Wednesday, January 06, 2016

From Ian:

Outrage, skepticism greet North Korea's claim of hydrogen bomb test
However, Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert based in Seoul, South Korea, told Fox News that he was "seriously skeptical" that Pyongyang had tested a hydrogen bomb Wednesday. According to Lankov, North Korea would have needed to divert a large amount of scarce funds to construct such a device, saying it would have been "mission overkill."
"I believe it did not have the 'signature' of a Hydrogen bomb," said Lankov, who added that he had "absolutely no doubt" the blast was an atomic test, the fourth carried out since 2006 in definance of international and United Nations sanctions.
Late Wednesday, South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo told the Associated Press that the country's National Intelligence Service had expressed in a private briefing that they believed North Korea had tested an atomic bomb, not a hydrogen bomb.
According to Lee, intelligence officials said that an estimated explosive yield of six kilotons and a magnitude-4.8 earthquake were detected Wednesday, a smaller blast than the estimated explosive yield of 7.9 kilotons and magnitude-4.9 quake that were reported after a February 2013 nuclear test by North Korea, and only a fraction of a typical successful hydrogen bomb test's explosive yield of hundreds of kilotons.
Lee says the agency told him that even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation typically yields tens of kilotons.
'US, Israel should ensure Iran not involved in N. Korean nuclear program'
After North Korea announced on Wednesday that it had successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen nuclear bomb, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz linked the test to Israel's suspicions regarding the Iranian nuclear program.
"The test reminds us all that the most important mission is to prevent a similar thing from taking place in Iran: a nuclear agreement first and nuclear weapons later."
Steinitz said that North Korea does not only threaten nations in the Far East, noting that in the past it had transferred nuclear technology to Syria and apparently to Iran as well.
"Israel and the US should increase intelligence sharing in order to ensure that Iran is not breaching its nuclear agreement through involvement in North Korea's nuclear project," Steinitz said.
In July of last year world powers adopted a final, comprehensive agreement with Iran that will govern its nuclear program for over a decade.
In 1994, North Korea signed a nuclear agreement with the US, under the administration of former US president Bill Clinton. He said at the time that the deal meant "North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.”
Clinton said that the “United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments. Only as it does so will North Korea fully join the community of nations."
Twelve years later, in 2006, North Korea detonated its first underground nuclear explosion.
Daniel Pipes: Two Things That Could Undo the Islamist Movement
But weaknesses within, especially squabbling and disapproval, could undo the Islamist movement.
Infighting became vicious in 2013, when Islamists abruptly stopped their prior pattern of cooperation among themselves and instead began internecine fighting. Yes, the Islamist movement as a whole shares similar goals, but it also contains different intellectuals, groups, and parties with variant ethnic affiliations, tactics, and ideologies.
Its internal divisions have spread fast and far. These include Sunnis vs. Shiites, notably in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen; monarchists vs. republicans, notably in Saudi Arabia; non-violent vs. violent types, notably in Egypt; modernizers vs. medieval revivalists, notably in Tunisia; and plain old personal differences, notably in Turkey. These divisions obstruct the movement by turning its guns inward.
The dynamic here is ancient: As Islamists approach power, they fight amongst themselves for dominance. Differences that hardly mattered when in the wilderness take on great importance as the stakes get higher. In Turkey, for example, the politician Erdoğan and the religious leader Fethullah Gülen cooperated until they dispatched their common enemy, the military, from politics, when they turned against each other.
Unpopularity, the second problem, may be the biggest peril for the movement. As populations experience Islamist rule first hand, they reject it. It's one thing to believe in the abstract about the benefits of Islamic law and quite another to suffer its deprivations, ranging from the Islamic State's totalitarian horrors to the comparatively benign emerging dictatorship in Turkey.
As populations experience Islamist rule first hand, they reject it.
Signs of this discontent include the large majorities of Iranians who reject the Islamic Republic, the wave of exiles out of Somalia, and the massive Egyptian demonstrations of 2013 protesting a single year of the Muslim Brotherhood in power. As with fascist and communist rule, Islamist sovereignty often leads to people voting with their feet.
