Wednesday, September 14, 2016

From Ian:

JCPA: The Businesses of Mahmoud Abbas and His Sons
  • Abu Abbas is not prepared to countenance Muhammad Dahlan as his successor.
  • The PA chairman’s two sons, Tareq and Yasser, own an economic empire in the territories worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and they rely on their connection with their father.
  • Mahmoud Abbas’ main endeavor is to find a fitting successor who will ensure both the continued existence of his sons’ businesses and their wellbeing.
The succession battle in the Palestinian Authority has become very elemental since Mahmoud Abbas rejected the request of four Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – to mend fences with his bitter rival Muhammad Dahlan. Some of those states want to see Dahlan as the next PA chairman.
Although some in Fatah view Abbas’ rejection of the Arab request as an act of “political suicide,” Abbas does not show signs of stress. At the urging of Egypt and Jordan, which fear Hamas, he called off the elections in the territories and consented to a return to Fatah by some of Dahlan’s people. As far as Abbas is concerned, he has complied with most of Egypt and Jordan’s requests. Yet, still, he is not prepared to countenance Muhammad Dahlan.
PA Prime Minister Riyad al-Maliki claims that relations with Arab states are in perfectly good order.
This week, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), a member of the PLO Executive Committee, revealed the way in which Abbas became PA chairman. It perhaps sheds light on how the next PA chairman, in the absence of elections in the territories, will be appointed.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Obama Surprised $3.8B In Israel Aid Need Not Be Delivered In Cash (satire)
White House officials told reporters today that President Obama was taken aback at discovering that the ten-year, thirty-eight-billion-dollar military assistance package to Israel does not have to be supplied in pallets of cash borne by airplane.
The assistance agreement, which will be formally signed today between American and Israeli officials, allocates an average of $3.8B annually between the fiscal years 2019 and 2028 to Israeli military needs. The White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Obama had been laboring under the assumption that transfers of funds to other countries had to be conducted surreptitiously and in hard cash, as that was the model to which he had become accustomed in his administration’s dealings with Iran. Congressional representatives disabused the president of that notion today, and informed him that wire transfers will be used.
In fact, said the officials, the story fed to the media about a delay in the completion of the assistance agreement – that South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham would withhold his support for the package unless the amount was raised – was simply to buy time to explain to the president the mechanisms of foreign aid that do not rely on loading pallets of cash reserves on a plane and flying them directly to the recipients.
“It was understandable the president thought that’s what we do, considering how everything has been handled with Iran,” explained one aide. “With his sympathy for those who consider Israel a rogue regime, it should hardly be surprising that our chief executive assumed the same measures would be necessary to effect the aid transfer as were necessary to deliver billions of dollars to Iran as ransom for captive US sailors and to sweeten the nuclear deal.”

Ex-President Peres fighting for his life after massive stroke
Former President Shimon Peres was hospitalized Tuesday evening after suffering a massive stroke.
Officials at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where the ninth president was rushed, said that he suffered a massive intracranial hemorrhage. Peres, 93, underwent a CT scan, after which doctors sedated and intubated him to better facilitate treatment.
At a brief press conference on Wednesday morning, hospital officials said Peres was in "serious but stable" condition. He was transferred to the hospital's Neuro Intensive Care Unit, where he will remain under the close watch of an interdisciplinary medical team.
Tests performed in the early hours of Wednesday morning indicated that Peres was responsive to his surroundings. The hospital is scheduled to hold another press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
The former president's son Chemi Peres held a short press conference outside Sheba on Tuesday evening and asked the public to pray for his father "in these difficult hours." He thanked the medical team and the outpouring of public support "in this very difficult time," adding the family would most likely be facing "difficult decisions" in the near future.
Cautious optimism as Peres shows signs of improvement after stroke
Former president Shimon Peres likely suffered “serious damage” to his brain after being hit by a major stroke, but is stable and no longer appears to face an immediate threat to his life, his doctors said Wednesday morning.
Prof. Rafi Walden, Peres’s son-in-law and personal physician, told reporters the statesman’s condition may have even improved slightly since the night, rebuffing reports that the beloved former statesman, 93, was fighting for his life.
But he warned that Peres had likely suffered permanent damage from the Tuesday afternoon stroke.
Meanwhile the former president’s son Chemi Peres told Army Radio his father’s condition appeared to be “improving over time.”
