Thursday, April 17, 2014
A group of eight Israeli Jews were arrested on Monday while attempting to ascend the Temple Mount and sacrifice a goat there in fulfillment of the biblical instructions regarding the Passover holiday.
Several organizations associated with the group told Israel National Newsthat the arrests were yet another indication of the total lack of religious freedom for Jews atop the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.
That same Temple Mount again exploded in violence on Wednesday morning when Muslim mobs assaulted police and Jewish visitors.
The violence began as police opened the Mughrabi Gate, the sole entrance where non-Muslim visitors can enter the Temple Mount. Muslim rioters waiting on the other side of the gate hurled stones and firecrackers, prompting Israeli police to respond with rubber bullets and tear gas.
One police officer and dozens of rioters were injured in the melee, and the Temple Mount was quickly closed again to all non-Muslims.
It was the second such outburst of violence this week.
On Sunday, two Israeli police officers were wounded when Muslim rioters attacked them and possibly other Jewish visitors at the Mughrabi Gate. One observer noted that the use of dozens of firebombs (Molotov cocktails) indicated that the riot had been premeditated, and was not a spontaneous response to some Israeli provocation.
Last week, two American congressmen clandestinely visited the Temple Mount with a group of religious Jews to assess the situation. US Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) told Israel National News that the Temple Mount visit left he and his colleague “shocked and disturbed.”
Johnson made special note of the Waqf (Islamic Trust) official that tailed the group and seemed to exercise unwarranted influence over the Israeli police present there. “This thug followed us everywhere we went and if we stopped and took too long in one place he would look at the Israeli police, who would say ‘you need to keep your group moving,’” noted the American lawmaker.
Credit to Israel Today
Al Arabiya.net has recently described the current standoff between the West and Moscow concerning Ukraine as potentially the gravest instance of tension in the post-Cold War era. The tensions between Russia and the West seem to be causing some significant geopolitical re-alignments following Russia’s recent political aggressions in relation to Ukraine and Crimea.
Against the backdrop of this increasing tension between the West and Russia, Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, France, China, Britain and Germany) started their diplomatic negotiations to make headway on the nuclear dispute, which would ideally be a lasting accord permanently resolving the decade-long nuclear standoff and averting the threat of another war in the Middle East.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh in an article for Al Arabiya.net, opines that should the Russian-West standoff over the Ukraine crisis continue, Moscow is more likely to play the “Iran card” by changing its stance on Iran’s nuclear talks, in a retaliatory high-stakes gamble to counter sanctions by the United States and the European Union.
The Russian position, and its demands on Iran’s nuclear program, is likely to become less firm. Generally, China has followed the Russian position in the nuclear negotiations. The Ukraine crisis and the Russia-West standoff might not interfere with reaching a final nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1, but the terms of the agreement are likely to be much less strict on Tehran as Russia and the Islamic Republic strengthen ties and feel less pressured to cooperate with or make concessions to the West.
Russia and China (who reluctantly supported the four rounds of U.N. sanctions against Iran and later condemned the unilateral sanctions), can now focus more on their own terms and agenda, including building nuclear reactors for Iran. In mid March, Iran’s state-run Press TV reportedly announced that Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rowhani agreed that Moscow would build two additional nuclear power plants for Tehran and construct new facilities next to Iran’s power plant in the city of Bushehr.
Dr. Rafizadeh points out several factors that contribute to these converging geopolitical security interests, pivoted around the emerging Russia/Iran axis:
1. Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei resisting Western hegemony in the Middle East.
2. Russia and Iran are attempting to establish themselves as key and influential geopolitical and strategic players in the region.
3. Putin and Iranian leaders are attempting to restore their regionally and internationally wounded prestige and pride. From their perspective, the international community lacks respect towards Moscow and Tehran’s influence and power. Dr. Rafizadeh gives Syria as an example where the two nations are working together by ratcheting up the amount of political and economic capital they spend to secure Assad’s stay in power.
An additional factor highlighted in osnetdaily.com is that both Moscow and Tehran see the opportunity to cushion each other economically from the sanctions they face from the west. Part of the mutual benefits include a broad bilateral economic package that may be in place by August 2014. This political marriage seems to be much more about the Rouhani government seeking to consolidate Iran’s newfound nuclear status in the face of deep Western reservations than it is a reflection of an abiding commitment to Russia as a principal commercial and trading partner.
In addition, for China, its current interests are to strengthen strategic ties with Moscow and Tehran for security. The Ukraine crisis has moved Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing closer to one another to counterbalance the West and resist Western hegemony, providing a platform for them to create the strategic geopolitical axis in the region.
According to frontpage.com, in the South and East China seas, China is aggressively seeking to expand its maritime borders. It has made significant headway in both these areas with a muscular military approach designed to intimidate American regional allies like Japan and the Philippines. America’s feeble response to Putin’s aggression in Crimea will only serve to embolden a resurgent and aggressive China, making the likelihood of a regional war in that neglected theatre a real possibility. China will certainly feel better having powerful like minded partners in Russia and Iran, to counter U.S/NATO concerns and potential reprisals.
According to Americanthinker.com, if Russia does move into Iran’s camp (as it is now doing) then Israel has the perfect excuse to move ahead with a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations and will likely have the support of the entire Western world (in addition to America’s Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia). Israel has already signaled its seriousness by setting aside US $2.89 billion to finance the attack.
Such a development may very well act as the trigger for Russia to lead an Israeli invasion, under the pretext of defending its allies, while actually targeting control of Israel’s enormous gas (and possibly oil) reserves. This could be the “hook in Russia’s jaws” spoken of in Ezekiel 38.
A weakened US/NATO alliance may not be able or willing to do much militarily, if the U.S led response on Ukraine is any indication. A weakened United States enables the perfect setting for the prophecies of Ezekiel 38, when God will miraculously defeat Israel’s enemies (Gog and her allies) and glorify His Name among the nations.
Credit to Prophecynewswatch.com
Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/April15/155.html#BG65pVB5hHxKsj8E.99
The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have made significant progress in setting up structures that would serve as an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank (which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU), according to RBTH. As WSJ reports, the U.S. would lose its veto power on the International Monetary Fund's executive board under a plan being considered by some emerging economies. Thecountries are fed up with the United States' failure to ratify a four-year-old deal to restructure the emergency lender. Yet more loss of credibility on the global stage and, as Brazil's FinMin Mantega sums up, "the IMF cannot remain paralyzed and postpone its commitments to reform."
As The Wall Street Journal reports, the U.S. would lose its veto power on the International Monetary Fund's executive board under a plan being considered by some emerging economies.
The countries are fed up with the United States' failure to ratify a four-year-old deal to restructure the emergency lender.Some members of the IMF's steering committee indicated at a series of weekend meetings their desire to act now, underscoring the growing discontent abroad about the U.S. Congress's delay in approving an international accord to overhaul governance at the fund....The world's top finance officials gathering here this weekend chastised the U.S. in formal policy statements."We are deeply disappointed with the continued delay in progressing the IMF quota and governance reforms," the Group of 20 largest economies said in its communiqué.
And the various countries that would benefit from greater say in the actions of the IMF are not waiting for the US...
"Alternatives to move forward with the reforms must be found whilst the major shareholder does not solve its political problems."
And that is worrying for global stability...
Singaporean Finance Minister and IMF steering committee chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam said it could cause "disruptive change" in the global economy."We are more likely over time to see a weakening of multilateralism, the emergence of regionalism, bilateralism and other ways of dealing with global problems," he said in a news conference Saturday. That would make the world a "less safe" place, he said.
And, as RBTH reports, it seems the BRICS are not slowing down efforts to create their own IMF-alternative...
The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have made significant progress in setting up structures that would serve as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU. A currency reserve pool, as a replacement for the IMF, and a BRICS development bank, as a replacement for the World Bank, will begin operating as soon as in 2015, Russian Ambassador at Large Vadim Lukov has said.Brazil has already drafted a charter for the BRICS Development Bank, while Russia is drawing up intergovernmental agreements on setting the bank up, he added.In addition, the BRICS countries have already agreed on the amount of authorized capital for the new institutions: $100 billion each. "Talks are under way on the distribution of the initial capital of $50 billion between the partners and on the location for the headquarters of the bank. Each of the BRICS countries has expressed a considerable interest in having the headquarters on its territory," Lukov said.It is expected that contributions to the currency reserve pool will be as follows: China, $41 billion; Brazil, India, and Russia, $18 billion each; and South Africa, $5 billion. The amount of the contributions reflects the size of the countries' economies....The creation of the BRICS Development Bank has a political significance too, since it allows its member states to promote their interests abroad. "It is a political move that can highlight the strengthening positions of countries whose opinion is frequently ignored by their developed American and European colleagues. The stronger this union and its positions on the world arena are, the easier it will be for its members to protect their own interests," points out Natalya Samoilova, head of research at the investment company Golden Hills-Kapital AM.
Perhaps the following sums it all up perfectly...
Economists warn the IMF's legitimacy is at stake, and they say U.S. standing abroad is being eroded.
Credit to Zero Hedge
If there is was one way to assure a certain escalation in Ukraine hostilities beyond what has already happened, it is for NATO to do precisely what Russia warned it should not do: build up its presence in the surrounding countries. Which is why we find it somewhat puzzling that NATO announced it would do just this when as the Guardian reported, the military alliance said it would step up its presence around Russian borders to "reassure eastern European member states."
The reinforcements on Nato's eastern flank will take the form of more air patrols over the Baltic states, greater numbers of warships in both the Baltic and eastern Mediterranean, and more troops deployed in eastern Europe.The Nato buildup will also involve the redeployment of warships, some of them now participating in counter-piracy operations off Somalia, to the Baltic and the Mediterranean. A Nato official said the details of the naval measures were still being discussed.The Nato commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, said several Nato member states had offered ground troops for deployment in eastern European member states and that he would be soon making recommendations on how they should be positioned. Breedlove said that the situation represented more than a crisis, adding: "For Nato, it's bigger than that. It's a paradigm shift."
It goes without saying that to Russia this will be seen as a hostile move on behalf of the western countries, which is why Breedlove said "he had attempted to call the Russian chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov, to explain that the deployments were entirely defensive but had not been able to reach him."
Did he at least leave a voicemail explaining why the piling up of new troops is not to be seen as an offensive meneuver?
Furthermore, that this is happening today is no accident: tomorrow is the official start of international talks on the Ukrainian crisis in Geneva, and the NATO action is a way to increase pressure on Moscow. However, as has been seen repeatedly in the past month, the Kremlin does not handly increased pressure easily and instead, usually finds a way to re-escalate on its own.
What is the thinking behind what can only be classified as a short-sighted move? "A spokesperson for the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said his primary goal was to persuade Moscow to halt its destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine, and call publicly for separatist groups to disarm and stand down."
And just in case NATO's open action is not clear, "EU officials in Brussels said the list of Russians subject to visa bans and asset freezes would be expanded by the end of the week. The US state department also signalled it would co-ordinate a further tightening of sanctions with its European partners, but not before the Geneva talks."
"Don't expect any before tomorrow's meetings," Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson at the state department, said. "But if there are not steps taken by Russia to de-escalate, we will take additional steps, including additional sanctions."The negotiations will bring together Kerry, his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, the Ukrainian foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, and the EU's Ashton. It will mark the first time the quartet has met since the Ukrainian crisis erupted in February.In addition to one four-way encounter, Kerry will conduct separate bilateral meetings with Lavrov, Deshchytsia and Ashton. Western officials, however, cautioned that the talks were unlikely to bring a diplomatic breakthrough.Harf said that "top of the list" of US demands would be that Russia halt what the US alleges are destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine. The US wants Russia to publicly call on separatists exerting control in cities in eastern Ukraine to disarm and stand down.
Of course, in case Russia also misses all of this because nobody could reach the Russian chief of staff on the phone, the Netherlands announced it is looking into the deployment of F16 fighter jets as Ukraine crisis air support "to try and ease the conflict around Ukraine, defence minister Jeanine Hennis told a television talk show on Tuesday night.
While there is no question of Nato military action against Russia, ‘we want to be very visible as support to our Eastern allies’, the minister told the Pauw & Witteman show.
With orange colored F-16s it will be very difficult not to be visible:
The defence minister added: "We are looking at how we can increase our air support or sea support in, say, the Baltic or the Black Sea region,’ she said. ‘We are members of an alliance for a reason and we will take our responsibilities.'Asked specifically what form Dutch air support could take, the minister said 'it could mean sending an F16.'
Surely the expansion of NATO forces in the region will promptly force Russia to back down. In the off chance it doesn't, one wonders how NATO will respond if Russia instead adds some more tactical nukes to its arsenal along the Polish border. Puredly defensively of course. Will that, in turn, force NATO to back down? Somehow we doubt it.
Credit to Zero Hedge