Tuesday, April 09, 2019

From Ian:

Try as It Might, the U.S. Can’t Disengage from the Middle East
While the previous and current president have often spoken of greatly reducing America’s involvement in Middle Eastern affairs, the events of the past several years have time and again shown that doing so often causes grave problems. While cautioning against excessive ambitions, Hal Brands argues that Washington has no choice but to remain engaged in the region:

[It] is a fantasy to think that the United States can disengage from the Middle East without consequence. This is because America still has pressing interests in that region—and because those interests are as unlikely to protect themselves today as they ever have been in the past. Growing Russian influence, Iran’s hegemonic ambitions, the potential resurgence of key terrorist organizations, and the massive political instability and violence that plague large swaths of the region are real problems that demand competent management. America’s partners in the region can do more to manage those problems than they have done to date, but they remain manifestly incapable of doing so without significant U.S. support.

[Furthermore], hasty withdrawals are likely to be followed by hasty re-engagements. After the United States left Iraq in 2011, the state nearly collapsed, Islamic State surged to prominence, and an emergency military intervention—which has now lasted nearly five years—was needed to repair the damage. If the United States disengages from Syria and Afghanistan today and the result is a significant terrorist attack, the pressure to get back into the region and take decisive military action will be strong indeed—even if that means shortchanging other geopolitical priorities. If America goes home from the Middle East, it will sooner or later face pressures to go in big.
To Truly Confront UNRWA, the US Must Change Its Policy Immediately
Taking UNRWA at its word, the loss of US support in 2018 may have helped its overall funding efforts.

At this moment, it does not appear that the Trump administration’s decision to cut off funding to UNRWA has had a negative impact on UNRWA’s operations.

However, an Al Jazeera report in September claimed that the United States allowed Gulf states to fund UNRWA in 2018, but that funding in 2019 “will be subject to agreeing with the US demand to count only 500,000 refugees out of the five million” claimed to exist by the agency.

At this time, UNRWA has not reported any pledges from Gulf states.

Withholding funds to UNRWA satisfies those that have advocated for an end to sending US taxpayer dollars to such an “irredeemably flawed” organization. However, the funding cut in 2018 came with no policy success to show for it.

The Trump administration should work with Congress to condition future funding to UNRWA on its acceptance that “Palestine refugees” refers only to the original refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Then, their descendants should be categorized as “other Palestinians in need.” This would be consistent with US policy towards those seeking refugee status in our country.

This approach would put the onus on UNRWA to refuse US funding, and may spur other donors to do the same. Right now, UNRWA is winning this definitional battle. A shift in strategy, however, can help us win the war over fake refugee status.
MEMRI: The Trump Administration's Designation Of The IRGC As A Foreign Terror Organization – Goals And Impact

On April 8, 2019, President Trump announced the designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), including its Qods Force (see Appendix).[1]

This report will discuss the impact of the designation, economically and militarily, both within Iran and on the regional and international level.

The IRGC As An Economic Organization

The IRGC, part of Iran's military, is a huge economic entity; its economic arms are an integral part of Iran's strategic infrastructure in construction, energy, communications, and agriculture. Designating the IRGC as an FTO will be a tremendous blow to its economic might within Iran and to its ability to operate outside Iran.

The Economic Aspect Of Designating The IRGC As An FTO

Thus, designating the IRGC an FTO constitutes a continuation of the Trump administration's policy that focuses on economic sanctions against Iran. If the U.S. sanctions to date have mainly concerned the oil sector – the main sector of Iran's economy – and banking, the sanctions will now harm the Iranian regime's most vital economic entity.

