Beyond the Cusp

February 21, 2017

The Sliding Scale of International Law

 

What is International Law? Well, that all depends on any number of varying particulars. The Geneva Conventions are considered by the average person as being universally applied International Law. That is not true. The Geneva Conventions only apply to the member nations. Any nation which has not signed onto the Geneva Conventions does not need abide by them. The Geneva Conventions are more of a gentleman’s agreement where thugs do not abide by them. We could call them the Marquis of Queensberry Rules for warfare. They apply to the nations who have agreed so as long as you are fighting another signatory it is as if you were fighting in the ring with rounds and a referee enforcing the rules. But if you are fighting a nation which has not signed the rules you are in an alley having a street fight where there are no rules. The problem is the nations who have signed the Geneva Conventions are required to fight by those rules no matter who the enemies are and whether they are signatories or not so the signatories fighting a war against another nation who is not a signatory is hamstrung while the other side can act however they please. This was evidenced in World War II as none of the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperialist Japan) were signatories and thus could treat prisoners of war as they desired including torture, summary executions, taking particular prisoners and treating them differently as the Nazis did with Polish and Russian prisoners and often with any British or American prisoners found to be Jews or considered troublesome such as those who had a habit of escaping and being recaptured. The movie The Great Escape was based on real events and mass escape during World War II where a large number of the men who were recaptured were simply machine gunned down in cold blood. The Japanese were equally brutal as the movie Bridge Over the River Kwai which was more loosely based on actual events and what was done to Alec Guinness’s character was just a simplified version of how the Japanese tortured prisoners but they were far more sadistic than any film could depict including beheadings and shooting squads as well as simple starvation and confinement in a metal box in the heat of the equatorial jungle. The United States and Britain were both signatories to the Geneva Conventions and as such had a code to follow in their treatment of prisoners. Many Japanese who knew how their side treated prisoners were told the Americans and British would be just as brutal which was part of why they refused to be taken and those who did fall prisoner were shocked when they were fed well and not subjected to torture. What are interesting are the claims by the Palestinians that they have rights under the Geneva Conventions as they are neither a nation nor a signatory thus the Geneva Conventions have absolutely no application nor grant them any rights whatsoever. That is just one modern example of attempting to use International Law for benefit under false pretenses.

 

Probably one of the most basic and often overlooked forms of International Law are treaties. Any treaties signed by two or more nations have the full weight of International Law. The missile and nuclear warhead treaties such as Salt and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty are forms of International Law and are enforceable with consequences for any violations, complete with rules for enforcement and other ramifications and schedules for execution. The treaties which ended the two great world wars are still applicable today though some of the treaties from World War II superseded those from World War I such as the border definitions for Germany and France and Germany and Poland. The treaties at the end of World War I has some of the deepest ramification of any set of treaties in history as it redefined the entirety of the Balkans and eastern Europe with the breakup of the Austria-Hungarian Empire and the delineating the borders of nations carved from all of the lands from the Ottoman Empire and also lands from the retreat of the Caliphate with the exception of the lands reclaimed by Spain, Portugal and, in a sense, France. The Allied Powers (France, Britain, Italy, Russia, Japan, Poland and the United States) met in a series of Conferences, Treaties and Mandates to setup new nations across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Many of these nations were setup with little consideration for stability, or directly to cause instability. This was called the Sykes-Picot Agreement after the two men, one the Foreign Secretary of Britain the other the Foreign Secretary of France. Another agreement came from the San Remo Conference which formalized the Balfour Declaration and set up the Mandate System and was further included in the Treaty of Sèvres as we have discussed numerous times here at BTC.

