With all eyes on Putin during Sochi Olympics, Russian leader builds closer ties to terror regime in Iran.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani (L) during a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, September 13, 2013. (REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani (L) during a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek last Fall. (REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

(Washington, D.C.) – In October, Forbes magazine named Russian President Vladimir Putin “the world’s most powerful person.” 

Now, with the Olympics in Sochi underway, the eyes of the world are riveted on Russia and its leader, who have invested a record $ 51 billion in creating what they hope will prove a dazzling showcase to reassert Russian power and influence.

Putin is determined to use a string of missteps by President Obama — hesitation and vacillation in the Syria crisis, the Benghazi scandal, health care rollout fiasco, sky-high budget deficits, and Mr. Obama’s sinking poll numbers, to name a few — to reposition Russia as a major world leader in hopes of eventually eclipsing American power.

“I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games officially open,” Putin declared to a worldwide TV and Internet audience on Friday.

A Russian news service said Putin was “raising the curtain on an Olympic Games that started as his pet project and has become the crowning moment of his third term as president,” adding that “in front of a near-capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium and millions of TV viewers worldwide, the opening show drew on Russia’s rich musical and literary heritage, with a few nods to its Soviet past.

“Tonight we are writing a new page in Olympic history — these are the first-ever Olympic Games in the new Russia,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, as he called on athletes “to live together with harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.”

Amidst these themes of global peace and harmony, however, Putin is simultaneously working hard to build closer ties with Iran, the world’s most Radical Islamic terrorist regime.

“Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $ 1.5 billion a month that would enable Iran to lift oil exports substantially, undermining Western sanctions that helped persuade Tehran in November to agree to a preliminary deal to curb its nuclear program,” Reuters recently reported. “Russian and Iranian sources close to the barter negotiations said final details were in discussion for a deal under which Russia would buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.”

“Good progress is being made at the moment with strong chances of success,” said a Russian source. “We are discussing the details, and the date of signing a deal depends on those details.” The Kremlin declined comment.

Other signs of intensifying Russian-Iranian ties in recent years:

Iran, meanwhile, is:

Putin is also using the Olympics to strengthen ties with other world leaders. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that “Putin used the hours before the lavish opening ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games to hold court with world leaders who did attend and project an image of the globally influential chief of a resurgent Russia. Upon arrival in Sochi, where Western journalists have focused on fears of a terrorism attack and discomforts in the hastily constructed hotels and venues, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Putin on his staging of the prestigious competition as evidence that ‘Russia is heading toward strength and prosperity.’ Xi also hailed Russian-Chinese cooperation on Syria and Iran – two foreign policy challenges that have pitted the once-rivalrous eastern giants against the three Western countries that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, preventing the American, British and French faction from securing sanctions on Damascus or Tehran…..Putin also received Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose crackdown on political opponents and public protest over the last year have alienated Turkey from its traditional allies in Europe and Washington. Putin seemed eager to cast Russia as an alternative diplomatic partner more respectful of Ankara’s right to decide its own domestic affairs.”

As I noted in December, “Vladmir Putin sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as an old-time Czar for the modern age. All knowing. All powerful….Determined to expand his territory and grow his power and personal wealth. This is what makes him so dangerous.”

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Pressure Builds on Boehner Over Benghazi

Guest post by Cliff Kincaid

Informed speculation mounted at Monday’s Accuracy in Media conference, which officially launched the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, that House Speaker John Boehner’s opposition to a Watergate-style congressional committee to investigate Benghazi stems from his knowledge of arms shipments to al-Qaeda terrorists in Libya and Syria.

The al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, in Libya, on September 11, 2012, resulted in the deaths of four Americans, who were left to die, rather than be rescued, and has been called by some the “Benghazi Betrayal.”

The dead were U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, American diplomat Sean Smith, and State Department security officers Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.

Coming just eight weeks before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration falsely blamed the attack on a spontaneous reaction to a video critical of Islam, rather than blaming it on al Qaeda.

Charles Woods spoke with emotion at the AIM conference about the loss of his son and asked for people not only to press for answers as to what really happened at Benghazi, but to pray for the country.

Christopher Farrell, Director of Investigations and Research for Judicial Watch, said at the conference that Obama’s lies and distortions about the attack are designed to obscure the central truth that the administration was arming al Qaeda.