Isi Leibler: Out-of-the-box thinking needed to combat terrorism
Of course, the greatest and most effective deterrent is to reintroduce targeted assassinations, which will make the leaders think twice before indulging in terrorist acts. Such action is also likely to impact on the PA and oblige it to temper its current incitement.
These suggestions are complex and can lead to other problems. But Israelis can take pride in the fact that they are capable of creative, outside-the-box solutions and have frequently adopted unconventional methods that proved successful.
The status quo is unacceptable and in the absence of remedial action it is likely to worsen.
The government must determine a strategy and convey the message unequivocally to Hamas. Now may be the best time to bite the bullet. That Iran and Hezbollah are currently engaged in a bitter battle in Syria makes it less likely that, in the event of war with Hamas, we would face a two-front confrontation The international community, which is not unduly friendly toward Israel, will presumably again call for restraint and proportionality and Israel will still be condemned in the majority of international forums.
But today, with the fear being generated by Islamic State terrorism around the world, many countries – even as they publicly join the inevitable chorus of condemnation – are likely to have a greater understanding of our determination to protect our citizens from brutal terrorist attacks than in the past.

Wounded Man Gives Terrorist the Finger as Tel Aviv Returns to Partying
Tel Aviv terror victim Ido Lazan’s first act upon waking up in the hospital was to flip the terrorist the finger. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv sprang back to life with an alcohol festival on the street where the attack took place.
Upon regaining consciousness, Lazan, who was wounded in the attack that killed three and injured several others, stuck his middle finger up in an apparent message to Nashat Melhem, the Arab Israeli perpetrator of the attack.
The image of Lazan flipping the bird has gone viral on Facebook and is accompanied by the Hebrew statement, “[Ido’s] opinion of the terrorist.” Alongside it is another image of Lazan, strapped to monitors and respiratory machines, giving the thumbs up sign in an apparent gesture to well-wishers.
Lazan was on his way to a birthday party when he was shot and wounded. He lost his dog, Django, in the confusion, but with the help of another viral Facebook post, strangers were able to locate the dog in a nearby building.
Meanwhile, the pubs on Dizengoff Street, the main Tel Aviv thoroughfare where the shooting took place, had more business than usual as people lined up to join NonStop Dizengoff, an event put on by the Tel Aviv municipality on Monday night.
Nashat Melhem's father spoke with him soon after attack
The father of fugitive terrorist Nashat Melhem spoke with his son shortly after he conducted a deadly shooting attack at a Tel Aviv pub, it was revealed on Tuesday night.
Mohammed Melhem's attorney Nahmi Feinblat dropped the bombshell in an interview with Channel 10, several hours after his client was arrested on suspicion of aiding his son.
According to Feinblat, Mohammed Melhem spoke with his son Friday soon after the shooting. The father claims that after he realized it was his son who conducted the attack, he phoned him and his son answered.
The terrorist intentionally threw away his phone before carrying out the attack, showing his cunning in making it harder to track him, but apparently the father had another way of contacting him, which would apparently strengthen police suspicions that the family aided Melhem flee and hide out.
During the conversation, Nashat Melhem claimed he was at Tel Hashomer Hospital in central Israel visiting a sick relative, according to the father's account of the call.
Arab businessman offers $10K reward for Tel Aviv gunman
Mazen Qaq, head of the merchants’ committee in Jerusalem’s Old City and a resident of East Jerusalem, announced the reward on Tuesday for information leading to the arrest of Nashat Milhem, the Ynet news site reported.
“This is someone who acted against Israeli citizens, and I won’t allow someone like him to destroy trust and security,” Qaq said.
Milhem is believed to be the gunman who shot up a central Tel Aviv bar, killing two Jewish patrons, and later murdered an Israeli Arab cab driver.
Qaq also said that business in the Old City has dropped by 70 percent in the past few months as a result of the surge of stabbings and other terror attacks by Palestinian assailants against Jews.
Israeli journalist stabbed while reporting on knife-proof vests
In the course of interviewing people for the segment, he met with representatives of the company that manufactures the vests and was persuaded to be a guinea pig and agree to be stabbed while wearing the safety vest.
In that way, his report could become a first person story, he reasoned.
It did indeed become a first person story, but not in the way he anticipated.
After donning the vest in front of the camera, Lachover was stabbed, and the knife penetrated the vest, injuring him lightly.
Highly embarrassed, the company representatives rendered immediate medical treatment before transferring Lachover for medical treatment at a hospital, where a surgeon stitched up the wound.
Security forces arrest Palestinian suspects for attacks on Modi'in-Jerusalem route
Security forcess arrested 16 Palestinians from the West bank village of Harbata Al-Masbah on suspicion of hurling firebombs and rocks at Israeli cars and buses traveling on a central and busy artery that links Modi'in to Jerusalem, the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency announced on Tuesday.
In a joint Shin Bet - IDF - Israel Police operation, the suspects, who allegedly struck and damaged vehicles on on Route 443 some occasions, were taken into custody. Some had already served jail sentences for past attacks, including on the thoroughfare, the Shin Bet said.
The agency described the attacks as not being nlinked to any terror organization, adding that IDF units were also targeted by the suspects around the village.
Two main suspects, named as Suhib Maslah and Belal Kasbah, allegedly worked in a "organized manner in carrying out firebombings," the Shin Bet said.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinian Organs Are The Wrong Tissue Type For Us Apes/Pigs (satire)
By Dr. Simeon Hazir, Nephrologist, Ichilov Hospital
It’s time for the Palestinian leadership to make up its mind: either we Jews are harvesting the organs of the terrorists we kill, or we’re the descendants of apes and pigs. The two are mutually exclusive from a medical standpoint. So I wish they would make up their minds.
If, as so many Muslim sources and preachers insist, we Jews are the progeny of apes and swine, then any attempt to use such organs to save Jewish patients would constitute a futile effort: ape tissues, despite the evolutionary closeness to those of humans, will almost certainly reject a transplant from a human. While some pig organs have been experimentally transplanted into humans, no one has ever tried it the other way around, and such operations are similarly unlikely to meet with success.
From both a medical and economic perspective – and we must admit that economics always influences medical policy – the organ-harvesting charge makes little sense. The complex logistics involved in identifying the desired donor tissue type, locating a potential donor, and confirming a match are only the beginning. In the case of several vital organs, those organs are only usable if removed from a patient within a certain number of minutes after death. In the case of, for example, the heart, the donor must be merely brain dead, which is a rarity. Those factors already make the process expensive, delicate, and risky. To remove Palestinian organs, store them, test them, transport them, and transplant them could hardly be expected to enjoy likely success if the recipients were human. If they’re the descendants of apes and pigs, it’s entirely pointless, and a colossal waste. The economic factors similarly rule out the trafficking of those organs to recipients abroad, where the huge outlay is only made for a specific organ, for a specific patient with a match confirmed beforehand. Otherwise it’s just ludicrous. Especially if you’re an ape/pig, as we’re supposed to be.
UN chief condemns Hezbollah, but also Israel
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday condemned Hezbollah for attacking IDF troops near the Lebanon-Israel border a day earlier, but also criticized Israel for retaliating.
In a statement, Ban said he “condemned yesterday’s attack against two Israel Defense Forces vehicles in the general area of the Shebaa Farms south of the Blue Line, which was claimed by Hezbollah.”
But in the same breath he also said he “expresses his concern at the retaliatory strikes by the Israel Defense Forces across the Blue Line in southern Lebanon, in the area of operations of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).”
The so-called ‘Blue Line,’ or Line of Withdrawal, was established in the year 2000 to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon in conformity with a Security Council resolution.
