Thursday, September 19, 2019

From Ian:

MEMRI: No Principles, No Dignity, No Power, No Deterrence
The 9/14 attacks, correctly referred to by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo as "an act of war", is a harsh humiliating blow dealt to the U.S., signaling an American multilevel failure:

First, there was a failure of deterrence. The Iranians took a calculated risk and were proven correct. They view themselves the military regional equals of the US and via their proxies even beyond the region.

American military officials openly betray their fear of Iranian power and retaliatory capability on CENTCOM targets and they thus make Trump's boast that the US is the world's strongest military power, empty posturing In fact it is Iran that is actually deterring the U.S. from any retaliation. Iran relies on its proven ability to act in the local theater while its results have a global ripple effect.

Secondly, it was a failure of U.S. intelligence (military, NSA, CIA and others). Apparently, there was no early warning about an operation that must have had dozens of parties engaged in the decision process, the secret planning and the preparations. Since May 2019, MEMRI has issued several strategic warnings about the Iranian threats to carry out such attacks, based on open Iranian sources.

Thirdly, the successful Iranian attack represented an American technological failure, as not a single cruise missile or drone was intercepted. Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif ridiculed the U.S., tweeting "Perhaps [the US is] embarrassed that $100s of blns of its arms didn't intercept Yemeni fire".

Fourthly, and most disturbingly, it is a case of political failure - no one in the U.S. administration expected such a bold direct Iranian attack. True, Iran has resorted to proxies to afford it deniability, but now the Iranian leadership has realistically gauged American hesitancy and conflict aversion and believed that Iran could risk making a direct attack, discounting the possibility of strong American retaliation. Considering the global effect of this bold attack, so far, the calculated risk has proven to be a sound bet.
Noah Rothman: No, We Shouldn’t Let Saudi Arabia ‘Fight Its Own Wars’
The principle of reciprocity would logically limit Saudi strikes to the targets responsible for the attack on the Aramco plant in Abqaiq. A tailored response that would be seen as proportionate and, therefore, not worth risking a broader conflict over would be limited to the bases and infrastructure north of the Arabian Peninsula from which the cruise missiles and drones that struck the Saudi refinery over the weekend originated. But Riyadh’s options are not—and, perhaps, should not—be so limited.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force soldiers and brass are spread out across the Middle East, and their locations are reportedly known to American officials. Regular Iranian military outposts are in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria, too. Hitting these locations outside Iranian borders would rob Tehran of the claim that its territorial sovereignty was violated, but such an operation would also validate the claim that the Saudis are executing a region-wide strike on the sources of Shiite political authority. That claim could fast become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

These pitfalls are not unknown to American military planners, and the risk these scenarios present arguably outweigh the rewards. In the end, a mission designed to reestablish deterrence and restore balance to the relationship between the Middle East’s two competing regional hegemons could have the precise opposite effect. If such an option is being seriously considered by the president, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there will be no U.S.-led military response, much less a U.S.-supported military response from one or more of its allies. And that could be disastrous.

Iran’s aggressive behavior follows a clear pattern of escalation. It has executed sophisticated covert operations targeting the global oil supply by disabling and hijacking ships in the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz. It has destroyed a $120 million American aerial surveillance drone operating above international waters. And now, it has executed an elaborate assault on a Saudi refinery. Iran is behaving rationally by testing the limits of provocation as a tool of statecraft. Its strategic objective is to stoke anxieties among America’s Middle Eastern and European allies and, ultimately, erode global will to maintain the present suffocating sanctions regime. Eventually, Iran is likely to miscalculate, executing a bloody attack that demands a disproportionate response from the United States. This is an outcome that American policymakers are right to avoid, but not at any cost.

It would be a shame to see Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran derailed by a limited retaliatory strike on Iranian targets, but the alternatives are intolerable. Unfortunately, the Trump administration doesn’t seem to see it that way.
A U.S.-Israeli Defense Pact: How to Ensure That Its Advantages Outweigh Its Disadvantages
The idea of a defense pact between Israel and the U.S. has already been considered several times and rejected. Both sides are cautious about making commitments that would limit their freedom of action and require them to act militarily in contexts that are not viewed as vital by their respective populations.

Israel has reserved the right of nonintervention in conflicts that do not directly affect Israel, preserving its independent decision-making when it comes to using its power, and, above all, upholding the principle that Israel should be able to defend itself by itself.

