Trump team softens war talk, vows other pressure on N. Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration told lawmakers Wednesday it will apply economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, as an extraordinary White House briefing served to tamp down talk of military action against an unpredictable and increasingly dangerous US adversary.

President Donald Trump welcomed Republican and Democratic senators before his secretary of state, defense secretary, top general and national intelligence director conducted a classified briefing. The same team also met with House members in the Capitol to outline the North’s escalating nuclear capabilities and US response options to what they called an “urgent national security threat.”

After weeks of unusually blunt military threats, the joint statement by the agency chiefs said Trump’s approach “aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners.” It made no specific mention of military options, though it said the US would defend itself and friends.

The unprecedented meeting in a building adjacent to the White House reflected the increased American alarm over North Korea’s progress in developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the US mainland. A flurry of military activity, by North Korea and the US and its partners on and around the divided Korean Peninsula, has added to the world’s sense of alert.

While tensions have increased since Trump took office, they’ve escalated dramatically in recent weeks as American and other intelligence agencies suggested the North was readying for a possible nuclear test. Although such an explosion hasn’t yet occurred, Trump has sent high-powered US military vessels and an aircraft carrier to the region in a show of force, while the North conducted large-scale, live-fire artillery drills, witnessed by national leader Kim Jong Un, earlier this week.

US Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris Jr. testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on North Korea on April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

On Wednesday, South Korea started installing key parts of a contentious US missile defense system that also has sparked Chinese and Russian concerns.

America’s Pacific forces commander, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., told Congress on Wednesday the system would be operational within days. He said any North Korean missile fired at US forces would be destroyed.

“If it flies, it will die,” Harris said.

The Trump administration has said all options, including a military strike, are on the table. But the administration’s statement after briefing senators — all 100 members were invited — outlined a similar approach to the Obama administration’s focus on pressuring Pyongyang to return to long-stalled denuclearization talks. Trump’s top national security advisers said they were “open to negotiations” with the North, though they gave no indication of when or under what circumstances.

The strategy hinges greatly on the cooperation of China, North Korea’s main trading partner.

“China is the key to this,” said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who got a preview of Trump’s message at a dinner with the president this week.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California agreed. “I think the best approach for the administration is to bring the maximum pressure to bear diplomatically on China, as well as North Korea, but otherwise to walk softly and carry a big stick,” he told reporters after attending the Capitol Hill briefing Wednesday.

A US military vehicle moves past banners opposing a plan to deploy an advanced US missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, as South Korean police officers stand guard in Seongju, South Korea, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Kim Jun-hum/Yonhap via AP)

Among the options are returning North Korea to the US state sponsor of terrorism blacklist, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week was under consideration. His spokesman, Mark Toner, said Wednesday that another tactic is getting nations around the world to close down North Korean embassies and consulates, or suspending them from international organizations.

But sanctions will be the greatest tool at the Trump administration’s disposal. Tillerson is chairing a UN Security Council meeting Friday designed to get nations to enforce existing penalties on North Korea and weigh new ones.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Harris said he expects North Korea to soon be able to develop a long-range missile capable of striking the United States, as Kim has promised. “One of these days soon, he will succeed,” Harris said.

North Korea’s UN mission said Wednesday the nation would react to “a total war” with Washington by using nuclear weapons. It vowed victory in a “death-defying struggle against the US imperialists.”

Korean People's Army (KPA) tanks are displayed during a military parade marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017. (AFP/Ed Jones)

Trump, like presidents before him, faces difficult options. Sanctions haven’t forced Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear efforts, but a targeted US attack to take out its weapons program risks a wider war along a heavily militarized border near where tens of millions of South Koreans live. The threat would extend to nearby Japan, another country North Korea regularly threatens.

China has urged restraint by both Pyongyang and Washington. In Berlin Wednesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said North Korea must suspend its nuclear activities, but “on the other side, the large-scale military maneuvers in Korean waters should be halted.” That was a reference to US and South Korean war games.

