Tuesday, August 06, 2019

From Ian:

An Israeli Victory Is Necessary if Peace Is to Be Achieved
A major component of US strategy to help Israel gain the victory necessary for peace should be a campaign of “assertive truth-telling.” Such truth-telling by Israel, the US, and eventually the European democracies can be the key to an ultimate Israeli victory because Palestinian policy is based, both internally and externally, on demonstrable falsehoods.

Usually, a country has to commit troops or get the support of other countries, or at least spend a large amount of money, if it is to achieve victory. But the US can help Israel achieve victory without any of these. A major part of Israel’s problem is that most of the diplomatic world accepts key falsehoods about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab world. By simply and boldly stating the truth, the US can end the reign of the now-dominant falsehoods and advance an Israeli victory. And the US has a unique ability to bring diplomatic attention to the error of these falsehoods.

The US can sharply strengthen Israel’s position in the world by explaining three facts so insistently that their truth can no longer be ignored:
1. There has never been any “Palestinian territory” anywhere. That being the case, there cannot now be “occupied Palestinian territory.” Nor can Israel have stolen “Palestinian land.”
2. There were Jewish kingdoms in much of what is referred to as “Palestine” for hundreds of years before the birth of Islam. The Palestinian belief that the Jewish people are European colonialists invading the area with no historic claim or right is entirely false.
3. There are not millions of Palestinian “refugees.” A just peace in the area does not require that Israel take in so many Palestinians that it cannot continue to exist as a democratic Jewish state.

Instead, peace requires that the Arab world let the descendants of refugees from the Israeli War of Independence be settled and live normal lives, rather than continue to treat them as stateless refugees in order to preserve their status as a threat to Israel.

While Israel has expressed these truths frequently, its diplomatic policy has been to put more emphasis on trying to appease the consensus by showing a willingness to negotiate, limiting settlement in the West Bank, and limiting criticism of the Palestinians and assertions of Israeli rights — as if those were useful ways to advance negotiations. It is time for Israel to challenge the international diplomatic assumptions more vigorously by assertive truth-telling.
Arabs Say One Thing in Public and Another Behind Closed Doors
According to Jonathan Spyer, director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, "It's very important for Western policymakers to be aware that leaderships and elites throughout the Arab world today find a great deal of common ground with Israel on the issues of the Iranian and Sunni Islamist threats."

"To an increasing extent, they are also weary of Palestinian intransigence and see Israel as a model for successful development. Much of that, however, cannot be said openly by these leaders because this does not reflect the views of parts of the societies of the leaders in question, where Islamist and/or Arab nationalist sentiments continue to hold sway."

Despite some public lip service to the Palestinian cause, the Sunni Arab world knows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at most a "side issue."

An Israeli military intelligence expert who had just returned from private meetings in Europe with Arab and EU officials told me that, behind closed doors, their analysis of the Middle East, including Iran, is often light years away from the public rhetoric offered by European and Arab Sunni government officials to their citizens.

The conflicts of the Middle East are primarily tribal and religious in nature, and the primary allegiance is not to modern states artificially constructed by the West 100 years ago. Insiders know that if there were no Israel, the Shiites would still hate the Sunnis, Iran would still aspire to hegemony, Turkey would still be an unreliable NATO ally, and Libya and Yemen would still be chaotic.

Some European officials, who vociferously defend the Iran nuclear agreement publicly, privately acknowledge the dangers of the Iranian revolutionary theocracy that acts against their values.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas, Islamic Jihad: "The Circle of Fire is Expanding"
It seems, then, that for Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the ceasefire understandings, reached under the auspices of Egypt and the UN, are meant to give the Gaza-based groups a chance to continue building their military capabilities without having to worry about Israeli retaliatory measures.

Iranian media quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as expressing satisfaction over the "progress" the Palestinians have made in the past few years. The "progress" Khamenei is talking about is not related to the building of a new hospital or school or a medical breakthrough in the Gaza Strip. Instead, the "progress" the Palestinians have achieved -- according to Iran's Supreme Leader -- is that "while the Palestinians used to fight [Israel] with rocks, today they possess precise rockets."

The Egyptian and UN mediators, in failing to call out the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad for their deception and conflicting messages, are permitting the two groups to deploy the ceasefire with Israel as a cover to prepare for the next war.

The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their patrons in Tehran... are dead-set on inflicting as much damage on Israel as possible. As per standard operating procedure, the biggest losers of all in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip will be the Palestinians.



