Monday, September 09, 2019

From Ian:

Uranium traces found in Iran warehouse flagged by Netanyahu
Traces of uranium were found in samples taken by United Nations nuclear inspectors from a Tehran facility alleged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be a “secret atomic warehouse,” according to a report Sunday.

Iran has not provided an explanation for why uranium was found at the site to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, which is investigating the facility in the Iranian capital, Reuters reported.

In a speech last year at the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu revealed the existence of the warehouse in Tehran, which he said held “massive amounts” of equipment and material that were part of a secret Iranian nuclear program.

Netanyahu called for the IAEA to inspect the facility and, in July, Israeli television reported that soil samples from the warehouse turned up “traces of radioactive material,” without specifying the type.

Citing two unnamed diplomats, Reuters reported that the material found at the site was determined to be uranium. One of the diplomats, however, said the uranium was not enriched enough to be used for a nuclear bomb.

“There are lots of possible explanations” for why uranium traces were found there, the diplomat said.

The IAEA has been seeking answers from Tehran for two months, a senior diplomat said, with no success.
i24NEWS exclusive: Images show Iran covered up nuclear activity
New images showing the extent of the Iranian regime's efforts to cover up its use of a storage facility for nuclear materials has been released exclusively to i24NEWS.

The images show massive cement blocks used to hide radioactive material from being discovered at the site, just outside Tehran.

The new evidence ostensibly provides verification of claims made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year at the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu's remarks were made months after an Israeli clandestine operation obtained a trove of highly sensitive documentation from the Islamic republic outlining parts of its opaque atomic program, supposedly shelved after world powers and Iran signed the 2015 nuclear accords.

On Sunday, the UN's nuclear watchdog found traces of uranium at the facility Netanyahu once described as a 'secret atomic warehouse,' Reuters reported Sunday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating the origin of the nuclear materials and asked Tehran to explain the samples, diplomats told Reuters.
EXCLUSIVE: Images on Iran's Efforts to Cover Nuclear Facility
New images showing the extent of the Iranian regime's efforts to cover up its use of a storage facility for nuclear materials has been released exclusively to i24NEWS.


UN atomic watchdog confirms Iran installing advanced centrifuges
The UN’s nuclear watchdog confirmed Monday that Iran was installing advanced centrifuges as the troubled 2015 deal with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program threatens to fall apart.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement that on September 7 it had “verified that the following centrifuges were either installed or being installed…: 22 IR-4, one IR-5, 30 IR-6 and three IR-6s.”

The IAEA’s confirmation comes a day after Tehran hit out at European powers, saying they had left Iran little option but to scale back its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The IAEA added in its statement that the centrifuges had been installed at Iran’s Natanz facility and said “all of the installed centrifuges had been prepared for testing with UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), although none of them were being tested with UF6 on 7 and 8 September 2019.”

“In addition, in a letter to the Agency dated 8 September, Iran informed the Agency that it would reinstall the piping at two R&D lines to accommodate a cascade of 164 IR-4 centrifuges and a cascade of 164 IR-2m centrifuges,” the agency’s statement said.

Iran has said that notwithstanding its reduction of commitments under the JCPOA, it will continue to allow access to IAEA inspectors who monitor its nuclear program.

After the IAEA assessment was released on Monday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on the remaining signatories of the 2015 deal to follow the US example by abandoning the accord and re-imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.



Israel Cannot Protect Itself with Airpower Alone
In an in-depth report on the Jewish state’s grand strategy, the scholars at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security argue that “the most important challenge facing any government in Israel is nurturing cohesion in Israeli society.” They also caution that, at present, “high-risk military operations, dicey diplomatic gambles, and ambitious territorial changes” are unlikely to be worth the dangers that accompany them. In particular, “unilateral Israeli withdrawals in the West Bank will not enhance Israel’s security nor improve its international standing.”