Clinton, Putin, Blair call Peres to wish him well after stroke
Former US president Bill Clinton, Russian President Vladimir Putin and former British prime minister Tony Blair on Wednesday headed a varied group of politicians and other figures from across the globe who took to social media and other channels to wish Israel’s former President Shimon Peres a speedy recovery from a stroke.
Clinton, who worked closely with Peres in the 1990s on the Oslo Accords, which were meant to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end, called more than once since Peres was hospitalized on Tuesday night to ask about his condition, Peres’s spokesperson said.
Peres, 93, is considered the country’s leading elder statesman and his long career as a politician and as a booster of regional peace efforts has made him into a beloved figure among other world leaders.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who served as official envoy of the so-called Quartet for Mideast Peace which aims to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — also called to ask about Peres’s condition, as did Putin, according to his spokesperson.
She declined to say what was discussed.
Other figures also sent well-wishes to Peres, who appeared to undergo a slight improvement Wednesday morning, recalling him for his peace efforts.
MK sparks outcry after calling Peres a ‘blood-covered criminal’
An Arab Israeli lawmaker drew swift and harsh condemnation Wednesday after suggesting former president Shimon Peres be remembered as a blood-covered tyrant and war criminal, breaking with others who have praised the Nobel Peace Prize winner in the wake of his massive stroke a day earlier.
Writing on his official Facebook page, MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) said Peres “was one of the pillars of the Zionist colonial project, and one of the most despicable, cruel, radical and long-lived [of its leadership].”
As a result, Ghattas said, Peres “was the most damaging and calamitous for the Palestinian nation and other Arab peoples.”
Peres, 93, is considered the country’s leading elder statesman and his long career as a politician and as a booster of regional peace efforts have made him into a darling in Israel and abroad.
News that he suffered a stroke Tuesday led to a huge outpouring of support and wishes that he make a speedy recovery.
Doctors said Wednesday morning he appeared to have improved slightly but it was unclear what damage had been done.
Health Issues of Presidential Candidates Prompt Scrutiny of Running Mates’ Views on Israel
Pro-Israel supporters
I believe Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence is widely regarded as having been a strong supporter of the Jewish state while in Congress and as the governor of Indiana. When he was a member of the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, Pence co-chaired the Congressional Task Force Against Antisemitism and sought to make US aid to the Palestinian Authority conditional on the PA’s adherence to the Oslo Accords.
As governor, Pence signed into law what Israel’s ambassador to the US called the “toughest anti-BDS legislation in the nation.” Pence was also part of a group of 15 Republican governors who publicly opposed the Iran nuclear deal.
Pence sees Israel as America’s ally in the war on terror and as an exemplar of American values.

Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, is “clearly an Obamian in his foreign policy approach,” Troy notes. Kaine supported the Iran agreement and was among the minority of Democrats who boycotted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 address to Congress.
As governor of Virginia, Kaine provoked controversy with his 2007 appointment of Dr. Esam Omeish to the Virginia Commission on Immigration. YouTube videos showed Omeish declaring at a Palestinian rally in Washington that “the jihad way is the way to liberate your land” from “the brutal, aggressive regime of the Zionist entity in the Middle East.” As a result, Kaine asked for Omeish’s resignation from the commission.
Where Ethnic Cleansing Is Permissible
Though the U.S., its European allies, and the United Nations claim that the settlements violate international law, Israelis correctly note that Jews were guaranteed the right of settlement in the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine. The West Bank is not and never has been sovereign Palestinian Arab territory. The disposition of this land is a matter of dispute and subject to negotiation. The Israelis have repeatedly offered the Palestinians an independent state in almost all of the West Bank and even a share of Jerusalem but neither Abbas nor his predecessor, Yasir Arafat, could ever muster the will to say yes. If Palestinians still refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn, how can Israelis believe they would respect the rights of Jews who will be essentially defenseless?
That is why Netanyahu’s attempt to reframe the discussion about settlements requires more than the impatient dismissal it got from Washington. Nobody on either side of this conflict or in Washington believes for a minute that Jews in remote communities, let alone the hundreds of thousands who live in blocs along the border and in parts of Jerusalem (that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967) can safely stay if their homes become part of a Palestinian state.
In any other conflict, we would label the Palestinian demand for the removal of Jewish communities (or those of any other group) with the same words used by Netanyahu: ethnic cleansing. But when it comes to Jews living in their ancient homeland, the rules are different, and bigotry is not only accepted but also supported. Until Palestinian hostility to the presence of Jews is addressed by both the U.S. and the international community rather than ignored, the peace everyone claims to be seeking will never happen.