End the occupation (of Palestine) – a response
‘Ending the Occupation” has been one of the most successful propaganda campaigns since it was invented nearly 50 years ago. This is because:

1) It is directed against the State of Israel, and by extension, Jews;
2) It is supported by much of the international community and many anti-Israeli NGOs;
3) It was promoted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a private Swiss NGO with UN status, which arbitrarily ruled that Israel’s control of the territories it conquered in the 1967 Six Day War violated the Fourth Geneva Convention and, therefore, are a “violation of international law.”

“Ending the Occupation” and granting autonomy to Arab residents were the primary reasons why Israel agreed to the Oslo Accords and withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and it became an essential part of various “peace plans,” including the “Two-State-Solution.”

In America, anti-Israel groups have made the issue part of the political discourse, allying with left-wing and Muslim politicians who characterize “the occupation” as “illegal,” “racist,” “immoral” and a “violation of human rights.” Those who denounce Israel for its “injustice” toward Arabs, moreover, claim to have an objective basis: Israel opposes granting Arab Palestinians a state and exercises security control in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) which it does not claim as part of its sovereign territory.

Unexamined, however, is the nature of the Palestinian Authority that rules over most Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. The PA is a corrupt, incompetent and violent dictatorship run by the PLO/Fatah, Hamas and Islamic jihad gangs that engage in incitement and terrorism. Their primary goal is to eliminate Israel. The proposed Palestinian state would be an extension of what now exists.

By focusing only on “ending the occupation,” without examining the reasons for Israel’s refusal to accept an Arab Palestinian state and the probable consequences of giving in to these demands, anti-Israel activists have diverted attention from the real problems: the threat to Israel and the danger of a failed state.
Encouraging Palestinians to swim uphill
Khalidi inadvertently admits that the Palestinian economy consists almost exclusively of handouts from the world, especially the United States and Israel. Cash installments to the PA are used to pay everyone from terrorists to counterterrorists. Israel collects taxes for the Palestinians and supplies most of their electricity and water. Many of the real job opportunities for Palestinians who reside in Judea and Samaria, the so-called “West Bank,” are provided by Israeli companies. Three-quarters of the payroll taxes withheld from these workers are sent straight to the PA.

In fact, Palestinian society has chosen to abandon any kind of normal economy. In Gaza, they destroyed thousands of greenhouses left behind by Israelis who were evicted in 2005. It seems they have only mastered the construction techniques necessary to create underground tunnels into Israel, and are only interested in the kind of entrepreneurial genius that weaponizes the mundane, like incendiary kites and balloons used to start fires in Israel.

Khalidi closes his article by returning to the Curzon/Balfour analogy, pronouncing that the days of colonialism are over. Kushner “and his Israeli allies,” he proclaims, “are swimming against the tide of history.” Khalidi has gotten this entirely wrong. Until they acknowledge the reality of their situation as the losers of a war, it is the Palestinians who are swimming against the tide of history. In fact from his comfortable post at Columbia University, Professor Rashid Khalidi of the Center for Palestine Studies is urging them to swim uphill.

So long as they are led by fools who never miss a meal, whose electricity never goes out and whose bank accounts are in the black, Palestinians will remain stateless, continuing to turn down offers of a state, as they did in 1947, 2000 and 2008. And so long as the legions of equally comfortable academics encourage their rejectionism, the Palestinians will likely press on, refusing to recognize their defeat and renounce violence.

By continuing to push for a Palestine “from the river to the sea” and inculcating that unrealistic dream into the next generation (and the one after that ad infinitum), the Palestinians are like the Japanese soldiers stranded on remote islands, still fighting after years of having lost World War II.


Foreign minister says he’s working toward open ties with Gulf ‘frenemies’
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Tuesday that promoting Israel’s rapprochement with the Arab world is his top priority, adding that it was realistic to expect formal peace deals with moderate Sunni Gulf states within a few years.

“My goal, with the full backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is to work toward an overt normalization, to extend it and turn it public, and to get to the signing of diplomatic [peace] agreements with the Gulf states. This is the challenge; this is the goal,” he said.

Noting Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, Katz (Likud) said it was “realistic” to expect full normalization with the Gulf states “in the coming years,” even in the absence of a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

“We don’t have border disputes. We don’t have any other disputes,” he said. Israel and the Arab world have different views on the Palestinian issue, but these arguments should not stand in the way of a wider Arab-Israel detente, he said.
Why the US cares about the Middle East
For some US presidents, the Middle East issue and the quest for peace in the Middle East became their whale, much as with Ahab in Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. For others, it turned into their windmill, as in Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. When you think that the leader who visited the Clinton White House more than any other leader – not just any other Middle Eastern leader – was Yasser Arafat, it tells you a lot.