So far as military preparedness is concerned, the report criticizes the IDF’s current doctrine of relying on airpower and precision missiles combined with extensive intelligence, which has failed to bring any decisive victories. While the patient containment of Hamas may still be the best strategy for dealing with Gaza, Israel will have to return to its older doctrine—sending ground troops deep into enemy territory—to deal with the graver threats posed by Iran and its proxies, not to mention the unforeseeable dangers that could arise in a notoriously unstable region:

In most clashes [with Hizballah and Iranian forces in Syria], a deleterious dynamic has repeated itself. At first, Israel successfully launches a salvo of firepower based on accurate intelligence gathered over a long period of time; then follows a decline in the quality of targeting intelligence with an attendant reduction in the number of targets that justify a strike; a recovery by the enemy and a continuation of its attacks against Israel; Israeli frustration, leading to attacks on targets with high collateral damage or on useless targets; an immense effort to acquire new quality targets, which can lead to an occasional success but does not alter the general picture; a prolonged war campaign, leading to public anger and frustration; and a limited ground-forces maneuver, not sufficiently effective to bring the enemy to the point of collapse.

Consequently, a return to combat along more traditional lines is inevitable in cases where a ground campaign, aggressively pursued, will render better results than air activity. In such situations it is necessary to maneuver into enemy territory to locate and destroy enemy forces—or to capture them, thus undermining the myth of the self-sacrificing jihadist “resistance.” . . . Only a determined ground effort can break the spirit of the enemy. . . .


JCPA: Countdown Begins toward a Battle between Israel and Hizbullah
Various experts have expressed admiration toward Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah. Senior military officers in uniform and retirement, researchers, and journalists analyzing every gesture, smile, outburst of anger and criticism, shout or laugh and attributing meaning to it all assert that Nasrallah is reliable. He makes promises and delivers. He is faithful to his patrons in Tehran despite Lebanon’s attempts to restrain him.

The picture is more complicated because of the bottom line: it can be said with certainty that Nasrallah is an actor and a liar who has turned manipulation into an art.

Nasrallah closely follows everything that is published about him and Hizbullah in Israel and primarily abroad. He attributes great importance to the words and commentaries of senior Israeli officers both present and past. The interpretation that he gives these reports is that Israel is afraid of Hizbullah’s military might and especially the precision missiles in Hizbullah’s arsenal with their ability to strike deep inside Israel and at strategic installations.

Nasrallah is particularly following those “experts” who provide details and outline the enormity of Hizbullah’s military threat, primarily those who mention the names of the most endangered places and sites inside Israel. Senior security officials assert that in the next war there will be no boundaries between the military front and the civilian home front due to the impressively accurate Hizbullah missiles, which blur this differentiation. The more details provided in Israel on these matters, the more Nasrallah derives more encouragement and pleasure. He believes that Israeli society is weak and unprepared for war, and it will do anything to avoid a confrontation with Hizbullah.
JCPA: Are Israel and Hizbullah on the Verge of a Military Confrontation?
Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hizbullah, has managed to penetrate and inject Hizbullah into the Lebanese nation-state because of its inherent weakness and sectarian paralysis. He has exploited Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon as well as the Second Lebanese War to present Hizbullah as the alternative shield to the Lebanese national army that has been relegated to military parades and domestic police duties.

But its six-year involvement in the Syrian civil war to quell a Sunni-led rebellion at the direction of its Iranian patrons cost Hizbullah more than 2,000 fatalities, untold injuries, and irreparable damage to its image as the "Resistance Movement" against Israel.

In the Golan Heights, Arab sources indicate that Hizbullah has positioned intelligence units along the border with Israel, in some places deployed less than 200 meters from UN peacekeepers.
IDF Simulates War With Hezbollah, Iran-Backed Forces in 4-Day Drill
The Israel Defense Forces launched a wide-ranging military exercise in northern Israel on Sunday, simulating a war against Hezbollah and other Iran-backed forces.

The four-day drill, known as “Keystone,” mainly focuses on the IDF’s command level and will involve officers from the air force, navy, ground forces, intelligence, logistics and cyber divisions.

The drill was set to begin earlier in the month, but was delayed due to heightened tensions with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border.

“As part of the exercise, various scenarios will be simulated, with a focus on collaboration, multi-system planning and emergency operations,” the IDF said in a statement. “The goal of the exercise is improving the performance of the [IDF] General Staff and the various headquarters in war.”

The exercise is scheduled to run until Wednesday.
Ex-Hezbollah official found dead in Beirut apartment — state media
A former Hezbollah official was found dead in his Beirut apartment on Sunday, state media reported.