China opposes the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, being installed in South Korea, rejecting American assurances that it will only target North Korean missiles. Russia also sees the system’s powerful radars as a security threat.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said THAAD would upset the region’s “strategic balance.” China will take “necessary measures to defend our own interests,” he promised.

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US ‘deeply concerned’ after Turkey bombs allies in Iraq and Syria

Washington (CNN)  US officials said they were “deeply concerned” after Turkey carried out a series of airstrikes Tuesday against US allies fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

A senior US defense official told CNN that the US was given about one hour’s advance notice of the strikes by the Turkish military. The official added that no US or coalition advisers were in the vicinity.
Turkish warplanes struck targets in northern Syria and the area of Sinjar in northern Iraq. The Turkish armed forces issued a statement saying it had “neutralized” 70 PKK “terrorist” fighters — 40 in northern Iraq and 30 others in northeastern Syria.
The Turkish government has been conducting a decades-long fight against the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group that has carried out terrorist attacks in Turkey.
But Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces, America’s primary Syrian ally in the fight against ISIS, and the Iraq-based Kurdish Peshmerga both said that they suffered casualties as well as a result of the airstrikes.
“We are very concerned, deeply concerned, that Turkey conducted airstrikes earlier today in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq without proper coordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat ISIS,” acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday.
“We have expressed those concerns to the government of Turkey directly,” Toner added.
Satellite images give rare glimpse into Syria

Satellite images give rare glimpse into Syria 02:09
The Pentagon also released a statement on its concerns about the strikes.
“These ‎airstrikes were not approved by the Counter-ISIS Coalition and led to the unfortunate loss of life of our partner forces in the fight against ISIS, including the Kurdish Peshmerga,” Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said.
A statement issued by the Peshmerga, the military arm of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, said that five of its fighters were killed in the air raid and another nine wounded. The KRG blamed the nearby presence of PKK fighters for the casualties. The government of Iraq also protested the unilateral airstrikes by Turkey.
“Given the extraordinarily complex battle space in these areas, it is vital that Turkey and all partners in the defeat-ISIS effort coordinate their actions closely as we work together to maintain maximum pressure on ISIS and ensure the safety of all Coalition personnel in theater,” Rankine-Galloway said.
Turkey has long been opposed to the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the US.
Erdogan denies dictator charges

Erdogan denies dictator charges 01:42
Ankara sees the PKK and the Kurdish forces in the Syrian Democratic Forces — known as the YPG — as closely linked, while the US views them as distinct organizations. The US sees the SDF as the most effective force fighting ISIS in Syria supporting its push on the city of Raqqa, ISIS’ self-declared capital.
“We recognize the threat the PKK poses to Turkey, but Turkey cannot pursue that fight at the expense of our common fight against terrorists that threaten us all,” Rankine-Galloway said.
While Turkey has struck PKK targets in Iraq in the past, Turkey’s latest military action comes days after President Donald Trump called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him after he prevailed in a closely contested referendum that granted his presidency additional powers. Trump’s congratulatory call stood out among Western leaders, many of whom struck a less laudatory tone over the controversial vote.
In the wake of his referendum victory, some US officials had hoped that Erdogan would be more flexible in cooperating with — or at least tolerating — US efforts aimed at backing the SDF offensive on Raqqa.

ANALYSIS: WHY IS TURKEY BOMBING YAZIDIS IN IRAQ?

 

On Tuesday morning Turkish air strikes targeted Kurdish forces on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq.

According to initial reports, the Turkish Air Force struck at bases used by the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and its ally, the Yazidi Shingal Protection Units.

 

However, the attack also killed five Kurdish Peshmerga – the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government – and injured nine others The PKK’s presence in Sinjar threatens to undermine the regional government from its perspective, and specifically from that of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP .

In a paper published on April 12 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Fabrice Balanche argued that Sinjar could be a strategic necessity for the Kurdish Rojava region of Syria as a corridor for trade to Iraq and Iran. The argument is part of a larger narrative that sees Iranian designs on Sinjar as part of its “Shia crescent” linking Tehran with Syria. In this sense, Turkey’s bombing could be part of a large regional contest for Sinjar.

