Birth of a New Persian Empire: Jed Babbin

Lost in the rising tensions between Russia and the U.S. over Syria are the gains Iran continues to

The United States is gradually being drawn into the war in Syria. That war began as a conflict in which we had no national security interest. That changed because two of our principal adversaries, Russia and Iran, took over that war, making the conflict much larger than just a civil war against the terrorist regime of Bashar Assad.

Syria still isn’t worth — in Bismarckian terms — the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier, far less an American soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. Three have died there, so far. One was the victim of an improvised explosive device, one was killed in a truck accident, and one reportedly died of natural causes. There will be more.

One American, a journalist named Austin Tice, is reportedly being held hostage by the Syrian government.

Things have been heating up in Syria lately. Two Sundays ago, a Navy F/A-18 shot down a Syrian Su-22 after it had dropped a bomb close to the Kurdish forces allied with us in striking at ISIS. After that, Russia announced that it would have its anti-aircraft missile batteries target any U.S. aircraft that strayed west of the Euphrates River.

Shortly after that, the Russians fired several Kaliber cruise missiles at ISIS targets to demonstrate that their naval forces in the area are as powerful as ours, though they obviously aren’t. And after that, a Russian fighter flew recklessly close (reportedly within five feet) to a Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic near Kaliningrad. After that, a USAF F-15 intercepted (safely) a Russian aircraft carrying Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, also flying near Kaliningrad.

Wars have a way of spreading quickly but the flybys are, like the Russian cruise missile strike, of no real consequence other than to heighten tensions between the two nations.

Lost amid the underwhelming coverage of these incidents is the very real problem of what Iran is doing and what it’s accomplishing. A new Persian Empire is being born and we are not trying to stop it.

Ever since former president Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq, Iran has turned that nation into a Shiite satrap. It is “governed” by a Shiite-friendly regime and truly ruled by Iran through its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shiite militia forces more-or-less controlled by the IRGC. The IRGC is under direct command of the Tehran ayatollahs.

Iran and Russia both want hegemony over the entire Middle East. Russia’s permanent air and naval bases in Syria give them a grasp of Syria that can be extended almost at will. Iran, having grasped Iraq, now wants a clear path to the Mediterranean. That path is being created through Syria to Beirut, Lebanon where the Iranian Hizb’allah terrorist force has established itself as a ruling political party as well as a terrorist network with global aspirations. (I use Hizb’allah — as the terrorist network uses it, literally “the party of god” — instead of the bowdlerized “Hezbollah” commonly used by U.S. and European media.)

The Beguiled – A Review By Marilyn Penn

Some reviewers have found fault with the erasure of important issues such as slavery from Sofia Coppola’s version of The Beguiled based on a novel about a southern girl’s school set during the Civil War. The school is on a beautiful ante-belum estate surrounded by magnificent trees and woods that let us know we are in a place where innocence will come to a reckoning far more primal than politics. In the opening scene which captures the essence of so many fairy tales, a young girl with pigtails is walking through the deep woods gathering mushrooms in her basket. Instead of a wolf, she comes upon a wounded Union soldier and out of compassion for his plight, helps him back to the school There, he is confronted with a handful of girls and women, all of whom will eventually be implicated in his fate.

Played by Colin Farrell, the soldier can’t help being a sexual turn-on to the range of young lovelies held in check by Miss Martha, the headmistress played by Nicole Kidman. Steady and steely but also open to suggestions from the girls, she asks their opinion on how to deal with the “enemy soldier.” Cool and rational, she agrees to let him remain while he convalesces from her surgery on his leg. We watch as Farrell plays each of the women with intuitive skill while they compete for his attention and affection. Coppola maintains the tension with a minimum of histrionics and some quiet scenes of the girls saying their prayers, playing music and dressing for dinner set beautifully at a candle-lit table that offers a surprising bounty during a time of war. Quite obviously, this is not a kitchen drama about wartime privation.

Ms. Coppola is painting on a larger canvas than American history – the scale is more mythic than realistic and the outside world appears only once briefly with an unexpected appearance by two confederate soldiers who are quickly dispensed with. It would be a spoiler to discuss the plot beyond this set-up but this is a movie skilfully directed, beautifully filmed and more thought-provoking than it first appears. It may take you back much than the 19th century, perhaps as far back as the Garden of Eden.

India’s lesson to China (and the West) about OBOR by Francsco Sisci

China will be in the back of many minds as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington. On the agenda are US drone sales to India, boosting intelligence, and military cooperation between New Delhi, Hanoi, and Tokyo — but perhaps most importantly, there is an initiative that could undermine Beijing’s pet foreign strategy, One Belt, One Road (OBOR).