“UNIFIL is investigating the circumstances of the incident in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces,” added the statement, noting that Ban “calls on all parties to maintain the cessation of hostilities and to ensure full respect for Security Council resolution 1701, which imposed a ceasefire and the Israeli-Hezbollah war of 2006.”
IDF officer to Saudi paper: Israel has 'common language' with moderate Arab states
Last month, in the Foreign Ministry’s first interview granted to a Saudi news outlet, the ministry's Director General Dore Gold told Elaph that Jerusalem would not allow the transfer of weapons from Russia to Lebanon, or attacks from Syria on Israel.
The IDF officer said that the changing face of the Middle East presents new challenges for Israel in particular in the military field. "Traditional warfare has ended, and we find ourselves today faced with a long term war of attrition and terrorism, missile threats upon us, and mortar attacks meant to harm our citizens," he said.
"Israel continues its policy of deterrence, that decreases the chances of confrontations in the region," he said. The officer, who serves in the IDF's Strategic Brigade, emphasized Israel's strategic depth that can prevent future attacks, giving the example of Israel preventing advanced weapons transfers from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
On Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah's threats of revenge for the assassination of terrorist Samir Kuntar, which was credited to Israel, the officer said that the Israeli reaction to any potential Hezbollah attacks will be severe.
"We do not view Lebanon and the Lebanese people as enemies, but Hezbollah is interested to insert the Lebanese people and the villages [in southern Lebanon] into the conflict, which will result in the destruction of what took years to build," he said.
Iran Faces Regional, Economic Isolation Amid Rising Tensions With Saudi Arabia

David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote on Monday that despite attempts by Iran to get closer to the Gulf Arab states, and perhaps isolate Saudi Arabia in the process, “Tehran is now on the defensive after ignoring repeated Saudi requests to protect diplomatic facilities for more than twelve hours before the embassy was ransacked.”
In the wake of the embassy attack, Sudan and Bahrain followed Saudi Arabia’s lead and cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Monday, and the United Arab Emirates downgraded its diplomatic relations with Iran the same day. The government of Kuwait announced on Tuesday that it would also cut ties with Tehran. This led The New York Times to observe that Iran “finds itself once again characterized by adversaries as a provocateur in the region and abroad.”
Iran could also be subject to economic difficulties, despite the expected billions of dollars it is likely to reap when nuclear-related sanctions are lifted by the West in the near future. In contrast, Foundation for Defense of Democracies executive director Mark Dubowitz wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia will still have serious financial clout. The Saudis have increased oil production, which is likely to depress the market—meaning that Iran will not be able to earn as much when sanctions on its oil sales are lifted. But Riyadh also possesses considerable clout in the banking system.
Obama’s Middle East Balancing Act Tilts Toward Iran
As the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia heats up, the Barack Obama administration is trying to straddle the fence and not take sides, but its actions tell a different story -- they all seem to favor Tehran.
Following the Saudi government’s announcement Saturday that it had executed 47 prisoners, including a popular Shiite cleric, the U.S. State Department did two things. First, it issued a statement expressing concern that Riyadh’s actions were “exacerbating sectarian tensions.” Then Secretary of State John Kerry called Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, urging him to try to de-escalate the crisis.
Spokesmen for the White House and State Department on Monday insisted that the U.S. was not taking a side, and that Kerry was set to call Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. But U.S. and Arab diplomats tell us that America's Gulf allies, who feel most threatened by Iran, see things very differently.
The State Department has criticized Saudi Arabia before for executions and its human rights record. But this time, its spokesman, John Kirby, undermined the Saudi claim that Iran's government was culpable for the attacks on its embassy, noting in his opening statement that Iran appears to have arrested some of those responsible.
What's more, the Saudis argue that this time the U.S. criticism went too far because the cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, was inciting terrorism. "We do not accept any criticism of the kingdom’s judicial system," al-Jubeir said Sunday. "What happened was that those who have led terrorist operations that led to the killing of innocent people, were convicted."
