Latest Analysis and Commentary

Hassan Rouhani's Iranian Presidency Has Been an Abject Failure

by Con Coughlin  •  August 5, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • [W]ith the Iranian economy on its knees and the country facing further international isolation, Mr Rouhani finds himself leaving office with his reputation in tatters and the ruling Islamic regime facing a desperate battle for survival.

  • Mr Raisi's victory in Iran's indisputably rigged elections in June should be seen not so much as a victory for the country's ultra-conservative supporters of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as a desperate attempt by regime hardliners to protect the Islamic revolution from mounting unrest.

  • So, far from being the president that transformed Iran's fortunes for the better, Mr Rouhani will forever be remembered as one of the most disastrous leaders in the country's history.

When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani leaves office today, he will do so in the knowledge that his eight-year term has been little more than an abject failure, both at home and abroad. Rouhani will forever be remembered as one of the most disastrous leaders in the Iran's history. (Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani leaves office today, Thursday, he will do so in the knowledge that his eight-year term has been little more than an abject failure, both at home and abroad.

Back in 2013, when the 72-year-old Mr Rouhani became Iran's seventh post-revolutionary president, his central campaign pledge was to improve the country's economic well-being. In addition he promised to adopt a more liberal approach to domestic policy while seeking to forge a more constructive engagement with the outside world.

Eight years later, with the Iranian economy on its knees and the country facing further international isolation, Mr Rouhani finds himself leaving office with his reputation in tatters and the ruling Islamic regime facing a desperate battle for survival.

Perhaps the greatest indictment of Mr Rouhani's years of catastrophic misrule is that he is to be replaced by Ebrahim Raisi, known universally by Iranians as the "Butcher of Tehran."

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Biden Administration "Surrenders" to Germany on Russian Gas Pipeline

by Soeren Kern  •  August 4, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • "The willingness of the administration to make decisions of this magnitude without consulting the countries most exposed will not be lost on other parts of the world. Jerusalem and Riyadh, for example, are no doubt already strategizing around the potential of facing a surprise similar to the one that Washington just delivered to Warsaw and Kyiv." — Kiron Skinner and Russell Berman, Foreign Policy, July 26, 2021.

  • "The lesson learned by Germany is that it can pursue its own inclinations of doing business with dictators regardless of principles and with no consequences from Washington. More dangerously, the lesson for Moscow and Beijing is that sanctions for international aggression will never be sustained for very long. The Biden administration has made the fragile international order even less secure." — Kiron Skinner and Russell Berman, Foreign Policy, July 26, 2021.

  • "The project creates conditions for Russia's escalation of military aggression against Ukraine, as well as the continuation of a hybrid war against the EU and NATO.... This Russian pipeline threatens the national security not only of Ukraine, but also of all of Europe." — Ukrainian Parliament, July 21, 2021.

  • "The U.S.-German deal is embarrassingly weak. It relies on a vague assurance that after Putin ramps up the blackmail enabled by the deal, Germany will take unspecified actions in response.... Overall, Biden handed Putin the biggest gift he's received in years. He also signaled to Putin that when push comes to shove, the American president is weak and will bow to political pressure." — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Washington Examiner, July 22, 2021.

  • "Remarkably, Washington agreed to end its opposition to the project without any recognizable benefit in exchange: Merkel has neither promised increased engagement for NATO nor more clarity about China. The compromise between Biden and Merkel is not a compromise at all, but an American capitulation." — Robin Alexander, Die Welt, July 21, 2021.

The Biden administration has reached an agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that allows for the completion of a controversial natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. This Russian pipeline threatens the national security not only of Ukraine, but also of all of Europe. Pictured: Merkel and US President Joe Biden hold a news conference in the White House on July 15, 2021. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Biden administration has reached an agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that allows for the completion of a controversial natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

The July 21 deal to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany by transporting the gas under the Baltic Sea, has angered the leaders of many countries in Eastern and Western Europe; they argue that it will effectively give Moscow a stranglehold over European gas supplies and open the continent to Russian blackmail.