In the past few days, the Indian press in fact beat the drums, arguing that the signing of the UN TIR Convention is a move to counter OBOR. The TIR system is the global customs transit system with the widest geographical coverage. As with other customs transit procedures, the TIR procedure enables goods to move under customs control across international borders without the payment of duties and taxes.

Actually India’s TIR will in no way challenge, at least for now, China’s OBOR. It covers only India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan; it doesn’t stretch to dozens of countries like OBOR; and it is not backed by a new rich international financial institution with over 100 billion of dollars of capital, like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

But the four countries’ trade and transportation agreement already creates a bloc with a population of about 1.4 billion, the same as or more than China’s. These people are younger than China’s aging population due to decades of one-child policy, the elite speak good English, they use British law and are full accustomed to international norms. All these elements are rare commodities in China.

All these points are in part or totally foiled by Modi’s dwindling enthusiasm for reforms of his internal market. Lack of infrastructure, excesses in bureaucracy, and poor progress in market liberalization have so far sapped international enthusiasm for the theoretically huge potential of the Indian economy. The declining GDP growth rate, which dropped below China’s in 2016 after a couple of years of surging ahead of it, is telling of all the problems facing Modi. Besides, the rivalry with Pakistan poses an objective barrier to India’s land route to Europe, bottling New Delhi in favor of Beijing in Eurasia.

On the other hand, the new TIR agreement could assist in breaking India’s internal barriers and help create a better unified market of goods and services.

ENLIST Act Would Undermine Military, Facilitate Insider Attacks

Although it has received scant, if any, attention in the mainstream media, Congress is now taking up a bill, H.R. 60, the ENLIST Act (Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training). It would potentially provide hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, essentially “Dreamers,” who were granted temporary lawful status under the DACA program (Deferred Action, Childhood Arrival), with the opportunity to be fast-tracked to lawful immigrant status in exchange for enrolling and serving our military.

Thus far more than 200 members from both parties have co-sponsored this dangerous bill.

At first glance the concept of providing lawful immigrant status to illegal aliens who serve in the U.S. military may appeal to many Americans. Military service is properly seen as a most noble way of demonstrating patriotism for America and Americans.

However, upon closer scrutiny the alarming pitfalls to this approach become readily apparent.

Let us also be clear that there have been illegal aliens who joined our armed forces and served with distinction, and some of them paid the “ultimate price” in demonstrating loyalty to America. I do not want in any way to besmirch their reputations or sacrifices. I am however profoundly troubled that H.R. 60 could create a national security/public safety disaster.

This program could be subverted by international terrorists and transnational criminals who seek to obtain military tactics and weapons training to commit crimes and/or carry out terror attacks on-and-off military bases — “insider attacks.”

Criminals and terrorists could also seek to recruit adherents among those with whom they serve in the military.

We must begin with a clear understanding of how serious violations of America’s borders and immigration laws are. When aliens evade the inspections process conducted at ports of entry they are not entering “undocumented” as is claimed by advocates for immigration anarchy. They enter the United States without inspection. The inspections process conducted at ports of entry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Inspectors is intended to prevent the entry of criminals, spies, terrorists, human rights violators, and fugitives from justice (categories of aliens under the aegis of federal law, contained within the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Title 8, United States Code, Section 1182).

“Loyalty” by Sydney Williams ****

Loyalty is generally a force for good, as it was in La Résistance, in 1940-44 France; but it can be a force for discord, as it is in The Resistance, in 2016-17 United States. In 1940s France, loyalty kept spirits high and helped achieve liberation from Nazi occupiers and Vichy collaborators. Today’s partisan advocacy for The Resistance has as its goal the destruction of Mr. Trump’s Presidency. Advocacy, however, should not be confused with loyalty. The latter implies an allegiance, to a nation – we pledge allegiance to our flag – a group, an individual or an idea – our Constitution. On the other hand, one who advocates does so for myriad reasons, perhaps out of loyalty or a desire to help, or possibly for personal gain or even vengeance.

Most of us are loyal in more ways than one. Loyalty is ubiquitous, but oft-changing in terms of to whom or to what to be loyal. Regardless, Webster’s describes loyalty as “unswerving in allegiance.” A soldier is loyal to his comrades, promising to leave no man behind. General George Marshall once said, “I can’t expect loyalty from the army if I do not give it.” “For God, king and country,” is a toast given by loyal officers of the British Empire. Dogs have unconditional loyalty for their masters. School and college homecomings are attended by alums loyal to their alma maters. Loyalty is the faithful allegiance to a nation, leader, cause, group, family or person. It is what prompts donations to schools, colleges, museums, churches and symphony halls. It can be as harmless as rooting for one’s college football team, or as malignant as the loyalty demanded by despots like Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-un and Fidel Castro.

