Thursday, April 26, 2018

From Ian:

Malaysian hit said part of broad Mossad op against Hamas global training efforts
Palestinian engineer Fadi al-Batsh’s assassination in Malaysia on April 21 was part of a broader Mossad campaign against Hamas efforts to send experts abroad for technical training and weapons acquisitions, The New York Times reported Wednesday night.

The report was based on multiple unnamed Middle Eastern intelligence officials, who said the wide-ranging Mossad operation against Hamas’s overseas efforts was ordered by the agency’s chief, Yossi Cohen.

There was no official confirmation of The Times’ report, which did not itself cite Israeli sources.

The intelligence officials said Batsh himself, an expert on drones and the nephew of Gaza’s police chief Tayseer al-Batsh, traveled to Malaysia to “research and acquire weapon systems and drones for Hamas,” the Times reported.

Israel has a longstanding policy of not commenting on claims about Mossad operations. There has been no official statement about the killing of Batsh from Israeli officials, with the exception of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hinting that he may have been a victim of an intra-Palestinian feud.

According to the Times, however, the timing of the killing was no accident. The hit occurred on a day in which Batsh was scheduled to travel to Istanbul, ostensibly for an academic conference. But an intelligence official told the Times that Batsh was to meet a Hamas official in the city, which according to the report serves as the terror organization’s hub for international training programs.

Khaled Abu Toameh: 220 Airstrikes on Palestinians; World Yawns
According to the London-based Action Group for Palestinians of Syria, 3,722 Palestinians (including 465 women) have been killed since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011. Another 1,675 are said to have been detained by the Syrian authorities, and another 309 are listed as missing.

More than 200 of the Palestinian victims died because of the lack of food and medical care, most of them in Yarmouk. Since the beginning of the civil war, some 120,000 Palestinians have fled Syria to Europe. An additional 31,000 fled to Lebanon, 17,000 to Jordan, 6,000 to Egypt, 8,000 to Turkey and 1,000 to the Gaza Strip.

On April 24, Syrian and Russian warplanes carried out more than 85 airstrikes on Yarmouk camp and dropped 24 barrels of explosives; 24 rocket and dozens of missiles were fired at the camp.

A day earlier, Syrian and Russian warplanes launched 220 airstrikes on Yarmouk camp. The warplanes dropped 55 barrels of dynamite on the camp, which was also targeted with 108 rockets and missiles.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the conflict in Syria "continues to disrupt the lives of civilians, resulting in death and injuries, internal displacement, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and persistent humanitarian needs. Affected communities suffer indiscriminate violence, restrictions on their freedom of movement and continued violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Palestinians are among those worst affected by the conflict."

UNRWA said that of the estimated 438,000 Palestine refugees remaining inside Syria, more than 95% (418,000) are in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance. Almost 254,000 are internally displaced, and an estimated 56,600 are trapped in hard-to-reach or wholly inaccessible locations.
20 civilians killed in 'Palestinian refugee camp' in Syria
Around 20 civilians have been killed in week-long regime airstrikes on Yarmouk, a neighborhood of Damascus referred to as a "Palestinian refugee camp", the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.

Several people were injured in the attacks, local sources told the news agency on condition of anonymity due to security concerns.

According to the sources, regime forces were trying to advance from the southern side of the camp, which accommodates some 2,500 families, amid heavy bombardment.

The attacks come after the regime and the Islamic State (ISIS) group failed to reach a deal on evacuating the group’s jihadists from Yarmouk and its vicinity.
MEMRI: Israeli Druze Intellectual: The Syria Crisis Exposed Nothing More Than The Failure Of Arab Leaders And The Illusion Of Arab Solidarity
On March 2, 2018, Salman Masalha, an Israeli-Arab intellectual of Druze origin,[1]published an article in the Dubai-based Al-Hayat daily that harshly criticized the Arab leaders' response to the civil war raging in Syria, which is currently in its eighth year. Masalha claims that the Arab leaders aren't lifting a finger to alleviate the crisis in Syria and are unwilling to take in Syrian refugees, but are instead waiting for the international community to deal with the disaster there. This, he says, reveals their shameful failure to deal with the problems in their own Arab region and proves that the Arab slogans and Arab solidarity are nothing but an unfounded illusion. He adds that "every Arab who retains a shred of human dignity" should be "ashamed of belonging to this wretched nation and its leadership."