Obama Sides With Iran--Again
The problem, however, is that American bureaucracies that deal with foreigners—State Department, CIA, the Pentagon, etc.— understand the world in terms of states. They are not equipped to deal with amorphous groups of people who seem to define themselves by faith (Christendom, for instance, Buddhists, etc.), but rather with real and specific institutions that manage, for better or worse, the societies and peoples living within its borders. And we understand it in this fashion not simply because of some imaginary construct cooked up by the authors of the Westphalian system, or the European diplomats who drew the Sykes-Picot borders in the post-WWI Middle East—rather, it is because this is the order that the United States has encouraged and enforced since the end of WWII. Thus, by accepting Iran as a mediator on Shiite affairs, Obama is not only exacerbating sectarian tensions in the Middle East, he is also erasing sovereign borders and eroding the nation-state system—all of which damage American interests directly.
Let's look at it in more specific terms. The attacks on Saudi's diplomatic missions have brought out a lot of anti-Saudi sentiment in the U.S. foreign policy community, journalists and analysts who wonder why we should care about a regime responsible for a lot of bad things around the world. There is no doubt that Riyadh is, to say the least, a very difficult ally in many ways. However, it is part of the American order of the Middle East and has been so for 70 years. Iran sees it this way as well. Therefore, an attack on Saudi diplomatic facilities is an attack on our side, our order, us. They see other traditional U.S. regional partners—like Jordan, Turkey, and Israel—in the same way.
Saturday's siege then should be understood in the context of other Iranian campaigns against the American order, like most recently the regime's ballistic missile tests. The administration's responses to the burning of an embassy and consulate of an ally should be seen similarly, as yet another concession to a terrorist regime that violates international law as a matter of policy. The White House's retreat only means that the system of laws and norms underwritten by the United States for decades will be toppled and then replaced by another order, likely shaped by actors like the Islamic Republic and its allies.
Iran-Saudi crisis is the bitter fruit of Obama’s inept diplomacy
The Saudis look on with dismay. They cherish the alliance with America, but last week they learned from our media the White House announced a plan to impose mild sanctions on Iran for illegally testing a long-range missile — only to reverse course a day later and postpone them after Iran’s complaints.
Such behavior reinforces the notion that America’s only true goal in the region is preserving a presidential legacy: the already much-dreaded Iran nuclear deal signed last July. Having all the leverage over Washington, which fears an Iranian walkout above all, Tehran no longer even needs nukes to cause real existential heartburn in Riyadh.
So why should we care? To answer that, let’s remember how the house of Saud became our ally to begin with: It’s the oil, stupid.
Riyadh is still keeping oil production up, assuring (along with our innovative new ways of extracting oil) that energy costs here and in Europe remain low. With that, Obama can boast an economic recovery, however modest.
But that assumes the Saudis will always remain our allies. Now that Obama has chosen their sworn enemy, they’re forced to seek other alliances, and their interests, such as keeping oil prices low, may soon shift.
Obama’s Iran deal was largely about geopolitical realignment. But if an all-out war breaks out, this last weekend may be remembered long after this deal is forgotten.
Dennis Ross: The Saudis Are Rightly Concerned About Iran
Saudi Arabia and the United States have been partners — not allies. Typically, America’s allies share values and not just interests. With the Saudis we have been bound by shared interests and shared threat perceptions. Indeed over the years, those who threaten the Saudis have also threatened us, and vice versa.
During the Cold War, the Saudis' staunch anticommunism made them a natural partner in our competition with the Soviets. They saw Soviet support for their regional adversaries — whether it was Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt or Muammar el-Qadhafi’s Libya — as a threat. The U.S. saw the Saudis as a force for regional stability, particularly as they would financially shore up other western-oriented states like Jordan. But the U.S. also saw the Saudis as the key to a stable oil supply.
Values did not enter into it. Since 9/11, and certainly with the emergence of ISIS, there has been more discussion with Saudi leaders on not funding the madrassas that teach an austere, intolerant, Salafi interpretation of Islam.
