Israel’s ex-security chief held nothing back as he ripped on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Former Shin Bet chiefYuval Diskin made it known what was on his mind as he publicly denounced the prime and defense minister as inadequate leaders who are unfit to lead the country to a possible war with Iran.
Yuval retired as the chief of the internal intelligence agency Shin Bet last year and has worked closely with both the prime and defense minister. He also claims that Netanyahu is not being truthful with the Israeli people and is using misleading rhetoric and propaganda to get the public to support military action against Iran. He went on to say that most intelligence officials are in agreement that military force would actually push Iran towards nuclear ambitions.
“My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war,” he said.
“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings. Believe me, I have observed them from up close … They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off.
“They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”
Government officials have denounced Yuval’s comments and claimed they were motivated out of his own personal frustrations and not based on factual substance.
Yuval’s remarks also coincided with serving military chief Benny Gantz’s own controversial comments. Gantz caused a stir when he commented that the Iranian government was composed of “rational people” and that he did not believe it was in the process of acquiring nukes. The comment runs completely counter to the prime minister’s statements about Iran’s desire to wipe out Israel. Gantz, however, shrugged off suggestions of possible discord between military commanders and political leaders.
Netanyahu continues to insist that Iran is working towards nuclear capability. Barak was in agreement and added that international sanctions are an ineffective deterrent and will not prevent Iran from doing what it wants.
Yuval is not alone in his dismay over the prime and defense minister. He is supported by Meir Dagan, the former leader of the Mossad, who has said previously that plans to attack Iran is “stupid” and that Iran is capable of being rational.
EGAS released a statement that it will be terminating its contract with Ampal-American Israel Corporation, which is a partner in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG). EMG, in response, has expressed dismay at EGAS’s decision and is demanding that they withdraw their plans for termination. It also added that the decision could jeopardize the existing peace agreement with Israel.
The chief of the Egyptian Natural Gas Company, Mohamed Shoeb, maintained that the choice to sever the deal agreement was due to a business dispute and not a political one. He also added that part of the decision was due to Israel failing to pay for its gas in the last four months, a claim that Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed as false.
Yuval Steinitz, the finance minister, responded to EGAS’ decision, saying that the cancellation of the gas agreement can seriously hurt Egypt and Israel relations both politically and economically.
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz is also chiding in and calling for the U.S. to intervene in the matter. The U.S. was present when the Camp David Accords were signed.
Israel and Egypt made a pact in 2005 in which Egypt agreed to allocate seven billion cubic meters of its gas to Israel over the next 20 years. EMG obtains its gas through an Egyptian pipeline, which it then sells to Israeli customers. The pipeline, however, is in constant jeopardy as it is often targeted since the ouster of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. The pipeline is Israel’s main source of power, and the country has faced bouts of power outages due to shortages of energy. EMG has blamed this on the pipeline attacks and is now seeking compensation from Egypt for its failure to protect their investment.
A series of bombings erupted in Iraq over the weekend. Baghdad and its northern neighbor Kirkuk were the hardest hit and sustained the most casualties. The total number of fatalities tallied at over three dozen with more than 100 wounded.
Bombings occur in Iraq on a daily basis, though the number has diminished over the last few years. This attack, however, served as a hellish reminder that an active insurgency remains in the country and will probably not be dissipating anytime soon.
In the village of Al Malhaa, nine people were killed and 24 wounded when a series of explosions rocked the area. The village is located in Kirkuk and is largely divided between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens, all of whom are at odds with one another over conflicting interests.
In Baghdad, an assassination attempt was made on the minister of health, Majeed Hamad Amin after a bomb was set off in the direction of his convoy. Though he escaped uninjured, the blast claimed the lives of two pedestrians.
Despite the increased onslaught of recent attacks, statistics released by the United Nations reveal that violence has remained quite steady and that Iraqi security forces have done quite well on their own since the withdrawal of American troops.
The attacks are believed to be attributed in part to political unrest. The government is lead mostly by Shiite Muslims with a small Kurdish minority. Disputes escalated between the two groups when Kurdish authorities entered a business deal with Exxon Mobil, which the Baghdad government proclaimed is illegal. The government is now threatening to withhold a portion of budget that is owed to Kurdistan.
Without the presence of an American force, Iraq is left to deal with the unrelenting sectarian violence. It is up to the Iraqi government now to find compromise over the differences that have divided its people for so long. Further division created in the political aisle will only beget more violence.
There are sports fans, and there are sports fanatics. The latter are extremists who will resort to violence and chaos regardless of whether their team is victorious or defeated. It is both sad and pathetic that such people will create destruction and harm innocent lives all in the name of sports.
This was exactly what happened back in early February when 74 fans were killed when a riot ensued following a football match. Dozens of rioters were arrested and are now facing charges for their role in the rampage. The defendants remained defiant during their first court appearance as they chanted in unison to proclaim their innocence. Their protest was countered by the victims’ relatives who held up pictures of their loved ones. The individual charges were read out, which ranged from negligence of violence to murder.
The football match that took place in February was between two rival teams: al-Masry and al-Ahly. Following al-Masry’s victory, its fans stormed the field and began assaulting al-Ahly fans. In the aftermath of the bloody event, rumors surfaced of the police force not doing enough to quell the incident. This led to more violent clashes that resulted in 16 deaths. It was reported that security officials failed to check for knives and other melee weapons as fans gathered into the stadium.
