Thursday, September 08, 2016

From Ian:

PMW: Murderer of 6 is Fatah’s candidate for Hebron City Council
In the approaching Palestinian local municipal elections, Fatah has chosen a special candidate to run for election to Hebron’s City Council: a convicted murderer.
On Facebook, Fatah praised its candidate Tayseer Abu Sneineh and took pride in his participation in the murder of 6 Israelis in 1980:
Posted text: "The number 2 candidate on the Fatah Movement list in the Hebron City Council elections - hero of the Daboya operation (i.e., Beit Hadassah terror attack, 6 murdered) Tayseer Abu Sneineh - one of the heroes of the Daboya operation on May 2, 1980.”
Tayseer Abu Sneineh was one of four Palestinian terrorists who attacked a group of Israelis on May 2, 1980, in Hebron, near Beit Hadassah - the only building in Hebron in which Jews lived at the time. They murdered 6 Israeli young men and wounded 20. All four terrorists were sentenced to life in prison, but were released in various prisoner exchange deals in the 1980s.
Fatah’s post announcing Abu Sneineh’s candidacy went on to describe the terror attack as “one of the most important battles and acts of bravery of the Fatah Movement” and “one of the most courageous self-sacrifice operations.” Fatah furthermore praised the killers as “heroes” and men “of delicate emotions”:
“Four young people met on one of the cold days of March 1980 in a cave in the Hebron hills... on that very day the four were unknown...
After a few months, the four carried out one of the most courageous self-sacrifice operations in the occupied areas, if not the most courageous, and it is the attack against the Jewish settlers in Hebron...
The four heroes were not murderers, who feel a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction from the sight of blood, but rather [men] of delicate emotions, who the extremist Zionist occupiers denied the rights of their Palestinian people, and they did not find any other means besides weapons in order to restore them [the rights]...”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, Aug. 27, 2016]

Abu Sneineh is not the only murderer who is being considered a respectable figure in Palestinian politics.
Analysis: Abbas, the KGB and the world of Middle East espionage
The revelation that the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, also known as 'Abu Mazen,’ was a KGB agent, should not surprise historians and researchers of the PLO movement and the methods of the Soviet Union.
Since its creation in 1959, the Fatah group, and later the PLO, were influenced, penetrated and supported by various Arab intelligence communities, the KGB and its satellite security services in the communist bloc. More than ideological bonding it was a marriage of convenience.
The PLO needed financial support, military training and weapons. The Soviet Union, entangled in the Cold War with the West, wanted to increase its influence in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and its client states in Eastern Europe supported “progressive” movements and groups around the globe, including those who were involved in terror and violence.
While the Soviet Union tried to keep its hands “clean,” it instructed the security services of its client states to do the dirty work. The East German Stasi, and also the Hungarian and the Bulgarian agencies, trained PLO officers, gave them weapons, documents and hosted notorious terrorists such as Abu Nidal, Carlos and Wadi Haddad. The Black September terrorists who killed the 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics traveled via East Berlin.
Yasser Arafat himself was photographed by “Securității” the Romanian security service in an intimate position in his hotel room in the company of his body guards while visiting Bucharest. (h/t Yenta Press)
JCPA: Israel’s Rights in the Territories under International Law
Amb. Alan Baker: International Law Expert: Israel Is Not an “Occupier”




Abbas was KGB Agent in Syria in 1980s, Archive Reveals
It is not certain if Abbas, who received a doctorate from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, served as a KGB agent either before or after his time in Damascus.
Abbas’ alleged role was uncovered by researchers Isabela Ginor and Gideon Remez, who found references to Abbas (code-named Krotov or “mole”) in the papers of famed KGB defector Vasily Mitrokhin.
In response, Fatah official Nabil Shaath asserted that Abbas was not an “agent of the KGB or any other intelligence agency.” Shaath claimed that the report was an excuse for Netanyahu to avoid the Moscow meeting with Abbas.
In How Holocaust Denial Shaped Mahmoud Abbas’ Worldview, which was published in the May 2016 issue of The Tower Magazine, Edy Cohen wrote that while studying in Moscow, Abbas absorbed “Soviet anti-Jewish propaganda” and incorporated it into his PhD thesis, which questioned historical details of the Holocaust.