US Sen. Dan Coats: End US aid to Palestinian terrorists
For the past 18 years, the Palestinian Authority has honored Palestinian terrorists serving criminal sentences in Israeli prisons and rewarded the families of those “martyred” by their own violent acts.
This comes as no surprise to Israelis, who have both suffered the attacks of terrorists for decades and watched as the terrorists themselves were honored with official salaries or buried as patriotic heroes.
But it is a surprise to American officials.
Even after two decades of PA support for terrorism, the Obama administration continues to ignore it or even make excuses for these payments.
A recent State Department publication dismissed the payments as “an effort to reintegrate [released prisoners] into society and prevent recruitment by hostile political factions.” Even in the unlikely event leaders at the US State Department actually believe this, they would have to explain why these “social welfare” payments increase dramatically with the severity of the crime for which the terrorist is convicted.
Where else in the world does a prisoner receive benefits that actually increase with the level of violence committed? For the many Americans who have only recently become familiar with this heinous practice, the shock is even greater that American taxpayer dollars have been used to make these payments to terrorists. As a US senator and a custodian of our citizens’ resources, I find this practice reprehensible.
Since 1998 when this terrorist payments program reportedly first began, the United States has contributed more than $4.6 billion (in constant dollars) to the PA . The great majority of this amount has been in straight budgetary support to the PA , enabling it to meet its budgetary commitments.
That includes payments to terrorists and the families of “martyrs.”
US Senator: Palestinian Authority’s Use of American Tax Dollars to Fund Terrorists ‘Morally Repugnant, Must Be Stopped’ (INTERVIEW)
The Palestinian Authority’s use of American taxpayer dollars to fund terrorists and their families is “morally repugnant and must be stopped,” a US senator told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.
“To provoke, reward and incentivize terrorist acts through financial rewards is one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever come across,” Republican Senator Dan Coats of Indiana said.
In an effort to halt the phenomenon of Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israeli prisons and family members of so-called “martyrs” receiving American money via the PA, Coats is seeking to add a provision to the 2017 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act that would restrict funding to the “Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization and any successor or affiliated organizations,” the senator told The Algemeiner.
Such expansive language is necessary, the senator said, because of trickery the PA has engaged in since a past attempt by Congress to limit the aid it receives from the US over similar concerns.
“We learned that the PA was playing a shell game and moving money to the PLO,” Coats said.

US Congressmen: Judea-Samaria ‘Part of Israel’
Members of the House of Representatives spoke to an Israeli delegation this week about congressional support for the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Israel National News reported.
The Shomron Regional Council, which provides municipal services for 35 Jewish towns, visited Washington, DC, meeting with more than a dozen Republican and Democratic legislators to discuss American support of the Israeli presence in the contested region.
“I want to say to all the people of Samaria that they are beloved by the American people, and we believe that Judea and Samaria are not the ‘West Bank’ but part of the state of Israel,” Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) told the delegation.
“There are people in the US Congress who, no matter what, will continue to work on behalf of Judea and Samaria, who will continue to do whatever they can to fight on behalf of Israel and ensure that you will never feel alone in this world,” Franks said in the meeting that included Texas representative Louie Gohmert, who echoed that sentiment.
The Council’s chairman, Yossi Dagan, urged Congress to pressure the Obama administration to stop demanding that Israel freeze Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.
Members of Congress Vow Action in Face of State Department ‘Stalling’ on Prosecution of Palestinian Terrorists
Members of Congress are vowing action to circumvent what they say are the State Department’s “excuses” and “stalling” on the prosecution of Palestinian terrorists, who’ve harmed and killed American citizens.
House Oversight chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), said it was “outrageous” that while 140 US citizens have been killed by Palestinian terrorists since the 1960s — 69 of them since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords — none of the suspects have been brought to trial in the US. His comments came at a terror victims’ memorial event on Capitol Hill on September 12.
When Congress created the Office for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVOT) in 2005, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the new agency would “ensure that the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against American citizens remain a high priority for the Department of Justice.”
So far, no indictments have been issued against Palestinian terrorists, Rep. DeSantis noted. His inquiries to the State Department have been met with “stalling” and “excuses” about the OVOT lacking the authority to press for prosecution in those cases, he said.