American presidents want to leave an imprint – a strong footprint in history not just a simple foot note in history – and they are consumed by the legacy historians will assign to them. Bringing peace to the Middle East, solving the intractable problem that has confused and derailed and frustrated so many of their predecessors would insure them a strong place in the annals of world history.

But idealism and self-motivation aside, sometimes problems are not ready to be solved. And sometimes, the involved parties don’t want their problems solved.

The US loves an underdog. After all, that’s how the United States began. That love is a double-edged sword, and Israel has felt the impact of both sides of it. During Israel’s fledgling years, the US supported the image of tiny Israel struggling against a sea of enemies. But Israel not only survived, Israel thrives, and now the imagery is reversed and Palestinians take the underdog position in many American eyes.

Donald Trump has his eye on history, his mind on oil economics and his heart in Israel.

Much has changed since the days of the Barbary pirates, but I have a feeling that the issues that motivated Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe continue to motivate today’s president of the United States. And I hope that future US presidents will continue to feel and behave the same way. “Peace in the Middle East” is still an ideal and far from a reality.
Trump’s Middle East Plan Undermines The Palestinian Authority’s Stranglehold On Palestinians’ Future
The Trump administration’s presentation of an economic plan — rather than a political plan — for the Palestinians was generally mocked or dismissed. As it percolates, however, it appears the administration, as is its habit, was reading trends. The formulation takes an axe to the notion that all plans, politics, money, and political benefits have to be filtered through the “Sole Legitimate Representative of the Palestinian People” — i.e., the PLO or its successor, the Palestinian Authority (PA).

This plan, unlike then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s idea to funnel $6 billion in "investment" through PA strongman Mahmoud Abbas, acknowledges that the PA is a terrible steward of its people and their lives. Inviting individual Palestinian businessmen — even if they didn’t show up — and Arab state representatives and businessmen, instead of the PA, may have evinced proper judgment.

In a recent poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion, published by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, only about one-third of respondents supported the a priori rejection of President Trump’s plan by PA officials. And 86% of respondents in Gaza, along with more than 60% of respondents in Jerusalem and the West Bank, favored Arab government participation in the process. The president himself did not poll well, indicating that those polled differentiated between the individual and the process.

It was the Arab League in 1974 that anointed the PLO as the so-called “sole legitimate representative.” By giving the PLO indivisible authority, it made Palestinians an indivisible unit. “Groupspeak,” as always, is a huge disservice to individual people.
Tracks for regional peace - Regional Landbridge & hub initiative
Israeli Foreign Minister Katz’s vision for a connected Middle East, where game-changing transportation and economic incentives build stability and peace.


Israel advances plans for over 2,300 settlement homes, most deep in West Bank
The Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing settlement construction has advanced plans for over 2,300 West Bank homes.

During sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee cleared 1,466 homes through an early planning stage while 838 homes received final approval for construction throughout the West Bank.

The majority of the homes advanced will be located deep in the West Bank, beyond the so-called settlement blocs.

The batch of approvals followed the security cabinet last month okaying a plan to grant 715 building permits for Palestinians in Israel-controlled Area C in the West Bank, where for decades only several dozen homes have been green-lighted for construction. Due to the political ramifications of the approval, several ministers insisted it be conditioned on the parallel granting of 6,000 building permits for Israeli settlers.
Ex-spy Pollard pleads for Netanyahu to convince Trump to ease his parole terms
Former American spy Jonathan Pollard has made a public appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene on his behalf and urge US President Donald Trump to commute his parole so he can care for his sick wife.

Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, told Channel 12 news that his wife Esther had recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer for the third time.

“It’s a matter of life and death, it’s a very human issue, it’s a crisis for my wife and me,” he said in the prime-time interview that aired Monday.

“I can’t take care of my wife, I’m not mobile. If my wife needs something in the middle of the night, I can’t help her,” Pollard said. “Esther has been fighting for my life for 30 years. Now it’s my turn.”

