Monday, July 22, 2019

From Ian:

Israel Is the One Stabilizing Element in the Middle East
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interviewed by Boaz Bismuth and Amnon Lord

Asked about how he views the period since he first became prime minister in 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We discovered that we can leverage the basic characteristics of this people into exceptional strength in economics, defense and security, and diplomacy. We've proved that it is possible to turn Israel from a small country in a corner of the Middle East into a central world power."

"It's obvious that the lack of stability here [in the Middle East] is the result of the struggle between the Dark Ages and modernism - between the tyranny of radical Islam and the forces of freedom. That's the most important battle. That is what is destabilizing everything."

"Standing up to the fundamentalist Islam that wants to take over first the Middle East and then the entire world [is important]. If there's one element that is stabilizing the Middle East and fighting radical Islam here, it's Israel."

"[I told Russian President Vladimir Putin] that I would have to take action in Syria, that I wasn't willing to allow Iran to bring its army to our borders. They [Iran] announce their intention of annihilating us. 'What would you do?' I asked him. I told him that I was sure he would do the same as me."

"The [2015] nuclear deal...wasn't conditional on any change in [Iran's] behavior. The argument was that if Iran received millions as a result of the sanctions being lifted, it would become a moderate state. Today, we can judge....Right now, their policy is to quietly pursue nuclear weapons while also conquering the Middle East with the money that the eased sanctions sent flooding into Iran's coffers."

"You need to increase power, not maintain it. My outlook is built on bolstering our strengths. Without strength, we won't survive. The weak don't survive. A strong people forges alliances. So from the first moment, the main question about Israel's existence was whether we would be able to develop the strengths to not only confront our enemies but also be accepted by the rest of the world. The simple fact is that what makes the world accept you is, first and foremost, your strength."
Kushner says opposition to Iran brings Israel and Arab nations closer together
In recent years, the White House has not concerned itself with the Arab world’s relationship with Israel or with curbing the actions of specific Arab nations regarding topics such as human rights or the funding of terror. But Washington has certainly factored in the collective contempt and desire among Sunni nations to reign in Iran’s mullahs and has used this to its advantage.

“Iran is an existential issue for the Arab states; the Palestinians are not,” said Eugene Kontorovich, professor at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School and director of its Center for International Law in the Middle East.

“Sunni Arab states need all the allies they can get against Iran, and Israel is one of them,” Kontorovich said. “Thus, they are no longer interested in a diplomatic solution that might endanger Israel's security.”

“The Trump administration has won vast amounts of goodwill in the (Persian) Gulf by canceling the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal,) and this is one auxiliary consequence,” Kontorovich said.

It appears Sunni states have two major goals for their own interests: to keep terrorism out of their borders, thus ensuring the survival of the current leadership; and to curb the growing influence of Iran’s Shiite hegemonic agenda.

Peace between the Israelis and Palestinians – leading to a more cohesive, secure and thriving region – would help promote the Sunni states’ goals while cutting off a crucial nucleus of business for Iran’s regime.
Khamenei: Palestinians have ‘precision missiles’ to resist US peace plan
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met Monday with a delegation from the Palestinian terror group Hamas and held talks with its deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri, who is heading the delegation.

Khamenei told the Hamas officials that supporting the Palestinians “is an ideological and religious matter” and strongly condemned the Mideast peace plan pushed by US President Donald Trump’s administration, which he said the Palestinians have “precision missiles” to resist.

“The dangerous conspiracy of the ‘Deal of the Century’ is aimed at destroying the Palestinian identity among the Palestinian public and youth,” an English statement on his website quoted him as saying.

“Confronting the Deal of the Century requires promotional, cultural, and intellectual efforts and the other method is to make the Palestinians feel advancement. Today Palestinians are equipped with precision missiles rather than stones and this means the feeling of advancement,” Khamenei added.

He also said “the return of this holy land [Israel] to the World of Islam is not a strange and unattainable matter” and called Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s goal of praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount “an absolutely practical and achievable aspiration for us.”

Al-Arouri told the Iranian leader that “we believe that based on the divine promise, Qods, and Palestine will be freed from the tyranny of the Zionists,” according to the statement from Khamenei’s office.



White House’s Kushner to Finalize Palestinian Economic Plan on Middle East Tour — Official
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will lead a US delegation on a tour of the Middle East to finalize details of his proposed $50 billion economic development plan for the Palestinians, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, an administration official said on Sunday.

Kushner, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, State Department official Brian Hook and Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz are expected to make make stops in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, the official said.