The reality on the ground is more tragic, with thousands of Yazidi refugees on Sinjar Mountain still taking shelter, since some 5,000 Yazidis were murdered by Islamic State in 2014, and hundreds of thousands wish to return home to Sinjar. But they want infrastructure and security.

The Turkish intervention adds to the tensions and makes return difficult.

Turkey is also sending a deeper message to the US in Syria. While the US may conquer Raqqa with the SDF, the Turkey wants to show that they will act with impunity against the PKK or YPG in Syria or Iraq, overflying US forces to do so if needed.

The Turkish intervention in Sinjar has been six months in the making.

In October 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Sinjar will “not be a new Qandil.”

Qandil is a mountaineous area of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq where the PKK has camps and where Turkey carried out air strikes as part of its war with the PKK. Turkey has maintained small military bases in northern Iraq since the 1990s and uses them to carry out raids against the PKK.

To understand what is happening in northern Iraq we need to keep in mind several things. Turkey rekindled its war with the PKK in 2015, which has led to city-wide curfews in Kurdish towns and an estimated 2,400 deaths, including hundreds members of the Turkish military and more than 1,000 PKK members who are viewed by Turkey as terrorists.

The PKK have been fighting Turkey for decades and have set up bases across the border in northern Iraq.

The leading Kurdish party in the KRG, the KDP, loathes the PKK, which it fought a war in the 1990s.

The KRG’s economy is heavily linked to Turkey and the KDP enjoys relatively warm relations with Turkey.

When KRG President Massoud Barzani visited Turkey in February, the Turks placed the Kurdish flag at the meeting. This was a signal to Baghdad that Turkey supports the Kurdish autonomous region. The Kurdish region is seeking independence via a referendum this year and it needs international support, as does its powerful neighbor to the north. During the war with ISIS, Turkey established a military base alongside Peshmerga forces at Bashiqa, because Ankara wants to protect Sunnis and Turkmen in northern Iraq and it was working with the KRG.

When ISIS invaded northern Iraq, one of its most heinous acts was the attack on Sinjar in August 2014, in which it massacred members of the Yazidi minority and enslaved thousands of Yazidi women. Survivors fled to the mountain. During the fighting many Yazidis were saved when the PKK and members of the YPG intervened from Syria and opened a corridor to Sinjar, preventing ISIS from killing more people.

This created a situation in which the PKK and the YBS Yazidi militia held parts of western Sinjar and some areas along the Syrian border, while the KRG’s Peshmerga counter-attacked from the east.

When ISIS was forced out of most of Sinjar in December 2015, the divisions remained. Each side recruited local Yazidis into military units. By March of 2017, many Yazidis had joined the Peshmerga, but there were also clashes between the Peshmerga and the YBS and PKK.

The Peshmerga in Sinjar are partly made up of Syrian Kurds, which makes for a strange mix, because the PKK in Sinjar often receive their supplies and support often via Syria, where they enjoy warm relations with the YPG. In this conflict, borders between Syria, Iraq and Turkey are sometimes blurred.

The larger context is that the US-led coalition is supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces to take Raqqa from ISIS in Syria, which could be frustrated by greater Turkish intervention in Iraq and Syria.

The SDF are affiliated with the YPG.

Turkey also launched air strikes against YPG bases in Derik in Syria on Tuesday.

From a regional view, these are all the same conflict. Turkey sees itself as fighting the PKK in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. For Turkey, the YPG, SDF and YBS are all part of the larger PKK umbrella.

In a region of incredible instability, with the remnants of ISIS being slowly defeated and numerous players seeking a role in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, the Sinjar air strikes add to a combustible mix.

US begins setting up missile defense in S. Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In a defiant bit of timing, South Korea announced Wednesday that key parts of a contentious US missile defense system had been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power.

The South’s trumpeting of progress on setting up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, comes as high-powered US military assets converge on the Korean Peninsula and as a combative North Korea signals possible nuclear and missile testing.

North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its million-person strong Korean People’s Army. On the same day, a US guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea, and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is headed toward the peninsula for a joint exercise with South Korea.

