Latest Analysis and Commentary

Palestinians and the Bahrain Conference: Condemning Arabs While Asking for Arab Money

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  June 24, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The Palestinian strategy is clear: to incite the Arab masses against their leaders and governments. The Palestinian attacks are no longer directed against US President Donald Trump... Now the targets are the Arab heads of state, particularly those who are seen by Palestinians are being in collusion with Israel and the Trump administration.

  • As the Palestinians were condemning Arabs for agreeing to attend the conference in Bahrain, Palestinian leaders repeated their appeal to the Arab states for financial aid. On the one hand, the Palestinians are condemning Arab countries for attending a conference aimed at boosting the Palestinian economy and improving living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Palestinian leaders have no problem begging their Arab brothers for urgent financial aid.... The Palestinians are asking the Arabs to give them $100 million each month to help them "face political and financial pressure" from Israel and the US administration.

  • The Palestinians realize that some of the key Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, are no longer prepared to wait for them and have decided to board the train whose final destination is prosperity and economic opportunities for both Palestinians and Arabs.

  • The decision of six Arab states to attend the Bahrain conference despite the Palestinian boycott call shows that the Arabs have chosen to endorse a new direction – one that will leave the Palestinians to fend for themselves in a hell of their own making. For their choice to thumb their noses not only at the US but also at influential Arab states, the Palestinians are likely to emerge as the biggest losers.

In 2009, the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz announced his country's decision to donate $1 billion to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The king undoubtedly had good intentions and sought to help his Palestinian brothers. But when Abdullah died six years later, the Palestinians did not hesitate to show their contempt for the Arab leader who had offered to help improve their living conditions. Pictured: Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, on September 6, 2009 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.(Photo by Thaer Ganaim/PPO via Getty Images)

In 2009, the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz announced his country's decision to donate $1 billion to contribute to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

The monarch made his announcement during an Arab economic conference in Kuwait. The Saudi pledge never materialized, mainly because of the continued dispute between the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip and Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.

The king undoubtedly had good intentions and sought to help his Palestinian brothers, especially the two million residents of the Gaza Strip who remain in dire need of financial and economic assistance.

When King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz died six years later, the Palestinians did not hesitate to show their contempt for the Arab leader who had offered to help improve their living conditions and ensure a better future for Palestinian children.

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The US Should Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Organization

by Uzay Bulut  •  June 24, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is a pro-jihad, Islamist movement that has branches throughout the world and seeks to implement Islamic sharia under a global caliphate. Terrorism is only one of the methods the Brotherhood employs, and among its, goals, "democratization" has never been seen as one of them.

  • The Counter Extremism Project "has recorded 44 individuals and groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, including terrorist groups, foreign fighters, extremist propagandists, and political leaders."

  • The Trump administration's designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization would be an effective blow to pro-sharia and jihadi groups across the globe and help to bring about less violence and more stability to both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

The emblem of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its founder, Hassan al-Banna.

US President Donald Trump is working to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), the White House announced on April 30. The spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Omer Celik, responded by saying that if the United States designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, it would "hamper democratization efforts in the Middle East and serve militant groups like Islamic State."

The Muslim Brotherhood, however, founded in Egypt in 1928, is a pro-jihad, Islamist movement that has branches throughout the world and seeks to implement Islamic sharia under a global caliphate. Terrorism is only one of the methods the Brotherhood employs, and among its, goals, "democratization" has never been seen as one of them.

Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna openly announced that his aim was to bring back the caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood's official English-language website quotes Banna:

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Istanbul: 'Everything Is Coming Up Roses'

by Burak Bekdil  •  June 24, 2019 at 3:00 am

  • The invincible Erdoğan took a great risk: a second loss for the man who thinks "who wins Istanbul wins Turkey" would mean just more than just an embarrassing mayoral loss. Comparatively speaking, the difference in votes between Imamoğlu and Erdoğan's candidate, Yıldırım, widened within less than two months from 13,000 to nearly 800,000.

  • ""It appears that losing Istanbul entails too many risks for the AKP for the matter to be left to its own resources. Many are convinced that if the AKP were to lose Istanbul to the opposition, after having held it – with its precursor – for 25 years, a hornet's nest of vested interests, corruption, and abuse of power would be revealed" — Semih Idiz, a columnist for Sigma Turkey, an Ankara-based think tank.

  • The more the public feels the economic pressure, the more Erdoğan's popularity will sink.