Report: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Was A KGB Agent
The documents reveal an extensive relationship between the Soviet Union and the nascent Palestinian nationalist movement that began in the late 1960s. At the time, the Soviets established a covert channel with Yasser Arafat’s terror-inclined guerilla group, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO. Abbas held an integral role in these backdoor communications, functioning as liaison. Accordingly, the PLO closely collaborated with the KGB, receiving Soviet arms to launch asymmetrical warfare against the State of Israel.
It’s unclear exactly when Abbas began working for the KGB office in Damascus to facilitate coordination between the PLO and the Soviet Union, but according to the documents his stint likely began after 1983.
In the early 1980s, Abbas was studying at a university in Moscow. He traveled to the Soviet capital to defend his virulently anti-Semitic doctoral thesis entitled, “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.” The thesis doesn’t even scratch at the surface of academic rigor, as it’s littered with historical revisionism and Holocaust denialism. Not surprisingly, many of the main points argued in the thesis come straight from popular Soviet anti-Semitic writings, including the cartoonishly conspiratorial “The Protocols of the Elders of the Zion,” a text that impressively manages to consolidate nearly every single anti-Semitic historical trope and roll it into one Jew-bashing narrative about a furtive cabal of hook-nosed, hunch-backed, money-grubbing Jews controlling the world. The text is still incredibly popular throughout the Arab world. In some Islamist-littered territories, including the West Bank and Gaza, it’s a best-seller that’s taught to children as historical fact.
The documents that illustrate Abbas’ connection to the ruthless Soviet secret police were smuggled out of the former Soviet Union by senior KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin. Mitrokhin defected to the United Kingdom in 1992, providing vast amounts of secret Soviet documents to Western intelligence in the process. Collectively, Mitrokhin’s smuggled documents have come to be known the Mitrokhin Archive.
Most of the documents in the archive, some of which include Mitrokhin’s own handwritten notes, remain classified by the British spy agency MI5.
Palestinians reject report Abbas was KGB agent as 'smear campaign'
A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed a claim by Israeli researchers that he served as a Soviet KGB agent in Syria over three decades ago, AFP reported Thursday.
The PA president's spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh told AFP that Wednesday's reported findings were part of a "smear campaign" to impede a Russian-proposed meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas.
Israel's public Channel 1 reported on Wednesday night that two Hebrew University researchers had obtained a trove of KGB archives that included a list that named Abbas as a Soviet agent in 1983 in Damascus.
However on Thursday, Abbas's spokesperson charged that the reported discovery "falls under the framework of Israeli absurdities which we have gotten used to."
"It is clear Israel is troubled by the (Palestinians') strategic relationship with Russia and by the clear and announced Russian position, which is to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of an independent Palestinian state and the right of self-determination for our people," Abu Rudeineh added.
Women's Flotilla About Everything But Helping Gaza
Arguably, more humanitarian aid flows into Gaza than ever before. And strong evidence indicates that Hamas chooses to divert significant amounts of construction material that should be used to rebuild housing in order to gear up for future terrorist attacks against Israel.
And so a flotilla aimed at drawing attention to Palestinian suffering hopes to set sail shortly and make it to Gaza by Oct. 1.
Its message: Israel is to blame for everything. It should willingly embrace suicide for its people by ending a naval blockade on Gaza that stops Hamas from importing even more weapons of war. The Women's Boat to Gaza's message for Hamas?
Nothing.
The boats will carry women only, in an attempt to put forth a more peaceful message, organizers say. Think of it as a sort of Lilith Fair on the sea for Israel-hating women.
"The Freedom Flotilla Coalition has decided to launch the Women's Boat to Gaza because we believe that it is essential to highlight the vital role women play not only in the resistance movement, but in the survival of the Palestinian people as a whole."
The ships will carry no aid, organizers say. Ending the blockade is the sole mission. Organizers insist it is illegal but offer no support for the claim. They ignore a United Nations investigation conducted after a 2010 flotilla ended violently. Passengers on the Mavi Marmara attacked Israelis troops who raided the ship to stop it from reaching Gaza.