Literature abounds with examples of loyalty: Virgil’s Aeneas would not leave his father Anchises behind, when he and his son Ascanius left Troy. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were loyal to one another. Shakespeare wrote of Desdemona’s loyalty to Othello, a fidelity that killed her. In Anthony Trollope’s “Framley Parsonage,” it was Reverend Mark Robarts’ misplaced loyalty that got him in trouble, Huck Finn was loyal to Jim, which saved the latter from being re-sold into slavery. Bertie Wooster and Jeeves project a dependent and devoted loyalty between a bumbling master and an omniscient servant. E.B. White’s Charlotte, was loyal to the animals in Mr. Arable’s barn, especially to Wilbur.

“Loyalty” in the corporate sector has withered. (I put loyalty in quotes because it was largely dependent on material comforts, not the typical allegiance to family, friends and soldiers.) Nevertheless, it wasn’t uncommon for one hired in the 1950s and ‘60s to expect their first job would be their last. Unions prospered, and health care and defined-benefit pension plans gave security to employees. But, by the mid 1980s things began to change. Corporate raiders, in the form of “green-mailers,” saw bloated companies, inefficiently run, so ripe for picking. Taking large equity positions, they forced managements to take on debt to buy them out, or to pay special dividends. Consequences included: the abandonment of unions, a move away from defined-benefit to defined-contribution pension plans, and an increase in disruptive technologies. Today, government employees have that same sense of self-satisfaction that corporate employees did forty years earlier – well-paying jobs, generous benefits, job security. But, government inefficiencies, burgeoning deficits, and bloated balance sheets will bring a day of reckoning.

Loyalty to the nation had been questioned in the mid 1960s, when television brought the horrors of combat in Vietnam into living rooms. It became impossible to explain and justify long-term foreign policy goals to those watching sons, husbands and fathers being killed on camera. News, which in earlier wars had been censored or filtered, was given raw. Reporters became commentators. Many questioned whether war was ever worth the price paid. Those questions affected our concepts of patriotism and loyalty. Today, we cringe, as we should, when we read that President Trump demanded loyalty of those in his cabinet. But, we should remember that his request wasn’t novel, that most Presidents have asked for and received the same. Nevertheless, in free societies loyalty should be offered, not demanded.

Palestinian rejectionism means no deal by Richard Baehr

There is a long history of Israeli-Palestinian peace processing. Some things have ‎been largely the same in every cycle. Israel has at different times offered a little ‎more or a little less land for a Palestinian state. There have been minor shifts in ‎the Israeli offers made on Jerusalem, so as to accommodate a Palestinian desire for ‎a capital there. Israel has shown some flexibility in addressing the refugee issue ‎through family reunification in Israel in a limited number of cases, with the great ‎number having a new state as their home if they want it. At times American and ‎third party involvement in the negotiations was significant, and at other times, ‎largely absent.‎

The Palestinians have for the most part made the same demands year after year. ‎The borders are to reflect the 1949 armistice lines. The Palestinian capital will be ‎in east Jerusalem. The refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars and their ‎descendants shall have a right of return to Israel or to a new Palestinian state. ‎Jews now living within the new borders of a Palestinian state must leave or accept ‎the law of the new state. All Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails are to be ‎released. This is a formula guaranteed to produce a stalemate and a breakup in ‎talks.‎

Israel has demanded recognition that it is a Jewish state, and the Palestinians ‎have never accepted this formulation. After all, if a new Palestinian state were ‎created, but Israel was required to absorb millions of refugees, it would become far less of a Jewish state. The Palestinians, much ‎like Iran, do not accept the permanence of Israel. The creation of Israel has always ‎been considered a nakba, a disaster. While Iran has threatened missiles and ‎nuclear weapons to reach its desired outcome, the Palestinians seemed to rely on ‎demographic shifts and terrorism to eventually break down Israel’s will to resist. ‎The now much higher Israeli Jewish fertility rate (more than three children per woman of child bearing ‎age, about the same as for Israeli Arabs and West Bank Arabs), along with the ‎Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, have significantly extended the horizons for when ‎this supposed demographic advantage for the Palestinians in places where both ‎people reside would be realized.