Who would have guessed that a 13-year-old opposition youth's shout at Imamoğlu's election bus would become the slogan of hope for tens of millions of Turks: Ekrem! Everything is coming up roses..." Pictured: Crowds celebrating Ekrem Imamoğlu's second victory. (Photo by Getty Images)

An Islamist political party that comes to power by popular vote would never leave power by popular vote. That suggestion is overwhelmingly accurate. But not always. Any Turks younger than 18 have never seen an election defeat for President (and former Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On June 23, a little-known small district mayor won Istanbul for the first time since Islamists first won Istanbul's mayoralty in 1994 -- a good quarter of a century.

In fact, that was the second time Ekrem Imamoğlu was elected mayor of Istanbul in less than two months. Commenting in a May 27 article on the re-run of the Istanbul election, under the headline "Erdoğan's Istanbul Nightmare," this author wrote:

"[S]ince his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, [Erdoğan] has not lost a single election. Everything was coming up roses all the time. Not anymore.

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The Suicide of France

by Giulio Meotti  •  June 23, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "Frenchness" is disappearing and being replaced by a kind balkanization of enclaves not communicating with one another.... this is not a good recipe.

  • The more the French élites with their disposable incomes and cultural leisure cloister themselves in their enclaves, the less likely it is that they will understand the everyday impact of failed mass immigration and multiculturalism.

  • The globalized, "bobo-ized [bourgeois Bohemian] upper classes" are filling the "new citadels" -- as in Medieval France -- and are voting en masse for Macron. They have developed "a single way of talking and thinking... that allows the dominant classes to substitute for the reality of a nation subject to severe stress and strain the fable of a kind and welcoming society." — Christophe Guilluy, Twilight of the Elites, Yale University Press, 2019.

The recent "yellow vests" movement -- whose demonstrators have been protesting every Saturday in Paris, for months -- is a symbol of the division between France's working class and the gentrified progressives. Pictured: "Yellow vests" protestors occupy the steps leading to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur on March 23, 2019 in Paris, France.

"Regarding France in 2019, it can no longer be denied that a momentous and hazardous transformation, a 'Great Switch', is in the making", observed the founder and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, Michel Gurfinkiel. He was mourning "the passing of France as a distinct country, or at least as the Western, Judeo-Christian nation it had hitherto been presumed to be". A recent cover story in the weekly Le Point called it "the great upheaval".

Switch or upheaval, the days of France as we knew it are numbered: the society has lost its cultural center of gravity: the old way of life is fading and close to "extinction". "Frenchness" is disappearing and being replaced by a kind balkanization of enclaves not communicating with one another. For the country most affected by Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, this is not a good recipe.

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The Death of Iran's Japanese Dream

by Amir Taheri  •  June 23, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • What he [Nobushuke Kishi, Japan's postwar statesman and prime minister], tried to tell us, in his oblique Shintoist manner, was that politics should be regarded as a public service dealing with issues of real life and not abstractions such as imperial glory.

  • The Iran that Shinzo Abe visited has no desire for the Japanese models, at least as far as the ruling elite is concerned.

  • It is clear that, for the near future, both dreams: Iran's of becoming a second Japan and Japan's of turning Iran into a strategic ally, are dead.

The Iran that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited has no desire for the Japanese models, at least as far as the ruling elite is concerned. Pictured: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center) meets with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right) and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran on June 13, 2019. (Image source: khamenei.ir)

In a recent column, I talked about Japan's "Iranian dream," the latest sequence of which consisted of Shinzo Abe's visit to Tehran to persuade the mullahs to stop acting as a lone wolf and rejoin the international community. Abe had hoped that defusing the "Iran time bomb" would heighten Japan's international profile commensurate with its status as the world's second-biggest economic power. That sequence of the dream, as we now know, ended with the Japanese Prime Minister being harangued by the Ayatollah and sent packing.

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Turkey: Vote Until You Get It Right
Anti-Greek Sentiments Unleashed Again

by Vasileios Meichanetsidis  •  June 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm

  • "Greek settlements in Asia Minor date as far back as the 11th century BC when Greeks emigrated from mainland Greece." -- Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center

  • Today, less than half a percent of Turkey's population is Christian.

  • The hostility of the Turkish people in Anatolia seems the result of having been indoctrinated with false information since childhood. Ironically, many Turks who harbor ill will towards Greeks are most likely of Greek origin and are actually insulting no one but their own Greek ancestors and themselves.