Palestinian court postpones long-awaited local elections
A Palestinian court on Thursday postponed municipal elections set for October 8 following disputes between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements over candidate lists, as well the lack of participation of Jerusalem in the vote.
The decision was made by a court in Ramallah in the West Bank, where Fatah is in power.
The Palestinian news agency Ma’an quoted the ruling of the court: “The administrative decision [i.e., the elections] must deal with the homeland as one unit, and with the faltering measures in Jerusalem and the procedural problems in Gaza, the decision was taken to postpone.”
The Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
There were several Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem that fielded electoral lists, including Beit Hanina, Abu Dis and Kafr Aqab.
Signs of trouble began emerging last week, when Hamas-controlled courts in Gaza disqualified four Fatah-backed slates of candidates. Five more lists were disqualified this week, meaning Fatah would have been unable to compete in nine of the 25 races.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Whew. We Almost Had Actual Elections There For A Moment By Mahmoud Abbas, President, Palestinian Authority (satire)
It’s been more than ten years since the last time local elections were held in the Palestinian Authority, and we just got dangerously close to having them happen again. That won’t do. Nothing that challenges my power and the positions of my cronies. Dodged a bullet there. So to speak.
For one thing, Hamas would definitely gain if we went through with my announcement of elections, and we can’t have that. They’re all the wrong people – they’re not even in the PLO – and besides, their scenario for destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic Palestinian state is far less realistic than ours. To have such people running Palestinian affairs and removing control of the graft, cronyism, nepotism, and sundry other manifestations of corruption from Fatah and redirecting the proceeds toward their own pockets would be disastrous. It would mean my family and supporters would have to live off only the interest of the funds we’ve embezzled so far, and no more kickbacks or bribes. I shudder at the thought.
For another, Fatah isn’t remotely unified, so our showing would be an embarrassment. That bastard Dahlan is breathing down my neck, and his supporters might make a show of strength in local elections – I should have had him killed years ago, but none of the other Arab leaders would stand for such a thing. Ingrates. Don’t they realize I’m on their side, trying to play up Palestinian suffering as much as possible so they can then use the issue to distract from their own repressive policies? Look what I’ve been reduced to – getting perilously close to letting the people have their say in public affairs. That can’t be what our allies in the region want. They’ve never wanted it before.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: "Women are Witches"
The offensive references to women, who are depicted as witches and demons in Palestinian school textbooks, should not come as a surprise. Recently, it was revealed here that several Palestinian lists contesting the October 8 local elections have replaced the names and photos of their female candidates with images of roses and pigeons.
"This is completely unacceptable because it presents women as the cause for all disputes and evil in Palestinian society." — Lubna Al-Ashkar of the Women's Technical Affairs Committee.
"This will create a negative image of women in the midst of our children -- one that will be difficult to change in the future." — Amal Khraisheh, chairwoman of the Palestinian Working Woman Society.
It is true that women as witches is a novel defamation for President Mahmoud Abbas and his crew. Yet Palestinian Authority defamation of others, including Israel, is far from new. This is stuff fed to Palestinian schoolchildren: lies about history, lies about geography, and now lies about Palestinian women.
MK likens unilateral West Bank pullout to 9/11 jumpers
Less than a week before Americans mark the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, Likud MK Avi Dichter on Tuesday compared any potential Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank to people jumping out of the windows of the burning World Trade Center towers on 9/11, arguing that both cases constitute certain suicide.
While acknowledging there were differences, Dichter said the often-made demand for a unilateral withdrawal is akin to the “difficult images of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, when people trapped on the upper floors of the Twin Towers jumped from the windows even though they knew that they were actually jumping to their deaths.”
Dichter, who heads the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, made the remark in response to the creation of a new movement calling for national referendum on the future of Israel’s West Bank presence. In a statement sent to reporters Tuesday, Dichter said he fully rejects any call for a unilateral evacuation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
But, said Dichter, the former head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service, Israel is currently not about to take such a step.
“To tell you the truth, we’re very far from it. A unilateral withdrawal is, as far as we’re concerned, a suicidal leap,” he said. Israel is not in any immediate danger and the status quo will continue until a genuine opportunity arises to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians, he added.