They leave late this month and return to Washington in early August.

The official said the purpose of the trip is to “continue on the momentum that was created at the workshop in Bahrain and finalize the economic portion of the plan.”

They will also discuss the possibility of locating the development fund in Bahrain, the official said.

Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the plan’s main architect, sought to build support for his ambitious economic proposals for the Palestinian territories at an international meeting in Bahrain in June.
PMW: Netanyahu is "Darkness" sending his "messengers" Trump and Kushner - song on official PA TV
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the "Darkness" that sends his "messengers" US President Donald Trump and his Senior Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner, according to a music video broadcast by official Palestinian Authority TV. PA Chairman Abbas is the "light" - literally "the Son of the Sun," - the counter force who will defeat the Darkness (Netanyahu).

Visuals of Netanyahu followed by Trump are shown while the lyrics tell of "a monster with horns dragging a tail." Abbas - the "Son of the Sun" - is instructed to "break its horn and cut off its tail":

The monster later "knocks on the door with his fangs" while a photo of Trump is shown followed by a dollar bill with his face.

Lyrics: "[Whether you] carry your weapons or not
Tomorrow a stream of the great people will roar
It will roar towards Palestine and has been singing this revolution for years...
The Darkness sends its messengers
Tell him, Son of the Sun [PA President Abbas], tell him
Tell him: Leave, O Darkness! Stop trying in every way
Monster with horns dragging a tail
Break its horn and cut off its tail!
The merchant has changed his tune
My country's ear no longer heeds him...
He knocks on the door with his fangs"
[Official PA TV, June 27, 2019; Son of the Sun song by the Alashekeen band]


Bikini-clad Hamas leader stars in campaign pushing Israeli victory
Billboards showing a photoshopped image of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sporting a green bikini bottom and a lei were put up at three heavily-trafficked locations in Tel Aviv on Monday morning.

The billboards feature a Hebrew translation of the Arabic phrase "Thanks Israel, I love you – Ismail."

The provocative campaign is the brainchild of a movement called the Israeli Victory Project, which aspires to put an end to Hamas aggression. Organizers say that the campaign was inspired by a recent visit to Iran by Hamas' military wing and receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars, which organizers say will go "to Hamas' next war on Israel."

The IVP says the campaign is designed to send political leaders the message that Israel "must move from a policy of conciliation and ineffectiveness [against Hamas] to a policy of victory." The movement is calling on Israeli leaders to use military, economic, and diplomatic means to force Hamas to accept Israel's terms, rather than "making concessions and conciliating both terrorist organizations and those who support them, and to international pressure."

"The conflict with the Palestinians and their supporters will only end when they admit their defeat and the failure of their violent resistance. Without a victory by Israel, there will be no end to the conflict," the IVP says.

EU Parliament gives platform to well-known PFLP member
The EU has allowed a well known member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to speak at the European Parliament in Brussels.

This is despite the fact that the group has been designated a terrorist organization by the EU, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and Israel.

Khaled Barakat, who is a senior member of the PFLP and a member of pro-BDS and PFLP-linked NGO Samidoun, spoke at the EU Parliament earlier this month after being invited by newly elected European Parliament Member (MEP) from Spain Manu Pineda.

Pineda himself is also a vehemently pro-BDS activist. In April 2013, he posted a picture on Facebook posing with PFLP terrorists, whose faces were covered and who were also holding large weapons, while he was visiting the Gaza Strip as an activist.

The newly elected MEP is a founding member of the Unadikum Association, which allegedly fights for Palestinian rights, but also supports violent resistance. He has also met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, proudly posting a picture together with him in November 2012.
Russia hampering Israel-Arab ties
Outwardly at least, Russia adheres to the concept that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the reason for the unrest across the Middle East. Of course, this approach raises the bar on Palestinian demands and paradoxically, makes it more difficult to foster efforts to enable normal life in the region. The approach is reminiscent to a great extent of the difficulty caused by the line adopted by former US President Barack Obama, who in a speech in Cairo, set a new level for settling the conflict: that any progress was dependent on a construction freeze beyond the Green Line. This bar, from the moment it was set, mandated the Palestinian demands as a starting point and in fact made it impossible to move toward fruitful dialogue.