 

sykes-picot-map nation order

 

The United Nations through the Security Council can also make enforceable International Law through what are called Chapter Seven Resolutions. The serious nature of the consequences of such resolutions is partially why the five permanent members (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) have veto power as these would be the primary nations who would be required to enforce such a resolution. The United Nations Security Council also has Chapter Six Resolutions which carry slightly greater weight as any resolution out of the General Assembly but both are simply advisories. The major difference between these types of resolutions is if any single party to a General Assembly Resolution refuses to agree then all parties are released from the resolution and things continue as if that resolution had never been issued. These are different from resolutions which condemn a single nation which are largely statements of discontent or condemnation which in the General Assembly often are brought against Israel more than any other nation simply because the Arab and Muslim nations with their allied nations from the developing world, most belong to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) will pass any resolution brought before the General Assembly which targets Israel and similarly against the United States, an even somewhat rarer than those against Israel as too many nations receive largess from the United States and are intelligent enough not to push their luck while attacking Israel carries less risk.

 

That brings us back to the varying sliding scale of International Law and its application. When one looks into International Law and its applications in the past century there becomes one very clear problem, why is a nation the size of Israel been targeted with so many denunciations of being across the boundaries of International Law? Israel has been accused of genocide, collective punishment, targeting civilians intentionally, war crimes, crimes against humanity, occupation and just about anything you can think of, Israel has likely been accused of wrong-doing. What makes this all the more confusing is the guilt of some of the nations which have received exactly the opposite from Israel, aid in times of distress or natural catastrophe, yet virtually no censoring by the United Nations General Assembly for their transgressions. That list includes such nations as North Korea, Iran, Libya, Algeria, Cuba, China, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan and even Syria. Then there are those nations which are seldom censored which are as expected such as Canada, Italy, Poland, and other nations which are seldom in the news. The true test of whether or not a nation actually receives sanctions, which are presumably applied worldwide, or if nations are brought before the international courts system such as the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice or any special courts setup to judge genocides or other special situations, as such measures are a sign that there has been a unforgivable transgression of International Law or against humanity.

 

This is where the case we are most concerned with here at BTC, in case one had not noticed, Israel becomes interesting. There have been exceedingly few cases compared to the number of accusations spewed before the world media, which is more than accommodating when it comes to denouncing Israel, that have been brought before the world courts. The one case we can think of off the top was about the so-called Apartheid Wall, the anti-terror wall which Israel put in place to end the Second Intifada and especially to end the waves of suicide bombings. Before the wall, which is largely a barrier made up of fences and only used walls where sniper fire was a potential problem such as in cities, there were multiple suicide bombings weekly, or so it seemed much of the time, and after the construction of the wall that number dropped to zero. Terrorism also dropped off and the barrier brought an end to the Second Intifada in conjunction with an IDF operation in Judea and Samaria to clear out much of the terrorist infrastructure and restore an IDF presence which served to provide intelligence and as a preventive influence against further terror. The General Assembly voted at the urging of the Palestinian Authority observer to request from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) a ruling on the legality of the wall with the hope of gaining a ruling which would lead to its dismantling such that the terrorist operations would not be hindered by the barrier. The barrier was cleared but that was just the initial good news for Israel. In addition to being cleared of any wrongdoing, there was an advisory opinion issued as a cautionary warning by Egyptian Judge, Justice El Araby, from the ICJ and who sat in judgement as part of the panel which heard the case from the United Nations General Assembly in 2003 on the legality of the security barrier erected by Israel. The Honorable Justice El Araby warned the UNGA and others that filing further ran some risks, as he stated,

 

“The international legal status of the Palestinian Territory (paras. 70-71 of the Advisory Opinion), in my view, merits more comprehensive treatment. A historical survey is relevant to the question posed by the General Assembly, for it serves as the background to understanding the legal status of the Palestinian Territory on the one hand and underlines the special and continuing responsibility of the General Assembly on the other. This may appear as academic, without relevance to the present events. The present is however determined by the accumulation of past events and no reasonable and fair concern for the future can possibly disregard a firm grasp of past events. In particular, when on more than one occasion, the rule of law was consistently side-stepped. The point of departure, or one can say in legal jargon, the critical date, is the League of Nations Mandate which was entrusted to Great Britain.”