Netanyahu and Abbas agree ‘in principle’ to meet, Russia says
The Russian foreign ministry on Thursday said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas had agreed “in principle” to meet in Moscow.
According to Russian media reports, the two leaders were willing to sit down for a face-to-face meeting in a bid to revive peace talks.
“Russian foreign ministry confirms willingness to host Netanyahu-Abbas meeting in Moscow, preparations continue,” the Interfax news agency reported. “Israeli, Palestinian leaders agree in principle to meet in Moscow.”
According to ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow has heard from the offices of Abbas and Netanyahu that the two agreed to meet in the Russian capital, though it’s not clear when that will happen.
Israel acknowledges helping Paraguay in fight against Hezbollah
Israel is helping Paraguay take actions against Hezbollah in the Tri-Border area with Argentina and Brazil, the Foreign Ministry acknowledged on Wednesday while announcing the opening of the new embassy in Asuncion.
“Israel cooperates with Paraguay in the battle against terrorism and maintains a supportive role in actions against Hezbollah at the tri-border region,” the ministry said in a background statement on relations with Paraguay.
One official explained that this cooperation has been taking place for years in the area, where there is a high concentration of Shi’ites of Lebanese descent who have set up a up a logistical base that assists the terrorist organization. Israel’s support for Paraguay in the area takes the form of intelligence cooperation, the official said, without elaborating.
According to the US State Department’s country report on terrorism for 2016, “Paraguay continued to face challenges of ineffective immigration, customs, and law enforcement controls along its porous borders, particularly the Tri-Border Area (TBA) with Argentina and Brazil. Illicit activities within the TBA remained potential funding sources for terrorist organizations, most notably Hezbollah.
Israeli jets hit Syrian targets in response to earlier projectile strike
The Israel Air Force on Thursday struck a number of targets in Syria in response to an earlier Syrian mortar shell that exploded in the northern Golan heights on Wednesday evening, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
No injuries or damage was reported in the earlier incident.
The strikes targeted rocket launchers located in parts of the Syrian-occupied parts of the Golan Heights, which are under the authority of the Syrian government.
The IDF said that it holds the Syrian government responsible for the incident and "anything that happens on its territory" and "will not permit any attempt to threaten Israel's sovereignty or the safety of its people."
5 members of 'ISIS in Palestine' sentenced to jail terms in plea bargain
The Haifa District Court on Thursday sentenced five Israeli-Arabs to jail terms of between 2.5 to six years as part of a plea bargain for their role in attempting to set up a branch of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Israel.
The five defendants, out of an initial seven who were indicted, were part of a plot to carry out terror attacks in Israel and target Druse Israelis, security personnel, and others.
The defendants were charged with membership and activity in a banned organization (ISIS was banned by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon as of September 2014), aiding a terror group and attempted contact with a foreign agent, for their plot to set up a branch of ISIS in Israel and eventually fight in Syria.
All seven defendants were arrested in a joint Shin Bet-Israel Police operation in November and December 2014, but the case was kept under a gag order until the Haifa Court removed the order when the indictment was filed in January 2015.
The defendants sentenced were Hasam Marisat, 31 (sentenced to 2.5 years), a former security prisoner from Deir Hanna, Karim Abu-Tzalah, 23 (sentenced to six years), Sarif Khaled Abu-Tzalah, 30 (sentenced to three years), Muhammed Abu Tzalah, 27 (sentenced to 2.5 years) and Fadi Bashir (sentenced to three years), all from Sakhnin. Muhammed was training to be a pharmacist at the time of his arrest, the Shin bet said.
Israel begins work on NIS 2 billion underground Gaza barrier
Israel recently broke ground on a new subterranean barrier along the length of its border with the Gaza Strip, aimed at stopping Palestinian terror groups from tunneling into the country and carrying out attacks.
The Defense Ministry in July approved the NIS 2 billion ($530 million) project that would see a concrete wall — both below and above ground — built along the entire the 60 kilometer (about 37 miles) border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Construction on the barrier wall began at the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, to protect a cluster Israeli towns bordering the northern Gaza Strip from cross-border attacks, the Ynet news website reported.