“I asked Netanyahu to personally contact President Trump and request relief on my terms of release,” he said in the interview conducted in his New York home. “I’m confident and hopeful that Netanyahu will make this call.”
88 US Senators Call on Poland to Pay Holocaust Victims for Property Stolen by Nazis
A bipartisan group of 88 US senators signed a letter on Monday to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking him to “act boldly and with urgency to help Poland resolve this issue comprehensively” of compensating Holocaust victims whose property was stolen by German Nazis.

Crediting Pompeo with raising the issue in a statement in February about the matter, the senators said they were “deeply troubled” with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki responding that the issue has been “resolved.”

“Now is the time, while the last Holocaust survivors are still alive, to back up our words with meaningful action,” wrote the senators. “We encourage you to pursue bold initiatives to help Poland to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) did not sign the letter.

JNS has reached out to those senators for comment.

The letter came less than a month ahead of US President Donald Trump’s planned visit to Poland on Sept. 1 to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. It would be Trump’s second visit to Poland since July 2017.
Shin Bet busts Hamas cell planning Jerusalem bombing attack
The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday said it thwarted plans by Hamas members from Hebron to conduct a bombing attack in Jerusalem earlier this summer, retrieving the three-kilogram (6.6 pounds) explosive device they intended to use.

The Shin Bet said the cell, along with others arrested by Israeli forces in recent months, had been directed to carry out attacks against Israeli and Palestinian Authority targets by Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip.

“The operatives in the West Bank were instructed to form cells in order to carry out kidnappings, shootings and stabbings, purchase weaponry, and find and recruit additional operatives for terrorist activities,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The security service did not elaborate on the details of the planned Jerusalem bombing.

A member of the cell planning the Jerusalem bombing, university student Tamer Rajah Rajbi, was arrested in Hebron in June, leading to additional arrests of other Hamas operatives, including other students, the security service said.

Details of the case were censored until Tuesday, after Rajbi’s indictment the day before. Other members of the cell were indicted in recent weeks.


Israel’s Netanyahu Expresses Solidarity With Egyptian People After Deadly Cairo Car Bomb
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned on Monday an attack in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in which 20 people were killed.

“Last night, terrorists detonated a car bomb near a hospital in central Cairo, killing 20 and wounding dozens of innocent Egyptians,” the Israeli leader said. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the innocent victims, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”

“We stand by the Egyptian people in their battle against terrorism,” Netanyahu emphasized.

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to ink a peace deal with Israel (as part of which the Sinai Peninsula — which had been taken control of by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War — was given back), though the relationship has at times been strained over the years, particularly when there have been outbursts of violence in the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ties have steadily improved since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power in Cairo in 2013, after ousting his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Guide raps Jordan’s ‘humiliating’ treatment of Israelis booted from Aaron’s Tomb
An Israeli tour organizer lambasted Jordanian authorities over their treatment of Israelis visiting Jordan last week, which he described as “incredibly humiliating” and “demeaning.”

Roni Ayalon has led Israeli groups to Aaron’s Tomb — on a mountaintop in a remote part of Petra — for the past five years, on behalf of Ashira, an organization that spreads Hasidic Judaism. He said that Jordanian authorities mistreated the 250 Israeli tourists he brought to Jordan last Wednesday and Thursday.

“It started at the border when they began confiscating yarmulkes and head coverings,” Ayalon said in a phone call on Sunday. “They then told us we cannot pray anywhere in Jordan. They said even if we are alone in the middle of the desert, we cannot pray.”

Ayalon said he had planned to bring the Israelis to Aaron’s Tomb to mark the anniversary of the biblical and quranic prophet’s death, but Jordanian police officers accompanying him and the Israelis strongly opposed the idea, and encouraged the group to stick to the other stops on its itinerary, including Wadi Rum and the central parts of the Petra archaeological city.

“They really did not want us to go to Aaron’s Tomb. They even canceled jeeps we ordered to take us there on Thursday,” he said. “We still wanted to go and found Bedouins who agreed to drive us close by.”

While some Jews believe Aaron was buried at the mountaintop site in Petra, others have expressed doubt that his tomb is located there. Muslims also revere Aaron and consider him to be a prophet.
Katz to UAE official: Erdogan hates Israel, relatives benefit from trade
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who last month said he is against anyone “who is on the side of Israel,” may have relatives benefiting financially from trade with the Jewish state, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Monday.

Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Katz spoke briefly on camera about meetings he had with a senior UAE official in June while attending a UN meeting in Abu Dhabi.

Katz related that when talking about the need for closer cooperation between Israel and the Persian Gulf, he brought up the example of Erdogan as a case where it is still possible to do business with someone you disagree with.

