Turkish Army Vehicle Kills Protester in North Eastern Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkish Army Vehicle Kills Protester in North Eastern Syria

Friday, 8 November, 2019 – 12:15
Turkish army armoured vehicles arrive near the Turkish town of Idil at the Turkey-Syria border before Turkish and Russian troops conduct their third joint patrols in northeast Syria, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. AP
Asharq Al-Awsat
A Kurdish group and a Syria war monitor said on Friday that a protester has been killed after he was run over by Turkish military vehicle.

Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said the man was killed in northeastern Syria.

The man was run over in the village of Sarmasakh near the border by a Turkish vehicle during a joint patrol with Russia, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights .

The Observatory said the man died in the hospital in the town of Derik from internal bleeding and broken bones, the Associated Press reported.

The man was among residents who pelted with shoes and stones Turkish and Russian troops who were conducting their third joint patrol in northeastern Syria, under a cease-fire deal brokered by Moscow that forced Kurdish fighters to withdraw from areas bordering Turkey.

India, China coordinate patrolling of disputed area 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India, China coordinate patrolling of disputed area

Fish Tail-I and II are in the easternmost corner of Arunachal Pradesh. Fish Tail -I is largely glaciated terrain, and patrols from either side are few and far between.

INDIA Updated: Oct 26, 2019 08:57 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen

New Delhi
India and China are for the first time patrolling Fish-Tail II,  one of the 13 disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in south-east Arunachal Pradesh. (Representative Image)
India and China are for the first time patrolling Fish-Tail II, one of the 13 disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in south-east Arunachal Pradesh. (Representative Image)(PTI)

India and China are for the first time patrolling Fish-Tail II, one of the 13 disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in south-east Arunachal Pradesh, in coordination with each other in an attempt to build mutual confidence and maintain peace along the border, a senior official in the security establishment said on condition of anonymity.

Fish Tail-I and II are in the easternmost corner of Arunachal Pradesh. Fish Tail -I is largely glaciated terrain, and patrols from either side are few and far between.

The proposal for “coordinated patrolling” was made by India at a high-level meeting between the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Indian army in June in the run-up to the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram,Tamil Nadu, earlier this month.

The two sides met in Arunachal’s Kibuthu, one of the seven designated border personnel meeting points. The Indian side was led by the commander of theDinjang (Assam)-based 2 Mountain Division of the III Corps of the Indian Army, the senior official cited above said.

China agreed to the Indian proposal, leading to structured “coordinated patrolling” along Fish-Tail II, the first time that such an exercise has been undertaken by the two countries, the official said.

“One of the key takeaways of the 2018 Wuhan summit, which followed the 73-day-long standoff between the Chinese People’s Army and the Indian army at Doklam, was to give strategic guidance to both armies to reduce border tensions. The coordinated patrolling is a step in that direction,” a senior ministry of defence official said.

The standoff at Doklam, in the India-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction, began on June 16, 2017, when the PLA entered the area in a bid to alter the status quo in violation of Beijing’s existing understanding with both India and Bhutan. The issue was eventually resolved with the disengagement of border personnel on August 28 that year. India had suggested “coordinated patrolling” of the border earlier too, but found no takers in Beijing. “Coordinated patrolling would mean both sides would inform the other about their outgoing foot patrols, and the areas that the patrol is likely to go and the duration of the patrol,” a second senior official who did not want to be named said.

Patrols from either side go up the designated “claim-line” and mark their presence before returning. “When patrols come face to face, each have to challenge the other,” the third official said. Recently, Indian and Chinese troops came face to face on the disputed Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh, leading to a scuffle, according to some reports, the defence ministry official said.

Fish-Tail -I &II are among the most remote areas along the LAC and India’s road infrastructure is extremely poor in this area. India, however, regularly sends patrols, some of which take up to a month to reach their destination. The PLA undertakes sporadic patrols in the region.

“Given the terrain, connectivity and security implications, it’s basically a low hanging fruit where coordinated patrolling can be done. And it may be a good idea and place to experiment with coordinated patrolling and used in other areas too,” the first senior official cited above said, explaining the move.

In response to a detailed questionnaire, the Indian army did not comment on “coordinated patrolling” of Fish Tail -II or on the road through Bisa to the LAC being constructed by the Chinese PLA. But it did underline that borders have not been “demarcated,” leading to “differing perceptions” of the border. Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd), who handled several India-China standoffs in the past, said, “If handled maturely and with respect for each other’s security concerns; it is a good concept.” The arrangement holds the promise to negate incidences witnessed at the Pangong Tso Lake between the two armies.”

First Published: Oct 26, 2019 03:52 IST

India, Pakistan trade barbs over deadly Kashmir clash

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

India, Pakistan trade barbs over deadly Kashmir clash

Several soldiers and civilians killed on both sides, as India and Pakistan blame one another for ‘unprovoked’ firing.