According to Ynet, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot called the border wall “the largest project” ever carried out in Israel’s military history. The website added, however, that the project is at risk of being defunded due to a lack of clarification from the government about how the barrier will be financed.
That wall, which was first proposed by the IDF in the wake of the 2014 conflict with Hamas in Gaza, is set to include both physical barriers and technological detection systems to better protect against infiltration from the coastal enclave.
Hamas spends $100 million a year on military infrastructure
As the residents of the Gaza Strip endure daily hardships due to the dire economic situation in the enclave, their Hamas leaders spend over $100 million a year on the group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, according to estimates by both Israeli and Palestinian sources. Spending on digging tunnels accounts for some $40 million of that annual sum.
By way of comparison, the budget of the last Hamas government, which dissolved in April 2014, was $530 million. In other words, some 20 percent of the budget was funneled toward arming the group with advanced weapons, digging tunnels, training, and salaries for Hamas fighters.
Some 1,500 Hamas members from various brigades are currently employed in tunnel digging. The average salary for an excavator is $250-$400 a month — relatively high for the Strip, where unemployment is rampant. The diggers also receive bonuses and incentives for meeting deadlines set by the Hamas military leadership. Veteran diggers receive higher salaries than others.
Obama’s Syria Policy Isn’t a ‘Mistake.’ It’s Deliberate.
In short, the Iran deal wasn’t just about limits on uranium enrichment, inspections of nuclear facilities, and sanctions relief, etc., it was also about the Syrian conflict—in particular, about the United States agreeing to step back and let Iran protect its “equities” in Syria, by whatever means its gruesome proxy saw fit.
It’s curious, then, that many of the voices that are now so critical of the administration’s Syria policy were also among the most vocal supporters of the JCPOA. Here’s Nicholas Kristof shortly after the JCPOA was signed providing the White House with talking points to sell the deal: “If the U.S. rejects this landmark deal, then we get the worst of both worlds: an erosion of sanctions and also an immediate revival of the Iran nuclear program.” Nowhere does he mention the fate of children in Syria. Nor does he in this follow-up with more talking points two weeks later. Recently he wrote an op-ed arguing that Anne Frank today is a Syrian girl—without noting that the Nazi equivalents here are funded and armed by Iran.
Robin Wright lauded the JCPOA as “the Obama administration’s boldest foreign-policy initiative. It marks the first success in dealing with Iran since its 1979 revolution and the prolonged seizure of the American embassy in Tehran.” She told NPR, “What’s been unleashed here is a different kind of process. It’s the beginning of a healing process.”
During U.S.-Iran talks, Wright spent a lot of time speaking with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, whom she says she has known for three decades. She interviewed him several times during negotiations. “Zarif is an affable man with a disarmingly unrevolutionary grin, a quick wit, and the steely tenacity of a debater,” she wrote in a 2014 profile for The New Yorker. But she neglected to ask him about Iran’s war in Syria, which Tehran has been financing since Assad started shooting at unarmed protesters in 2011. Instead, she queried him in a later article about Iran’s potential role in Syrian peace talks. To her credit, she notes that most of the “advisers” Iran has sent to Syria “have been helping the [Assad regime] fight the opposition.” But in her “The Babies Are Dying in Aleppo” article, there is no mention of Iran or its role in helping kill them.
Iran Totally Bamboozled Western Media Into Believing ISIS Banned The Burka
Iranian media successfully conned several Western news outlets into believing the Islamic State had banned women from wearing the burka near checkpoints in Mosul, Iraq.
The story seemed too good to be true, because it was: ISIS banned the burka, an unflattering head-to-toe covering seen most often in Afghanistan, after burka-clad women supposedly killed several ISIS commanders over several months in Mosul, Iraq, according to a report by Al-Alam News and translated by Iran Front Page.
The story caught fire Sept. 4, but the IFP report offered little evidence the ban ever occurred. Iran’s PressTV, a government-backed propaganda arm, followed with a similar story Sept. 5. In classic fashion, PressTV accused ISIS of hypocrisy after the group has previously killed many women for failing to adhere to its strict dress code. Both outlets noted the ban came just after the burqini ban controversy in France.
