Saudi Arabia Shakeup as Much about Retrenchment as Reform: The Guardian

Saudi Throne Succession

Local Editor

Saudi Arabia’s real-life game of thrones has taken a dramatic turn with the surprise designation of Mohammed bin Nayef, its formidable interior minister and ‘counter-terrorism’ chief, as the crown prince and heir to the kingdom, according to The Guardian.

In an article, the British paper pointed out that despite hopes of a new beginning following King Salman’s accession in January, this latest shakeup, announced on Wednesday, is as much about retrenchment as reform as Riyadh’s royals confront potentially existential challenges.

“The promotion of the king’s son, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 35, to the position of deputy crown prince – or second-in-line to the throne – looks in part like a reward for his recent work as defense minister overseeing the Saudi-led coalition’s controversial military campaign against Yemen. Both Mohammed and Bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, are grandsons of the kingdom’s founder monarch, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud.”

The paper considered that the replacement of the veteran foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, 75, by a younger non-royal, Adel al-Jubeir, who is currently the Saudi ambassador to the US and a long-time Washington insider, strengthens the sense of generational change and that by dismissing his half-brother and Abdulaziz’s youngest son, Prince Muqrin, 69, as crown prince, Salman has performed the equivalent, in British terms, of defenestrating Prince Charles and installing Prince William as the Prince of Wales.

The changes mark the first time that power has passed beyond the control the numerous sons of Abdulaziz, who died in 1953, the British newspaper mentioned.

“Well regarded internationally as a pragmatic, professional politician, Bin Nayef is seen by the US administration and other western governments as a reliable ally.”

Source: Newspapers

30-04-2015 – 16:31 Last updated 30-04-2015 – 6:31

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Al Nusra Massacre 35 Alawites in Aleppo

SYRIA 360°

29 April 2015
ANF – Aleppo

It has been reported that Al Nusra gangs raided the Alawite village of İstebraq at Syria’s border to Turkey and massacred 35 people.

Al Nusra gangs that have strengthened their initiative in the northern parts of Syria continue attacking civilians.

At least 69 people have reportedly lost their lives in two separate attacks in the town of İdlib near the northern border of Syria.

The Lebanon TV Al Meyadin reported that Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing Al Nusra raided the Alevi village of İstebraq at Syria’s border to Turkey and massacred 35 people. It is said that the Chechen gang group Muhacirun and Ve’l Ensar have also taken part in the mass killing in the Alevi village.

Various sources reporting from the region say that over 100 people have been massacred and many others were wounded, while the properties of the local people were also seized by the gang groups.

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DAESH Leader Al Baghdadi (alias Simon Elliot) Dies in Israeli Hospital [Alghad, Al-Youm Al-Thamen Press]

Abu Baker al-Baghdadi-Rest In Hell-990x2260-HOME

DAESH Leader Al-Baghdadi Clinically Dead

Leader of the ISIL terrorist group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (alias Simon Elliot, e.n.) has died and members of the Takfiri group in Iraq have already sworn allegiance to Abu Ala Afri as his successor, Arab media reports said on Sunday.

According to two Iraqi news agencies, Alghad Press and Al-Youm Al-Thamen (the 8th Day), as well as sources in the Iraqi city of Mosul, Baghdadi died in an Israeli hospital in the occupied Golan Heights where he had been hospitalized for treatment after sustaining severe injuries during a joint attack of the Iraqi army and popular forces.

The sources added that al-Baghdadi has been declared by his Israeli physicians and surgeons as to be now “clinically dead”.

The terrorist leader was targeted in an airstrike in Western Iraq on March 18.

Al-Youm Al-Thamen quoting intelligence sources said ISIL had earlier recorded several videos of its leader months before the March airstrike and after the first time that he escaped lethal injuries around a year ago to prove that he is alive until the group can introduce a universally accepted new leader.

The sources added that the members of the Takfiri group operating in Iraq have already pledged allegiance to a new leader called Abdul Rahman al-Sheijlar, alias Abu Ala Afri, as Baghdadi’s successor.

There are also unconfirmed reports that internal disputes have erupted and gaps among a number of ISIL factions in Syria and Iraq are widening over the appointment of the new leader, as the ISIL branch fighting Syria has rejected Afri’s leadership and are dithering over Baghdadi’s successor.

The Spanish-language Hispan TV television also released a report on April 25 in which it confirmed the death of the ISIL leader.

A report released by the Guardian on March 21 said Baghdadi suffered serious and “life-threatening” injuries during an attack in March.

The report, of course, added that Baghdadi has survived his wounds.

Baghdadi’s wounding led to urgent meetings of ISIL leaders, who initially believed he would die and made plans to name a new leader.

An Iraqi official confirmed that the strike took place on 18 March in the al-Baaj a district of Nineveh, close to the Syrian border. There had been two previous reports in November and December of Baghdadi being wounded, though neither was accurate.

Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi official who advises Baghdad on ISIL, said, “Yes, he was wounded in al-Baaj near the village of Umm al-Rous on 18 March with a group that was with him.”~

Alghad Press, Al-Youm Al-Thamen, Fars News, Veterans Today
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Rafik Nasrallah: Saudi “Democracy” and the War on the Axis of Resistance

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US: Protests over Death of Black Man Spread to New York

Local Editor

Thousands of people demonstrated in major US East Coast cities Wednesday demanding equal treatment for all by police, following the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, injured in police custody in Baltimore.

The biggest show of people power was in Baltimore itself — epicenter of the latest racially tinged unrest to convulse the United States — where several thousand mostly young demonstrators paralyzed city blocks in a major rally through downtown to City Hall.

US Protests over Death of Black Man Spread to New York

Thousands more protested in New York, the capital Washington and Boston in solidarity, as simmering anger over alleged police brutality against blacks and discrimination again bubbled to the surface.

The protests were overwhelmingly peaceful and good-natured, although New York police said they had arrested more than 60 demonstrators. Emotions were running high, with scuffles breaking out.

What appears to be a growing movement for change was focused on Baltimore, where a rally that started at the main train station included black and white demonstrators, some of them linking arms and chanting: “No justice, no peace! No racists, no peace!”

Many in the march were high school or college students.

Questions are swirling around just what happened to Gray, 25, who died on April 19— a week after he was chased and restrained by police officers, and suffered a spine injury, which later killed him, in their custody.

Source: Agencies

30-04-2015 – 09:30 Last updated 30-04-2015 – 09:30

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Why Is No One Talking About The Political Assassinations In Ukraine?