 

This has been one of the reasons that the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Arab World, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and others such as the European Union and many individual European and other nations or even individuals have never challenged the claim to all the lands west of the Jordan River as being meant for anything other than Israel, the Homelands for the Jewish People, they know what the actual treaties, conferences and agreements all state clearly, the land belongs to Israel and by agreement and International Law only the Jewish People have full political rights while the others who reside in the area must be guaranteed civil rights, property rights, equality under the law, religious rights but not political rights. The agreements simply state that only the Jewish People and those they willingly extend such rights may exercise political rights. Everybody is to be granted civil rights, religious rights, property rights, and equal treatment under the law. That is the International Law as delineated by numerous treaties, conferences, agreements and is exactly what Justice El Araby, the Egyptian Judge on the ICJ, was warning the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab World about, Israel holds all the cards and other than receiving written and signed treaty with Israel, there is no legal means that the Arabs can claim even a single inch of the lands west of the Jordan River. Should they challenge such claiming anything under International Law as backing their claims, including, may we add, United Nations Security Council Chapter Sic Resolution 2334 which President Obama presented as his parting gift to the Palestinian Arabs and Mahmoud Abbas along with Iran all hoping that would cripple Israel, they will lose because Israel has every right to the lands and the best the Arabs can hope to gain, something they already have, is to live in peace under Israeli rule.

 

They would be granted all rights with one glaring exception, the right to political power or even to vote as all political power was vested for the Jews and only the Jews and those they decide to grant such rights. Israel, counter to the claims of too many ignorant and deceiving people, has granted full political rights to those Arabs who remained within the areas she was capable of holding after the Arab assault of intended genocide against the Jews in 1948-9 when half a dozen Arab armies and numerous militias and other units attacked Israel the morning of her inception. All the remaining Arabs, the Muslims, the Christians, the Baha’I, the Buddhists, everybody residing within Israel legally once the fighting ended were granted full citizenship and full civil, religious, legal, and political rights. Jordan extended similar to the Arabs in Judea and Samaria which they renamed West Bank as Judea and Samaria sounded too Jewish, and Egypt controlled Gaza but never annexed it or gave the residents there any rights leaving them under military occupation. There was no outcry for Palestinian rights or for the founding of any Arab Palestine while Egypt and Jordan held the lands, only after the Six Day War in June of 1967 and Israel liberating these lands did the world become obsessed. After the Six Day War Jordan reneged on her offer of citizenship and even stripped citizenship from the Jordanians which had been forced or given land and moved into Judea and Samaria making them people without a country and this was the birth of the Palestinian demands for their own nation. The claim that Israel had invaded and stolen Arab Palestinian lands was born three years earlier in 1964 with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization except it was not Judea and Samaria that Israel had stolen but Israel herself was the lands claimed by Arafat. The PLO and their claims to Palestine was initially a direct challenge to Israel claiming that Israel was an illegitimate entity born atop of sacred Arab lands and that the Jews were to be exterminated if they refused to leave. After the Six Day War a readjustment was made and they now claimed all the lands west of the Jordan River, the twenty-two percent of the British Mandate which was not Jordan, this is what they claim must be given to them, not just Judea and Samaria and make no mistake. Their problem is simply, International Law actually backs the Jewish claim, it, for once, backs Israel. For once the rules actually are not stacked against Israel, though all the denunciations and referendums and resolutions and they amount to little more than noise because in the end there is only the written agreements of the nations of the world, and those all support Israel as the home for the Jewish People, just as an Egyptian Judge sitting on one of the highest courts in the world has admonished the Arabs to take note. Sometimes the noise is but an attempt to hide the truth, sometimes the truth wins out in the end. International Law, remarkable, isn’t it?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 18, 2017

Jews Stirring Anti-Semitism Protesting Trump

 

