt) is the main exit point for most Palestinians. This border crossing, however, has been essentially closed since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. It is only opened every few days or weeks to allow a trickle of Palestinians to come or go to the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Egypt has resumed its mediation efforts to prevent an all-out military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this week, senior officials from Egypt's General Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat) who visited the Gaza Strip reportedly relayed to Hamas leaders a message from Israel: it promised to "ease restrictions" on the Palestinians in return for a cessation of anti-Israel terrorist attacks.

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Brexit and the Deficiencies of Parliament

by Malcolm Lowe  •  September 11, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • What has characterized the last year of UK politics is that individual MPs in the various parties have begun to seek the same freedom of action as US Members of Congress. So far, however, they are both fearful of suffering the same fate as the 21 banned by Johnson and remain inexperienced in the exercise of such freedom.

  • Johnson now has two alternatives. One is to reinstate the 21. His defenders claim that this would encourage similar defections in the future. The other alternative is to stick to his unpopular decision and risk being dismissed himself by his party. Either way, the unwitting heritage of Johnson may include the end of the tyrannical powers of the UK PM.

  • The Bank of England in its latest report estimates that the consequences of no-deal on October 31 will be less dire than it thought a year ago, but dire they will be: GDP will shrink by 5.5%, inflation will rise from 2% to over 5%, unemployment will "surge to 7% rather than 7.5%, up from a current 45-year low of 3.8%." In short, a very healthy economy will turn into a problematic economy. The most worrying problem, however, is that the Bank is engaged in guesswork about an event without precedent. If things turn out much better or much worse than estimated, nobody should be surprised that the Bank got it wrong.

Pictured: Westminster Palace in London, seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. (Image source: Adrian Pingstone/Wikimedia Commons)

It is remarkable that the UK Parliament has spent almost a year of debates about the Brexit deal agreed by Theresa May's government and the European Union. Indeed, about one small detail of that deal. We shall briefly describe what that detail is before explaining that the inordinate resulting delay reflects deep and longstanding dysfunction in the whole parliamentary system of the UK.

The deal consisted of two documents, the Withdrawal Agreement (WA, 585 pages) and the Framework for the Future Relationship (FFR, 26 pages). Most of the WA consists of regulations obviously needed for winding up UK participation in EU institutions, settling mutual debts, safeguarding the interests of UK citizens resident in the EU and vice versa, and the like. Even Boris Johnson regards all that as basically good and necessary.

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Will Denmark Become Like Sweden?

by Judith Bergman  •  September 10, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Sweden is exporting not only its bombings to Denmark. Gang crime, with its shootings and murders, has also traveled across the border.

Denmark is still relatively far from having reached the kind of crime epidemic that is currently plaguing Sweden. However, given the proximity of the two countries, the open borders and the apparent free flow of criminals across the borders -- not to mention Denmark's own crime level -- there seems little to stop the situation in Denmark from getting out of control and becoming increasingly more like Sweden. Pictured: The Øresund Bridge, part of the road and rail connection between Denmark and Sweden. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Denmark has experienced 10 bombings since February. The latest took place on August 27 in a residential complex, Gersager, in the Greve area, very close to Copenhagen. No one was injured, but the building was seriously damaged. This year, the Swedish city of Malmö has experienced 19 bombings. An August 16 editorial in the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende said:

"No one wants Swedish conditions where shootings and bombings have reached an extreme degree. In addition to conflicts in the gang environment, there have been bombing attacks against police stations as well as courthouses, a town hall and the Swedish Tax Agency in Malmö in recent years."

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