In this video Luke Rudkowski breaks down the latest news in Ukraine about the mysterious deaths of key opponents to the Kiev western backed government. We also detail Hillary Clinton involvement and how see abused her powers as secretary of state.



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How Hillary Clinton Is Responsible For Civil War In Ukraine and The Possible War With Russia

In this video Luke Rudkowski does deep researching into Hillary Clinton’s connection with her foundation CGI and the current pro western backed Ukrainian government. We get in the field accounts, videos and aerial footage of how Ukraine is now violating the cease fire after it was announced it will get lethal aid by the U.S.


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Focusing on Israel’s Nukes ~

Iran insists Israel ‘give up the bomb’ as Tehran seeks nuclear-free Middle East

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif delivers an address to the Opening Meeting of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at United Nations headquarters in New York, April 27, 2015. (Reuters / Mike Segar)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif delivers an address to the Opening Meeting of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at United Nations headquarters in New York, April 27, 2015. (Reuters / Mike Segar)

Iran has demanded that Israel give up its “nuclear weapons”, as it spoke on behalf of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the bloc also wants a nuclear free-zone in the Middle East.

Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking at the United Nations for the non-aligned group of countries. Israel has never admitted or denied the widespread assumption it has nuclear weapons. However, Zarif says Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal was a threat to regional security.

Dimona nuclear reactor facility (Occupied Palestine)

The Iranian Foreign Minister said the non-aligned movement regards Israel’s nuclear program as, “a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other states, and condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals,” according to Reuters.


Israel has not signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though it has sent an observer to the month long conference for the first time in 20 years.

Zarif added that the non-aligned bloc are looking to create a nuclear free-zone in the Middle East “as a matter of high priority,” which will only be possible, if Israel abandons its nuclear stockpile.


“Israel, [is] the only one in the region that has neither joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so, (…) renounce possession of nuclear weapons,”AFP cited Zarif as saying.

The plan to create a nuclear free Middle East was agreed at the previous conference in 2010, but steps were never taken to ensure it was enforced.

Iran has been accused on numerous occasions by the West of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge that Tehran has repeatedly denied. The country says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes. Iran recently agreed on a framework deal concerning its nuclear interests with the P5+1 group in Switzerland, which would pave the way for it to be finalized in the summer.

However, Israel was highly critical of the move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that it “would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it.”

During the conference, Tehran also demanded that countries who possessed nuclear weapons should not seek to modernize their weapons stockpiles.

“We call upon the nuclear-weapon states to immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernizing and extending the life span of their nuclear weapons and related facilities,” Zarif said.

IRAN-Bushehr nuclear power plant

The head of the UN, Ban Ki-moon singled out the US and Russia for criticism for failing to advance their nuclear disarmament. He added this was a setback that marked a return to a Cold War mindset. He added that a nuclear free world was a “historic imperative of our time.”

“I am deeply concerned that over the last five years this process seems to have stalled,” the UN leader said, AFP reported.

In an apparent attempt to deflect criticism, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States wants to “leave the race for nuclear arms in the past.”

“I am pleased to announce today that President Obama has decided that the United States will seek to accelerate the dismantling of retired nuclear warheads by 20 percent,” Kerry said.

Meanwhile Russia is fully open to a serious dialogue on nuclear disarmament, but it must be without any “double standards,” said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Weapons Control, Mikhail Ulyanov.

“[Russia] is firmly committed to nuclear disarmament,” he said. “Clear evidence of that is the consistent implementation of the Russian-American New START treaty.”

The NPT came into force in 1970 and has seen a drastic cut in the number of nuclear weapons. However, UN officials believe that more can be done to reduce these stockpiles further.


R E L A T E D :

1 ~ Focusing on Israel’s Nukes ~ “Any use or threat of using nuclear weapons crime against humanity” [Iran’s foreign minister]

2 ~ World should focus on Israel’s nukes (+ VIDEO)


Russia Today
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  “Any use or threat of using nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity” [Iran’s foreign minister]

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran’s foreign minister says the use of nuclear weapons or even the threat of use of such weapons is a crime against humanity.

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks while addressing the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York on Monday.

“We firmly believe that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity and a violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, in particular, international humanitarian law,” he said.

The Iranian foreign minister made a strong call for “the complete exclusion” of the use or threat of use of the nuclear weapons from military doctrines.

“We express our dissatisfaction over the lack of required political will and effort by the nuclear weapons states to fully address the legitimate interest of all non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the treaty to receive unconditional and legally-binding security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under all circumstances pending their elimination,” he said.

Referring to a recent summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran, Zarif said heads of state taking part in the summit lent their support to creation of a zone free from nuclear weapons and other forms of the weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East while asking immediate accession to the NPT by all countries, which should bring their nuclear activities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He added that the NAM heads of state also expressed their concern about the activities of the Zionist regime of Israel, which pose a serious threat to neighboring countries in the Middle East, condemning that regime for the production of nuclear weapons.

Zarif, who was also speaking on behalf of the NAM, said the bloc considers nuclear disarmament as its “highest priority” and reiterates that “the existence of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to humanity.”



“The continued lack of progress in the implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments by the nuclear weapons states could undermine the objects and purposes of the [Non-Proliferation] Treaty and the credibility of the non-proliferation regime,” he said.

The Iranian foreign minister further stated that the implementation of the Plan of Action adopted by the NPT Review Conference in 2010 with regard to nuclear weapons, nonproliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy is deplorable.

He added that to realize the goals of the treaty and to bolster international peace and security, the contents of the NPT should be implemented in full, without discrimination and in a balanced manner.

Zarif also emphasized the role of the treaty as “the essential foundation for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation as well as for promoting international cooperation and assistance in support of the inalienable right of the state parties to peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

The Iranian foreign minister further criticized the countries that possess nuclear weapons for not making any progress in eliminating their nuclear arsenals.

“The role of nuclear weapons in their security policy has not diminished. Some are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and planning research on new warheads; others have announced their intention to develop new delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons,” Zarif said.

Zarif further expressed “deep concerned” by the military and security doctrine of nuclear weapons states as well as that of NATO, saying, “They justify their use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and maintain the irrational concept of security based on nuclear deterrence and nuclear military alliances.”

The Iranian foreign minister further called for “a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention which would include a phased program and a specified timeframe for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons,” adding that he has put forward a working paper entitled “Elements for a Plan of Action for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.”

Zarif said proliferation concerns are best addressed through “multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and nondiscriminatory agreements,” stressing that “additional measures related to safeguards shall not affect the rights of the non-nuclear states parties to the treaty.”

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif-3

“Each state party in line with its national requirements and in accordance with the rights and obligations under the treaty has a sovereign right to define its national energy and fuel cycle policies including their inalienable right to develop for peaceful purposes a full national nuclear fuel cycle. Accordingly, the choices and decisions of each state party in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy should be fully respected,” he said.

“We strongly reject and call for the immediate removal of any restriction or limitations on the peaceful use of nuclear energy including restrictions on export to other state parties of nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes”.


R E L A T E D :

World should focus on Israel’s nukes (+ VIDEO)


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Israel confirms- Mohammed Deif, is alive and kicking

April 29, 2015  /  Gilad Atzmon

Ynet reported today that,  Hamas military chief Deif is alive, laying groundwork for next war with Israel.

Despite attempt on his life, that resulted in a cold blood murder of his wife and infant son,  Hamas’ top military commander is actively renewing group’s rocket stockpiles and rebuilding strategic tunnels.

Nine months after Israel locked horns with Hamas in Gaza for over 50 days, it is clear that not only did Mohammed Deif, Hamas’ military commander, survive the Israeli the Hamas is once again ready for battle.

Not much is left out of Israel’s ‘power of deterrence.’

What’s Behind KSA’s Shakeup?

Local Editor

The shake-up in the Saudi kingdom found its way into Western analysis.

According to the Gaurdian, “Saudi Arabia’s real-life game of thrones has taken a dramatic turn with the surprise designation of Mohammed bin Nayef, its formidable interior minister and counter-terrorism chief, as the crown prince and heir to the kingdom.”

What's Behind KSA's Shakeup?

“This latest shakeup, announced on Wednesday, is as much about retrenchment as reform as Riyadh’s royals confront potentially existential challenges.”

The daily further viewed that

“the promotion of the king’s son, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 35, to the position of deputy crown prince – or second-in-line to the throne – looks in part like a reward for his recent work as defense minister overseeing the Saudi-led aggression’smilitary campaign against Yemen. Both Mohammed and Bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, are grandsons of the kingdom’s founder monarch, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud.”

“The replacement of the veteran foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, 75, by a younger non-royal, Adel al-Jubeir, who is currently the Saudi ambassador to the US and a long-time Washington insider, strengthens the sense of generational change. By dismissing his half-brother and Abdulaziz’s youngest son, Prince Muqrin, 69, as crown prince, Salman has performed the equivalent, in British terms, of defenestrating Prince Charles and installing Prince William as the Prince of Wales.”

At the age of 79, King Salman may not expect his reign to be lengthy – which is one reason for imposing his will and establishing a clear, undisputed succession early on. The changes mark the first time that power has passed beyond the control the numerous sons of Abdulaziz, who died in 1953.

55-year-old Bin Nayef’s elevation is likely to be welcomed in conservative and establishment circles at home and abroad. Bin Nayef will continue as the interior minister in charge of Saudi Arabia’s 200,000-strong security forces. Not coincidentally, Salman announced on Wednesday a one-month salary bonus for all military and police personnel.

Yet bin Nayef, is no reformer.

“There is little in his record to suggest new thinking on the human and civil rights failings, including women’s rights and capital punishment that continue to besmirch the country’s reputation.”

Prince Mohammed, who continues as the defence minister, is more of an unknown quantity. Saudi Arabia’s unusual display of energy and leadership in assembling a military coalition to fight in Yemen may reflect his influence. On the other hand, the bombing campaign has yet to achieve its objectives and has been widely criticized for inflaming regional tensions and causing many avoidable civilian deaths.

Bin Nayef and the monarchy face a range of other problems, extending from tense relations with the Obama administration over Syria and its attempted
rapprochement with Tehran, to plunging oil revenues and the thwarted aspirations of younger Saudis, in a country where 60% of the population is 21 or younger. Blocking private Saudi financial and other support for extremists such as Isis is another unfinished task for Bin Nayef.

Even more troubling for Riyadh’s real-life answer to Lord Tywin Lannister is the apparent return of terrorism to Saudi soil.

Source: Guardian, Edited by website team

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Cops beat Ethiopian IDF soldier in alleged racist attack



Damas Pakada says officers threatened to shoot him in the head without provocation; assailants suspended

Times of Israel

Two Israeli policemen have been suspended after video footage emerged on Monday showing them pummeling an Ethiopian-born IDF soldier, Damas Pakada, who alleged he was the target of a racist attack.

The incident took place in Holon, south of Tel Aviv, on Sunday evening, where police were cordoning off a street due to a suspicious object.

“I feel terrible, and humiliated. This is a disgrace to the State of Israel,” Pakada told Channel 2 Monday. “It’s because of [my] skin color,” he said.

After the footage was obtained by Pakada’s family, he was released from custody, with police promising to investigate the matter.

Pakada told Channel 10 that he was riding his bicycle when he noticed the two officers.

He said that he asked them what they were up to and one of them confronted him and pushed him off his bike, saying, “I can do whatever I want.”

He said that the officer threatened to shoot him in the head, and that they only let up only after he backed away and lifted a rock.

“The cop told me, ‘I’m doing my job and if I need to put a bullet in your head, I would do it. I am proud of my job,’” he told Ynet.

Several police then detained the soldier for alleged assault, although the footage showed that Pakada did not attack them with the rock in his hand.

Pakada is a 21-year-old orphan who emigrated from Ethiopia with his four siblings seven years ago.

He said he couldn’t remove the blood stains from his army uniform.

“It doesn’t matter if this is a soldier in uniform or a normal citizen, this is not how an officer is expected to behave,” a police source told Channel 2.

“Policemen work hard to serve the public and a rare event like this will not pass in silence,” the source said.

Another officer termed the incident “shameful.”

“When I saw the clip, I couldn’t believe I was in Israel,” Pakada’s brother told Channel 2. “I was sure it was a prank, that this is a clip from the US of white cops beating black citizens for no reason. Only by the army uniform, could I see that it was my brother.”

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Cameron defends Israel’s unprovoked genocide in Gaza

Britain supports Israel’s Gaza attacks

Britain supports Israel's Gaza attacks

In an interview published a week before the British general election, British PM Cameron defends Operation Protective Edge, emphasizes ‘importance of standing by Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself.’

World Bulletin / News Desk

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that Israel had the right to defend itself when it launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza in the summer of 2014.