You open the newspaper, you turn on the evening news, you watch the Sunday talking heads and the story is the same, Jews on the front lines protesting against the elections of President Trump. They are there carrying the “Not My President” and the “Not Our President” signs, the front lines against the seven nation hold on refugees and immigrants until a proper vetting program can be initiated, and the lead in every protest on every campus and in every city. These are Open Orthodox, Conservatives, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews as well as the few Hassidic Jews who firmly believe that Israel should not have been founded until the Messiah has come and established it for the Jews. All of these Jews have one thing in common, they are in stark contrast to the vast majority of Israeli Jews and their fellow Jews in Israel stand confused and somewhat shocked. How do I know this? Because that is the number one question I hear every morning at services. My fellow congregants ask me to explain what these Jews are so upset over and why are they fighting against everything which Israelis believe has been the greatest thing to come along for Israel since Truman recognized Israel in 1948 and the military cooperation between our two nations over the past sixty plus years now, since the Six Day War woke Lyndon Banes Johnson to the fact that Israel just might serve as a good ally for the United States. Their confusion is palpable and can only leave me sad when I finally tell them the truths.

 

The reality is best made for them to visualize when I explain that the Conservative Synagogue my wife and I attended, for lack of an Orthodox one available where we resided in Oklahoma, was all but exactly identical in atmosphere and service style to the Reform Synagogue I had attended at times during my teen years. Even more troubling for them and my telling is that the number one question we received when congregants learned we were making Aliyah and moving to Israel was, “Why would you want to go there?” and “What is wrong with you?” and lastly a simple, “Why?” as if we would fully understand that last single word expression of disbelief. This was the standard set of queries with the exception of the few real friends we had made who were fellow conservatives politically. These friends had already requested we keep their political aligning with the Republicans to ourselves as everybody knew my wife and I were Republicans and very conservative politically as we broadcast it not being worried about making friends. What did turn out to be interesting was that after a while the very liberal Rabbi had to reconcile that he and I have some similar ideas on Torah and human rights, something he found astonishing. At least the Rabbi was happy about our moving to Israel hopefully because he at least also loved Israel and not because we were leaving, we believe it to be the former.

 

I explain to my Israeli friends that the vast majority of Jews have little if any affinity for Israel and simply wish Israel would give the Palestinians whatever it is that will make them happy, a state, whatever, just satisfy them at any cost so that Israel stops being an embarrassment for them. Their liberal, actually leftist in all too many cases, was far more important to them than was the survival of Israel or the lives of Israelis. They lost their affections for Israel decades ago once Israel pulled out their victory in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War after being caught completely off guard and flat-footed. The fact that Israel was able to repulse the attacks in that war gave the American Jewish community the feeling that Israel had become a superpower all but equal to the United States and impervious to Arab aggressions. Many younger American Jews even believe that Israel is probably four, five, six or even ten times its actual size as they believe it remains the size it had when it still held the Sinai Peninsula. These younger Jews are really geography-challenged and have little if any actual clue of reality and if they were to be told that Israel is barely the size of New Jersey they would be more likely to believe New Jersey had grown to the size of Texas than change their unfounded views about Israel. As far as many American Jews are concerned their leftist values are far more important than any Jewish homeland as for them America is the new Promised Land.

 

This article may receive a number of denunciations because these Jews are also very sensitive when called out as they are the good people and are always beyond reproach. Their beliefs are always above question and of the highest morality. Their belief is Judaism is all about what they call Tikkun Olam. This they define as repair the world through converting the world to their socialist perfect world where the government solves every problem. They do not see Tikkun Olam as the perfecting and improvement of the self in order to make the world better. They see themselves as already as near to perfect as is humanly possible and the real problem is making everybody else to be like them. If everybody would simply believe as they do, the world would become a perfect world. To them when they see Israel in the news it distresses them not because they feel for Israel but because the problems Israel has reflects on them making their lives difficult as they feel they are identified with guilt rubbing off from Israeli misdeeds. They perceive Israeli actions defending herself from terrorism to be unnecessary as if Israel would just bend to the Arab demands then there would be peace. Their desire is for all problems to go away the fastest and easiest means possible, and that to them most often is Israel compromising because their leftist newspapers and newscasts all blame Israel so it must be true.