The moves to set up THAAD within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China, the country that the Trump administration hopes to work with to rid the North of nuclear weapons. China, which has grown increasingly frustrated with its ally Pyongyang, and Russia see the system’s powerful radars as a security threat.

South Korea said in a statement Wednesday that unspecified parts of THAAD were installed. The statement said that Seoul and Washington have been pushing to get THAAD quickly working to cope with North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile threats. According to the Yonhap news agency, the parts include two or three launchers, intercept missiles and at least one radar.

In this photo provided by the South Korean Defense Ministry, a South Korean navy sailor watches the destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer during joint exercises between the United States and South Korea in South Korea's West Sea Tuesday, April 25, 2017. (South Korean Defense Ministry via AP)

About 8,000 police officers were mobilized and the main road leading up to the site in the southeast was blocked earlier Wednesday, Yonhap reported. About 200 residents and protesters rallied in front of a local community center, some hurling plastic water bottles.

On Tuesday, North Korea conducted live-fire drills near the east coast city of Wonsan that involved 300 to 400 artillery pieces, Yonhap reported. An official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry couldn’t confirm those specific details.

North Korea’s official media said early Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un personally observed the exercises. The drills reportedly included submarine torpedo attacks on mock enemy warships “while fighters and bombers made zero feet flight above the sea to drop bombs on the targets,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

US President Donald Trump has sent more US military assets to the region in a show of force while leaning on China to exert economic pressure on its wayward ally. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke to Trump on Monday, is urging restraint from both Pyongyang and Washington.

In Washington, top Trump administration officials are due to brief the entire US Senate on Wednesday. A rapid tempo of North Korean weapons testing in the past year has pushed Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian nation closer to developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the US mainland.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced confidence that Trump won’t allow North Korea to reach that point. Graham, a defense hawk who dined with Trump on Monday night, said the North should not underestimate the president’s resolve.

In this April 23, 2017 photo released by the US Navy, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the Philippine Sea while conducting a bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers/US Navy via AP)

The USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived Tuesday at the South Korean port of Busan for what was described as a routine visit to rest crew and load supplies. The US 7th Fleet said two American destroyers were conducting simultaneous maritime exercises with naval ships from South Korea and Japan.

North Korea routinely accuses the United States of readying for an invasion, and threatens pre-emptive strikes to stop it. An unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said the US administration’s policy to maximize pressure on North Korea was “little short of lighting the fuse of total war,” the state news agency reported Tuesday.

The streets of Pyongyang, however, were quiet for Tuesday’s anniversary, which was overshadowed by April 15 celebrations for the birthday of the nation’s late founder Kim Il Sung, and were marked by a missile test the following day.

The Trump administration is also upping the ante diplomatically.

On Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a special meeting of the UN Security Council.

Tillerson will be “very vocal” about nations enforcing sanctions on North Korea, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. Trump said Monday the council must be prepared to impose stronger sanctions.

US Nuke Sub to Dock in Korean Port

As tensions on the Korean peninsula have increased over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile tests, the United States recently made a massive power move by sending a nuclear-powered submarine into the region.

The USS Michigan, which was built to carry and launch ballistic and Tomahawk cruise missiles, pulled into the South Korean port of Busan early Tuesday morning for what was officially called a routine hull check, according to CNN.

Unofficially, however, the submarine’s presence has been hailed a show of force meant to send a strong message to Pyongyang on the same day North Korea celebrated the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

U.S. Naval Forces in Korea publicly said the port call was “routine,” but officials quietly told CNN that the timing was not a coincidence, as an aircraft carrier strike group also made its way into the region on April 24.

The carrier group was in the Philippine Sea in waters south of Japan, conducting joint exercises with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, according to The U.K. Telegraph.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s navy has been conducting exercises with U.S. destroyers in waters west of the Korean peninsula, and they planned to soon join the carrier strike group approaching the region.

President Donald Trump described the force as an “armada” in early April when speaking with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo about the situation with North Korea.

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump said at the time. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

The USS Michigan was one of four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines, originally designed to launch nuclear missiles, that were converted between 2003 and 2007 to be able to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to Fox News.

