Monday, March 04, 2019

From Ian:

Gerald M. Steinberg: The UN's humanitarian propaganda war
For decades, American taxpayers have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into United Nations "aid" agencies that went to promote Palestinian propaganda wars against Israel. The most notorious is UNRWA (the specialized Palestinian refugee framework created in 1949), which was finally cut off last year.

But the problem continues in other and in some ways even more virulent forms. For example, the "Occupied Palestinian Territory" branch of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-oPt) is also neck-deep in political warfare and demonization.

Under the guise of providing aid, this agency sends out a constant flow of false accusations, including reports to the Security Council and "news items" promoted on its specialized ReliefWeb media platform. The officials also coordinate the agendas of dozens of NGOs that are active in these political attacks. The anti-Israel Norwegian Refugee Council and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) are among their main partners in promoting radical goals.

But the faรงade that has protected OCHA-oPt and its partners is being slowly stripped away. Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N.'s "Humanitarian Coordinator," complained that "U.N. Watch and NGO Monitor (the organization I founded and lead) are out there to delegitimize humanitarian action in Palestine, including allegations of misconduct and misuse of funds." In January, his organization's bulletin warned against what they refer to as Israeli "de-legitimization, access restrictions, and administrative constraints," and warned about a nefarious "network of Israeli civil society groups … with the apparent support of the Israeli government." No details are provided – only shadowy allegations and hints of dark conspiracies. For the record, NGO Monitor neither requests nor receives any support from any government, unlike OCH-oPt's circle of friends.

JPost Editorial: Defeating terrorism
The UK officially designated the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist group last week, following a debate in parliament days after UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced his plan to have the government do so. Previously, it had recognized Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization, but not its political wing.

As a result, this past June – when Iran’s al-Quds Day against Israel coincided with the last Friday of Ramadan – may have been the last time someone will be able to see the despicable sight of thousands of demonstrators waving Hezbollah flags on the streets of London.

The vote in parliament has not yet taken place, but the UK government has taken a clear stand against terrorism and the kind of Iranian expansionism that Hezbollah represents, being Tehran’s proxy in Lebanon and in parts of Syria. Hezbollah regularly threatens Israel – not only in words, but also by stockpiling rockets and missiles, and building cross-border tunnels into the North, several of which were recently destroyed by the IDF.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration said the decision was made “on the basis that it is no longer tenable to distinguish between the military and political wings of Hezbollah... [which] continues to amass weapons in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolutions, putting the security of the region at risk.”

Javid said that: “Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East,” and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We cannot... be complacent when it comes to terrorism. It is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist... Its destabilizing activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.”

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said soon after Javid’s announcement that her government may follow Britain’s lead – and they should be encouraged to do so.

But despite these strong arguments that Hezbollah is not only a threat to Israel, but a destabilizing force for the entire Middle East – with the potential to harm Western and British interests as well – Germany said this weekend that it is not convinced that it should ban the terrorist organization.
Mazel Tov! Daughter of hero Ari Fuld, who died saving others, gets married
Tamar Fuld, the daughter of Ari Fuld, who was murdered in a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Junction in September, tied the knot on Sunday night to Michaya Beasley.

The wedding was a bittersweet event, as the joy of the couple's union mingled with the deep sadness at Ari's absence. There wasn't a dry eye in the room when Tamar's mother walked her to the chuppa, according to one of the wedding guests.

MK Bezalel Smotrich, whose political aide is Ari's brother, Eitan Fuld, wrote on his Twitter account after the wedding: "I'm leaving the wedding of Tamar and Michaya. Tamar is the daughter of Ari Fuld, who was murdered less than a half a year ago while saving others from being harmed in a heroic pursuit after the terrorist who stabbed him. A hero of Israel in his life and his death. Ari is the brother of my amazing political partner, Eitan."

Ari Fuld, 45, left his home for a routine shopping trip and became a national legend for the way he shot a terrorist after he himself was mortally wounded near the Rami Levy supermarket in the Gush Etzion junction.

The father of four, Fuld was the grandson of a Holocaust survivor and had miraculously dodged a bullet while serving as an IDF soldier in Lebanon.




Vatican to open archives on WWII-era pope accused of silence on Holocaust
Declaring that the church “isn’t afraid of history,” Pope Francis said Monday he has decided to open up the Vatican archives on World War II-era pope Pius XII, who has been criticized by Jews for staying silent on the Holocaust.