The following is a translation of his article:
"There is no morality in the politics of the superpowers, and all the more so where wars are concerned, especially when they take place in distant arenas. In such a situation, self-interest dictates policy, and these interests – even when couched in honeyed words – are ultimately economic interests. The people and their fate are not taken into account in the calculations of profit and loss of the superpowers' policymakers.

"For example, let us examine the recent statement by Russian General Vladimir Shamanov in the Russian parliament.[2] He stated that the Russian army had brought 200 types of new Russian weapons [systems] to the battlefields in Syria, to test them. The general added that these experiments proved the efficacy of the Russian weapons, which will increase the sales of Russian arms worldwide and advance the Russian economy. We are aware that the Russian economy is based solely on the military industries and that Russia has nothing to export to the world other than its military products. What this means is that the Russian war in Syria is an [just] an opportunity for the Russian Czar [President Vladimir Putin] to try out the new Russian weapons. What is true of Russia in this sphere is also true of the U.S. and of the other powers. As I said, there are no morals in politics.

"That's how Syria, with its ethnic and religious complexities, became an arena for disputes and tugs of war [between parties with conflicting interests], and a testing ground for the regional and international forces. In its calls on the 'international community' to intervene to bring an end to the Syrian tragedy, the Arab leadership expresses only its own shameful national failure to deal with what is happening in its own Arab back yard.



Hamas claims to be embracing ‘nonviolence’ through deadly border protests (not satire)
Reveling in its success in winning the attention of the international community with the latest mass border protests, Hamas claims to be embracing new, nonviolent tactics for breaking the Israeli security blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian terror group that rules Gaza says it considers the weekly “March of Return” rallies — in which protesters have burned tires, hurled firebombs and rocks at Israeli troops, flown flaming kites over the border and attempted to sabotage the security fence — a pivot toward nonviolence. Israel says Hamas uses the marches — which the terror group’s leaders have publicly declared are intended to erase the border ad liberate Palestine — as cover for terrorist attacks.

The large-scale protests are the only card the group has left, three high-ranking Hamas officials told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal strategy.

They said Hamas was ruling out other options — either disarming or fighting another cross-border war with Israel. The last one, in 2014, devastated Gaza, a coastal territory with 2 million people squeezed into 140 square miles (365 square kilometers).

Bassem Naim, another senior Hamas official, believes the new method has refocused world attention on Gaza’s misery. The territory suffers from grueling power cuts and a two-thirds unemployment rate among young men.
Top Hamas Official Warns: Gaza Border Protests Will Continue After May 15
A top Hamas official warned on Wednesday that the ongoing Gaza border demonstrations — expected to reach their peak on May 15, known as “Nakba Day” by the Palestinians — would continue afterward, the Hebrew news outlet Maariv reported.

The protests, Ismail Haniyeh asserted in a speech, have drawn global attention back to the Palestinians and revived the issue of the so-called “right of return” of Arab refugees from the 1948 War.

Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, threatened that the Trump administration would receive the “slap of the century,” instead of achieving its goal of achieving the “deal of the century” — an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

He also predicted that the “Great March of Return” demonstrations would spread to Palestinian Authority-ruled areas of the West Bank.

A total of 38 Palestinian rioters have died in the unrest on the Israel-Gaza border that began on March 30.
Gaza protests: Hamas preparing its ‘victory picture’
They call it “The March of Return.” We refer to the military activity on the Gaza border fence as “the gatekeepers.” These are two sides of the same coin. They march, we guard. They initiate, and Israel responds.

In the past week, Israeli officials have been trying to create the impression that “the gatekeepers” have overpowered the “March of Return.” Fewer people are flocking to the the fence protests; Hamas has failed. That’s a dangerous delusion.

