Breaking News -- Middle East
Intelligence Expert: "al-Qaeda Dangerously Close to Nuclear Warhead"
by Money Morning Staff Reports
Could al-Qaeda now be dangerously close to a nuclear weapon?
The answer should frighten every American.
In a shocking interview, Dr. Kent Moors, an advisor to 27 world governments and the U.S. Intelligence Community warns The United Jihad Council, a coalition of terrorist groups with direct ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has successfully put 230 nuclear warheads in play.
A 3-time recipient of the President's Distinguished Service Award, Dr. Moors helped the Reagan Administration develop strategies for dealing with the threat of a Soviet nuclear strike during the Cold War.
However, he and his colleagues inside the intelligence community warn the threat of M.A.D. or mutually assured destruction, that kept the Cold War from escalating will not stop these terrorist groups.
“This is a holy war for them, this is jihad. So all bets are off.” Dr. Moors stated in the interview.
And he fears that a single flashpoint he calls “The Zero Line” could set everything in motion.
Egypt scrambles to stop missiles launched at Israel from Sinai
On July 8, Israel started a new offensive — Operation Protective Edge — against the Gaza Strip in response to the constant raids on southern Israel, according to the statement of the spokesman for the Israeli Army, Peter Lerner.
With the war raging for days on end and with the escalation of its intensity, news has been circulating that missiles were launched from the Egyptian territories, namely the Sinai Peninsula, toward the Israeli border cities. Those missiles did not constitute a response from the Gaza Strip alone against Israel; it seemed that other parties in Egypt were responding too.
Maj. Gen. Abdel Fattah Harhour, the governor of North Sinai, denied that something of the sort had happened and said that no missiles were launched from Egypt on southern Israel.
Harhour, who spoke briefly to Al-Monitor, confirmed that the eastern border of Egypt is protected and that Egypt will not allow any party in the conflict to violate its sovereignty or use its territories in any offensive.
Although an Egyptian military source had previously declared that the soldiers of the Second Army managed to confiscate two missiles set to be fired from Rafah, North Sinai, on Israel, Harhour asserted that the missiles, which were confiscated, were in fact caught inside a tunnel before being smuggled to the Gaza Strip.
Ahmad Abu Draa, an activist in the Sinai Peninsula, told Al-Monitor that the source of the missiles launched on Israel was the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, which confirmed the news on its official Twitter account and attached a video on July 10 showing the launching of five 107 missiles at the Israeli settlement of Bnei Netzareem. On July 16, the group posted a lengthy video titled "Grand Invasion of Eilat." The video showed for the first time, according to this post, details of an operation executed by several members of the group who infiltrated Israel and targeted several Israeli soldiers and officers.
Maj. Gen. Mokhtar Qandil, a military expert, told Al-Monitor that there is not one party that can be held accountable for launching the missiles from Egypt on Israel, even if Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis assumed responsibility for these operations. Moreover, he asserted that several terrorist and radical organizations in the Sinai Peninsula, affiliated with Hamas in Gaza, might be responsible for launching the missiles.
Qandil stated that these groups struck the Israeli settlements to implicate Egypt. The Egyptian army is not ready to enter the war, as Egypt is already preoccupied with its own development. It is not in its interest to get involved with the affairs of another state. Moreover, the launching of missiles from Egyptian territories is considered a breach of the Camp David provision that set forth, in its third article, that Israel and Egypt vow to refrain from issuing threats by force or using them against the other, directly or indirectly, and resolve all conflicts between the two states peacefully. This has been confirmed by Egypt’s inclination to launch a cease-fire initiative between Israel and Hamas, indicating that Egypt is seeking to calm things down between them.
According to Qandil, the solution would be to assassinate the members of these groups in the military operations that the Egyptian army is waging against them in the Sinai Peninsula. They should not be arrested, but rather killed instantly because they are a threat to the country.
He also said the parties that want to clash with Israel — in reference to Hamas and the groups supporting it in the Sinai Peninsula — must first prepare themselves with weapons and equipment and compare their strength to their enemy’s. Otherwise, all parties would be implicated.
Turkey’s Erdogan: ‘I no longer talk to Obama’
ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has stopped talking to US President Barack Obama on the phone, amid growing strains between Ankara and Washington over Syria and the Gaza conflict
Turkey, a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad and an open supporter of armed rebel fighters, felt betrayed when the United States backed away from military action against Damascus in September.
“In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can’t get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other,” Erdogan said in a live interview on pro-government ATV channel late Monday.
“And I have talked to (US Vice President Joe) Biden. He calls me and I call him.
“I expect justice in this process. I couldn’t imagine something like this from those who are championing justice,” Erdogan added without elaborating, in an apparent jibe at Washington.
The last phone conversation between the two leaders took place on February 20 after which the White House released a statement accusing Erdogan of misrepresenting the content of the conversation.
A staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, Erdogan has recently been at loggerheads with Washington over Israel’s campaign in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 580 Palestinians in two weeks. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in an effort to halt the rocket fire from Gaza that threatened the country’s south and center, and find and destroy cross-border tunnels used by Hamas fighters to infiltrate and attack Israeli communities.
Erdogan accused the Jewish state of carrying out “state terrorism” and a “genocide” of Palestinians and criticized the United States for defending Israel’s “disproportionate” tactics.
The US State Department branded his comments on Israel “offensive and wrong” but the prime minister hit back by saying the United States needed to engage in “self-criticism.”
Erdogan is standing in August 10 presidential elections that he is expected to win, with analysts awaiting a more assertive foreign policy from Ankara if he becomes head of state.
Kerry Not Wanted In Middle East
by Ariel Cohen
As tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the region to continue pursuing a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas — but he may not be welcome this time around.
Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren believes that America’s presence isn’t welcome at all. During an interview with an Israel news network on Monday, Oren said that Kerry coming to the region is “to our chagrin.” Oren cited Kerry’s history of failed attempts at peace negotiations in the region, and strained U.S. relations with Egypt, as well as the Obama administration’s poor relationship with both Israel and Palestine.
Kerry left on Monday for Egypt, where he will continue to negotiate discussions of the continually failing cease-fire. The White House hopes to return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement, and also emphasized the need to protect civilian lives, both in Gaza and in Israel.
Kerry spent nine months pursuing peace talks between Israel and Palestine from 2013 to 2014, but abandoned the effort recently after each attempt proved to be futile. Since violence has taken off between the Israelis and the Palestinians in recent weeks, Egypt has attempted to broker two separate cease-fires. While Israel complied with each request, Hamas has refused to agree and has repeatedly ignored Egypt’s requests.
During an interview broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Kerry said that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas militants. But Kerry was caught making an aside comment to an aide over the phone during a commercial break, sarcastically calling Israel’s Operation Protective Edge a “helluva pinpoint operation.”
Numerous networks and media outlets picked up on this comment and condemned America’s top diplomat for callously critiquing the Israeli operation.
According to Oren, Kerry’s behavior and remarks during his Sunday interview make it clear that Kerry was not invited to the region, and rather, just forced his way in. The State Department said that Kerry’s main concern in the region is minimizing “risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.”
President Obama reiterated that sentiment during a briefing from the White Hose lawn on Monday. The president expressed continued concerned about the violence, stating that both sides must continue working to “stop the deaths of innocent civilians.” The White House continues to look toward Kerry, the United Nations and Egypt to help broker a working cease-fire.
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