 

They also see the government headed by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to be exactly as their news media portray it, an extreme right wing settler crazies who refuse to give the Palestinians their rightful homeland. They believe that Israel conquered Palestine in 1967 and some even believe that Israel was a European colonialist enterprise from before 1948 and that there are no non-European Jews in Israel. There is no way to convince them of the reality that approximately half of Israeli Jews are from Arab nations of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) as well as India, Ethiopia and other places where lost tribes of Jews have been rescued. They believe that Israel is an Apartheid nation which denies Arabs the right to vote, work in certain fields, and refuse to allow Arabs free access without facing checkpoints at every intersection, well, not every intersection but too many. They look at you like you are trying to tell them Martians live in Israel when you tell them the Arab Israelis have every right that the Jewish Israelis have and that Israel has one of the largest Baha’I populations in the world as well as Druze and Bedouins who also have full rights and vote in Israeli elections are doctors, nurses, teachers, and in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Speaking the truth to these Jews and expecting them to accept a single word is like speaking to a brick wall and expecting it to move out of your way. These Jews are more likely to believe the lies peddled by CAIR than they are to believe us when we visit from Israel with wonderful stories about how warm and wonderful life in Israel actually is and how we love living here, but they believed we were a bit odd to begin with.

 

The reality that Israelis need to learn to accept is that outside the true Orthodox Jewish communities, the Jews in America place the Democrat Party ahead of Israel in all things. The American Jews will accept that Keith Ellison is a perfect choice for the leadership of the Democrat Party and will see him as posing no threat to their existence. Should somebody point out that Keith Ellison supports Louis Farrakhan and his views that Jews are evil people who are barely human and deserve to be refused rights and that many of those who follow Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam actually desire to murder every Jew in America and some even the world they would call them a liar and demand their ostracization from membership in any social or political group potentially even the Synagogue except that would make them appear hateful. The fact that their beliefs about Israel easily make them appear to be hateful though they could not possibly be such as they are the perfect and beautiful people who are so full of love and compassion without a hateful bone in their bodies, ask them, they will gladly inform you and each will attest for the others. Theirs is a wonderfully close-knit community which supports all the correct causes and is by far the most acceptive people who support gay marriage, the entire LGBQT set of causes, the acceptance of refugees from Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan and everywhere else across the Islamic World as it is in turmoil and believe that people should have the right to use whichever bathroom suits their mood each day and that gender-free bathrooms are a necessity and President Obama was the most Constitutional and perfect President greater than Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson combined, especially those detestable slave owners Washington and Jefferson.

 

Inform them that Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran, Egypt and the remainder of the Arab world have not appropriated a single refugee while the few nations which have had their borders crossed by refugees have corralled these refugees into camps surrounded by razor wire and armed guards with the expectations that these refugees will either be returned to their nation of origin or allowed to emigrate to Europe or elsewhere in the developed world but never a single one allowed to be taken in by another Arab nation, this they would be aghast and in complete disbelief. They would essentially murder the messenger rather than check to authenticate the message because it transgresses their firm belief that the Islamic world is above reproach and the people who might support President Trump’s temporary, that is temporary, holding of refugees and immigrants from seven unstable and terror hotbed nations with failed governments until a method for proper vetting can be put in place are uneducated simpletons. Such news would upset their world and as such it must be false because they have such a great grasp of everything which is passing along the world each day that such news which goes so completely against their world view thus impossible. Still, why is it that none of the Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia have taken in even a single refugee from Syria and the other six nations which are on President Trump’s travel restrictions and the United States should simply open the doors wide with no restrictions? These are not the tired, the poor, the huddled masses but the victims of dysfunctional states which have been all but destroyed who may be infiltrated by unknown numbers of Islamic State terrorists, al-Qaeda terrorists, Muslim Brotherhood operatives, and unknown other terror suspects which vetting could detect. Perhaps Trump should make a deal that once the one hundred thousand airconditioned tents Saudi Arabia had set up in the dessert for the Haj and used them for Arab refugees then the United States will start taking the overflow afterwards (see image below). The American Jews probably find the news about all those tents with air conditioning which Saudi Arabia could use for refugees something they have been unaware existed, but that would not be any reason nor would the rejection of these same refugees by Saudi Arabia should not affect the United States policies on these same refugees. One must wonder why the Saudi Arabia Royal Family is so against taking in these refugees, so strange.