“That’s what they don’t want broadcast or printed anywhere,” he said.

As incredible as it sounds, former CIA officer Clare Lopez said support for al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamists groups has become the official foreign policy of the United States under Obama. She said the policy has been on display in Libya, Egypt, Syria, and the United Nations, through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says about Benghazi: “For the past year, this administration has failed to provide sufficient answers, fully comply with subpoenas, and make available relevant individuals to provide testimony. In short, this administration hasn’t been upfront with the American people or this Congress. Republicans will not stop until we get to the truth. We will press forward with our investigation until we have answers, full accountability, and justice.”

However, he opposes the proposal (H.Res. 36) to create a bipartisan House Select Committee to fully investigate the attack and the cover-up. Introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the proposal has 175 co-sponsors.

Several speakers at the CCB conference agreed that being exposed as knowledgeable about the Obama administration’s secret operations in advance of the Benghazi disaster could be extremely embarrassing to House Speaker Boehner and may explain his opposition to Rep. Wolf’s legislative proposal.

Boehner is a member of the so-called “gang of eight” in Congress, members secretly briefed by the administration on top-secret intelligence operations.

Investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman, who is writing a book on Benghazi, said, “Did they get briefed? Were they briefed on this arms trafficking operation out of Benghazi to the Syrian rebels or were they not briefed? And if they were briefed, is that perhaps a reason why they don’t want a special committee, because in fact they knew about this operation and did nothing to stop it?”

Rep. Wolf spoke to the conference and encouraged the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, under the direction of AIM Editor Roger Aronoff, to get to the bottom of what happened. Members of this commission spoke at the all-day affair and vowed to continue to press for answers from the administration and Speaker Boehner.

Larry Ward, political director of Special Operations Speaks, engaged in an exchange with Rep. Wolf about whether a discharge petition introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) is needed to force a vote on Wolf’s H.Res. 36. Ward doubted that Boehner would ever agree to the creation of a special panel to investigate Benghazi.

“If four members of Obama’s personal staff had been killed there would rightfully have been a full investigation and congressional hearings. But not one perpetrator has been brought to justice and requests for witnesses and information have been blocked,” Stockman has said.

Timmerman told Wolf that he had been informed by a member of the Republican Party in the House that Boehner has twice refused to say, when questioned about it, whether he was briefed on arms smuggling through Benghazi into Syria.

Wolf said he didn’t know whether Boehner was briefed or not and whether that would be a reason for his opposition to H.Res. 36. “But it really shouldn’t be a reason,” he said.

While the destination of the weapons is a legitimate concern, Wolf said, “most of what we have been trying to find out” goes beyond those matters and involves questions such as who in the administration gave the order to “stand down” and not rescue the Americans under fire from the terrorists. After the attack, Obama flew off to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser.

Another key question, Wolf said, is why the false cover story of the video causing the attack at Benghazi was repeatedly disseminated by the administration, including by Obama himself in a speech to the U.N.

Asked to comment on the possibility that “blackmail material,” as a result of being briefed on the Benghazi operations, could be used against Boehner, Wolf said, “I’m not going to comment on that. I don’t know that. That’s why I’m glad you’re looking at it. That’s why we need a select committee.”

Former CIA officer Kevin Shipp, another speaker at the conference, said it was clear to him that Boehner was “in on it” and is protecting the Obama administration from a major scandal involving potential violations of domestic and international law.

“What an ingenious trap,” Shipp said. “Come here, gang of eight, come here Mr. Boehner. Let me brief you on a program that we think is really going to be something. And they brief them and get their approval and they don’t understand the full scope of what the operation is doing. And then they find out later and it’s like, ‘oh, oh.’ They don’t want this coming out either.”

He added, “Why would Boehner not want this [the select committee] to happen, unless there was some personal or political damage that he will suffer if it does come out?”

Retired Major General Paul E. Vallely told this writer in an interview that he hopes that Boehner “hasn’t been compromised in some way” by the Obama administration because of his reported knowledge of arms transfers through Benghazi.

Another speaker, Retired Admiral James Lyons, said he believes arms smuggling to al Qaeda is an impeachable offense, and that Benghazi may have been part of a larger plot involving the Muslim Brotherhood and the planned release of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, known in the United States as “The Blind Sheikh,” from U.S. prison. As part of this alleged conspiracy, Lyons said, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was supposed to have been kidnapped, not killed, and then exchanged for Abdel-Rahman, the terrorist mastermind behind the World Trade Center 1993 bombings.