A new round of peace processing is underway, this time the Donald Trump version, ‎spearheaded by Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner. The early signs are that ‎things have not changed among the two parties. Things may have changed, ‎however, on the American side. The Trump administration has been fighting the ‎lawfare, and propaganda efforts Palestinians and their allies routinely push at the ‎United Nations and other international organizations. Nikki Haley, the new ‎American ambassador to the United Nations, has been the most vocal challenging ‎the obsession at the U.N. with condemning Israel and its behavior. The administration in its meetings with Palestinian officials in Washington and ‎Ramallah have demanded an end to incitement against Israel and a ‎cutoff of Palestinian Authority payments to families of terrorists, many of whom have or had American blood on their hands. These ‎payments are a significant dollar amount when compared to total American aid to ‎the Palestinian Authority but are very popular among Palestinians, who see the ‎jailed Palestinians or those killed in terror attacks as noble resistance fighters and ‎heroe. A threat of an aid cutoff would likely result in a sham multistep process ‎to provide an appearance that the program has ended, when it will in fact continue ‎to fund the families. Already there are hints about the PA contributing to a social ‎welfare organization that, among other tasks, continues the payments to the same ‎families on the same schedule. ‎

Unveiling clock showing 8,411 days left for Israel, Iranians rage against Jewish state Parliament speaker calls Israel ‘mother of terrorism’ as Islamic Republic parades missiles, rallies in support of Palestinians and against raft of enemies

Marchers says destroying Israel is Muslim world’s top priority, but also denounce US, UK, Saudis.

TEHRAN — Iran held major anti-Israel rallies across the country Friday, with protesters chanting “Death to Israel” and declaring that destroying the Jewish state is “the Muslim world’s top priority.”

Iranians participating in Quds Day rallies also called for unity among pro-Palestinian groups against the “child-murdering” Israeli government, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

Marchers in Tehran headed from various points of the city to the Friday prayer ceremony at Tehran University. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities and towns in Iran.

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard used the demonstration in the capital’s Valiasr Square to showcase three surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, including the Zolfaghar — the type that Iran used this week to target the Islamic State group in Syria. The Guard said it fired six such missiles on Sunday at IS targets in the city of Deir el-Zour, more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) away. The Guard said the airstrike was in retaliation for an IS attack earlier in June on Iran’s parliament and a shrine in Tehran that killed 18 people and wounded more than 50.

Another missile on display at the Tehran rally was the Ghadr, with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) that can reach both Israel and US bases in the region.

Iran’s ballistic missile program has been the subject of persistent concern in Washington and the target of repeated US sanctions.

Iran claimed its missile strike on Sunday killed 360 Islamic State fighters. Israeli sources, by contrast, said the strike was a “flop,” that most of the six or seven missiles missed their targets, and that three of them fell to earth in Iraq and didn’t even reach Syria.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in remarks carried by the official IRNA news agency, said Israel supports “terrorists in the region.”

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani, in a speech to Tehran demonstrators, called Israel the “mother of terrorism” and said that in the “20th century, there was no event more ominous than establishing the Zionist regime.”

The rally also inaugurated a huge digital countdown display at Tehran Palestine Square, showing that Israel will allegedly cease to exist in 8,411 days.

In 2015, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei predicted that after 25 years — by 2040 — there will no longer be a State of Israel.

“Death to the House of Saud and Daesh,” demonstrators chanted, using another name for the Islamic State. “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”, “Death to the UK.”

This year’s commemoration comes amid an intensifying battle for influence in the region between Shiite Iran and its Sunni arch rival Saudi Arabia who have had no diplomatic relations since January last year.

State media put the number of participants at over 1 million.


Once again, it was a Ramadan to Remember!As religions go, Islam smoked the competition yet again. Innocent people were beheaded for not knowing the Quran… children
machine-gunned for being Christian… yet not a single attack (that we could find) in the name of another religion during the ‘holy’ month.

Against the 174 attacks, 1595 bodies, and 1960 injured in 29 countries across the globe, there was just two Muslims killed in anti-Muslim attacks – one by an intoxicated loner with mental
health issues in London, and the other in India (suspected).

Palestinians: Why Abbas Cannot Stop Funding Terrorists by Bassam Tawil

This is their way of expressing their gratitude to those who have chosen to “sacrifice” their lives by trying to murder Jews. It is also their way of encouraging young people to join the war of terrorism against Israel. The financial aid sends a specific message: Palestinians who are prepared to die in the service of murdering Jews need not worry about the welfare of their families.

The more years a Fatah terrorist serves in Israeli prison, the higher the salary he or she receives. Some Fatah terrorists held in Israeli prison are said to receive monthly stipends of up to $4,000. Many of them are also rewarded with top jobs in both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Why should any Palestinian go to university and search for a job when he can make a “decent living” murdering Jews?

Such a plan to dry up the funds that support terrorists and their families, is doomed from the start unless these leaders reverse their behavior and embark on a process of de-radicalizing their people.