 

one hundred thousand airconditioned tents Saudi Arabia to accommodate pilgrims on Hajj each has kitchen bathroom fireproof and never intended for refugees

There exists one hundred thousand really large tents Saudi Arabia uses to accommodate pilgrims on Hajj and each has a kitchen, bathroom, fire wood stove, as well as an air-conditioner and they never were intended for refugees as they are far too nice, or at least that is the Saudi Royal Family’s view.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 17, 2017

Let’s Talk Middle East Conflict, Minus One Overly Blamed Nation

 

We are going to do something which the average person would believe impossible, discuss conflicts in the Middle East, which includes North Africa and the entirety that goes by the initials MENA, without mentioning Israel other than this once. Yes, that is not only possible but necessary such that people can learn how solving the Palestinian issue would not bring peace to one of the most troubled areas on the planet. There are a number of separate wars going on in Libya alone. In the capital city of Tripoli the government’s forces hold a little more than the offices of the Parliament, the President and the other government buildings and their residences, and only because they reside very close to this central area in Tripoli. There are usually a minimum of two rebel groups at any time fighting the government as well as one another. Often there are more than two as these clans believe that they should be the ones running the country and that Libya is their personal playground. These clans also fight against any terrorists who they believe are trying to take over their areas which they actually do control. The terrorists fight to retain their training grounds. Benghazi is also an open warfare zone with no real governance which controls the entire city but it is the second largest concentration of government military forces. As the government forces do control the port of Tripoli there does exist some trade which is mostly necessities as well as arms and ammunition to keep the government in control. Further, Benghazi, Tobruk, Surt and the other major ports are often changing hands as different groups will exert the necessary force to take the ports when they are expecting shipments from their arms merchants. As some European and many Middle East and Asian arms dealers are making a fair profit, the risks of doing business with the different clans and terror groups operating in Libya is worth the risks involved. Needless to say, the violence in Libya does not always stay in Libya; it often crosses borders into Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Niger and even the Sudan. One of the main arms providers is the Sudanese government and arms dealers taking side action arming the Sudanese neighboring nations including Libya but excluding South Sudan as this is not permitted by the Sudanese government.

 

There is a very good reason that the Sudanese government has made the providing of arms to South Sudan a capital offence, they are still fighting a war and committing a slow genocide against the Christians and Animists and act as if nobody in the world has recognized South Sudan as a separate nation. As long as the world, including those who have recognized South Sudan as a separate nation, do nothing of consequence to protest the nascent country from its far stronger and well-armed former rulers, the killing will continue. There have been some troops provided by the African Union. The United Nations also has sent troops to South Sudan. The problem is what is really necessary would be an entire army, which is not what has been sent. Back in 2013 the United States took what it claimed was measures to assure the genocide in South Sudan would be relieved by allocating one-hundred-fifty Marines and a few aircraft to the Horn of Africa from where they were to be capable of evacuating people under threat in South Sudan. As is said repeatedly in Bill Cosby’s routine on Noah, “Right!” Our new United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated this week that refugees were fleeing cities and towns and that “The security situation continues to deteriorate in parts of the country and the consequent impact of this ongoing conflict and violence, has reached catastrophic proportions for civilians,” A United Nations report stated, “The rise of militias under the loose command of the SPLA or rebel commanders is spreading the fragmentation and dislocation of its territories, which risk, if this trend continues, remaining out of any government control for years to come.” The United Nations further reports that the numbers of refugees currently seeking relief is beyond one and a half million.

 

Now we can slide over to Somalia which is only a real country on maps for lack of a better means of describing the area. Like Libya there is no actual ruling government but instead a series of gangs ruling their territories with iron fists and warring with each other trying to increase their domain. The people have to make sure they are aware of which gang is currently ruling their block of homes as that will also define where they are allowed to shop and who they may visit. Crossing from one region to the next carries varying degrees of danger. Some of the gangs along the shoreline engage in pirating for a living seeking pleasure yachts, merchant ships and even passing warships which are traveling without escort. These pirates have varying levels of gall living by the code “no guts, no glory.” They have attacked European, Asian, Australian, Canadian and American shipping and anybody else who comes within their range. Their method is to use a larger ship which remains out of sight but relatively close and smaller craft attack the target vessels and attempt to board and commandeer the ship then demanding ransom for the ship, crew and cargo. They check the cargo for anything they might desire or need to keep for themselves and will take any weapons they find an board the ships they take. There has been some degree of international efforts to bring this to an end but for the most part ships take their own risks coming out of the Red Sea after passing through the Suez Canal.