In recent days, the Palestinians have advanced their jumping-off points towards the border and set up tents 100-200 meters from the fence. Up until recently, the five meeting points, which included large tents, were located more than 700 meters away.

Palestinian media are presenting the new deployment as “broadcasts from the front,” showing ambulances and civilian vehicles moving closer and closer to fence. The sight of Palestinian vehicles right on the borderline with Israel is something that has not been seen in the area for a long time.

According to Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam, “teams for breaking through the fence” have been training under the auspices of “the organizers”—in other words, Hamas—and are supposed to throw hooks at the fence and pull it down until it collapses. Parts of the looped barbed fence installed by Israel along the border have already been removed in different places. The Palestinian side has also appointed teams to “handle” the gas grenades and has built sort of catapults to launch Molotov cocktails at Israeli fields.


Israeli diplomat slams the Guardian for calling Hamas border protests “peaceful”.
Over the past few weeks, Hamas has shown its hostility to Israel by deliberately orchestrating violence on the border with Gaza.

Some media outlets have curiously glossed over essential elements of this story. This was epitomised in a Guardian editorial published on 23 April that declared: ‘The jury is still out as to how long Hamas’s patronage will allow the protests to remain peaceful.’

Considering that rioters have deliberately and consistently initiated violence, the word ‘peaceful’ cannot possibly be used to describe events on the Israel-Gaza border.

When facts are ignored in favour of a fictitious narrative in which ‘brutal’ Israel is cowing the people of Gaza ‘into submission’, truth is sacrificed upon the altar of storytelling.

80% of the Gazans confirmed to have been killed in clashes have already been identified as activists within terrorist organisations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others.

This fact alone should cause the Guardian to reflect carefully on the true nature of these riots, rather than expressing solidarity with those whom it has inaccurately portrayed as protesting peacefully.

These Hamas rioters are trying to destroy the security fence, storm the border and come into Israel to murder our people. Israel’s soldiers are acting to protect civilians who live within a short walking distance from the fence with Gaza. It is unthinkable that any nation should allow its border to be breached, and its citizens to be placed in harm’s way.

Since riots began on 30 March, vigilant Israeli troops have thwarted several infiltration attempts. Rioters have used a variety of weapons to attack Israel, ranging from Molotov cocktails to improvised explosive devices.
IsraellyCool: Yet More Blind Dissemination Of Hamas Propaganda By Ha’aretz
Honestly I don’t want to keep writing this article, but barely a day after the last one, Jack Khoury in Ha’aretz has a fancy new infographic about casualties from the gigantic Hamas cry for attention AKA the March of Return.

You’d think, if you were going to have one headline number, it would be the number killed and the text says 40 while the graphic says 39. Which is it? Or is Ha’aretz here just implying that one more or less dead Palestinian isn’t that big of a deal (it certainly wouldn’t be in Syria if it was Assad doing the bombing).

Next we now have 1,499 hit by “Live ammunition”. Amira Haas a day or two ago had 1,700. Where did the other 201 go?

The information is based on figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza and OCHA says the data is a preliminary snapshot only and further information is pending.

So the same Hamas sources as before. Making it even more astonishing that they differ so wildly within a couple of days.

In what I knew to be a fairly fruitless exercise I plugged the specific geographically broken down numbers shown above into a spreadsheet so I could figure out the actual lethality of IDF bullets by region across the Gaza Strip. I used the pie chart to figure out percentages and applied these to get a Live Fire kill rate up and down the strip.

AP Exposes Hamas Definition of ‘Non-Violence’
The Associated Press may deserve credit for its story on Hamas’s apparent embrace of ‘non-violence’ but did the wire service even realize the alternate reality its journalists uncovered?

The story opens as follows:
In a sit-in tent camp near the Gaza border with Israel, a lecturer answered questions from activists grappling with the concept of non-violent protest.

They asked what’s allowed, listing different actions. Throwing stones and holding rallies is permitted, he said. Throwing firebombs is a “maybe” and using knives a definite “no.”


So it appears that anything that doesn’t involve suicide bombings, rocket attacks, shootings or stabbings is now classified as “non-violent” according to Hamas and Palestinian activists.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines violence as behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

It also defines it as the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.