This move appears to be aimed at thwarting Iran's partial consent to the guidelines of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)[2] aimed at fighting money laundering and terrorism – guidelines which Iran has so far rejected for fear that by consenting to them it will expose the IRGC and its organizations to direct harm. Under European pressure, Iran has so far obtained a series of postponements for the imposition of FATF guidelines on it, and there is now a fear that Iran will obtain special status, in the framework of which it will be required to comply with only some of the FATF laws and regulations. The Trump administration's move at this time to designate the IRGC an FTO appears to preempt the possibility that Iran will accept such a special arrangement, which would allow the IRGC to continue its activity in the country and across the region.

What Should Be Israel's Response to the U.S. Peace Plan?
Israel's response to the expected U.S. peace plan will reflect its commitment to seek a peace that guarantees its security and so will probably be "Yes, but."
At the same time, Israel will have to:
  • Clarify its red lines, namely, that no lasting peace can be reached without: Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people; a security plan that leaves the Jordan Valley under Israeli responsibility and allows the IDF to deal with threats from the West Bank; and ending the hate indoctrination and incitement that inculcate support for terror and commitment to a Palestinian state "from the river to the sea" in Palestinian minds.
  • If the Palestinians reject the plan, Israel together with the U.S. should continue conveying the message that there is a price for Palestinian intransigence. They should seek to convince the Palestinians of the need to accept the existence of a Jewish people that has a sovereign history in this disputed holy land as well as accepting the need to share this land with them.
  • Continue with the current policies vis-a-vis Gaza and the West Bank. These are solid and reasonable policies in light of the complexities of the situation. If the threat from Gaza rises, Israel will have to be prepared to take harsher measures to protect its citizens, including forcing Hamas to give up its control of the Strip.
  • Refrain from moving towards unilateral concessions disguised as "separation" from the Palestinians. This is a dangerous idea as it ignores the Palestinian narrative and may lead to greater Palestinian terror while simultaneously causing higher tensions within Israeli society. The probability that any new government will support such a policy is very low.

Moreover, Israel should try to convince the pragmatic Arab states to use the expected Palestinian rejection of the American peace plan as a justification for having closer ties with Israel. This may eventually help in pushing the Palestinians to adopt a more realistic approach towards the peace plan.
Israel & Arab states bypass Palestinians to make peace: Tom Gross on BBC
BBC World channel: Tom Gross interviewed by BBC senior International affairs correspondent Lyse Doucet on the eve of Israel’s national elections, as candidates Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz are neck and neck in the polls (April 8, 2019)

Shmuley Boteach: No Holds Barred: Trump’s love affair with Israel and the Jewish people
Trump fulfilled his campaign promises to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move our embassy. Now he has also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israelis and many Orthodox Jews recognize his contributions to the safety and security of Israel, yet most American Jews remain hostile toward him. I have seen Jews liken him to Hitler, and refer to him as an uncommon racist and an abomination to values.

These are often the same people who supported president Obama’s catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal, where $150 billion was given to Ayatollah Khameini – a real Hitler aspirant. They are so desperate for peace agreements that they are prepared to sacrifice Jerusalem to the Palestinians and the Golan Heights to the Syrians.

There is little I can say to those who still fail to recognize how disastrous the nuclear deal was, given our knowledge of Iran’s continued steps toward developing a nuclear bomb, their ongoing sponsorship of terrorism, their development of ballistic missiles, and their destabilizing actions in the Middle East that threaten the US and Israel. Obama assured us that making a deal with Iran and paying them tens of billions of dollars would suddenly cause the mullahs to reverse their hatred of the West and genocidal intentions toward Israel. Proponents of the agreement still won’t admit that Obama’s calculations on this issue wouldn’t have passed a first-grade math test.

Many of these Jews are also mired in the fantasies created by the Oslo agreements: that a two-state solution is possible and that there is a Palestinian peace partner. Even Yitzhak Rabin was not prepared to give the Palestinians a state – and that was at a time when there was still some hope the Palestinians would agree to a settlement which would recognize the existence of a Jewish state beside a Palestinian one. Now, most Israelis recognize that this is impossible in the near future, if ever. The never-ending barrage of rockets from Gaza following Israel’s evacuation has shown the folly of the land-for-peace formula, as well as those Jewish leaders who humiliated themselves and betrayed Israel by cozying up to Hamas’s foremost funder, the emir of Qatar.