 

Of course that means they need to make their way through the Bab el-Mandeb Straights without being struck by Houthis shelling out of Yemen. The Houthi rebels in Yemen are Iranian backed and attempting to conquer all of Yemen to give Iran a base from which to attack Saudi Arabia from the south. This will come in very handy should Iran decide to attack Saudi Arabia from Iraq and the north mainly the northeast of Saudi Arabia which has the majority of Shiite Muslims as well as most of the oil fields. Additionally, Iran has made friends with Qatar and has made overtures claiming than Oman and Bahrain are actually breakaway Iranian provinces. Much like China keeps threatening that they will one day rejoin Taiwan to the mainland as it is simply a breakaway province, Iran makes the same claims on Oman and Bahrain. Bahrain has a Sunni monarch and a predominantly Shiite population. During the Arab Spring (boy was that a joke and a complete disaster from the word go thanks in part to President Obama who had a hand in these failed revolts with great assistance from Hillary Clinton and the European Union) the Shiites in Bahrain revolted and things appeared to be heading for real troubles, that was until Saudi Arabia used the multi-lane causeway highway to send troops to quell the revolt. The Shiites left their Mosques on Friday all revved up to overthrow the monarch when they found tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavily armed Saudi Arabian troops at both ends of the block so everybody calmed down and went home. Sure there were a few short outbursts of violence which were immediately quelled. The entire Arab Spring in Bahrain ended that Friday with barely a whimper. Similarly, the Shiites in the northeast of Saudi Arabia thought about staging an uprising but were quickly persuaded to remain calm. That thought of rising up was so short it did not even make a single news cycle.

 

Egypt is next on out little tour and is currently largely complacent. They had their Arab Spring and threw out military rule and President Mubarak and replaced him with the predicted Muslim Brotherhood candidate, President Morsi. President Morsi was advised by Turkish President Erdogan to take a slow and steady approach to Islamizing Egypt but paid that no heed. He took off on a radical program of change trying almost overnight to make Egypt a Muslim Brotherhood run totalitarian hellhole. This was met with a public already in revolt mode and they rose up again and demanded Morsi’s head. General of the Army Sisi took the hint and removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power and held new elections. Having the most recognized name in Egypt and having just saved the day, surprisingly Sisi who had stepped down from General of the Army ran and won the Presidency of Egypt. So Egypt is now safely back under military rule for intents and purposes and appears happy to be so. The one problem is the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Peninsula is filled with terrorists from al-Qaeda and Islamic State to Hamas and even Iranian backed groups. They attack Egyptian military outposts with varying degrees of success. They often attack the border outposts between Egypt and Gaza in order to allow the flow of terrorists, arms, and contraband into and out of Gaza where Hamas and Islamic Jihad share control. What is interesting about Gaza is that Islamic Jihad is supplied by Iran amongst others and Hamas is Muslim Brotherhood thus provisioned by them and also on occasion they are given rocket engine technologies and even rudimentary guidance systems from Iran as Iran will even arm Sunnis if they are attacking Iran’s favorite target. Egypt has yet to put down the menaces in the Sinai Peninsula and they have even been cleared to use whatever troops and equipment they need and they are apparently fighting a losing battle, or at least not completely reaching a totally peaceful situation. Perhaps they never should have accepted the Sinai Peninsula back when they made peace between President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin.