Local police opened an investigation into the circumstances of Ali Hatoum’s death and ordered that an autopsy be conducted, Lebanon’s National News Agency said.

Hatoum was formerly a regional commander of the terror group in the Beirut region, but had not been in a senior position for several years.

Limited verifiable details were immediately available, but “informed sources” told the an-Nahar news site that it was unlikely Hatoum had been assassinated.
The North Korean-Israeli Shadow War
It was largely by chance that Israel scored one of its greatest ever intelligence coups in 2007.

At the time, Mossad was running surveillance on the director general of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission, a pudgy, bespectacled bureaucrat named Ibrahim Othman. Othman was visiting Vienna that winter to attend meetings of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Mossad sought to learn more about his secretive activities. The Israelis hacked the Syrian’s personal computer after he left his hotel for meetings in the Austrian capital.

The Israeli government was shocked by what Mossad found on Othman’s laptop. A trove of downloaded photos detailed a box-like building being constructed on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria. Israeli and American spy satellites had detected the mysterious structure during earlier scans of Syria, but derived no special significance to it. Othman’s photos, however, revealed the building, located near a Syrian trading town called Al Kibar, to be a virtual replica of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, a plutonium-producing facility that the U.S. viewed as a virtual bomb-making factory. The facility had no real civilian applications. The Israelis’ concern about the North Korea link was only amplified by a photo Othman stored on his laptop. It showed him standing arm-in-arm with an Asian man whom the Mossad identified as Chon Chibu, a North Korean nuclear scientist who worked at the Yongbyon facility. Chon had previously taken part in disarmament talks with the U.S. and other world powers.

While the discovery of the Al Kibar nuclear reactor sparked panic among Israeli and U.S. officials, the fact that North Korea appeared to be taking an active role in providing lethal weapons expertise to one of Israel’s enemies could not have come as a surprise. In fact, while North Korea is not often thought of in the ranks of Israel’s enemies or, for that matter, as a player in Middle Eastern affairs, the so-called Hermit Kingdom in Pyongyang has been actively bolstering states hostile to Israel, and facilitating attacks on the Jewish state, since the 1960s. Despite occasional attempts to broker a truce between the two nations, the Israeli-North Korean relationship has been defined for decades by covert hostility and proxy conflict—a shadow war between the two nations. The pattern continues through the present day in North Korea’s alliance with Iran and Syria.
Negotiations with the Taliban Have Convinced the Terrorists They Can Win
Last week, Zalmay Khalilzad, the American envoy in Afghanistan, told reporters that his negotiating team was on the cusp of an agreement with the Taliban, and outlined its terms. The U.S., according to Khalilzad, planned to remove its troops from the country in exchange for the Taliban’s promise not to allow it to be used by al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Soon thereafter, a series of attacks by the Taliban, which left an American soldier among the dead, drove Washington to suspend negotiations. Michael Rubin argues that no agreement along the proposed lines will bring peace:

President Donald Trump and Khalilzad [appeared] to have embraced the John Kerry school of diplomacy, in which desperation for a deal substitutes for bringing leverage to bear. . . . A more fundamental problem is Pakistan. The Taliban would not exist without Pakistani support. . . . [T]he Taliban negotiators were based in Qatar and answered to leadership in [the Pakistani city of] Quetta which in turn took direction from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence in Islamabad. . . . Most Afghans see the Taliban as foreign puppets . . . willing to rape and murder.

The Taliban [also] continue to embrace and incorporate al-Qaeda’s philosophy and personnel. . . . Nor does what happen in Afghanistan necessarily stay in Afghanistan. [During a discussion of U.S. foreign policy] at the University of Hargeisa in Somaliland earlier this year, students and faculty asked repeatedly whether negotiations with the Taliban would mean that negotiations with Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, would be next. Even if that is not the plan, every militant group now understands that the way to advance its interests is not through the ballot box but through violence and terrorism. That is a legacy to the Taliban deal which will not be easy to overcome.
Pompeo: The Taliban’s Position Is ‘About to Get Worse’ After Aborted Talks
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "conditions are about to get worse" for the Taliban in Afghanistan after President Donald Trump called off a meeting between Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, Taliban leaders, and the United States.

"We're going to make sure that everyone in the region understands that America will always protect its national security interests," he said.