The Saudis, too, are now threatened by ISIS, and are trying to root out its followers within the kingdom. But as the conflicts in Syria and Yemen demonstrate — and as the breaking of relations with Iran now highlights — the Saudis see the Iranians and their Shiite militia proxies as their preeminent threat. They are far more ready to challenge them, particularly in the aftermath of America’s nuclear deal with Iran. The Saudis see the Obama administration as unwilling to challenge the Iranians and worry about how Iran will exploit the sanctions relief it will soon receive.
Who Would Win In A Saudi Arabia vs. Iran Showdown?
With the growing tensions in the Persian Gulf after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was stormed and set on fire in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric, Americans ought to take notice. Five of the top seven oil producing nations are in the region of the Persian Gulf. So, even though fracking has helped increase American oil reserves to a 42-year high, things could get rocky if Iran and Saudi Arabia go to war.
How bad could it get? Well, keep in mind, in the Iran-Iraq War back in the 1980s, oil tankers became targets. The United States Navy ended up escorting neutral tankers in the Persian Gulf, and two frigates, the Stark (FFG 31) and the Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) were damaged. American forces also got into a few engagements with the Iranians. So, what might happen if the Saudis and Iranians end up in a fight? It has happened before.
On June 5, 1984, Iranian F-4 Phantoms threatened Saudi oil fields. The Saudis scrambled F-15s to engage the Iranian planes, and downed two of them using AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. That was over 30 years ago – but the Saudis had the technological edge then, and that edge has only grown. Today, the backbone of the Saudi Air Force consist of variants of the F-15E, while Iran’s best planes are less than 30 MiG-29 Fulcrums. The Saudis, though, have been bringing the Eurofighter Typhoon into service – and have at least two squadrons in service, with more on the way.
Iranian Chess Player Refuses to Compete Against Israeli in International Tournament
An Iranian chess grandmaster refused to compete against an Israeli player at a tournament in Switzerland this week, Iran’s semi-official state news agency Mehr reported on Tuesday.
According to Mehr, during the fifth round of the international 2016 Basel Schachfestival chess competition, Ehsan Ghaem-Maghami declined the match against Yuliya Shvayger in order to “reject the existence of the Zionist state [and] to announce to the world the voice of justice and support for the oppressed people of Palestine.”
Shvayger was born in Ukraine and has played for Israel since 2012.
Jordan summons Iranian envoy over Saudi tensions
Jordan summoned Iran's ambassador in Amman on Wednesday to condemn an attack on the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and "Iranian interference" in Arab affairs, Jordanian state news agency Petra reported.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have spiraled since the execution of a Shi'ite cleric in Saudi Arabia.
Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran early on Sunday and Shi'ite Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted "divine vengeance" for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the ruling Al Saudi family.
As 'cold war' with Saudis sharpens, Iran's Revolutionary Guards deliver warning
Tehran denies interfering in Arab lands. But the Quds Force, the arm of the Guards that operates abroad, has contributed fighters, weapons and military supplies to back Iran's interests and policies across the region.
That prospect is worrying for a region where conflicts or political crises from Lebanon and Syria to Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain involve proxies of both powers who are at daggers drawn.
A day after the IRGC issued its statement, which described Saudi rulers as "terrorist-fostering, hated and anti-Islam", Riyadh broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran, escalating a contest for power that underpins the region's turmoil.
There is no firm indication that Iran's factionalized leadership has agreed how far it should go to avenge the death of Nimr -- who was one of 47 people executed by Saudi Arabia on Saturday -- and what methods should be used. But whatever steps are authorized, the Guards are likely to be involved, although as orchestrators more than direct participants, experts say.
Bahrain says it dismantled Iran-linked terror cell
Bahrain said Wednesday it had dismantled an Iran-linked “terror” cell that was planning attacks in the kingdom, amid a growing diplomatic crisis between Gulf Arab states and Tehran over the execution by Saudi Arabia of a leading Shiite cleric.
The cell was allegedly linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah militia and planning to carry out a “series of dangerous bombings” in the tiny Sunni-ruled kingdom, an interior ministry statement said.