Some Egyptians believe that the tragedy was orchestrated in advance and was a retaliatory attack after al-Ahly fans took part in a revolution last year that resulted in the ouster of politician and military commander Hosni Mubarak.
Whether there was an ulterior motive for the riot or the fans simply acted in the heat of the moment, it is certainly the worst display of human behavior. It is truly disturbing that some people will act out in the vilest way possible over the results of a sports game.
The Israeli military has announced that it has dismissed one of its senior officers after a video surfaced of the soldier striking at a protestor with his rifle. The decision made by Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz was motivated by what was deemed as “moral failure” by the officer.
/>The incident occurred in the Jordan Valley where several pro-Palestinian activists joined for a protest bicycle ride. The planned route was barricaded by Israeli soldiers who told the protestors to turn back. Some words were exchanged and one of the soldiers, identified as Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner, suddenly swung the stalk of his M-16 rifle into the face of a protestor.
The activist at the receiving end of Lt Col Eisner’s rifle was identified as a Danish national who was treated and released from a hospital with minor injuries. The video did not show signs of Lt Col Eisner being provoked in any way, and the Israeli military has announced his suspension while an investigation is being conducted.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned Lt Col Eisner’s actions and stressed that it was an isolated incident and not a reflection of the core values of the Israeli Defense Force.
This is just one of two incidents that drew the ire of pro-Palestinian activists. The event followed a separate situation in which 79 protestors were barred from being admitted on board to a flight headed to Israel. The activists intended to fly to the country for a week-long seminar called “Welcome to Palestine 2012.” Similar seminars have been held in the past that addressed the control of Palestinian borders by Israel.
Soldiers were deployed at Ben Guiron airport to quell protestors from becoming unruly amid the news that they would not be permitted to board the flight headed for Tel Aviv. In addition, Israel also sent a manifest of names to European airports and requested for them to revoke the tickets of those on the list.
Ntenyahu condemned the activists for its outcry over Palestinian treatment by Israel, yet ignoring the human rights abuse taking place in Syria.
In a continued effort by the U.S. and the United Nations to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability, a meeting was scheduled in Istanbul where negotiations resumed. Intelligence officials have been working hard to determine Iran’s true intentions with its uranium development program.
Netanyahu’s response to the conference: “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “It has got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.”
One prominent Iranian figure has drawn the attention of the C.I.A. It has been long known that Ali Khamenei, the Ayatollah and Iran’s supreme leader, is the one influencing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decisions. The C.I.A has been paying close attention to what this man has been saying and dissecting every word.
Khamenei is somewhat of a mystery; the words that come out of his mouth seem to contradict Iran’s recent actions. He has stated that Iran has no plans for acquiring nuclear arms as it is considered a sin from a religious standpoint.
It is really hard to know whether Khamenei’s statement holds any credibility. Prior to his comments against the acquirement of nukes, he had chastised Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya for his decision to abandon his country’s nuclear weapons program. He then went on to say that Iran is headed in the same direction if they cave in to Western demands.
Intelligence has another reason to doubt Khamenei’s words. The Shiites community has been the minority in the Muslim community for hundreds of years. During their oppression, a concept known as taqiya was implemented. It was a practice where deception was commonly used to conceal their sectarian identity. Lying became common place in order for the Shiites to protect their own community.
The rank of Ayatollah gives Khamenei the final authority in interpreting Islamic law and policy. His role within the Iranian government is considered pivotal. Whatever he says must not be taken lightly and every attempt must be made to determine the true meaning behind his words.
In March of 2011, Bajadi was detained in the Qassim province following a protest over the detention of civilians accused of militant activity. Bajadi was charged with organizing the demonstration, supporting protests for pro-democracy and possession of illegal books.
According to members of ACPRA, Bajadi has gone on a hunger strike and is in deteriorating health as a result of refusing food and water. However, Mansour al-Turki, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, counteracted the statement and insisted that Bajadi is in fine health.
Over the weekend, ACPRA went public with a letter written by Bajadi that was smuggled out of prison by a visitor who was seeing another inmate. In the letter, Bajadi says that he is moving forward with his hunger strike. He also purported that he was force fed at a prison hospital.
Bajadi’s supporters have been barred from visiting him. They continue to report on his health and announced that his sugar levels have dropped to dangerous levels. The interior ministry, however, continues to refute these claims and insists that Bajadi has been consuming his meals.
While Saudi Arabia has largely escaped the conflicts that are occurring throughout most of the Arab regions, the country has been consistently slammed for human rights violations. It holds a notorious reputation for adopting a zero tolerance attitude towards political dissenters. A report estimates that there are currently 30,000 political prisoners being held without being formally charged. Saudi officials have refuted the estimate and deny that there are such inmates in detention.
“The Israel Police Implemented security measures today at Israels international airport in order to prevent any disruptions and and disturbances. 78 activists were denied entry into Israel. 18 flew back to the countries they came from and others will fly back within 24 hours. 9 Israelis were detained for causing public disturbances at the Arrival Terminal and where questioned by Police. “
Overall it went by pretty quietly and doesn’t seem to be a real success. That mostly depends on your political position though…for or against….