Both the Obama and Trump administrations steadfastly opposed the pipeline on the grounds that, once completed, it would strengthen Russian President Vladimir Putin's economic and political influence over Europe.

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'Violations' the UN Security Council Does Not Care About

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  August 3, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • Such Security Council sessions have become routine and almost always end up with statements denouncing Israel after hearing complaints from PA officials about Israel's alleged "violations" and "aggressions."

  • Yet the Security Council meeting, which was held last week, did not hear a word about human rights violations and aggressions committed by the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

  • [Nizar] Banat, the anti-corruption activist and vocal critic of the PA leadership, was allegedly bludgeoned to death on June 24 by more than 20 Palestinian security officers.

  • More than a month has passed since his brutal murder but the Security Council has not found the time to address this grave incident.

  • The Security Council has undoubtedly not heard of the case of Emad Al-Tawil, a 27-year-old Palestinian who died on June 25 after being beaten by Hamas security officers. Tawil was a resident of Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

  • The Security Council and international human rights organizations and journalists most likely did not hear about the case of Hassan Abu Zayed, a 27-year-old Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, who was shot dead by Hamas "border guards" on July 23.

  • The Palestinian human rights abuses and the crackdown on political activists and journalists are ignored not only by the UN, but also by the Biden administration.

  • Instead of pressuring Palestinian leaders to cease imprisoning, torturing and killing their people, the Biden administration is, absurdly, searching for ways to strengthen the PA leadership.

  • Apparently, in the eyes of the Biden administration, strengthening PA leaders means allowing Palestinian security officers to beat political activists to death, drag women by their hair on the streets of Ramallah, and imprison and intimidate journalists. The Security Council members, meanwhile, take their unjustified obsession with Israel to new heights as Palestinians are taken to prison or the graveyard at the hands of the PA and Hamas.

The Palestinian human rights abuses and the crackdown on political activists and journalists are ignored not only by the UN, but also by the Biden administration. Pictured: Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces deploy in front of demonstrators in Ramallah on July 3, 2021, during a protest denouncing the PA for the death of activist Nizar Banat while in the custody of PA security forces. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)

At the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the United Nations Security Council was again called to hold a session to discuss Israeli "violations" and "aggressions" against the Palestinians. The PA also demanded that the Security Council discuss the professed ongoing Israeli "siege" of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Such Security Council sessions have become routine and almost always end up with statements denouncing Israel after hearing complaints from PA officials about Israel's alleged "violations" and "aggressions."

Yet the Security Council meeting, which was held last week, did not hear a word about human rights violations and aggressions committed by the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Security Council did not hear about more than 75 Palestinian social media users, political activists and journalists who were arrested by the PA security forces in the West Bank just in the past few weeks.

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Betraying the Cuban People, Again

by Chris Farrell  •  August 2, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • Everyone knows that Biden's hollow platitudes are utterly meaningless. "The United States stands with..." what, exactly, does that mean? What does "stands with" look like?

  • Here is the ugly truth: Biden does not care a damn about the Cuban people throwing off 60+ years of communism. Cubans are holding the largest anti-government rallies in decades. American media coverage has been near zero. Half of Biden's White House staff probably does not understand what the president means by "repression," admires Fidel and Raul Castro, and can be found wearing Che Guevara T-shirts on the weekends.

  • Cuban President and First Secretary of the Communist Party Miguel Díaz-Canel could order the machine-gunning of every protestor on the streets of Havana and the Biden administration would do nothing. Well, perhaps they might take the "strong action" of two weeks ago and sanction ONE Cuban government official, followed by the "stunning" sanctioning of TWO additional Cuban police officials. Díaz-Canel actually condemned protestors looking for food, calling them "counter-revolutionary mercenaries."

  • Meanwhile, over on Capitol Hill, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad are advocating for programs and policies right out of the Cuban Communist Party's playbook. They actually want the power outages, rationed medical care and food shortages ordinary Cubans are protesting against. Their militant ideology and policy proposals fit right into the anti-American, Marxist "Critical FILL-IN-THE-BLANK Theory" concepts taught from the Frankfurt School.