Together, the four submarines represented “more than half of the Submarine Force’s vertical launch payload capacity,” the U.S. Navy reported, explaining that each sub was capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. Additionally, the converted submarines can carry and deploy as many as 66 special operations personnel.

While the USS Michigan was not expected to take part in the joint exercises, its presence in the region was certainly a powerful message to Kim Jong Un and the North Koreans who have been suspected of preparing an impending nuclear missile launch.

Ex-defense minister says IS ‘apologized’ to Israel for November clash

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Saturday said the Islamic State terrorist group in the Syrian Golan Heights “apologized” for attacking an Israeli unit.

“There was one case recently where Daesh opened fire and apologized,” Ya’alon said, using the terror group’s Arabic nickname.

This was an apparent reference to a clash that took place near the Syrian border last November, in which IDF troops exchanged fire with members of the Islamic State affiliate. After a brief gun battle, the Israeli military attacked the terrorist group with airstrikes and tank fire, killing four of them.

Israel and much of the Western world considers the Islamic State affiliate in the Syrian Golan Heights, known as the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, to be a terrorist group. Communication with them is technically illegal under Israeli law, constituting contact with an enemy agent.

Ya’alon was speaking at an event in the northern city of Afula. He was interviewed on stage by Eli Levi, a Channel 10 news correspondent.

Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks at a cultural event in Afula on April 24, 2017. (Screen capture: Channel 10)

His comment about the Islamic State’s apology was made as part of a broader point about Israel’s policy for Syria, which is largely non-interventionist.

Ya’alon was explaining that Israel carries out strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation when spillover fire hits the Israeli Golan Heights.

Ya’alon’s officer refused to elaborate on how exactly the Islamic State expressed its apology to Israel after the attack. The IDF also declined to comment.

Syrian officials have accused Israel of directly aiding the Islamic State and other rebel groups, a claim Jerusalem vociferously denies.

Trump says it’s ‘possible’ US will quit Iran deal

 

In comments published Sunday, US President Donald Trump said it was “possible” that the United States would not remain in the Iran nuclear deal.

“I believe they have broken the spirit of the agreement,” Trump told The Associated Press. “There is a spirit to agreements, and they have broken it.”

Asked by the AP whether that meant the United States would stick with the 2015 deal, which swapped sanctions relief for a rollback in Iran’s nuclear program, Trump said, “It’s possible that we won’t.”

Trump’s administration in recent weeks has delivered mixed messages about the agreement, which he reviled during his campaign as the “worst” he had ever encountered but never fully pledged to kill.

Trump had said Thursday that Iran was failing to fulfill the “spirit” of its nuclear deal with world powers.

As he often had during the president campaign, Trump ripped into the deal struck by Iran, the US and other world powers in 2015 and said “it shouldn’t have been signed.” Yet he pointedly stopped short of telegraphing whether or not the US would stay in.

“They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that,” Trump said of the Iranians, though he did not mention any specific violations. Earlier last week, the administration certified to Congress than Iran was complying — at least technically — with the terms of the deal, clearing the way for Iran to continue enjoying sanctions relief in the near term.

Critics of the deal say the sanctions relief allows Iran to spend toward backing terrorism and promoting instability in the region. Trump also is unhappy that Iran continues to test ballistic missiles, which is barred by UN Security Council resolutions but is not under the terms of the nuclear pact.

Trump and his top officials have been walking a narrow line as they seek to show an aggressive stance. While disparaging the nuclear deal and accusing Iran of fomenting violence and terrorism throughout the Middle East, Trump has avoided committing to abandoning the agreement, a move that would be staunchly opposed by US businesses and European allies.

Under the deal, brokered during the Obama administration, Iran agreed to roll back key aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from certain economic sanctions. Critics have said it’s unfathomable that the US would grant sanctions relief to Tehran even as it continues testing ballistic missiles, violating human rights and supporting extremist groups elsewhere in the Middle East.

