Kerry’s Latest Gaffe About Syrian Cease-Fire Shows He’s Absolutely Clueless About The Middle East

Russia and the United States agreed to a cessation of hostilities in Syria Monday, but it is far from clear if the fighting in the war-torn country will indeed stop this weekend.

Under the deal — which the parties hope will take effect on Saturday — a hotline will be established between Moscow and Washington to monitor the cease-fire that Secretary of State John Kerry now calls a “hudna.”

It’s unclear why Kerry suddenly uses Arabic words when he talks about the current chaos in Syria and the rest of the Middle East. He did the same with the war against ISIS. At the end of last year, Kerry started to use the Arabic acronym Daesh for Islamic State instead of ISIL as Obama calls the Jihadist group. But Kerry didn’t know how to pronounce it.

By now using the term hudna to describe the agreement involving the imminent cease-fire, Kerry shows he has no clue about the meaning of the word.

Hudna is Arabic for a temporary truce with the goal to rearm and replenish depleted ammunition stocks in preparation for the next round of fighting.

Israeli journalist David Bedein, writing for Frontpage Magazine in 2014, reported “the authoritative Islamic Encyclopedia (London, 1922) defines hudna as a ‘temporary treaty’ which can be approved or abrogated by Islamic religious leaders (emphasis added), depending on whether or not it serves the interests of Islam; a hudna cannot last for more than 10 years.”

This makes clear Kerry’s deal with Russian foreign minister Lavrov is no hudna, but an attempt to stop the war in Syria.

There are a few problems with the deal, however.

First, the deal excludes the war effort against Islamic State that controls a large part of Syria and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra that is in control of several parts of Syrian territory in the north, west and south of Syria.

It’s hard to see how a cease-fire can be maintained when the war against these two fanatical players in Syria continues. Islamic State already showed Sunday there will be no cessation of hostilities as long as it is in control of parts of Syria. The group carried out six suicide attacks that killed more than 190 Syrians and wounded hundreds of others while Kerry and Lavrov were finalizing the agreement.

Secondly, the deal says all UN-designated terrorist organizations will be excluded from the deal. Turkey regards the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist organization because of its ties with the Kurdish Workers Party PKK (a designated terrorist organization).

The Turks have stepped up their military campaign against the Syrian Kurds since the terrorist attack in Ankara last week. Turkey said the attack that killed 28 people was the work of a Syrian with ties to the YPG militia, but a forensic investigation unveiled Tuesday provides evidence the terrorist who carried out the suicide attack was born in Turkey.

Turkey doesn’t signal it will stop the shelling of YPG positions in Syria and has not announced it will cease its campaign against the YPG.

Third, Russia has always cast all rebel groups in Syria as terrorist organizations, including the Western-backed Free Syrian Army. Bashar al-Zoubi, the leader of the Free Syrian Army, has already called the provision about the terrorist groups a “fatal flaw” and said he was very pessimistic about the agreement.

The Assad government also has it doubts about the implementation of the cease-fire.

“The Syrian state for sure respects that (the ceasefire) which it agreed to, and will uphold it on principle. But I can’t speak on behalf of the armed groups which, pre-emptively, announced that they are not willing to agree to the ceasefire,”  Ali Haidar, Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation said yesterday.

Kerry now says that it may be too late. But if the fighting continues, Syria will fall apart.

“It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria, if we wait much longer. So that’s what’s at issue here,” Kerry said Wednesday.

His remarks showed again how much he is out of touch with the new reality in the Middle East because Syria as we knew it ceased to exist a long time ago.

Middle East expert Jonathan Spyer is one of the insiders who wrote last year that Syria had fallen apart.

“As the civil war over the ruins of Syria grinds on into its fifth year, the fighting seems nowhere near an end. Indeed, there is no longer a single war taking place in the country. Rather, as Syria physically divides into separate entities, so the conflict, too, further subdivides, spawning new conflicts,” Spyer wrote last year.

Indeed, since Islamic State conquered large swaths of territory in Syria and the Assad regime suffered a string of losses leaving it in control of only 20 percent of the country, Syria consists of separate entities. The Kurds have established autonomous cantons in the north, Islamic State is in control of the center and east of the country and the Assad regime reigns in the west, north and south of Syria. The rest of the country is controlled by several rebel groups and coalitions and the Druze (Suweida).

The fact the Russian/Iranian pro-Assad coalition recently has won back territories has not significantly changed this situation. Syria has fallen apart; someone should tell this to Kerry.

Putin Just Ignored Obama Admin’s Desperate Pleas In A Huge Way- ‘Russian Strikes Will…’

Russia plans to continue airstrikes against Syrian villages despite a direct appeal by Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN for a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to starving civilians.

Fox News reports not only has the Putin-led government refused the ceasefire, it has escalated its involvement, introducing four of its most advanced fighter jets to assist in the airstrikes. Some of the Russian targets include CIA-backed rebel fighters who oppose the Assad regime.

“The decision to send the Su-35S jets poses yet another hurdle for Kerry’s efforts to proceed with peace talks. The Su-35S is Russia’s most advanced warplane, capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions,” one official familiar with the jet told Fox News

Russia’s move comes despite two UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire and caused peace talks in Geneva to derail Wednesday.

“[T]here will be a ceasefire,” Kerry predicted Tuesday in Rome. “We expect a ceasefire. And we expect adherence to the ceasefire. And we expect full humanitarian access.”

Kerry said he was assured by Russia’s foreign minister the airstrikes would end. “I talked to Foreign Minister Lavrov a couple of days ago and I specifically discussed a ceasefire with him, and he said they are prepared to have a ceasefire,” the secretary of state said.

Two days later, the bombing missions continue.

“Russian strikes will not cease [in Syria] … I don’t see why these airstrikes should be stopped,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday in Oman.

Hours later, the UN talks fell apart, according to Fox. 

The top U.S. general in Iraq made it clear that America wants to avoid a confrontation with Russia, despite Putin’s strikes against the U.S.-backed rebels.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a proxy war. I would say that we are pursuing different goals,” Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland told reporters, speaking from Baghdad earlier this week.

The U.N. chief humanitarian coordinator says close to 500,000 Syrians are cut off from food assistance, surrounded by Bashar Assad’s forces, Fox reported. 

“We saw people who are clearly malnourished, especially children, we saw people who are extremely thin, skeletons, that are now barely moving,” Yacoub El Hillo, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, told Reuters.

Kerry said Tuesday that some besieged Syrians have been reduced to eating leaves and grass. “Starvation as a tactic of war is against the laws of war and it is being used every single day as a tactic by the Assad regime,” he said

The Washington Post editorial board blamed Kerry’s willingness to compromise with Putin for the unfolding humanitarian crisis. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s handling of the Syrian crisis appears to be enabling those very war crimes,” the paper wrote.

The Post charges the administration is only offering strong rhetoric, but nothing to back it up. “On that, Mr. Kerry has had exactly nothing to say. Expect the sieges, the bombing, the starvation — and the statements — to continue.”

WATCH: Syria Lies In Ruins While Major Escalation Looms After Failure Of Geneva Talks

After only three days of talks, the UN-sponsored conference about Syria in Geneva has ended abruptly.

UN special envoy Staffan Di Mastura had trouble admitting the talks were a failure and insisted they would resume at the end of this month.

“This is not the end or the failure of the talks, but I’m not prepared to have talks for the sake of talks,” he said Wednesday during a press conference after the parties already started to blame each other for the failure of the conference. Di Mastura called upon all the parties to work harder to make the talks a success.

In a follow-up statement, he seemed to blame the Assad regime for what he calls the suspension of the talks. Di Mastura said in the statement “the government’s failure to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Syria by allowing food and medicine into rebel-held towns had prevented any serious discussions,” The New York Times reported.

A spokesman for the Syrian government said the suspension of the talks was the failure of everybody except the government of the Syrian Arab Republic (Assad’s regime), because they had arrived on time while the opposition arrived six days late and refused to engage directly with the other parties. The Syrian spokesman also said the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) that consists of several opposition groups — but not Jabhat al-Nusra, Islamic State and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), who were not invited to the conference — was disorganized and contained “terrorists.”

The Kurds left Geneva after they discovered their participation had been blocked by the other opposition bloc supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The Obama administration reportedly abandoned the Kurds after Turkish pressure.

The government spokesman especially blamed the Turks, the Saudis and the government of Qatar because they are “the handlers and the masters” of the High Negotiations Committee.

The HNC and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, however, blamed the Assad regime and its allies for the failure of the talks.

Kerry issued a statement that said the Assad government must cease the bombing of rebel forces and added it is “past time for them to meet existing obligations and restore the international community’s confidence in their intentions of supporting a peaceful resolution.”

The opposition held the Assad regime fully responsible for the scuppered talks. The HNC pointed to the fact that government forces launched a major offensive in the Aleppo region at the moment the conference started. The offensive succeeded to cut off a major supply route to the city from the Turkish border.

Opposition groups in Aleppo now fear that the city will soon be encircled by Assad’s army who receive air support from Russian warplanes.

At the same time, government forces backed by Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militias succeeded to break a three-year rebel siege of the Shiite villages of Nubl and Zahraa west of Aleppo.

This move enabled the militia of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to advance along the Turkish border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday the Kurdish YPG militia had taken control of Al-Ziyara and Khuraybika—two villages in the Shirawa region of the Afrin Canton a couple of kilometers from the liberated Shiite villages. The Kurds seek to connect the Kurdish Afrin Canton to the already autonomous cantons Cizire and Kobane along the Turkish border. If they succeed they will control the whole border area with Turkey in Syria.

The Kurdish move has exacerbated tensions with Turkey. Russian military officials think the Turkish army has now received orders to prepare for an invasion of Syria. The Turkish invasion should halt the YPG advances and open supply routes to Islamist rebel groups supported by Ankara.

The situation has also increased tensions between Russia and Turkey. Russia claims Turkish forces killed a Russian military advisor earlier this week and accuses Turkey of shelling Syria. The Russians claim they have video evidence of the Turkish military activity in Syria and have demanded an explanation from NATO about the Turkish aggression.

Turkey claimed a Russian warplane again breached its airspace Jan.30 and now accuses Russia of supporting the YPG advances along the Turkish border. The Turks have threatened they will not tolerate new territorial gains of the YPG in the direction of the Mediterranean coast.

“The PYD (YPG) has been getting closer with both the United States and Russia of late. We view the PYD as a terrorist group and we want all countries to consider the consequences of their cooperation,” a Turkish official told Reuters. “With support from Russia, the PYD is trying to capture land between Jarablus and Azaz, going west of the Euphrates. We will never accept this.”

The alleged alliance between Russia and the Syrian Kurds will no doubt cause Obama to have a severe headache.

When Turkey makes good on its threat to stop the Kurdish advance in the direction of the Afrin Canton (see map) by intervening in Syria, Washington will face a dilemma. The Obama administration will have to choose between support for the YPG the only force that has been effective in the battle against Islamic State and its staunch ally Turkey that allows the U.S.-led coalition to use the Incirlik airbase for attacks on Islamic State.

KurdishMap

The collapse of the conference in Geneva is related to this looming major escalation in the 5-year-old Syrian war. It has become clear that several parties in the talks have no interest in ending the war at this point. Russia is one of these parties, and the Islamist opposition is another. What we thus can expect is an escalation of the fighting and more death and destruction.

To give you an idea about the shocking level of destruction in Syria we advise you to watch this video of Homs, the third largest city in the country. The images were made by Russian drones:

Arab Media Report Scary News About ISIS In Libya, While Kerry Shows He Has No Clue What’s Going On There

Today, 23 countries fighting Islamic State in the Middle East will convene in Rome, Italy, to review the strategy against the self-proclaimed new Caliphate.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will attend the conference on behalf of the Obama administration, admitted that despite setbacks in Syria and Iraq, ISIS is a growing threat to the world.

“We are still not at the victory that we want to achieve, and will achieve, in either Syria or Iraq and we have seen Daesh playing a game of metastasising out to other countries, particularly (in) Libya,” Kerry said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham.

“In Libya, we are on the brink of getting a government of national unity. That country has resources. The last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue,” Kerry added.

His comments about Libya followed on the news that President Barack Obama has now asked his security advisers to draw up plans for a military operation in the war-torn country.

“Action in Libya is needed before Libya becomes a sanctuary for IS, before they become extremely hard to dislodge we don’t want a situation like in Iraq or Syria,” an Obama official said last week after a meeting of the National Security Council that was attended by the president.

Another Obama official said that “there needs to be a political solution to get a military solution we hope that there is the beginning of a political solution so that there is a legitimate government that can invite us to go after ISIL (ISIS).”

Apparently, Kerry and other members of the administration forgot that last week, the current government of Libya rejected a UN-brokered deal that should have facilitated the forming of the unity government.

The latest news contradicts Kerry’s optimistic words that “we are on the brink of getting a government of national unity.” Business Insider and other renowned media report that “a month after the deal was agreed in Morocco, its implementation has been dogged by in-fighting.”

As for Kerry’s wish that he doesn’t want a “false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue,” perhaps he missed the reports about Islamic State’s current wealth?

The group still makes an estimated 1-3 million dollars per day by selling oil on the black market. That’s less than what the organization earned before the air campaigns against ISIS started, but the group has found other ways to generate income.

The Washington Post reported at the end of 2015 that Islamic State makes as much as $360 million per year by a system of extortion and taxation.

Kidnapping for ransom adds between $35 million and $45 million to ISIS’ budget. Agriculture in Syria and Iraq adds an estimated $200 million per year to ISIS’ coffers, and the organization is said to receive roughly $40 million per year from wealthy donors. Islamic State also makes millions of dollars by selling looted antiquities and properties, and by human trafficking.

The group has cash and assets worth at least $2.4 billion since it robbed banks in Mosul and other cities in Iraq, and owns real estate that was seized from people who died in the wars in Syria and Iraq (or fled to other countries).

The wealth of Islamic State probably explains why the branch in Libya has chosen to destroy much of the oil infrastructure in the country. The group first wants to deprive the current government of its crucial oil revenues so that it will be easier to topple the regime.

So, contrary to what Kerry thinks, ISIS is not primarily interested in Libya’s oil wealth, but in its strategic position. The country is ISIS’ gateway to Africa and will be used as a beachhead for a future attack on Italy, as Islamic State has made clear.

ISIS now controls more than 300 kilometers of Libya’s coastline and is reportedly looking to expand its reign of terror to international waters, Time Magazine reported. A former NATO naval officer told British media that Islamic State wants to have its own navy to carry out attacks on cruise ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

“We know they have had ambitions to go off shore. We know they would like to have a maritime arm, just as Al-Qaeda had a maritime arm,” the retired naval officer said.

Other alarming news about ISIS activities in Libya came from the London-based Arab paper Asharq Al-Awsat (The Middle East).

The paper reported that Islamic State has stolen large quantities of the nerve agent Sarin and is in control of the largest Sarin depot in Libya, which is located in the Bab Al Huriya area.

“Libya has the largest stockpile of loose weapons in the world – according to some reports, even larger than the British army’s arsenal – plus about 4,000 surface-to-air missiles and 6,400 barrels of uranium concentrate powder, known as “yellowcake,” Olivier Guitta, the Managing Director of GlobalStrat, reported today.

Here’s How Obama Tries To Squeeze Israel And Is Heading For Another Mideast Train Wreck

Analysis

Last week, Western Journalism reported about a dramatic change in longstanding U.S. policy toward Israel. The Obama administration now appears to side with the European Union on key issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and no longer opposes boycott measures against the Jewish State, the story revealed. The report dealt with recent examples of statements by Obama officials who criticized Israel over its policies towards the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

One Israeli expert on U.S.-Israel relations believes Obama will not act like a lame duck president but, instead, will use his last year in office to mobilize the international community for a political campaign that will force Israel to make further concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

The expert, Professor Eytan Gilboa, a senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, told a Jerusalem Post columnist that Obama will probably seek to achieve a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — not by organizing a new round of negotiations, but by trying to get the EU, UN and all sorts of international bodies to pressure Israel on the issue of the settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Gilboa said if those international organizations will focus on the issue of the Israeli settlements, “then you can get Israel to make concessions (to the Palestinian Arabs) that will pave the way to an agreement.”

The use of international bodies to weaken Israel’s position vis-a-vis the Palestinians is a strategy first used by the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas refuses to return to the negotiation table because he thinks he can obtain more concessions from Israel via international pressure and international recognition of the Palestinian Authority as an independent state. The decision to grant upgraded UN membership to the PA is a good example of this strategy; the admission of the PA to UNESCO is another.

The change in America’s policy towards Israel on the issue of the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria became apparent when Secretary of State John Kerry delivered an address during the Saban Forum in Washington last year.

Kerry said “continued settlement growth raises honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions and will only make separating from the Palestinians much more difficult.” Kerry then threatened that if Israel were not willing to change its policies in Judea and Samaria, it would be treated as South Africa under the Apartheid regime.

If Israel retains the West Bank, “would Israelis and Palestinians living in such close quarters have segregated roads and transportation systems with different laws applying in the Palestinian enclaves? Would anyone really believe they were being treated equally? What would the international response be to that, my friends?,” Kerry said while using the false Palestinian claim there would be a form of Apartheid in Judea and Samaria.

Last week, Obama used his envoy in Israel, Ambassador Dan Shapiro, to make clear he has departed from long-standing U.S. policy on Israel’s policies in the so-called West Bank. Shapiro suggested there was already a form of Apartheid in Judea and Samaria when he said “too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked,” while adding “there is a lack of thorough investigations. At times it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to the rule of law in the West Bank — one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.”

Shapiro later apologized for the timing of his comments that were made on the same day a Palestinian Arab stabbed a pregnant woman and a day after another Palestinian Arab terrorist murdered a mother of six in her home in Judea. But he stood by the content of his remarks that led to an outcry in Israel and were harshly condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In fact, the legal situation in Judea and Samaria where Israeli law applies to the Jewish residents — and laws that in majority date back to the Jordanian occupation and Ottoman rule are still applied by the Palestinian Authority — is a direct result of the Oslo agreements between Israel and the PLO. The Palestinian leadership was opposed to applying Israeli law in all of Judea and Samaria because it would legitimize Israel’s presence in these territories.

Jerusalem Post Star columnist Caroline Glick believes the recent remarks by Obama officials are part of a coordinated assault on Israel. She wrote we’re in the midst of a coordinated U.S.-led political offensive against Israel and thinks the Israeli government “should change the focus of its public diplomacy.” Israeli officials should direct their remarks against Palestinian society as a whole that harbors a vicious hatred of Israel and Jews in general, according to Glick.

Two days later, Israel’s acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely did exactly that when she wrote a devastating critique of the way the international community prolongs the century-old conflict by funding Palestinian terror and stimulates Palestinian hatred and intransigence by ignoring incitement against Israel. Hotolovely revealed 16 percent of foreign donations to the PA were used to support Palestinian terrorists and their families.

Below are the most important parts of her article in the Wall Street Journal.

“The Palestinian regime in Ramallah pays monthly stipends of between $400 and $3,500 to terrorists and their families, the latter of which is more than five times the average monthly salary of a Palestinian worker.

“According to data from its budgetary reports, compiled in June 2014 by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the PA’s annual budget for supporting Palestinian terrorists was then roughly $75 million. That amounted to some 16 percent of the foreign donations the PA received annually. Overall in 2012, foreign aid made up about a quarter of the PA’s $3.1 billion budget. More recent figures are inaccessible since the Palestinian Authority is no longer transparent about the stipend transfers.

“Embarrassed by public revelations of the misuse of the foreign aid, in August 2014 the Palestinian Authority passed the task of paying stipends to terrorists and their families to a fund managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, also led by Mr. Abbas. Lest there be any doubt as to the purely cosmetic nature of the change, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah made assurances as recently as September 2015 that the PA will provide the ‘necessary assistance’ to ensure these terror stipends.

“This procedural ruse apparently calmed the consciences of donor governments that continue to transfer aid. It is difficult to think of another case in which such a forgiving attitude would be taken regarding foreign aid to an entity that sponsors terror.

“This situation is particularly disturbing given the disproportionate share of development assistance the Palestinians receive, which comes at the expense of needy populations elsewhere. According to a report last year by Global Humanitarian Assistance, in 2013 the Palestinians received $793 million in international aid, second only to Syria. This amounts to $176 for each Palestinian, by far the highest per capita assistance in the world. Syria, where more than 250,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million refugees displaced since 2011, received only $106 per capita.

“Aside from funding terrorists and investing in hate speech, the PA stubbornly refuses to remove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from ‘refugee’ rosters, deliberately keeping them in a state of dependence and underdevelopment for no purpose other than to stoke animosity toward Israel.

“It is difficult to come away from these facts without realizing the deep connection between the huge amounts of foreign aid being spent, the bizarre international tolerance for patently unacceptable conduct by the Palestinians and the lack of progress toward peace on the ground.”

Hotovely advised foreign donors of the Palestinian Authority to rethink the financial aid to the Palestinian Arabs. But Times of Israel editor-in-chief David Horovitz thinks that won’t be enough to force the Palestinian leadership to stop inciting against Israel and supporting terrorists.

Horovitz wrote that a new grassroots approach is needed.

“What’s needed, what has always been needed, to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a grassroots approach to peacemaking. An approach focused on education. An approach under which international resources and leverage are utilized to rewrite educational curricula, to marginalize extremist political and spiritual leaders, to promote moderation and peaceful interaction.”

He advised the Obama administration to follow the example of Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli left, who last week publicly admitted the Two-State-Solution is not attainable at the moment.

“Perhaps the international community — so insistently led by President Barack Obama in seeking to persuade Israelis that they can afford to take risks for peace when the bloody evidence all around them shows the contrary — will learn Herzog’s lesson. Perhaps it will move to adopt the grassroots approach. Perhaps it will use its immense leverage to gradually help create a climate in which it is not the most natural thing in the world for teenage Palestinians to set out with knives and kill Israeli mothers of six and 23-year-old industrial design graduates,” Horovitz concluded.

Professor Gilboa, however, is thinking Obama will not listen to his Israeli critics and is heading for another train wreck in the Middle East.

Gilboa says Obama’s policy can only backfire.

“I don’t think the Obama administration has ever understood Israeli public opinion and politics. The more the US and the EU apply pressure, the more we will see resistance in Israeli society, and secondly, this will strengthen the Palestinian resistance to make any concession and to make any move that could facilitate negotiations, let alone an agreement.”