  • Under the Biden administration, the Cuban people will be ignored by the United States, again, as they have been for 60+ years. It is a horror for America -- with brutal, bloody consequences for the innocent people that continue to hold out hope that America will finally help.

Cubans are holding the largest anti-government rallies in decades. American media coverage has been near zero. Everyone knows that President Biden's hollow platitudes are utterly meaningless. Pictured: Cuban-Americans march from the White House to the Cuban Embassy on 16th Street during the "Cuban Freedom March" on July 26, 2021 in Washington, DC, urging the U.S. government to intervene in Cuba to support human rights and end communist rule there. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"Elections? What for?"
— Fidel Castro, January 1960

"The United States stands with the brave Cubans who have taken to the streets to oppose 62 years of repression under a communist regime."
— President Biden, July 22, 2021

Take a look at the opening quotes to this essay, pause, and think about them. There is a long litany of American miscalculations, cowardice, gamesmanship, indifference, condescension, and exploitation centered on Cuba, the Cuban people, and Cuban-Americans. It has been a bipartisan problem for decades, with a lot of American political rhetoric; one double-crossed, failed invasion attempt; and brutal communist intransigence.

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Freedom of Speech: A Vulnerable Right

by Pete Hoekstra  •  August 2, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • Rather than developing into a new marketplace of open competition among ideas and ideologies, the social media space has narrowed. Thought regulation, and even censorship, whether overt or hidden, has become commonplace. Too often, only "correct" opinion and the approved version of "truth" have been allowed. The arbiters of online speech — faceless corporate bureaucrats — frequently display outright political bias.

  • The flag desecration votes demonstrate how vulnerable the concept of freedom of speech is. America's Founders realized the potential tyranny of the majority and that is why they made it the First Amendment. They understood that freedom of speech is essential....

  • We must not accept the new intolerance of corporate progressives. It is time to stand up to the social media titans of our age, the new robber barons, and put a stop to their aggressive attempts to control the marketplace of ideas.

Social media has undoubtedly become the dominant form of communication in our society. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults identify themselves as Facebook users. Statistics show that people on average spend 2.5 hours per day on social networks and messaging. Also, 49 percent "of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media." Social media boosters claim that this success shows that Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other platforms are fulfilling their promise to help build an interconnected world of free expression and solidarity in diversity of thought. But is this true?

Many of us in the world of politics, and political discourse in particular, hoped that social media would form a new marketplace in which differing ideas and policy options could be promoted and debated freely. In recent months, however, it has become undeniable that the opposite is happening.

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Turkey: Arbitrary Arrests, Kidnappings, Torture in Prison

by Uzay Bulut  •  August 1, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • "Because my surgery was delayed while I was in prison, my left upper tooth, left palate, cheekbone and lymph nodes were removed. The bottom of my left chin is now empty. 20 cms of bone was taken from my leg and placed on my face... According to the latest MRI I had, the tumor has spread to the back of my eye." — Ayşe Özdoğan, whose so-called crime is to have worked at a dormitory affiliated with the Gülen movement. She was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison for being "a member of a terrorist organization".

  • [T]orture and ill-treatment, as well as a lack of medical care for sick prisoners, are widespread in Turkish jails.... Those rooms are arranged in such a way that there are no security cameras there and no torture detection can be made.

  • After the prisoners filed a criminal complaint about being beaten, a disciplinary investigation was launched against the prisoners for insulting the officer and insulting the president rather than opening an investigation against the perpetrators

  • Meanwhile, those who advocate for the rights of the victims are arrested.

  • In February, the US State Department announced that President Joe Biden is committed to a foreign policy "that is centered on the defense of democracy and the protection of human rights." Given the horrifying scale of destruction of human rights of citizens of Turkey, is it not the time for the US government finally to make human rights a priority in its dealings there?