For the record, this is not a defense of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas or of funding terrorists. It is simply an explanation of what is taking place. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the idea of ending payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families is a challenging one, to say the least. Old habits, especially of hate, are hard to break.

The practice of paying salaries to terrorists and the families of “martyrs” is as old as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was founded in 1964. It did not start after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994. Nor did this practice start after Abbas was elected as president of the PA in January 2005.

Prior to the establishment of the PA, the PLO relied solely on Arab and Islamic financial aid to pay salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of those killed in terror attacks against Israel.

But after most of the Arab countries turned their backs on the PLO, following its support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent establishment of the PA, the Europeans and Americans became the major donors to the Palestinians — including payments to the terrorists and their families.

The PLO is not the only organization that rewards terrorists and their families. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups have also been paying monthly stipends to terrorists and their kin. This is their way of expressing their gratitude to those who have chosen to “sacrifice” their lives by trying to murder Jews. It is also their way of encouraging young people to join the war of terrorism against Israel. The financial aid sends a specific message: Palestinians who are prepared to die in the service of murdering Jews need not worry about the welfare of their families.

In the past few decades, various Palestinian groups have used the payments to buy loyalty and recruit new members. Because Fatah — the dominant party of the PA — has always reaped the largest share of Arab, Islamic and Western donations, it was able to recruit the largest number of loyalists and members. Headed by Abbas, Fatah terrorists receive the highest salaries for their “contribution” to the Palestinian cause.

The more years a Fatah terrorist serves in Israeli prison, the higher the salary he or she receives. Some Fatah terrorists held in Israeli prison are said to receive monthly stipends of up to $4,000. Many of them are also rewarded with top jobs in both Fatah and the PA.

Take, for example, the case of Karim Younes, a Fatah terrorist who has been in prison for over three decades for kidnapping and murdering an Israeli soldier. Recently, Younes was appointed as member of the Fatah Central Committee, one of a number of key decision-making bodies dominated by Abbas loyalists. As a member of the Fatah Central Committee, Younes will now be entitled to thousands of dollars each month.

In his recent meeting with US presidential envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah, an enraged Mahmoud Abbas rejected their demand that he halt payments to terrorists and their families.

Some of Abbas’s aides have gone as far as describing the demand as “crazy,” arguing that it will instigate instability and turn many Palestinians against their leaders. One of Abbas’s advisors was quoted as accusing Kushner and Greenblatt of serving as “advisors” to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abbas is also well aware that his life would be in danger if he stops the payments, because he will be killed by the same terrorists he and other Palestinian leaders have been praising and promoting for many years.

Greece: A Drug-Smuggling Case with Global Implications by Maria Polizoidou

If even the partial information that Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis revealed during the interviews is true, the upper echelons of Greek society have good reason to want to silence him.

The true culprit, however, is the “deep state” and its links to Iran, through the drug trade. It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist and other questionable organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe.

The possible direct and indirect involvement of figures at the highest levels of Greek society makes it nearly impossible for the government alone to get to the bottom of the case, and protect key witnesses from bodily harm. It needs help now, preferably from the U.S. Justice Department and security agencies. The complete dismantling of the drug-terrorism circuit is not only a pressing issue for Greece. It is an international security imperative.

New details surrounding a three-year-old drug-smuggling case in Greece are causing a political storm that could have global implications.

In June 2014, the Greek Coast Guard uncovered and seized 986 kilograms of heroin stashed in a warehouse in a suburb of Athens, and another 1,133 kilograms in two other locations, claiming that the more than two tons of drugs — valued at $30 million — had been smuggled on a tanker, the “Noor 1,” from the “territorial waters between Oman and Pakistan.”

As was reported by Gatestone last December, the heroin, which was to be distributed throughout Europe — in addition to 18 tons of oil also smuggled on the Noor 1 — originated in Iran. Two years later, in August 2016, a criminal court in Piraeus sentenced five of the defendants, two Greeks and three foreign nationals, to life imprisonment. Among these was the (now former) owner of the Noor 1, Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis.

The Noor 1 case, and particularly Yiannousakis’s role in it, has hit the headlines again, due to a leaked recording of a telephone conversation he had with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. In the conversation, Kammenos allegedly asked Yiannousakis to turn state witness against a certain businessman connected to the heroin smuggling, in exchange for amnesty.

After coming under fire from members of the opposition, Kammenos claimed that it was Yiannousakis who had requested — through journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos — judicial protection in exchange for testimony. “As it was my duty to do, I immediately informed the prosecutor and the responsible minister,” Kammenos said.