Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Get over it. 

And We said after Pharaoh to the Children of Israel, “Dwell in the land, and when there comes the promise of the Hereafter, We will bring you forth in [one] gathering. – Quran 17:104 

Any Muslim who believes in the Quran also believes in that Islamic verse. In this verse and in several other verses, Quran acknowledges the historical ties of Jewish people with the land of Israel. Palestinians and many modern Muslims today, however, reject the Jewish historical ties with the land of Israel. Palestinians in particular have spent last few decades denying those ties, domestically and internationally. Several Palestinian-backed resolutions at UN have sought to do exactly that. On the other hand, Israel has never denied the Muslim and Christian connection to Israel. Israel has always allowed easy access to Muslims and Christians to the holy sites in Jerusalem. Even Muslims from countries that don’t recognize Israel and have no diplomatic relations can easily visit Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa today stands in all its glory where Muslims are allowed to pray and gather as a community. Palestinians often use these privileges to attack Israeli police and IDF. Palestinians have long used Al-Aqsa to hide weapons and to stage riots. Despite that, Israel continues to allow easy access to Palestinians for Al-Aqsa. 

The 1947 UN Partition Plan recommended “the creation of a special international regime in the City of Jerusalem, constituting it as a corpus separatum under the administration of the UN.” The international regime was to remain in force for a period of ten years, whereupon a referendum was to be held in which the residents were to decide the future regime of their city. That never happened because Arabs decided to wage collective war on Israel the day it was officially created. This was the Israel that didn’t have a proper army and had no air force or navy. Israeli defense only consisted of lightly armed militias. Egyptian generals famously told their government that the invasion of the newly created state of Israel will be “a parade without any risks” and Egyptian/Arab armies will capture Tel Aviv “in two weeks”. Those were their pompous words. Egypt, Iraq, and Syria all possessed modern armies and air forces. Egypt and Syria had tanks, and all had some modern artillery. Initially, the Haganah had no heavy machine guns, artillery, armoured vehicles, anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons, nor military aircraft or tanks. The four Arab armies that led the invasion were far stronger than the Haganah formations they initially encountered. This was the time when Israel was at its weakest. Arab countries waging war, ie., Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen were backed by many foreign volunteers, including from Pakistan and Sudan. This was the ultimate battle of David vs Goliath. The British intelligence and the CIA believed that Arabs would easily win the war. 

And yet Israel won.

And sure enough, like the sore losers they are, Arabs refused to make peace after the defeat and instead chose to continue their opposition to Israel. Because of the 1948 war, Arabs lost land – including West Jerusalem, to Israel that wasn’t supposed to be Israel’s under the UN Partition Plan. Arabs and Arabs alone are to be blamed for that.

After the war was over, Israel declared West Jerusalem its capital city. Jordan formally annexed East Jerusalem in 1950, subjecting it to Jordanian law, and in 1953 declared it the “second capital” of Jordan. Only the United Kingdom and Pakistan formally recognized Jordanian annexation. Following that, Jordan embarked on an Islamization campaign in East Jerusalem that saw Jews of East Jerusalem expelled and restrictions imposed on Christians. Many Jewish holy sites were destroyed or desecrated in an attempt to deny the Jewish connection with Jerusalem. 

In 1967, Arabs launched another war on Israel. Israel pleaded with Jordan not to attack Israel or take part in the war but Jordan attacked West Jerusalem, that was under Israeli control and was Israel’s capital, on the second day of war. This time too, Arabs had the strength on their side. Israel, a tiny country, was being attacked by Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq who were backed by Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. Moreover, Arab states were backed by Soviet Union, which played an important indirect role in the war. 

And yet Israel won again and defeated the Arabs within 6 days. Arabs lost East Jerusalem, the Golan, Sinai (which was later returned to Egypt by Israel as part of a peace deal) and West Bank to Israel in the war. Arabs and Arabs alone are to be blamed for that. 