BUT WHILE the world turns virulently against Israel, and a tsunami of antisemitism is unleashed around the globe, America has a president who will not feed Palestinian fantasies of dividing Jerusalem. America has a president who has made clear that the US will not subsidize Palestinian terrorism and obstructionism. America has a president who recognizes that the route to peace is not one-sided pressure on Israel, and that the Palestinians must agree to recognize and live in peace beside the Jewish state. And America has a president who understands that radical Islam is a threat to Western civilization and is unafraid to say so, unlike Obama’s comical “violent extremism,” which was an affront to both its victims and common sense.

The critics of Trump on grounds of character forget that public achievement always trumps private action.
Lebanon says Golan recognition undercuts its claim to disputed land with Israel
Lebanon’s president said Tuesday that the recent US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights undermines his country’s claim to another disputed territory.

Michel Aoun spoke during a press conference with visiting Bulgarian President Rumen Radev.

For Lebanon, there are fears over its claim to the Shebaa Farms — known in Hebrew as Mount Dov — and the adjacent Kfar Chouba hills, small patches of land captured by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967. Lebanon maintains that the strip of land is a part of Lebanon, despite it having been under Syrian control from the 1950s until it was captured as part of the Golan Heights.

Israel in the past maintained control in south Lebanon, but withdrew in 2000. The UN, which doesn’t recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, has said Lebanon’s claim to the Shebaa Farms is to be settled with the Golan’s fate.
Jonathan S. Tobin: Israeli democracy is not under threat
A lot may be riding on the outcome of Tuesday’s elections, but there is one thing that will not be decided: whether or not Israel will remain a democratic state. Regardless of whether it is the incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party or Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid’s Blue and White Party that will lead the country, the Jewish state is not about to begin to slide into authoritarianism. The rule of law, a free press and an independent judiciary are not at stake here.

But that is precisely what many commentators in both the United States and Israel are warning may happen. Much of the discussion about these elections, in which Netanyahu is seeking his fourth consecutive and fifth overall term in office, has centered on the notion that another win for him will mark the end of the country’s democratic system.

With the Israeli Left and its platform advocating land-for-peace schemes aimed at resolving the conflict with the Palestinians once and for all largely discredited in the eyes of a majority of Israelis, it’s perhaps understandable that many people have more than war and peace on their minds. Or at least that’s the way Netanyahu’s critics are framing the election in large measure because they know that if the outcome were based solely on his performance, there would be little doubt he’d win.

So instead, they’re trying to turn the vote for the Knesset into a referendum on Netanyahu’s character.
No Matter What Happens in the Israeli Election, There Is No Palestinian State to Build
Some observers of the upcoming Israeli election see the choice on Tuesday as a referendum not just on incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but also on Israel’s legitimacy as a peace partner.

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen expressed this when he wrote, “The drift under Netanyahu toward one state in all but name between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, with millions of disenfranchised Palestinians, is relentless.”

In other words, the reelection of Netanyahu will be the end of the two-state solution.

Cohen, like many others, conflates Palestinian statehood with Israeli-Palestinian peace. But this wasn’t the original conception.

At no point in the interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that was signed in September 1995 does it mention that the goal of the agreement was Palestinian statehood. And in his final speech before the Knesset a week later, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that his goal for the Palestinians was “an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.”
In West Bank, settlers say sovereignty pledge isn’t what’s driving them to polls
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eleventh-hour pledge to extend sovereignty over settlements if he’s reelected, one might have expected Israelis in the West Bank to arrive at the polls on Tuesday with an extra spring in their step, given what looked like a chance to cement the movement they’ve helped build.

But whether or not they believed the words that came out of the mouth of their ostensibly panic-ridden prime minister in his Saturday evening TV interview, the issue of annexation appeared to be no more than an afterthought for citizens beyond the Green Line as they entered the ballot booth and grabbed the slip of their party of choice.

“They talk all the time about annexing, evacuating; at the end of the day, I’m still here. It doesn’t look like anything will change,” said Ariel resident Yitzhak Kroter, 62, as he arrived at a community center to vote for Likud as he always has.

Seeking to survey as broad a representation of settler opinions as possible, The Times of Israel visited three settlements during the early hours of voting: the more secular city-settlement of Ariel, the ultra-Orthodox town of Emmanuel and the largely national-religious-dominated community of Karnei Shomron.
Arab turnout at record low, party heads talk of a "political catastrophe"
Fearing low turnout, leaders of the two Arab parties running in the Knesset election on Tuesday appealed to Arab voters to head to the ballot boxes on the pretext that their abstention would strengthen right-wing parties and candidates.

By three o’clock, only 20% of Arab voters had cast their ballots, prompting Arab candidates and leaders of the Arab Israelis to make urgent appeals to their constituents to take part in the electoral process.

The two Arab parties running in the election are Hadash-Ta’al and the United Arab List-Balad. In the last election, they ran together as the Joint List.

Public opinion polls published in recent weeks showed that Hadash-Ta’al, headed by MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi, would get 6-7 seats, while the United Arab List-Balad would receive 4-5 seats in the Knesset.

The split in the Joint List, which led to the establishment of the two parties, drew sharp criticism from many Arab-Israelis, with some calling for boycotting the election.
Don’t Worry, Israelis: Beto Knows What You Want Better Than You Do
O'Rourke may not have much of a policy record in general, but there is enough to know that he is not pro-Israel. In 2014, O'Rourke was one of only eight members of the House to vote against funding for Israel's Iron Dome air defense system. O'Rourke explained that he opposed the fact that there had not been—of course—a debate about the funding. Seriously? This issue should be a no-brainer. Israel, a moral and strategic ally, is surrounded by enemies of the United States, not just of Israel, that target the Jewish state with missiles. And he needs a robust debate to determine whether Washington should send the Israelis just $225 million (a small amount by government standards) to help them? Remember, 2014 was the year when Israel and Hamas fought a war during which the terrorist group fired rockets at Israeli civilians throughout the summer.

But worry not: the following year, O'Rourke and other Democratic lawmakers visited Israel as part of a delegation sponsored by J Street, a progressive lobbying group with a reputation for being hostile to Israel. Prominent liberal lawyer Alan Dershowitz has described J Street as "the most damaging organization in American history against Israel."

"J Street has done more to turn young people against Israel than any organization in the whole of history," he said. "It will go down in history as one of the most virulent, anti-Israel organizations in the history of Zionism and Judaism. It has given cover to anti-Israel attitudes on campus and particularly its approach to Israel's self defense."

In the 2018 election cycle, J Street contributed $182,934 to O'Rourke’s failed senatorial campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Jim Geraghty: Foreign Policy and the 2020 Presidential Election
Making the click-through worthwhile: Famous bass guitarist and skateboarder Beto O’Rourke assures us that he has identified the prime impediment to peace in the Middle East; a perpetually troubled city on the East Coast finds its mayor has discovered an innovative new form of corruption; and yet another not-all-that-popular Democrat convinces himself that the people are calling his name and begging him to run for president.

Beto O’Rourke: Bibi Netanyahu Is a Racist

Beto O’Rourke, who was in high school during the First Intifada, running an alternative weekly newspaper during the Second Intifada, and who was on the El Paso City Council when Bibi Netanyahu became Israeli Prime Minister for the second time, warns us that the U.S. — Israel relationship “must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist.”

If you thought the relationship between Netanyahu and Barack Obama was tense, imagine how things would be between Netanyahu and O’Rourke.

O’Rourke added, “I don’t think that Benjamin Netanyahu represents the true will of the Israeli people.” Netanyahu has won four national elections; we’ll see later this week if he can win a fifth.

As we watch the bass guitarist-skateboarder-former congressman wade into the realm of international relations, it’s worth remembering that there are two main approaches to foreign policy offered by American politicians, and neither one is guaranteed to be effective.

Man charged for posting plans on Facebook to kill Jews in mass shooting
A Washington state man was charged with two felonies for posting plans on Facebook to commit a mass shooting against Jewish targets and selfies of Nazi salutes.

Dakota Reed, 20, was arrested in December, weeks after the Anti-Defamation League tipped off the FBI about social media posts threatening to kill Jews praying in a synagogue or kids in school, the Washington-based Herald.net reported. He was not charged with a hate crime.

Reed appears to have kept up seven separate Facebook accounts under variations of the same name for his hateful messages.

“I’m shooting for 30 Jews,” read a post from Nov. 11. “No pun needed. Long ways away anyways. See you Goys.”

More than a week later he posted to the same account: “We can’t vote away what our fathers tried to, we must spill blood.”

Reed also claimed to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan and said he wanted to emulate Dylan Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine worshippers in a South Carolina church in 2015.
Maryland man accused of plotting to run van into National Harbor crowd, 'keep driving and driving and driving'
A Maryland man inspired by the Islamic State terror network allegedly planned to ram a truck into "disbelievers" at a popular tourist spot and keep "driving and driving and driving" nonstop, U.S. officials said Monday.

Rondell Henry, 28, of Germantown, was charged by federal prosecutors with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle -- but officials said more charges could follow.

"Today, the government filed a motion arguing for Henry to be detained pending trial as a flight risk and a danger to the community. Specifically, the government’s detention memo alleges that Henry, who claimed to be inspired by the ISIS terrorist organization, stole a U-Haul van with the intention of using it as a weapon against pedestrians on sidewalks within the National Harbor complex along the Potomac River," the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said.
Henry has had "hatred" toward those who don't practice Islam for two years, officials said Monday, adding that he was allegedly inspired from videos of foreign terrorists.

Henry has had "hatred" toward those who don't practice Islam for two years, officials said Monday, adding that he was allegedly inspired from videos of foreign terrorists. He allegedly planned to conduct a similar attack to the truck attack in Nice, France in 2016. Authorities say Henry admitted that he wanted to create "panic and chaos"
Group of Jewish tourists harassed at Aqaba border crossing
A group of American and Israeli tourists were humiliated in an allegedly antisemitic incident at the Aqaba border crossing between Jordan and Israel on Tuesday.

The tourists were heading to Petra when they were forced to go through humiliating security checks at the border crossing. The border crossing officials confiscated the men's kippot (religious skullcaps) and tzitzit (ritual fringes) and confiscated other Jewish religious items from the tourists, including bibles and prayer books. They even threatened the women saying they would have to undergo physical examinations.

The tourists were held for several hours until they were allowed to pass, although they were forbidden from bringing any Jewish religious items with them.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Authority Targets Students
Hamas and other Palestinian groups accused the Palestinian Authority security forces of acting with a mob mentality against university students in the West Bank. "Our people and sons in the West Bank are facing a gang in contradiction of morals, laws and national values," Hamas said in response to the crackdown on university students. The PLO's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called on the Palestinian Authority to "stop dealing with a mob mentality toward with Palestinian students."

It is ironic that Hamas is accusing its rivals in Fatah and the Palestinian Authority of acting like gangs.

This is the same Hamas that has repeatedly resorted to repressive measures, including breaking bones and shooting unarmed protesters, to silence its critics in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and the PA have been at war with each other since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip. Since then, hundreds of Palestinians, including political activists, journalists, writers, and university students, have fallen victim to the power struggle between the two groups.

The latest crackdown on university students in the West Bank is the latest sign of the mounting tensions between the two Palestinian parties. While the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are busy beating up each other's supporters, "pro-Palestinian" activists on US and Canadian university campuses are busy blaming Israel for Palestinian woes. For these alleged activists -- who are remarkably passive when it comes to truly assisting Palestinians -- their protests seem more about hating Israel than anything else. If they really cared about the Palestinians, they might stop abusing Israel long enough to notice the abuse that the Palestinian "leaders" inflict on the people under them.
Younger brother of teen Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi arrested
The younger brother and a cousin of Palestinian teen protester Ahed Tamimi, who gained worldwide attention after being jailed for assaulting Israeli soldiers, were arrested in their West Bank village.

Israeli soldiers arrested Mohammed Tamimi, 15, after raiding the family’s home in Nabi Saleh early Monday morning. The teen likely was arrested for throwing rocks at the soldiers, his father, Bassem, told The Associated Press, during the weekly demonstrations by village residents over the last decade protesting what they describe as confiscation of its lands and other issues.

Bassem Tamimi also said that his son broke his arm over the weekend while running from tear gas released by Israeli soldiers during the protests.

The teen’s cousin, Muayyid, also was arrested in a raid of his home early Monday morning. The Tamimis were among 21 Palestinians arrested in overnight raids for rioting and other disturbances, AP reported.
Hamas prisoners launch hunger strike after Israel jams cell signal
Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike on Sunday morning to protest the installation of cellphone jamming technology in some prisons that has made it impossible to use smuggled cellphones in the wards.

The leaders of the strike have threatened to escalate the situation by refusing water if their demands for better incarceration conditions and the removal of the signal jamming systems are not met within seven days.

The strikers are led by a few of the most notorious terrorists Israel has ever put behind bars, according to a Channel 13 news report. They include Arman Mahamed, who is serving 36 life sentences for the Cafe Moment suicide bombing in central Jerusalem on March 9, 2002, which killed 11 and wounded 54; Hassan Salame, who is serving 84 life sentences for the bus 18 bombings in Jerusalem in 1996; and Muammar Abu Sheikh, who is serving 29 life sentences for his role in the bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya on Passover Eve, March 27, 2002, which killed 30 and left 140 wounded.

The strike comes a day after Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees the prison system, denied there was a worsening of living conditions for the prisoners in recent months, but defended the jamming policy.
MEMRI: Jordanian Columnist: Leaders Of Democracies Have Never Been Held To Account For Their War Crimes, While Nazis Were Convicted Based On Exaggerated Claims Of The Jews
In his November 5, 2018 column in the Jordanian government daily Al-Rai, Ruman Haddad slammed the democratic system, calling it "criminal and inhuman" and stating that democratic countries were responsible for war crimes and the killing of innocents more than any others. Democracy, he added, was supposed to ensure that officials be held accountable for their actions, but the U.S., France and Britain have been involved in deadly wars in which they used unconventional weapons, including atomic bombs – yet none of their leaders were ever held accountable for this. Conversely, Nazi officers who survived World War II were tried for war crimes based on the "exaggerated" claims of the Jews.

The following are translated excerpts from his column:
"I am not dazzled by democracy, despite what its advocates disseminate about it, and I am convinced that mankind today is in need of new systems of government, which address the great changes that have occurred in all aspects of life. My certainty about this is enhanced daily by the feebleness of the defenders of democracy, who [respond to] every crisis that exposes a flaw in democracy by placing the blame on people or on the implementation and never on the idea [of democracy itself]. Democracy, as it is presented in theory, is a regime that places authority in the hands of the citizens, to ensure a government that works for the benefit of the people. As part of this, citizens are granted the opportunity to choose who will rule over them, which provides everyone with freedom and equality. Some insist on claiming that a democratic regime enables to hold negligent officials to account, which means governability and accountability – two necessary factors in the creation of a modern country.