 

Turkey is also involved in a war which few appear to care to mention. They are claiming to fight against Bashir al-Assad in Syria as well as against Islamic State but somehow the majority of their efforts appear to be barely across the border. They seem preoccupied, or at least President Erdogan is preoccupied, with the Kurds. Turkey could actually make a great agreement and win an ally for life if they would simply allow the Kurds to form their own nation out of northeastern Syria, northern Iraq and at the worst a few tens or hundreds of square miles of southeastern Turkey where the population is majority Kurdish. The United States or other groups would probably handsomely reward Turkey for the lost lands, give a relocation allowance to any Turkish non-Kurdish citizens desiring to leave the Kurdish nation and return to Turkey and all could be settled. Even if Turkey refused to sacrifice a small portion of land, the Kurds in Turkey would likely relocate if they were granted recognition as a nation as was promised them by the British (we all know how good the British are on their promises when oil is involved). Turkey has been bombing and using ground assaults backed by heavy armor against the Kurds who have largely been fighting the Islamic State. Apparently Turkey would prefer the Islamic State on their border than the Kurds, there is no accounting for taste.

 

Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

 

Then there are the wars outside of Yemen and Gaza where Iran is a major player. We are referring to Iraq and Syria where Iran is attempting to rule Iraq through proxy and reestablish Bashir al-Assad as the ruler of Syria. Bashir al-Assad has lost almost the entirety of his nation to the Islamic State, a number of other rebels, a Kurdish section which is simply attempting to protect their own people as well as the Yazidi refugees they took in after rescuing them when the rest of the world twiddled their thumbs, President Obama leading the thumb twiddlers. Iran has a friend in Russia who are actually fighting simply to retain their Mediterranean Sea port privileges such that they retain a warm water port capable of allowing ships to enter the Atlantic Ocean year round without having to pass through the Dardanelles in Turkey, an iffy situation at times. That is why the majority of the Russian operations center around Latakia and the port facilities located in that Mediterranean coastal city. Latakia is also in the central region where the Alawite Tribe resides which also happens to be Bashir al-Assad’s allies and tribal alliance and they along with some of the Druze except they have largely withdrawn and are simply, as are the Kurds, defending their own people and lands from the Islamic State and any other threats. They are safe from the Russians, Iranians and Syrian Army and even most likely the Hezballah forces from Lebanon who are supporting Bashir al-Assad as if Syria was their own country and not Lebanon. Hezballah is there because Iran insisted they fight or else Iran would have cut them off and they would then be facing the rest of Lebanon ready to dispose of the Hezballah terrorists who have been ruling Lebanon through their military threat. The one benefit of Hezballah fighting in Syria and taking the casualties in numbers far higher than are admitted is they are unable to attack any others including but not limited to the Christians and other minorities in Lebanon.

 

Our final stop is at the Afghanistan and Pakistan end of MENA. We left out some of the nations at the far end of northern Africa where one of the major problems is Boko Haram who are bloodthirsty Islamist terrorists who often kidnap Christians and even other Muslims and sell them into slavery. They specialize in selling to the sex slave industry and thus most often target young women and boys. Their other main effort is to murder Christians and Animists, something which sounds familiar from the South Sudan. Boko Haram operated largely centered on northern and central Nigeria and the neighboring areas even south to Mali. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Pakistan consist of large areas which are considered tribal and the government rarely enters these zones as the tribes are well armed and do not recognize the governmental right to their areas. Too often these tribal areas will war with one another and then they make their money off of allowing terrorists to train and make a lucrative business from poppies. The heroin trade is something the government does not fight as they too benefit from the trafficking in illicit drugs. Until there is introduced another cash crop the farmers will grow and sell the easiest and most profitable crop they can raise, poppies. The flowers are almost as pretty as the profits. Needless to point out but where you have such profits there will always be violence as the tribes desire to expand their fields and taking the tribe next door’s fields is the quickest way to making more profit. Additionally, there is the constant state of conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, a nation which appears on older maps and had the distinction of having to be colored white because it had so many neighboring nations on its border that it needed it own color and white was the best one not in use anywhere else. That concludes our Middle East conflict roundup leaving one nation obviously ignored, imagine all this without mentioning the nation always considered the source of the Middle East conflict chart. Perhaps the rest of it is not so peaceful after all.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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