America’s Middle East Policy, From Eisenhower to Trump
Few American presidents have done so much to shape U.S. relations with the Arab world as Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, like many of his successors, believed that the Arab-Israeli conflict was central to the region and that he could win the respect of Arab leaders by demonstrating “daylight” between Washington and Jerusalem. But unlike subsequent presidents, he eventually learned that these and other assumptions were wrong. Michael Doran, Walter Russell Mead, and Ray Takeyh discuss several decades of American policy makers’ failures to understand the Middle East, and what the Trump administration can do to avoid making the same mistakes. (Moderated by Lee Smith. Video, 90 minutes.)
The indoctrination effort is assisted by the fact that most Palestinians today have no firsthand knowledge to counteract the vicious incitement churned out daily by Palestinian schools and media. That’s a result of the escalating terror that followed the PA’s establishment in 1994 severely curtailed the daily interactions between Israelis and Palestinians that were commonplace until then. Those interactions made it easier for both sides to at least view the other as human beings.
Today, outside the construction industry, most Israelis never encounter a Palestinian unless they’re doing army duty, and most Palestinians never encounter any Israelis other than soldiers. In other words, the only Israeli-Palestinian interactions that take place today are the kind that reinforces each side’s view of the other as an enemy. That is precisely what the “anti-normalization” campaigners want, and why they castigate any other type of contact with Israelis as tantamount to treason.
It’s going to take a long, long time, and probably a lot of pressure from the PA’s Western donors, to reverse these decades of hate education. But until that happens, the chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace are considerably less than a snowball’s chance in hell.
Caroline Glick: Castro’s Greatest Victory
The Soviets also viewed their ideological assault on Zionism as a means of demonizing the US. The Jews’ native rights to the land of Israel were as old and wellknown as the Bible. If Westerners could be convinced that the Jews were colonial usurpers in Israel, they could be convinced that Western civilization was evil.
According to Pacepa, by 1968 the KGB completed its control over the PLO. It used Castro and his DGI agency as a means to promote the Palestinian political war against Israel. According to Cuban American researchers, Castro was a conduit for promoting anti-Zionism and support for Palestinian terrorists among Western radicals. For instance, the DGI introduced PLO terrorists to African American radicals like the Black Panthers, who were trained by Castro’s forces.
Castro’s lionization by the Palestinians and the international Left alike shows that 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the legacy of the Soviets’ political war against the US-led West was not only successful during the Cold War, but is still very much a part of our world.
Castro never taught the Palestinians how to live in peace. He never taught them how to raise crops. He taught them how to murder and libel. He taught them how to indoctrinate others to believe lies about themselves and about their perceived enemies.
The fact that these lies are still believed by so many in the Left shows that Castro died a victor. The fact that the terrorist methods he developed with Arafat under the guiding hand of Moscow are still viewed by Western intellectuals as legitimate “tools of resistance” shows that he won.
And the fact that Palestinian murderers who learned the trade at his knee are still viewed as legitimate forces in world politics shows that together with his KGB bosses, Castro was able to get away with his crimes.
The West managed to defeat the Soviet state, but not the Soviet cause. And the flags at half-mast for Castro in Ramallah are proof of the Castro-executed Soviet victory over morality and over truth.
Since then, Carter has stooped to false comparisons between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa and become a reliable apologist for anything the Palestinians do no matter how awful while never failing to attack Israel any chance he gets.
Carter left office as a defeated president and was labeled a failure. His presidency is chiefly remembered now, if it is remembered at all, as a prelude to the Ronald Reagan’s successful two terms, in which he presided over a robust recovery from Carter’s “malaise” and the defeat of the Soviet Union. Good works restored his reputation to some degree, but Carter’s standing at home and abroad has never been sufficient to lend the kind of weight to his attacks on the Jewish state that would have had an impact on American opinion or that of an international community already prejudiced against Israel.
That won’t be true of ex-president Obama.
Leaving office will not diminish Obama’s historic status as our first African-American president. History’s verdict on Obama’s major initiatives—ObamaCare and the Iran nuclear deal—may be that both were flops. But he exits the White House with sky-high approval ratings. Those numbers may grow in the next four years due to constant comparison with the mercurial Twitter-addicted Donald Trump.