"[But] in practice, when I review history and leaf through its pages I can't find [evidence] that any [part of] this theory is realized, for it is democratic countries which are most involved in wars, in the killing of innocents, and in the destruction of cities and villages. To avoid being accused of making unfounded accusations, let me take you on a journey through the history of wars. For example, Adolf Hitler is considered a war criminal and an enemy of mankind due to the claim of the Jews that he burned them. They exaggerated the number of those who were burned in the Holocaust, and the Nazi officers who survived were tried in the Nuremberg courts as war criminals. On the other hand, [U.S.] President Franklin Roosevelt is considered a world hero and a defender of the free world and of democracy, and certainly not a war criminal, although he gave the order to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki with two atom bombs [sic],[2] which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians – women, elderly and children – and he was never held to account for this.
Qatar: 'A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing'
Bankrolling Islamism in Europe

"We have been reporting Doha's ideological and religious penetration for years. In the form of investments and financial operations, Qatar extends its proselytizing network every day, with serious damage to European societies..." — Souad Sbai, the Moroccan-born president of Italy's Averroes Studies Center.

Qatar has been funding mega-mosques across Europe. Qatar's goal is apparently to Islamicize the European diaspora.

"[Qatar's] English-language stations produce slick propaganda against Qatar's enemies, dressed up in Western liberal rhetoric. Al Jazeera's latest venture – its social media channel, AJ+ – is aimed at young, progressive Americans. Its documentaries on the evils of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Trump administration are sandwiched between glowing coverage of transgender rights campaigns and emotional appeals for the plight of asylum seekers on America's southern border – seemingly incongruous topics for a broadcaster controlled by a Wahhabi regime... Qatar is now the largest foreign donor to American universities." — Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum.
American Designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is Iran's primary tool to implement it's global terrorist campaign. The IRGC directs Iran's proxies across the region, including terror organizations Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Israel welcomes the United States' decision to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.

Netanyahu says Trump designated Iran Guards a terror group at his request
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday thanked US President Donald Trump for designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, claiming the dramatic move to further isolate Tehran came at his request.

In a tweet, Netanyahu said that labeling the Islamic Republic’s elite military force a terror group was “keeping the world safe from Iranian aggression and terrorism.”

In a subsequent Hebrew tweet, Netanyahu said the move “serves the interests of our countries and of countries in the region,” and warmly thanked the US leader for “acceding to another one of my important requests.”

“We will continue to work together in every way against the Iranian regime that threatens the State of Israel, the United States, and world peace,” he added.

Trump officially designated the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization earlier in the day, in a move that Israel has long pushed for and that ramps up the administration’s pressure against Tehran.

Trump said his administration’s “unprecedented” designation “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”
Iran tries to make IRGC terrorist designation about Israel
The media experts who help assist Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif decided that the best narrative for Iran, in the wake of the US designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, was to blame Israel. Blaming Israel and Netanyahu specifically for the listing has now been Zarif’s main talking point within the last day.

This is part of a larger Iranian regime narrative that sought to link the IRGC listing to US support for Israel, trying to play into western criticism of Israel by pretending that the IRGC issue is solely an Israel issue, as opposed to linking it to the wider US-Iran tensions in the region.

Zarif tweeted that the IRGC listing announced on Monday was “another misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu. Another dangerous US misadventure in the region.” This seeks to paint the US administration as not only beholden to Israel, but particularly to Netanyahu. Zarif and his advisors know that in the US and the West there is criticism of Netanyahu and especially the Trump-Netanyahu relationship. This seeks to tap into recent controversies in the US painting the US policies or officials as being “loyal” to a foreign power and doing Israel’s bidding. This kind of undercurrent of antisemitism has sought to imply that US policy is guided by Israel. This whisper campaign has gone on for decades, but it gained strength during the Bush era when the US was accused of going to war in Iraq to help Israel.