To date, Israel's expectations of the U.S. in the security domain have gone unfulfilled in a number of cases. According to unwritten understandings, Israel is to deal with threats within its own immediate environment while relying on U.S. assistance in intelligence, equipment, and resources, and the U.S. is supposed to prevent, with Israeli help, the emergence of strategic threats to Israel and to the U.S. from the second and the third tier.

At several critical junctures the U.S. has decided to prefer other interests over Israel's security needs, allowed the threats to its security to intensify, and forced it to stretch its capabilities to the limit, with Israel devoting huge budgets to its defense.

Nevertheless, a U.S.-Israeli defense pact could help promote the common goal of deterring Iran and curbing its activity by making it clear that aggression against Israel is tantamount to aggression against the U.S. and would prompt harsh American countermeasures.

Such a pact must preserve both sides' independence of decision-making in case of disagreement about a joint action; reinforce the principle that Israel must continue to be capable of defending itself by itself, to the extent possible; and it must not put new limits on Israel's ability to develop ties with other important states such as China and Russia.



Understanding Israel’s Latest Election Results
Writing yesterday morning, with most but not all of the ballots counted and the results not yet final, Liel Leibovitz examines the results of Israel’s recent election:

Blue and White, the center-left party, . . . has failed miserably—in April or now—to propose a solid agenda or a sweeping vision for Israel’s future. At its best, it reminded Israelis that it was the only credible alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu, while implicitly promising to pursue all of the policies that had worked so well for him. . . . In his years in office, Netanyahu was responsible for real and impressive achievements, from forging strong diplomatic ties with India, Brazil, and other nations formerly reluctant to embrace the Jewish state, to keeping Israelis safe and their economy booming.

The Joint List, [a collection of Arab parties that appears to have come in third and is thus] the biggest winner of this election cycle, is as diverse as the Israeli Arab population it represents: some of its candidates are committed Communists, others are Islamists, and more yet are hard-edged nationalists, which makes it hard to pin down on any one side of the political spectrum. Nor is the party really a member of any bloc, as it’s highly unlikely that any mainstream Zionist politician would ever agree to form a coalition with a fiercely anti-Zionist Arab party. . . .

When Israelis vote, they vote because what’s at stake . . . is life and death. The issues Israelis face today are the same they faced yesterday, beginning with Iran, Hizballah, and Hamas. The left continues to offer no real alternatives, nor is it ready to reckon with the spectacular failure of the Oslo Accords. If you want to understand Israeli society, consider the following number: 103. That, most likely, is the number of Knesset seats, out of a possible 120, that will go to parties . . . that support more or less the same military, diplomatic, and economic agendas. Israelis stand united even if their politicians do not.
Ben Shapiro: What Will Happen With Israel's Election?


Jpost Editorial: National unity
Netanyahu’s goal remains building a coalition with Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yamina but without Blue and White, even if it means bringing in the left-wing Labor-Gesher alliance.

“We need a strong government, a stable government, a Zionist government – a government that is committed to Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said. “There will not be and there cannot be a government that leans on Arab, anti-Zionist parties.”

It is a sad indictment of the current political situation that Netanyahu rejects Arab parties with impunity in the same way that Liberman and Gantz reject haredi ones. This is untenable prejudice on both sides, particularly in a Jewish state that prides itself on its democratic values.

Much could depend on President Reuven Rivlin, who has promised the public that he will do all he can to prevent calling a third election in 2019. Can Rivlin convince Netanyahu and Gantz to lock heads and hammer out a national unity deal? And if they both refuse or fail to garner a majority, will he choose an alternative leader?

In the interests of Israel and all its citizens, we urge the president to promote the establishment of a national unity government. There is too much at stake for the country facing security threats from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, the diplomatic challenge of the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” soon to be unveiled, as well as pressing socioeconomic challenges that need to be addressed.

Despite the predictions of voter apathy, Tuesday’s turnout rose from 68.5% in the April election to 69.4%. That’s a good sign. Now is the time to put aside personal, political and partisan interests and internal bickering in favor of the country as a whole and our collective future, as well as its relations with the Jewish Diaspora, our Middle East allies and the world. Instead of seeing the results of Tuesday’s election – which was costly and exhausting – in a bleak light, let’s pray that they augur a new era of unity, hope and peace, both at home and with our neighbors.
David Horovitz: Muddy results clearly show Israelis unfazed by prospect of life after Netanyahu
Many options, none of them good

Netanyahu’s address in the early hours of Wednesday was neither a victory speech nor a concession. It was a holding action, as he awaits the final results and considers his next steps.