That will place him in a unique position to influence a Democratic Party that has a growing faction that is unfriendly to Israel (as evidenced by the rise of Representative Keith Ellison as a likely next chair of the Democratic National Committee) and to sway international forums where his prestige will eclipse that of Carter or any other living president or world leader. Should Donald Trump keep his promises to stand by Israel, Jerusalem will not have to worry as much about its sole superpower ally as it has in the last eight years. But if Obama chooses to use the coming years of relative leisure to pursue his vendetta against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to push for pressure on Israel or even to isolate it in the same manner as Carter, he could be almost as much of a problem for the Jewish state out of office as he was in it.
Today the UN General Assembly is marking “Palestine Day” with the scheduled adoption of six resolutions against Israel, part of its annual ritual of enacting 20 Arab-sponsored resolutions singling out the Jewish state. See chart below of today’s resolutions.
One resolution calls on Israel to transfer control of the Golan Heights to Syria, oblivious to the mass killings now being perpetrated by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Another resolution condemns Israel for actions in Jerusalem, and uses only the Islamic term for the Temple Mount, ignoring the site’s biblical role in Judaism and Christianity.
“The UN’s assault on Israel today with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental watchdog organization.
“On a day when forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are attacking Syrian civilians in Aleppo, causing thousands to flee, it is obscene for the UN to adopt a resolution mentioning Syrian territory and invoking the Geneva Convention and the ‘protection of civilians’ — yet only to condemn Israel,” said Neuer.
“It’s astonishing,” said Neuer. “At a time when the Syrian regime is killing its own people by the hundreds of thousands, how can the UN call for more human beings to be placed under Assad’s rule? The timing of today’s text is morally galling, and logically absurd.”
Phyllis Chesler: US Intifada: A fire-storm of lies is setting US campuses ablaze
Have you ever escaped a raging fire? I have–twice, and one never, ever forgets the heat, the smell, the bright red-and-orange flames, the horror, the near-brush with death, the loss of one’s possessions or of one’s home–and the overwhelming gratitude that one’s life has been spared.
Israel has been on fire–literally, and for days, in yet another series of fiendish, co-ordinated arson attacks, otherwise known as #ArsonJihad, #Pyro-terrorism, or #BushfireJihad. Daniel Pipes has kept a running record of just such arson Jihad attacks.
In addition to Arab suicide bombings, continual rocket bombardments, kidnappings and murders via tunnel, rock throwing, stabbing, and car ramming Intifadas, fire has long been a weapon of choice for Islamists in Europe, Australia, and Israel.
In Israel, Arab Israeli Jihadists take advantage of smaller, naturally occurring forest fires to purposely set multiple additional fires. Who can forget the fires in northern Israel in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015? Or the fact that, in addition, Arab Israelis attempted arson “at a staggering rate of two per day” in 2010?
“Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus,” an important new film, brought to us by Americans for Peace and Tolerance on Campus (Charles Jacobs and executive Producer and Director, Avi Goldwasser), is about another kind of Jihad arson: the way in which the American campuses have been set ablaze by a well-choreographed and well-funded propaganda campaign against Jews and the Jewish state.
More than 70,000 people were forced out of their homes by the recent wave of fires that swept Israel, but no lives were lost thanks to local and foreign emergency personnel, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Tuesday at a ceremony at Hatzor air base in southern Israel to thank the departing foreign firefighters.
Firefighting planes from countries including Russia, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain, and the US helped dump tons of water and retardants on some of the fires that blazed across Israel for nearly a week, fanned by unseasonably dry easterly winds. The Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus and Italy also contributed personnel and equipment.
“The number [of casualties] was zero because of the bravery of the Israel Police and the firefighters, as well as are friends from abroad who arrived to help us in our time of need,” Erdan said.
The minister hailed the foreign crews who rushed to Israel for “carrying out your mission professionally and heroically, without hesitating to endanger your lives in order to save others,” Channel 10 reported.
Writing in Haaretz (“Netanyahu Fights Fire With Ire”, 28.11), Odeh Bisharat warns readers that “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.” The Op-Ed is a warning to Israelis not to hurl premature accusations against Palestinians and Arab-Israelis. Fair enough. However, Bisharat then employs some reductio ad absurdum to psychoanalyze the Israeli public:
“After all, if you don’t steal your neighbor’s land and don’t embitter his life, you have no reason to suspect that he will “rise up against us and annihilate us” – as the extremists here like to repeat day and night.
But if you feel deep down that, despite assuming the identity of the victim, you are harming your neighbor, then even if there’s an earthquake you’ll blame him for deliberately playing with some underground button. And if there’s a deluge from the heavens that will close the country’s highways, you will say he deliberately left the tap in the skies open. Truly, “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.”
Would Israelis really blame Palestinians for an earthquake or a flood? Doubtful. However, what isn’t in doubt is that the reverse has certainly happened.
A conspiracy theory that Israel might generate an artificial earthquake to harm the Al-Aqsa mosque has been making the rounds for years. For example in 2011:
Police arrested a Palestinian man and handed him over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning Wednesday in possible connection with a fire that broke out last week near Nataf, outside Jerusalem, officials said.
The Israel Fire and Rescue Services reportedly believe the fire in Nataf, which destroyed dozens of homes, was caused by a Molotov cocktail thrown over the security fence from the nearby Palestinian village of Qatane.
A spokesperson for the fire department would not confirm the allegation, directing The Times of Israel to the office of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who also declined to comment.
The police were similarly tight-lipped on the arrest, but the Shin Bet security service acknowledged that a Palestinian from Qatane had been picked up and brought in for questioning.
Just hours after the Palestinian leadership said it plans to move forward a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he expects US President Barack Obama will not support action against Israel at the world body.
“[We will] begin to submit a resolution condemning settlements to the UN Security Council in the coming days,” Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the Voice of Palestine, the official PA radio station.
On numerous occasions over the past few months, the leadership, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said it intends to submit a resolution.
If such a resolution is brought before the Security Council, all eyes will be on Obama to see how the US acts.
In 2011, the US vetoed a UNSC resolution condemning the settlements. By contrast, in 1979 – under president Jimmy Carter – it abstained on an anti-settlement vote, allowing it to pass.
IsraellyCool: Stop Saying The UN Created Israel
On this day 69 years ago, November 29 1947, the United Nations voted in favor of partitioning the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. This legal recognition of Jewish statehood was important but despite what you will hear throughout the day, even from many Israel-supporters, this did not create the Jewish State!
While the UNGA did vote for partition (33 for, 13 against, 10 abstentions) it was never enforced because even though the Zionist leadership accepted it, the Arabs, both inside and outside the Mandate, rejected it. Riots by local Arabs began almost immediately, but the Arab states held off on attacking until after the British officially withdrew on May 15, 1948, one day after Israel declared independence.
The only reason why Israel was created and survived was because Zionists declared statehood and defended it with their lives. The UN did give legal backing to Jewish statehood (just the latest in a long list of legal foundations for Israel as seen in the video below), but it was unwilling to do anything to make this happen.
One of the central tenets of Zionism has always been Jewish self-reliance because, when the chips are down, the only one Jews can count on to defend us is us, the Jewish People. This was true throughout history when well-meaning non-Jews looked the other way at anti-Jewish violence, it was true when many good people in Europe said nothing during the Holocaust and it was true when the UN said it favored Jewish Rights but then didn’t lift a finger to protect them.
The BBC’s inconsistent portrayal of the Partition Plan is obviously relevant from the point of view of the accuracy of information provided to audiences but it also has wider implications. As readers may be aware, the corporation bases its enduring refusal to describe Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on the misguided claim that:partition-plan-3
“…a UN resolution passed in 1947 has not been rescinded. It calls for the whole of Jerusalem to be an international city, a corpus separatum (similar to the Vatican City), and in that context, technically, West Jerusalem is not Israeli sovereign territory.”
Ahead of next year’s 70th anniversary of that UNGA resolution, it is clearly high time for the BBC to ensure that all its available related content meets editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality and that its audiences – as well as journalists and other staff – are given an accurate understanding of the relevance of the resolution today.
Elliott Abrams: Jimmy Carter Blames Israel One More Time
The former American president wants the U.S. to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.
Jimmy Carter is 92 now, and it has been 36 years since his landslide defeat for reelection. But neither the passage of time nor the debilities of age slow him from making proposals that will do real harm to the State of Israel — and he has just tried one more time.
In Monday’s New York Times, he writes that “America must recognize Palestine” and presents a version of Israeli reality that simply takes leave of the facts. Carter tells us that “the simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.”
Now, granting diplomatic recognition to “the state of Palestine” will no more make it a legitimate and genuine country than granting diplomatic recognition to Plains, Ga., would make it one. The fact that 137 countries have done so — to no effect whatsoever — ought to make that obvious. So, what is Carter’s real goal here? He writes that it is peace, but the steps he proposes and the analysis he offers would leave Israel and the Palestinians further from peace than ever.
The “facts” Carter adduces are not only wrong, but tricky and misleading. For example, he writes that there are “600,000 Israeli settlers.” That number can only be reached by counting every Israeli living in Jerusalem — including in the Jewish Quarter, and the parts barred to Jews by Jordan before 1967 — as settlers. He writes that “Israel is building more and more settlements, displacing Palestinians and entrenching its occupation of Palestinian lands,” but he offers no data — because there is none to support his claim. Anyone who has visited the West Bank knows that virtually all settlements have not displaced Palestinians but have been, instead, built on fallow land, and the number of settlements and the land they take up rises very slowly indeed. The actual land area taken up by settler buildings themselves covers perhaps 1 percent of the West Bank, though far more falls within settlement boundaries. Roughly 12 percent of the West Bank lies to the west of the security barrier built by Israel to stop Palestinian terrorism. That barrier is not moving, or creeping, or taking up more land.
For decades, UN agencies have slandered the Jewish state, most recently with the April 2016 accusation that it has been “planting Jewish fake graves” in Palestinian territory, and with UNESCO declaring last year that the ancient Jewish Biblical sites Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are actually Muslim holy sites, and last month that the Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temples were destroyed in 587 BCE and 70 CE, is an Islamic site with no connection to Judaism.
West Bank: This territory was for millennia called Judea and Samaria. After the 1948 War of Independence, Transjordan annexed it, renamed it the “West Bank,” and occupied it for nearly two decades. In the Six Day War, after Jordan attacked Israel, Israel entered the territory and administered it until the Oslo Accords era, when Israel turned over much of the area to the Palestinian Authority.
Occupation: When it comes to Israel, the UN is obsessed with the word “occupation.” A recent Wall Street Journal article documents 530 General Assembly references to Israel as an “occupying power” versus zero for Indonesia (East Timor), Turkey (Cyprus), Russia (Georgia, Crimea), Morocco (Western Sahara), Vietnam (Cambodia), Armenia (Azerbaijan), Pakistan (Kashmir), or China (Tibet). Saying that Jews are “occupying” Judea is as nonsensical as saying Arabs are “occupying” Arabia or Gauls are “occupying” France.
Settlement: The UN uses the term to insinuate Israeli theft of “Palestine.” The Obama administration eagerly embraced this terminology. If there is an occupying force in Gaza, it is Hamas. The West Bank is “disputed territories” to anyone claiming a modicum of neutrality. As Elliot Abrams put it, “the term ‘settlement’ loses meaning when applied to Jews building homes in their nation’s capital city.”
UN General Assembly president Peter Thomson was criticized Tuesday for wearing a Palestinian flag scarf on the occasion of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the UN.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon reacted shortly after Thomson was seen with the scarf, saying he is “supposed to stand for diplomatic neutrality.” “It is unfortunate that [Thomson] chose to wrap himself in the Palestinian flag at an event whose sole purpose is to spread lies and deceit about Israel,” he said. “This is proof of the bias against Israel and the slander spread about us on a daily basis at the UN.”
When asked by The Jerusalem Post about Thomson’s choice to wear the scarf, Thomson’s office said he did so simply to “support the day,” as it is an official event marked by the United Nations. The word “Palestine” was also printed on the scarf.
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed November 29, the date of the General Assembly vote on Resolution 181 in 1947, recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states in Mandatory Palestine.
The day started with a meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which included dozens of representatives of the UN and of UN member states. The Palestinian mission to the UN also hosted the exhibit “Palestinian Embroidery: Threads of Continuity, Identity and Empowerment” and envoys participated in the annual General Assembly debate on “the Question of Palestine.”
The event has also been used as an annual occasion for the Palestinian representatives to pass anti-Israel resolutions.
The UN Blames Israel…for Saving the World
The UN’s World Health Organization just gave Israel it’s highest honor. So why did they also single out Israel for condemnation, while ignoring the whole rest of the world?
A gunman fired shots at an IDF base in an attempted shooting attack Monday evening in the West Bank, according to initial reports. During the incident, shots were fired from a vehicle passing an IDF base near the Ofra settlement. The shots were fired toward the back gate of the base.
No injuries or damage were reported, the terrorists fled the scene. Security forces are currently searching for the gunmen near Silwad.
Overnight on Sunday, IDF forces arrested 11 suspects in the West Bank.
Six of the wanted men were suspected of involvement in terrorism, mass disturbances and violence towards civilians and security forces, and five of the suspects were members of the Hamas terrorist organization. All were taken in for questioning by security forces.
Additionally, during the operation, police officers seized two pipe bombs, which were handed over to security forces.
An IDF soldier was very lightly wounded when rocks were thrown at his vehicle on Monday afternoon, after he and three other servicemen “mistakenly entered” a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank, the army said.
The army did not say how the soldiers accidentally entered Anabta, a town east of Tulkarem. In the past, however, such incidents occurred due to troops relying on smartphone navigation apps.
As the soldiers were exiting the Palestinian city, local residents began throwing rocks at the military vehicle, the army said.
The four soldiers, some of them reservists, were escorted out of the city by Palestinian police and in collaboration with the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration.
The IDF would not say where the soldiers had been traveling from or what was their destination. According to Channel 10 news, however, the soldiers had been traveling from their West Bank base to the coastal city of Netanya when they strayed into the village.
“The incident is being investigated,” an army spokesperson said.
This was at least the sixth case this year of soldiers accidentally driving into areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
Newscasts on Israeli Channels 2 and 10 were temporarily disrupted on Tuesday evening by hackers suspected to be pro-Palestinian Arab activists, Haaretz reports.
During the disruption, which lasted about half a minute, images of Muslim holy sites were shown with Muslim prayers playing in the background.
Images from the recent fires in Israel were also shown, along with the words “Allah is great” written in Hebrew.
The disruption only affected the broadcast being streamed from an open satellite link. Subscribers to Israel’s YES satellite television were not affected by the incident.
Israel’s broadcasting authority said in response that “this is a hostile takeover of the satellite carrying the broadcast. We view this with the utmost severity and consider an act of sabotage.”
The acquisition of the US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets will give Israel complete air superiority in the Middle East for the next 40 years, according to senior Israeli officials.
With the skies in the region becoming more crowded than ever due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, and neighboring countries like Egypt receiving Rafael fighter jets more advanced than Israel’s current air fleet, the Israeli Air Force has been waiting with baited breath for the world’s most advanced fighter jet.
As Israel plans to take delivery of its first jet, nicknamed “Adir” or “mighty” in just under two weeks, the security cabinet unanimously decided to purchase an additional 17 F-35s, bringing the total number to 50 over the next few years, and giving the IAF two squadrons by 2022.
After the first two F-35 jets arrive, Israel will receive six to seven per year, until the first batch of 33 jets is delivered.
According to senior Israeli officers as well as senior US officials, the jet defined by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as “the most advanced in the world and the best for safeguarding Israel’s aerial superiority” is able to evade enemy radar, while providing close air-support capabilities and a massive array of sensors, giving pilots an unparalleled access to information while in the air.
Air force officials state that with all the capabilities of the advanced jet, it can “protect itself, stay in the air for a long time, and has tremendous firepower which give it the ability to hit the most advanced ground missiles.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Kosher Meals Unavailable On Board F-35 (satire)
The most expensive and advanced fighter aircraft in the world is still unable to provide accommodation for kosher-keeping Israel Air Force pilots, an investigation has found.
According to information gleaned by journalists, the F-35 Lightning II series, of which Israel will begin to take delivery this month, lacks some of the basic amenities that Israeli air travelers have come to take for granted when they leave the ground. Most egregiously, they note, no provision for kosher in-flight cuisine exists in the model that the IAF will receive, potentially saddling the Israeli military with the need to develop a package of its own to adapt to the fighter.
The US Air Force, as well as the military aviation arms of other countries expected to receive the F-35, have no need for such a package, but for the IAF, the availability of kosher food for all personnel is one of the hallmarks of the IDF as an institution of the the Jewish state, explained incoming IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Karim. “Beyond defending the country and its people, the IDF carries an extra layer of symbolism as an institution of the Jewish people and the Jewish State,” he remarked. “In keeping with that aspect of its character, the Israeli military has accepted upon itself the responsibility to provide for all the religious trappings a soldier might need. For better or for worse, that means developing a way to include kosher meals in whatever in-flight cabin service the F-35 has.”
Other recipient nations have noted the limited entertainment options available on current F-35 models, such as music, movies, and magazines, as well as the lack of carry-on storage space. “It’s all part of a general cost-cutting trend in aviation that’s been going on for years already,” observed Trey Tables, an analyst at Jane’s. “Just because an F-35 costs a hundred million dollars a pop, don’t go thinking it comes with all the old-fashioned bells and whistles. The expensive on-board systems actually make it even more important to save on other features.”
In the shadow of the so-called muezzin bill, politicians on either side of the dispute traded accusations on Wednesday of incitement to religious war over the controversial legislation.
The bill would ban religious institutions from using loudspeakers and is primarily designed to prevent mosques from broadcasting the Islamic call to prayer over loudspeakers, in particular during the early hours of the morning.