This approach, now adopted by the Russians, directly harms the processes toward regulating Israel's ties with Arab and Muslim states, which are based upon common interests that are not impacted by the Palestinian nationalist idea. Russia has not sufficed with publishing its stance but has acted to openly enlist the support of prominent Arab states. So, for example, ahead of the Bahrain conference, the foreign ministers of both Russia and Egypt declared that both countries were in agreement on the need for a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue. Egypt, however, sent its representatives to Bahrain. It, along with other leading countries in the region like Saudi Arabia, have a clear interest in developing the economy of the region and the Palestinian territories in particular. Both Riyadh and Cairo are interested in containing the Palestinian issue and silencing another local focal point that is getting in the way of regional development.

Israel, of course, has an interest in refuting the perception that there is a connection between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the rest of the centers of conflict across the Middle East. Nevertheless, when it comes to Russia, Israel sees Iran and Syria as more pressing issues on its strategic agenda. Accordingly, and in light of the interests of countries like Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf states in relation to what transpires in their surroundings, Riyadh and its neighbors can take advantage of the leverage they have against the Kremlin to undermine the perception of the Palestinian issue's relevance to all developments in the Middle East.
Iran’s media spreads anti-Baha’i, anti-Israel conspiracy
Iranian media accused Baha’i religious minorities of spying and linked them to Israel, claiming a complex conspiracy that that involves “several Baha’i espionage projects that require more attention from the responsible authorities.” Iran’s current regime has a long record of suppressing Baha’i religious minorities, including the execution or hanging of up to 200 members of the community since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

FarsNews in Iran wrote an article on Monday claiming that Baha’is are spying on Iran directed from “the main center of the sect in Israel.” These kinds of articles, inciting against religious minorities, are rarely translated into English so that Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif and others can whitewash the country’s record when speaking to western audiences as he did to CNN last week. In English Iran portrays itself as a victim of western powers, however at home the narrative is different.

The report incites against Baha’i “intelligence activities and the relationship of this cult with foreigners related to Israel.” It claims that an investigation showed that the “organization in Iran, with the command of the main center of the sect in Israel, known as the Socialist Revolutionary Guard, identifies individuals and employees from different parts of the state [of Iran].”

While there are around five million Baha’is in the world, the population in Iran, where the religion was founded in the 19th century, is under siege. The Baha’i International Community says that since 2005 around 710 Baha’is have been arrested. Under President Hassan Rouhani’s recent tenure, despite claims in the West that he is “moderate” there have been “more than 26,000 pieces of anti-Baha’i propaganda” in the Iranian media.
Palestinian gets life sentence for killing soldier with stone slab last year
An Israeli military court on Sunday sentenced a Palestinian man to life in prison plus eight months for murdering an Israeli soldier in the West Bank last year, with the judge calling his worldview a “murderous ideology.”

Islam Yousef Abu Hamid — who was convicted in April — was also ordered to pay the victim’s family NIS 258,000 ($72,900) over the killing of Ronen Lubarsky, in a ruling slammed as an “embarrassment” by the victim’s family.

Lubarsky, a special forces member, was struck in the head by a stone during an arrest operation in the West Bank on May 24, 2018.

The 20-year-old Israeli sergeant — promoted posthumously to staff sergeant — died of his injuries two days later.

The stone had been thrown at him during an IDF operation to arrest Palestinians in the Al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. The camp, which is home to about 15,000 Palestinians, is often the scene of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

The object that struck him was a heavy block of granite dropped from a window on the third floor of a building.

Lubarsky’s family, as well as some politicians, decried the ruling and called for the murderer to face the death penalty.
IDF demolishes 10 East Jerusalem buildings in PA-controlled area
The Israel Defense Forces on Monday morning demolished several East Jerusalem buildings constructed near the security barrier and deemed illegal, in a move slammed as a “grave escalation” by the Palestinian Authority.

According to Channel 12 news, hundreds of police, border police officers and soldiers arrived on the scene in the area known as Wadi al-Hummus at around 4 a.m. to begin the operation, which was completed within hours.

Demolition of unauthorized Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem is not unusual. However, the demolished homes, some of which had still been under construction, are located in the Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A of the West Bank.

Israel says the 10 structures in the Sur Baher neighborhood are in an area where construction is barred because of its proximity to the security barrier. The Kan public broadcaster reported those structures contained 72 residential units.

Palestinians have charged that the security concerns are a pretext to push them out of the Jerusalem area, and say it is nearly impossible to receive construction permits from Israeli authorities, resulting in a housing shortage in Arab neighborhoods in the city.
IDF Begins Demolitions of a Dozen Palestinian Apartment Blocks
Eylon Levy speaks with Israeli-American activist, head of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions, Jeff Halper.


UN warns IDF Wadi Hummus home razings risks forced Palestinian transfer
The United Nations warned that the demolition of IDF demolition of 12 Palestinian buildings in Wadi Hummus, just outside of Jerusalem on Monday “contributes to the risk of forcible transfer.”

“The large-scale operation began in the early hours of this morning while it was still dark, forcing families out of their homes, and causing great distress among residents,” the United Nations said.

The UN said that its humanitarian partners were “poised to provide emergency response” to those who were displaced.

It rejected Israel’s security argument that the demolitions were necessary for security reasons, explaining that the International Court of Justice in 2004 found that the barrier in the West Bank was illegal.

“Had there been concrete action to ensure respect for these principles, and for international humanitarian and human rights law, generally, the people of Sur Bahir would not be experiencing the trauma they are today, and violations of their rights,” the UN said.
Israeli minister spars with EU over East Jerusalem home demolitions
The European Union on Monday urged Israel to immediately halt the razing of Palestinian homes on the edge of Jerusalem, drawing rebuke from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

Israeli forces tore down several buildings in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher that it said were constructed illegally and posed a security threat by being too close to the security barrier.

The EU criticized the demolitions as undermining hope for a lasting peace in the region.

“In line with the EU’s longstanding position, we expect the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the ongoing demolitions,” said a spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy arm, which represents the bloc’s 28 member states.

“The continuation of this policy undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace and seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States.”
Global Artists Transform Israel's Bomb Shelters
Residents in Israel's southern city of Sderot are always prepared to run to bomb shelters as the city is located not too far from the Gaza Strip. An international group of artists have decided to transform these bomb shelters to make life for these residents a little bit more colorful.


Palestinians call for ‘blacklisting’ Arab journalists for visiting Israel
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) on Monday condemned a visit to Israel by Arab journalists and called for holding them to account.

Six journalists from Iraq and Saudi Arabia arrived on Sunday via the Allenby Bridge for meetings in Israel. They are expected to tour Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Nazareth and meet with Knesset members, Foreign Ministry officials, and academics.

The Fatah-dominated syndicate denounced the visit as a blow to its “anti-normalization position.” It said the visit was also a “blessing to the occupation, which continues to shed the blood of Palestinian journalists.”

It called on the Federation of Arab Journalists and other media groups in the Arab world to “blacklist” Arab journalists who visit Israel and promote normalization with it.

The PJS claimed that the Foreign Ministry’s efforts to bring Arab journalists to Israel was a “desperate attempt to undermine the syndicate’s national position and contradicts resolutions of the Federation of Arab Journalists.”

According to the Palestinian journalists’ group, the visit by the Arab journalists to Israel “is part of a political effort in the context of Zionist-American schemes to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”


The Hamas-Iran Plan to Eliminate Israel
Has Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, finally accepted the two-state solution and abandoned its objective to destroy Israel?

The headlines in some Arab media outlets on July 20 created the impression that Hamas has changed its policy and is no longer seeking the annihilation of Israel. More remarkably, the headlines made it seem as if Hamas were presenting a new plan for peace with Israel.

Quoting statements by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, several Arab media organizations ran headlines implying that the terror group now favors the two-state solution. "Hamas does not oppose the establishment of a [Palestinian] state on the 1967 borders," the headlines shouted.

Haniyeh reportedly made his statements during a video conference interview with Turkish journalists in Istanbul. The interview was organized by a group called the Palestinian Forum for Communication and Media, which describes itself as an "independent media organization aiming to enhance coordination between Arab and international media organizations to support the Palestinian cause."

Although the initial impression created by Haniyeh's statements suggest a dramatic shift in Hamas's policy – from seeking the destruction of Israel to accepting the two-state solution – it quickly becomes clear from reading the rest of his remarks that there is no change in the terror group's strategy or ideology.

Haniyeh carefully clarified that accepting a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 "borders" does not mean that Hamas would recognize Israel's right to exist. "Hamas is not opposed to the establishment of a state on the 1967 borders, but insists on not recognizing the Israeli occupation of the rest of the Palestinian territories," the Hamas leader is quoted as telling the Turkish journalists.