Torture and ill-treatment, as well as a lack of medical care for sick prisoners, are widespread in Turkish jails. Meanwhile, those who advocate for the rights of the victims are arrested. Given the horrifying scale of destruction of human rights of citizens of Turkey, is it not the time for the US government finally to make human rights a priority in its dealings there? (Image source: iStock)

Turkey's government continues the systematic targeting and persecution of those perceived as "enemies" of the government.

Ayşe Özdoğan, suffering from stage-4 maxillary sinus cancer and one of the tens of thousands of Turkey's victims, was convicted of being a supporter of a movement led by Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric self-exiled to Pennsylvania. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls Gülen's movement a "terrorist organization" and accuses it of carrying out an attempted coup d'état in 2016.

According to the court ruling, Özdoğan's so-called crime is to have worked at a dormitory affiliated with the Gülen movement. She was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison for being "a member of a terrorist organization". Her husband, a teacher, was dismissed from his job and imprisoned for the same alleged crime. Their 8-year-old son suffers from a congenital heart defect.

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Iran and the Divisive Rule of the Mullah

by Amir Taheri  •  August 1, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • Ayatollah Khomeini said that the regime he planned to install in Iran would have one guideline: "Doing the opposite of what the cursed Shah did."

  • [Khomeini's] position started by dividing Iranians into Muslims and non-Muslims. He then divided them further into Shiites and Sunnis. He went on to divide the Shiites into twelvers and others.

  • But, here, too, Khomeinists might be on the wrong side of history. The ongoing protests seems to be reviving the national unity and a sense of Iranian-ness fostered over the past centuries, thus singling out the Khomeinist ideology as the common enemy of the nation.

While the Shah tried to forge a single, unifying identity, Khomeini based his strategy on dividing Iranians. That position started by dividing Iranians into Muslims and non-Muslims. He then divided them further into Shiites and Sunnis. He went on to divide the Shiites into twelvers and others. (Image source: iStock)

In an "audience" granted to a number of anti-Shah intellectuals just weeks after seizing power, Ayatollah Khomeini said that the regime he planned to install in Iran would have one guideline: "Doing the opposite of what the cursed Shah did." For the past four decades he and his successors have remained faithful to that promise and have taken double care to prove that.

The Shah wanted to keep Iran out of war and military conflict and succeeded in doing so for more than three decades, at times by taking painful decisions. Khomeini and his successor led Iran into an eight-year long war with Iraq plus a series of military involvements in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan.

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Iran's Mullahs are Killing; Biden Administration, EU Are Silent

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  July 31, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • The Biden administration has... not uttered even one word of condemnation. People can and should be wondering how a country that boasts about freedom and civil rights can be silent while other humans are being butchered because they desire that same freedom and those same rights?

  • Iran, with its current regime, is a danger not just to its long-suffering people, but to everyone. These protesters, who are flooding the streets and demanding that their voices be heard, are displaying acts of heroism that will be felt throughout the world and throughout history

  • While many in Iran are risking their lives in their struggle to change their predatory regime, and while many have been killed by the Iranian regime's force, the Biden administration has so far not shown even the slightest interest in even verbally condemning the brutal mullahs of Iran. Instead, the current US administration continues cozying up to them, presumably in the hope of reviving the disastrous nuclear deal and lifting all sanctions to help them continue their marauding, expansion and terror.

When the people of Iran rose up by the millions against the Iranian regime in 2009, the Obama administration stayed abhorrently silent. This year, on July 15, many in Iran rose against the regime again; again, the Biden administration remained totally silent, just as Obama did. Pictured: People in Tehran, Iran, protest during the popular uprising in the name of the "Green Movement," on June 16, 2009. (Image source: Milad Avazbeigi/Wikimedia Commons)

When the people of Iran rose up by the millions against the Iranian regime in 2009, the Obama administration stayed abhorrently silent. People on the streets in Iran began chanting, "Obama, Obama, are you with them [the ruling mullahs] or with us?" The Obama administration offered no support. The administration's dismissal of their agony not only enabled the mullahs brutally to crush the demonstrations with impunity; the mullahs were even rewarded with a deal that would enable them to have legitimate nuclear weapons capability down the road and billions of dollars thrown in.