Residents of Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov have long complained that the call to prayer from mosques in the nearby neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina are excessively loud and wake people up at 4:30 in the morning when the first of the five calls to prayer are issued.
The bill was scheduled for a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday but the vote was postponed.
A Jerusalem district court handed down a 16-year jail sentence to Muhammad Badar, the terrorist responsible for a May, 2015 stabbing attack on HaNevi’im Street in Jerusalem.
In the attack, Badar, a resident of Abu Dis east of Jerusalem and part of the Palestinian Authority, stabbed an Israeli, lightly wounding him.
As part of a plea bargain agreement, Badar admitted his crime and was convicted of attempted murder, illegal possession of a knife in public, and illegally staying inside the pre-1967 borders for which a permit is necessary for Judea and Samaria’s Arabs..
In addition to his 16-year prison term, Badar has been ordered to pay his victim 80,000 shekels ($21,000).
According to the indictment against Badar, on May 16th, 2015 he sneaked into capital illegally, with the intention of murdering random Jewish civilians.
A top leader in the pro-regime Liwa al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigade) has been killed in fighting in east Aleppo, months after receiving a military medal from Russia.
The Palestinian fighting force announced that its military commander Mohammad Mahmoud Rafeh died on November 27 while leading troops in the Baydin Roundabout, one of the areas in the divided city seized by pro-regime forces in the past 48 hours amid a collapse of rebel lines.
“Today, he was chosen by God to stay next to him as a martyr after achieving the mission of controlling the Baydin Roundabout,” the elegiac death notice issued by Liwa al-Quds said.
Rafeh, who was nicknamed the “Godfather,” was feted by Russian officers only three-months ago when they awarded him a medal.
In a ceremony in early August, the casually dressed Rafeh was presented Russia’s medal for “Strengthening Military Cooperation,” an award created by the Ministry of Defense in 1995.
The Israeli Air Force reportedly attacked a Syrian army outpost and a Hezbollah arms convoy not far from the highway connecting Damascus and Beirut early Wednesday, according to the Syrian government and reports on Arab media.
Both attacks were reportedly carried out by aircraft flying over Lebanese airspace.
According to reports that originated on social media accounts affiliated with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, at 1:15am four explosions were heard in Damascus.
Officials quoted by the London-based newspaper Rai al-Youm said the explosions were caused by four missiles fired in two different targets.
The first target, the officials said, was an arms depot that belongs to the 38th Brigade of the 4th Division in the Syrian army. While damage was caused to the arms depot, no one was reported hurt.
The second target was several vehicles that were believed to be part of a Hezbollah arms convoy travelling near the highway connecting the Syrian and Lebanese capitals. The officials stressed that the attack did not target any political or military leader.
The official Syrian news agency on Wednesday confirmed there was an airstrike near Damascus overnight, and blamed Israel, saying the attack was an attempt to bolster the morale of rebel fighters as they suffer the successes of regime forces.
Arabic-language media had reported earlier that Israeli aircraft struck a Syrian military target as well as a Hezbollah weapons convoy.
“In an attempt to divert attention from the successes achieved by the Syrian Arab army and to raise the deteriorating morals of the terrorist gangs, warplanes of the Israeli enemy launched two rockets on Damascus countryside at dawn on Wednesday,” SANA reported, citing a military source.
According to the source, the attack caused no casualties. He confirmed reports that said the missiles were launched from Lebanese airspace and hit the al-Sabboura area to the West of the capital, Damascus. He did not specify the target.
The second reported raid, on the Hezbollah weapons convoy, was said to have taken place on the Damascus-Beirut highway. The Syrian official made no reference to it.
Iranian President Rouhani has offered to help the Stein campaign with its efforts to hold ballot recounts in the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, sources say. Iran is, understandably, gravely disappointed at the prospect of a Trump presidency and the possible dismantlement of the nuclear deal.
“The Iranian people see eye to eye with moderate America in our disdain at the election results and fear of what is to come,” Rouhani stated. “Iranian-American relations could have had a bright, uranium-enriched future under a Clinton presidency. Though we do understand there is not much hope for a margin large enough to change the results, Iran will nonetheless do everything in its power to ensure every vote was counted accurately.”
Iran reportedly contributed a half million dollars to the Green Party’s campaign to raise money for the recount, helping them reach a record six million dollars in just a few days. However, it vehemently refused to contribute to the Clinton campaign, saying it will not fund an organization with known ties to Saudi-Arabia.
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