Haniyeh, to his credit, was more honest that the editors who chose the misleading headlines suggesting that Hamas has accepted the two-state solution.
The Lessons of Previous Misadventures in "International Control"
And yet, though our world can’t sustain “international” control in Jerusalem, most governments still don’t accept Israeli control as the inescapable alternative. True, it’s been many decades since a UN resolution has mentioned Jerusalem as a separate entity (corpus separatum) with a special international status, but resolutions since the 1970s have persistently denounced Israel’s presence in “occupied East Jerusalem” or “occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian Authority never wavered from its position that the “two-state solution” must include a Palestinian capital in “East Jerusalem.” Even the usual capitalization of that “E” reinforces the otherwise fantastical notion that this portion of the city is already an entity rather than, like the supposed borders of Arab “Palestine” itself, a mere reminiscence of the 1948-49 battle lines.

It is not just European governments that remain entranced by this vision. In the early 1990s—as a friend in the White House told me at the time—top officials in the first Bush administration pored over maps trying to figure out plausible boundaries for a Palestinian capital to be carved out of Jerusalem. Almost three decades later, as another friend tells me, the Kushner team in the Trump White House has been puzzling over which adjacent villages might be presented as the “capital of the Palestinian state in East Jerusalem.”

I am not sure how many foreign states actually want to see the holy sites in Jerusalem under the control of a Palestinian government. To judge from past experience, such a government would likely be unstable, consumed by the need to outpace domestic challengers through demagogic gestures, and perpetually tempted to prove its power through reckless provocations. Indeed, it is notable (though rarely mentioned) that the mosques on the Temple Mount remain under the direction of a Jordanian-controlled foundation—without eliciting protest from states that ritually demand Palestinian sovereignty over “East Jerusalem.”

Over decades of intermittent peace initiatives, U.S. officials have repeatedly urged that final-status talks on Jerusalem be deferred to the last stages of negotiations. This remains good advice. If one actually thinks it plausible that Palestinian authorities and the government of Israel can agree on a mutually acceptable two-state solution, one may also imagine agreement on a formula for sharing Jerusalem. In the meantime, unless the Palestinian Authority decides to relinquish claims on eastern Jerusalem, most foreign governments will probably continue to dispute Israeli sovereignty over the whole city.

Yet that in itself, as Michel Gurfinkiel demonstrates, is no reason why they can’t also move their embassies to “Jerusalem.” The new U.S. embassy is in “West Jerusalem.” Foreign governments may call it whatever they like, but it is and always has been the capital of the state of Israel.


Tanker wars – Iran winning battles, but losing the big game - analysis
There is no question that Iran has so far gained the edge in its tanker war with Britain, the Saudis and other US allies.

But even as it has registered a series of tactical victories, it is facing a massive economic pressure campaign, as well as a steady loss of sympathy globally.

At issue is the long-term future of the economic pressure campaign, and whether diplomacy will protect or leave the Islamic Republic vulnerable to a US or Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, should they view them as getting too close to developing a nuclear weapon.

To date, Iran has gotten away with seizing large tankers from powerful countries like Britain and Saudi Arabia. Astonishingly, Britain, having succeeded in preventing the seizure of one of its ships only a short time before resorting to military escort, failed to station subsequent naval escort nearby to protect a second tanker.

Adding to confusion over the escalation, the UAE has said that Iran captured or attacked its ships, but at other times has given incoherent narratives meant to muddy the waters.

Some of this is guerrilla naval warfare tactics. Iran’s relatively weak navy cannot risk engaging in a direct confrontation. But it has many small and fast ships, and the bodies of water are so vast that it is all but impossible to patrol the entire area.
Leading Israeli Security Analyst Says Iran Is Losing Confrontation With West, Will Eventually Negotiate New Nuclear Deal
Iran, he noted, has stopped attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Yemenite militias it controls, and has done the same in Iraq. It has also pulled back on its provocations along Israel’s northern border.

In the same manner, the US has not sent the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln into the Gulf itself, and even a symbolic deployment to Saudi Arabia amounted to only 500 troops.

Moreover, channels of communication still exist between Iran and the US, which will be used to prevent unwanted escalation.

At the same time, US sanctions are having a major impact, and there is no way for the Europeans to successfully circumvent them, even if they wanted to.

As a result, said Ya’ari, “The Iranians know — and they are already stuttering in this direction — that they will have to sit at the negotiating table [for talks on] improving the nuclear agreement from 2015. This is exactly what Trump wants and in this regard the Europeans support him.”

Such a situation, Ya’ari said, is “precisely the point that Israel wants to achieve: to keep Iran bound by the restrictions imposed by the nuclear accord, while striving to fill the gaps in Obama’s agreement.”