Pompeo emphasized that the objective was to get a deal that would have both sides stand back and reduce violence, and that would require the Taliban to make a public announcement that it's breaking ties with al Qaeda.

"We're not going to withdraw our forces without making sure we achieve President Trump's twin objectives," Pompeo said. "Any reduction in our forces will be based on actual conditions, not commitments, actual conditions on the ground."

"If you're the Taliban, conditions have been worsening. They're about to get worse," he added.

Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd asked if this means the United States would increase military activity against the Taliban. Pompeo warned that no one "should underestimate President Trump's commitment" to achieving his goals in the country, and he informed Todd that U.S. forces recently killed more than 1,000 Taliban fighters.
German mainstream parties vote for neo-Nazi as community leader
In a local election in the German state of Hesse last week, mainstream parties, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and her coalition partner the Social Democratic Party (SPD), voted for a neo-Nazi to serve as a community representative.

Stefan Jagsch is a member of the neo-Nazi party National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) that supports a boycott of the Jewish state. German media outlets on the weekend reported on the CDU, SPD and the Free Democratic Party politicians voting for Jagsch. He will represent the community Altenstadt, a municipality in the district Wetteraukreis, with about 2,500 citizens.

Seven members of the mainstream parties, who were present on Thursday at the vote, supported Jagsch. Two members of the CDU and SPD were not present at the vote. Jagsch will be the first point of contact for citizens with grievances and concerns.

The district chairman of the CDU Wetterau, Lucia Puttrich, and the chairman of the CDU Altenstadt, Sven Müller-Winter, said in a joint statement that the choice of a politician of this party was “unbelievable and unacceptable for the CDU.” SPD politicians also criticized the vote on Twitter.

The outrage over Jagsch’s vote comes amid a Friday scandal in Berlin with the city’s Social Democratic mayor. The mayor, Michael Mueller, welcomed his Iranian counterpart from Tehran, Pirouz Hanachi, who has participated in the antisemitic Al-Quds rally in Tehran calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Joint efforts or similar activities among mainstream German parties and far-left and far-right parties typically merge in attacking Israel.

The Green Party, some of whose founders had roots in Nazism, has been engulfed in neo-Nazi scandals over the years.
Sudan’s new FM open to relations with Israel, if Palestinian conflict resolved
Newly appointed Sudanese Foreign Minister Asma Abdullah suggested on Sunday that Khartoum would be interested in establishing relations with Israel if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, and said that most Arab states maintain some degree of ties with Israel.

Sudan on Sunday swore in its first cabinet, including Abdullah, since the ouster of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in April following mass pro-democracy protests.

Asked by the Qatari satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera in a televised interview whether Sudan and Israel would establish ties, Abdullah, the first female Sudanese foreign minister, said: “Now is not the time.”

Pressed by the interviewer whether she was saying Sudan does not in principle have a problem with establishing ties with Israel and could make such a move in the future, she stuttered: “Of course, in principle… I mean, if you look at the Arab states…Most of them have relations in one way or another. Sudan is one of the Arab states, but now is not the time.”

The interviewer then told her that her statement “appears to be dangerous,” noting that some states oppose ties with Israel because the Palestinians have not achieved their “interests and rights.”
Airstrikes in eastern Syria said to kill 18 pro-Iran fighters
Airstrikes hit positions of pro-Iranian forces and allied militias in eastern Syria overnight, killing 18 fighters, a war monitor said Monday.

It was not clear who carried out the raids in the region of Albu Kamal near the border with Iraq, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based Observatory, which has a vast network of contacts across Syria, said “18 fighters were killed, but their nationalities have not yet been determined.”

“Warplanes whose identity is not known so far targeted vehicles and positions of the Iranian forces and militias loyal to them,” the Observatory said.

The blasts targeted a base belonging to the Popular Mobilization Force, according to the Saudi Al Arabiya network, citing sources in the area.

Al Arabiya said the base, in the al-Boukamal area, also housed forces from the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.

Since mid-July, five arms depots and training camps belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces have been targeted in apparent attacks.
IDF says pro-Iran militia fired rockets at Israel, amid reports of Syria strike
An Iran-backed militia in Syria fired several rockets toward northern Israel in the predawn hours of Monday morning, but they fell short of the border, the army said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the attack was carried out by operatives of a Shiite militia operating under the command of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.