In either of these definitions, throwing stones or firebombs would be considered to be an act of violence. In any civilized society, these actions would be both unacceptable and unlawful.
Congressmen Call for Disclosure of U.S. Aid to Palestinian Terrorists
Members of Congress hope to compel the State Department to disclose the amount of U.S. aid money the Palestinian Authority has given to convicted terrorists and their families, according to a congressional communication viewed by the Free Beacon that calls for a complete freeze in U.S. aid to the Palestinian government.

Reps. David McKinley (R., W.V.) and John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) are circulating a letter to Republican offices urging them to join an effort to compel the State Department to detail the amount of taxpayer money that has been used by the Palestinian government to pay terrorists under a longstanding policy known as "pay to slay."

Following passage of the Taylor Force Act, which requires the Palestinian government to stop these payments or face a full cutoff in aid, the lawmakers are seeking to immediately freeze U.S. aid to the Palestinians until the State Department explains to lawmakers how it plans to enforce the new law.

The letter follows a recent Free Beacon report disclosing that the Palestinian Authority continues to spend U.S. aid dollars on terrorists. Palestinian officials have also made clear that they have no intention of following the new law and will continue to provide terrorists and their familiar with compensation.

"We urge you to immediately suspend all aid payments to the Palestinian Authority," the lawmakers write, according to a copy of the letter viewed by the Free Beacon. "Further, we urge you to make the cessation of this abhorrent practice that incentivizes terrorism a pre-condition for any U.S.-brokered peace talks between the sovereign state of Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
Israel can meet the S-300 challenge
This may appear as yet another time in which the U.S. and Russia lock horns. But the delivery of advanced missile defense systems to Syria is also likely to pose an issue for the Israeli Air Force with respect to maintaining Israel's stated red lines in Syria, namely preventing Iran from entrenching itself militarily there and preventing the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The concerns are justified, but three points must be made regarding this defense system:
1. Russia may have said it would supply Assad with S-300 missiles, but it has yet to do so and Moscow officials on Wednesday strongly denied Syria's assertion that it was already in possession of these missiles.
2. The S-300 is an effective anti-aircraft defense system but it is, to a large extent, outdated and Russia has ceased its production about two years ago. The last system of this type was supplied to the Iranians, and Assad stands to receive either the batteries the Russians already have in Syria or ones decommissioned by the Russian military.
3. According to foreign reports, and despite the potential restrictions on the IAF's operational freedom in Syria, the IAF already has an operational response to S-300 missiles – if and when Israel may need to mount one.

The crux of the matter here has less to do with the anti-aircraft missile system and more to do with the system of understandings between Israel and Russia. While Russia has warned Israel against targeting S-300 batteries, Israel asserted that it would not hesitate to do so if it was used against its forces. Public rhetoric aside, the two countries have maintained effective communications that have already proved they can eliminate danger.
The status quo in Judea and Samaria poses a danger to the State
The residents of Judea and Samaria can see this reality happening around them every single day. Hills that were arid wasteland until recently, are being built up, funded and supported by the European Union, and the closer the construction is to the traffic arteries leading to the Jewish communities, the more support is given. And along with the illegal construction, there is illegal agriculture as well and illegal quarries, lands that have been bought by Jews are becoming enclaves, surrounded by Arab construction and agriculture and sometimes these lands as well are being appropriated by Palestinians without the appropriate and necessary Jewish response.

The Palestinians are determining facts on the ground and with characteristic Arab patience are quietly building a state for themselves without any objection and without handshakes or signed documents in brightly lit halls. They understand well the value of land and we, with our diaspora complexes, still prefer a signed piece of paper of no real value.

And what about us? We are indifferent. We are convinced that the surrounding calm is evidence that the holy status quo is being maintained by the other side as well. Like fish that swim in an aquarium without knowing that someone has drilled a tiny hole in the bottom and the water is slowing leaking out.