Even though these conspiracies are inaccurate, they have a hold over commentators and even some policymakers and former officials in the US and West. For instance Valerie Plame, a former CIA agent, tweeted a link to an article from September 2017 titled ‘America’s Jews are driving America’s wars.’ More recently Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has come under criticism for arguing that some think it is “okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” implying that some in the US have allegiance to Israel. Other commentaries seek to paint the Trump administration as particularly beholden to Netanyahu, even claiming the decision to recognize the Golan was timed to coincide with Israel’s elections.
Saudi Arabia hails US terror blacklisting of Iran Guard
Riyadh welcomed Tuesday Washington’s blacklisting of Tehran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, state media reported.

“The US decision (follows) the kingdom’s repeated demands to the international community to address the issue of Iranian-backed terrorism,” the official Saudi Press Agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying.

The source welcomed the US move as a “practical and serious step” in curbing what the kingdom describes as Iranian meddling in the region.

Washington’s decision on Monday marks the first time that the US has branded an arm of a foreign government a terrorist group.
NYTs: Iran Should Reconcile with America
These days, Iran's ruling theocracy is best known for oppression, corruption and mismanagement at home, and ghastly sectarian warfare abroad. On Monday, in an effort to further raise the pressures on Iran's regime from outside, we designated its Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization.

Within Iran's own borders, the '79 revolution is largely a spent force. Mosque attendance has collapsed. The country's brain drain and capital flight is constant. Iran has a vibrant society that wants to be integrated with, not isolated from, other nations.

Before the revolution, America was Iran's second-largest trading partner. It should be again. With open relations between the U.S. and Iran, together we could reduce Tehran's severe air pollution, build homes that withstand earthquakes in Kermanshah, deliver new medical treatments to veterans of the Iran-Iraq war, and restore water to Lake Urmia and the Zayandeh River. But in order to make this possible, the regime must first decide that it wants to be a normal country and not a revolutionary cause.

It is time for nations to restore basic demands on Iran to behave like a normal, peaceful nation: end the pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop testing ballistic missiles, stop sponsoring terrorist proxies and halt the arbitrary detention of dual citizens. If nations choose not to hold this regime to the same standard as all other nations, we must expect more of the same violence abroad and oppression at home.
U.S. Still Permitting Iran to Engage in Sensitive Nuke Work at Onetime Weapons Sites
The State Department has quietly permitted Tehran to continue conducting sensitive nuclear work, including at a secretive military site that once housed the Islamic Republic's weapons program, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's demand that all such work cease last year.

These waivers, which have allowed Iran to legally continue its lucrative oil trade and nuclear research, are viewed as undermining President Donald Trump's efforts to strangle the Iranian regime and topple its economy. While the White House has pressed forward with numerous efforts on this front, the State Department has taken a softer approach by continuing to issue waivers that insiders view as part of a larger effort by some administration officials to keep the landmark nuclear deal on life support throughout Trump's presidency.

The White House and State Department have repeatedly been at odds over just how far to go in penalizing Iran, causing friction within the administration among Iran hawks who see an opportunity to possibly collapse the hardline ruling regime, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Free Beacon has reported multiple times during the past months on efforts by some State Department officials to continue issuing oil waivers to a range of countries that purchase Iranian crude. However, the issue of these separate but similar nuclear waivers is stirring yet another battle not only within the administration, but among Iran hawks on Capitol Hill who want the White House to follow through on its promise to fully sanction Tehran.
Iranian Lawmakers Open Parliament with ‘Death to America’ Chants
Iranian lawmakers opened a new session of the country’s Parliament on Tuesday with chants of “Death to America.” The taunt was meant as a response to the White House’s designation of Iran’s elite paramilitary Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council also registered its displeasure by calling the U.S. Central Command, known as CENTCOM, and all its forces as “terrorists”, and labeling the U.S. a “supporter of terrorism.”

Iran’s parliament then played its part, with members dressed in the IRGC uniform as they chanted:

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