Ekrem Imamoglu. Since his now-refuted election as mayor of Istanbul, many Turkish nationalists have been denigrating him for being of "Greek" or "Pontic Greek" origin. Photo:YouTube/Screenshot.

A key issue in Turkey today is the "redo" of the mayoral election in Istanbul, slated for June 23. The first municipal election was held on March 31, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to accept its result – the loss of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate to that of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

The CHP victor was Ekrem Imamoglu, originally from Trabzon, a city in the heartland of the historically Greek region of Pontos on the Black Sea coast in northeast Asia Minor. Since Imamoglu's now-refuted election as mayor of Istanbul, many Turkish nationalists have been denigrating him for being of "Greek" or "Pontic Greek" origin.

At a public gathering on May 15, for instance, Mehmet Tevfik Göksu, the mayor of Esenler, said:

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UK: A Clash of Educations

by Denis MacEoin  •  June 22, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • While Britons are striving to promote British values, those increasingly appear not to be the values everyone here wants.

  • The No Outsiders curriculum... teaches acceptance of people different from oneself, which is what brings pupils into contact with mutual respect for Christians, Muslims and Jews, the disabled, gays and everyone who might be considered "other". "It should make absolutely clear that no group should be left out...."

  • There seems to be a broader agenda at work here: that is, to find ways in which to maintain British values when faced with people who in many instances seem to oppose them. One example might be a lesson summed up in the Anderton Park expressions about British values...: "Jewish people are equal to Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and people with no religion." Many might not agree to that sentiment, whether in primary or secondary education, and possibly many Muslim parents would wish their children not to be taught it....

  • The importance of teaching children about respect for other people cannot be exaggerated. In the light of this, can there be any question that the lessons at Anderton Park school are vital for the West?

Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham, England is an outstanding place of education for children between the ages of five and eleven. For more than two months now, it has been at the centre of a standoff between modern Western values and the concerns of a large group of Muslim parents. Pictured: Anderton Park Primary School. (Image source: Oosoom/Wikimedia Commons)

What started as a small protest in the UK has taken on wider dimensions that are already spreading to other cities. For more than two months now, a primary school in Birmingham in the UK has been at the centre of a standoff between modern Western values and the concerns of a large group of Muslim parents. As early as April, reports said, leafleters were targeting schools in Birmingham, Manchester, Oldham, London, Blackburn and Bradford.

The almost daily protests outside the schools, although on a more muted scale, are the biggest since those against Salman Rushdie and his book, The Satanic Verses back in 1988 -- events that for some radicalized a generation. According to the author Kenan Malik, those early protests sowed the seeds of rifts that have since become wider. Some form of clash between these two sets of values is taking place again.

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Palestinian 'Moderates:' Rifles, Hand Grenades and Terrorism

by Bassam Tawil  •  June 21, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • How does Abbas explain his opposition to the use of weapons and terrorism against Israel while his own faction displays rifles and a hand grenade and a map where Israel is completely ignored?

  • Fatah is, in other words, calling for a new Intifada [uprising] against Israel because the US is seeking ways to help the Palestinians. This is nothing less than loony.

  • In several interviews over the past few years, Zakariya Zubeidi made it clear that he never had any intention of renouncing terrorism. In one interview, he said that the Palestinian "resistance" could coexist alongside negotiating with Israel.... Recently, Zubeidi told an Israeli TV correspondent that he "misses the intifada and the revolution."

  • By its very own words and actions, Fatah makes it plainly clear that it is anything but moderate and pragmatic. This is the same faction that is supposed to be Israel's peace partner and whose leaders are welcomed around the world as advocates of peace and coexistence. If this is moderation, one wonders: how do Palestinians define extremism? The international community might check Fatah's communications in Arabic before answering that question for themselves.

Earlier this year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah faction expressed outrage because Israel arrested Zakariya Zubeidi, one of its senior terrorists, for carrying out shooting attacks against Israelis between 2016 and 2019. Zubeidi was a leader of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group during the Second Intifada (2000-2005). In 2007, Zubeidi was pardoned by Israel as part of a deal signed with the PA, in which he and other terrorists signed a pledge to refrain from terror activities. Pictured: Zubeidi (third from left) on December 30, 2004 in Jenin. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

The Palestinian ruling Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority President and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas, is often described as a "moderate" and "pragmatic" group. There are many reasons and sufficient evidence to believe, however, that this assumption is unrealistic, if not totally false.

