Category Archives: Middle East

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Declaration of War’ II

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Declaration of War’ Part-II

United Nations Security Council’s resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory has triggered a brutal and messy diplomatic fight between President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and now President-elect Donald Trump,  the U.N and the Countries voted for it. 

The war of words got even nastier, when Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a high-profile speech warning that Netanyahu’s settlement policy could doom any chance at a peace deal and threaten Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

“The status quo is leading toward one state and perpetual occupation,” Kerry warned. “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme element.”

Netanyahu immediately shot back that Kerry’s speech was “biased against Israel” and “obsessively focused” on settlements, and “barely touched upon the root of the conflict — Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries.”

So who’s right? And why are both countries so angry? 

It’s a complex answer that involves geopolitical maneuvering, international legal issues, and a healthy dose of seemingly nonsensical diplomatic language, so you’d be forgiven for feeling a little bit lost trying to sort out exactly what’s going on.

What follows is a simple guide to the issue:

1) What did the Obama administration do at the UN?

The United States on Friday abstained on a vote over a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. By abstaining — instead of vetoing the resolution, as the United States has reliably done to similar measures for decades — the Obama administration allowed the highly symbolic measure to make it through the chamber by a unanimous 14-0 margin.

It was the first time in nearly 40 years that the Security Council has passed a resolution critical of Israeli settlements. It was also a firm rebuke of both Netanyahu, who had strongly argued against the resolution, and Trump, who had taken the highly unprecedented move of weighing in on Thursday, before the vote, and pressing for the measure to be vetoed.

The Jewish communities in question are in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both of which were captured by Israel during 1967’s Six-Day War. They range in size from small outposts of just a few dozen people to Ariel, home to some 20,000 people and a thriving university. Two of the more controversial settlements lie inside and adjacent to Hebron, a large Palestinian city that houses the burial place of Abraham, making it one of the holiest sites in both Judaism and Islam. Dozens of Jews and Muslims have been killed in political violence there in recent decades.


Israel’s construction of new neighborhoods throughout East Jerusalem is technically as illegal as its settlement building elsewhere in the West Bank, but many American policymakers from both parties have long acknowledged that Jewish neighborhoods in that part of the city would remain under Israeli control in any peace agreement. That’s particularly true of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, home to the Western Wall, the most religiously important place in Judaism.

It’s important to note that the settlement population is enormous and rapidly growing; nearly 600,000 Jews live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a figure that has grown by 100,000 just since Obama took office in 2009.

Citing those statistics, administration officials pretending they had to act now because the population is so big that it would soon be basically impossible for Israel to withdraw from any meaningfully large parts of the West Bank — helping to doom the already faint chances of a peace deal.

2) What did the resolution actually say?

UN resolution 2334 is a long document full of diplomatic jargon (you can read the full text here), so we’ll just skip to the important parts.

The resolution demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” and declares that the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

This is far stronger language than the United States has ever officially used to describe Israeli settlement activity before. Although the standard US position has for three decades been that such settlements, which are built on land intended to be part of a future Palestinian state, are “obstacles to peace,” the United States has always stopped short of describing them as “illegal” under international law.

The resolution condemns “all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.” It lists among those measures “the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.”

The text also calls on all member states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.

Finally, the measure includes a request that the UN secretary general report to the Security Council every three months on the resolution’s implementation — all but guaranteeing that there will continue to be regular engagement on the issue.

3) What practical effect (if any) does the resolution have?

The resolution’s effects are primarily diplomatic and political, though there are some potential legal implications in the longer term.

To begin with, it’s a non-binding resolution. That means it’s basically just a strongly worded statement that doesn’t impose any sort of sanctions or other punishments on Israel for its past settlement activity, nor does it put in place such measures to punish Israel for any future settlement activity. Those would have to be included in a separate Security Council resolution, and it’s virtually certain that both Obama and Trump would veto such a measure.

The whole point of the resolution is to further solidify the longstanding international consensus that Israel’s settlement activity is illegal and a roadblock to achieving a peaceful solution to the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict — in other words, to isolate Israel and show it that the whole world thinks what it is doing is wrong. The hope is that this will make Israel change its policies in order to get back into the good graces of the international community.

But Israel is free to completely ignore the resolution and tell the international community to stuff it. And indeed, Israel’s government initially looked like it would do just that, announcing Monday that it planned to move ahead with the construction of nearly 6,000 new homes in the predominantly Palestinian eastern Jerusalem, with 600 settlements due to be approved Wednesday.

“We remain unfazed by the UN vote, or by any other entity that tries to dictate what we do in Jerusalem,” the city’s deputy mayor, Meir Turgeman, told the newspaper Israel Hayom. However, on Wednesday, Netanyahu reportedly instructed the Jerusalem municipality to wait on approving new housing units in an attempt to avoid further inflaming US-Israeli relations.

Still, the resolution could potentially have some longer-term legal and economic implications for Israel. For instance, Tel Aviv University law professor Aeyal Gross writes at Haaretz that the resolution could encourage the International Criminal Court to be more aggressive in its examination of settlement construction.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is currently working on a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is not a full-scale investigation, and no criminal case has been brought against Israel. Gross explains that this could potentially change due to the new UN resolution.

“The consensus that the resolution represents on the illegality of the settlements and the description of their construction as a ‘flagrant’ violation of international law may convince Bensouda that she has strong grounds to pursue the matter before the ICC,” writes Gross.