Although most of the speakers wanted to focus on Benghazi exclusively, the subject of Syria kept coming up, as the weapons shipments at the center of the scandal were described as moving into Syria, with the support of such countries as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

In Syria, Timmerman said, the same policy of arming al Qaeda is on display. Obama is arming “the worst of the worst” among the terrorist groups, he said.

He also said he was told by a senior Republican member of Congress who examined the administration’s “intelligence” about an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime, that it was “manufactured” data, and that U.S. military intelligence agencies had not accepted the claims. The intelligence was “doctored,” he said.

Despite accepting the Russian proposal to dismantle Assad’s chemical weapons program, Obama has not ruled out using military force against Syria.

Timmerman said Christians in Syria fear the overthrow of the Assad regime—which is repressive but at least respects their religious liberties—while another regime might result in their being slaughtered by the jihadists supported by Obama.

“They’re already begun to attack Christian villages and to murder Christians, to behead Christians, to threaten Christians to leave Syria,” he said.

The AIM conference was attacked in print by Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who is always on guard against scandals that could sink Obama, and the Media Matters group, which exists to protect the Democratic Party and its leaders from press scrutiny. They insisted that only the lunatic fringe is concerned about the Obama administration secretly arming terrorists and getting Americans killed in the process.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org

Doug Ross @ Journal

Inside The Revolution: Drama builds amidst military coup in Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood leadership arrested. Who is Adly Mansour, new “interim president”?

"Adly Mansour, left, has been declared interim President of Egypt by the military after mass protests." (photo credit: UK Telegraph)

“Adly Mansour, left, has been declared interim President of Egypt by the military after mass protests.” (photo credit: UK Telegraph)

>> Watch the 2013 Epicenter Conference on Friday, July 5, 2013 from Jerusalem.

(Jerusalem, Israel) — As if there is not enough drama in the epicenter already, a military coup d’état occurred overnight in Egypt. Mohamed Morsi is no longer the president after 22 million Egyptians signed a petition to remove him. Morsi and other top Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been arrested. The Brotherhood’s TV station was seized by the army. Other Brotherhood leaders have been put on watch lists and told they may not leave the country. The country’s new Sharia law-focused constitution has also been suspended.

Now all eyes are on Adly Mansour, the 67 year old judge, the interim president,appointed by the Egyptian army. Mansour is expected to oversee the drafting of a new electoral law, and oversee new elections, though it is not yet clear when those elections will be. A new constitution will also be drafted. More on Mansour in a moment.

First, let me say that I am grateful Morsi has been removed and the Brotherhood has been neutralized, at least for the moment. Generally, I don’t support military coups. But in this case I believe Morsi posed a grave threat to the people of Egypt, and to Israel, and the U.S. and the West generally. He needed to be removed and I have been praying for this ever since he rose to power. According to Bible prophecy — notably Isaiah 19 — the Egyptians have very dark days ahead of them. But as long as possible, I so want them to experience spiritual and personal freedom and for the Church to be free to preach the Gospel and demonstrate the love of Christ and the power of the Word to a nation in so much pain.

Second, this coup represents another dramatic chapter in the battle between the Radicals and the Reformers in the Muslim world. The Egyptian people launched a revolution against Hosni Mubarak in 2011 because they wanted real reform and he was resisting true democracy and personal freedom. But Morsi and the Radicals of the Muslim Brotherhood hijacked that revolution and turned into an opportunity for them to dominate and oppress Egypt. Now the Reformers are pushing back. It’s been stunning to see 22 million people — 1 in 4 Egyptians — sign a petition to get rid of the Radicals. The Egyptian army’s leadership are not Jeffersonian democratic reformers, to be sure. But they have long opposed the Radicals and they could see the popular handwriting on the wall. The army signaled last December it would not allow Egypt to enter a “dark tunnel” of Radical Islamic extremism and economic collapse. Yet that is precisely where Morsi and the Brotherhood were heading.