The IDF said the rockets were fired from the suburbs outside Damascus.

The alleged attack came amid reports of a series of airstrikes against a pro-Iranian militia in eastern Syria, which killed 18 fighters, according to a Britain-based war monitor.

In a statement, the IDF said it “holds the Syrian regime responsible for every action that takes place in Syria.”

In a tweet, the Israeli army’s Arabic-language spokesperson warned Syria’s Assad regime that it would “pay the price” for allowing Iran and its proxies to use Syria as a base of operations against the Jewish state, either by turning a blind eye to their actions or by actively cooperating with them.
Israel Says Rockets Fired From Syria but Fell Short
Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias fired rockets at Israel from Syria on Monday but they fell short, the Israeli military said.

“A number of rockets were launched by Shi’ite militias operating under the command of the Iranian Quds Force from Syrian territory near Damascus,” the military said, referring to the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

“All failed to hit Israeli territory.”
IDF denies Hezbollah shot down surveillance drone
The IDF denied claims that Hezbollah shot down a drone in the pre-dawn hours of Monday over south Lebanon, stating that a small surveillance drone crashed.

According to the military, the UAV fell in southern Lebanon while performing reconnaissance operations. There was no concern that the Lebanese Shi’ite group got hold of any intelligence from the drone.

Hezbollah, meanwhile said they had "confronted" the Israel drone with "appropriate weapons" as it was heading towards the town of Ramiyeh. The wreckage is now in the hands of Hezbollah's fighters, the Iranian-backed terrorist group said in a statement.

The drone came down outside the village where Hezbollah had dug their flagship 1-km.-long cross-border tunnel that infiltrated several dozen meters into northern Israel, close to the communities of Zarit and Shetula.
High Court okays withholding bodies of Palestinian terrorists for leverage
The High Court of Justice on Monday ruled that the military has the legal right to hold on to the bodies of slain terrorists for use as leverage in future negotiations with Palestinians.

The decision, adopted after a majority vote by an expanded panel of seven justices, reverses a 2017 High Court ruling on the matter and came in response to a petition by the families of six terrorists whose bodies are currently in the government’s possession.

The justices in their decision determined that withholding terrorists’ bodies falls within the purview of national security, and said the practice was not illegal under international law governing armed conflict.

Israeli security forces regularly take custody of terrorists’ bodies. Sometimes the bodies are later returned to the assailants’ families for burial. At other times they are withheld — to prevent celebratory funerals in attackers’ hometowns, or with a view to using using them in negotiations to retrieve the bodies of Israeli soldiers held by terror groups.

In its December 2017 decision, the court did not outright forbid Israel from holding terrorists’ bodies but said it could not be done as long as there was no law in place dictating how it is managed.

“The State of Israel, as a nation of laws, cannot hold on to corpses for the purposes of negotiations at a time when there is no specific and explicit law that allows it do so,” the justices wrote at the time.
'Ban Iran, PA from the Olympics'
The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) today called on Iran and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to be banned from the Olympics.
High ranking Iranian officials reportedly instructed Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei to throw his semi-final match at the recent 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo in order to ensure that he would not have to face an Israeli competitor in the final. To his credit, Mollaei fled to Germany and stated that his days of competing for Iran are over.

The head of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer, is reported to have threatened to ban Iran from taking part in the Olympics as a result of the incident. Vizer reportedly told Iran that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach supported his proposed ban.

The PA has repeatedly failed to condemn the massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics Games in Munich, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes in a brutal terrorist attack. In fact, Fatah, which is headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has praised the attack and called it a “heroic operation.” In addition, Abbas dedicated a building at Jericho’s Istiqlal University in honor of Khalil Al-Wazir Abu Jihad, a terrorist who was the chief architect behind the massacre in Munich. Abbas himself reportedly played a role in financing the deadly Olympics attack.




Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Arabs Hate Palestinians
You simply cannot burn pictures of the Saudi crown prince one day and rush to Riyadh to seek money the next. You cannot shout slogans against the Egyptian president one day and go to Cairo to seek political backing the next.

Remarkably, Turki al-Hamad, a Saudi writer, did what even some Western countries refuse to do: he dared to condemn Hamas and other Gaza-based groups for firing rockets at Israel.