Dear friends, we must wake up and understand – there is no such thing as the status quo. This is a dangerous and stupefying illusion that is allowing a Palestinian state to become a reality right under our noses, with all of the dangers that it presents to the long-term future of the State of Israel. We therefore repeat again that Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is an urgent necessity. The hourglass is emptying and the sand itself is being lost, the lands are also being lost and we are losing our hold on them. A decision must be made as soon as possible – either a Palestinian state with all of its existential dangers, or sovereignty, while coping with the complexities of the idea and the vision. Is Israel going to commit suicide with the establishment of a Palestinian state in its heart or cope with a localized headache that can be solved by the application of sovereignty? This is a time of critical decision.
Czech president on embassy relocation: Next year in Jerusalem
Czech President Milos Zeman reiterated Wednesday his pledge to move his country's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and vowed to take concrete measures in the coming weeks and months to make this a reality.

Zeman, who was hosting an event to celebrate Israel's 70th anniversary at Prague Castle, spelled out the process of moving the embassy, saying it will take place in three steps: An honorary consulate will be opened in Jerusalem next month followed by other Czech institutions before the embassy's actual transfer.

Zeman said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him that he would let the central European nation use a home he owns in Jerusalem if the Czech Republic lacks the financial resources to complete the embassy move.

"He told me, if you do so [move the embassy], I will give you my own house. Fine, the Czech Republic is not such a rich country in order not to refuse such a nice proposal. Anyway, I hope Bibi [Netanyahu] will fulfill his promise after four years because it was just four years ago when I proposed to move the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Zeman said.

Although some said his recent push on the matter was sparked by U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Israel's capital, he said his decision was entirely his. "The USA copied my proposal," he quipped.
Honduras President examines moving embassy to Jerusalem
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) met with Honduras President Juan Hernandez in the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa.

Attending the meeting were Honduras' Foreign and Tourism ministers, as well as Israeli Ambassador to Honduras Mati Cohen.

At the meeting, Levin emphasized the deepening relationship between Israel and Honduras, and thanked Honduras for their support of Israel and the US in the United Nations vote against the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

"There is great importance in moving your embassy to Jerusalem," Levin said. "We cannot accept a situation in which other countries attempt to dictate to us where our capital should be. I am convinced that additional countries work to move their embassies to Jerusalem soon, and that Honduras will not wait, and will decide to move its embassy."

Hernandez expressed an understanding of the importance and international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and told Levin that he had decided to appoint a senior staff to examine the issue of moving the country's embassy to Jerusalem.
Sao Paulo governor apologizes for welcoming Hezbollah official
The governor of Brazil’s Sao Paulo state apologized to the Jewish community for welcoming a Muslim clergyman accused of having ties with Hezbollah.

Gov. Marcio Franca welcomed Sheikh Bilal Mohsen Wehbe as part of a group of members of the local Lebanese community during a visit to the state government headquarters on April 17. The fact was revealed by Veja magazine’s online edition on Saturday, followed by a condemnation statement released by the Sao Paulo Jewish Federation on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Marcio Franca and his team ignored the organization’s links to smuggling and drug trafficking in the Triple Frontier region between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, as well as its radical stance calling for the destruction of the State of Israel, and gave legitimacy to a group recognized as terrorist by countless democratic countries,” the statement said.

Franca apologized to Jewish officials that he welcomed on Monday, including the president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization. During the meeting organized by Congressman Floriano Pesaro, who is Jewish, the governor declared he was not familiar with the names in the Lebanese delegation and admitted that “the check may have been flawed.”

The Jewish officials invited Franca to attend the next ceremony in memory of the victims of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, which was attributed to Hezbollah and Iran and killed 85 people.
Palestinian convicted of attempt to bomb Jerusalem light rail
A Hebron University student who was caught trying to board the Jerusalem light rail while carrying three pipe bombs, explosives and knives was convicted on Thursday of attempted murder, manufacturing weapons and entering Israel illegally.

In its ruling, the Jerusalem District Court said that 20-year-old Ali Abu Hassan“planned to carry out a mass terror attack.”

In July 2016, Abu Hassan entered West Jerusalem through a valley outside the eastern Sur Baher neighborhood, with the intention of carrying out an attack in the capital as a form of “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount,” police said in a statement at the time.