When Israel took over East Jerusalem, it restored easy access for Muslims and Christians to the holy sites. The Al Aqsa from that day to this day is mainly controlled by a Jordan backed Islamic Waqf. 

After unifying West and East Jerusalem, Israel declared the united Jerusalem its capital. Under Israel, the tourism to Jerusalem increased and religious rights of all faiths are protected. On the other hand, we have seen what ISIS did to holy sites in Iraq and Syria. We have also seen how Islamic history has been erased under the Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia. In comparison, Israel is a blessing for Muslims. Israel protects holy sites of Islam, including Al-Aqsa, and guarantees easy access to even those who would prefer to see Israel destroyed. Can we expect the same from Arabs and Muslims today? Surely not. The compassion advocated by Islam is nowhere to be found in Muslims today. Take a look at how many Jews live in the countries that have waged war against Israel. Now take a look at how many Muslims exist today in Israel who are Israeli citizens and enjoy equal rights, same as Jews and Christians, in the state of Israel. 

For far too long Palestinians have been pampered by Arab and Muslim states and it was that pampering that compelled the corrupt Palestinian leaders to forsake their own people and continue to wage war on Israel. That pampering is over now. Despite the condemnations you see today from Saudi Arabia, Emiratis, Egyptians against Israel on Jerusalem, the fact is the leaderships of these and other Arab countries have become wary of fully backing the Palestinian cause at the expense of their own national interests. They also know that their national interests reside in good relations with Israel. So what you see today are condemnations for domestic consumption but even Arab leaders understand that as Iran is devouring Arab states one by one, it is time for Arabs to bury the Palestinian hatchet. 

Let’s be very clear: there is simply no way Israel will give up Jerusalem. Even East Jerusalem is a strict NO-NO for most Israelis today. And it’s not mainly because of its holy status but because of the security threats Israel may face if East Jerusalem is ruled by Palestinians. The Jordanian annexation is still fresh in the minds of Israelis, who remember all too well how Jews were expelled by Jordan from East Jerusalem. Leaving Gaza brought Israelis a rain of rockets and multiple wars with Hamas and other smaller Jihadist groups that have grown since 2005 in Gaza. That was an experience that still haunts Israelis. To evacuate Gaza, Israeli Army had to force Jewish residents to leave and had to demolish their homes. It was a very difficult time for Israelis. It was one of those rare occasions when we saw Israeli Army manhandling Israeli Jews who did not want to leave their homes in Gaza. All of it was done by Israel in hope for peace, which never came. 

Following President Trump’s announcement, the question of Jerusalem is settled. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Arabs must now live with that. Palestinians must now live with that. Those who say President Trump’s announcement is an insult to Muslims should always remember the real insult to Muslims was losing Jerusalem to Israel in the first place despite having odds in the favor of Muslims and then refusing to admit defeat to this day. That is not the sign of a great civilization. A great civilization doesn’t fight foolish wars, does not back down from admitting its defeat and does not feel shy from taking lessons from or appreciate those it considers an enemy. Jerusalem as Israeli capital does not mean in any way that Muslims will be deprived of religious rights in Jerusalem or that Al-Aqsa will be taken over or demolished by Israel, a lie Islamists have peddled about Jews since even before the creation of Israel. Israeli law explicitly protects holy sites of all religions and any act of aggression against any holy site itself is unconstitutional and illegal in Israel. al-Aqsa also happens to be a great source of tourism for Israel. A good portion of Israeli tourist industry relies on Al-Aqsa related tourism. On other hand, one cannot imagine what will happen to Al-Aqsa if it were to fall into the hands of Hamas or ISIS. After all, they’re not very far from Al-Aqsa. Hamas rules in Gaza while ISIS operates in Egypt’s Sinai. If we are to believe ISIS propaganda, ISIS appears to have some support in Jerusalem. Israel recently dismantled an ISIS cell in East Jerusalem and ISIS also recently claimed a terror attack in Jerusalem. Israel is the only country that is capable to tackle these threats and protect the holy sites in Jerusalem.