"Palestinians bring disaster to anyone who hosts them. Jordan hosted them, and there was Black September; Lebanon hosted them, and there was a civil war there; Kuwait hosted them, and they turned into Saddam Hussein's soldiers. Now they are using their podiums to curse us." — Mohammed al-Shaikh, Saudi author, RT Arabic, August 13, 2019.

Many people in the Arab countries are now saying that it is high time for the Palestinians to start looking after their own interests and thinking of a better future for their children.... The Arabs seem to be saying to the Palestinians: "We want to march forward; you can continue to march backward for as long as you wish."

"We should not be ashamed to establish relations with Israel." — Ahmad al-Jaralah, a leading Kuwaiti newspaper editor, arabi21.com, July 1, 2019.
PMW: Palestinian women prefer to marry wounded terrorists who receive a PA salary, rather than jobless university grads
Wounded Palestinian terrorists are popular as marriage material because of the lifetime monthly financial reward the Palestinian Authority is paying them.

On a program on official Palestinian Authority TV about young Palestinian women leaving the Gaza Strip due to the difficult financial situation, the TV host explained that young Palestinian women prefer marrying "wounded" men because they get a steady monthly salary from the PA, rather than marrying healthy university graduates who are unemployed:

Official PA TV host: "The young women have actually begun to prefer young men who, let's say, are wounded or have a wound, because in the end they have a monthly salary from the [PA] Ministry of Social Affairs, from the prisoners' institution, or from the institution for the wounded. For [the women], they [the wounded] are preferable to young men who have studied at university or have no kind of [physical] problems and therefore have no source of income."
[Official PA TV, Sea Breeze, July 20, 2019]

A statement by former PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami seems to underscore this tendency. Al-Ajrami stated that Palestinians in Gaza "prefer to be wounded" during confrontations with Israel at the security fence rather than "remain unemployed and without a livelihood" - implying that the wounded become eligible for the lifetime monthly financial rewards the PA pays to imprisoned and wounded terrorists as well as to the families of dead terrorists - the so-called "Martyrs":

"In the Gaza strip a marked decline can be seen in the participation in the weekly marches (refers to the violent March of Return riots in Gaza; see note below -Ed.). This is despite the fact that participation there has been reinforced by free transports, sandwiches, and sometimes by the participants' desire to break free of the misery in which they are living as a result of the siege and tragic situation under which the Gaza Strip residents are buckling, and their preference to be wounded rather than remain unemployed and without a livelihood."
[Al-Ayyam, Aug. 7, 2019]


Gazan's death abroad shines light on middle-class exodus
With a family of five, a two-story home and a pharmacy, Tamer al-Sultan had a life many in the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip would envy, but he still felt trapped.

Fed up with the heavy-handed rule of Hamas, al-Sultan braved a treacherous journey in hopes of starting a new life in the West – only to die along the way. His death has drawn attention to the growing exodus of middle-class Gazans who can no longer bear to live in the isolated coastal territory.

It has also struck a nerve among many Palestinians because he appears to have fled persecution by Hamas, rather than the territory's dire economic conditions following a 12-year blockade by Israel and Egypt, imposed when the Islamic terrorist group seized power.

Al-Sultan had vented about Hamas' rule on social media and joined rare protests against a Hamas tax hike in March that were quickly and violently suppressed. Amin Abed, a friend who was arrested with al-Sultan on three occasions over the protests, said they were doused with cold water and beaten with plastic whips.

So al-Sultan left, following in the footsteps of thousands of other educated, middle-class Palestinians. The exodus has gathered pace in recent years, raising fears that Gaza could lose its doctors, lawyers, teachers and thinkers, putting the Palestinians' dream of establishing a prosperous independent state in even greater peril.
Iran Is Trying to Blackmail the World for Billions
Iran is once again trying to blackmail the world for billions of dollars, after announcing that it is beginning work to develop centrifuges to accelerate uranium enrichment. The world must not give in to Iran. While the Islamic Republic claims it is only interested in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes, its behavior points to its desire to keep its options open to develop atomic bombs. Those bombs would pose a threat to Israel, other U.S. allies in the Middle East, and eventually Europe and the U.S. itself.