Members of the “secret terrorist organization” have been identified, and many arrested, said the statement on the official BNA news agency, adding that others remain at large.
Among those arrested were 33-year-old twins Ali and Mohammed Fakhrawi, who were identified as leaders of the group.
Doctored TV Interview With Saudi 'Dissident' Embarrasses Iran
Elshaqaa was asked to describe the atmosphere as tense and teeming with unrest following last week’s execution of the high-profile Shi’ite cleric Nimer al Nimer.
Saudi-Iranian relations have since deteriorated, leading to the suspension of diplomatic relations between them after an angry mob raided the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Elshaqaa recorded the background conversations with al-Alam’s producers, in which they coax him into criticizing the Saudi regime, and offered to disguise his voice so he could be introduced as a resident of the Shi’ite east describing the “tension and violence” that have swept the region since Nimer’s execution.
Elshaqaa posted the recordings on his Twitter account. They were picked up by the Saudi media and celebrated as a “victory over the Iranian propaganda machine.”
During the broadcast, Elshaqaa said that calm reigns in the eastern region and schools, shops, and offices are operating as usual. When he said the Saudi regime considered Nimer a terrorist, he was taken off the air.
Muslim Group Protest Urges Mass Mailing of Potatoes to Saudi Embassy
On Monday, a group calling itself the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) launched an unusual protest against the Saudi Arabian government’s execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, asking people to inundate the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington D.C. with potatoes.
Claiming al-Nimr was “an international champion of civil rights and free speech,” the petition argued that the potato deluge was modeled after the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that drew attention to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The press release states that the aim of the protest is threefold: The media will take notice, it peacefully opposes the “brutal tactics of the Saudi government against free speech,” and it will annoy the Saudi government.
According to Arab News, In March 2009, al-Nimr suggested secession of the Shiite regions in Saudi Arabia to form a united Shiite state.
Saudi Bus Driver Sentenced to Jail, Flogging After Female Passengers Smoke, Sing, Dance on Board
A Saudi bus driver was reportedly sentenced to imprisonment and flogging for allowing women to smoke, sing and dance in his vehicle, the Saidi-based SABQ news site reported on Wednesday.
The male driver, who drove female students from Taif University, will be flogged 300 times and spend three years in jail.
SABQ did not say whether the students were punished too, but emphasized that the defendant was previously sentenced to imprisonment and flogging on counts of homosexuality and adultery.
It was also reported that his license was previously revoked by the powerful Council for Imposition of Religious Norms, which he managed to bypass by purchasing a different vehicle.
The site also reported that a group of men and women were arrested near Mecca for possession of bottles that contained Arak, a Levantine alcoholic spirit.
Soldier who ‘spied’ for Jewish extremists gets 45 months
Sela was arrested last March by the Judea and Samaria District police unit, which deals with nationalistically motivated crimes. He was part of the Shahar project for ultra-Orthodox recruits and served as an intelligence NCO, a role in which he had access to classified information.
“The soldier, time after time, and on a number of occasions, took advantage of his access to secret information and handed it over to those on whom it concerned. He was assigned to a sensitive military network and trust was put in him to carry out his duties loyally to the army and the state. His actions were a serious betrayal,” military prosecutor Major Thea Shalit said.
The Shin Bet launched an investigation after a mosque in a Palestinian village near Bat Ayin was torched and vandalized on February 15. The army entered the settlement to arrest several far-right activists suspected of involvement in the attack, and were met with violence, prompting a soldier to fire in the air. The incident led investigators to believe the residents had received advance warning of the arrests.
“Sela was convicted of carrying out unauthorized searches in classified systems concerning the criminal activity carried out by residents of Bat Ayin, where he lives, as well as actions taken by security forces against such activity,” the IDF said in a statement. “Over a long period, which ended with the arrest, Sela gave classified information to various individuals suspected of carrying out hostile activity against Palestinians, information which assisted these individuals in evading and foiling the activity of security forces in the area.”