Francis told officials and personnel of the Vatican Secret Archives that the archive would be open to researchers starting March 2, 2020.

Pius was elected pontiff on March 2, 1939, six months before World War II erupted in Europe. Pius died on October 9, 1958, at the Vatican summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

The Vatican usually waits 70 years after the end of a pontificate to open up the relevant archives. But the Holy See has been under pressure to make the Pius XII documentation available sooner and while Holocaust survivors are still alive.

Vatican archivists had already started preparing the documentation for consultation in 2006, at the behest of Francis’s German-born predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Pius has been accused by historians and Jewish groups of failing to speak out against the Holocaust, failing to commit the Church to saving Jews amid the genocide, and encouraging the conversion of Jews to Catholicism during the period.

The Vatican has defended him, saying he used behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to save lives. Francis indicated he, too, embraced that interpretation.
Arab Support for ‘Palestine’ Is Dependent on the Use of Religion
Palestinians like to claim that their problems lie at the heart of Arab concerns, notwithstanding the multiplicity of crisis areas in the Middle East, such as Syria, Yemen, and Libya.

But a look at Google search trends on the Palestinian problem in the Arab world casts this claim into serious doubt.

The Palestinian problem, like most other political issues, is a function of personal involvement and geographical proximity to the crisis area. This means that it is the Palestinians themselves who search the conflict most frequently, followed by nearby countries, and thinning out the farther the searchers are from “Palestine.”

So if one plots searches for “Palestinian resistance” (in Arabic, al-muqawama al-Filastiniyya), searches relative to the size of population in “Palestine” are over four times more numerous than among Arabs in Israel, 10 times more than in nearby Jordan, 40 times more than in Syria, and nearly 400 times more than in distant Morocco.

The term “Zionism,” which for most Arab readers evokes a hostility similar to that evoked in the West by terms such as “Stalinism” and even “Nazism,” demonstrates a similar search pattern. It is searched most by Palestinians, and hardly at all by Moroccans.

This is not surprising. A search for Charles de Gaulle, say, would show a similar pattern. Most searchers would be in France and the Francophone states within the French orbit. The more distant the searchers are from France, the less interest one would find in de Gaulle.

Yet when one plots “Al-Aqsa Mosque” (masjid al-Aqsa), one gets a very different picture. Here, the laws of self-involvement and proximity still apply, but their effect is attenuated.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: No Peace or Reconciliation with the 'Infidels'
The Palestinians, however, apparently feel that their appeals to the Arab countries are falling on deaf ears. They are convinced that the US administration is continuing with its efforts to persuade some Arab states to establish normal ties with Israel before solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Last week, these Palestinian fears were reinforced when the US administration envoys Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner visited the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Palestinians perceive this tour as part of the US administration's upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East which, they claim, is mainly aimed at promoting normalization between the Arabs and Israel "at the expense of the Palestinians."

Apparently as part of their effort to thwart the prospective, but as yet unseen, plan, also known as the "Deal of the Century," and to prevent Arabs from establishing normal relations with Israel, a group of Palestinian Islamic scholars issued yet another fatwa (Islamic religious opinion) on March 3 warning against any form of normalization with the "Zionist entity."

The scholars are hoping that their fatwa will rally Muslims worldwide to the Palestinian campaign against normalization with Israel. By issuing such fatwas, the Palestinians are clearly hoping to turn the conflict with Israel into a religious one.

The Gaza-based group, called Palestinian Scholars' Association, said in its fatwa that according to the rulings of Islam, "normalization with the Zionist enemy, and accepting it in the region, is one of the most dangerous penetrations of the Muslim community and a threat to its security, as well as a corruption of its doctrine and a loss of its youths."

The scholars go on to explain that "normalization and reconciliation means empowerment of Jews over the land of the Muslims, surrender to the infidels and loss of religion and Islamic lands."
The deal of the last century
The basic assumption at the heart of the American proposal is that it's possible to force upon the Palestinians a peace deal that doesn't come close to meeting their expectations and demands. It is a faulty assumption that won't pass the reality test. Indeed, Arab countries will do all in their power to support a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, because they view such a deal as a vital interest. Arab rulers will put heavy pressure on the Palestinians, but won't dare make concessions on their behalf or in their name, because they don't want these concessions attributed to them in the annals of history.