Should he seek to contest the results, claiming that the Arab voter fraud he warned against had come to pass and that, as he had warned, the elections were stolen? Should he announce a timeout, as Gantz has long urged, to fight the legal allegations against him, with the aim of proving his innocence and even making an eventual return? Should he seek to somehow bend these unsatisfactory election results to his formidable will?

Netanyahu turns 70 next month. Among the clearer consequences of these complex elections is that he would seem to have run out of time to build himself an immunity shield against his looming prosecution.

He hasn’t yet been abandoned by his own party, unlike that other decade-long prime ministerial force of nature Margaret Thatcher, who had also sought to go on and on and on. He remains a potent force at the heart of Israeli politics, and he could immensely complicate our political reality for weeks or even months to come. He still has some political options.

But, ultimately, none of them are much good. However desperately Netanyahu would have wanted to declare victory early Wednesday, to will himself to victory, to shout down that infuriating heckler and orate himself to victory, he just couldn’t.
Updated tally shows Blue and White increase lead over Likud 33-31
Benny Gantz’s Blue and White centrist party has opened a two-seat lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, according to updated voting results Thursday morning from the Central Election Committee.

With some 96.5 percent of all votes in Tuesday’s elections having been counted, Blue and White had 33 seats to Likud’s 31. Third was the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties at 13, followed by the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas with nine and United Torah Judaism with eight.

Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu also had eight seats, after briefly moving up to nine. Rounding out the list were Yamina with seven seats, Labor-Gesher with six and the Democratic Camp with five.

The center-left bloc, including the predominantly Arab Joint List — which has never been a member of the government — has increased its power to 57 seats, with the right-wing and religious bloc at 55. Neither has the 61-seat majority necessary to form a coalition, leaving Yisrael Beytenu in the kingmaker position.

Trump says he hasn’t spoken to Netanyahu: ‘Our relationship is with Israel’
US President Donald Trump appeared to distance himself from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as the Israeli leader battled for his political survival after a tight election left him short of a Knesset majority.

Speaking with reporters in Los Angeles, Trump said he has not spoken with Netanyahu since Tuesday’s Knesset election, while indicating that the US relationship with Israel went beyond any individual leader.

“Those results are coming in and it’s very close,” Trump said. “Everybody knew it’s going to be very close. I said we’ll see what happens. Look, our relationship is with Israel. We’ll see what happens.”

Netanyahu made his close relationship with Trump a centerpiece of his reelection campaign, erecting billboards across the country showing him with the US president and other foreign leaders and casting aspersions on his rivals’ ability to match his diplomatic achievements.
Netanyahu locks in right, Haredi parties, then urges unity coalition with Gantz
The leaders of all the parties in the right-wing religious bloc on Thursday signed a document pledging to recommend Benjamin Netanyahu as the next prime minister and vowing to enter a coalition only as a single unit, as the premier called on Blue and White chief Benny Gantz to join a “unity government” that includes those parties.

“I suggest we meet as soon as possible, without preconditions, to work together to establish a broad unity government representing all who believe in a Jewish, democratic Israel,” the prime minister urged, having made a similar call in a statement earlier in the day, after Israeli elections Tuesday left the rival blocs headed by Netanyahu and Gantz short of a Knesset majority.

Speaking at a state memorial event marking three years since the death of former president and prime minister Shimon Peres, Netanyahu hinted at a readiness to rotate the premiership, as Peres and Yitzhak Shamir did after deadlocked elections in 1984. “Shimon sided with the imperative to unite the people” and with that goal “he and Shamir agreed to cooperate,” Netanyahu recalled.

It wasn’t clear whether Netanyahu’s mention of talks “without preconditions” included the significant condition that Yamina, United Torah Judaism and Shas be included in his proposed unity government.

Blue and White rejected the offer as “spin,” noted that Gantz’s party was ahead of Likud in the non-final election count, and accused Netanyahu of seeking to blame Blue and White as he seeks the eventual recourse of a third round of elections.
Blue and White vows unity coalition without Netanyahu
The leaders of Blue and White rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's calls on Thursday to form a government led by him that would also include all his satellite parties on the Right.

Netanyahu signed an agreement with three right-wing and religious parties to negotiate a coalition deal as one bloc, but then called on Blue and White to begin immediate negotiations without preconditions.

At a meeting of his faction in Tel Aviv, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said it was not serious to come to negotiations with a political bloc.

"Blue and White is the largest party," Gantz said. "We won 33 seats and Netanyahu did not succeed in winning the 61 seats for his bloc that he sought. I will build a broad and liberal government that will deliver the will of the people. We will not surrender to any dictate. The negotiations will be directed by me responsibly and with good judgment."

MK Yair Lapid asked for patience, saying that building a government will take time and that meanwhile, there will be more attempts at political spin that should be ignored.

"The people did not put trust in Netanyahu, so he is trying to replace the people," Lapid said. "The people of Likud are starting to realize it's the beginning of the end for [Netanyahu]. One person is preventing the formation of a liberal unity government."

MK Moshe Ya'alon called upon right-wing and religious parties to shun Netanyahu, saying "With him, it will not happen."
Liberman said to tell aides he intends to recommend Gantz for prime minister
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman reportedly told associates that he intends to recommend Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz as the next prime minister rather than Benjamin Netanyahu.

Liberman’s comments, made behind closed doors according to an unsourced Channel 12 news report on Thursday afternoon, would mark a significant boost to Gantz, who is seeking President Reuven Rivlin’s backing to form a new government and unseat Netanyahu.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Yevgeni Suba denied the report later Thursday, however. “We’re not recommending anybody at this stage — not Gantz and not Netanyahu,” he said, noting that Gantz has not ruled out sitting in a coalition including the ultra-Orthodox parties, which Suba said was a core Liberman demand.

According to near-final election results, Liberman holds the key to forming the next government following a political deadlock between Netanyahu’s Likud and Blue and White.

Liberman has vowed to push for a “liberal, nationalist, wide” unity government made up of both Likud and Blue and White, and his support for Gantz, if forthcoming, could hold extra weight with Rivlin as he holds consultations with party leaders about whom to task with forming a government.
Honest Reporting: The Independent’s Clueless View on Israeli Elections
The disdain shown towards Israel by The Independent is obvious. While there is clearly a visceral and nasty attitude, the paper’s staff editorial (paywall) on the Israeli elections also demonstrates an embarrassing level of ignorance.

Referring to Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, The Independent says that he
is making some brave noises about constructing a “national unity” government, comprising his own movement and a variety of smaller left-wing groups, and possibly with the tacit support of Israeli Arab parties.

Oh dear. It doesn’t take a politics degree to understand that a national unity government by definition is one that comprises of parties from both sides of the aisle joining together. Blue and White is considered to be part of the center-left bloc of Israeli parties. That means that any coalition government comprising it along with smaller left-wing parties would be a center-left coalition, not a national unity government.

Amidst all of the complicated political machinations currently taking place right now in Israel, a national unity government, if it were to come about, would be based on Blue and White with Likud.
Khaled Abu Toameh: After Netanyahu’s “defeat,” Palestinians say vote won’t change anything
Palestinians did not conceal their joy at the results of Tuesday’s election, particularly over what they perceive as “the severe blow” dealt to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party.

Many warned, however, that Palestinians should not expect major changes in Israel’s policy in the aftermath of the election, because they don’t see real differences between Netanyahu and his political rivals, including Blue and White head Benny Gantz.

Referring to the failure of the Right bloc to secure a parliamentary majority, two Palestinian officials in Ramallah expressed hope that Netanyahu would soon disappear from the political scene.

“This man was a disaster for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” said one of the officials. “We hope this is the beginning of his end.”
The other official told The Jerusalem Post that “many Palestinians are very happy to see Netanyahu defeated and humiliated,” and that he saw “a big smile” on the faces of several senior Palestinian officials upon learning that Netanyahu and his right-wing allies did not score major achievements.

Stressing that Palestinians don’t meddle in Israeli internal affairs, the PA denied allegations on Wednesday that it had attempted to meddle in Tuesday’s vote, despite its tacit support for the Joint List and some left-wing candidates.






Jewish, pro-Israel community react to national security pick
The Jewish and pro-Israel community immediately reacted to the selection of Robert O’Brien as US President Donald Trump’s fourth national security adviser, replacing John Bolton, who was ousted on Sept. 10.