Muslim Archeologists Baffled by Remains of Mysterious Ancient Temple Beneath Al Aqsa Mosque (satire)
Archaeologists working underneath the Temple Mount have announced a discovery that could potentially rewrite history faster than a Texas textbook. The team of Muslim archaeologists began work around the Haram esh-Sharif (The Temple Mount) a number of months ago, and it seems they’ve made a once-in-a-lifetime find.
“It appears that The Noble Sanctuary was built on top of a much older structure,” announced the team leader, Dr. Yousef Muhamad. “Though we were unable to ascertain the origins of the ruins. We’ve searched high and low for answers about the ancient builders. Asking people in the Mosque, looking through the Quran, and watching The History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.”
“Based on this research, our best guess at this point is that the ancient temple was a mosque built by some kind of proto-Muslim group… or by aliens that visited the Earth several millennia ago,” said Dr. Muhamad. “We’ve reached this conclusion after taking into account the fact that no one had lived in the region between the time of the Canaanites and the Muslim conquest of the area.”
Israel said to be among growing number of states that block UNHRC
A growing number of countries including Israel refuse to cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council, a top UN official in Geneva said on Tuesday.
“There is an increasing and clear attempt by states to block or evade human-rights scrutiny,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said at the start of the Council’s 33rd session.
Although he included Israel in the list, he focused the bulk of his remarks on over a dozen other countries, including super powers such as China and the US as well as some of the world’s worst human-rights abusers such as Syria and Iran.
It has been difficult for the Council’s special investigators to gain access to certain countries, even though they are tasked with fact finding, Hussein said.
Israel: Hamas rejected deal for soldiers’ bodies, captive Israelis
The Hamas terror group recently rejected an Israeli offer to free 18 Palestinians and hand over 19 bodies seized during the 2014 war in Gaza in exchange for the bodies of two IDF soldiers who fell in the 50-day conflict, Israel’s chief negotiator Lior Lotan said Tuesday.
Lotan told the Institute for Anti-Terror Policy that Hamas also refused to hand over two mentally unstable Israelis who crossed into Gaza of their own accord, and are believed held by the organization, in exchange for dozens of Gazans who have been arrested after crossing into Israel illegally, Channel 2 News reported.
Instead, Lotan said, Hamas demanded that Israel release Palestinian prisoners who are not from Gaza and who are not connected to the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.
Lotan said that by making these demands, Hamas was going against “norms throughout the world at the end of a confrontation.”
“You exchange captives and soldiers,” he said. “Hamas doesn’t think in the way that we would expect an organization with a political infrastructure to think, an organization that rules a population.”
Palestinian with knife arrested at West Bank checkpoint
A Palestinian youth was caught with a knife at a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Wednesday afternoon.
The young man arrived at the Rachel’s Crossing checkpoint into Jerusalem near Rachel’s Tomb, where his behavior raised suspicion among security personnel.
A search of the youth uncovered a knife hidden under his shirt.
He was taken in for questioning.
Israel has in the past year been plagued by a wave of so-called “lone wolf” Palestinian terror attacks. The spate of car-ramming, stabbing, shooting and bombing attacks have claimed the lives of 35 Israelis and four foreign nationals since October 2015. Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed in the past year, with the Israeli army saying that most of those killed were attackers or involved in clashes with the military.
Full Details Emerge Surrounding Palestinian Police Rescue of Female IDF Soldiers From Lynch Mob, Following GPS Mishap
Thanks to the swift action of an off-duty Palestinian Authority policeman, the IDF did not have to launch an operation to prevent the potential lynching of two female soldiers who had lost their way and ended up under assault in a PA-controlled area, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, PA police made Israeli intervention unnecessary, as members of the force ushered the young women to safety in the nick of time.
An investigation into the incident revealed the following details:
The two soldiers — from the communications company of the Paratroopers Brigade — set out from their headquarters at around 7:50 pm, with the intention of driving to the Givat Alonim junction.
Relying on the app Waze for directions, they found themselves being brought via Hawarah in the West Bank, and on from there to Anabta in northern Samaria. Realizing their error and feeling frightened, they phoned “100” (the Israeli equivalent of “911”) to ask for assistance.
Just as they were making the call, an off-duty PA policeman noticed and approached them. Grasping that they were liable to become targeted by hostile, anti-Israel residents, he pointed the women in the direction of the exit.
Don’t rely on map apps, IDF says, again, after latest rescue
The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday reiterated previous calls for its soldiers not to rely solely on traffic navigation apps when traveling, and to ensure they are always armed after dark, a day after two soldiers had to be rescued after making a wrong turn into a Palestinian town.
On Monday, two female soldiers mistakenly entered the West Bank town of Tulkarem and sustained mild injuries from rocks thrown at them before they were rescued by local Palestinian police and Defense Ministry officials.
An initial probe into the incident revealed that not only had the two soldiers relied on a navigation app, Channel 2 News reported, but that they had entered Tulkarem unarmed.
The army stressed the importance of carrying weapons, particularly while traveling at night, and of properly studying planned routes before setting out.
Traffic navigation apps are hampered by the fact that many locations in Israel and the West Bank use the same or similar names.
Muslim Birthrate in Israel Declining, Newly Released Data Reveals
The Muslim birthrate in Israel has declined, according to recently published Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) data, Israel National News reported.
Israel’s Muslim community, which accounts for under a quarter of the state’s overall population, grew at a rate of 2.4 percent in 2015, marking a nearly 1.5% drop in the growth rate since 2000.
The decreased Muslim fertility rate is partly responsible for the change, with Muslim women having an average of 3.3 children in 2015 compared to 4.7 children in 2000.
According to the data, Jerusalem has the largest number of Muslim residents at 311,000, representing 20.9% of the country’s total Muslim population.
The CBS report also included statistical information on the Israeli Muslim population’s unemployment and education.
Hamas explosives smuggler arrested off Gaza Strip's coast
An arms smuggler suspected of supplying Hamas with weapons and explosives was arrested by the Shin Bet security agency in August, Channel 10 News reported Tuesday.
The suspect, Khamis Ghad Said, 24, is a resident of the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He was arrested in a joint operation by the Shin Bet, the Israeli Navy and the police.
A statement by the Shin Bet said the suspect was detained by the navy after breaching the fishing zone, stretching some 20 nautical miles off the Gaza coast.
Said implicated himself in the smuggling operations, admitting to delivering arms, explosives and weapons manufacturing equipment to the Gaza-based terrorist group, as far back as 2012. He disclosed future arms smuggling plans, and confessed to surveilling IDF forces stationed at the Zikim Base, near the Israel-Gaza Strip border, on Hamas' behalf, the Shin Bet said.
Egyptian state newspaper pushes ISIS conspiracy theory
A columnist for Egypt's official state media has implied that the September 11 attacks and recent terrorist attacks in Europe were not carried out by Islamist terrorists, but rather they were the work of Western intelligence agencies.
Noha Al-Sharnoubi, who writes for the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, said that the attacks were carried out in order to justify "the occupation and devastation of the Middle East by the West and the persecution of Muslims in Europe," MEMRI reported.
"I don't know who [the Americans] are fooling, us or themselves. What terror are they talking about and associating with Islam or even with extremist Muslims or people claiming to be Muslims?" she wrote.
Al-Sharnoubi wondered if "[Perhaps Western] intelligence elements are behind the attacks and the bombings, and later Muslim citizens are arrested and killed and simply accused of perpetrating [the attacks] in order to justify what is happening in the Arab countries in the name of the war on terror."
She suggested as well that ISIS operatives in the group's propaganda videos were in fact western actors.
EXCLUSIVE – Arab Official: Syria Pressured by Iran to Target Israeli Aircraft
The Syrian Army’s stated firing of two missiles at Israeli war planes making a cross-border incursion on Tuesday came in response to Iranian pressure, an Arab intelligence official said.
Israeli officials confirmed Israeli Air Force aircraft were fired on while they were flying over Syria in response to a shell that struck Israeli-controlled territory. However, claims that a warplane and drone were intercepted were denied, with Israel saying the missiles didn’t pose any threat to the aircraft.
The Syrian army says is fired two surface-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes, which were retaliating for more errant mortar fire from Syria landing in the Golan Heights.
Speaking to Breitbart Jerusalem, the Arab intelligence official said that whereas Iran supported the Russian-American ceasefire bid in Syria, it believes the agreement gives the rebels and their sponsoring states precious time to rearm.
“At present, when Aleppo is at the center of the ceasefire, we have noticed several Iranian attempts to deflect the conflict to the vicinity of Quneitra, in the Golan Heights,” he said. “It is meant to apply pressure on the Golan rebels to resume fighting in Aleppo in retaliation, in order to help their friends [the rebels] in the Golan. Iran is also using the escalation to test Israel. That’s why the pro-Iran media hurries to present Israel’s retaliation as helping the rebels. This is a key element in Iran’s propaganda, according to which the war in Syria isn’t between the regime and its detractors, but between Syrian and Arab elements that are in cahoots with Israel and the US on the one hand, and anti-Israel and anti-US parties, chiefly Iran, Hezbollah and Assad, on the other.”