Relatives and friends mourn next to bodies of victims in cross border shelling in Pakistan's Neelum valley [Sajjad Qayyum/AFP]
Relatives and friends mourn next to bodies of victims in cross border shelling in Pakistan’s Neelum valley [Sajjad Qayyum/AFP]

India and Pakistan blamed one another for cross-border shelling in the disputed Kashmir region which killed and injured soldiers and civilians on both sides and made it one of the deadliest days since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status in August.

India said there was heavy shelling by Pakistan across the border in northern Kashmir’s Tangdhar region late on Saturday night, killing two Indian soldiers and one civilian.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces said one of its soldiers and three civilians had died and that India had violated the ceasefire.

There was an unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan, Indian defense spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

“Our troops retaliated strongly, causing heavy damage and casualties to the enemy,” Kalia said.

Pakistan’s army, meanwhile, claimed that India’s attacks in Jura, Shahkot and Nowshera sectors was “unprovoked” and deliberately targeted civilians.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces, said Pakistan responded “effectively”, killing nine Indian soldiers, injuring several others and destroying two bunkers.

DG ISPR

@OfficialDGISPR

Indian unprovoked CFVs in Jura, shahkot & Nousehri Sectors deliberately targeting civilians. Effectively responded. 9 Indian soldiers killed several injured. 2 Indian bunkers destroyed.
During exchange of fire 1 soldier & 3 civilians shaheed, 2 soldiers & 5 civilians injured.

9,779 people are talking about this

Islamabad has summoned the Indian envoy in protest over the shelling and killings, and offered to have diplomats from the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members, including the United States and Russia, visit the border and see that no rebel camps exist there.

Both sides accused each other of violating a 2003 ceasefire accord.

Border clashes

Sunday’s clashes came days after Pakistan’s foreign ministry protested against similar incidents from across the heavily militarized Line of Control (LoC) by Indian forces that killed three civilians and wounded another eight on October 15.

Deadly border clashes have spiked over the past few weeks which have seen Indian and Pakistani forces target frontier posts as well as villages, leading to casualties among soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Tensions between the neighbors have remained high since India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy on August 5 and imposed movement and communications restrictions to quell unrest.

Islamabad has warned that changing Kashmir’s status would escalate tensions but India said the withdrawal of the special status is an internal affair and is aimed at faster economic development of the territory.

Pakistan and India both control parts of Kashmir, but each lays claim to the entire region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the region.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

President Trump Is Trying To Give Afghanistan Back To The Taliban ‘With Honor’

President Trump Is Trying To Give Afghanistan Back To The Taliban ‘With Honor’

 

As most of you know, I loathe Donald Trump and his adult family but I am not going to knock him in this article. The reason is the reality that he is stuck in a no win situation with Afghanistan. Once again our politicians and our military rushed into a combat situation with no thought of an exit plan. This 18+ year war was started under the George W. Bush administration in the fall of 2001 so it ate up over seven of his eight years as President. The war then continued for all eight years of the Obama administration and is now continued for the first three years of Mr. Trump’s term in Office.

 

During this war there have been almost 2,500 American Soldiers killed plus another one thousand of our Allies Soldiers. There has also been right at 2,500 American Soldiers wounded. Plus the Congressional Budget Office says that the American tax payers have spent right at thee Trillion Dollars on this war. There is no such thing as leaving with honor or making an honest deal with the Taliban no matter what Mr. Trump thinks or tries. The civilians of the Nation of Afghanistan know that as soon as the U.S. pulls out all of our troops with those of all of our Allies that they will be back under the control of the Taliban and many thousands more of their civilians will be butchered. Even if our Government is able to strike some type of Government Sharing deal with the Taliban as Mr. Trump is trying to do and as Mr. Obama tried to do that is never going to end ‘Honorably’. Those of us old enough remember when President Nixon got on TV when we pulled out of Vietnam and lied to us all saying that we ended the war ‘with honor’ while we were still bombing the countries around Vietnam and with him knowing that we were leaving American POW’s there. There was no ‘Honor’ the way we left thousands of people there to be butchered nor will there be any Honor in our leaving Afghanistan.

 

Mr. Trump is between the preventable ‘rock and a hard place’. Our enemies always play the ‘long game’ while America always does not. If our Government had spent about 2 of that 3 Trillion dollars fixing Afghanistan’s infrastructure, building roads, schools, hospitals, and grids for electricity and water for the citizens maybe we could have won the hearts of the Afghan people. Several times I have heard the stat that about 90% of their people only have the single set of clothes they have on and that food is still a major issue for their people. These wars are great for American business that supply the war materials but couldn’t a lot of other type of businesses done well also if we had chosen to go that route?

 

I know that several folks who are reading this are thinking about how much our Nations own infrastructure and our own American workforce could have helped our own Nation’s people if we had spent that money here. If our Government would have looked at how to do only surgical strikes at the Leaders of these Islamic groups there would be many more people alive and uninjured today. In the short term there may be some propaganda put out by our Government about how we ended the war in Afghanistan ‘with honor’ but it will be in fact just a line of BS. When we eventually do completely leave Afghanistan the Taliban will retake over governing that Nation, we the people of America have in fact wasted our Blood and our Gold and the Afghanistan people will be right back where they were in September of 2001.

