Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Saudi Arabia teams up with Israel in anti-Qatar lobbying in the US Congress

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali – Journal of America – June 10, 2017

US proposed  legislation – Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2017 – threatening to sanction Qatar for its support of the so-called “Palestinian terror” was sponsored by 10 lawmakers who received more than $1m over the last 18 months from lobbyists and groups linked to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, Al Jazeera reported Friday.

The HR 2712 bill was introduced to the US House of Representatives on May 25, but the text wasn’t available until Friday morning, hours after Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt put 59 people and 12 institutions linked to Qatar on a “terror list”, Al Jazeera said.

HR 2712’s sponsors received donations totaling $1,009,796 from pro-Israel individuals and groups for the 2016 election cycle alone, according data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group tracking money in US politics and its effect on elections and public policy, and then compiled by Al Jazeera.

Sponsors of the bill are: Congressmen Brian Mast (FL-18), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (CA-39) and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (NY-16). The bill is co-sponsored by Congressmen Brad Sherman (CA-30), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Ted Poe (TX-2), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Thomas Suozzi (NY-3).

Al Jazeera reported that Royce received $242,143 from pro-Israel sources for the 2016 election cycle, $190,150 went to Engel. Mast, who volunteered with the Israeli military after he finished serving in the US Army, received $90,178.

“Following my service in the U.S. Army, I chose to volunteer alongside the Israeli Defense Forces because our countries share the common ideals of freedom, democracy and mutual respect for all people. Hamas preaches destruction to Israel and death to the values we hold dear in the United States. They have murdered more than 400 Israelis and at least 25 American citizens.” Rep. Mast was quoted as saying.

According to Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a nonprofit that aims to strengthen the voice of US citizens of Iranian descent, there are similarities between the US-allied Arab nations’ “terror list” and HR 2712 show[ing] growing cooperation between Gulf Arab states and Israel.

“The coordination between hawkish pro-Israel groups and UAE and Saudi Arabia has been going on for quite some time,” Parsi told Al Jazeera. What is new, he continued, is pro-Israel groups such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies “coming out with pro-Saudi [articles] and lobbying for them on Capitol Hill”.

Parsi was quoted as saying that the sponsors of the bill are traditional pro-Saudi lawmakers, however they are in the pro-Likud camp. Likud  is the party of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

President is required

The Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act requires the President to submit to Congress an annual report for the next three years identifying foreign persons, agencies or instrumentalities of a foreign state who knowingly and materially assist Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or an affiliate or successor of one of those organizations.

After identifying the organizations, the President must impose two or more sanctions, including denying

a) Export-Import guarantees,
b) defense support under the Arms Export Control Act,
c) export of munitions to any agreement to which a person identified is a part,
d) export of goods or technology controlled for national security reasons,
e) loans more than $10 million, or
f) seizure of property held within the United States.

The bill also requires the President to report to Congress on each government that provides support for acts of terrorism and provides material support to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or any affiliate or successor organization, or the President determines to have engaged in a significant transaction to knowingly and materially provide support to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or any affiliate or successor organization.

After identifying the governments, the President must suspend U.S. assistance to that government for one year, instruct the executive directors of each international finance institution to vote against any loan or technical assistance to that government and prohibit any munitions export to that government for one year.

Additionally, the President must prohibit that government’s transactions in foreign exchanges that are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and prevent that government’s transfers of credits or payments between financial institutions subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Important Sections of the HR 2712 Bill

Section 2: Findings and Statement of Policy

Subsections (a)(3) and (4) state that “Hamas has received significant financial and military support” from Qatar and that the Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence confirmed that “Qatar, a longtime US ally has for many years openly financed Hamas.” The bill also finds that Qatar hosts a number of high-ranking Hamas officials, including Khaled Mashal.

Subsections (a)(5) through (7) outline Iran’s material and financial support and subsections (8) through (10) detail Iranian support to the PIJ.

Section 3: Imposition of Sanctions with Respect to Foreign Persons and Agencies and Instrumentalities of Foreign States Supporting Hamas, the PIJ, or Any Affiliate or Successor Group

No later than 120 days after H.R. 2712 is enacted—then once a year for no more than three years—the president must report to Congress the foreign persons, agencies, and instrumentalities of foreign states that provide support to the aforementioned groups. Two exceptions are reserved for the president, however. If the president notifies Congress 15 days prior to completing a “significant transaction” with a foreign entity or agency that is in the “national interest” of the United States, the foreign entity or agency may be exempt from sanctions. The other exception is reserved for the president to issue waivers that would exempt a foreign entity or agency from sanctions for 120 days, as long as Congress is notified seven days prior.

Set forth in this bill are sanctions on the following:

  • Banking and financing (e.g., extensions of credit, guarantees, insurance, etc.)
  • Defense-related sales (including munitions, defense services, and construction services)
  • Goods and technologies regulated through the Export Administration or included in the US Munitions List
  • Medical, agricultural, and humanitarian goods and services are not included among sanctioned items.

Section 4: Imposition of Sanctions with Respect to Foreign Governments That Provide Material Support to Hamas, the PIJ, or Any Affiliate or Successor Thereof

Much like Section 3, Section 4 sets a 120-day deadline after enactment for the president to report to Congress any governments the Secretary of State has determined “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” This report must be resubmitted, with relevant information, every 180 days.

The sanctions set forth in this section include the prohibition or suspension of the following for one year:

  • US aid to the foreign government
  • Extension of loans and financial or technical services
  • Export of items on the US Munitions List or Commerce Control List
  • Transactions in foreign exchanges in which the United States has jurisdiction
  • Transfers of credit or payments between one or more financial institutions subject to US jurisdiction
  • Should the president determine it is in US security interests and notify Congress seven days in advance, he can waive any foreign government sanctions for 180 days.

Section 5: Report on Activities of Foreign Countries to Disrupt Global Fundraising, Financing, and Money Laundering Activities of Hamas, the PIJ, or Any Successor or Affiliate Thereof

This bill outlines a reporting requirement for the president, no later than 180 days after the bill’s enactment. The president must report a list of foreign countries providing support for the aforementioned organizations and further assessments including:

  • Steps the foreign government is taking to freeze assets of these groups
  • Any reasons the government is not taking adequate steps to freeze assets
  • Measures taken by the United States to freeze assets
  • List of countries where the aforementioned groups fundraise and steps those countries are taking to disrupt the fundraising efforts
  • List of countries from which the groups receive surveillance equipment and what measures are being taken to disrupt the acquisition.

To borrow from Marcus Montgomery, an Analyst at the Washington DC-based Arab Center, the language of HR 2712 is interesting since it introduces sanctions for actions likely already covered under existing legislation. Hamas and the PIJ are both designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) by the State and Treasury Departments, respectively. With that in mind, it is already illegal for US entities or institutions to support such groups. Thus, the sanctions proposed in this bill that pertain to US jurisdiction are redundant.

Formally targeting Iran is redundant as well because Tehran has been declared a state sponsor of terror by the State Department and prohibitions against exports of arms, financial and technical services, and US aid to Iran are already in place.

For Marcus Montgomery, Qatar would be the truly new target under this legislation, but as an ally with which the United States has economic and military ties, it is tough to see many in the Senate agreeing to label Qatar a de facto state sponsor of terror.

Erdogan vows to stand by ‘Qatari brothers’

Interestingly, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan Friday called for full removal of a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar after approving the deployment of Turkish troops there, saying Riyadh needed to put brotherhood ahead of animosity.

Erdogan said isolating Qatar would not resolve any regional problems and vowed to do everything in his power to help end the regional crisis. “We will not abandon our Qatari brothers,” Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party at a fast-breaking meal on Friday in Istanbul during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“I also have a special request from the Saudi administration. You are the largest and most powerful state in the Gulf. We call you the Custodian of the Holy Places. You especially should work for brotherhood, not animosity. You have to work for bringing brothers together. This is what we expect from Saudi, the Custodian of the Holy Mosques,” Erdogan was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying.

“I say it should be lifted completely,” Erdogan said of the embargo.

Turkey, which has maintained good relations with Qatar, as well as several of its Gulf Arab neighbors, offered food and water supplies to stave off possible shortages. “There are those who are uncomfortable with us standing by our Qatari brothers, providing them with food. I’m sorry, we will continue to give Qatar every kind of support,” Erdogan said, adding that he had never witnessed Doha supporting “terrorism”.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s parliament ratified two deals on deploying troops to Qatar and training the Gulf nation’s security forces. The deal to send Turkish soldiers in Qatar, aimed at improving the country’s army and boosting military cooperation, was signed in April 2016 in Doha.

After an initial deployment of Turkish soldiers at a base in Doha, Turkish fighter jets and ships will also be sent, the mass-circulation Hurriyet newspaper said on its website on Friday.

“The number of Turkish warplanes and Turkish warships going to the base will become clear after the preparation of a report based on an initial assessment at the base,” Hurriyet said.

A Turkish delegation will go to Qatar in the coming days to assess the situation at the base, where about 90 Turkish soldiers are currently based, Hurriyet said adding: there were plans send some 200 to 250 soldiers within two months in the initial stage.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Lawmakers Want North Korea Back on Terrorism Sponsor List

Sputnik – 19.02.2017

A group of US lawmakers is seeking to return North Korea to the list of states that sponsor terrorism and give it once again the less-than-honorable title of terrorist state. US President George W. Bush took North Korea off the list some nine years ago in order to support talks about North Korea’s nuclear program and to offer sanctions relief in exchange for North Korean concessions.

Now, according to the lawmakers, the alleged assassination of Kim Jong Nam shows that North Korea is practicing state terrorism. The lawmakers are not short on aggressive rhetoric.

“The murder once again highlights the treachery of North Korea,” said Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who also chairs a Senate panel on Asia.

“We should never have taken North Korea off the state sponsor of terrorism list,” Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California told a Congressional hearing Thursday.

“It is time to put little Kim back on that list because he is a world terrorist and a threat to world peace,” said the bill’s Republican sponsor, Representative Ted Poe of Texas.

So far, no official conclusions have been made by the investigation as to who really killed Kim Jong Nam, or why. Experts say until the investigation is complete, making allegations would be “irresponsible.”

According to military.com, North Korea was first put on the list of terrorist states back in 1987, after a bomb explosion destroyed the South Korean Boeing 747 known as Korean Air Flight 858. The US State Department treated the incident as a state-sponsored act of terrorism.

North Korea was removed from the list by US President George W. Bush in 2008, “to smooth the way for aid-for-disarmament negotiations,” the website reads.

If the hawkish lawmakers are to put the country back on the list, they will have to provide solid evidence that the country’s government “repeatedly” supported international acts of terrorism.

However, that is going to prove quite a challenge, since back in 2016 the US State Department officially declared that North Korea “is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts” since the plane attack 30 years ago. This statement came as a response to another attempt to relist North Korea as a terrorist state in June 2016.

But the lawmakers insist that North Korea’s record be reviewed again. According to Gardner, there is evidence of North Korean “actions and relationships that would meet the criteria of state sponsor of terror.”

It should be noted that US officials repeatedly claimed that there was “evidence” of alleged Russian meddling with US presidential elections in 2016, though it has presented precious little to the public.

North Korea is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. Its aspiration to secure nuclear weapons in conjunction with its official status as a communist state has caused the United States and the UN to impose numerous sanctions, which severely reduce the country’s trade options. However, each round of sanctions also erodes the space for diplomacy.

Sanctions so far have not prevented North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons, but they do affect the standard of living of the common people in the country.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Economics, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

IRS Targets Cuba Solidarity Group

Weekly News Update on the Americas | January 12, 2014

The New York-based nonprofit Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) announced on Jan. 6 that the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recommended ending the group’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Founded in 1967 by the late Rev. Lucius Walker [see Update #1048], IFCO is the first national foundation in the US controlled by people of color. It is probably best known as the sponsor of Pastors for Peace, which for the past 22 years has organized the US-Cuba Friendshipment Caravan, an annual shipment of humanitarian aid to Cuba; Pastors for Peace has also provided humanitarian aid for Nicaragua, Haiti and other countries.

The IRS’s two-year investigation started with a letter to the service from two members of Congress—Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC)—suggesting that IFCO was tied to terrorist organizations because of some $1.2 million in aid it sent to the people of Gaza through the Viva Palestina group in 2009. In its report, the IRS cites a “comprehensive report” by Steve Emerson’s notoriously inaccurate Investigative Project on Terrorism to suggest that some of the aid may have gone to the Hamas organization, which the US lists as a terrorist group. The IRS also charges that the Friendshipments and some aid for US medical students in Cuba may violate the 50-year US embargo against Cuba. In an appeal by New York attorney Martin Stolar, IFCO denies sending aid to Hamas; notes that the relevant US agency, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has never penalized it for the Friendshipments; and states that OFAC has licensed the medical students to spend money in Cuba.

IFCO has asked supporters to contact US Congress members “and let them know that we need their support. Ask them to contact the Treasury Department to ask them to stop this political persecution and harassment against IFCO.” Treasure can also be contacted directly by fax at 202-622-6415 or via internet at http://www.treasury.gov/connect/Pages/contact-us.aspx. (IFCO letter 1/6/14; Vice (Montreal) 1/8/14; Ahora (Cuba) 1/10/14 from Radio Havana)

January 14, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Congressional Crusade for Israel

By Philip Giraldi | The Passionate Attachment | May 31, 2012

When we look at all the things that the Israel Lobby has been up to, we sometimes lose sight of the big picture. There has been a virtual flood of action by Congress to help Israel, much of it moving very much under the radar with no real debate and suspensions of rules to expedite the voting. Look at what has happened in the past month: HR 4133 passes through Congress on a 411 to 2 vote giving Israel a virtual blank check on the US Treasury and requiring the White House to prepare an annual report demonstrating how the Administration has guaranteed the Israeli military’s “qualitative edge” over its neighbors. It also provided military equipment — refueling tankers and bunker buster bombs — that can only be used for an attack on Iran. Only Ron Paul spoke out against the bill and even Justin Amash, a Palestinian American and Ron Paul supporter, voted yes, explaining “Our national defense benefits from Israel’s ability to defend itself and to serve as a check against neighboring authoritarian regimes and extremists.” According to Amash, it is constitutional to pay for Israel’s defense because of “Congress’s power to raise and support armies.” The Founders were not thinking of foreign armies to be sure, so Justin had better check on what he has been drinking from the House of Representatives water cooler. A few days later, $1 billion appeared in the 2013 Defense Appropriation Bill to fund Israel’s Iron Dome defense system — something that had been recommended in 4133. No coincidence there.

And then there is Iran. House Resolution 568 passed last week by a suspension of rules vote 401 to 11. Ron Paul spoke against the bill and also voted no. It ties the president’s hands on negotiating with Tehran, explicitly rejecting a “containment” policy relating to an Iranian nuclear program and also rejecting any compromises or concessions on the part of the United States if Congress in all its wisdom determines that Iran is pursuing a nuclear device. So if you want to understand how war with Iran is virtually guaranteed thanks to the US Congress, put the two bills together.

And then there is the little stuff. A bill proposed by Brad Sherman of California will give Israelis visa waivers, which means that they can travel freely to the United States, unlike their Arab neighbors. And not just as tourists — they will be able to do business. Why and why now? Because “Israel is our closest friend and democratic ally in the Middle East,” according to Sherman. And it will result in “more business.” For the Israelis.

And then there is an amendment by the redoubtable Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois which passed from committee on May 24th by unanimous vote which will reduce the number of Palestinian refugees by over 99% by declaring that only actual Palestinians who directly lost their homes in 1948 are actual refugees. Their children and grandchildren, also living in refugee camps, do not count. That would mean that there would be virtually no Palestinians left who might have some legal claim to return to their homes in Israel (roughly 30,000 are still alive of the 750,000 who were originally displaced). Kirk’s bill is a prime objective of the Israel government, i.e. to delegitimize the Palestinian diaspora. Given that the bill has nothing whatsoever to do with the American people, one can once again seriously question what parliament Kirk thinks he works for and what people he represents.

Certain names keep popping up in the pro-Israel legislation. Mark Kirk to be sure, who has received more than $1 million in pro-Israel PAC contributions, but also Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ben Cardin, Brad Sherman, Howard Berman, Joe Lieberman, Eric Cantor, Lindsey Graham, and Carl Levin. The Israel firsters in Congress are both shameless and relentless. We Americans who do not share their views should mark them out and hope for the day when they will be voted out of office and eventually prosecuted as the useful idiots and betrayers of our constitution that they most surely are.

Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues.

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment