Saturday, October 21, 2017

Now that the note supposedly showing "collusion" between the #Trump campaign and Russia has been outed by Foreign Policy as mainly an attempted Russian hit-job on William Browder, what is the true threat to the United States?  For months, the lawless FBI has snubbing subpoenas (is complying with subpoenas optional?), and avoiding transparency under Special Counsel Robert Mueller[1] and his equally lawless, crime-"challenged" "investigation." The true threat to the United states -- if not Mueller and the FBI itself -- is not the president, his campaign or even the Russians. Moreover, it is not exactly a news-flash that many countries have been spying on one another for ages.

"Collusion with Russia" was just the the newest dirty word in American politics created by anti-Trump political operatives and the media. It seems intended to confuse the public in order to tarnish Trump's reputation and bring down his administration. It is an extremely old ruse.

Collusion," or the "appearance of collusion," has been a common fear tactic used by Arab media for centuries. Fear tactics are the only solution in cultures that refuse to deal with the truth in the open.
The major red line that no citizen of a totalitarian system can ever cross is engaging in behavior that might bring about an accusation of "collusion" -- collaboration with enemies or perceived enemies. Arab citizens have learned to avoid any contacts, friendships, communication, shaking hands or even being in the same room with "undesirable" enemies of the state. Try asking any Arab diplomat on how he or she acts and feels in the presence of an Israeli official. For decades, when Israeli officials gave speeches in the United Nations, Arabs left the room.

In much of the Middle East, Christians, if they refrain from praising Islam and Muslims or blame them for their oppression, get the same treatment as Jews.

In Egypt, in the days of anti-Semitic tyranny when the mere appearance of any kind of friendship, or just being in the same room with a Jew, could mean death, Christians always had to keep their distance from the Jews: the price to pay was simply too high.

After a visit to the United Kingdom in my youth, after innocently telling a journalist college friend that I had met Jews in the UK and could not believe how nice they were, her response was: "You know what happens to those who collude with Jews? They come back to Egypt in a box." Shortly after, when a few of us teenagers, speaking English combined with some French and Arabic -- not uncommon among some Cairo residents -- were stopped in a village on the way from Cairo to Alexandria, the villagers called us Jews and the police were called. It took a while to get out of that mess.

Reality, finally, has hit Egypt. Its enemies' list had to change in the face of the constant challenge to the stability of moderate governments. The true threat to stable Arab governments, as Egypt is realizing, is not Israel; it is political Islam from groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, and so on. This real threat has become a terrible burden to every Muslim head of state and is behind all the political chaos, coups and revolutions currently raging throughout the Islamic world.

After Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, Arab nations developed the courage to demand shutting down Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar. In a chaotic, propaganda-prone area of the world, Qatar's Al Jazeera has always reported sympathetically about Islamist groups and promoters of sharia, and against moderate Arab leaders. In an atmosphere such as that, no moderate Muslim leader is able to bring his nation out from under the coercion of jihadist terror and sharia tyranny.

Every Arab leader knows that to bring modernity and serious reformation would be considered a violation of sharia. Islamists are not only feared because of their promotion of terror, but they are also considered the guardians of sharia. Islamic law dictates that every Muslim head of state must rule by sharia, wage jihad against non-Muslim nations and never allow himself or his citizens to collude with, or seek peace with, Islam's enemies. No moderate leader could survive under such conditions.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia is to be commended for finally issuing a decree that allows half the population of his country, women, to obtain the paperwork to drive -- but they usually still need permission from a male guardian to leave the home alone.

As the last thing the Muslim public is ready for is the truth, convoluted games and accusations are the only way that many Arab leaders think they can preserve their legitimacy. The war between moderates, who want less sharia, and Islamists, who want full sharia, consists -- regardless of "truth" -- of winning over the average Arab citizen and leading him to believe that they represent the "real Islam".

All sides thereby play the game of "collusion". When Islamists accuse moderate leaders of collusion with the West, moderates respond by accusing Islamists of being the creation of the West. On many Arab media outlets, ISIS is the creation of the West (as was Al-Qaeda before it).

As a moderate Arab leader, it is therefore not easy to survive without the constant threat of an Islamist uprising. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan are considered moderate leaders, and many want them to stay that way, but the pressure from Islamists is immense. Recently Sisi said that he wants to promote a new form of fear, a "phobia against bringing down the State." One can sympathize with his attempt to put into words the obstacles to governing in a majority Muslim nation. Sisi seems to want to encourage Egyptians to develop a fear of succumbing to radical propaganda that aims to bring down moderate governments. What he seems to be telling Egyptians is that revolutions, coups d'état and assassinations are not the solution to every problem but rather, it is -- or should be -- the ballot box.

After a year of being ruled by Egypt's former President Mohamed Morsi, the majority of Egyptians turned against the Muslim Brotherhood -- a decision that understandably does not sit well with pro-sharia media. These, such as Al Jazeera, are dedicated to trying to save the reputation of the Muslim Brotherhood, sharia and Islam itself, at any cost. Their number-one enemy has become critics of jihad and sharia, especially those who live in Western freedom. The Arab media's "solution" to a mass defection from extremism is to accuse moderates and critics of sharia not only of being "collaborators" with infidels but also that they "collude" with terrorists.

The current goal of the Arab media, especially Al Jazeera, is to portray critics of jihad and sharia, as well as apostates, as being just as bad as Islamists, if not worse.

Because the views of the critics of sharia and jihad resonate with average Arabs, radical Arab media outlets have no choice but to counter the enthusiasm for modernity and freedom of the public with false accusations: that critics of jihad and sharia are in fact colluding with terrorist groups. The Arab media evidently see such wildly false accusations against critics of jihad as the only way, in their minds, to save radical Islam.

Today, a segment of Egyptian society, especially the vulnerable and uneducated, have been lulled into believing the propaganda that moderates and critics of jihad and sharia are colluding not only with infidel enemies of Islam, but also with radical Muslim groups such as the unpopular Muslim Brotherhood.
A prominent Egyptian magazine, Rose El Youssef, in 2007, falsely portrayed Dr. Wafa Sultan and this author in their front-page as "alt-jihadists" -- collaborators with the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood. Yesterday, a close friend in Egypt sent a warning of rumors in the Egyptian media, after the assassination of a journalist by the Muslim Brotherhood, that the Muslim Brotherhood has apostate "collaborators" in the West such as me. This shameless and reckless propaganda is intended to confuse the Egyptian public about who their true enemies and friends really are.

It is unfortunate that the tactics of the Arab media -- to accuse people of "collusion" in order to silence any opposition -- are now moving into US mainstream media regarding Trump and Russia, which the US media regard as their new "enemies" -- the same media that defends sharia law, Islam and Islamic terrorism in the West.

Friday, October 20, 2017

#Trump would not be first president to seek UNESCO withdrawal

The last time the United States decided to withdraw from the cultural organization, it was Ronald Reagan's administration that blamed it for corruption and a political bent in favor of the Soviet Union, at the then height of the Cold War.

President George W. Bush had the US rejoin the organization in 2002, saying its members toned down their anti-Western and anti-Israeli positions.

Six years ago, during Barak Obama's administration, the US cut more than $80 million of funding—a fifth of UNESCO's total budget—in response to the organization admitting the "State of Palestine" as member. The Obama administration claimed at the time the move had to be carried out due to laws prohibiting American funding of UN bodies recognizing a Palestinian state.

Despite the slashed funding, the United States remained a prominent member of the organization and reserved the right to vote in UNESCO's Executive Board, which determines the identity of the organization's Director-General, despite no longer being able to vote in its General Conference.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

#Trump: Of soft speechand big sticks  President Teddy Roosevelt described his foreign policy as “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Trump talks all the time, mostly with resolve, but he has not yet made it clear how big is the stick he carries and whether he intends to use it. The great enthusiasm – in Israel too – that met the cruise missile attack on the Syrian air force base, and the dropping of the “Mother Of All Bombs” in April in Afghanistan, has long since dissipated.

The United States has already abandoned the Syrian sphere to Russia and Iran, which are doing almost everything they want to do. The supreme tests keeping the Trump administration busy are waiting in North Korea and, to a certain extent, in Iran, whose leaders are following the American handling of Pyongyang with great interest.

Trump has hinted in recent weeks that he intends to announce that the Iran nuclear deal doesn’t serve America’s security interests. By Sunday, he is expected to make this stance official.

If so, he will be handing Congress the decision on whether to reinstate economic sanctions against Iran. But America’s decision obviously doesn’t obligate the other world powers – most of which have already announced that they’re sticking with the agreement. The administration’s ability to get new sanctions through Congress is also in question, especially after Trump chose to pick a fight with Corker, whose committee would play a key role in any such move.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Mattis has asserted that preserving the agreement is an American interest, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, has said Iran isn’t violating the agreement. (This is a matter of controversy, since some claim that the International Atomic Energy Agency has deliberately not insisted on inspecting Iranian nuclear sites that are liable to prove problematic). And Wendy Sherman, the Obama administration official who ran negotiations on the deal for the State Department, said this week that Trump would be making a terrible mistake if he abandoned it.

According to Sherman, Trump is correct in saying that Iran’s actions are creating instability in the Middle East, but he’s wrong to say that these actions violate the spirit of the nuclear deal. She also says that abandoning the deal would have a disastrous effect on America’s relations with the European Union and other powers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#Trump: 'Buy American' agenda

Regulations are expected to be loosened especially on the sale of unarmed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drones, the most sophisticated of which carry high-resolution cameras and laser-guided targeting systems to aid missiles fired from warplanes, naval vessels or ground launchers.
Deliberations have been more complicated, however, on how to alter export rules for missile-equipped drones like the Predator and Reaper. Hunter-killer drones, which have essentially changed the face of modern warfare, are increasingly in demand and U.S. models considered the most advanced.

The push is not only part of Trump‘s “Buy American” agenda to boost U.S. business abroad but also reflects a more export-friendly approach to weapons sales that the administration sees as a way to wield influence with foreign partners, the senior official said.

Under a draft of the new rules, a classified list of countries numbering in double digits would be given more of a fast-track treatment for military drone purchases, a second senior official said. The favored group would include some of Washington’s closest NATO allies and partners in the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance: Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the industry source.

Rachel Stohl, director of the conventional defense program at the Stimson Center in Washington, said if U.S. drone export rules become too lenient, they could give more governments with poor human rights records the means to “target their own civilians.”

Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, revised the policy for military drone exports in 2015. But U.S. manufacturers complained it was still too restrictive compared with main competitors China and Israel.
U.S. drone makers are vying for a larger share of the global military drone market. Even before the coming changes, the Teal Group, a market research firm, has forecast sales will rise from $2.8 billion in 2016 to $9.4 billion in 2025.

Linden Blue, CEO of privately held General Atomics, the U.S. leader in military drones, visited the White House recently to lobby for his industry, a person familiar with the discussions said.
Among the U.S. changes will be a formal reinterpretation of the “presumption of denial”, a longstanding obstacle to most military drones sales, that would make it easier and faster to secure approval, the officials said.

Britain, and only recently Italy, are the only countries that had been allowed to buy armed U.S. drones.

A long-delayed $2 billion sale to India of General Atomics’ Guardian surveillance drones finally secured U.S. approval in June. But New Delhi’s request for armed drones has stalled.

A major hurdle to expanded sales of the most powerful U.S. drones is the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR, a 1987 accord signed by the United States and 34 other countries, which set rules for the sale and purchase of missiles.

It categorizes drones with a range greater than of 185 miles (300 km) and a payload above 1,100 pounds (500 kg) as cruise missiles, requiring extremely tight import/export controls. To gain an international stamp of approval for the relaxed U.S. export rules, U.S. officials want the MTCR renegotiated.

State Department officials attending an annual meeting of the missile-control group in Dublin next week will present a “discussion paper” proposing that sales of drones – which did not exist when the agreement was created – be treated more leniently than the missile technology that the MTCR was designed to regulate, according to a U.S. official and industry sources.

There is no guarantee of a consensus. Russia, which has NATO members along its borders, could resist such changes, the U.S. official said.

#Trump's New 'Buy American' Rules to Challenge Israeli Drone's Market Dominance  The Trump administration is nearing completion of new “Buy American” rules to make it easier to sell U.S.-made military drones overseas and compete against fast-growing Chinese and Israeli rivals, senior U.S. officials said.

While President Donald Trump’s aides work on relaxing domestic regulations on drone sales to select allies, Washington will also seek to renegotiate a 1987 missile-control pact with the aim of loosening international restrictions on U.S. exports of unmanned aircraft, according to government and industry sources.

At home, the U.S. administration is pressing ahead with its revamp of drone export policy under heavy pressure from American manufacturers and in defiance of human rights advocates who warn of the risk of fueling instability in hot spots including the Middle East and South Asia.

The changes, part of a broader effort to overhaul U.S. arms export protocols, could be rolled out by the end of the year under a presidential policy decree, the administration officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The aim is to help U.S. drone makers, pioneers in remote-controlled aircraft that have become a centerpiece of counterterrorism strategy, reassert themselves in the overseas market where China, Israel and others often sell under less-cumbersome restrictions.

Simplified export rules could easily generate thousands of jobs, but it’s too early to be more specific, said Remy Nathan, a lobbyist with the Aerospace Industry Association. The main beneficiaries would be top U.S. drone makers General Atomics, Boeing (BA.N), Northrop Grumman (NOC.N), Textron (TXT.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N).

“This will allow us to get in the game in a way that we’ve never been before,” said one senior U.S. official.

U.S. President Barack #Obama and other #NATO leaders have begun the second day of a summit meeting in Warsaw that's expected to lead to decisions about #Afghanistan, the central Mediterranean and #Iraq.

On Friday, leaders approved the deployment of four multinational NATO battalions to Poland and the Baltic states to deter Russia, as well as a Romanian-Bulgarian brigade for the Black Sea region.

The Warsaw summit, NATO's first in two years, is considered by many to be the alliance's most important since the Cold War.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says NATO needs to adapt to confront an array of new threats to its member nations' security, including cyberattacks and violent extremism generated by radical Muslim organizations like the Islamic State group.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas #Linkevicius says he's not surprised that Mikhail Gorbachev is accusing #NATO of escalating tensions with #Russia, but insists the former Soviet leader is simply wrong.

 Gorbachev, who was Soviet president when the Cold War ended, accused NATO on Saturday of escalating tensions with Russia at a summit in Warsaw where the Western alliance has finalized plans to deploy four battalions to its eastern flank as deterrence against Russia.

Linkevicius said that kind of language from Gorbachev "was expected" but argued that NATO, in building up its forces in the east, is merely "reacting to aggressive behavior" of the Russians.

He also said Russia's own military buildup far exceeds in both numbers and intensity what NATO is doing.

"The Russians are very creative in mixing up the consequences and the reasons," he said. "We are used to these methods."

Linkevicius said the NATO plan to deploy a German-led battalion to his nation was reassuring given Russian aggression in Ukraine, even though it's only a force of about 1,000.