President Trump Tweets Sensitive Surveillance Image of Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

President Trump Tweets Sensitive Surveillance Image of Iran

A commercial satellite image from the company Maxar (bottom); the image tweeted by President Trump (top) appears to be of better quality.

(Bottom) Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies; (top) @realDonaldTrump

President Trump has tweeted what experts say is almost certainly an image from a classified satellite or drone, showing the aftermath of an accident at an Iranian space facility.

“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir [Space Launch Vehicle] Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” the president said in a tweet that accompanied the image on Friday. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”

NPR broke the news of the launch failure on Thursday, using images from commercial satellites that flew over Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Center. Those images showed smoke billowing from the pad. Iran has since acknowledged an accident occurred at the site.

Some of the highest-resolution imagery available commercially comes from the company Maxar, whose WorldView-2 satellite sports 46-centimeter resolution.

But the image shown in the president’s tweet appears to be of far better quality, says Ankit Panda, an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, who specializes in analyzing satellite imagery. “The resolution is amazingly high,” says Panda. “I would think it’s probably below well below 20 centimeters, which is much higher than anything I’ve ever seen.”

Panda says that the tweet discloses “some pretty amazing capabilities that the public simply wasn’t privy to before this.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence referred questions about the image to the White House, which declined to comment.

The image shows the aftermath of the accident, which experts believe took place while the rocket was being fueled. Clearly visible is the truck used to transport and erect the rocket, and the words “The product of national empowerment,” which have been written along the edge of the pad. The picture also shows extensive debris and charring around the pad.

It was not entirely clear where the president’s photo came from. Panda believes it was most likely taken by a classified U.S. satellite. But Melissa Hanham, deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network at the One Earth Foundation, believes that the resolution is so high, it may be beyond the physical limits at which satellites can operate. “The atmosphere is thick enough that after somewhere around 11 to 9 centimeters, things get wonky,” she says.

That could mean it was taken by a drone or spy plane, though such a vehicle would be violating Iranian airspace. Hanham also says that the European company Airbus has been experimenting with drones that fly so high, they are technically outside the atmosphere and thus operating outside national boundaries. But she says she doesn’t know whether the U.S. has such a system.

Glare in the center of the image suggests the image in the tweet was itself a photo of a briefing slide. Panda suggests it could have been displayed on a computer screen in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. It’s also possible it was a photo of a piece of paper.

Either way, Panda notes that a small redaction in the upper left-hand corner suggests the intelligence community had cleared the image for release by the president.

But both he and Hanham question whether releasing it was a good idea. “You really risk giving away the way you know things,” Hanham says. “That allows people to adapt and hide how they carry out illicit activity.”

“These are closely held national secrets,” Panda adds. “We don’t even share a lot of this kind of imagery with our closest allies.” In tweeting it out to the world, Trump is letting Iran know exactly what the U.S. is capable of. He’s also letting others know as well, Panda says. “The Russians and the Chinese, you’re letting them know that these are the kind of things that the United States has the capability of seeing,” he says.

With additional reporting by Greg Myre and Ayda Pourasad

Syria/Russia Regime Presses on in NW Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Regime Presses on in Northwest Syria

Thursday, 29 August, 2019 – 11:15
FILE PHOTO: Road direction signs are pictured at the entrance to Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria August 24, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Russian-backed regime forces seized a cluster of towns and villages in northwest Syria Thursday, as deadly air strikes hit the opposition-held bastion, a monitor said.

Seven civilians died in air strikes in the south of the bastion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, a day after regime air strikes killed 12 others, including six children in a single town.

Bashar al-Assad’s forces have been chipping away at the southern edge of the stronghold for three weeks, after months of deadly bombardment.

Last week, the regime took control of the town of Khan Sheikhoun on a key highway that runs through Idlib province, linking Damascus to second city Aleppo.

Overnight, pro-regime fighters “managed to advance in the southern Idlib countryside”, according to the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman.

They took control of the towns of Al-Tamaanah and Al-Khuwayn, as well as nearby villages, east of Khan Sheikhoun, he said.

“The forces are trying to further extend their control in the area of Khan Sheikhoun before they advance north in the direction of the town of Maaret al-Noman,” he added.

Maaret al-Noman is the next stop northwards on the Damascus-Aleppo highway.

Regime air strikes killed 12 civilians — half of them children — in Maaret al-Noman on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, another four civilians, including one child, were killed in other parts of the bastion.

2-minute history of the U.S. Air Force

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

2-minute history of the U.S. Air Force

From Civil War era hot-air balloon spying to modern stealth fighter jets, the United States has been always been involved in achieving military air superiority during wartime. And let’s not forget that the first NASA astronauts were former Air Force fighter pilots and test pilots, as well. In terms of the entity today that is the air branch of the United States Armed Forces, the history of the United States Air Force begins as a subset of another department long before airplanes became part of the picture.