Obama and the Iranian regime sold the world the idea that appeasement towards the mullahs and lifting UN sanctions would supposedly help the Iranian people and make the Iranian government a constructive player. Instead, the opposite took place.

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China Ambushes Top American Diplomat

by Gordon G. Chang  •  July 30, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • "Chinese leaders give the impression that the U.S.A. has much more to seek from them than they from Washington.... This time, the Americans were on the defensive as they sought Beijing's cooperation on a range of issues—climate change, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and others—ensuring that the U.S.A. did not seek conflict." — Yogesh Gupta, former Indian diplomat and specialist on China-India relations, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, July 27, 2021.

  • In fact, the Chinese are not that essential, and American leaders do not have to listen to them. Take their economy. Last year, China became even more dependent on exports, and it remains extraordinarily reliant on access to the U.S. market. In 2020, China's merchandise trade surplus with the U.S. accounted for a stunning 58.0% of its overall merchandise trade surplus.

  • Moreover, China's financial markets have become even more dependent on foreign capital because of Xi Jinping's unrelenting attack on his country's tech sector. Xi began his most recent phase of this months-long assault with the unprecedented halting last November of Ant Group's initial public offering, slated to be the world's largest at $39.5 billion. This year, Xi has wiped more than $140 billion of value off U.S.-listed Chinese tech giants during the last week of July alone, and most analysts believe the carnage will continue.

  • China, as a result, is needy, requiring foreign cash to replace what has already been lost—and what will be lost as Xi continues to take apart his tech giants. Biden can use his considerable powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977—or, if he is even bolder, the Trading with Enemy Act of 1917—to halt commerce with China and investment into the Chinese markets, ending once and for all the China threat.

Once again, China's regime went out of its way to insult Biden administration diplomats. The mauling this time took place in the Chinese city of Tianjin, on July 26. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (pictured), the most senior Biden administration official to visit China, was the victim. (Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Once again, China's regime went out of its way to insult Biden administration diplomats.

The mauling this time took place in the Chinese city of Tianjin, on July 26. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the most senior Biden administration official to visit China, was the victim.

Beijing used the meeting with Ms. Sherman, as it used the now-infamous March meeting in Anchorage, not to work with the U.S. but to launch a propaganda campaign against Washington.

Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, for instance, publicly accused the U.S. of trying to end the Chinese regime. "A whole-of-government and whole-of-society campaign is being waged to bring China down," Xie said, according to the official China Daily, during Sherman's visit.

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Fighting the Blight of Durban

by Richard Kemp  •  July 29, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • Hamas started this war [in May] as part of its power struggle with Fatah... But its... acts of aggression — seen repeatedly since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 — were also intended to engender an Israeli reaction that would unavoidably lead to the deaths of Palestinian civilians, and in turn provoke vilification against the Jewish state and its isolation from the international community.

  • All of this takes place and is legitimised within a wider international political web with the United Nations, spider-like, at its centre. Under the instigation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation... at the end of the Gaza conflict the obedient UN Human Rights Council resolved to create a permanent "Commission of Inquiry" into Israel's treatment of Palestinians, the only open-ended inquisition of its kind against any country in the world. Its findings are sickeningly certain even before they are written.

  • [The UN's upcoming Durban IV conference] marks the anniversary of the Durban Declaration made at the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance. Shocking even for this corrupt ... world body, the conference was itself characterised by racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance — the direct opposite of its declared purpose. In one hate-filled speech after another, Israel was falsely accused of racism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and genocide.

  • The conference and subsequent linked events in 2009 and 2011 have served to legitimise Jew-hate.

  • France, Italy, Bulgaria, New Zealand and Poland, each of which refused to attend in 2011, have yet to declare their intentions.

