Category Archives: Miscellaneous

It’s Time to Give Israel the Means to take out Iran Nukes

 

The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have engendered furious debate in Washington and in capitals across the world. But there are steps outside of the nuclear talks that President Obama can take to help ensure that the United States and its allies are stronger and more secure the day after a deal than they were the day before. \

One such step would be to provide Israel with GBU-57 30,000-pound bunker-buster bombs (known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrators, or MOPs) and the means to carry them, in a quantity sufficient to destroy Iran’s most deeply buried nuclear sites.

At present, Israel possesses US-supplied 5,000-pound bunker-buster bombs. But experts doubt these bombs could seriously impede Iran’s nuclear development. On the other hand, there is little doubt that MOPs, which Israel lacks, are capable of destroying Iran’s nuclear sites.

As Michael Makovsky and Lt. Gen. David Deptula noted in a 2014 Wall Street Journal op-ed, the Defense Department has MOPs to spare, aircraft in storage that could carry the MOP payload and legal authority to transfer such arms to the Israelis.

A longstanding component of America’s Iran policy has been a credible military threat to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. Many contend that the credibility of this threat has waned, and that Iran is now more assured than ever that it will not be attacked. Providing Israel with a stronger capability to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities would help deter Iran from ever trying to break any agreement it may sign.

Transferring MOPs to Israel would also help assuage the concerns of Congress and our Middle East allies, who are wary of the emerging deal. President Obama will need to take measures to strengthen the security of our allies and ensure Congress that he is negotiating from a position of strength. Transferring MOPs to Israel would help the president achieve these objectives.

Because the MOPs are outside the scope of the negotiations, Iran is in no position to object to transferring them to the Israelis. Iran continues to expand Hezbollah’s arsenal, placing all of Israel’s population centers within range of Hezbollah rockets. Iran supports the Assad regime in Syria and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It supports the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have violently overthrown a democratically elected government. It propagates violence and terrorism throughout the Middle East.

We are now in a period when more must be done for Israel to retain its Qualitative Military Edge (or “QME”), a legally binding American commitment to ensure that Israel can overcome any combination of credible conventional military threats against it. Last month, Russia lifted a ban on the sale of missiles to Iran and decided to deliver to Iran a sophisticated air-defense system. The United States needs to ensure that Israel’s conventional military capabilities become stronger relative to those of Iran, not weaker.

Additionally, the issue of QME relates to the American desire to boost the military capabilities of its Gulf allies; in order to do this while not violating QME law, the president may need to proportionally strengthen Israel. This in part explains why the administration recently announced that it would provide Israel with new F-35 fighter jets, and it further underscores the need for Israel to obtain MOPs.

Some may argue that regional instability and sensitive negotiations make this the wrong time to introduce new weapons into the Middle East. But those of us who trust in Israel and in the US-Israel alliance know that the MOPs would not create further instability. Israel already has significant offensive military capabilities, and it has always used them responsibly.

The transfer of MOPs would not by itself resolve the Iranian nuclear question. Nor would it lessen the need for any deal to ensure that Iran has no technical path to a nuclear weapon. But it would enable the United States to negotiate from a position of strength — and remain in a position of strength long after the negotiations.

It is one of several tools with which the president could pave the path to a strong, sustainable nuclear agreement with Iran, a more secure Israel and a more stable Middle East.

Reps. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Lee Zeldin (R-LI) are members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This article is reprinted with permission from the New York Post.

Al-Shabaab calls to save Burmese Muslims from ‘savage Buddhists’

Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali terror group, issues statement as Indonesia and Malaysia agree to ‘shelter’ stranded migrants for one year

Rohingya migrants sit in a boat as they’re towed closer to land by fishermen off the coast near the city of Geulumpang in Indonesia’s East Aceh district  Photo: Januar/AFP

Al-Shabaab jihadists have called on southeast Asia’s Muslims to come to the aid of Burmese migrants persecuted “at the hands of the savage Buddhists”.

In a rare statement on an issue outside of the Horn of Africa region, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali jihadist group told Muslims in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to “take the pivotal role in alleviating the suffering of the Muslims in Myanmar”.

“At the hands of the savage Buddhists, thousands of Muslims, including many women and children, have fled their homes and are desperately trying to reach the shores of safety, their only crime being their adherence to Islam,” the Islamist group said.

“Take matters into your own hands, help your Muslim brothers and know that this is a religious obligation upon you for which you will be held fully accountable in front of Allah on the day of judgement”.

“Welcome them, open your hearts to them before you open your homes and give shelter to the fleeing Muslims. Mobilise men, money and resources to defend the honour of the persecuted Muslims and repel the savage attacks of the polytheists.”

The statement came as Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to provide “temporary shelter” to thousands of migrants stranded at sea, on condition that the international community resettles them within a year.

As a further 400 starving migrants arrived in Indonesia after being rescued by local fishermen, the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia said they had reached the agreement, which marks the first step towards ending a regional crisis that has left the ocean scattered with overcrowded boats labelled “floating coffins”.

Anifah Aman, Malaysia’s foreign minister, said the two countries “agreed to provide them temporary shelter provided that the resettlement and repatriation process will be done in one year by the international community”.

Acehnese fishermen, right, tow a boat with Rohingya migrants off the coast of Geulumpang (AP)

“Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those 7,000 irregular migrants at sea,” he said.

For weeks, both countries – along with Thailand – have deployed their navies to tow boats back into each other’s territory in a practice denounced by the United Nations as “human ping-pong”.

Mr Anifah said Malaysia and Indonesia “invite other countries in the region to join in this endeavour”.

Speaking before the meeting, Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s foreign minister, said: “This irregular migration is not the problem of one or two nations. This is a regional problem which also happens in other places. This is also a global problem.”

Rescued migrants sit on an Acehnese fishing boat upon arrival in Simpang Tiga (AP)

Many of the migrants in southeast Asia are Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar and have been branded one of the world’s most persecuted peoples by the UN. Others are from Bangladesh and have sought to escape poverty.

The refusal to accept the migrants onto land has left thousands adrift for months with little or no supplies of food and water. On some boats, there have been deadly conflicts over dwindling supplies, including people being stabbed, hanged and thrown overboard during fights for food and water.

The latest batch of arrivals – about 426 – were taken ashore from their wooden boats by local fishermen in the Indonesian province of Aceh.

“They were suffering dehydration, they are weak and starving,” said Khairul Nove, head of the local Langsa Search and Rescue Agency.

One of the boats reportedly had 102 people, including 26 women and 31 children, and had been at sea for about four months.

“We ran out of food, we wanted to enter Malaysia but we were not allowed,” Ubaydul Haque, 30, a passenger, told Associated Press.

More than 3,000 migrants have swum to shore or been rescued by fishermen off Indonesia and Malaysia in the past week.

Al-Shabaab was responsible for spectacular and deadly attacks that hit football fans watching the 2010 World Cup final in a pub in Kampala, Uganda, when 74 died, and shoppers on a sunny 2013 Saturday morning in Nairobi, where 72 died at the Westgate Centre.

In April the group killed at least 147 people at Kenya’s Garissa University College.