“We congratulate Mr. O’Brien on his appointment, and we look forward to working with him to further strengthen the US-Israel relationship,” American Israel Public Affairs Committee spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JNS.

“O’Brien is a solid pick, with a good reputation within the State Department bureaucracy as a result of his previous role as the administration’s point man on hostage affairs,” Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, told JNS. “In that capacity, he is intimately familiar with most of the hot-button issues – Iran, North Korea, the ‘War on Terror’ – that are on the front burner in Washington at the moment.”

The appointment, which doesn’t require Senate confirmation, came as America weighs how to respond to Iran striking two Saudi Aramco oil facilities on Sept. 14.

“He also inherits a national security bureaucracy that has increasingly begun to ‘think big’ about strategy in places like the Middle East and Africa, and will be able to harness this team to great effect, if he chooses to do so,” said Berman.


Iran’s judo federation calls ban over Israel boycott policy ‘unfair’
Iran’s judo federation called its suspension from international competition this week “unfair” and said it “was a pre-planned scenario,” the country’s state media reported.

“I believe that suspending Iran’s judo was a pre-planned scenario and unfortunately one of our athletes got involved and intensified” the problem, the official IRNA news outlet quoted the head of Iran’s judo federation Arash Miresmaeili as saying on Wednesday.

The International Judo Federation (IJF) said this week it was banning Iran from competition for allegedly ordering a judoka to lose at the world championships to avoid facing an Israeli competitor.

Saeid Mollaei, who entered last month’s event in Tokyo as the reigning world champion in the under-81 kilogram class, said he was ordered to throw his semifinal rather than risk facing an Israeli in the final.

The IJF said Mollaei had been pressured to lose by Iranian deputy sports minister Davar Zani. Mollaei was also reportedly pressured to bow out by Iranian Olympic Committee president Reza Salehi Amiri, who told him minutes before his semifinal match that Iranian security services were at his parents’ house in Tehran.
Saudis, Israel attack pro-Iran militias on Syria-Iraq border - report
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have been blamed for recent air strikes targeting pro-Iranian militias in the Albukamal area of Syria near the border with Iraq, according to Arab media. The attacks resulted in a number of deaths and injuries and the destruction of weapon storage facilities and rocket launchers.

"Saudi fighter jets have been spotted along with other fighter jets that have attacked facilities and positions belonging to Iranian militias," said an unnamed source to the Independent in Arabic. The attacks targeted positions belonging to the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Albukamal and other areas near the Iraq-Syria border.

According to the source, it is believed that Iran was about to use the facilities to hit other targets after targeting the Saudi Aramco oil facilities on Saturday. The source added that the Global Coalition Against Terrorism has started targeting not just ISIS, but also other groups such as the Quds Force, as well as various Iraqi and Iranian militias active in Syria, Iraq and other areas.

Saudi sources later denied the report, according to the Independent.

Pro-Iranian militias in Albukamal in Syria near the Iraqi border have been targeted by multiple air strikes since Monday night, resulting in at least 15 deaths, according to Arab media.

On Wednesday, five people were killed and another nine were wounded in an air strike carried out by unidentified aircraft that targeted positions of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces militia in Albukamal, according to Sky News Arabia.
Rockets fired at Israel from Gaza fall short, wounding 7 Palestinians
Seven Palestinians were reportedly wounded Wednesday when a rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip, aimed at Israel, exploded near a house inside the coastal enclave.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said two of the three rockets struck outside a home in the southern city of Rafah, and a third fell near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said seven people were wounded, but didn’t elaborate on their condition.

Also Wednesday evening, the army said a mortar shell was fired at Israel from Gaza, but appeared to have landed inside the enclave.

The attack did not trigger rocket sirens in any Israeli community, but did set off alarms in an open field in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, a regional spokesperson said.

“A failed launch from the Gaza Strip was detected. It did not cross into Israeli territory,” the army said.
Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank Forced to Close by US Sanctions
Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank has been forced to wind itself down after being hit last month by US sanctions for allegedly helping to fund the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, the bank said on Thursday.

The central bank said the value of the bank’s assets, and its share of the national deposit guarantee body, were “in principle enough to pay all deposits and commitments.”

Jammal Trust Bank denied the US allegations in August after the bank and its subsidiaries were hit with sanctions, accused of helping to fund the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

“Despite its sound financial situation … and its full compliance with banking regulations, the (bank) was forced to take the decision to liquidate itself in full coordination with the central bank,” Jammal Trust said in a statement.

The bank has 25 branches in Lebanon and representative offices in Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Britain, its website says.

It is a relatively small lender, with net assets of 1,600 billion Lebanese pounds ($1 billion) at the end of 2017, according to the annual report on the latest year for which data is available.
Iran’s top diplomat warns of ‘all-out war’ if hit for Saudi attack
Iran’s foreign minister warned Thursday that any attack on his country over a drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry would result in “all-out war,” further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf.

The comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif represent the starkest warning offered yet by Iran in a long summer of mysterious attacks and incidents following the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, over a year after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.

Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack, but the US alleges Iran carried out the assault.

Zarif’s comments also appeared to be in response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who a day earlier while traveling to Saudi Arabia referred to the attack as an “act of war.”

Asked by CNN what would be the consequence of a US or Saudi strike, Zarif said: “All-out war.”

“We won’t blink to defend our territory,” he said. “I’m making a very serious statement that we don’t want war. We don’t want to engage in a military confrontation.

“We believe that we do not need war in this region,” he added. “We believe that we need dialogue, we need cooperation, we need confidence building in this region.”
France: Yemen rebel claim over Saudi oil attacks ‘lacks credibility’
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday that a claim by Yemeni rebels that they carried out attacks on two Saudi oil facilities “lacks credibility.”

“The Houthis, who are Yemeni rebels, announced that it was they who provoked this attack, which lacks credibility,” Le Drian told France’s CNews channel.

Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, which knocked out half of Saudi oil production.

But both Washington and Riyadh have ruled that out and pinned the blame on Saudi’s arch-foe Iran.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia displayed what it said were fragments of 25 drones and cruise missiles, which they said proved the attack was carried out by Tehran.

Le Drian cast doubt on the ability of the Houthis to carry out an attack of that scale and range from Yemen.

“But given that there is an international investigation let’s wait for the results,” he said.
MEMRI: Saudi Media Campaign Against Circulating Images, Videos Of Attack On Aramco Oil Facilities On Social Media: 'This Is A Real War,' 'Caution Is Paramount'
Following the September 14, 2019 attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, Saudis who were near the attack sites posted images and videos of the aftermath, including images of missiles found by the sites and of the large fires that had broken out. These images were posted independently on social media and were widely disseminated before the Saudi state media and security authorities could control the story, thereby placing the Saudi authorities in an embarrassing position.

The circulation of these posts evoked criticism from other social media users, who claimed that they exaggerated and distorted the events and jeopardized state security. Criticism was also voiced by writers in the Saudi press, who called on the security apparatuses to educate the public about responsible use of social media and to punish those who disseminated harmful information.

This report presents some of the posts that were circulated about the attacks, and some of the responses on Twitter and in the Saudi press.

Tweets By Saudi Users Reveal Details About The Attacks Precede Official Reports, Criticized By Fellow Users

Posts published by Saudi Twitter users on September 14 showed remnants of "cruise missiles that were fired at the Abqaiq oil [facility]," when the official media was still referring to the incident as a drone attack.

A user called Qassem_saad1 posted a video of the fire at Abqaiq and expressed his joy about the attack. The post evoked furious responses from Saudi users, such as a user calling herself Gharaam MBS, who wrote: "After this video this animal should be banished."
MEMRI: Editor Of Turkish Pro-Government Daily Suggests: Two Iranian Missiles Striking Dubai Will Leave Neither An Economy Nor The UAE In Its Wake
In his September 17, 2019 column[1] titled in part "Saudi's Aramco Has Been Struck... Take This Attack Very Seriously! What If Two Missiles Were To Strike Dubai!" in Turkey's Yeni Şafak daily, which is a mouthpiece of Turkey's ruling Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP), the paper's editor-in-chief, İbrahim Karagül, commented on the recent cruise missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil processing plant and Khurais oilfield.

Karagül wrote: "The attack conducted by Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen against Saudi oil company Aramco is the most dangerous attack to date... The civil war in Yemen was already a Saudi-Iran war. But this truth is now out in the open; parties of the fight are going to start attacking one another more directly." He predicted that following the attack, "the U.S.-Israel provocation will continue... to ready the region for a new Arab-Persian war."