Early air force alternatives

Credit: Kletr/Shutterstock

These days, the United States Army Signal Corps, a division of the Department of the Army, manages communications and information systems for the command and control of combined arms forces. When it was established in 1860, though, the corps played an important role in the Civil War, especially in terms of its control over military intelligence, weather forecasting, and aviation — all of which eventually became their own armed services divisions or were transferred to the control of other departments.

This was the case for the Air Force, the next iteration of which came into existence following the Civil War with the establishment by the Signal Corps in 1893 in the form of the War Balloon Company based at Fort Riley, Kansas. The next step, the Aeronautical Services Division of the Signal Corps, existed from 1907 to 1914, and was the direct progenitor of today’s Air Force. During its time, the Aeronautical Division took delivery of the military’s first powered military aircraft in 1909, and organized aviation flight schools to train its future pilots.

What department is this?

Credit: Michael Fitzsimmons/Shutterstock

In 1914, the United States Congress issued a statutory authorization for an Aviation Section in the Signal Corps, and this division continued as the primary organizational component of the fledgling Air Force until 1918. When the Aviation Section failed to mobilize effectively for World War I, the War Department replaced it with a department outside the signal corps, which was titled the Army Air Service.

Another shift, to the Army Air Corps, lasted from 1926 to 1941, just before the ramp up to World War II. This precipitated the final designation, when in September 1947 the United States Air Force officially became a separate military service division. This came as part of the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947, which created the National Military Establishment. Today we know it simply as the Department of Defense, which comprises the modern Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.

Today’s ever-changing mission

Credit: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

Before 1947, military aviation was divided between the other branches, with the Army handling land-based air operations and the Navy and Marines taking charge of airplane and helicopter deployments from aircraft carriers and amphibious aircraft.

Since then, technology has only continued to make the role of the Air Force more important in national security. We can take a strong sense of pride and protection when expert fighter pilots of the Air Force Thunderbirds flash overhead at an air show, flying tight formations wing to wing. Just as important for our protection these days as the roaring jets, though, are the Air Force-launched military satellites floating silently in space to help fight our next cyber wars.

 

 

Hezbollah wars that Israel could be ‘wiped out’ in war between US and Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Nasrallah warns Israel could be ‘wiped out’ in war between US and Iran

Hezbollah leader says Tehran has ability to ‘bombard Israel with ferocity and force,’ claims group has bolstered its arsenal with precision missiles that can reach Eilat

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

The head of the Hezbollah terror group warned Friday that Israel would be drawn into any war between the US and Iran and could be “wiped out” in such a conflict.

“Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force,” Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television.

“When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider,” Nasrallah said.

His comments came amid soaring tensions between the US and Iran and just hours after US House of Representatives voted to restrict US President Donald Trump’s ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his hawkish policies are pushing toward a needless war.

It was not immediately clear if Nasrallah was referring to Iran’s arsenal of long-range missiles or the tens of thousands of rockets and missiles that Iran has supplied the Lebanese Hezbollah.

In this photo provided November 5, 2018, by the Iranian Army, a Sayyad 2 missile is fired by the Talash air defense system during drills in an undisclosed location in Iran. (Iranian Army via AP)

Earlier in the interview Nasrallah said his Iran-backed group had significantly improved its military capabilities since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

“Our weapons have been developed in both quality and quantity, we have precision missiles and drones,” he said in the interview to mark 13 years since the war.

During the interview Nasrallah held a map of Israel and pointed to strategic targets, which he said Hezbollah could hit, including Ben Gurion Airport, arms depots, petrochemical and water desalinization plants, and the Ashdod port.

He also claimed his missiles could hit the southern Israeli city of Eilat on the Red Sea.

Nasrallah hinted his organization had acquired anti-aircraft missiles, saying he preferred to keep an ambiguous stance, adding that the Lebanese terror group now had “game-changing offensive capabilities and weapons.”

Israel has long warned that Hezbollah plans to try and invade northern Israel in any future war and recently uncovered several attack tunnels built deep into Israel that were supposed to allow their fighters to enter into Israel.

Hezbollah supporters take part in a rally to mark al-Quds day in Beirut, Lebanon, May 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

However, Nasrallah said he was confident there would not be a war, because Israel feared the consequences.

He also said regional players were working to prevent a war between the US and Iran. “Our collective responsibility in the region is to work towards preventing an American war on Iran,” he said.

He said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had no interest in a conflict erupting.

In recent weeks the US has sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East, and fears are growing of a wider conflict after mysterious oil tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz blamed on Iran, attacks by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen on Saudi Arabia and Iran’s downing of the US military drone.

The USS Abraham Lincoln sails south in the Suez canal near Ismailia toward the Persian Gulf, May 9, 2019. (Suez Canal Authority via AP)

Iran has recently begun surpassing uranium enrichment limits set in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the accord a year ago.

The US has also re-imposed tough sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports, exacerbating an economic crisis that has sent its currency plummeting.

Nasrallah also said that the group had recently begun withdrawing it’s fighters that were supporting the Damascus regime in neighboring war-torn Syria.

“We are present in every area that we used to be. We are still there, but we don’t need to be there in large numbers as long as there is no practical need,” he said.

The head of the Iran-backed Shiite movement, which has been fighting in Syria since 2013, did no quantify the extent of the reduction.