WATCH: Mixed-Gender Event on Palestinian Campus Stirs Controversy
A video showing Palestinian students dancing on campus has sparked controversy on social media.
The video, showing men and women dancing the traditional Debka side by side, received more than 1.5 million views and thousands of comments in less than a day.
Conservatives accused the management of Ramallah’s Birzeit University for condoning “moral abandon” and criticized the “shameful sight” as promoting “promiscuity and forbidden lust.”
Others said the organizers of the event were aiding and abetting prostitution, quoting Prophet Mohammed: “It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is not permissible to you.”
EXCLUSIVE - Hamas Posts Surveillance Cameras Along Egypt Border
Hamas security forces fixed surveillance cameras near the Gaza-Egypt border after Egyptian troops shot dead a young Gazan who swam into the country’s territorial waters.
The cameras are meant to “document the Egyptian forces’ human rights violations,” a Hamas spokesman told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The shooting of the man, described as mentally unstable, was caught on camera. The video was initially broadcast on Al Jazeera, and then repeatedly on Hamas-and Muslim-Brotherhood affiliated outlets.
The damning video comes at a sensitive time for the Egyptian authorities, who fear that the Islamic opposition will exploit Tuesday’s anniversary of the 2011 revolution in order to undermine President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s regime.
This is not the first time Egyptian troops have opened fire on Palestinians trying to cross the border, the source said. He added that in 2015, the crossings were open for only 23 days.
'Hamas turned Sinai into a jihadist hotbed'
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a Middle East expert of Bar Ilan University, sat down with Arutz Sheva to speak about the tumultuous situation in the region, particularly in light of the rise of Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.
Aside from its direct military conquests, ISIS is lethal due to the "atmosphere" it brews in the Middle East, said Kedar. He noted that the group encourages jihadist recruitment, with the affects being felt in the US and Europe.
ISIS has provided "an injection of motivation for the Muslims to take the knife or the rifle and to do whatever they have to do according to Islamic sharia (law)," said the expert.
Turning his attention to the Sinai Peninsula, Kedar noted how the region has been turned into a jihadist hotbed thanks largely to Hamas in Gaza, which has used its smuggling tunnels to bring a strong influence into the area.
The IDF might not have the "right devices" to counter the threat of jihadists firing missiles from Sinai, he warned.
UN watchdog finds traces of Syria sarin gas exposure
A fact-finding mission by the UN chemical weapons watchdog has found that some people in Syria may have been exposed to sarin or a sarin-like gas, according to a report released Monday.
The mission by the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it was investigating 11 incidents of the use of toxic chemicals reported by the Syrian government.
The report did not say when the 11 incidents took place or specify any location.
“In one instance, the analysis of some blood samples indicates that individuals were at some point exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance,” said the OPCW report sent to the Security Council last week.
OPCW: Syria's chemical arsenal completely destroyed
Syria's declared chemical weapons arsenal has been completely destroyed, capping more than two years of work, a global arms watchdog said Tuesday.
The declaration, however, came a day after it was announced that a fact-finding mission by the UN chemical weapons watchdog found that some people in Syria may have been exposed to sarin or a sarin-like gas.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the dangerous removal and elimination of Syria's avowed stockpile, has for months been warning of the continued use of mustard, sarin and chlorine gas in the brutal conflict.
But it has avoided blaming either the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the rebels or the Islamic State (ISIS) group for the use of the weapons banned under international law.
After years of denials, the regime caved to international pressure in September 2013 and agreed under a United States-Russia deal to hand over its toxic stockpile to the OPCW for destruction.
Tunisian Sociologist Omar ben Yahmad: Homosexuals in Tunisia Follow the Model of the Jewish Lobby
Tunisian sociologist Omar ben Yahmad, discussing homosexuality on a December 22 show on Zitouna TV, complained that homosexuals in Tunisia were "well organized," relying "on what the Zionist and Jewish lobby has done in the past decades." They follow the model of Israel, which "has a lobby behind it, controlling all the important hubs of the superpowers," he said.

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