And indeed, Palestinian leaders are already saying that they’ll use the resolution to seek International Criminal Court indictments of Israeli leaders, push for a formal probe into whether Israel is violating the Geneva Conventions, and get foreign governments to ban the import of any products made in Israeli settlements.

4) Why is this resolution happening now?

The push to bring this resolution before the Security Council in the last few remaining days of Obama’s term as president seems to have been a calculated move by Palestinian diplomats.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “As early as October, Palestinian diplomats at the UN began assessing prospects for a Security Council resolution. They drafted two resolutions: one that would condemn Israel’s rapid expansion of settlements in disputed territories of West Bank and East Jerusalem, and another that would recognize Palestine as a state at the UN.”

Arab diplomats told the Journal that the Palestinians ultimately decided to drop the statehood resolution because they believed it would inevitably be vetoed by the Obama administration.

The Palestinians appear to have seen a path forward all the same, believing that Obama’s long-held opposition to the Israeli settlements — and deep animosity toward Netanyahu — meant the US president might allow a slightly watered-down resolution to make it through the Security Council.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and an influential pro-Palestinian activist, told Al Jazeera, “Knowing that the Obama administration was not going to restart the peace process, we told them that the least they could do is resurface the issue surrounding the illegality of settlements, something which hasn’t been said since the Carter administration.”

It was decided that Egypt, as the only Arab member of the Security Council, should be the one to sponsor the resolution. And indeed, Egypt was the measure’s initial sponsor. However, on Thursday, just one day before the vote was scheduled to take place, Egypt suddenly announced that it was delaying the vote indefinitely.

This was apparently in response to an unprecedented intervention by Trump, in the form of a personal phone call to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi urging him to table the vote. Netanyahu, who has developed a close relationship with Sisi, also pressed the Egyptian leader to withdraw the measure.

The resolution was then reintroduced on Friday by four of the other non-permanent members of the Security Council — New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Senegal — but not Egypt. That resolution is the one that the US abstained on, and which ultimately passed.

5) Why didn’t the US veto the resolution?

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US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said in a statement after the vote that “it is because this resolution reflects the facts on the ground — and is consistent with U.S. policy across Republican and Democratic administrations throughout the history of the State of Israel — that the United States did not veto it.”

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, explained further to PBS Newshour:

We’ve had failed peace processes after failed peace process, and the pace of settlement construction has accelerated significantly. And just recently, you had the Israeli prime minister saying that this is the most pro-settlement in administration in Israeli history, the Israeli government that is currently in place.

We believe that at this pace, a two-state solution could be put at risk. We believe that would be profoundly bad for Israel and its security. And so, that’s why the president took the position that he did.

But beyond the White House’s formal statements on the matter, the move was widely seen as Obama’s parting shot at Netanyahu, with whom the president repeatedly clashed throughout his tenure.

Zeeshan Aleem of Vox writes, although the Obama administration gave Israel a bigger military aid package than any US president in history, and has vetoed past UN condemnations of settlements, Obama had a “tense and at times outright hostile relationship with the right-wing Netanyahu.” Among other things, they clashed over Israeli settlement expansion and the terms of the controversial Iran nuclear deal.

But Obama’s parting shot was also aimed at Trump, who has indicated he wants to take a much stronger pro-Israel stance. For instance, he has said he wants to move the US embassy to Jerusalem — a step “every US government has refrained from doing because the future of the disputed city is meant to be resolved as part of direct talks between the two sides for a final status peace deal.”

And Trump’s newly named ambassador to Israel, David Friedman — who has been a personal friend of Trump’s for about 15 years — is staunchly pro-settlement and has said he opposes the two-state solution that has been a cornerstone of US policy about ending the conflict for decades.

It’s possible that Trump’s stunning intervention — directly meddling in a major US foreign policy decision before he has even taken office — may have played a role in ultimately pushing Obama to take the dramatic step of abstaining on Friday’s vote.

But even if so, it’s almost certainly not the main reason. As Kerry stated in his speech defending the decision to abstain on the vote, “We did not take this decision lightly.” The resolution is directly in line with Obama’s own view on Israeli settlements, and the vote was essentially Obama’s way of making a symbolic last stand on an issue that has long concerned him but that he proved wholly unable to do much of anything about during his time in the White House.

6) How did the Israeli government react to the vote?

Not particularly well. In fact, they’re royally pissed.

Speaking in a televised address at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on Saturday, Netanyahu angrily denounced the Obama administration for having carried out what Netanyahu termed a “disgraceful anti-Israel maneuver.”

“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. The statement also said that Israel “looks forward” to working with the incoming Trump administration to “negate” the resolution’s “harmful effects.”

Then over the weekend, Israeli officials went even further. David Keyes, a spokesperson for Netanyahu, told Fox News on Sunday that Jerusalem had gathered “iron-clad information from sources in both the Arab world and internationally that this was a deliberate push by the United States and in fact they helped create the resolution in the first place.”

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer later told CNN that they would present this evidence of Obama’s plot against Israel to the incoming Trump administration. “If they want to share it with the American people, they are welcome to do it,” Dermer said.

Netanyahu immediately summoned US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro as well as ambassadors from 10 of the 14 countries that voted in favor of the resolution and have embassies in Israel — Britain, China, Russia, France, Egypt, Japan, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine, and New Zealand — to protest the resolution. The prime minister also instructed the Foreign Ministry to suspend any Israeli diplomatic trips to countries that supported the resolution and reduce contact with their embassies.

The Israeli government also lashed out at the UN, announcing a series of retaliatory moves aimed at correcting what it sees as unfair anti-Israel bias within the institution and declaring it would halt 30 million shekels — about $7.8 million — in funding to five United Nations institutions that are “particularly hostile to Israel,” such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Finally, Netanyahu warned nations against taking any further actions on this issue, declaring that “Israel is a country with national pride, and we don’t turn the other cheek.”

The Israeli leader capped off his attacks at the Obama administration with his blistering public response to Kerry’s speech Wednesday. What the secretary of state did, Netanyahu charged, “was spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace.”

7) Why does Israel care so much about this?

There is strong international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements. This is based on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bans nations from the moving of populations into and the establishing of settlements in the territory of another nation won in war.

Israel’s right-wing government, however, disputes that settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal, and maintains that their final status should be determined in future negotiations on Palestinian statehood, not by the United Nations.

The government’s rightward shift toward a more pro-settlement stance in recent years is in part a result of the rapid growth of Israel’s settler population.

According to data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the annual growth rate for the settler population (excluding East Jerusalem) in 2013 was more than two and a half times higher than that of the overall population in Israel: 4.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. Kerry, in his speech Wednesday, noted that the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem, has increased by nearly 270,000 since the Oslo peace accords (signed in 1993 and 1995), including 100,000 just since 2009, when Obama took office.

As Vox’s Johnny Harris notes, “Over time, and especially as Israeli politics has shifted rightward, the settler movement has become an institutionalized part of Israeli society.”

But there’s another reason the Israeli government cares so much about what happens at the United Nations in particular: Israel government and Policy makers believes that they are meant to rule the world and in fact they are doing so, since long with America always in their backing and United Nations Mute role on Israel’s atrocities.

Now, as the things are gone a bit out of hand Israel is blaming the international community as biased against Israel, and that it unfairly singles out Israel for censure while ignoring egregious actions by other countries. (which countries they are talking about?).

This latest action by the UN, then, is interpreted by the Israeli government as part of a broader campaign to delegitimize Israel on the international stage. That the United States, Israel’s closest and most powerful ally, stood aside and let the resolution pass — and, according to Netanyahu, may have even been instrumental in bringing the measure to the Security Council in the first place — makes it even more painful.

8) Could Trump overturn the resolution when he takes office?

Trump has indicated that after he takes office on January 20, “things will be different” at the United Nations.

Donald J. Trump 

@realDonaldTrump

not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!

And once in office, Trump could theoretically repeal the resolution by introducing a new resolution at the UN that completely revokes this one. He would then need to get at least eight other countries to vote for it, as well as ensure that none of the Security Council’s other permanent members — Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China — veto it.

Trump’s pick to be the next US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, would almost certainly support such a move. Haley is perceived as being staunchly pro-Israel: As governor of South Carolina, she passed legislation against the so-called BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement — an international campaign aimed at punishing Israel economically for its actions and policies toward the Palestinians.

She also publicly supported Netanyahu’s objections to the Iran nuclear deal when she delivered the Republican Party’s official response to Obama’s last State of the Union back in January. Haley said that if the GOP were to control the White House, “we would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.”

But it is extremely unlikely that Haley and the Trump administration would actually be able to get eight other countries on the Security Council to support a measure revoking this most recent resolution. That’s because, as mentioned above, the truth that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law is widely held by UN member countries.

Finally, even if the Trump administration did manage to get eight other countries to support such a measure, a permanent member veto would be likely, as Russia, China, Britain, and France — all of whom have veto power — all supported this measure, which passed 14-0.

9) What does this mean for US-Israel relations going forward?

Republican lawmakers immediately condemned the UN resolution and threatened consequences. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who heads the Senate panel in charge of US payments to the UN, said he would “form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce” funding. He added that countries receiving US aid could also be penalized for supporting the resolution.

Sen. Ted Cruz vowed on Twitter to cut US funding to the United Nations until the vote is reversed.

An array of powerful Democrats have also condemned the move. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic minority leader, took to Twitter to argue that it was “[e]xtremely frustrating, disappointing & confounding that the Administration has failed to veto the UN resolution.”

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “very disappointed by the United States’ acquiescence to a one-sided, biased resolution at the United Nations Security Council.”

“This resolution places the blame for the current impasse in negotiations entirely on Israel, asking nothing of the Palestinians,” Engel added.

However, by directly accusing the Obama administration of being behind this UN move, Israeli officials made the fight personal.

As Vox’s Yochi Dreazen explains, “That puts Israel’s allies in the Democratic Party in a bind. Many of those lawmakers would normally condemn the UN vote, but Netanyahu’s attacks on Obama mean that criticizing the measure would look like they were criticizing their own president, too.”

“Netanyahu has also publicly embraced the incoming administration to a degree never done before by an Israeli leader,” writes Dreazen, “leaving no doubt that he believes the new president will be friendlier to his country than Obama had been.”

Benjamin Netanyahu 

@netanyahu

President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel! 🇮🇱🇺🇸@IvankaTrump@DonaldJTrumpJr https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/814114980983427073 

Kerry spent much of his speech repeatedly noting his personal support for Israel, and stressing that “[n]o American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s.”

“Regrettably, some seem to believe that the US friendship means the US must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles,” Kerry said, adding, “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.”

“This administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter,” he insisted. The ferocity of Netanyahu’s response, however, showed that those feelings don’t appear to be mutual.

Read:

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Declaration of War’

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/benjamin-netanyahus-declaration-of-war/

sources:

http://www.vox.com/world

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Creative Commons Copyright © Arrested Developments 2015

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s Declaration of War’

 

Benjamin Netanyahu ‘warned UN settlement a declaration of war’

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told New Zealand’s foreign minister that his country’s sponsoring of the UN anti-settlement resolution was a “declaration of war“.