A Hezbollah armored vehicle sits at the site where clashes erupted between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Wadi al-Kheil or al-Kheil Valley in the Lebanon-Syria border, July 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Backed by Russia and Iran, the Damascus government has taken back large swathes of territory from rebels and jihadists since 2015, and now controls around 60 percent of the country.

Nasrallah said none of his fighters were currently involved in fighting in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib, where regime and Russian forces have increased deadly bombardment on a jihadist-run bastion since late April.

He spoke after Washington announced fresh sanctions Tuesday against Hezbollah, targeting elected officials from the movement for the first time.

“All dealings with the Syria file has nothing to do with the sanctions or the financial austerity,” he said.

Hezbollah is considered to be a terrorist organisation by the United States, and is the only faction not to have disarmed after the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war.

But it is also a major political player in the small Mediterranean country, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet.

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JULY 13, 2019
CURRENT TOP STORIES
PROFILEFATHER OF FOUR STILL LIVES IN HIS PARENTS’ HOME IN TAYIBE

For 1st Arab head of major Israeli bank, breaking down barriers is second nature

Five lessons on success and excellence to learn from the story of Samer Haj Yehia, Bank Leumi’s new chairman of the board

Chairman of the board of directors of Bank Leumi, Samer Haj Yehia (courtesy)

Chairman of the board of directors of Bank Leumi, Samer Haj Yehia (courtesy)

Let’s clear something up right from the get-go: Samer Haj Yehia, who was recently named the chairman of the board of directors of Bank Leumi, made a significant crack in the glass ceiling. This marks the first time a major Israeli bank has appointed an Arab chairman.

The dozens of news items and social media posts focusing on Haj Yehia’s career overflow with (entirely justified) praise for the brilliant 49-year-old economist, who managed to overcome numerous obstacles as he made his way from his birthplace of Tayibe, an Arab city in central Israel, to having one of Israel’s top economy positions.

In fact — so thick is the glass ceiling he managed to shatter — that from now on, his name is likely to come up in every debate, discussion, or symposium dealing with the integration of Arabs into Israeli society.

A lawyer and certified public accountant, Haj Yehia is slated to take office on July 21, replacing David Brodet, who chaired the board for the past nine years. It is important to stress that no one questions whether Haj Yahya is worthy of this prestigious appointment. His nomination – approved by a majority vote of five in favor and three against – is free of any claim of affirmative action or political correctness, as the boards of directors of banks simply don’t bother with such matters. Their sole focus is on ensuring the bank’s success.

Illustrative image: Israelis walk next to Bank Leumi in Jerusalem on November 16, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The other three contenders for the position – ex-Finance Ministry director-general and current Israel Oil Refineries Executive Chairman Ohad Marani, former Teva Pharmaceuticals Deputy CEO Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Shmuel Ben Zvi, and former Discount Bank Capital Markets and Investments head Dr. Yitzhak Sharir – sufficed with one vote each.

That’s how you smash through the glass ceiling with style.

Haj Yehia’s nomination earned praise left and right. “It’s about time the Israeli government follows in Bank Leumi’s footsteps. Unfortunately, had Samer been vying for a position in the public sector, I’m afraid he wouldn’t have made it,” Tayibe Mayor Sha’a Mansour Massarwa told newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also rushed to congratulate Haj Yehia, tweeting, “I welcome Dr. Samer Haj Yehia’s appointment as chairman of the board of directors at Bank Leumi and wish him the best of luck!”

But congratulations aside, Haj Yehia’s personal background deserves a second glance. Before we Israelis pat ourselves on the back and feel reassured that the bank’s move proves that we are not as racist as we may seem, it’s worth mentioning that this impressive achievement – marked before he turned 50 – is first and foremost a personal feat that, if not for a set of extraordinary personal circumstances, may have remained out of reach.

And so, in the spirit of the coaching culture, here are five lessons on success and excellence one can learn from the story of Haj Yehia.

1. It’s best to be born a male

There’s no easy way to say this, and I apologize in advance to anyone who is already outraged and may be ready to write a virulent response, but gender plays a role in this story.

Haj Yehia still lives – with his wife and four children – in his mother’s house in Tayibe. Fatina Haj Yehia, now 74, is a retired schoolteacher. Haj Yehia’s wife, Eden, is an English teacher who works at a school in Ra’anana. His mother’s sister, Sawad Jabareh, who guided this reporter through the ins and outs of the Haj Yehia family, is also a retired teacher.

Samer Haj Yehia has been appointed the chairman of the board of Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. (Courtesy)

Teaching is a noble profession, of course, and certainly one of the more important careers, but it doesn’t exactly require shattering glass ceilings, which is the issue at hand.

The first person to smash through the glass ceiling in the family was Samer’s father, Dr. Mohammed Saleem Haj Yahia, who was one of the first Arab students at Tel Aviv University. He majored in criminology and became a probation officer, handling many cases involving youth from the Tayibe area.

Fatina always wanted a daughter but had four sons. Each of Samer’s brothers has three sons. His older brother, Prof. Saleem Haj Yahia, is a renowned international heart surgeon who lives in Scotland, where he heads the national heart transplant program. His younger brother, Rani Haj Yehia, who also lives in Tayibe, is a finance attorney who heads the Jordan Gateway Free Zone and Industrial Park project.

The fourth brother, Saji, was an engineering major at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. He was killed in a car accident at the entrance to Tayibe in 1998. Samer Haj Yehia named his firstborn son after him.

Among the many congratulatory calls Haj Yehia received following his nomination were some from relatives who are doing well overseas, including a professor of pharmacology from the University of South Carolina and a senior official in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Haj Yehia and his wife, Eden, are the parents of four sons, the youngest of whom was born three months ago. Their two eldest boys, Saji and Bassel, attend the gifted students’ program at the Eastern Mediterranean International School in central Israel, and it wouldn’t be much of a gamble to assume that they, too, will make something of themselves, perhaps even shattering more unnecessary glass ceilings as they go. But unless some fundamental changes take place in Israel, it is also likely they may end up marrying teachers.

“They’re all geniuses. Samer’s son isn’t even two years old and he reads in English at a 10-year-old’s level,” his aunt Jabareh said. “He’s truly extraordinary. He can read the entire English alphabet and he speaks Arabic and English.”

2. It’s best to be born rich

Like the previous statement, this, too, almost goes without saying. This also has more to do with fate and luck, and while it may not guarantee success, different circumstances clearly make the road to success harder.

The Haj Yehia family isn’t only the biggest family in Tayibe – the extended clan numbers 6,000 and counting – they are also one of its most affluent families.

“They are a rich family, very rich,” Jabareh said. “They have land, lots of land. Samar’s paternal grandfather was a very rich man, and he left his children a sizable estate. Samer grew up like a kid in Kfar Shmaryahu [an affluent suburb of Tel Aviv]. He traveled and he was pampered. He never lacked for anything.

“Their life was something else, something very different from other children in Tayibe,” she continued, referring to Samer and his brothers. “In Tayibe, when a child wants a toy, he doesn’t always get it. They always got what they wanted. Well, maybe not all the time, but if they asked for something reasonable, they’d get it.

An Arab Israeli woman casts her vote during elections for the Knesset on April 9, 2019, at a polling station in the northern town of Tayibe. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

“They really lacked for nothing. They grew up then the way children grow up now – they have everything except good education. Samer lacked for nothing and he received an excellent education. He once said he was privileged to be able to teach other children, and he has done very well in doing that,” said his aunt.

3. A warm and supporting family is everything

This is the first lesson in our journey toward shattering the glass ceiling that is somewhat under our control. There is no doubt that being financially secure helps keep a family together, but we are no strangers to stories about wealthy families whose members seek to take each other down rather than lift each other up, something that is always a grave mistake.

The Haj Yehia family presents a different model. It is not a coincidence that Samer and his family still live in the family home in Tayibe, with his mother. It is hard to believe that there’s another chairman of a large bank anywhere else in the world, who still lives in his childhood home.

“They are an ideal family,” Jabareh said. “The brothers are very close to each other and close to their mother. They were also very close to their father. They’re really a very close-knit family, always supportive of each other. They always encourage each other, ‘Yes, go for it, don’t be afraid, do it.’ And it helped them all, very much, to get to where they are today.”

Haj Yehia’s father died of a stroke a year ago.

A view of Taibe (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A view of Tayibe. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

“Samer was in charge of his care until his very last day. He [the father] died at Meir Hospital [in central Israel] and Samer was the only one by his side,” she added. “I told Samer, ‘You knew your dad was dying, why didn’t you tell anyone?’ And he said, ‘Because I wanted to talk to him. He could hear me. I had many things I wanted to say to him before he died.’ We don’t know what he said. He loved his father very much.”

Jabareh said that back when they were all children, she used to envy the brothers.

“They were constantly spoiled. My father, Samer’s grandfather, always gave him special treatment. Even when he fell ill, he asked for Samer. ‘Bring Samer to me, I want to see Samer.’ He would always feel better after seeing him. Samer was also very close to his grandfather. He loved him very much,” said Jabareh.

“There was a time when their mother was alone at home. All four sons were in boarding schools outside Tayibe, and she would prepare food for everyone and bring it to them. She worked – she would work all week and go home only to cook for the children and then travel between their boarding schools to bring them food.

“When Samer was studying in university in Jerusalem he wouldn’t come home to Tayibe every weekend, he preferred to stay and study in the library. He didn’t have a roommate because he wanted to be able to study in peace. His mother would go to Jerusalem to bring him food. It was like that all the time,” Jabareh said.

4. Stand firm against pressure from your environment

Even with the support of family, your environment can still pull you down. Samer’s father, who as a probation officer supervised many paroled criminals in the Tayibe area, was familiar with the perils posed by his children’s surroundings and made sure all four attended boarding school outside the city, sending them to the Al Mutran Christian High School in Nazareth.