 

 

In stark contrast to those who were warning of an apocalypse before and after President Trump’s announcement, I actually see this as a great opportunity for Arabs and Muslims to work towards a real peace deal with Israel and discourage Palestinians from engaging in violence. It’s time for Palestinians to abandon the pipedream of expelling Jews from “river to the sea” and instead focus on striking a real peace deal with Israel for their own Palestinian state. If there’s anything Arabs should have learned from the past by now, it is: don’t make wars you can’t win. Every drop of blood spilled on the Palestinian and Israeli side in any new wave of violence will be on Arab and Muslim leaders. Now is the time for Arab leaders to show us that they really are the moderates they keep telling us they are.


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Only Israel can stop Iran in Syria

Iran is no more subtle about its hegemonic designs and while Iranian officials have been boasting of waging a guerrilla war in US, threatening to attack Europe with ballistic missiles, threatening Israel with annihilation and shredding every single international law out there, the real game is being played by Iran in Syria where it is busy strengthening its military position by building bases for its military and its proxy Hezbollah. Recently Israel bombed a chemical weapons depot near the city of Masyaf which reportedly killed Syrian regime soldiers and Hezbollah militants. Israel has hit Iranian arms shipments for Hezbollah multiple times in Syria in past several months. Hezbollah leader Nasrallah and his juniors openly boast of targeting Israel from Syria in a future conflict. 

Recently a Western intelligence source confirmed that Israeli concerns are quite genuine when a report was leaked to the media which shows Iran building a permanent military base in Syria outside El-Kiswah, 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus. Satellite images from the BBC show construction activity at the site referenced by the intelligence source between January-October 2017. The images show a series of two dozen large low-rise buildings – likely for housing soldiers and vehicles – and additional buildings have been added to the site in recent months. The base lies about 50 km (31 miles) from the Golan Heights.

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Source: McKenzie Intelligence Services

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The issue of Iranian military bases in Syria has been raised by Israeli officials with Syria’s ally Russia multiple times. In October, Russia’s defence minister was in Jerusalem and was told by PM Netanyahu that Israel would not allow Iranian military “to gain a foothold in Syria”, according to reports at the time. Israeli security officials had also raised their concerns with Moscow about reports that Russia has been arming Hezbollah as part of its anti-ISIS fight in Syria and while Moscow assured Israel that it was not arming Hezbollah and will never do so, the Russian role in Syria still remains somewhat shrouded in mystery for many in Israel who warn that Israel cannot afford to rely on Russia when it comes to tackling threats originating from Syria and therefore must take matters into its own hands.

Whereas Russia and US have recently committed to halting and rolling back Iranian military presence from Israel-Syria border, Israel has made it clear that it has its own red lines and may not necessarily abide by any deal made between US and Russia. But at the same time Israel has given some room to Russia to maneuver because Israel knows that Russia is in Syria to stay and it is in Israeli interests to cooperate with Russia. Some Israeli security officials argue that since Israel shares border with Syria, it is Israel alone – not US or Russia – that faces the consequences of Iranian and Hezbollah military entrenchment in Syria. This feeling in Israeli security officials is backed by continuous Israeli strikes in Syria hitting Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian regime targets, with the latest strike attributed to Israel as recently as 2nd December 2017 in which Israel used both surface-to-surface missiles and warplanes to target an Iranian military base in Syria. Despite Israel’s repeated warnings about the threats it faces from Syria, there has been no positive response from the international community to all these developments, leaving Israel no other option but to act unilaterally. The latest Israeli strikes in Syria are likely a serious message by Israel to US, Russia and the international community that Israel will not – in any case – ignore the security threats it is facing from Syria.