On July 17, he took a bus to the center of the capital and walked along Jerusalem’s bustling Jaffa Road to find a target for his bombing, armed with three pipe bombs he had linked together into one large explosive and covered with nails and screws he had dipped in rat poison. In his bag police also found two knives and a cellphone.
Hamas rocket expert’s body arrives in Gaza for burial
The body of a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian man who was shot dead in Malaysia in an assassination blamed on Israel arrived in Gaza Thursday afternoon, after being flown to Egypt and taken through the Rafah border crossing, Palestinian media said.

Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, a member of the Islamist terror group who Israel says was a rocket and drone expert, was shot by motorbike-riding attackers Saturday as he walked from his Kuala Lumpur home to a mosque for dawn prayers.

Relatives and Palestinian faction leaders gathered in a show of respect to greet the body as it entered Gaza through the Egyptian border.

Family and friends of the 35-year-old, along with Hamas, have accused Israel’s Mossad spy agency of carrying out the killing, but Israel has denied the claim.

The Khabr Palestinian news agency reported that several top Hamas officials were at Rafah crossing to welcome Batsh’s body. Video showed uniformed soldiers preparing to greet him
MEMRI: Jordanian columnist: Muslim football stars playing in Europe help combat Islamophobia, while terrorists only blacken its name
In his February 25, 2018 column in the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, 'Alaa Al-Din Abu Zeina wrote about Egyptian star footballer Muhammad (Mo) Salah, who has been playing for Liverpool since June 2017. Abu Zeina noted that Salah has managed to cause even racist British soccer fans to cheer for him and to change their attitude towards Islam, to the extent that they have even written a chant promising to convert to Islam if he keeps scoring goals. He added that, even if Salah's fans do not convert, he and other leading Muslim football players who do not hide their faith help to improve the image of the Islamic religion, culture and nation. In this, they contrast with the Muslim extremists who wage so-called jihad against the West, and who purport to vanquish it by means of bombings and beheadings, but in fact achieve only failure.

On March 17, 2018, after Liverpool beat Waterford in a match thanks to goals scored by Salah, Egyptian journalist Husam Al-Haj wrote that a Liverpool fan had tweeted: "What Salah has done this season is completely unbelievable. I have formally converted to Islam and I hereby declare that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."[1]

The following are excerpts from Abu Zeina's column:[2]
"Western media and social media have recently focused on how British Liverpool fans have been cheering the Egyptian football player Muhammad Salah. There is nothing new about [fans] cheering a brilliant player who scores goals, whatever his ethnicity or religion. But what is noteworthy in Salah's case is the positive tone taken by the British public towards Islam thanks to this Arab player.

"[One of] the chants [created by his fans] says: "'Mo Salah, if he's good enough for you, then he's good enough for me. He is sitting in the mosque, that is where I wanna be. If he scores another few, then I'll be Muslim too.' The British newspaper Daily Express called this chant 'wonderful' and 'brilliant,' without commenting on its reference to religion but only on Salah's achievements and his path [to success] that made him worthy of this glory. The American Washington Post wrote [a report] about this chant [titled] "Liverpool soccer fans are quite literally singing the praises of a Muslim player." As evident from this headline, this phenomenon is puzzling, because it is new.
INSS: Strengthening the JCPOA
To strengthen the Iran nuclear deal without opening it to renegotiation, there are five main areas of concern: missiles, inspections, transparency, sanctions, and the sunset provisions.

Iran's insistence on not including its missiles as part of the nuclear negotiation effectively left the field open to the U.S. and Europeans to introduce whatever new understandings they see fit. However, a source of concern is the tendency to relate only to "long-range missiles." It is imperative to drop this misguided emphasis on range, as medium-range missiles already cover Israel, the Gulf states, and Turkey. Discussion must encompass all missiles that can carry a nuclear warhead. We urge reintegrating the standard for dangerous missiles set by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 1987: any missile with a range over 300 km. that can carry a payload of over 500 kg.