“It was a very good school, very few families can afford to send their children there,” Jabareh said. “Samer and his brothers were exceptional in Tayibe in every way – in their behavior, their education, even in how they dressed. Going to school in Nazareth – no one else went there. It was expensive and far away.”

Still, Haj Yehia proved to be exceptional from a very young age.

“It was clear that he was gifted. Everyone saw it, not just us. His kindergarten teachers and schoolteachers, too. A few days ago I ran into one of his teachers from third grade. She told me, ‘I knew, even in third grade, that he was destined to do great things. I used to give them [the children] arithmetic problems and he would solve them before I would finish explaining to the class what to do. He was always like that.’”

It is hard to distinguish between the retroactive compliments with which anyone who garners professional achievement is inundated, and reality. In Tayibe, Haj Yehia is a superstar, the subject of excited wedding conversations and social media posts. In his case, everyone knows that these compliments are grounded in reality, as he has always stood out from the crowd, shining brighter from day one.

Isaac Herzog outside the Knesset. (Courtesy)

By the time he turned 30, Haj Yehia had no less than five degrees under his belt, including in law, economics, and accounting. Current Jewish Agency director and then-partner at Herzog Fox Ne’eman Isaac Herzog mentored him during his internship at what is one of the most prestigious law firms in Israel.

Haj Yehia then set off for the United States, completing a doctorate in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and embarking on a successful career in the financial world. At the age of 37 he was named the vice president of Boston-based Fidelity Investments, one of the largest multinational financial services corporations in the world. He also served as a lecturer in economics at MIT and Harvard University.

Seven years ago, Haj Yehia gave into his longing for Israel and the family left its comfortable life in Boston and returned to Tayibe. He also felt that his older children were becoming Americans and he didn’t like it.

Back in Israel, he enrolled Saji and Bassel in a local school, to help them reconnect with their hometown and the Arabic language, and later on sent them to school outside Taiybe, as his father did with him.

After his return, many in Tayibe pressured him to enter local politics.

According to Jabareh, “People here wanted him to be mayor, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Many people were angry with him for declining the offer – they saw him as someone who could save Tayibe from all of its financial problems. Very senior members of the Haj Yehia family, who are involved in local politics, pressed him about it, but he showed no interest. I kept telling him, ‘Don’t go into Tayibe [politics]. It’s crazy. Don’t do it.’”

Mayor of Tayibe Sha’a Mansour Massarwa (Dov Lieber / Times of Israel)

Tayibe is the only city in Israel to be declared insolvent twice, in 1999 and again in 2007, as years of municipal mismanagement have seen it amass nearly NIS 1 billion (roughly $280 million) in debt. In 2013, six years after a trustee was appointed to oversee the city’s finances, a settlement was reached with its creditors for NIS 130 million ($36 million) – 14% of its outstanding debt, which at the time amounted to NIS 931 million ($260 million). The city has since been slowly recovering from its financial woes, but its politics remain tumultuous.

“I know what the municipality is like in Tayibe, the kind of respect the mayor of Tayibe commands, and I still didn’t want Samer to go anywhere near it,” Jabareh said. “I told him, ‘There are plenty of good jobs out there for you. Don’t go into it [politics]. If you do, everyone will end up hating you.’ So he declined the offer and shortly afterward, they [Bank Leumi] offered him a job.”

5. Strive higher, stay motivated, continue to learn and grow

Haj Yehia’s parents encouraged their children to study and work. If there is one thing that can predict success in life – that must be it. Aside from his academic and practical career as a criminologist, his father continued to work the family’s five acres of land, and demanded that his children work on the farm as well.

This had no financial justification, only an educational one – teaching the value of hard work. Rani, Haj Yehia’s younger brother, recently revealed that he and his brothers still work on the family farm on weekends.

Haj Yehia needed little pushing or encouragement. Growing up, he had only a few friends and preferred spending time at home, reading and writing.

As a child, he seemed to be innately motivated, said Jabareh.

“He would come home from school and sit down to do his homework, without his mom or dad telling him he had to do it. They never had to tell him,” she said, recalling a childhood incident that can, perhaps, offer a glimpse into the nature of Bank Leumi’s new chairman.

Illustrative image: Withdrawing money at Bank Leumi on Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv, January 18, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

“I came over to their house one day and his father was working on some kind of university paper and he was using one of those old-fashion calculators. Samer, who was in the fifth or sixth grade, walked up to him, took the calculator from his father’s hand and said, ‘If you use it your mind will stop working. Throw it away and only use your head.’ So yes, he was always like this since childhood.”

Still, she would not venture a guess as to whether Haj Yehia he will use his new position to fight the racism and discrimination plaguing Arabs in Israeli society.

“I don’t know about that,” she said. “I know little about banking and economics, but knowing Samer, I have faith that he’ll try. He’s an idealist.”

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Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

Xinhua
Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

Xinhua

A Russian Antonov military cargo plane, carrying parts of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, is unloaded after landing at the Murted Air Base in Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019. The first batch of Russian S-400 air defense system was delivered in Turkish capital city of Ankara on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.

Turkey began taking the delivery of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system on Friday, completing a much-debated deal that is likely to trigger sanctions from the United States and test the NATO alliance.