The story quickly made its way across a variety of Western news outlets, despite its uncertain origins. Many outlets, including here at The Daily Caller, noted that Iranian media sources, many of which have a dubious reputation, were the originators of the story.
Israeli Expert: Warheads Used in North Korean Missile-Launch Latest Indication of Close Military Cooperation With Iran
Until now, such warheads — first detected by Inbar in Iran in 2010 — have not been seen in North Korea. At the time, Inbar dubbed them NRVs (or, “new entry vehicles”), which became their nickname among missile experts around the world.
Inbar told IsraelDefense: “The configuration that we saw [on Tuesday] is identical to what we saw in Iran six years ago. In principle, its penetrating body (warhead) is identical to that of Scud missiles, but is mounted on the Shahab-3, and creates a more stable entity than other Shahab/Nodong warheads.”
Inbar said this was the third time that something of this nature had appeared in Iran before it did in North Korea. “But we must remember that the two countries engage in close cooperation where military and space-directed missiles are concerned,” he said. “It is thus possible that both plans and technology are being transferred regularly from one to the other.”
As was reported in The Algemeiner in July, American intelligence officials said that Iran attempted to launch a new type of ballistic missile based on North Korean technology. The test reportedly ended in failure when the North Korean BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile exploded shortly after lift-off.
In April, as The Algemeiner reported, former US Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security adviser John Hannah used the story of Israel’s 2007 bombing of the North Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria to warn against Pyongyang’s behavior today. “The greatest threat we face from [Supreme Leader] Kim Jong Un is probably not a suicidal attack against the United States or our allies in Northeast Asia with nuclear missiles. Rather, the more likely danger is that North Korea’s tyrant sells part of his ever-expanding nuclear arsenal to other rogue actors that mean us harm,” Hannah wrote, going on to identify Iran and its Lebanese Shiite proxy Hezbollah as particularly worthy of monitoring.
Iran Expert: Post-Nuclear Deal, Emboldened Islamic Republic Seeking to Expand Global Reach, Build Anti-US Axis in Latin America (INTERVIEW)
Last year’s nuclear deal with world powers has emboldened Iran as it seeks to expand its global reach and build an anti-America axis in the Western hemisphere, an expert on the Islamic Republic told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.
“The Iranians are really thinking big again,” Ilan Berman, vice president of the Washington, DC-based conservative think tank the American Foreign Policy Council, said. “They’ve always had a global vision, but for a long time they didn’t have the resources to capitalize on it. Now, as sanctions begin to fall away, their global vision is back front and center. They’re starting to think spatially, in terms of where they fit globally — in Europe, in Asia and in Latin America.”
Iran’s relationship with Latin America, Berman said, began in the 1980s and its first significant act there was to help the Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah establish roots in the lawless tri-border area where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. This, Berman noted, resulted in Hezbollah developing the capability to carry out attacks in the Western hemisphere — which it did twice in Argentina in the first half of the 1990s.
“An interesting historical footnote that most people forget is that up until al-Qaeda stole the mantle on 9/11, the Iranians were responsible for the single most devastating attack in the hemisphere,” Berman said, referring to the April 1994 suicide van-bombing at the Jewish center — the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) — building in Buenos Aires, which left 85 dead and scores wounded.
More recently, Berman said, Iran’s ties with Latin America were based on the personal affinity that the late former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held for each other.
Shmuley Boteach: Cory Booker’s brazen defense of Iran
Recent media reports had it that Cory Booker and I have reconciled over Iran when we were both in Israel. Let me be clear: my dispute with Cory was never personal and was always about policy. There is no need for us to have any personal reconciliation as there was never any personal animus.
People who know and love each other for a quarter century, and who have shared everything, like Cory and I, have a bond that may bend but is never broken.
But on the principal source of my disagreement with Cory – his ill-advised and dangerous vote for the Iran nuclear deal – there can be no reconciliation.
Frankly, I’m shocked to see a man of such principle and intelligence continue to defend a deal that began to unravel even before it was signed.
It pains me to know that his loyalty to his party surpassed his commitment to the security of this nation and its allies, because it will forever mar his public legacy.