US says it destroyed massive Islamic State chemical plant
American warplanes eliminated a “significant chemical threat” to Iraqi civilians by bombing a complex of buildings near the northern city of Mosul that Islamic State militants had converted from pharmaceutical manufacturing to chemical weapons production, the three-star general in charge of US air operations in the Middle East said Tuesday.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters at the Pentagon that the target was an Islamic State headquarters also used to produce lethal chemicals, possibly including chlorine and mustard gas.
He provided no details on the chemical production.
Harrigian described the airstrike as a large, well-planned operation, which destroyed more than 50 targets at the site with a variety of US warplanes, including Air Force B-52 bombers and Marine Corps F-18D attack planes.
Other US officials said later that a total of 12 US planes were used.
State Dept Won’t Deny Nuclear Deal Encouraged Iranian Aggression
Fox News reporter James Rosen pointed out some of the tense moments between the United States and Iran so far this year in 2016. Iran has, for example, captured U.S. Navy sailors in international waters, harassed U.S. Navy vessels in international waters multiple times, and threatened to shoot down two U.S. Navy aircraft that were flying in international airspace.
“But you can’t rule out that in fact this deal has served as a cause for this more aggressive posture?” Rosen asked.
“I mean I can’t rule that out,” Toner said. “It’s just, you know, Iran, like many countries, has an internal political process that’s defined by a lot of different dynamics, but I can’t give an assessment one way or the other in that regard.”
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee pointed out that a large portion of Iran’s contact in the West has been through their military and not diplomacy.
“You’re right that they have show a willingness to engage with the West, but it’s to engage militarily, is it not?” Lee asked.
Toner said that Iran’s position in the conflict in Syria has not been as confrontational.
State Dept Has No Idea How Many Americans Imprisoned in Iran
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. government is not certain how many Americans are currently being detained in Iran.
Toner said he has not been provided with a firm number about how many Americans are being held hostage by the Islamic Republic, despite multiple warnings by the State Department that a growing number of U.S. citizens are being abducted by the Iranian government.
“More American hostages were taken, James suggested, that more American hostages have recently been taken,” a reporter said to Toner at the State Department daily press briefing.
“I don’t have a list in front of me, but there are–there continue to be detained Americans, and we’ve expressed concern,” Toner said.
Toner began answering a follow-up question from the reporter even before the question could be finished.
“I don’t have a number,” Toner said. “We continue to raise their cases obviously with the Iranian government at every opportunity.”
British Charity Worker Jailed in Iran Being Held as “Bargaining Chip,” Husband Says
The husband of a British-Iranian charity worker who was sentenced to five years in prison by an Iranian court last week said that his wife is being held as a “bargaining chip,” The Evening Standard reported on Tuesday.
Richard Ratcliffe, who was recently allowed to speak to his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, explained that she feels “desperate” as “there’s nothing she can do. She’s tried good behaviour, tried confessing [to false charges] and she’s still being held as a bargaining chip.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested and separated from her toddler daughter, Gabriella, as she was preparing to leave Iran after visiting family in April. She told her husband that by her calculation, she has been apart from her daughter for a fifth of the child’s life. “I can’t bear to be here, separated from my baby, one day more. It’s horrendous,” Ratcliffe recounted his wife saying.
When Ratcliffe asked his wife to specify what charges she was facing, she checked with a guard and responded that they were “national security-related.” It isn’t clear if she was unaware of the actual charges or prevented from revealing them.
Turkey formally requests US arrest Gulen for ‘ordering coup’
Turkey has asked Washington to arrest US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen for “ordering” the July 15 coup bid which was aimed at ousting the government, state media reported on Tuesday.
The justice ministry has demanded that US authorities arrest the preacher on charges of “ordering and commanding the attempted coup,” the Anadolu news agency reported.
It was the first time Turkey had formally asked Washington to arrest Gulen, who currently lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, the agency said.
Ankara has on several occasions asked US authorities to extradite Gulen, sending them documents which allegedly show evidence of his involvement in the putsch.
Early last month, an Istanbul court issued a formal arrest warrant for Gulen, who has denied any involvement in the botched coup.
When US Vice President Joe Biden visited Ankara several weeks later, he said he understood the “intense feeling” in Turkey over Gulen.

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