  • Amb. Ronald Lauder has called on President Biden to take the lead against this vitriol... by declaring such hatred beyond the pale... . Lauder says the US president is the one man in the country who can make a difference... He is right and the same applies to presidents and prime ministers everywhere.

  • Anything less than full support for Israel's vital and lawful defensive actions amounts to encouragement of violence by Hamas and tacit approval of its actions. Leaders who fail to support Israel and condemn these terrorists share culpability not just for antisemitic hate in their own countries but also for an increasingly violent cycle in the Middle East in which the greatest victims are Palestinian civilians, betrayed and endangered by the vicious actions of their own leadership.

  • Although many political leaders have spoken out against Jew-hate, their failure to both publicly condemn Hamas and vigorously support Israel's defensive actions gives credence to the poisonous propaganda of the street thugs in their own countries and green lights their antisemitic aggression.

  • When the Gaza conflict began, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hoisted the Israeli flag on the roof of the federal chancellery in Vienna as a sign of solidarity with Israel's fight. "The terrorist attacks on Israel," he wrote, "are to be condemned in the strongest possible terms! Together we stand by Israel's side".

Under the instigation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, at the end of the Gaza conflict the obedient UN Human Rights Council resolved to create a permanent "Commission of Inquiry" into Israel's treatment of Palestinians, the only open-ended inquisition of its kind against any country in the world. Its findings are sickeningly certain even before they are written. Pictured: The UN Human Rights Council in session on June 30, 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

This week, Ronald S. Lauder, former US ambassador to Austria and currently president of the World Jewish Congress, sent an open letter to US President Joe Biden setting out his concerns about rising antisemitism. "Recently, American Jews have witnessed something we never thought we would see in this country," he wrote; "...a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke cannot walk down an American street without fear of violence. Jews have been attacked by pro-Palestinian mobs in Los Angeles, New York and other cities. Antisemitic incidents have more than doubled in the past year. Hate crimes against Jews in America are twice as high as crimes against any other religious group".

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Disband the FBI

by Chris Farrell  •  July 28, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • In the past few days alone, we have learned that the October 2020 Michigan governor kidnap plot was largely a creation of the FBI; a "senior FBI official" was on the take from media organizations; and another assistant director was in a "romantic relationship with a subordinate" and involved in "other misconduct." The leadership failures documented by the Office of the Inspector General are now almost standard and part of a tiresome media drip-torture for the public to endure.

  • The FBI ran a coup against President Trump. It failed. The following got away: Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Clinesmith, Pientka, Brower, Baker, et al. Any real consequences for attempting to overthrow the government of the United States? No.

  • Questions are now being raised as to whether the FBI had a role in the Capitol Hill protests of January 6, 2021. When one examines the FBI's involvement in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax; Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses; standing by idly while in possession of Hunter Biden's Ukraine and Burisma-laden laptops, while President Trump endured a second phony impeachment; and the frame-up of Trump's National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn – it is not too difficult to imagine.

  • The FBI needs to go away. It should happen in an orderly and thoughtful process, over a period of months. Congress should authorize and create an investigative division in the U.S. Marshals Service and open applications for law enforcement officer seeking to be rigorously screened, vetted and then accessed into the new organization. Similar action was taken before in the very creation of the FBI. It is now time to clean house and restore the public's trust in the "premier investigative agency" of federal law enforcement.

(Photo by Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues its downward spiral into terminal corruption. Sadly, the scandals, criminality and ethical abuses of the organization are largely ignored by the American public and by the institutions of government charged with oversight and correction. Outrage after outrage is reported, hearings are held, Inspector General reports are issued -- but the systemic corruption is never really tackled and dirty cops skate away virtually unscathed.

This situation is constitutionally unacceptable, corrosive to public trust in law enforcement, and a threat to the survival of the republic.

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Communist China's New Plan: Digital Currency

by Judith Bergman  •  July 27, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • The real purpose of the new digital currency... seems to be... to challenge the long-standing global reign of the US dollar.