“What I’ve seen is the attacks that take place on Israel and the indiscriminate nature of them… that reinforces to me the importance of standing by Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself,” Cameron said in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle.

The interview was published exactly a week before the U.K. general election on May 7, 2015.

He felt “very strongly” that equating the attacks between Israel and Gaza was “completely wrong and unfair” because “Israel is trying to defend against indiscriminate attacks.”

Operation Protective Edge killed 2,220 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 1,492 of whom were civilians.

“Obviously we regret the loss of life wherever it takes place, but I do think there’s an important difference – as Prime Minister Netanyahu put it: Israel uses its weapons to defend its people and Hamas uses its people to defend its weapons,” he said.

Cameron has previously described himself as a “staunch supporter of Israel” and in 2014 became only the second British premier ever to address the Israeli Knesset.

Last Monday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Israeli diplomats in London saying, “we have never had such a pro-Israel prime minister.”

Vanunu detained in Jerusalem for “talking to foreigners”

Man who revealed Israel’s nuclear secrets detained in Jerusalem for talking to foreigners

Nearly thirty years ago, in the fall of 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a low-level technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, left Israel for a trip to the Far East. He settled in Australia, converted to Christianity, and sometime in August that year began to talk with Peter Hounam, a London Sunday Times reporter, about what he saw at Dimona. He spent eighteen years in jail, eleven of these years in solitary confinement, and was released, under severe restrictions, in 2004. Last Thursday he was detained in Jerusalem for violating one of his release conditions: he talked with two foreigners, that is, non-Israelis, for more than half-an-hour.

Nearly thirty years ago, in the fall of 1986, Mordechai  Vanunu, a low-level technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, left Israel for a trip to the Far East. He settled in Australia, converted to Christianity, and sometime in August that year began to talk with Peter Hounam, a London Sunday Times reporter, about what he saw at Dimona.

The Sunday Times flew him to Lindon for more in-depth interviews, in which Vanunu described how Israel has mastered lithium-6 separation process, which is required for the production of tritium. Tritium is an essential ingredient of fusion-boosted fission bombs.

The Times asked two nuclear experts – Theodore Taylor and Frank Barnaby – to examine Vanunu’s information, and both said it was credible. Vanunu described in detail the plutonium processing Israel was using, saying the production rate was about thirty kilograms per year. He further stated that Israel used about four kilograms per weapon. Based on these figures, Taylor and Barnaby estimated that Israel had accumulated sufficient plutonium for about 150 nuclear weapons.

Israeli intelligence learned of his conversations with the Times – but also with the Mirror. There had been persistent rumors that Israel was tipped by Robert Maxell, the publisher of the Mirror who was, apparently, also working for the Mossad (Maxwell committed suicide in November 1991 after it was revealed that he had fraudulently misappropriated money from the Mirror Group pension fund).

The Mossad wanted to grab him and bring him back to Israel to stand trial – but did not want to kidnap him in London because of the good relationship Israel had with Margaret Thatcher.

Even before the Vanunu revelations were published in England in late October, a blonde Mossad agent lured him to go with her to Italy for a romantic excursion. When they entered her apartment in Rome, he was overpowered by waiting Mossad operatives who drugged him, smuggled him out of Italy, and brought him to Israel.

In 1988, in a behind-closed-doors trial, Vanunu was sentenced to eighteen years in prison, and he spent eleven of these years in solitary confinement.

He was released in 2004, but was placed under exceedingly strict restrictions – among them a prohibition on talking with foreigners, that is, non-Israelis.

In December 2014 Vanunu appealed this particular restriction, and the commander of the Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, agreed to ease the restriction somewhat. Under the new conditions, Vanunu is still not allowed to speak with foreigners, but he is allowed to “hold a chance conversation in person with foreign citizens or foreign residents, as long as it is a one-time conversation that is held face-to-face, not planned in advance, takes place in a public space open to the general public and which lasts for a period of no more than thirty minutes.”

Haaretz reports that last Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day, Vanunu disappeared. Worried friends and acquaintances searched for him, but the mystery was not solved until the next day. It appears that Vanunu was arrested by seven Border Police officers and a female police officer after they watched him hold a conversation with two foreigners for they considered to be more than half-an-hour – a violation of his release conditions.

Vanunu’s lawyer said his client was at the international book store at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. He exchanged a few words with two tourists who happened to enter the store. The police, apparently watching Vanunu and timing the conversation, entered the store and took him with them to a police station.

The lawyer said that Vanunu and the police interrogators engaged in a lengthy discussion over the question of how long the conversation in the bookstore went on, whether it lasted more than thirty minutes, and how the calculation should be made: Vanunu was speaking with two people, so one of the questions was whether or not Vanunu’s exchanges with each individual should be clocked separately, meaning that Vanunu was entitled to a 1-hour conversation — one half-hour with each of the two tourists at the store.

Civil libertarians and legal experts say that the Israeli government, out of sheer vengeance, mistreats and harasses Vanunu even after though he had served his time. They, and people in the know, also note that whatever information Vanunu has is obsolete, since the last time he set foot inside the Dimona reactor was three decades ago.

Still, the issue of nuclear weapons is a taboo in Israel – it cannot be broached or discussed. It appears that Vanunu is being punished – some would say, persecuted – not because he revealed any military secrets (how many of Israel’s adversaries have any doubts about Israel’s nuclear arsenal?), but because he committed an even more serious offense: he violated a sacred societal taboo.

Iran breaks oil export record

Iran breaks oil export record

Looks like the sanctions aren’t working. Indeed, like the Russian sanctions, they have causes far more damage to American businesses than to the Iranian ones!

Iran has for the first time in a decade been able to export seven million barrels of oil in one day from a southern terminal, said an official on Tuesday.

The historic event took place following the concurrent activation of eight docks at Kharg terminal on April 15.

Managing Director of Iranian Oil Terminals Company (IOTC) Pirouz Mousavi said the previous record was six million barrels in a day.

“This was achieved despite the skepticism expressed by many countries about Iran’s ability to handle major volumes of oil export,” Mousavi said, according to IRNA.

He further said the increased export capability has now materialized as a result of renovating the infrastructure at Kharg terminal.

Earlier in February, Mousavi said that a one-year project to overhaul Kharg facilities had increased the terminal’s export capacity. The project, he said, had cost millions of dollars.

Kharg terminal is located on the Persian Gulf island of Kharg. It is the main loading point for Iran’s crude oil exports.

The terminal had an offloading capacity of 14 million barrels per day (bpd) prior to the 1980-88 Iraqi imposed war on Iran. It was the target of frequent attacks by the Iraqi forces during the war which drastically reduced its export capacity. Following a series of post-war reconstruction projects, the offloading capacity of Kharg reached around six million bpd in 2007.

Palestinian shepherds beaten and arrested as Israeli occupation forces stun-grenade their sheep

Palestinian shepherds beaten and arrested as Israeli occupation forces stun-grenade their sheep

As he speaks, the cut under Islam’s eye is clearly visible.  From his quiet and kind demeanor it is impossible to tell, other than this injury on his left cheekbone, that less than 48 hours prior, he and his cousin were beaten, handcuffed, blindfolded and left in the hot sun outside a police station in the illegal Elon Moreh settlement bloc near their village of Salem, for twelve hours.

The cousins were tending to their flock in the small piece of field, near the shared illegal settler/occupied Palestinian road they are relegated too per their occupiers, around 7am when Islam got too close to the road.  The road is off limits to Palestinians who are not in vehicles, thus as they work to limit the area their sheep are covering, if they get too close to the road, occupation forces in jeeps drive up within moments of spotting them from the Israeli watchtower just several dozen meters away.  On this morning, when the jeeps pulled up, Islam was thrown to the ground and beaten by soldiers as his cousin yelled for them to stop.  “Because I yelled that he was my cousin and to leave him alone, they arrested me too,” Adnan Eshtayah, 34 tells IWPS volunteers.  They threw multiple stun grenades, crowd control weaponry commonly used by IOF – which creates deafening blasts and smoke, at Islam’s flock of sheep injuring several of them.


The pair were handcuffed and blindfolded before being driven into Elon Moreh where they were left on the ground in the sun outside the police station with no food or water for 12 hours.  Antagonism being one of the most prolifically utilized weapons in the Israeli occupation arsenal; the men were then driven away from the nearby village they were kidnapped from and taken to the Huwara checkpoint several kilometers away, on the Israeli side, and left there after begging to be taken back to their homes.  After walking nearly half the distance, they were picked up by a Palestinian who drove them back to their village.

A third farmer, Isladeen, 30, has a similar story from just a week earlier;  he was beaten, handcuffed and blindfolded and when released from the police station, he was driven several kilometers away into a settlement where Israeli soldiers left him handcuffed and blindfolded.  “I was stuck in the settlement for eight hours unable to see where I was or how to get home before someone found me near the main road and helped me.”  Another issue stemming from these deplorable arrests are that the shepherds’ sheep are left alone to wander after their guardians are taken and in these particular instances, they got into another farmer’s land and grazed which created problems as the farm land they are restricted to is already so limited.

Isladeen then takes us near the road where he was assaulted and within less than three minutes, an Israeli military jeep pulls up and three aggressive soldiers emerge and surround him, telling him to come with them.  IWPS volunteers stepped in and argued with the soldiers who stated they were following orders and berated volunteers saying they ‘weren’t human.’  After ten minutes, the soldiers returned to their jeep, no arrestees and sat for several minutes before driving away.  

An Israeli military jeep pulls up within minutes of IWPS volunteers and Salem shepherds approaching the road.

After trying to arrest a Palestinian farmer in the village of Salem in the middle of IWPS interview, Israeli soldiers storm off.

At Islam’s family home, IWPS volunteers are invited in and served tea and bread as his father recounts instances of Israeli soldier’s abusing him and his son.  “It didn’t use to be like this.  They would just tell us to leave.  Now they beat and arrest us and throw sound bombs on our sheep.”  These scenes of senseless violence and animal cruelty are now a commonality in the Salem village, population 8,000.  So are home demolitions.

Young Palestinian activist Mohammad Eshtayah, 26, brings IWPS volunteers through the village of Salem, situated between rolling hills and illegal settlement blocs- including a settler theme park which overlooks the embattled town where bullet holes are visible in the outside walls of homes and where some streets hold the memories of young Palestinians shot to death by occupation forces during the Intifadas.  Mohammad’s uncle, a taxi driver, was shot to death by Israeli soldiers on the road where the shepherds were arrested as he crossed to bring an elderly woman he had just driven a bag that she had left in the backseat of the car.  His second cousin, was killed after being shot 12 times by Israeli soldiers in July of 2002.  His grandfather, the former mayor of Salem, was murdered inside of a shop he owned in Nablus by Israeli soldiers during the first Intifada after he openly opposed an illegal settler road project that would come to fruition just several years after his killing.

Palestinian activist and Salem resident Mohammad Eshtayah stands with beaten and arrested Salem shepherd Islam near the road where he was taken.


The village of Salem holds many tragedies.  Along with the kidnappings and violence against the heavily restricted farmers and shepherds- and the senseless cruelties against their flocks, residents of Salem face other routine instances of antagonism including home demolitions and standing demolition orders, crumbling ancient homes that they are forbidden to repair in the slightest of ways without impossibly expensive permits that are routinely and arbitrarily denied and having their trees uprooted by the hundreds.  In one case, a Palestinian family in an ancient home suffered the collapse of part of their house during a period of inclement weather.  The family was subsequently rounded upand taken in for interrogation until they had satisfied Israeli occupation forces sufficiently enough that the damage to their home wasn’t purposeful for repair and was instead due to heavy rains.

The crumbling homes are often visited by occupation forces who inspect the premises to ensure no repairs are taking place before leaving.  The ones whose rightful Palestinian owners go unoccupied for three years get automatically seized by the Israeli government.  The ones with standing demolition orders are frequent targets for raids and middle of the night ‘census’ visits where sleeping families are awakened and gathered in one room so they can be ‘counted’ and their rooms photographed.  This is the face of the Israeli occupation of Palestine as it plays out in the small village of Salem just northeast of Nablus.

The face of the resistance in Salem is inspiring despite their suffering; whether its expressed by the villagers pulling together to donate sheep to a Salem shepherd who has had 100 of them stolen in the night by an illegal settler, or by Mohammad and other Palestinian activists replanting trees in the wake of the uprootings; Salem continues the struggle against Israeli occupation, antagonism and violence.

True Torah Jews Planning Counter Campaign Against Inflammatory Hate Ads

True Torah Jews Planning Counter Campaign Against Inflammatory Hate Ads

New York Jews are appalled at the latest in a series of hateful subway and bus ads paid for by an organization called American Freedom Defense Initiative. The ads seek to equate Islam with murder and thus divert attention from the Israel-Arab conflict by claiming that Muslims attack Jews simply because of their religion.

The ad reads: “Killing Jews is worship that brings us close to Allah. That’s his jihad. What’s yours?” An earlier ad by the group read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat jihad.” In Philadelphia, the group ran an ad showing Hitler meeting with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, with the words: “Islamic Jew-hatred: it’s in the Quran.”

Last year, the Metropolitan Transit Authority refused to run the ads, saying that they posed a security risk. In October, AFDI sued the MTA for infringing in its First Amendment rights. Last week, Judge John G. Koeltl, of United States District Court in Manhattan, ruled that the ad qualified as protected speech and granted a preliminary injunction ordering the transportation authority to run the ad. He said the order would not take effect for 30 days so the agency could consider whether it would appeal the decision.

True Torah Jews fears that the ads may deepen mistrust between Jews and Muslims and portray all Jews as supportive of the statements in the ads. Therefore, we are currently working on an MTA ad of our own to counter the effects of AFDI’s campaign.

Of course, the pro-Israel group would not mind much if American Jews were endangered as a result of their campaign – it would only help them get more Jews to come to their state.

Our ad will show Jews, Muslims and others standing together and the text will feature quotes from the Torah advocating peace, and say that Jews and other New Yorkers join in condemning hate speech.

Saudi planes airdrop arms to terrorists in Yemen

Saudi planes airdrop arms to terrorists in Yemen

Press TV – April 29, 2015

The Yemeni military officials say Saudi aircraft have recently dropped weapons to militants in the southern city of Ta’izz.

The military confirmed on Wednesday that the planes airdropped weapons on areas where members of the Salafist Islah party are based, namely the Masbah and Ajenat neighborhoods. The operation was carried out in two phases on April 23.

The jets airdropped a number of wooden boxes containing various firearms, rockets, sniper rifles and sophisticated communication instruments, the Yemeni military officials added.

Saudi warplanes had also dropped weapons to terrorists in the southern port city of Aden in early April. The reports, citing unnamed local military officials, said the terrorists had gained access to the munitions, noting that sophisticated communication equipment and advanced combat medical kits were also among the items airdropped.

An armed man inspects a box attached to a parachute airdropped by Saudi warplanes at the special forces camp in the Tawahi district of Aden, southern Yemen, April 3, 2015. © AFP

The UN Security Council has imposed an arms embargo against Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Saudi Arabia launched its airstrikes against Yemen on March 26, without a United Nations mandate, in a bid to undermine the Houthis and to restore power to the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.

The regime’s warplanes have repeatedly targeted residential areas in a number of cities including Aden and Ta’izz, as well as the capital, Sana’a.

On April 21, Riyadh announced the end of the first phase of its unlawful military operation, which has claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people so far, but airstrikes have continued with Saudi bombers targeting different areas across the country in a new phase.

According to Yemen’s Health Ministry, the month-long Saudi aggression has killed nearly 150 children and around 100 women.

U.S. pressing France to postpone UN resolution on Palestine using a lame excuse

U.S. pressing France to postpone UN resolution on Palestine:

United States and several other countries – including some Arab states – say move would only disrupt negotiations with Iran and efforts to win support for nuclear deal in Congress.

The United States and several other countries – including Arab states – have asked the French government over the past two weeks to postpone its initiative for a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue – at least until after the June 30 deadline for reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.

Senior U.S. officials and European diplomats told Haaretz that the message was also relayed to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, as well as to French diplomats at the UN headquarters in New York and to officials in Washington and in other capitals. Foreign Policy was the first to report on Wednesday on the American messages to France.

According to the American and European diplomats, the messages relayed to the French stressed that the Obama administration – as well as other powers – are currently focused on reaching a comprehensive agreements with Iran. Taking action on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, they said, would only distract from and disrupt this goal.

A senior American official said that the administration is also worried that such a move by France would harm efforts to win the support for the Iran deal from Democratic congressmen and senators. He added that Israeli opposition to negotiations with Iran is already hindering the efforts to win support in Congress, therefore there is no need for a Security Council showdown over another issue which Israel views as harmful to its interests.

French diplomats met in the past two weeks with representatives of various Arab states and presented a first draft of a resolution they wish to submit to the UN Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The diplomats were surprised by the position taken by some Arab states; their representatives requested that the move be postponed, on the grounds that the timing is not appropriate.

French Foreign Minister Fabius implicitly hinted at American reservations from the move in an interview last week with the Financial Times. “We need to agree on timing with [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry,” he said. “There are other issues to deal with. One negotiation should not hurt another, but at the same time, there’s always a lot going on, so the risk is we never find time.”

A few weeks ago, France announced it was interested in renewing the initiative to advance a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue at the UN Security Council. The French already tried to advance the move a few months ago, but it failed due to a Palestinian refusal to accept the proposal drafted in Paris.

The Palestinians pushed through a much more extreme proposal, but did not succeed in winning nine out of 15 Security Council member votes needed. Because of this, the U.S. did not have to use its veto power.

According to the French initiative, the draft UN proposal would include principles for resolving the conflict, such as establishing the borders of the Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with land swaps, making Jerusalem the capital of both Israel and Palestine, setting a timeline for ending the occupation and holding an international peace conference.

The Shabbos Goy

April 28, 2015  /  Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon Interviews PhD Milena Rampoldi

German human rights campaigner PhD Milena Rampoldi, the woman behind the pro- Palestinian site, has been subject to some ugly harassment in the past week. Surprise surprise, it wasn’t the Zionists, Hasbara merchants or Mossad operators who tormented her. It was a Palestinian ‘supporter.’ The following interview is sad: it reveals the heightened state of despair displayed by our thought police. The Stalinist purge culture that is symptomatic of the Jewish Left and its network of Sabbos Goyim backfired once again. Truth cannot be suppressed forever, it doesn’t even leak out; it just bursts.  

Gilad Atzmon: Milena, you have been subject to some severe political pressure recently. It appears as if the people who mounted pressure on you consider themselves to be  ‘anti’ Zionists and ‘pro’-Palestinians. Can you identify these people and explain what their demands were? Why did they campaign against you?

Dr. Milena Rampoldi: I think that censorship is the result of fear combined with a sense of entitlement. I never thought that I would be subject to censorship as editor-in-chief of Our magazine is relatively small. We are fighting for human rights and peace. We are engaged with different topics, not just Palestine. Our focus is on the fight against racism and Islamophobia and we stand for intercultural and interreligious empathy. However, as a Muslim and as a human rights activist, Palestine is an especially important issue to me.

My interview with you was the last in a long series of exchanges I conducted on anti- Zionism, Israel and Palestine. I introduced your interview, and asked a question about why your position is unique within the context of dissent to Zionism and Israel. I wondered whether your arguments are so provocative because they transcend the usual Zionism/anti-Zionist discourse in that you challenge both simultaneously.

                         Dr. Milena Rampoldi - Promosaik' editor-in-chief

Gilad Atzmon: It is simple. I examine Jewish Identity Politics. As far as I am concerned, Zionism and Jewish anti-Zionism are similar in nature and tactics because they are the two sides of the same coin. They are both continuations of the same exceptionalist ideology and culture.

Dr. Milena Rampoldi: My idea was to start a debate… to invite people to write to us and start an open ideological, spiritual and ethical exchange. I do not agree with all the ideas I publish, or with all that you say, but this is not the issue. If I were to publish only those ideas with which I agree, the promise to present a mosaic-diversity of opinions would be a lie.

As soon as your article appeared on our site, I was subject to a vile attack by E.A, the editor-in-chief of an established German pro-Palestinian online magazine that published a lot of articles about Palestine. He was a very important partner for us because he published many of our articles on his site.

Gilad Atzmon:  Milena, I understand that you prefer not to mention E.A by name but it would be silly to hide his identity from our readers. The person who contacted you is ‘Pro’-Palestinian activist Erhard Arendt, am I correct?

PhD Milena Rampoldi: Yes, it was he.  His magazine is crucial for the success of my work, because I am relatively small and need to reach more readers.

Gilad Atzmon: Can you please name the Magazine? Don’t be afraid of these people, actually naming your abuser is your insurance policy.

PhD Milena Rampoldi: The magazine is called Palästina Portal and it is well known in Germany.

First they told me that they will no longer publish anything by ProMosaik and if I continue to publish independently, I may have to face the consequences. They repeatedly told me that I don’t understand the (Israeli Palestinian) conflict. I was offended both because I grasp your ideas and consider myself an intelligent person. They insisted that I remove you from our website. I agreed in part but I refused to remove the English version of the interview we did in March.

At that stage, I was trying to calm the situation. This was a big mistake on my part and I regret it. However, I did remove the German translation of my interview with you. I also deleted a very positive comment about your work by the prominent Jewish author, Evelyn Hecht Galinski.  My initial idea was not to glorify you, but to create a debate with as many contributors as possible.

Another person I was “advised ” to delete by Mr Arendt, this time on the phone, was the wonderful pacifist Johanna Heuveling. I like her lot, although again, I do not agree with everything she says. I like her approach to reconciliation and peace work for Palestine. Mr Arendt called her “an Israeli collaborator,” which is simply not true. I then asked Erhard Arendt: what next? I realised that step by step he was taking over my editorial board.

Erhard Arendt was born to lead the masses

Erhard Arendt was born to lead the masses

The next day, the harassment continued. Arendt wasn’t satisfied. He was angry that Gilad Atzmon wasn’t completely excised from the site. The English interview with you was still displayed. He also claimed to have found traces of your thoughts in a couple of posts by others including Paul Eisen. Paul is a good colleague, and I read his thoughts regularly. He is a friend of yours. So what? And William Hanna is also a fan of yours.

Watch Paul Eisen in Conversation with Gilad Atzmon:

Erhard Arendt threatened again that he would stop publishing me. I stupidly did what he wanted but Arendt didn’t stop harassing me. Arendt told that publishing you is no different than ‘posting Goebbels.’ He called you a ‘Nazi.’ It was wrong and outrageous. I think that you are a Jew and you have the right to question your Jewish identity.

Gilad Atzmon: I am not a Jew and Goyim are also entitled to question Jewishidentity, politics and culture.

Dr. Milena Rampoldi: It is your right to say this, but it still has nothing to do with Nazism. I refused to accept the Nazi label. I told Arendt that I only removed the German translation because I thought that in Germany the interview could be misinterpreted as Holocaust denial and because I wanted him to circulate my articles. Let me emphasise, I am not a Holocaust denier. I empathise with the suffering of people who lost their relatives in the Holocaust. I regard Anne Frank as a symbol of Jewish suffering.

I consider myself left wing and I push for a far more colourful left. I felt terrible because I had violated my principles, I also thought that you would understand my position as, in fact, you did. I removed a comment by Galinski about your interview because it was ‘too positive.’ This saga started to make me sick.  I felt dismissed as a person and as a thinker.

The crisis didn’t fade away. Arendt made me think that the entire anti-Zionist community had turned against me. I was upset because I really like the people I interview and work with; in particular two old ladies, the beloved Felicia Langer and the wonderful and brave Ellen Rohlfs, whom I consider a wonderful poet. Arendt made me believe that Felicia Langer would turn against me, because she would see me as a Holocaust denier.

Then I found out that I wasn’t alone. I spoke with the Jewish communist author and publisher Giuseppe Zambon. I asked him whether publishing an interview with Atzmon was really a bad move. Zambon was very helpful and supportive, he said that it does not matter if you agree with Atzmon or not, you should never agree to remove him from your website, because freedom of expression is the most important political weapon. The struggle is for Palestine, not against each other.

I was hurt by the entire saga, the tactics, and the lack of manners. I accept that some people do not approve of me, but I am genuine and truthful. When I make a mistake, I am quick to apologise. I would like to apologise to you for my conduct in this saga.

Gilad Atzmon: You don’t have to apologise to me. The day Zionists and their caretakers stop chasing me and my supporters, my role as a whistleblower will be over. I will retire quietly. But for now, I am amused by the fear I create within this clumsy collective of crypto Zionists and AZZs (Anti-Zionist Zionists).

Dr. Milena Rampoldi: I think that it is not a matter of Anti-Zionism, Zionism, or any ideology. Some people see you as obstacle and want to silence you. They don’t like that you are a star and a truth teller.

Gilad Atzmon: This is fine. I love being an obstacle.

Dr. Milena Rampoldi:  I often feel that people simply want to interfere with our spirit. This is not limited to Anti-Zionists. Justice and freedom of speech are two things I would die for.