Hence the Palestinians will always have the last word, and they are either incapable or unwilling to make the historical decision to end the conflict. First, Palestinian leaders have always assumed that time is on their side, and that by delaying the Trump proposal a better deal will be offered – whether by Trump's successor or the international community, Russia or the European Union, which have openly told the Palestinians to shun Trump's offer.

Second, the sense of despair on the Palestinian street is insufficient to prod the leadership toward a deal. The Americans, similar to the Arab rulers, don't have the bargaining chips to pressure Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his cohort, who prefer a sputtering, teetering PA in Ramallah over a quasi-state that far from meets their minimum demands. It's interesting to note, incidentally, that the notion of a quasi-Palestinian state doesn't thrill younger Palestinians in the least, and many of them see the single-state solution – that is to say receiving Israeli citizenship – as the only solution capable of meeting their needs and advancing the Palestinian interest, certainly in the long term.

Finally, the Palestinian leadership's weakness and the splits within its ranks certainly aren't conducive to any courageous decisions, let alone concessions.

The American deal of the century, therefore, will most likely join the long list of peace plans to end in a thud. With that, when the dust settles, Israel must not be perceived as the side that scuttled Trump's efforts, and it must seek to exploit the momentum the American plan could provide to bolster its relations with the Arab world. Either way, long-awaited peace isn't around the corner.
How will the UNHRC’s report impact the ICC’s decision - analysis
The UN Human Rights Council's initial report of last Thursday, accusing the IDF of war crimes, could not have come at a worse time for Israel in terms of its impact on the International Criminal Court.

What impact will the report have on the ICC’s fateful decision of whether to delve deeper into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

The ICC has taken its time in its review of whether to open a full criminal investigation into the 2014 Gaza War, the settlement enterprise, and most recently, the Gaza border conflict.

It started its review in January 2015. Almost four years later, in December 2018, the ICC prosecution issued a report saying that for the first time it was close to a decision.

Notably, the ICC prosecution said that the Israel-Palestine review had moved to “Phase III” – the final phase of the review process.

The UNHRC report said that the IDF illegally killed 183 Palestinians and wounded thousands during the ongoing border conflict dating back to March 2018, and declared the IDF’s investigations of its own soldiers inadequate.

Could this tip the scales before the ICC against Israel?




US Consulate for Palestinians to be merged with embassy Monday
The US Consulate General in Jerusalem that for decades has operated independently of the US embassy and served as an ad-hoc American embassy to the Palestinians is expected to merge on Monday with the US embassy and come under the authority of US Ambassador David Friedman.

The consulate general’s consulates historic building on Agron Road in the capital will now be renamed the Palestinian Affairs Unit unit and operate under the auspices of the embassy.

Up until now, the two entities – the embassy when it was located in Tel Aviv and the consulate general in Jerusalem – function as two distinct units, with each reporting back independently to the State Department, each having a different spokesperson, and each holding different July 4th celebrations.

The embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for Israel within the 1967 lines, and the consulate general had responsibility for the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. The new Palestinian Affairs Unit is expected to carry out many of the same tasks that up until now were carried out by the consulate general, though some of the unit's operation will be transferred to the new embassy building on David Flusser Street.

As part of the merger, the position of US Consul General will be eliminated, and Karen Sasahara – who currently holds that position – will be posted elsewhere.


Israel ranks as 8th most powerful country - U.S. News report
Israel was ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world, according to the US News and World Report's power ranking in 2019.

The power ranking was based on leader, economic influence, political influence, international alliance and a strong military. This ranking was part of a subcategory ranking for the US News's annual Best Country ranking. Israel received a high ranking because of its strong military, along with its strong political influence and international alliances.

The top nine most powerful countries, according to the report, have not changed since 2018. The United States of America snagged the No. 1 spot because it has the largest economy and biggest military budget in the world, spending more than $610 billion on military hardware and personnel in 2017, according to the report. In 2017, the US also spent slightly more than $35 billion in economic aid and nearly $15 billion in military aid.

Other powerfully ranked countries included Russia, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Israel was also rated No. 13 in the "Mover" category. These are countries that the World Bank predicts will have the fastest growing economies over the next couple of years. Mostly Middle Eastern and Asian countries dominate this ranking, with the United Arab Emirates in first place, with Singapore following behind in the No. 2 spot.
PM thanks Samoan president for support in international forums
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the midst of the legal and political fight of his life, took some time out of his schedule on Monday to meet the prime minister of Samoa, an island state in the Pacific of some 200,000, which often supports Israel or abstains on critical votes in the UN.

“There is an abiding friendship between Samoa and Israel, and we greet you here as a friend,” Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting in his office with Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.

Israel and Samoa signed a visa waiver agreement at the outset of the meeting.

“We appreciate your friendship, your support in international forums and your support for Israel joining the Asia Development Bank,” Netanyahu said.

Malielegaoi, who became prime minister in 1998 and is on his first visit to Israel, said that Samoa continues to give “careful and considered support for Israel to the maximum extent possible” at the UN.
Netanyahu: Israel, Russia to Cooperate on Foreign Troop Exit From Syria
Israel and Russia will work together on securing an exit of foreign forces from Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday after visiting Moscow to advocate against the Iranian presence in the country.

As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad beats back an eight-year-old insurgency, Israel worries that his reinforcements from Iran and the Tehran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah will stay on to form a new front against it.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria. These operations have been largely ignored by Russia, which intervened militarily on Assad’s behalf in 2015, turning the tide of the war.

Netanyahu said that, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, he had made it “unequivocally clear” that such strikes would continue, with an Israeli-Russian military hotline continuing to prevent accidental clashes between the countries.
IDF shells Quneitra district in Syria
IDF forces shelled the Druze town of Hader in the Syrian province of Quneitra province, Syrian media reported on Sunday night.

According to Syria’s SANA News Agency, the IDF had targeted a “deserted area,” causing no damage or casualties.

Hader lies just approximately 3 kilometers from the border between the two countries on the Golan Heights in the Quneitra province.

A similar incident occurred on February 11, with local Syrian media reporting that the IDF shelled a position in the city of Quneitra.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the IDF had struck positions in Syria’s Quneitra district in February, stating that Israel is “operating every day, including yesterday, against Iran and its attempts to establish its presence in the area."
In first, US deploys advanced THAAD missile defense system in Israel
The US military deployed in Israel for the first time its most advanced missile defense system as part of an exercise with the Israeli military.

In a statement Monday, the Israel Defense Forces said the United States European Command’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) was meant to drill dispatching the system quickly across the world and working together with Israeli air defenses against threats such as long-range ballistic missiles.

“The IDF is working in cooperation with US forces in order to enhance coordination between the two militaries and to strengthen the ability to defend Israeli airspace,” it said.

The military stressed THAAD’s presence in Israel was strictly defensive and “not related to any specific event.”

“The IDF is grateful for this exercise and stands ready to protect Israel’s airspace and civilians against a variety of threats from near and far,” the IDF said.
2 soldiers wounded in car ramming, 2 terrorists killed
An Israel Defense Forces officer was critically wounded in a ramming attack near Jerusalem overnight Sunday, which also left a Border Police officer lightly wounded. A Molotov cocktail was also thrown at the troops.

Two of the Palestinian attackers were killed by nearby soldiers, and a third was wounded.

The soldiers that were targeted in the attack had stopped their vehicle by the side of the road at night because it had broken down. They had been deployed to the area as part of an operation aimed at seizing wanted Palestinian terrorists.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to demolish the homes of the attackers.

"We will do everything to speed up the demolition of these murderers' homes, just like the murderer of Ori Ansbacher," Netanyahu said, referring to the 19-year-old girl from Tekoa who was raped and stabbed to death in the woods outside of Jerusalem on Feb. 7.

"I issued a directive to speed up the demolition of these homes within the parameters of the legal system," the prime minister said. "We are determined to continue our struggle against murderers and against such terror."

He added that the IDF soldiers "acted swiftly and killed the terrorists who threatened to run them over. We send blessings for a speedy recovery to those injured."

Hamas praised the attack several hours later.


Netanyahu orders home demolitions of ramming-attack terrorists
The government will do everything it can to expedite the demolition of the homes of the terrorists responsible for the ramming attack on IDF soldiers early Monday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting with the prime minister of Samoa.

"This morning the IDF soldiers acted swiftly and killed the terrorists who threatened to run them over,” Netanyahu said. “We send wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded officer and will do everything to speed up the demolition of these murderers' homes, as we will do for the murderer of Ori Ansbacher.”

One IDF officer was seriously wounded and a Border Police soldier was lightly hurt after a car struck them during an arrest operation in the West Bank. Forces opened fire on the vehicle’s three occupants, killing two of them and wounding the third, who was arrested.

Netanyahu said he has directed the authorities to demolish the homes of the terrorists “within the limitations of the judicial system.”
IDF helicopters pound Hamas positions in response to explosive balloon
IDF attack helicopters hit two positions of the Hamas terror group in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday in response to an explosive device that was carried into Israel by balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave, the army said.

It was Israel’s fourth retaliatory airstrike against the terror group in the past three days.

It came after a bunch of balloons carrying explosives came down between two buildings in the Eshkol Regional Council, the council said in a statement. The bomb exploded but caused neither injuries nor damage.

On Sunday night an Israeli military drone bombed a Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip in response to a violent riot along the border nearby, according to Palestinian media.

Members of a so-called “confusion unit” held a violent demonstration along the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip, east of Beit Hanoun, burning tires and setting off many explosive devices near the border.
Graffiti spray-painted on 1,800-year-old synagogue on Galilee’s Mount Meron
An Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist discovered spray-painted graffiti on a 1,800-year-old synagogue located at the Mount Meron Nature Reserve in the Galilee on Monday.

The 3rd-century synagogue is located near the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also known as Rashbi, a 2nd-century tannaitic sage whose views appear throughout the Mishnah and Talmud.

In bold red lettering, the vandals spray painted “warnings” in several areas at the ancient synagogue.

One of the walls was sprayed — apparently without irony — with “This holy place will not be desecrated. You have been warned.” Other graffiti specifically targeted the IAA, stating, “There will not be an archaeological park here,” and “Mount Meron is not abandoned.”

IAA archaeologist Uri Berger was onsite on Monday to identify the damage. Following his inspection, Berger filed a complaint with the police and an investigation was opened in the IAA’s anti-theft unit.
JCPA: “Arm Wrestling” Over the Jerusalem’s Gate of Mercy
Control of the Gate of Mercy (Golden Gate, Shaar Harachamim in Hebrew, Bab el Rahma in Arabic) on the Temple Mount has fallen into the hands of Jordan like a ripe fruit as the publication of the President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” approaches.

Jordan is using Israel’s actions on the Temple Mount to emphasize its special role there as the guardian of the holy sites in accordance with the peace agreement with Israel in 1994.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a message to Jordan more than a week ago, asking that the Muslim Waqf council be instructed to close the Gate of Mercy building before it is forcibly closed by the police. But the Jordanian government has ignored the message and has taken a firm stand to leave the Gate of Mercy building open.

The Jordanian Waqf office announced on March 3, 2019, that the Gate of Mercy is an integral part of the Al-Aqsa mosque and is not subject to negotiations, division, or partnership.

In the announcement, it stated that Israel’s measures against the Waqf council in Jerusalem are a “guided strike” and a direct blow against Jordanian guardianship of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Israel bans senior Islamic cleric, colleagues from entering Aqsa Mosque
Israel has banned several Islamic officials appointed by Jordan from entering the Temple Mount in Jerusalem following clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police in recent weeks.

Abdel Azem Salhab, the highest-ranking official in the Waqf, the Jordanian-run council that oversees the site, said Israeli police handed him and two other Palestinian officials the order on Sunday.

The site, the Jews’ holiest, is referred to as the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims, who consider it the third-holiest place in Islam.

Salhab said police informed him the ban was because of his role in opening a gate that has been closed by Israeli court order since 2003. Last month, thousands streamed into the closed-off section during Friday prayers.

Jordan’s Religious Affairs Minister Abdel Nasser Abu Albasal condemned the Israeli decision as “a new escalation” meant to disrupt the council’s work. Police last week also briefly detained Salhab, which led to a strong condemnation from Jordan.
Hackers scrawl ‘Jerusalem is capital of Palestine’ across many Israeli web pages
An apparent attempt to plant ransomware and freeze more than one million Israeli web pages over the weekend failed, but not before the hackers had managed to deface multiple pages with the words “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” and in so doing underline the failure of some of Israel’s major companies to ensure that their computer systems are sufficiently protected.