  • The new digital currency is part of the CCP's ambition, as laid out in its new Five-Year Plan for the years 2021-2025, to digitalize China. The digitalization, in turn, is part of China's ambition to become technologically independent of the West and to dominate global tech, and overtake the US as the world's dominant power by 2049," the 100th anniversary of China's Communist Revolution.

  • Crucially, China's new digital currency, in addition to increasing state control and surveillance in China.. .could affect the ability of the US, and other countries, to level sanctions at the Chinese government for its human rights abuses and other breaches of international law.

  • The US, on its part, does not appear ready for China's challenge over the future of money.

  • "Not only are the American monetary authorities underestimating the threat posed to dollar dominance by China's pioneering combination of digital currency and electronic payments. They are also treating the blockchain-based financial innovations that offer the best alternative to China's e-yuan like gatecrashers at their own exclusive party." — Niall Ferguson, historian, Bloomberg, April 4, 2021.

(Image source: iStock)

Communist China is adding another element to its toolbox of surveilling and controlling its population. Already known as the country in the world with the most pervasive surveillance and social credit system, China has now created a digital currency, the digital renminbi or yuan -- also known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) -- to ensure that hardly any transaction goes unregistered.

Unlike cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which are not issued by governments and therefore cannot be used as means of payment in most daily transactions, China's digital currency is issued and controlled by China's central bank.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the currency "is expected to give China's government vast new tools to monitor both its economy and its people. By design, the digital yuan will negate one of bitcoin's major draws: anonymity for the user."

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Can a Bangladeshi Visit Israel Now?

by Mohshin Habib  •  July 27, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • Whatever the public perception and the explanations by cabinet members are regarding the passport issue, the government of Bangladesh has taken a big step forward by removing the clause. At least, from now on, the state will not be able to prosecute someone for visiting Israel. As an extra benefit, the country's declared foreign policy of "friendship to all and malice towards none" will be more meaningful as well.

Recently, the government of Bangladesh dropped the infamous phrase "this passport is valid for all countries of the world except Israel" from its new passports. Now it has become a national issue of debate. (Image source: Tusharkb2)

Recently, the government of Bangladesh dropped the infamous phrase "this passport is valid for all countries of the world except Israel" from its new passports. Those words had been prominently inscribed since the country's independence from Pakistan in 1971. Six months ago, when Bangladeshi government introduced a new machine-readable passport with an electronic chip, the "except Israel" clause was quietly erased with no public announcement. The change was, in a sense, classified.

In early May, a man went to the passport department headquarters to collect the passports of his mother and brother, when he noticed that the clause had been omitted. Through social media, the news went viral. Now it has become a national issue of debate.

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Will Lebanon Fall into the Hands of Iran?

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  July 26, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • There is growing concern among the Lebanese and other Arabs that Iran is planning to exploit the severe political, economic and financial crisis in Lebanon to complete its takeover of the country.

  • Iran already has a political and military presence in Lebanon through its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. The current crisis, however, is likely to facilitate Iran's mission of adding Lebanon to the list of countries it already occupies: Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

  • "Iran is already very dangerous without a nuclear bomb. The region is witnessing a state of chaos and agitation by fundamentalist forces, which threaten all Arab countries without exception." — Mishary Dhayidi, Saudi writer, Al-Arabiya, July 21, 2021

  • The Arabs appear clearly worried about the perceived apathy of the US and other Western powers towards Iran's scheme to extend its control to Lebanon. They seem particularly alarmed that Lebanon will meet the same fate as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.... thanks to Iran's continuous efforts to export terrorism and the "Islamic Revolution" to the Arab countries.

  • [T]he mullahs in Tehran are doubly dangerous: they aspire not only to develop nuclear weapons, but also to occupy Arab states.

There is growing concern among the Lebanese and other Arabs that Iran is planning to exploit the severe political, economic and financial crisis in Lebanon to complete its takeover of the country. Iran already has a political and military presence in Lebanon through its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Pictured: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah. (Image source: khamenei.ir)

There is growing concern among the Lebanese and other Arabs that Iran is planning to exploit the severe political, economic and financial crisis in Lebanon to complete its takeover of the country.