Before examining the rhetoric and actions of Fatah, one might do well to consider the group's emblem, which depicts two fists holding rifles, and a hand grenade in the middle. In the background is a map of Israel (with no mention of Israel); the emblem is accompanied by a caption reading: "Revolution until victory."

Why any group that proudly uses rifles and a hand grenade as its symbol is described as "moderate" and "pragmatic" remains a mystery. Could it be because it is an anti-Israel group that calls itself the Palestinian National Liberation Movement and was established with the declared goal of "liberating Palestine" -- specifically meaning, destroying Israel?

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No Peace as Long as Iran's Mullahs Enjoy Power

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  June 20, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Already eight years ago, the head of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani boasted to the US General David Petraeus that: "You should know that I... control policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. The ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who's going to replace him is a Quds Force member."

  • An honest analysis of acts of terrorism in the Middle East, and throughout the world, reveals that nearly every conflict, war, and tension in the Middle East, can be traced back to the Iranian government. Despite the illusion that those who would like to appease the Iranian leaders attempt to create, it is clear that the Iran, still racing toward nuclear-breakout capability, has no interest in peace.

  • The Quds Force has also apparently found new sources of funding to evade current US sanctions.

Iran's Quds Force, commanded by Qassem Soleimani, is in charge of Iran's extraterritorial operations, which include organizing, supporting, training, arming and financing Iran's predominantly Shiite militia groups in foreign countries; launching wars directly or indirectly via these proxies; fomenting unrest in other nations to advance Iran's ideological and hegemonic interests; attacking and invading cities and countries; and assassinating foreign political figures and prominent Iranian dissidents worldwide. Pictured: Qassem Soleimani. (Image source: Tasnim News [CC by 4.0])

It is astonishing that while the fundamentalist government of Iran continues to enjoy unchallenged power, and engages in whatever violent behavior it wishes, its apologists proclaim that peace and stability can still exist within the Middle East.

An honest analysis of acts of terrorism in the Middle East, and throughout the world, reveals that nearly every conflict, war, and tension in the Middle East, can be traced back to the Iranian government. Despite the illusion that those who would like to appease the Iranian leaders attempt to create, it is clear that the Iran, still racing toward nuclear-breakout capability, has no interest in peace.

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Mae Cannon & CMEP: The New Face of the Palestinian Authority's Antisemitic "Christian" Lobby

by Joshua Joseph  •  June 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) has apparently decided to shift strategies. Its latest initiative is apparently to use their "Christian" lobby — and various organizations that lobby creates — to infiltrate Christian pro-Israel communities through a carefully crafted narrative designed to appeal to Christians' love for all humanity and desire to pray for the Middle East. The PA's end goal, apart from displacing Israel, is both to dilute Christians' pro-Israel beliefs and their influence, and to convert Christians outright to the PA's narrative and cause.

  • "The organisation I lead," Mae Cannon wrote, "Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), has long been a friend to Israelis." Regrettably, a serious review of the history and activities of Cannon and CMEP illustrates that her statement is demonstrably false.

  • Does her audience know that she is accusing Christian supporters of Israel of increasing antisemitism and hate crimes? Does her audience know that she is writing and promoting Palestinian propaganda in media outlets? Do they know that she is working closely with the Palestinian Authority to implement the PA's strategic plan for targeting Israel by chipping away at Christian support for Israel through eroding support for Christian Zionism? Most likely they do not: Cannon's hidden agenda is disguised by a carefully constructed facade — one that claims simply to be introducing her audience to multiple narratives and perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • The current goal is shifting the balance of power so that Congress, specifically, buys into the PA's political and legislative agenda as pushed by the PA's "Christian" lobby.

  • While Cannon pays lip service to opposing antisemitism and to being a "friend to Israelis," she leads CMEP in strategizing with Israel's enemies on the best way not only to undermine Christian Zionism but also — at the behest of the Palestinian Authority — to target the PA's putative enemy, the State of Israel, in the halls of the government of the United States — arguably, Israel's greatest ally.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has "expressed appreciation" for the work of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). He has every reason to laud the work of CMEP and its executive director, Rev. Dr. Mae Cannon: CMEP was one of the signatories of an anti-Israel plan created at a strategic conference co-hosted by the PA and the Carter Center to guide American "Christian" organizations in their anti-Israel activism. Pictured: Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

Rev. Dr. Mae Cannon — the executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) — is charming and disarming. Her friendly smile, calm demeanor, and quiet passion for her topic is engaging. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Palestinian Authority (PA)/Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) appears to have selected her as the face of their strategic "Christian" anti-Israel lobby — even sharing, on the PLO's social media, a piece in which Cannon blames Christian Zionists for the rise in antisemitism and hate crimes.

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Iran: New Terrorist Activity in Europe

by Con Coughlin  •  June 19, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • One of the more disturbing discoveries regarding Iran's ever-expanding terrorism horizons has emerged in London where it was revealed by the Daily Telegraph earlier this month that a terrorist cell with links to Iran had been caught stockpiling tonnes of explosive materials on the outskirts of London at a secret bomb factory.

  • British intelligence officials have now concluded the stockpile was part of an international Hizbollah plot to lay the foundations for future terror attacks in Europe.

  • One positive outcome from Iran's increased terrorist activity has been to persuade the British government finally to designate the entire Hizbollah organisation as a terrorist organisation.

  • Now, with Iran being held responsible for the latest escalation in tensions in the Gulf, Britain and other European powers should demonstrate their resolve to oppose Iran's well-documented sponsorship of terrorism by backing the Trump administration in its latest confrontation with the ayatollahs.

Earlier this year, Britain's Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, formally designated the entire Hizbollah organisation as a terrorist organisation. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Iran is intensifying its efforts to build a global terror network as the ayatollahs come under increasing economic and political pressure resulting from US sanctions.

While US officials continue to investigate Iran's involvement in the recent series of attacks on a number of oil tankers operating in the Gulf, counter-terrorism experts have uncovered evidence that Iran is also working hard to develop its terrorist infrastructure well beyond the confines of the Middle East.

Intelligence officials are particularly concerned about Iran's activities in Europe where they have identified a recent upsurge in Iranian-sponsored terrorist activity.

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Is the U.S. Ambassador to Greece Faithfully Conveying Trump Administration Policy?

by Maria Polizoidou  •  June 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • In an address to the 7th Annual Hellenic Air Force Academy Air Power Conference on May 15, Pyatt stressed America's strong support for its long-standing alliance with Greece, but he seemed to imply that the State Department would be pressuring Athens and Cyprus to cede to Ankara in its dispute over drilling rights in the Aegean Sea.

  • The phrase: "win-win" -- and the sentence: "At the end of the day, Turkey is a NATO ally" -- triggered Greek fears that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to use Greece as a decoy in order to bring Turkey back in NATO's orbit.

  • [Former Greek Prime Minister Costas] Simitis is not the only figure, political or otherwise, to have interpreted Pyatt's words as he did. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for instance, is likely to have understood Pyatt's remarks to mean that the U.S. is preparing to impose an "agreement" on Greece that favors Turkey. Such a sense on Erdogan's part would only make him hungrier for hegemony in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

  • The sense in Greece is that the American embassy in Athens is not conveying Trump's messages in many areas, such as illegal immigration, Islamic terrorism, Iran and U.S. trade disagreements with the Eurozone.

U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt (right) at the 7th Annual Hellenic Air Force Academy Air Power Conference, on May 15, 2019. (Image source: U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Greece)

A recent speech by U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt is causing Greek officials and the media alarm about American policy.

In an address to the 7th Annual Hellenic Air Force Academy Air Power Conference on May 15, Pyatt stressed America's strong support for its long-standing alliance with Greece, but he seemed to imply that the State Department would be pressuring Athens and Cyprus to cede to Ankara in its dispute over drilling rights in the Aegean Sea.

The first hint that Pyatt -- an appointee of the Obama administration -- was about to say something unpopular among Greeks was in his opening remarks:

"...[O]ne of the reasons I enjoy speaking to military audiences like this is that you always test me with your straight shooting. The fact is, militaries tend to operate with a black-and-white, shoot/no-shoot frankness, whereas us diplomats work in shades of gray."

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China: The Perfect High-Tech Totalitarian State

by Judith Bergman  •  June 18, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • In China, censorship, now largely automated, has reached "unprecedented levels of accuracy, aided by machine learning and voice and image recognition." — Cate Cadell, Reuters, May 26, 2019.

  • As in other Communist regimes, such as that of the former Soviet Union, the Communist ideology does not tolerate any competing narratives. "Religion is a source of authority, and an object of fidelity, that is greater than the state... This characteristic of religion has always been anathema to history's totalitarian despots..." — Thomas F. Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, in testimony before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, November 28, 2018.