Iranian Official: Islamic Republic’s ‘Great Influence’ Enabled It to Amass Wealth, Spread Revolution, Gain Major Concessions From West
Iran has used its “great influence” in the Middle East to amass wealth, spread the Islamic Revolution and gain major concessions from the West, a parliamentary official said on Monday, the regime-aligned Tasnim News Agency reported.
According to the report, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, director general of international affairs at the Iranian Majilis, made this assertion during a speech he delivered in Tehran.
One source of empowerment, asserted Abdollahian, was the “discourse of the Islamic Revolution,” which — when viewed from outside the country’s borders — could be seen to have “a formative…impact on the security of the region and Iran.”
Abdollahian also stressed that Tehran has been able to accomplish this feat despite “obstructionist moves” on the part of the United States in relation to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal reached last year between six world powers and Iran and implemented in January.
According to Tasnim, this echoed what other Iranian officials — chief among them Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — have been claiming: that the US has failed to live up to its commitments under the deal. Khamenei’s more specific complaint is that not all banking sanctions on Iran have been lifted and some of its assets remain frozen.
Saudi Arabia’s Mufti Condemns Calls To Cancel Male Guardianship Over Women
The mufti of Saudi Arabia recently warned against calls in news outlets and social media from women who want the kingdom to repeal laws that recognize men as guardians over them.
The calls “are a crime against the religion of Islam and pose an existential threat to Saudi society,” said the Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh. “This is an evil call that goes against Sharia and the instructions of the prophet.”
The mufti’s comments come in response to a campaign launched on social media in which Saudi women have called for the cancellation of male guardianship. In Saudi Arabia today, a woman cannot marry, drive on her own, or request a passport without the approval and agreement of a male guardian, limiting their personal freedoms.
A related hashtag “#Throw_Down_Guardianship,” turned Twitter into an arena for conflict between men and women, though some men supported the campaign’s efforts.
One supporter, a Saudi Twitter user named Nasser Dashty, wrote that “under secularism women became judges, arbiters in disputes and leaders of countries but here, in this part of the world, they are still demanding the cancellation of guardianship.”
Holy War of Words: Growing Saudi-Iranian Tensions
At the very least, the tension represents a setback for U.S. policy, since the Obama administration had hoped that such animosity would be reduced at least somewhat by last year's nuclear agreement with Iran. In a January 2014 interview with the New Yorker, the president stated, "It would be profoundly in the interest of citizens throughout the region if Sunnis and Shias weren't intent on killing each other"; he also expressed his hope of "an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there's competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare."
Part of the challenge of quieting the situation is coping with the apparent belief in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states that the Obama administration favors Iran. The president's April interview with the Atlantic caused considerable surprise in Riyadh and other capitals, particularly when he stated, "The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians...requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace." Four months prior, Saudi Arabia had broken off diplomatic relations with Iran after its embassy in Tehran was gutted -- an incident that followed the kingdom's execution of a leading Saudi Shiite preacher.
Given recent reports of aggressive maneuvering by Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval units in the Gulf, a confrontation with U.S. forces is also possible. Accordingly, Washington's response to the spike in tensions should combine diplomatic and military components -- for example, dispatching Secretary of State Kerry or another senior official to the kingdom while visibly reinforcing the Fifth Fleet. America's allies in the region will be hoping for nothing less. Without a significant U.S. response, Saudi Arabia will likely be tempted to consider a more independent and perhaps dangerous course of action.
House Set To Pass Bill Allowing 9/11 Lawsuits Against Saudi Arabia
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill this week allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, setting up an uncomfortable situation for President Obama just days before the 15th anniversary of the attack.
A source inside Republican leadership told Politico Wednesday that the vote will happen this week. The House is expected to clear the bill, which was approved unanimously by the Senate in May. Obama promises to veto the bill, which is likely to hit his desk just days ahead of the 9/11 anniversary.
The Senate bill would revise immunity laws currently sheltering Saudis from American lawsuits in U.S. courts, making it possible for the families to get justice in U.S. courts.
Obama is actually lobbying so vigorously against the bill, he’s infuriating lawmakers and families of 9/11 victims. The administration says it’s concerned about threats of economic retaliation from Saudi Arabia and the possibility other countries could change their own immunity laws in a way that would hurt American interests.




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