The demand for anytime/anyplace inspection rights was downgraded to convoluted provisions that enable Iran to delay an inspection and play for time. This ambiguity must be resolved and regular inspections must be conducted at military facilities.

The lack of transparency regarding Iran's nuclear activities and plans has become the norm since the deal was implemented. The quarterly IAEA reports on Iran now lack essential data that had been included in pre-JCPOA reports, and there are side-deals concluded between Iran and the IAEA that have been kept confidential.

Increasing pressure on Iran - including in response to missile tests, support for terror, action in Syria, and human rights violations - is essential as part of a broad effort to accumulate leverage over Iran. Absent such leverage, there will be no possibility of strengthening the deal through renewed negotiations with the Iranians.

The Trump administration is trying to achieve with the Europeans a supplementary accord that would cover the pressing issues of Iran's missile development and need for strengthened inspections, with no time limits. The administration also wants to significantly extend the limitations on Iran's work on the fuel cycle. Everything turns on political will - if it exists, agreeing to these steps should not entail a lengthy process.
Macron predicts Trump will exit the Iran deal
Emmanuel Macron believes President Donald Trump will withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal next month “on his own for domestic reasons,” the French president said on Wednesday.

Briefing American reporters in Washington, Macron cautioned that he is unsure what the US president will ultimately decide. But in a joint press conference at the White House on Tuesday, Trump said that he had given Macron a good idea of what he was planning.

“When people say President Trump is not predictable, I think the opposite, he is very predictable,” Macron said. “I think the US will decide very tough sanctions.”

Earlier this year, Trump gave France, Britain and Germany until May 12 to come up with “fixes” to the nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or else he would allow harsh US sanctions on Iran to snap back into effect. The sanctions would affect European businesses engaged in Iran, but more broadly, would violate core provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal, effectively withdrawing the US from its commitments.

Trump campaigned for the presidency on a promise to shred the deal apart. He believes the agreement has emboldened Iran region-wide, failed to stop its ballistic missile work, and does not address Iran’s nuclear enrichment in the long-term.

Macron agreed with these criticisms publicly during his Washington visit – but said, in an address to Congress on Wednesday, that “we should not abandon it without having something substantial, and more substantial, instead.”
Baha’i Warn of “Genocidal Intent” Iran-Backed Rebels Have toward Their Adherents in Yemen
The international office of the Baha’i Faith community, a religious minority denomination persecuted across the Middle East, has warned of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel’s “genocidal intent” against their people in Yemen.

On March 23rd, 2018, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthis, in a televised speech “vehemently vilified and denounced the Baha’i Faith, further intensifying the ongoing persecution of the Baha’is,” in Yemen the organization charged.

Al-Houthi gave the speech on the occasion of the first Friday of the Islamic month of Rajab, which commemorates the introduction of Islam to the desert country. According to Baha’i representatives, al-Houthi “employed a rhetoric reminiscent of statements made by the Supreme Leaders of Iran in former and recent times and strongly denounced the Baha’i Faith.”

Al-Houthi called the Baha’is “satanic”, a movement that is “waging a war of doctrine” against Islam, he claimed. He further denounced Baha’is as infidels and deniers of Islam and Muhammad and spread other falsehoods about the faith and its relationship to western countries and Israel.

In his final appeal, the Houthi leader urged Yemenis to defend their country from the Baha’is and members of other religious minorities under the pretext that, “those who destroy the faith in people are no less evil and dangerous than those who kill people with their bombs.”
Iran pushes app with 'Death to America' emoji - BBC News
Iran is promoting a domestically-produced mobile messaging app, complete with a "Death to America" emoji, in an attempt to get millions of Iranians to abandon the popular Telegram service, which it blames for promoting unrest in the country.

Among the features on new app Soroush are a series of emojis featuring a chador-clad woman clutching a picture of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and placards wishing death to Israel, America and Freemasons.

The Soroush app is even the subject of a competition in the country's elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, where five lucky people will be given gold coins for signing up. The competition was announced on the Force's Telegram channel.

Ayatollah Khamenei has emerged as a champion of the new app, closing down his account on Telegram and telling users to do the same and sign up to the Iranian-produced service.