“We don’t like him, nor does he like us – and they [in the Persian Gulf] also don’t like him, because the Muslim Brotherhood, in its extreme version in Turkey and Qatar, threaten them no less than Iran,” Katz said.

There is clear hostility between Turkey and Israel, Katz said, “but the trade continues to grow, and I said that Erdgoan – perhaps even some of his family is involved in bringing trucks to the Haifa Port, and then on to you [in the Gulf].”

Every day, ferries loaded in Turkey with trucks laden with Turkish goods land in Haifa, and then drive overland to the Allenby Bridge, across Jordan and to the Persian Gulf countries. Since the Syrian Civil War, this has become a key transport route for Turkish goods going to markets in Arab countries in the Gulf.
Palestinians divided over PA’s anti-crime campaign
Amid growing scenes of lawlessness and chaos in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority security forces on Sunday launched a security crackdown on Palestinians suspected of involvement in criminal activities.

The crackdown is focused on Palestinian neighborhoods and towns south of Hebron, which are located in Areas B and C of the West Bank.

According to the Oslo Accords, Area B is administered by both the PA and Israel, while Area C is exclusively controlled by Israel.

A PA security official told The Jerusalem Post that the crackdown on suspected criminals in the two areas was being carried out in coordination with the IDF.

The official said that more than 30 suspects were arrested in the Hebron area during the security operation in the past 24 hours. The PA security forces were still searching for another 40 suspects in the towns and villages of Yatta, Dhahiriya, Si’ir and Bet Umar, he added.
Iran said increasing Hamas funding to $30m per month, wants intel on Israel

Iran has agreed to massively increase its monthly payments to Palestinian terror group Hamas in exchange for intelligence on Israeli missile capabilities, an Israeli television network reported Monday.

The Islamic Republic is a longtime financial supporter of Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip and is committed to Israel’s destruction.

In a recent meeting in Tehran between nine senior Hamas officials and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran expressed willingness to raise its monthly financial backing to the terror group to an unprecedented $30 million per month, Channel 12 reported, citing an unnamed Arab source.

That will represent a massive increase in Iranian support for the Gaza rulers. A report by the Ynet news site from August 2018, citing Palestinian sources, said Iran’s payments to Hamas at the time amounted to $70 million per year (less than $6 million per month).

The meeting, which took place two weeks ago, was attended by Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy chief of the Hamas politburo.
Weekly Gaza border protests called off due to Muslim holiday
Organizers of the weekly protests at the Gaza border have canceled Friday’s demonstrations due to the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, a Hamas-affiliated newspaper reported Monday.

“The National Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege decided that events this week will be limited to performing Eid al-Adha prayers in the Malaka camp east of Gaza City and the Return camp east of Khan Younis,” Al-Resalah reported on Monday.

It said the committee decided not to hold the weekly rallies “to ease the situation for citizens and allow them the opportunity to prepare for the blessed holiday,” which begins on Sunday.

The announcement comes days after a flareup of violence broke several weeks of relative calm along the Israel-Gaza border.

On Thursday, the IDF said troops shot and killed an armed Palestinian man who had crossed the Gaza perimeter fence near Khan Younis and fired on soldiers, wounding three servicemen.


Hamas will never have its way
When Hamas-led rioters in Gaza raise the Nazi flag, they expose their true intention - to annihilate the Jewish State. But Hamas will never have its way. Speak up against violence and hatred - Share this!


PreOccupiedTerritory: IDF To Solve Gaza Sewage Crisis By Turning Hamas Tunnels Into Cesspools (satire)
A protracted ecological and health hazard may soon find resolution, Israeli military sources disclosed today, a resolution that involves redirecting the isolated coastal strip’s waste water from pumping untreated into the Mediterranean, instead sending it into the maze of underground attack, smuggling, and logistical passages that crisscross the territory.

Ministry of Defense spokesmen reveled today that in the next anticipated flareup of large-scale fighting with the Islamist movement Hamas – which, along with several smaller militant allies governs Gaza – the army will take ambitious measures to stop raw sewage from flowing into the sea by directing it to a more appropriate destination, mainly Hamas’s numerous tunnels. The spokesmen declined to specify whether the tunnels will be cleared of Hamas personnel beforehand.