Iran already has a political and military presence in Lebanon through its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. The current crisis, however, is likely to facilitate Iran's mission of adding Lebanon to the list of countries it already occupies: Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

For several weeks now, the hashtag "# Lebanon is Collapsing" has been trending on various social media platforms, including Twitter. Many Lebanese and Arabs are using this hashtag to describe the dire economic and financial situation in Lebanon and warn of Iran's ongoing meddling in the internal affairs of the country. They seem to fear that that Iran's mullahs are about to instigate instability and chaos in Lebanon as they have done in Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

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The Cuban People Deserve Freedom: Where Is the US Help?

by Guy Millière  •  July 25, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • All available data...show that before Castro took power, Cuba was far from being in a disastrous situation. In 1958, the Cuban income per capita was double that of Spain and Japan. Cuba had more doctors and dentists per capita than Britain. Cuba was second per capita in Latin America in ownership of automobiles and telephones, and first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. Cubans could enter and leave the country freely. Fulgencio Batista was a dictator, but Batista's dictatorship was so "fierce" that Fidel Castro, arrested in 1953 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for a failed coup d'état was pardoned and released by Batista in 1954. Under his own dictatorship, Castro would not have been so lucky.

  • The Cuban economy was rapidly destroyed. All businesses, until recently, have been state-owned. Wages in Cuba are abysmal; the population is effectively destitute. The average monthly salary in 2015 was $18.66. Persecution, imprisonment and torture of anyone who dares to criticize the regime are routine. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have passed through Cuba's reeducation camps since 1959. More than 15,000 Cubans have been executed by firing squad. The health system is good for members of the regime and for medical tourists who pay in American dollars, but in a sordid state for ordinary Cubans.

  • The Cuban government under Batista was corrupt, but it is difficult to believe that the dignitaries of the Castro regime did not enrich themselves. At the end of his life, Fidel Castro's fortune was valued at $900 million.

  • In "36 hours in Havana", a report in The New York Times on January 5, 2016, Cuba's capital city is described as full of "classic American cars and salsa singers" and as "an old city where the old and the modern are in contrast". The decay of many buildings, the immense poverty of the bulk of the population, the crushing weight of the communist dictatorship are completely left out.

  • US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, himself a refugee from Castro's Cuba, immediately threatened his fellow Cubans: While everyone, including criminals who have previously been deported, may freely enter the United States through America's wide-open southern non-border, all Cubans and Haitians fleeing by sea will be returned to their squalor. "The time is never right to attempt migration by sea," he warned them on July 13. "... Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States."

  • On July 12, the Cuban regime cut the Cubans' access to the internet. The regime's police will therefore able to crush the uprising without one image coming out of Cuba.

On July 11, demonstrations erupted in the main cities of Cuba. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets, knowing they risk being brutally arrested, sent to jail, possibly tortured and killed by the police. They reject the communist dictatorship that has oppressed them for 62 years. They shout "Libertad": freedom. Pictured: Police arrest a demonstrator during a peaceful anti-communist protest in Havana, on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Adalberto Roque/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunday July 11. Demonstrations erupt in the main cities of Cuba. Tens of thousands of people take to the streets. They know they risk being brutally arrested, sent to jail, possibly tortured and killed by the police. They reject the communist dictatorship that has oppressed them for 62 years. They shout "Libertad": freedom. They hold up Cuban and American flags -- once again, the symbol of people who yearn to breathe freely.

Those who dream of communism for the Western world first kept silent, then, while making a few criticisms of the dictatorship in Cuba, blamed it on an American embargo. They failed to point out that if the Cuban dictators cannot trade with the United States, they still can trade with the rest of the world; and also failed to point out that Cuba has nothing to sell: its leaders have destroyed the country's economy.

Governments in Western Europe have made no comment to date; they seem to prefer avoiding the subject.

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