Although it “will not be immediate, it will not be simple,” Ya’ari said, this strategy will bear fruit for both Israel and the West.
To the EU: Iran's Mullahs Will Never Be Your Friend
The extent to which the European Union is willing to go in order to appease the ruling mullahs of Iran, is unfathomable. To witness the EU siding with the fundamentalist government of Iran rather than backing its old transatlantic partner, the United States, is a shock.

Since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the flawed agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) , Iran's leaders have been consistently pushing for Europe to do more to appease them; more than it is capable of delivering.

First, the EU came up with a mechanism called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). Its purpose was to shield the Iranian government from economic sanctions, in order to assist its ruling clerics -- and Europe -- in gaining more revenues.

Then, Iran became more aggressive and breached the 300kg limit on enriched uranium, among several other malign actions (here, here and here). The increased level of enrichment was a blatant violation of Iran's agreement and contrary to the shared international desire -- except for Iran's ayatollahs -- to de-escalate regional tensions.

The Trump administration rightfully classified the development as "nuclear blackmail", an example of what seems tantamount to a scarcely concealed, increasingly desperate effort to force the Europeans into persuading the United States to lift the sanctions against it.
JCPA: Iranian Missile Batteries Bombed in Iraq
The Iraqi base hit over the weekend is relatively close to the border with Syria, and Iran may have been planning to move the ballistic missiles into Syria.

The Iraqi government has trouble standing up to Iran, which means its territory is prone to U.S. and Israeli attacks. Experience proves that Israel has excellent intelligence information on IRGC activity in Syria and Iraq that it can quickly translate into offensive operational activity.

If Israel is indeed behind the weekend attack in Iraq, it is good that it is staying silent. The Iranians and the Iraqis certainly suspect who is behind the attack. Although Israel cannot afford to stop hitting Iranian targets that are meant to help open a new front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights or Iraq, the current period is very sensitive in light of the U.S.-Iranian tensions. One can only hope that the upcoming Israeli elections will not inspire senior officials to engage in boastfulness in the media.

There is no proof that this was an Israeli attack. The message of whoever did carry out the strike in Iran, however, is that there are actors with very effective offensive military capabilities that will not accept the stationing of Iranian ballistic missiles in Iraq that endanger Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Iran has a major problem. It has been penetrated by intelligence and has a hard time concealing the IRGC’s clandestine activity in Syria and Iraq. Israel enjoys intelligence and aerial superiority to Iran in Syrian airspace and the vicinity of Syria’s border with Iraq. Iran, nevertheless, is persisting in its efforts to form a new front against Israel. Even amid Iran’s economic and diplomatic plight, its leadership retains the burning ideological hatred toward Israel, and the desire to destroy it is stronger than any other consideration. For the time being, this is not going to change, and for Israel, the north and north-eastern fronts will remain an ongoing concern.
Trump denies Iran arrested 17 people accused of being US spies
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday categorically denied that Iran had arrested 17 people whom Tehran accused of being CIA spies and had sentenced some to death, calling the reports "totally false."

"The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do," Trump wrote on Twitter.

Iran announced the arrests in state media, saying the alleged spies had been captured in the 12 months to March 2019. Such announcements are not unusual in Iran, but the timing has raised concerns that Tehran is hardening its position during the tensions with Western powers.

The announcement came after Washington said it had shot down an Iranian drone, which Tehran denied.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also cast doubt on the arrests in a television interview earlier on Monday, saying, "The Iranian regime has a long history of lying."
Iran’s Ahmadinejad to Jewish journalist: I’m not an anti-Semite
Former Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied he is an anti-Semite, called for the United States and the Islamic Republic to resolve their conflict through dialogue, and criticized Iran’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, in an interview with this reporter published Monday.

Nonetheless, Ahmadinejad did not apologize for or distance himself from his past comments questioning the Holocaust and a 2006 conference he hosted that brought Holocaust deniers to Tehran.

“Look, Trump is opposed to the government of Iran — can we say that he is anti-Muslim?” Ahmadinejad said during the interview, conducted for, and published by, The Nation magazine. The former president’s aides had refused my request that he speak directly to an Israeli publication; when in office, he had urged the demise of the Jewish state.

Continued Ahmadinejad: “The violations of the Zionist regime have been censured by the United Nations. If someone else says these things, does that make him an anti-Semite?”

“You’re Jewish and I’m Muslim, and we’re talking,” he said in the telephone interview, which was conducted in Persian. “Are we fighting? Are we at war?”

“I’m opposed to actions that violate the rights of others; it makes no difference who does them,” the former president said.








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