The hackers — whose identity and location are not known — found a breach connected to the Hebrew-language website Nagich, which means “accessible” in Hebrew, to block access to companies that are its customers, including several major news sites, for at least an hour.

Under the equal rights for people with disabilities legislation and accessibility regulations, all bodies providing services to the public must ensure that their websites are accessible.

Nagich, one of the businesses that specializes in that field, provides plugins to modify web pages for the benefit of people who have limited mobility or poor sight, for example.

The company says on its website that its technology has made more than one million web pages accessible for companies as diverse as telecommunications firms Partner, 012 mobile and Golan Telecom; Bank Hapoalim; the cosmetic giants Clinique and Estee Lauder; McDonalds; and Coca-Cola.


IAEA chief refuses to speak of possible past Iran nuclear violations
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano said at a press conference in Vienna on Monday that he would not address allegations that Iran has allegedly pursued a secret nuclear weapons program in the past without fully owning up to its violations.

Asked about "PMD," or past military dimensions, of Iran's nuclear program which it may have hidden from the IAEA, Amano said, "for the PMD issues, I do not speak of it."

In past statements, when he was pressed to address voluminous evidence gathered by the Mossad in January 2018 of Iran's secret nuclear program to build five atomic bombs, he said that the IAEA needed more time to evaluate the evidence.

Amano's statement on Monday may have indicated that time is no longer the issue and that the IAEA has simply decided it will flat out ignore the evidence which the Mossad appropriated in a daring operation from inside a clandestine facility within the heart of Tehran itself.

He also said that there had been formal resolutions which had the IAEA following the PMD issue until the end of 2015, but not beyond that point.

In other words, Amano explained that at this point, the IAEA would focus only on monitoring and verifying whether Iran was keeping commitments it made as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (the JCPOA), and was no longer concerned with whether Iran had lied about secretly seeking nuclear weapons before 2015.
Iran and Turkey media push conspiracy theories about US, ISIS
Iranian and Turkish media have pushed conspiracy theories about the US-led coalition and the defeat of Islamic State in Syria. As the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – the main partner of the coalition in the anti-ISIS battle – defeats ISIS in Syria, both Ankara and Tehran appear to have a different narrative.

Iran has sought to highlight US “support” for ISIS in the past and claimed that Iran played the main role in its defeat. ISIS would have overrun Europe if not for Iran, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Sunday. Last year, Turkey argued that ISIS was no longer a threat and that the US was prolonging the war needlessly.

Iran’s Press TV claimed last week that local sources had told them that the “US [is] giving Daesh [ISIS] a safe passage in east Syria under a gold deal.” The “local source” was actually the Syrian regime’s SANA media. “The gold has been carried away from the province’s Al-Baghouz area on board helicopters,” Iran’s media claimed. In return for the gold, the US allowed ISIS ringleaders to escape. The report also included a link to another report claiming that the US had “evacuated” ISIS militants and their families from Baghuz.

Still, Press TV carried another story on February 28, claiming that “protected by the US, Daesh leader al-Baghdadi is traveling across Iraq’s western desert.” The source for this was allegedly an Iraqi lawmaker named Hassan Salem. “He is being provided with US support at Anbar’s Ain al-Assad military base and is traveling freely between Iraq and Syria,” Salem was quoted as saying.

An element of the same report about gold being transported showed up in Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper. The “US army transported 50 tons of gold from Syria,” the report said.
Google refuses to remove Saudi government app that lets men monitor women and control where they can go
Google is refusing to scrap a Saudi government app which lets men track and control women.

The tech giant says that software allowing men to keep tabs on women meets all of its terms and conditions.

The Absher app will remain on the Google Play store after a review found it doesn't violate any of the firm's rules.

Californian Democrat Jackie Speier joined 13 colleagues in Congress to demand the app be removed.

But the app - which lets men rescind travel permission for women - will remain online, Business Insider reports.

The app allows for guardians to state where women can go, for how long and which airports they're allowed to visit in the Islamist dictatorship.

Alerts are triggered if a woman leaves a certain area. It is one of the main reasons women have difficulty trying to flee Saudi Arabia are often caught.

Absher tips off male guardians and the fleeing women can be apprehended while still within the country.



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