“The sewage crisis poses a public heath hazard for the people of the Gaza Strip,” explained ministry representative Michal Biyuv. “Unfortunately for them, Hamas prefers to keep them suffering, as Palestinian pain is the currency of their movement. Supplies that can repair, replace, or upgrade the territory’s sewage system instead serve as components for rockets or other weaponry, and the risks of disease mount. It appears to be only a matter of time before the next outbreak of hostilities, and one of Israel’s goals in the course of any such operation will include redesigning Gaza’s sewage infrastructure to fill Hamas’s tunnels with the outflow.”
MEMRI: Indonesia's Growing Engagement With The Afghan Taliban
For more than a year, Indonesia, which is the largest Islamic country and is often overlooked due to the West's focus on the Arab world, has sought an international role, notably through mediation efforts involving the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban organization that ruled Kabul from 1996 to 2001. This paper examines the recent trajectory of the relationship between Indonesia and the Afghan Taliban, not between Indonesia and Afghanistan.

Deputy Taliban Leader Mullah Baradar Akhund (second from left) at a meeting hosted by Majlis-e-Ulama of Indonesia.

On July 26, 2019, Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, announced that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban, was leading an eight-member delegation from their Qatar-based Political Office for a meeting with Indonesian leaders.[1] The spokesman said that the trip's focus was "on building good political relations" between Afghanistan and Indonesia and to achieve "peace and cooperation for future Afghanistan."[2]

Countries that have been active regarding the Taliban in recent years include: the U.S., Qatar, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Germany, Norway, China, Uzbekistan, Japan, and Indonesia. The terror group acquired diplomatic legitimacy mainly due to its direct talks with the U.S. in Doha, Qatar. The legitimacy accorded by the U.S.-Taliban talks has helped these countries, including Indonesia, to stop viewing the Islamic Emirate as a jihadi terror organization.
Hezbollah drug dealers preying on Syrian youth, rebels warn
The civil war in Syria has led to the rapid disintegration of societal mores and law and order, and there are those who have rushed to fill the void.

Media outlets identified with rebels in the country revealed on Monday that members of a Hezbollah-aligned militia were caught by residents selling drugs to high-school students in Souk Wadi Barada, a Syrian village west of Damascus.

According to the reports, residents are furious that military intelligence officials and militia members regularly selling drugs, manufactured in Lebanon, to local youths in order to generate income.

The drugs are brought into Syria by members of Hezbollah's drug network, which smuggles drugs into other countries as well.

Ever since the civil war broke out in 2011, many of the Syrian recruits working for the regime have either not been paid or have only had their salaries paid in part. As a result, many have turned to the drug trade in an effort to supplement their lost income.

"Members of the militia come with hashish and uppers and offer them to students," one local described the situation. "Many of the youths have experienced trauma and difficulties because of the war, and using drugs to escape all that is easy for them."


UK joins US in Gulf mission after Iran taunts American allies
Britain said Monday it will join forces with the United States to protect merchant vessels in the Gulf amid heightened tensions with Iran, after Tehran taunted Washington that its allies were too “ashamed” to join the mission.

Britain’s decision to form the joint maritime taskforce with the United States marks a departure in policy under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after efforts under his predecessor Theresa May to form a European-led grouping failed.

It follows a spate of incidents — including the seizure of ships — between Iran and Western powers, in particular Britain and the US, centered on the vital Strait of Hormuz thoroughfare.

“The UK is determined to ensure her shipping is protected from unlawful threats, and for that reason we have today joined the new maritime security mission in the Gulf,” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement.

The announcement from Britain’s defense ministry did not detail which, if any, other countries would be joining the new naval coalition.
Iran unveils precision-guided missiles
Iran has unveiled three new precision-guided missiles on Tuesday amid tensions between Iran and the US and European countries in the Strait of Hormuz.

The new air-to-air missiles revealed by Tehran are called the “Yasin” and the “Balaban,” as well as a new series of the “Qaem” missile, and were developed jointly by the Iranian Defense Ministry and Sa Iran (Iran Electronics Industries).

According to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, the Yasin is a smart guided missile with folding wings that can be fired from a range of 50 km. (30 miles) of its target from manned or unmanned aircraft.

The Balaban smart bomb is guided by hybrid inertial navigation system (INS)/Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance and sensors to boost its precision capabilities and is equipped with folding wings and can be mounted under an aircraft.

The Qaem optic smart bomb meanwhile is a heat-seeking missile equipped with heat and cylinder seekers that allow the bomb to hit within 50 cm. of a target. Similar to the Balaban, it can be installed on various kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles as fighter jets and helicopters.






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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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