  • In 2018, China had an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras, with plans for 626 million surveillance cameras by 2020. China's aim is apparently an "Integrated Joint Operations Platform" which will integrate and coordinate data from surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology, citizen ID card numbers, biometric data, license plate numbers and information about vehicle ownership, health, family planning, banking, and legal records, "unusual activity", and any other relevant data that can be gathered about citizens, such as religious practice, travels abroad, and so on, according to reports of local officials and police.

  • At the moment, China is in the process of fulfilling what Stalin, Hitler and Mao could only dream about: The flawless totalitarian state, powered by digital technology, where the individual has nowhere to flee from the all-seeing eye of the Communist state.

The 30th anniversary on June 4 of the Chinese regime's 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square served to highlight the extreme censorship in China under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and President Xi Jinping.

The Tiananmen anniversary is referred to euphemistically in mainland China, as 'the June Fourth Incident'. The regime there evidently fears that any talk, let alone public commemoration, of that historical event will stir up anti-regime unrest, which could endanger the Chinese Communist Party's absolute power.

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Venezuela: "A Mafia State"

by Jiri Valenta and Leni Friedman Valenta  •  June 18, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • To make matters worse, many of Maduro's 2,000 generals are also heavily involved in the drug trade, aiding the very networks they are supposed to be battling.... Meanwhile, much of the country is also controlled by "pranes," crime lords who run gangs from within the country's prisons.

  • "Illicit narco trafficking through Venezuela is up some 40 percent." — Navy Admiral Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, The Hill, May 23, 2019.

  • "The administration's strategy seeks to force the estimated 15,000 Cuban military and security personnel out of Venezuela. '[O]nce the rocks start rolling downhill, the regime itself is unsustainable,' Bolton said." — U.S. National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, as reported by Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon, June 17, 2019.

In addition to its armed forces, Venezuela's regime operates a parallel security structure -- the "colectivos" trained by the Cubans and modeled on Fidel Castro's Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. Some members of the colectivos operate as armed motorcycle gangs that have been terrorizing and even killing anti-Maduro protesters. Pictured: Members of the colectivos in Caracas block the passage of protests on April 19, 2017. (Image source: Oscar/Wikimedia Commons)

In an op-ed in the New York Times on June 11, Abraham F. Lowenthal and David Smilde propose a humanistic vision for the current Oslo negotiations between representatives of the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the democratic opposition, led by Juan Guaidó -- recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's interim president.

According to Lowenthal and Smilde, "The divisions within Maduro's coalition laid bare during the failed April 30 uprising, coupled with Juan Guaidó's unsuccessful call for the support of the armed forces, may have finally persuaded key people on both sides that the only viable way forward is a negotiated transition."

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The Palestinian Leaders' War on Preventing Corruption

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

  • The Palestinian Authority has chosen to crack down on anti-corruption activists as part of an effort to silence its critics and deter others from demanding transparency and accountability.

  • Stories concerning rampant financial and administrative corruption in the Palestinian Authority do not surprise those who have been reporting on Palestinian affairs in the past two decades. What is surprising is the growing number of Palestinian individuals and groups who are openly defying Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials by talking about and exposing corruption.

  • What Palestinian leaders are actually telling their people, in other words, is that anyone who complains about corruption is a traitor working with the Americans and Israelis against the interests of the Palestinians. This charge not only carries the death penalty, it brings shame to the accused and his or her entire clan. Palestinians are thus understandably wary of such an accusation.

  • Palestinian leaders not only deny their people the right to institutions of proper governing, they are now doing their best to block any chance of improving their living conditions by boycotting the upcoming Bahrain conference, whose main goal is to offer Palestinians economic prosperity and rid them of failed leaders whose sole interest seems to be enriching their own bank accounts and those of their family members.

(Image source: iStock)

A growing number of Palestinians are demanding that the Palestinian Authority (PA) take serious measures to end financial and administrative corruption among its top brass.

Rather than heeding these calls, however, the Palestinian Authority has chosen to crack down on anti-corruption activists as part of an effort to silence its critics and deter others from demanding transparency and accountability. The Palestinian Authority's measures against anti-corruption activists have angered many Palestinians, who are accusing their leaders of covering up for senior officials suspected of abusing power for their own personal gain.

In the past few days, the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank arrested two prominent anti-corruption activists: Fayez al-Sweiti, Mohammed Ayesh and Saed Abu al-Baha.

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