"The activities of the presidency's Telegram channel have stopped in support of domestic messaging apps," state broadcaster IRIB also reported last week.

PreOccupiedTerritory: UAE To Fund Rebuilding Of Mosul Sex Slave Market (satire)
Efforts to restore the major northern Iraqi city of Mosul to its former glory following liberation from the Islamic State received a significant boost this week with a pledge from the United Arab Emirates to cover the costs of reconstructing and reestablishing the locale’s most popular venue for trafficking in non-Muslim women.

A spokesman for the group of wealthy Persian Gulf principalities announced Thursday morning that the rehabilitation of war-torn Iraq’s political, cultural, and commercial institutions requires heavy investment from regional powers, and that Islamic solidarity obliges them to do their part in bringing some sense of normalcy back to a place that has known so much instability in recent years.

The battle to retake Mosul, which began in earnest last year amid a broader offensive to roll back Islamic State territory, took many months longer than Iraqi commanders and their Western allies had anticipated, and wrought devastation on the city far beyond the destruction and depredations of ISIS that occurred there prior to that date. In promising funding for the sex slave market reconstruction, the UAE spokesman declared the move the first in what he hopes will become many steps in reestablishing the shining example of the finest culture that Islamic civilization has brought the world.

“Rebuilding important shrines and mosques is important for the reestablishment of everyday life in that important city, but efforts cannot be limited to that,” pronounced Vice Emir Annas Sidrati, referring to funding projects already underway. “The trappings and institutions of a normal Islamic community and society play a pivotal role in the gradual process of recovery and restabilization.”
MEMRI: AKP Mouthpiece Yeni Safak: Turkey Is Neither Pro-NATO, Nor Pro-Russia
Hasan Öztürk the editorial writer for the ruling AKP's mouthpiece Yeni Safak wrote an article, titled "We Are Neither Pro-Russia, Nor Pro-NATO; We Are Turkish, Thank God," discussing Ankara's relations with the West and with Russia.

The Turkish editorialist opined that punishing Assad was not the main objective behind the U.S.-U.K.-France strike in Syria, but rather driving a wedge between Turkey and Russia. It should be noted that, on April 14, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that the operation carried out by Washington, London and Paris was "an appropriate response to the chemical attack which caused the deaths of many civilians in Douma on 7 April." The Turkish Ministry then added: "We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime."[1]

Ankara's statement created disappointment in Moscow, but nevertheless, on the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan conversed by phone. Russia’s president underlined that the bombing was a gross breach of the UN Charter and fundamental norms and principles of international law. The Kremlin also pointed out that Russia and Turkey should intensify bilateral cooperation, aimed at the meaningful promotion of a political solution in Syria.[2]

However, on the same April 14, Erdogan also took a phone call from French President Emmanuel Macron. In their conversation, the Turkish President reiterated that Turkey condemns the use of chemical weapons and added that the Assad regime's massacres via both chemical and conventional weapons had to be prevented.[3]

On April 16, Macron declared that with the strike on Syria, Washington, London, and Paris "separated Turkey and Russia." A riposte by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu soon followed.[4]
Erdogan Grooming Child Martyrs
A series of tweets from AKP Watch show young, Turkish children in Germany and Austria being indoctrinated into being the next line of soldiers and martyrs for Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist and expansionist agenda.

AKP is Erdogan’s “Justice and Development” political party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi), the conservative, Islamist ruling party in Turkey. Erdogan’s rhetoric has become increasingly shrill of late, used to accompany his latest incursion in Afrin, Syria, a Kurdish area known for being the frontlines in the fight against ISIS.

“In Germany mosques operated by the Turkish state, small children are marching in uniforms, chanting military slogans and getting prepared to die as martyr [sic] for Erdogan,” read one tweet that was accompanied by a video of the event.

Another tweet states, “The AKP is preparing Turkish children in Europe for war: In Austrian ATIB mosques operated by the Turkish state, young boys in military uniforms are prepared to die as martyr [sic], playing ‘dead soldiers’ who are wrapped in the Turkish flag.”





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