Following is Yeni Şafak's translation of Karagül's column:
"The Civil War In Yemen Was Already A Saudi-Iran War... Parties Of The Fight Are Going To Start Attacking One Another More Directly"

"The attack conducted by Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen against Saudi oil company Aramco is the most dangerous attack to date. It will have consequences much beyond the surge in oil prices. This attack turned the Yemen war into the Saudi Arabia war. It is now the strongest sign of the regional earthquake which was scripted as the Persian-Arab war.

"The matter is no longer a Houthi issue. It is not a Yemen war either. The civil war in Yemen was already a Saudi-Iran war. But this truth is now out in the open; parties of the fight are going to start attacking one another more directly. After the attack, Saudis first stopped oil production, then reduced it to 50 percent. What the Saudi administration is capable of doing in the event of a new attack needs to be considered, and the regional and global consequences of this need to be evaluated.


Israel’s Netanyahu Praises Trump for Announcement of Bolstered Iran Sanctions
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump for announcing his intention to bolster sanctions on the Tehran regime.

“Iran’s aggression has increased of late, including in the Gulf, and this is precisely the time to increase pressure and sanctions,” Netanyahu said. “I am pleased that President Trump has done exactly this.”


Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” — without providing further details.

Trump’s tweet followed repeated US assertions that Iran was behind Saturday’s missile and drone attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
German intel: Iran sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction in 2018
A new German intelligence report from the state of Hesse outlined the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction during 2018, as well as illicit espionage activities inside Germany.

“Against this background [of proliferation], weapons of mass destruction continued to be a powerful political instrument during the reporting period, which could shake the stability of an entire state structure in both regional and international crisis situations,” the Hesse report noted on Wednesday. “In particular, states such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Syria attempted to acquire and redistribute such weapons in the context of proliferation, for example by concealing transport routes via third countries.”

The Jerusalem Post reviewed the 312-page document that details threats to the democratic state in Hesse.

The intelligence agents said that foreign academics seek to obtain knowledge about the uranium enrichment process.

According to the intelligence agency, visiting professors from states such as Iran, North Korea and Pakistan are connected to “proliferation conduct” that is coordinated with intelligence services from those countries.

“An example of this is the field of electrical engineering combined with the use of centrifuges in the process of uranium enrichment,” the report said. “Here, again and again, there are suspicions that foreign intelligence services put pressure on their own visiting scientists to obtain the desired technical know-how.”

The Hesse domestic intelligence agency findings have not been previously reported.
France: Macron Sides with Iran's Mullahs
On September 14, just a few days after former National Security Advisor Ambassador John R. Bolton was comfortably disappeared from the administration, Iran inflicted major damage on a massive oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia,

Macron, in short, has done as much or more than any other European country to favor the Iranian regime -- more than Germany, and even more than the European Union itself. He could have chosen to act as a reliable ally of the United States, but the choice he made was a different.

The French officials act and speak as if the Iranian regime was totally honorable, and as if they did not discern the obvious: that the Iranian regime has destructive goals. The nuclear deal did not divert the regime from its goal of building nuclear weapons. The deal, in fact, floated the regime toward precisely that end. The American strategy of applying maximum pressure through economic sanctions seems the only non-military way to pressure this regime to change course.




PreOccupiedTerritory: Iran Hopes Its Continued Terrorism Empowers American Moderates (satire)
Regime officials in the Islamic Republic expressed desire this week that their ongoing efforts to sow instability, political violence, ethnic cleansing, and attain regional hegemony will encourage US political figures of a less antagonistic orientation than the current administration to assert themselves more in policymaking.

Iranian leaders told visiting journalists that in the interest of reducing tensions with the US, they hope to empower moderates within the American government and legislature, and to that end they will continue to direct their proxies in the Middle East to attack American and American-allied interests, and will continue to plan and bankroll terrorism around the world. Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif informed reporters that the current Iranian strategy of blowing things and people up aims to soften President Trump’s attitude toward Iran, and to provide legitimacy for those within his administration who otherwise might feel too timid to advocate for conciliatory measures toward Tehran.

“We know this strategy worked during the Obama administration,” noted Zarif, who represented the regime in talks that resulted in a 2015 deal all but green-lighting Iran’s eventual access to nuclear weapons. “Our support for Hezbollah, Houthis, and other violent actors demonstrated to the president and Secretary Kerry how serious we were about achieving a peaceful resolution of tensions after decades of friction. Given the success we enjoyed with this approach during the previous administration, we remain confident it can yield similar strategic dividends now.”



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