The first components for the state-of-the-art system arrived aboard three Russian military planes at the Murted air base, located at a distant suburb of Ankara, the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Turkey received the first batch of S-400 air defense systems. The deliveries are sent to the Murted air base,” the ministry said. Two more deliveries are expected in the coming days.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that “there is no problem in the deliveries,” adding that “the process will also continue in a healthy pace in the future.”

The purchase, which is the fruit of a controversial agreement inked between Ankara and Moscow in 2017, signals, according to observers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s willingness to coordinate more with Russia and could set off a new crisis in relations between Turkey and the US, two major NATO allies.

The US President Donald Trump’s administration had given mixed signals about how it might respond if Turkey went through with the deal, but US officials had warned of repercussions, including canceling sales of around 100 high-tech US-made F-35 fighter jets to Ankara and the imposition of sanctions under a 2017 law in cooperation with adversaries.

During a visit to NATO headquarters in Belgium in June, acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said “if Turkey accepts delivery of the S-400s, they will not receive the F-35.”

However, Trump has been publicly supportive of the Turkish president and expressed recently sympathy for Erdogan’s decision to purchase the surface-to-air S-400s. Erdogan, after meeting Trump at the G-20 Summit in June in Osaka, said he did not believe that the United States would sanction Turkey.

Erdogan has refused to back down on the S-400 deal and defended the 2.5 billion US dollar acquisition of the Russian system as part of Turkey’s sovereign right to defend itself, and said he tried to purchase the US-made Patriot air defense system but was not offered favorable terms in the past.

US officials fear that Turkey’s possession of the S-400 could give Russia access to secrets of the F-35’s stealth technology and argued that it would create interoperability problems inside NATO.

Ankara has ruled out such a possibility, saying that it is a long standing NATO country, since 1952, and that the S-400 would not be integrated in NATO capabilities.

Nevertheless, Turkey’s purchase of F-35 planes could be compromised as a concrete move last month, the Pentagon said it would halt the training of Turkish pilots to fly the warplane.

Possible US economic sanctions would mark a new standoff in Turkish-American ties. Last year, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey over its detention of an American pastor, triggering a currency crisis. Sanctions were lifted after Ankara released the clergyman.

Following the arrival of the first S-400 components to the Turkish capital, the Turkish lira dropped about 1.5 percent against the greenback, trading at 5.76 lira.

The deal with Russia also raised some concerns in Western circles that Turkey is drifting away, closer to Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Deliveries of the S-400 components to Turkey would continue “in the coming days,” according to a statement by Turkey’s defense industries authority, which did not say when or where the completed system would ultimately be deployed.

“Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by relevant authorities,” said the statement.

An official close to the matter said to Xinhua that the first battery could be deployed at Murted base and a second one likely in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian and Iraqi border and be operational by October.

“Assessments are underway at several levels to decide on the issue, but everything is going according to plan,” said the official on the condition of anonymity.

2 Men Tried To Rob A McDonald’s Full Of French Special Forces Soldiers: Not Smart

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MILITARY NEWS PAPER ‘FOR GOD AND COUNTRY’)

 

Armed Men Attempt to Rob McDonald’s Full of Special Forces Soldiers, Fail Spectacularly

A pair of armed robbers thought they had it all worked out when they stormed into a McDonald’s. They were wearing masks, armed with shotguns, and had their plan all laid out.

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But one thing they didn’t have a plan for was an entire special operations team that happened to be eating lunch inside the restaurant, dressed in civilian clothing.

Some 40 plus customers chomping away on their burgers Sunday evening in the fast food restaurant when the two robbers stormed in, fired a shotgun blast into the air, threatening the guests and ordering staff to open the cash registers, which contained just under $2,300 in cash.

“At first, I did not realize there was a gunshot,” said 20-year-old Antony, who works in the kitchen.

The robbers went about committing their crime completely unaware that 11 members of the French special forces, Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, or GIGN – the anti-terrorism equivalent of the British SAS – who were none too amused at having their meal of Big Macs and french fries disturbed by two bumbling criminals.

The commandos kept their cool during the robbery, but leaped into action as it wound down to avoid any collateral bloodshed.

Edwige Roux-Morizot, the local prosecutor, told reporters: “During the hold-up, the gendarmes didn’t do anything. It was out of the question to use their weapons, as this would have created difficulties and could have placed many people’s lives in danger.”

The battle hardened warriors pounced when the first of the robbers stumbled on his way out the front door, taking him into custody without any gun play, but did suffer some injuries during the aggressive arrest.

The second robber wasn’t as smart and turned his gun towards the GIGN operators after being told to drop the weapon. He was shot multiple times in the stomach.

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Both suspects were transported to the hospital for treatment and now sit in jail awaiting trial on armed robbery charges.

GIGN was formed in 1972 as a direct response to the Munich Olympic massacre where Palestinian terrorists took 11 Israeli athletes hostage, killing them all.

More recently, GIGN received worldwide video coverage of their operations following the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the bombing at the Bataclan theater.