By design, the nuclear deal does not address those Western grievances, meaning Tehran can be in compliance even as it violates UN resolutions and remains a US-designated state sponsor of terrorism. The US has continued to punish Tehran for those activities with non-nuclear sanctions that also fall outside the purview of the deal.

Trump hasn’t given a timeline for when his administration’s review of Iran policy — including whether to stick with the deal — will be complete. But the US must decide next month whether to renew a waiver so that Iran can continue receiving sanctions relief.

On Sunday Trump delivered a speech to the World Jewish Congress, telling delegates gathered for the organization’s plenary assembly in New York that anti-Semitism and prejudice should be fought wherever it is found and that threats by a “regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction” should never be ignored.

“We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of,” he said in reference to the Iranian regime, without naming it.

Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has long-held that Iran and its nuclear program poses a threat to its existence. In a speech earlier this year on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu said that Iran poses the “greatest danger” to Israel and predicted that the world’s silence in the face of the Islamic Republic’s threats to annihilate the Jewish state will end with Trump in office.

Netanyahu: Allies could have saved 4 million Jews if they’d bombed death camps in 1942 (LOL…..)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-allies-could-have-saved-4-million-jews-if-theyd-bombed-death-camps-in-1942/

 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday launched a blistering assault on Allied policy during World War II, saying world powers’ failure to bomb the Nazi concentration camps from 1942 cost the lives of four million Jews and millions of others.

Citing recently released UN documents that show the Allies were aware of the scale of the Holocaust in 1942, some two years earlier than previously assumed, Netanyahu said in a speech marking Holocaust Remembrance Day that this new research assumed “a terrible significance.”

“If the powers in 1942 had acted against the death camps — and all that was needed was repeated bombing of the camps — had they acted then, they could have saved 4 million Jews and millions of other people,” he said at the official state ceremony marking the start of the memorial day.

“The powers knew, and they did not act,” he told the audience at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

“When terrible crimes were being committed against the Jews, when our brothers and sisters were being sent to the furnaces,” he went on, “the powers knew and did not act.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, April 23, 2017 (Yad Vashem screenshot)

In a bleak and bitter address, the Israeli prime minister said that the Holocaust was enabled by three factors: the vast hatred of the Jews, global indifference to the horrors, and “the terrible weakness of our people in the Diaspora.”

Anti-Semitism had not disappeared, and “it would be naive to think” that it would do so in the foreseeable future, he said. It was being exacerbated by “hatred from the East,” led by Iran and the Islamic State, he added.

The speech marked a sharp contrast from that of President Reuven Rivlin, who spoke just before Netanyahu, and cautioned against seeing anti-Semitism where it does not exist.

President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 23, 2017 at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. (AFP/GALI TIBBON)

Global indifference persisted, too, Netanyahu said, as evidenced by the horrors in Biafra, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and Syria. One “ray of light,” he noted, was US President Donald Trump’s determined response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s gassing of his own people.

Chen and her 85-year-old grandfather Avraham, who is a Holocaust survivor, light candles next to a train wagon used in Nazi Germany to transport Jews to concentration camps, on April 23, 2017, in Netanya. (AFP/ JACK GUEZ)

What had changed, though, was that the Jewish nation now has a strong Israel to protect it. “The weak do not have much chance of survival,” he said. “The strong survive; the weak are wiped out…our people learned this in the Holocaust.”

The lesson for Israel, he said, “is that we have to be able to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat, against any enemy.”

He warned that “those who seek to kill us put themselves in the line of fire.”

That stance, he said, was “not a provocation or an exaggeration; it’s the only way to truly ensure our future.”

And that imperative, Netanyahu stressed, “is the prime obligation… of all Israeli prime ministers.”

Mad Dog Meets With Israeli Leaders On Iran

http://www.renegadetribune.com/mad-dog-meets-israeli-leaders-iran/
By Kurt Nimmo

This is not a good development.

James Mad Dog Mattis has a rep for sidling up to Likud Israelis. This is not simply a diplomatic visit like any other. It’s a signal to Netanyahu that Trump and his generals will follow the Likud line on Iran. Of course, during the news conference, this was not specifically spelled out.

Joint Press Conference – Def Sec Jim Mattis and Israel Defense Minister Liberman… http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NFia3oLa-_c http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2017/04/21/joint-press-conference-def-sec-jim-mattis-and-israel-defense-minister-liberman 

Photo published for Joint Press Conference – Def Sec Jim Mattis and Israel Defense Minister Liberman…

Joint Press Conference – Def Sec Jim Mattis and Israel Defense Minister Liberman…

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis was in Israel earlier today where he participated in a joint press conference with Israeli Defense Minister Liberman.

theconservativetreehouse.com

Back in 2011 Netanyahu wanted to send the IDF to bomb Iran but met resistance from his own ministers. He floated the idea on at least three occasions in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Way back in 2005 General Yoav Gallan tried to pawn off fake photos of Iranian nuclear facilities to the Bush administration as part of an effort to get the neocons to bomb Iran.

Netanyahu pushed the Obama administration to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. He exaggerated the supposed threat immensely. During the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York on September 27, 2012, he went so far as to proffer a crude infographic of a bomb. For years Netanyahu has insisted Iran is mere months away from having a nuclear weapon it would aim at the heartland of Israel.

Trump said in March at the AIPAC conference that when the Iran nuclear deal restrictions expire “Iran will have an industrial-size military nuclear capability ready to go, and with zero provision for delay no matter how bad Iran’s behavior is. Terrible, terrible situation that we are all placed in, especially Israel.”

Without naming Iran, Trump says threats by regime to destroy Israel musn’t be ignored http://dlvr.it/Nymt9F 

Photo published for WATCH: Without naming Iran, Trump says threats by regime to destroy Israel musn’t be ignored

WATCH: Without naming Iran, Trump says threats by regime to destroy Israel musn’t be ignored

President tells WJC delegates that anti-Semitism must be stamped out everywhere and that we must be determined not to ‘disregard the warnings of our own times’

timesofisrael.com

Mattis has long considered Iran the primary threat in the Middle East. He wants to confront Iran and Hezbollah in Syria—both were invited by the Syrian government to fight against fanatical jihadists—and believes Iran should face an embargo and the United States should provocateur a new “green revolution” in the country as part of an effort to overthrow the government.

The Trump administration may prove to be as hostile to Iran—and possibly more so—than the Bush neocons.


Kurt Nimmo is the editor of Another Day in the Empire, where this article first appeared.

State Dept. Responds To North Korea Arrested a U.S. Citizen

http://conservativetribune.com/trumps-state-dept-responds-korea/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=PostUp&utm_campaign=CTConservativeBrief&utm_content=2017-04-24

 

An American citizen has been detained by the North Korean government in the latest of a series of provocations from Kim Jong Un’s regime, The Associated Press reported, and it didn’t take long for President Donald Trump’s State Department to respond.

Tony Kim — who also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang Duk — was detained by authorities Saturday as he was boarding a plane to China with his wife. Kim became the third American citizen in the custody of the North Korean government.

The 58-year-old Kim is employed as a professor at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology where he had taught accounting for about a month, chancellor Park Chan Mo said. He added that Kim’s teaching at the university — North Korea’s only private institution of higher learning — had “nothing to do” with his detention by authorities.

According to CNN, the school said “this detention is related to an investigation into matters not connected in any way with the work of PUST. We cannot comment on anything that Mr. Kim may be alleged to have done that is not related to his teaching work on the PUST campus.”

The U.S. State Department promptly issued a terse statement about Kim’s detention.

“We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea,” a State Department official said. “The protection of U.S. citizens is one of the Department’s highest priorities.”

They added that they were working with the Swedish embassy to secure Kim’s release; because the United States doesn’t have diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden handles America’s consular affairs in the communist state.

While details of Kim’s detention were not immediately made public — North Korean state media hadn’t even announced the arrest — we have little doubt this was yet another instance of saber-rattling by Kim Jong Un. It’s the latest wrinkle in what’s become Trump’s biggest test: neutralizing the insane North Korean regime.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Kim and his family. Let’s hope that he can be released without capitulating to any insane demands from Kim Jong Un.