The U.S. and Europe would be making a mistake of historic proportions if they surrender to the latest Iranian demand for a $15 billion line of credit aimed at offsetting the impact of crippling U.S. economic sanctions. Instead, they should stand firm and make clear that Iran will receive sanctions relief only if and when it negotiates a comprehensive new nuclear deal that meets the 12 conditions stipulated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a May 2018 address. Premature concessions would merely incentivize Iran to engage in further nuclear blackmail.

Iran's covert atomic archive, which Israel seized from a Tehran warehouse last year, discloses a range of sites, equipment and activity previously unknown to the International Atomic Energy Agency, thereby raising the possibility that illicit conduct continues today without the agency's knowledge.

Should the world capitulate now to Tehran's threats, it would make productive negotiations less likely. After all, Iran would have no incentive to compromise on its nuclear program if it faces no meaningful economic penalties for its misbehavior. Ultimately, Iran will only negotiate a stronger nuclear deal if the costs of its nuclear misconduct far exceed the benefits.

The U.S. and Europe should, therefore, double down on economic sanctions against Iran. In the absence of such measures, Iran will likely continue its efforts to blackmail the international community, pocketing concessions without altering the malign behavior that spurred the crisis in the first place. These sanctions should remain in place until Iran concludes a new agreement ensuring, in a verifiable manner, that it has abandoned its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Iran Ready to "Wipe the Zionist Regime off the Map"
If, for any reason, the Israeli government ever issued a declaration, about destroying Iran "in half an hour," as Iran recently said about Israel, we would probably never hear the end of the criticism from all parts of the world. The European Union would likely take even more measures to counter Israel. There would doubtless be an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to hurl slanders against Israel, followed by countries pledging solidarity and support for Iran.

Amazingly, Israel has been bullied and criticized by the same international community for merely taking precautionary measures to defend its citizens and territorial integrity, as any country would.

For some reason, the Islamic Republic is getting a free pass for constantly threatening to wipe out Israel off the map. This lopsided injustice is either a case of selective amnesia or outrageous double standards by the international community.... The international community... needs to stop its double standards by taking measures against Iran's vows to annihilate Israel.

Fortunately, since President Donald J. Trump took office, America's Iran policy has been heading in the right direction. Steadily escalating economic sanctions have inflicted serious damage on Iran's economy. Maximum pressure is the right policy to adopt to bridle this predatory regime.
Forget it. The Iranian regime won't ever be 'normal'
Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, recently said that America wants Iran to be a “normal” country. Normal? That’s a vain hope. The Iranian regime is essentially abnormal. As a state it’s aggressively exceptional. It expresses, by word and action, a hope for more power. It has a nuclear arms program. It supports two terrorist proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. It operates an ominous foreign policy on the back of a run-down economy. We outsiders can observe it through scattered glimpses.

Hezbollah, which plays a political role in Lebanon, essentially operates as an owned-and-operated-Iranian subsidiary. Recently, presumably following Iran’s orders, Hezbollah fired two anti-tank missiles into Israeli territory, striking military targets but causing no injuries or casualties. Israel responded with a counter-strike on Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. Bahrain and the UAE protested Hezbollah’s aggression. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed those protests.

“They condemned the helplessness of Lebanon, which allows the Hezbollah terrorist organization to operate from its territory against Israel. The Arab world also understands that the Iranian aggression endangers not only Israel, but the entire region.”

The tyranny of Iran and its extreme punishments extend even to harshly dictating the garments of women. A week ago an Iranian court sentenced a woman to 24 years imprisonment for refusing the hijab during a women’s equality protest. Saba Kord Afshari, 20, was charged with “spreading corruption and prostitution by taking off her hijab and walking without a veil.” This was “spreading propaganda against the state” according to the Iran Human Rights Monitor.
Iranian Regime's terrorist proxies destabilizing the region
The Iranian Regime is using proxies in Lebanon , Syria, Yemen and Iraq to destabilize the Middle East, one attack at a time. Iran heavily relies on its largest proxy, Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah, to spread violence and war in the region. In the past three decades, Hezbollah has killed and injured thousands of Israelis in rocket attacks, suicide bombings and kidnappings. The Iranian proxy's ongoing activities in Lebanon and around the world endanger Lebanese and Israeli civilians and pose a grave threat to regional stability.




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