Gilad Atzmon: For quite some time we have been dealing with a controlled opposition in our midst. The first challenge is to expose the vicious matrix that interferes with our ability to speak the truth and to think authentically. To support Palestine and justice is to put yourself in the line of fire. I have done it for a while, I am pretty good at it and occasionally, I even enjoy it! Not everyone can put up with this role. Let’s move on, what is next for you? You seem more spirited than ever and this is good news.

Dr. Milena Rampoldi: I plan to study the coexistence between Jews and Turks in 19th century Istanbul. I am convinced that this positive experience can be replicated. I would also like to publish a small compilation of interviews with anti-Zionists to convey a true portrait of Mosaic diversity. What I like most in your thinking is your ability to rethink your position again and again. Although we differ ideologically, I think that we follow the same method, hermeneutically speaking. At the end of my interview with you, your take on Netanyahu made it clear to me that we used the same method but came to opposite conclusions. When I asked you about Netanyahu I was hoping to hear from you that Jews wouldn’t stand for Netanyahu, understanding that he was the worst possible representation of their most problematic positions.  But you had the opposite opinion. You said, “He is the right man for them… He is a true reflection of what Jewishness is all about, Netanyahu is the contemporary archetype Jew ” You had a clear view of reality, as did Paul Eisen, when I asked him who would win the Israel elections. He correctly predicted the results; while I was shocked by Netanyahu’s win, I couldn’t write a word for half a day!

Gilad Atzmon: Thanks for your time Milena. Truth has set you free. You are emancipated now, and you should thank Arendt and his ilk. I certainly do.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia Changes Line of Succession

King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a series of surprise royal decrees early Wednesday, shaking up the line of princes slated to succeed him to the throne, replacing a number of ministers and further enhancing the power of his own line.

SalmanIn moves announced on Saudi state television, Salman replaced Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and named the interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as next in line.

He also named his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as deputy crown prince and relieved the long-serving foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, who has served in the kingdom’s foreign policy for nearly four decades.

The moves show Salman is shifting further away from the legacy of his predecessor, King Abdullah, who died in January, the New York Times reported.

Of all the changes, the reordering of the line to the throne is likely to draw the most scrutiny inside the kingdom because of competition between branches of the sprawling royal family for positions leading to the throne, NYT said.

The removed regent, Prince Muqrin, was close to King Abdullah and named by him as deputy crown prince, a position that had not previously existed.

Prince Saud’s departure from the Foreign Ministry is a watershed because he has been in the position for so long, NYT analyzed. Replacing him is Adel al-Jubeir, who is not a member of the royal family but has served as the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Source: Websites

29-04-2015 – 09:26 Last updated 29-04-2015 – 13:26

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Putin is an exceptional politician, the USA has no one even close

Fifteen Years of Putin

As the Russian President looks forward to the fifteenth anniversary of his first election to office, we consider some of the factors that explain his extraordinary political success.

The latest documentary on Putin shown by Russian television appears to be timed to coincide with Putin’s 15 years in office.

I should say that I do not entirely understand the timing. Putin became acting Prime Minister on 9th August 1999. He became formally Prime Minister on 16th August 1999. It was fairly obvious (at least to me) that he was running things and that Yeltsin had been pushed aside thereafter.

Putin then became Acting President on 31st December 1999. He was elected President (with 53% of the vote) on 26th March 2000. He was formerly sworn in as President on 7th May 2000.

None of these dates seem to me to correspond with any anniversary over the last few days and as I have said Putin was actually exercising effective power for some months before he formally became President.

Putting that aside, I don’t think anyone would seriously disagree that he has been far and away the dominant figure in international politics over the last 15 years. Even his many detractors have to agree. The vast literature they produce abusing him shows what an extraordinary hold over the world’s imagination he has.

So what qualities does Putin have that have made him so politically dominant?

The first point to make is that Putin is powerful because he is a Russian who is the leader of Russia, which is one of the world’s most powerful countries. 

This banal point is rarely made but the fact is that if Putin had been born in Guatemala or Katmandu or indeed in Britain or France or Japan he would not have made anything like the impact that he has. Much of what people attribute to “Putin” (whether for good or ill) they should correctly attribute to Russia.

I have previously spoken of the danger of the unhealthy conflation of Putin with Russia that is so common in the West. Russia is more than Putin and Russia matters. Indeed it is one of the great powers of this world and the last 15 years have been a lesson proving that. Westerners who treated Russia as down and out and who now rage against Putin are basically angry because he and Russia have proved them wrong.

Putin does nonetheless possess certain essential qualities that explain his success. I would emphasise three:

1. Putin is an exceptional politician who understands the Russian mind. It is no exaggeration to say that his heart beats with Russia’s. That does not mean that all Russians always agree with him or that everything he does is popular. Nonetheless he has an extraordinary instinct (which no amount of opinion polling can ever replicate) for what most Russians want or think.

2. He listens to advice and takes it from the right people. I have never felt with Putin that he makes his decisions on the hoof or on whim.

He has put together a very capable and professional team to which he is intensely loyal and which in turn is loyal to him.

He is careful to take his advice from those who have genuine knowledge of a subject. Thus he takes advice on financial or economic policy issues from people like Ulyukaev and Siluanov (and formerly from Kudrin and Gref) and on security issues from people like Patrushev and Shoigu and not from the enthusiastic amateurs that most other leaders (including previously Gorbachev) like to take advice from. The result is that his decisions are invariably well-informed even if they are not always right.

3. He has the power of decision. We saw this in action last year when he acted decisively over the Crimea. We have seen it again over the last few days when he went to Yerevan to commemorate the Armenian genocide. Contrast this with the contorted obfuscations and over-complicated and pusillanimous evasions of western leaders who have arguably less to lose where relations with Turkey are concerned. 

Needless to say, precisely because he makes decisions, leaders of countries like those of Saudi Arabia, Israel or Turkey, respect him even when they oppose him. By contrast Western leaders, who appear to have all lost the power of decision, respond with bafflement and jealousy.

I don’t pick out these three factors as the only ones that explain Putin’s success. Others will point to his high intelligence and his capacity for hard work.

Some of his strengths also reflect weaknesses. His grasp of the hearts and minds of Russians does not extend to the intelligentsia to the same degree, which is why he has been less successful with them (though that is probably to underestimate what difficult people some of them are). This is a pity because his public comments show that he is actually a well read and even erudite man. I suspect that a lot of the trouble is that deep down they feel that he doesn’t pay them enough attention, which given the extraordinary demands on his time must be difficult to do.

Regardless, those are my views about some of the reasons why Putin dominates both Russian and international politics to such an amazing degree with no challenge in sight.

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