  • “Who is the new President of Egypt?” I wrote just one year ago on June 25, 2012. “He’s an absolute disaster — an Islamic Radical who poses a grave threat to Israel, the U.S. and to the people of Egypt, especially the Christians of which there are millions in Egypt. Here’s what Mohamed Morsi  (sometimes spelled Morsy or Mursi) said at a speech at Cairo University in May: ‘The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.’ According to a Russian news service, Morsi also said, ’Today we can establish Sharia law because our nation will acquire well-being only with Islam and Sharia. The Muslim Brothers and the Freedom and Justice Party will be the conductors of these goals.’ Those quotes ought to provide insight into just how dangerous Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood really are.”
  • Just last month, for example, Morsi called for Egyptians to support a jihad or “holy war” against the Assad regime in Syria.
  • Recent polls show the vast majority of Egyptians were coming to the same conclusion just a year after electing Morsi. A stunning 73% of Egyptians say Morsi didn’t make a single good decision in his first year in office.

All this is further evidence of the central dynamic in the Muslim world that I described in my non-fiction book in 2009, Inside The Revolution: How The Followers of Jihad, Jefferson and Jesus Are Battling To Dominate The Middle East and Transform The World. The Islamic world is going through historic convulsions. The Radicals (like Morsi and the Brotherhood) are trying to overthrow the Resisters and return the region to a “pure” version of fundamentalist Islam based on Sharia law. They believe “Islam is the answer and jihad is the way.” Ultimately, they want to create a global Caliphate where all people in every country are living under Islamic rule. The Reformers, on the other hand, believe “Islam is the answer, but jihad is not they way.” They are pushing back at the Radicals. They are Muslims, but they don’t want Sharia law. They don’t believe in waging jihad. To the contrary, they want more freedom, more openness, and even democracy. Then there are the Revivalists. They believe “Islam is not the answer, jihad is not the way; Jesus is the way.” What’s more, they believe that “the only way for our part of the world to move forward is to skip back in our history before Islam and revive what we once had — first century, New Testament, Biblical Christianity.” They are Muslims who are renouncing Islam and becoming true and fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. We need to be praying for these Revivalists to be strong and bold in their testimony for Jesus and their proclamation of the Word of God.

Third, there is still a very real possibility that a civil war will erupt in Egypt. The Radicals might counterstrike. The Muslim Brotherhood — a Radical Islamic jihadist organization — is furious about what has happened. It has been trying to seize power in Egypt since the 1920s. It may not take the coup lying down and it could unleash waves of brazen violence. Isaiah 19 indicates a tragic civil war is in Egypt’s future in the last days. Let us pray that we have not yet arrived to that point. Let us pray for peace and stability and calm in this important country of more than 80 million people.

Now, let’s look more closely at Egypt’s interim president. “It’s been a momentous week for Judge Adly Mansour,” reported CNN. “On Monday, he became the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court. Just two days later, the 67-year-old was installed as the country’s president after a military coup ousted Mohammed Morsy from power.”

“New parliamentary elections will be held, and Mansour will have the power to issue constitutional declarations in the meantime,” CNN noted. “[Mansour] as appointed vice president of the court in 1992. In that role, Mansour served during former President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule and also helped draft the elections laws that set the time frame for campaigning in the 2012 vote that brought deposed President Mohammed Morsy to power, the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported.…Mansour was born in Cairo, according to a biography on the court’s website. He received law and management science degrees from Cairo University, and also studied in Paris. He is married and has a son and two daughters.”

Foreign Policy magazine reports: ”The shakeup thrusts a little-known judge into the spotlight, and entrusts him with the unenviable task of shepherding Egypt to its next presidential and legislative elections, which could take place in as little as three to six months. But Mansour, a veteran of the Supreme Constitutional Court who only just became its chairman on July 1, will not hold ultimate authority. ‘He is not the president of Egypt in the same way that Morsy or Mubarak were presidents of Egypt,’ Tarek Masoud, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, tells Foreign Policy. The best analogy, according to Masoud, is probably Sufi Abu Taleb, who served as acting head of state for eight days following the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. ‘The administration of the country is going to be in the hands of the military, but they had to put a constitutional face on it. [Mansour] is under no illusions about the extent of his power,’ says Masoud.”

“Despite his subordinate position, however, Mansour will likely exercise considerable control over the drafting of a new election law, experts say,” FP notes. “‘His main job will be to get an electoral law done,’ Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow at the Century Foundation, tells FP. Over the past year, the Supreme Constitutional Court has twice invalidated electoral laws drafted by the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of parliament. The result, according to Hanna, has been a delay in holding parliamentary elections and a deepening of the political crisis in Egypt.”

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