Palestinians’ Real Enemies: Arabs

Palestinians living in refugee camps in the Arab world are facing ethnic cleansing, displacement, and death — but their leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are too busy tearing each other to pieces to notice or even, apparently, care much.

Between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, it looks as if they are competing for the worst leadership, not the best. Clearly, neither regime gives a damn about the plight of their people in the Arab world.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is scheduled to visit Washington in the coming weeks for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump, spends most of his time abroad. There is hardly a country in the world that he has not visited since he assumed office in January 2005.

Hamas, for its part, is too occupied with hunting down Palestinians suspected of “collaboration” with Israel, and arming its members as massively as possible for war with Israel, to spend much time on the well-being of the two million people living under its thumb in the Gaza Strip. Hamas does have resources: its money is otherwise designated, however, to digging attack tunnels into Israel and smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip.

The globetrotting Abbas, treated to red-carpet receptions wherever he shows up, has no time to attend to his miserable people in the Arab countries. Abbas devotes more than 90 percent of his speeches to denunciations of Israel, uttering barely a word about the atrocities committed against his people in Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Iraq. The 82-year-old PA president is, as always, fully preoccupied with political survival.

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Iran’s Elections: Black Turbans vs. White Turbans

The presidential elections in Iran, scheduled for May 19, have observers wondering whether the “white turban” incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, will retain his position, or be defeated by his likely contender, the “black turban” mullah, Ebrahim Raisi, known for his key role in the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners.

More importantly, the question on Western minds is how and in what way the Islamic Republic will be affected by either outcome.

The two periods in Iran’s recent history that need to be examined in order to answer this question are that of the tenure of former firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005 to 2013), who also announced he is running again, and the one that has followed under Rouhani.

At the outset of the Ahmadinejad era, Iran’s GDP (using purchasing power parity) soared beyond $1 trillion, and two of the country’s greatest threats — Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Afghanistan under the Taliban — were eliminated. Both enabled Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to solidify his stronghold.

Midway through this period, however, Iran’s economy fell sharply. Iran became the country with the fifth highest inflation rate in the world. Iran fell into a serious recession, and millions of Iranians found themselves unemployed. All this was going on even before the international community imposed sanctions on the regime in Tehran.

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Once thorny, relationship between London’s Muslim mayor and the Jews now a bed of roses

LONDON — In 2004, a young London Muslim lawyer named Sadiq Khan shared a platform with five political extremists at a meeting held by the Friends of Al-Aqsa, entitled “Palestine — The Suffering Still Goes On.”

The speakers included Daud Abdullah, who went on to lead a boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day in 2005 when he was deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, and Dr. Azzam Tamimi, who once said he wanted Israel destroyed and replaced with an Islamic state.

As a leading British Jewish activist described it, the relationship in those days between Khan and the Jewish community was, “difficult… awkward, not comfortable.”

Fast-forward to today and the 46-year-old Khan is now the much-admired mayor of London whose most recent engagement with the Jewish community was an appearance — strongly applauded — at the annual Yom HaShoah ceremony in the capital.

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Norway: Threat of Jihad

The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) just published in February its yearly threat assessment. It concluded — as did its threat assessment for 2016 — that Norway might experience an Islamic terrorist attack from Islamic State (ISIS) sympathizers acting upon ISIS’s call to carry out independent attacks. The PST explains:

“These calls to action are one reason why we have seen an increase over the last few years in the number of lone terrorist attacks in the West. The likeliest scenario for a terrorist attack in a Western country is an ISIL-/AQ-inspired attack carried out with a simple weapon against a target with little or no protection”.

“Lone wolf” attacks are rightly described as an actual terrorist strategy, rather than what the media likes to describe as random “mental illness”. In addition, this threat assessment now fits all of Europe.

The PST goes on to warn:

“Immigration to Europe will influence the terrorist threat in various ways in the coming year. One of the problems we expect to face is the radicalization of asylum-seekers, migrants and illegal immigrants in Norway. Attempts may be made to radicalize members of these groups by other migrants at reception centers or by visitors. As in previous years, individuals who support and sympathize with extreme Islamist organizations will arrive in Norway in 2017”.

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Turkey and US Relations Sour After Kurdish Militia Attacked

A series of Turkish airstrikes targeting American-allied Kurdish militias in Iraq and Syria threaten to put Turkey and the United States on a “collision course,” experts have warned.

Syrian activists said the attacks, on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq and a mountainous region in Syria, killed at least 18 members of the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which are at the center of bitter divisions between the two NATO allies.

The U.S. military is working closely with Kurdish fighters in Syria, considering them as the only viable force capable of seizing the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State. But Turkey regards the militias as a direct offshoot of a Kurdish militant group that poses a grave threat to Turkish security. As a result, a crisis is brewing over the U.S. partnership with the militias.

“The collision course is coming. It’s already come in some respects and it’s a question of how badly this deteriorates,” says Michael Hanna, a senior fellow at the New York-based Century Foundation. “There are U.S. personnel on the ground. In the worst case scenario you’re having Turkey, a NATO ally, a close traditional partner of the United States, could kill American personnel on the ground,” he tells TIME.

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El Lobo Returns Home

In the spring of 2015 I visited Wolf Haven International, a wolf sanctuary in Washington state, to witness the first litters of Mexican gray wolf pups born there in seven years. Via live remote cameras I watched as four gangly six-week-old male pups scampered and climbed atop their very patient father, M1066, nicknamed in house as “Moss.” The big-eared and fuzzy pups romped and feigned attacks with tiny sharp teeth, wrestling with each other, then racing into the tall cedar trees. These critically endangered Mexican gray wolves are growing up in the Species Survival Program (SSP) for possible reintroduction into Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. “They’re being raised by their parents, just like any wolf pup in the wild,” explained Wendy Spencer, Wolf Haven’s director of animal care. “Their world is so small now,” she added. “There is no concept of captivity or even humans for the pups. Just their parents, siblings, and home life.”

It’s a good and safe life at Wolf Haven, with its eighty-two acres of restored and biologically diverse prairie and oak woodlands, founded in 1982. These prairie lands are quiet buffers for this, the only wolf sanctuary in the world accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Here the carbon-rich grassy meadows offset climate change, a lush red and blue riot of native wildflowers like purple camas and golden paintbrush attract honey bees, and the moss-draped trees offer cool shade and refuge to the fifty-two displaced and captive-born wolves. Some have now found their “forever home” here. Of the several Mexican wolf litters born at the sanctuary, two family groups have already been released into the wild (Arizona): the Hawk’s Nest pack released in 1998 (part of the initial release) and the Cienaga group released in 2000 still survive today. This wolf family is one of the most genetically valuable in all of America’s captive population. By the late seventies wolf populations in the Southwest had crashed to a mere five wolves in Mexico and were all but eliminated in New Mexico and Arizona. Under the Endangered Species Act the federal government must work to recover this critically endangered species.

“All the Mexican wolves living in the wild today come from seven founding animals, composed of three distinct lineages,” Spencer notes. “They really need the genetic boost these new pups can give them,” she pauses thoughtfully, “if any of them are selected for reintroduction into the wild.”

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