Netanyahu has also lashed out at President Barack Obama after Friday’s Security Council vote, on which the United States’ abstention marked a break with tradition, and called the action a “shameful ambush”.

The Security Council voted to condemn settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation of international law” and demanded Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory”, pointing out that the international community views any Israeli construction over the agreed 1967 Green Line as illegal.

According to Haaretz, in a personal phone call Mr Netanyahu told New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully: “This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it.

“If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences.”

Mr McCully reportedly refused to back down and said the resolution was consistent with New Zealand policy

Israel has recalled its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal, and cancelled aid to the latter country.

The resolution was put forward by New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela, taking place just a day after Egypt withdrew it following significant pressure from both Israel and President-elect Donald Trump.

Mr Netanyahu has said Israel will not abide by the ruling.

He added: “At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall ‘occupied territory’.”

Defending New Zealand’s vote on Saturday, Mr McCully said: “We have been very open about our view that the [UN Security Council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long established policy on the Palestinian question.

“The vote… should not come as a surprise to anyone and we look forward to continuing to engage constructively with all parties on this issue.”

The vote was welcomed by Palestinian representatives. A spokesperson from Palestinan Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ office called it a “big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements, and a strong support for the two-state solution”.

Settlement building – which has accelerated year-on-year under current right-wing Prime Minister Netanyahu – is viewed as one of the major stumbling blocks to a lasting peace deal.

Settlements

• Settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are built on land seized by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.
• Many in the international community believe that such settlements are illegal and a barrier to any future “two-state” peace deal. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
• The UN Security Council resolution states that Israel’s settlement program has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” Israel disputes this.
• A “two-state solution” envisages a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel, based on territory in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem — but Israel’s continued building threatens its viability.
• Settlements are controversial within Israel too. While they are widely supported by right-wing and ultra-Orthodox groups, other Israelis see them as an obstacle to peace.

 

 

ISRAEL EVEN ‘SUSPENDS WORKING TIES WITH 12 UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS’

 

The Jerusalem Local Planning and Construction Committee is expected to approve permits to build 618 new homes in Jewish neighbourhoods across the Green Line today – and at the same time US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to lay out his vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The speech, less than a month before President Barack Obama leaves office, is likely to be the administration’s last word on a decades-old dispute that Mr Kerry had hoped to resolve during his four years as America’s top diplomat.

It could also be seen in Israel as another parting shot at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had an especially acrimonious relationship with Mr Obama since they both took office in 2009.

A State Department official said: “We believe that with the two-state solution in peril, it is important to share the deeper understanding we have developed of both sides’ bottom lines during intensive consultations in recent years.”

Benjamin Netanyahu is in fact challanging the whole world, and is a big threat to World Peace.

The international peace conference scheduled for January 15 in Paris could be the forum for discussing such a resolution. That would give the international community time to introduce the resolution at the UN Security Council before the end of Obama’s time in office.
Israel has vowed not to attend the conference. The Palestinians say they will attend.
Settlement building in the occupied West Bank is considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. The United States considers settlements “illegitimate” and “an obstacle to peace.”

sources:

The Independent, U.K http://www.independent.co.uk

CNN http://edition.cnn.com/

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The other side of Atlantic on “America after the Elections”

What the other side of Atlantic thinks on the fate of America after the Elections

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Here is a description of events and predictions by the Russian Insider and some other magazines anticipating the unfolding of main dramatic scenario going to take place after the U.S Election.

The Fight for Leadership in Washington Begins After the Election

After the bizarre 2016 election, Washington faces a slate of investigations and a gridlock. Internationally, threats include new Cold War(s). Depending on the outcome, the election could even be contested

If Hillary Clinton wins, she will flash her broad smile like Alice in the Wonderland, with Vice President Tim Kaine, Bill and Chelsea on her side. The conventional story will be that her victory built on her egalitarian economic policy, gender concerns, international relations, strong defense policy and good ties with Europe and Japan.

But thats just the facade – a carefully orchestrated result of an estimated $6.6 billion elections, her $700 million campaign financing, good ties with super PACs, skillfully maneuvered electoral college, shrewd PR, collusion with nations leading media organizations,  and a long series of political miscalculations by Donald Trump.

Americans will vote on November 8. However, the battle will ensue soon thereafter. The winner will face a split Congress, a divided Democratic Party , and badly-fragmented Republican party. To defuse their meltdown, Republicans are likely to challenge Clinton every step of the way. And the election could – and perhaps should – be contested.

Lawsuits, investigations, special prosecutors

Last July, FBI Director James Comey closed the Clinton probe and decided not to pursue charges, which resulted in broad criticism. Recently, Comey re-opened the case following a discovery of new emails. The disclosure allowed the FBI to reopen a criminal investigation only days before the election. It took place against the stated opposition of the Department of Justice (DOJ) but reflected the frustration of FBI agents over Comeys previous decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. Ultimately, the debacle may undermine or boost the Clinton campaign.

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Yet, the FBI activities are just the latest twist in a bizarre reality show, which has potential for a flood of lawsuits, congressional investigations and special prosecutors. In addition to the Benghazi and FBI debacles, these efforts are likely to include some 50,000 emails from Wikileaks, particularly those of John Podesta, Clinton campaign manager and chair of the Center of American Progress (CAP), which is very close to the White House.

The questions will center on Clintons private email server; her special assistant Huma Abedin and her ex-spouse (who is under FBI investigation for sexting with underage girls); the many lucrative pay-for-play allegations about Hillary Clintons office and Bill Clintons speeches; the Clinton Foundation and the alleged coordination between the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign and various big money lobby groups (super PACs), including mega financiers, such as George Soros – and recruited groups, such as the notorious Democracy Partners, to incite violence and chaos in Trump rallies.

These events were then recorded by mainstream media, which is now in trouble as well. As a CNN talking head, Donna Brazile, currently DNC chair (her predecessor was fired – though belatedly – for bias against presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and for Clinton), shared questions of the CNN town hall debate with Clinton in advance. Reportedly, her campaign also gave leaks to CNN before other media, which subtle collusion. In turn, Google had a strategic plan to help democrats win the election by tracking voters via smart phones. And other media debacles are under scrutiny as well.

The system has been effective. According to a recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll, most Americans believe that the media wants Clinton to win.

Washingtons post-election gridlock

Republicans want investigations about the role of the State Department, the DOJ and the FBI, even President Obama, due to a cover-up to protect Hillary Clinton, as the Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus says. Speaker Paul Ryan has promised aggressive oversight work of a quid pro quo deal between the FBI and the State Department over emails. As chair of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz is pushing for a slate of new hearings.

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House Republicans are demanding a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton Foundation for possible conflicts of interest. There is enough evidence, says former New York City mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani, for a RICO case against the Foundation as a racketeering enterprise. In the 1970s, RICO was used to prosecute the Mafia and organized crime figures. More recent cases range from Gambino and Lucchese crime families to the 80s junk bond king Michael Milken, Catholic sex abuse cases and Los Angeles Police Department.

In the past three months, Republicans have issued some 20 subpoenas and over 50 letters of inquiry probing Clinton. New ones will be fueled by tens of thousands of Clinton emails courtesy of Wikileaks. It doesnt really help that, as Secretary of State, Clinton wanted to silence both Julian Assange and Wikileaks and once stunned her colleagues by asking: Cant we just drone this guy?

Assuming that markets perceive a Clinton victory as signal for continuity (which is no longer certain), the Fed is expected to hike rates in December. If not, the ultra-low rates will continue to pave way to asset bubbles. In order to overcome secular stagnation, America needs structural reforms that Clinton is neither willing nor able to execute. In the 1980s, the Congress legislated some 700 laws annually. After three decades of political polarization, that figure has plunged close to 300.

Currently, the Senate and the House are under Republican control. The Democrats have a good chance of taking over the Senate. If Congress remains divided after the election, Clinton must rely on limited legislation and executive action. But if Democrats could control the Senate and the House, She could push for immigration reform, and expansion of Social Security. A Democratic Senate could make Chuck Schumer the majority leader; in the House Nancy Pelosi could take over. The former is a trade hawk who favors retaliation; the latter is a human rights advocate who backs liberal social plans; and Hillary Clinton is the architect behind US pivot to Asia.

In Beijing, such political consolidation could mean triple pressures in defense, trade and US views of human rights; unless the Congress remains divided,or returns to Republican fold after the 2018 mid-term election. Or, whats now likely, Clinton will fail to achieve any political consolidation and a gridlock is the benign scenario.

In economy, Clinton will push for infrastructure spending for some $275 billion in the course of a decade. But the bill should be paid with tax revenues, which could lead to Republican opposition. In the financial sector, Clinton will support greater oversight of shadow banking, moderate enforcement of financial regulation and increasing attention to high drug prices. Since she is for tougher anti-trust policy, America has seen record mergers and acquisitions activities in the past few months – including a record level of Chinese M&As in the US.

Clintons economic program will resolve neither Americas income polarization nor its sovereign debt burden, which will soon exceed $20 trillion (107% of GDP). In the absence of bipartisan, credible and medium-term debt program, the challenges are likely to deteriorate in the coming years.

Trade policy is the real test of Clintons international engagement. During her campaign, she often said that she would block the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I oppose the TPP now, Ill oppose it after the election, and Ill oppose it as president. If she sticks to her stance, it would alienate TPP allies in Asia, particularly Japan and Vietnam. If she could rely on a united Congress, she would be in a better position to flip-flop, again.

New sanctions, Cold War(s), nuclear threats

Historically, when the White House has failed to unite America through economic policy, rearmament has been the second-best option.

In Washingtons foreign policy establishment, President Obamas replacement with the more hawkish Hillary Clinton would be welcomed with relief. In contrast to Obama, she has called for stepped-up military action to deter President al-Assads regime and Russian forces in Syria, whereas Obamas advisers warn that you cant pretend you can go to war against Assad and not to go war against the Russians.

nuclear

Yet, Clinton wants new sanctions against Russia, despite increasing nuclear threats. According to Pew research, the confidence of Russians on American media has collapsed. It is now less than 1%. Strategic distrust between the two nations is now far higher than during the Cold War.

If Clinton would implement her geopolitical pledges, including a no-fly zone in Syria, it could require the use of 70,000 soldiers and a monthly cost of $1 billion. That would increase the probability of real, perceived or accidental US-Russian friction. Under Hillary Clinton, warns Green Party candidate Jill Stein, America could very quickly slide into nuclear war with Russia.

In Southeast and East Asia, Clinton would talk more about currency manipulation, but hold on to existing US alliances, push harder for the US pivot, cooperate more with India and exhibit greater military assertiveness in the contested South China and East Asia seas.

Barely a week ago, the Center of American Progress hosted what some saw as a preview of Clintons Midde East policy, concluding that the next president should double down on support for the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, but ramp up action against Iran. Former acting CIA Director and Clinton foreign policy advisor Mike Morell called for escalation of sanctions.

That, in turn, would undermine the nuclear deal between Iran, Obama and the EU – but it would emulate neoconservative objectives that led to the Iraq War.

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After years of military interventions, the last thing that the Middle East and North Africa need is more destabilization, which economist Jeffrey Sachs attributes in part to Clintons policies. The latter could endanger China-led economic development in the region, add to migration crises and terror threats in the EU and the US – and has already killed jobs and reduced remittance flows to South and Southeast Asia. To Sachs, Clinton is the candidate of the war machine, noting that she supported the regime change act in 1998 that paved way for the Iraq War in 2003, which she also supported. Her record extends from Libya to Syria, Ukraine and Georgia. The interventionism has also resulted in civil wars and famines in Africa.

Clinton supports hawkish security policies advocated by both the Democratic liberal internationalists and the Republican neoconservatives. Last summer, the Clintonites Center for a New American Security (CNAS) , a successor of the neoconservatives New Project for the American Century a decade ago, published its report on Extending American Power, as a kind of a transition memo for Clinton.  The bipartisan panel of contributors include Victoria Nuland, former adviser of Dick Cheney and Clinton who had a key role in US efforts at regime change in Ukraine; Michele Flournoy, co-founder of CNAS and one potential candidate for the next Secretary of Defense; James Rubin, a Clinton States Department veteran; and Robert Kagan, Nulands husband, a neoconservative visionary and a proponent of a New American Empire.

us-china-relations

As, the goal would be to rely increasingly on the use and threat of military force, it would require an increase in Pentagon spending of up to $1 trillion over the next decade. Unsurprisingly, the major CNAS donors feature the leading Pentagon contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing, which also support Clintons campaign.

Global risk

Half a year ago, I warned that, in the absence of appropriate integrity and transparency,  the US 2016 election is a global risk, which could undermine US economic rebound and the lingering global economic recovery. That risk prevails and has grown stronger – as evidenced by uneasy volatility indicators, declines of S&P 500 and other harbingers of financial instability.

For weeks, both Trump and Clinton have been building legal cases and armies of lawyers for the possibility of a contested election. In spring, this was still a distant theoretical option. Now it is one credible scenario.

Obama tried to change the country in a remarkable way—to make it more socially just, [with] Obamacare and all these things. Now the American has to decide whether they want to stick on the Obama path of more government or roll back some of the things he has done.

Whatever happens after the US 2016 election, the struggle of Washington, by Washington and for Washington is about to lead to a new era that will be economically more uncertain, politically more divisive, and strategically risky.

Read further stories:

The Trumgeddon

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/trumpgeddon

Hillary Bhakt U.S Media

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/hillary-bhakt-u-s-media

Trumpet Sounded: And there came hail and fire

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/trumpet-sounded

A crooked Election

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/a-crooked-election

Leaked Emails predicted Trump’s rise

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/leaked-email-predicted-trumps-rise

arrested-ds-160x32

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com

Along with thanks and compliments to the sources for the shared data

Creative Commons Copyright © Arrested Developments 2015

Western firms primed to cash in on Syria’s Oil and Gas ‘Frontier’

Once Syria conflict resolved, prospects for Syrian offshore production  are high.

US, British, French, Israeli and other energy interests could be prime beneficiaries of military operations in Iraq and Syria designed to rollback the power of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) and, potentially, the Bashar al-Assad regime.

A study for a global oil services company backed by the French government and linked to Britain’s Tory-led administration, published during the height of the Arab Spring, hailed the significant “hydrocarbon potential” of Syria’s offshore resources.

The 2011 study was printed in GeoArabia, a petroleum industry journal published by a Bahrain-based consultancy, GulfPetroLink, which is sponsored by some of the world’s biggest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Total, and BP.

Geo Arabia’s content has no open subscription system and is exclusively distributed to transnational energy corporations, corporate sponsors and related organisations, as well as some universities.

Authored by Steven A. Bowman, a Senior Geo scientist for the French energy company CGG Veritas, the study identified “three sedimentary basins, Levantine, Cyprus, and Latakia, located in offshore Syria” and highlighted “significant evidence for a working petroleum system in offshore Syria with numerous onshore oil and gas shows, DHIs (direct hydrocarbon indicators) observed on seismic, and oil seeps identified from satellite imagery.”

Read Full Extensive Report at Insurge Intelligence

 INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, is a crowd-funded investigative journalism project

Excerpts from an article by Nafeez Ahmed, the journalist 

Frances secret affair with Assads Syria

At the time, when civil unrest was sweeping across Syria, CGGVeritas was contracted to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Sources.

The French company is one of the world’s largest seismic surveyors. Backed by the French government which owns 18% voting rights in the firm, CGGVeritas had acquired seismic data on offshore Syrian resources in 2005, and since then has been the main point of contact for geophysical and geological datasets on behalf of the Syrian regime.

In 2011, the French firm had an exclusive contract with the Syrian government to provide technical support for that year’s Syrian International Offshore Bid Round for firms to explore, develop and produce oil and gas from three offshore blocks in the Mediterranean Sea by the Syrian coast.

Exploration activity has increased in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years following a series of major multi-TCF (trillion cubic feet) gas discoveries made in the offshore southern Levantine Basin,” wrote Bowman. “Licensing rounds are scheduled to be announced during 2011 for areas in offshore Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus, which are believed to share strong geological similarities with these discoveries.”

Describing offshore Syria as “a truly frontier area of exploration”, Bowman — who was also involved in CGGVeritas evaluations of seismic datasets of energy resources in Libya — noted the discovery of several “flat-spots” which, if real, “will represent billion-barrel/multi-TCF [trillion cubic feet] drilling targets given the scale and volumetrics of the structures within which they occur.”

Western Energy majors court Assad

CGG Veritas was also licenced by the British government for the North Sea, where for the last several years Bowman has held responsibility for identifying prospectivity and coordinating licencing round activities.

In 2012, the US Department of the Interior published a US Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook, which observed that Assads government-owned Syrian Petroleum Co.:

“… cooperated with several international oil companies, such as Chinese National Petroleum Co. (CNPC), Gulfsands Petroleum of the United Kingdom, Oil and Natural Gas Resources Corp. of India, Royal Dutch Shell plc. of the United Kingdom, and Total SA of France through subsidiary companies.”

Two years earlier, the Syrian capital, Damascus, was host to the 7th Syrian International Oil & Gas Exhibition, convened by Assad’s Ministry of Petroleum. The exhibition was sponsored by CNPC, Shell, and the French major Total, and was attended by over a hundred representatives of international firms, 40% of whom were based in Europe.

A 2010 draft document produced on behalf of the Syrian Ministry of Petroleum by the exhibition organiser, Allied Expo, described how British company Shell was planning to work closely with the Assad regime to develop Syria’s gas production:

Shell will devise a master plan for the development of the gas sector in Syria, following an agreement signed with the Ministry of Petroleum,” say the presentation slides, created in October 2010 to promote plans for a new oil and gas exhibition in 2012. “The agreement includes an assessment of the overall undiscovered gas potential in Syria, potential for upstream gas production, need for gas transmission and distribution networks…

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Throughout 2010, Shell officials held numerous meetings with British government ministers. In July, Shell met David Cameron to discuss “business issues”, Foreign Office minister David Howell to discuss “international energy matters”, and Charles Hendry, minister of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

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Such meetings with multiple government departments and often dozens of senior officials continued for every month through to the end of the following year, except June 2010. These included meetings with the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor Peter Ricketts; business secretary Vince Cable, various DECC ministers to discuss “energy issues” related to Qatar, along with several sessions with Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Declassified British government memos show that in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, oil firms BP and Shell held several meetings with senior government officials to guarantee a role of British energy companies in post-conflict Iraq.

While publicly the government decried criticisms of an oil motive for British involvement in the war as “the oil conspiracy theory”, one memo of a meeting between then Trade Minister Baroness Symons and UK oil firms revealed that in private, they believed “it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

After the 2011 protests, even when Assad was brutalising demonstrators in the streets, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ruled out military intervention and insisted that the Syrian dictator was a “reformer” — which he took as a green light to escalate his crackdown.

As the cycle of violence intensified, Western governments disassociated from Assad when it became clear his rule had become completely unstable. With the outbreak of civil war, the plans of Shell and other oil majors to open up Syria’s offshore resources were unexpectedly suspended.

Military action to protect Mediterranean oil and gas

The sudden crisis in Syria threw a spanner in the works for longstanding efforts to explore and open up lucrative energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

A report published in December 2014 by the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) provides compelling evidence that American, British and Gulf defence strategists see the Mediterranean as an opportunity to wean Europe off dependence on Russian gas, and boost Israel’s energy independence.

As part of this process, the report revealed, military action is viewed as potentially necessary to secure Syria’s untapped offshore gas resources, which overlap with the territorial waters of other Mediterranean powers, including Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.

The report by Mohammed El-Katiri, an advisor to the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Defence and formerly a research director at the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Advanced Research and Assessment Group (ARAG), explicitly acknowledges that a post-conflict Syria would open up new prospects for energy exploration.

Once the Syria conflict is resolved, prospects for Syrian offshore production — provided commercial resources are found — are high,” wrote El-Katiri. Potential oil and gas resources can be developed “relatively smoothly once the political situation allows for any new exploration efforts in its offshore territories.”

The US Army SSI report noted that Syria’s offshore resources are part of a wider matrix of oil and gas deposits in the Levant basin encompassing the offshore territories of these competing states.

The region is estimated to hold approximately 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which could be just a third of the basin’s total hydrocarbons.

US-led military intervention has a key role to play, the report concludes, in “managing” conflicts and tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially the prospect of “Syria destabilising into de facto civil

war.”

US diplomatic and military support has a pivotal role to play in the East Mediterranean’s complex geopolitical landscape, and its importance will only grow as the value of the natural resources at stake increases,” the Army SSI report said:

US security and military support for its main allies in the case of an eruption of natural resource conflict in the East Mediterranean may prove essential in managing possible future conflict.”

Arrested-Dev

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ISIS And Battle for Mosul

Battle of Mosul

Iraq’s announcement of the start of the offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS is a pivotal moment in defeating ISIS, which has made the city its de facto capital in Iraq since seizing it in mid-2014.

The Iraqi offensive on Mosul is the culmination of a two-year Iraqi military campaign to remove the ISIS military threat from northern Iraq.

Much of the U.S. military presence in Iraq during the last two years has been geared toward training and advising Iraq’s security forces to defeat ISIS militarily and take back the cities controlled by the group, particularly Mosul. So far, 35,000 Iraqi troops have been trained by the U.S.-led coalition.

At the other hand ISIS fighters in Mosul have built berms and trenches along the major roadways into the city and placed bombs along roads, on bridges and inside buildings. Giant pits of tire and oil have been readied to create giant dark clouds that would make it difficult for coalition aircraft to conduct airstrikes in the city.

It promises to be not only Iraqi Army’s largest operation but also its toughest test as ISIS fighters have had more than two years to prepare elaborate defenses inside Iraq’s second largest city known as Mosul.

Mosul the City

Located along the banks of the Tigris River in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province, Mosul is Iraq’s second-largest city, normally with more than 2 million residents.

The population consists of a mix of the diverse ethnic groups in northern Iraq; the majority are Sunni Arabs and Kurds. It is believed that 1 million residents remain in the city.

Mosul is the main industrial city in northern Iraq and a vital transportation hub in the flow of goods to and from Turkey and Syria. It is near significant oilfields in northern Iraq and a major oil pipeline into Turkey.

While mainstream media have thus far focused on the significance of Iraqi forces liberating the town.

Absent from international headlines, however, is what Mosul’s liberation means to those who call it home and to fellow Iraqis across the nation. How was Mosul viewed by Iraqis before the occupation of ISIS, and how will it be viewed after it is liberated?

Traditionally, Mosul has  been viewed as one of the three pillars of Iraq, alongside the cities of Baghdad and Basra, dating back to Iraq’s administrative layout under the Ottoman Empire. The three cities were the capitals of the three Ottoman provinces bearing the same name.

While the three provinces enjoyed local governance, the city of Baghdad retained administrative powers over all three provinces for the majority of the empire’s existence.

Owing to Mosul’s historical ties to Baghdad and Basra, the League of Nations decided – at the time – that the Mosul province would be administered by Iraq rather than Turkey, during the establishment of the modern-day Iraqi state.

This enabled the seamless establishment of Baghdad as the Iraqi capital, and retained Mosul and Basra as the country’s other influential economic hubs.

While Mosul is home to a vast number of ethnicities and sects, its wealth of unique surrounding villages, all bustling with Iraq’s Kurds, Yazidis, Shabak, Christian Assyrians and Armenians, led to Mosul’s unique cultural mix and diversity.

Despite Mosul’s location up north, what connected Maslawis (residents of Mosul) to the rest of Iraq was their significant class of educated citizens and highly regarded institutions. In general, Mosuls were well-educated and respected by the rest of Iraq.

Many Iraqis would go to the city to attend its prestigious University of Mosul, whose medical college dates back to the early establishment of the Iraqi state. If educated Iraqis were not going to Mosul to study, the educated people of Mosul were coming to the rest of Iraq to teach, as their presence was evident in schools and universities across the country. For many Iraqis, this is what Mosul means to them.

Mosul also represents the city that provided Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime with a large number of military and security personnel.

Unlike Baghdad and Basra, Mosul did not fight the US-led war in 2003. Instead, regime loyalists and the military simply integrated into the civilian population. This has meant that a large concentration of ex-regime loyalists were based in Mosul, which was evident when Hussein’s sons were caught hiding in Mosul in 2003.

At the time, many of those elements morphed into extremist groups such ISIL and carried out attacks to undermine the new political order. This saw the city quickly became a no-go zone for many in Iraq who were afraid of lawlessness and the free reign of armed groups in the city.

Hence, when Mosul fell to ISIS in 2014, many in Iraq were not as surprised.

Why Is It Important to Retake Mosul?

ISIS’ seizure of Mosul was a blow to Iraq’s political stability and a propaganda coup for the group, which wanted to demonstrate it was gaining territory to establish a great caliphate  nation.

A successful offensive on Mosul would take from ISIS its last strategic stronghold in Iraq and end the territorial dominance it commanded over large areas of north-western Iraq for the past two years.

The group’s control of territory there was made easier by the flow of ISIS fighters from its de facto capital of Raqqa in north-central Syria. An ISIS defeat in Mosul would cut off that route and leave the group’s military operations effectively contained to Syria.

The Plan

American military officials have informed that the city would be enveloped from the north and south by Iraqi army. Enveloping the city might take some time, Once that is completed, an elite Iraqi special operations force known as the Counter-Terrorism Service will push into the center of the city to drive out ISIS.

it is believed that around a toatal of 800,000 civilians could flee the city. As part of its planning, the Iraqi government has worked with the United Nations and international relief organizations in building 20 camps to take care of them.

Can Mosul overcome the horrible reign of ISIS and rise again as an Iraqi centre of education and culture.

The question going forward is:

Will Mosul remain a pillar of Iraqi identity or will the legacy of ISIS’s occupation result in trust lost between Mosul’s and the rest of Iraqis?

When this question was posed to a former Iraqi general and resident of the city, with relatives still living there, he said: “Mosul can remain the Mosul of old, the Mosul of officers, teachers and professors only if Mosuls want that to happen.”

Evidence of this is witnessed by the recent liberated Christian-Assyrian villages of Bartella and Qara Qosh, just outside Mosul, by the ISF. There is a newly built trust between the locals and the ISF that will be vital for the future of Iraq, if this trust is replicated in the liberation of Mosul.

Ultimately it will be the actions and reactions of Mosul’s citizens during and after military operations that will decide what the new Mosul will be known for. If they are able to overcome the horrible psychological and social trauma of ISIS’s reign, then Mosul can once again rise as an Iraqi center of education, culture and professionals.

sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/

http://www.aljazeera.com/

Arrested-Dev

https://arresteddevelopments.wordpress.com

Along with thanks and compliments to the sources for the shared data

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