There have also been reports that Hezbollah is building a fortified base in Syria to store missiles which will be used against Israel in a future conflict. Israeli government and security officials have been repeatedly warning about Iranian military presence in Syria and many regional analysts point out that Israel presently faces a far greater threat from Iranian and Hezbollah presence in Syria than from Lebanon border. Israeli PM Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel will never allow Iranian military presence in Syria, which is an imminent threat to Israel’s security. In the next war, Hezbollah will likely use both Lebanon and Syria to target Israel and so Israeli security officials believe it is crucial to take the war to Hezbollah before that happens. One of the deepest Israeli raids into Syria was carried out in March 2016 when Israeli jets hit Hezbollah weapons shipments in Palmyra. After the strike, Russia summoned Israeli envoy for ‘clarification’. Following the attack, Israel PM Netanyahu release a short response in which he said: “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced arms to Hezbollah, and we have intelligence information and we have the operational plan, we act to prevent it. That’s what happened and that’s what will happen.” It was a pretty stern statement and was meant to send the right message to the Russians. Just one month later, in April 2016, Israel hit Hezbollah arms shipments in Syria again and PM Netanyahu said this: “We act when we need to act, including here across the border, with dozens of strikes meant to prevent Hezbollah [from obtaining] game-changing weaponry. We are also working on other fronts, near and far, but we do it intelligently. If we were to be required to enter the battlefield – and this option is possible – it will be because we could not have addressed the dangers to the State of Israel in any other way.”

Iran, Russia and Israel; all three of these countries are presently walking on an edge in Syria where any miscalculation could result in escalation and a disastrous war that rest assured won’t remain restricted to Syria and threatens to engulf the entire region. Iran’s hegemonic designs are a ticking time bomb for the entire region, not just Israel, and while Russia – being a rational actor – understands Israeli security concerns, it has its own interests to pursue and therefore risks a confrontation with Israel in future. What can be said for sure right now, with US taking a largely isolationist approach in Middle East and Russia pursuing its own interests with little regard for Israel’s interests, is that it may be up to Israel – with the help of its Arab allies – to tackle the Iranian threat in Syria.

Fiscal constraints hit Pakistan’s production of Al-Khalid-I tanks

Pakistan’s land systems specialist Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) is producing Al-Khalid-I main battle tanks (MBTs) at a rate far below capacity due to budgetary constraints, the Pakistan Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence Production was told on 30 November.

In a committee hearing, the details of which were published on the Pakistan Senate website, senior HIT officials said the state-owned enterprise is producing 18 Al-Khalid-I MBTs per year on average despite having capacity to build 50.

Officials said the lower output was due to budgetary constraints, although they did not elaborate.

HIT officials added that the company has also started preparation to develop and produce the next-generation Al-Khalid-II MBT.

 

SOURCE: IHS Jane’s

No evidence Pakistan was aware of Osama bin Laden’s presence: Obama

NEW DELHI: Former US President Barack Obama dismissed suggestions that Islamabad was aware of the presence of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Obama made the statement during a symposium hosted by Indian daily Hindustan Times at Hyatt Regency in New Delhi.

“We had no evidence that Pakistani government was aware of Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad,” he said.

“We obviously looked at it.”

Meanwhile, Obama launched a veiled barb at his successor Donald Trump on Friday, saying there is “a pause in American leadership” on climate change.

Since leaving office in January, Obama has been relatively restrained in his comments about Trump, who frequently fires broadsides at his predecessor’s policies.

But he took aim at the Republican president in a New Delhi speech over Trump’s threat to leave the 2015 Paris climate accord on slashing global carbon emissions.

“It is an agreement that — even though we have a little bit of a pause in American leadership — is giving our children a fighting chance,” Obama told the audience.

“And the good news is that in the United States, there are states, companies and universities and cities that are continuing to work to make sure that America lives up to that agreements that we made in the Paris accords,” he added.

Trump has threatened several times to withdraw from the Paris accord saying it is crippling US business. He has called for the agreement to be renegotiated.

Obama would not be drawn into other questions about the US administration during his appearance in New Delhi, but the former president did attack “destructive populism from the left or the right” that he called a threat to modern democracy.”

 

SOURCE: Samaa TV 

1st December 2017 IED attack in Mohmand agency, Pakistan

30th November 2017 Islamabad attack on Shia mosque: Thread and analysis

Follow thread:

Peshawar Attack 1st December 2017: Thread and analysis

Follow thread:

 

Quick Analysis:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan, a soccer ball between massive egos

I don’t write this as an analyst or as a news editor. I write this as a national of Pakistan and someone who plans to be buried in Pakistan. I love my country in good times and bad times. I have not always loved all of its people or all of its decision makers or the decisions they made over the years, but I have loved the country nonetheless. And so I write this with a heavy heart that what I am seeing in front me is a complete mess. It is a mess that has been created on the bodies of thousands of martyrs of terrorism over the years. It is a mess for which both civilian and military leadership in Pakistan is responsible.

In a boxing match between the civilian and military leadership, Pakistan has become a soccer ball. It no longer matters for them how many people we have lost in the war on terrorism. It no longer matters to them how many innocent kids of APS who were murdered in cold blood in broad daylight before they could ever grow wings and explore the world. It no long matters to the leadership in Pakistan that Pakistan is facing global criticism for protecting some of the worst people in the region. It no longer matters to the leadership in Pakistan that all the soldiers who gave their lives for all of us on the orders of their seniors – who are today partially responsible for this mess – without asking any questions should not have died in vain. It no longer matters to the leadership in Pakistan that by legitimizing Islamist extremists, they have successfully rolled back whatever successes Pakistan made in counter-terrorism and counter-extremism over the last few years. It no longer matters to the leadership in Pakistan that Pakistan cannot surrender to Islamist extremists while at the same time fight terrorism, because that’s like trying to fill a water cooler while the tap is open; no matter how much water you pour in, you can never completely fill that cooler. It no longer matters to the leadership in Pakistan that legitimization of extremism on state level is what gave us Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and all the other dozens of terrorist groups that are now banned in Pakistan. It no longer matters to the leadership in Pakistan that empowering Islamist extremists has never worked in past and never will in future. It no longer matters to the leadership in Pakistan that the past leadership of General Raheel Sharif set amazing examples in the field of CT and CVE and that these examples should have been built upon, and not demolished by surrendering to a mob of Islamist extremists.

It is safe to say that perhaps Pakistan itself no longer matters to the leadership in Pakistan. Pakistan has become a soccer ball between the civilian and military leadership. The past civilian leadership of Nawaz Sharif was terrible and with all the corruption cases looming, it had to go sooner or later. Good thing it went away sooner. Nawaz and his immediate family continue to play a role in state affairs even after disqualification of Nawaz. Sitting ministers of Pakistan’s ruling party engaged in merciless criticism of the courts simply because the courts had upheld the rule of law over political favouritism. The discord sown in civilian and military relationship – which is already a delicate relationship in Pakistan no matter who is in charge – is completely on Sharif family. Sharif family disparaged the courts and military and took Pakistani politics to a point that we simply haven’t seen before. Having pushed into a corner, the military leadership remained calm and did not take any rash decisions, which is a compliment really.

Fast forward to 26th November 2017, when military leadership decided to enter a supposed settlement between the govt and a mob of Islamist extremists as a negotiator. This, by all means, was a rash decision. Yes, the civilian government asked the military to help with the situation but the military leadership perhaps didn’t think this through. These Islamist extremists are not the only thing military has legitimized by acting as a mediator in this agreement. The military leadership has also effectively legitimized every single conspiracy theory peddled by Nawaz family mouthpieces that these Islamist extremists were backed by the military establishment. It doesn’t matter if that was indeed true or not; what matters now that this perception has been created, and there’s little that can be done now to wash it away. The leadership has also let down the families of tens of thousands of martyrs who probably couldn’t believe the scenes they were seeing on television and social media.

Here we have an official of Pakistan Rangers paying money – yes, paying actual money – to Islamist extremists who held Pakistan hostage for weeks and caused loss of life and property.

 

For comparison, Pakistan Rangers has resorted to violence against unarmed women supporters of Altaf Hussein in Karachi. Again, I am simply dumbfounded and taken by shock by all this. I ask again, did they think this through in Rawalpindi? What is the message here the state of Pakistan is sending? Pakistan’s history of protecting the worst of the worst is rich, and this is another addition to it. The only problem is these worst of the worst people are not going to go fight India. They will stay in Pakistan and fight Pakistanis. That is what happened with TTP and that is exactly what will happen with them. The military leadership in Pakistan just alienated patriots like me who would have unconditionally supported an action – and I’m not talking about killing – against the Islamist extremists. So naturally there are going to be questions, and patriots like me will be asking those questions. Because if we don’t, the wrong people will.

The first question was thrown by none other than Justice Shaukat of Islamabad High Court, who asked the military leadership how exactly did it act as a mediator in this agreement.

 

This is the same judge who was being celebrated and being turned into an idol of sorts by people who treat the military leadership as a holy cow – effectively legitimizing theories that Pakistani military is a state within a state – just a couple of months back. Guess what? There are no holy cows in Pakistan. The only holy cow in Pakistan is the state of Pakistan itself. It was the spokesperson of Pakistani military Major General Asif Ghafoor who said that state institutions are bigger than personalities and the state is bigger than state institutions. I also firmly believe in that, which is why I ask questions, because when left unchecked, it has been proven in the past that the leaders are not always necessarily sincere with the state. Sometimes personal ambitions, political loyalties or simply misguided decisions often end in results that are not good for the country. We have seen this time and time again around the world, not just in Pakistan.

It is yet to be seen whether Pakistanis – who were praising the judiciary just a couple of months back for taking Nawaz family to task – will continue to support it on taking military leadership to task over this horrendous agreement signed with Islamist extremists or not. They will be hypocrites of the highest order if they didn’t support the judiciary now. I supported judiciary back then and I will support it now.

Earlier today I talked to two friends who had lost immediate family members in war on terror. One of them cried her eyes out. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The other person was a lot less subtle; he told me that he’s considering to leave Pakistan again with his family because he says he knows what’s coming next. I believe there are going to be a lot of people who must be thinking these exact same things right now. Of course there are going to be those who would continue to defend the military leadership on this, trying to tell us how this will result in rainbows and unicorns for the whole country. To them I say a sincere fuck you. You are part of what’s wrong with Pakistan.

For someone like me, this is a repeat of all the previous episodes we have seen when the past leaderships told us it will be all rivers of honey once we negotiate with Islamist extremists. Until it was too late and we had to pick a bunch of dead bodies. Only and only then the leadership in Pakistan gathered the courage to go after those terrorists. Heck, Pakistan didn’t even start taking the war against TTP seriously until AFTER over a hundred kids were brutally killed in APS massacre. We are now once again repeating history while walking all over the bodies of martyrs of terrorism. We all should be ashamed of ourselves and of who we are. Terribly ashamed.

Note this down somewhere: what the civilian and military leadership did on 27th November 2017 by surrendering to a mob of Islamist extremists will come back to haunt the entire country sooner than later. You haven’t seen the end of this.

27th November 2017 will always be remembered as a Black Day when the future historians write about Pakistan.

 

 

You can follow the timeline of Islamist protests in Pakistan in this thread here. 

 

#DubaiAirshow2017: Complete Twitter thread

Here’s a detailed Twitter thread covering the #DubaiAirshow, which is being held from 12-16 November 2017 in Dubai.

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Follow the whole thread here: