Wednesday, September 25, 2019

From Ian:

PMW's great success: Fatah’s terror promoting Facebook page closed
Following Palestinian Media Watch's two major reports and a two-week public pressure campaign, Fatah’s terror promoting Facebook page is closed as of this morning. PMW's campaign started in February this year when we released a detailed report about Fatah’s Facebook page documenting its terror glorification and incitement to violence during 2018. The report showed that Fatah’s content was in direct violation of Facebook’s guidelines. Inexplicably, Facebook refused to close the page at that time.

PMW followed up with a new report released earlier this month, documenting the terror promoting content on Fatah’s Facebook page during the first 6 months of 2019, which was likewise sent to Facebook. In addition, PMW also launched a public social media campaign with many partner organizations worldwide, developed by volunteers at ACT-IL, which was aimed at Facebook's directors, urging them to close down Fatah’s page. The campaign included daily tweets and Facebook posts showing Fatah’s terror promoting content on Facebook, and also included a public campaign through which individuals and organizations sent a pre-written letter of protest to Facebook. Thousands of ACT-IL activists from 74 countries and other PMW partner organizations sent thousands of emails to Facebook's policy directors, and made thousands of reports directly on the page through Facebook.

As of this morning Fatah's Facebook page is down.

PMW thanks ACT-IL and their thousands of volunteers and the many other partners, organizations, and individuals who joined PMW in this project to close down Fatah's Facebook page. With your help we eliminated the terror promotion, and saved lives.

Already yesterday, Fatah was alarmed by PMW’s campaign. Fatah posted three different items about the campaign against its Facebook page, refusing to refer to Palestinian Media Watch by name, preferring to call us "the occupation," a term it often uses to refer to Israel.

Fatah posted copies of PMW’s posts calling to close the Fatah page, in which they accused PMW of inciting against them and asked its followers to “support the page”:

David Singer: Netanyahu and Liberman Could Cut Deal if Rivlin Plan Fails
Liberman’s party did not form Government with 60 other members of the Right last April after Netanyahu refused to accept a bill drafted by Liberman calling for ultra-orthodox Jews to do military service. Netanyahu was captive to the ultra-orthodox Jews comprised in the Right bloc who threatened to bolt if he wavered. Liberman’s continuing insistence that his military service bill be legislated was countered by United Torah Judaism MK Yakov Asher declaring this the best possible get-out-the-vote campaign the religious parties could wish for.

The religious parties failed big time.

Netanyahu is now in an easier political position to agree to Liberman’s demand than he was in April – the latest voting results showing:
1. Liberman’s vote increased from 173004 to 309688 – an increase of 136684.
2. The combined votes of the religious parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism – increased from 507324 to 598522 – an increase of only 91198.
3. Likud’s vote decreased from 1140370 to 1111535 – a drop of 28835

The turnout of ultra-orthodox voters opposing Liberman’s bill did not match the turnout of new voters supporting Liberman’s bill and those Likud voters changing their votes for possibly the same reason. The religious parties are now on far weaker ground to oppose Liberman’s reform as they are locked in to a single negotiating bloc containing 55 members - presumably acting by majority vote.

Cutting a deal between Netanyahu and Liberman remains an option to prevent Israel going through this electoral agony for a third time if Rivlin’s call fails.



Seth Frantzman: Is Israel being pushed into a corner with alliance of convenient friends?
An op/ed posted by The Independent on September 17 accused Israel of being part of a new “axis of evil.” Written by philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Zizek, it accused Israel of being involved in this axis alongside “Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the [United Arab Emirates].” The rules of the game are changing, the author claimed.

Zizek’s main wrath was reserved for criticism of Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. This little-noticed piece dovetailed with another article at Middle East Eye that claimed the attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq by drones was “in retaliation for Israeli drone strikes on Hashd al-Shaabi bases and convoys in August, which were co-ordinated by the Saudis.”

No evidence was presented for this extraordinary claim, but the article claimed Saudi has financed Israeli drone strikes launched from eastern Syrian areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. This narrative is part of several recent pieces that allude to the same claims.

The lack of evidence here is not as important as the perception. Israel is increasingly perceived as linked to Egypt and the southern Arab states, including Gulf countries. The level of alliance and cooperation is not always spelled out. For example, The New York Times reported in February that a “secret alliance” of Israel and Egypt regarding Israeli support for Egyptian operations against ISIS in Sinai.

Iranian media unsurprisingly tries to play up these stories. Press TV in Iran claimed in August that “Israel, UAE hold secret US-mediated talks” and claimed on September 5 that an Emirati jet landed in Israel. It has also pushed programs on “the UAE’s deal with Israel.” Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has gone as far as to attack the UAE as a “second Israel.” Press TV even claimed this summer that Israel inked a “spy aircraft deal” in the Gulf.

The narrative of “second Israel” in the Middle East is one heard across the region in propaganda from Iran to Turkey. Turkey’s Yeni Safak claimed in January that there was a “secret Israel-Saudi-UAE meeting” that “takes aim at Turkey.” The website Middle East Observer claimed in March 2018 that there was a “conservative front” of Israel-US-Saudi-UAE plan to topple Turkey’s leader. The article, by Ibrahim Karagul, said that there is a “UAE-Saudi-Israel-US axis” that was established and founded to “stop Turkey.” Qatar’s Al Jazeera has also sought to highlight claims that a “UAE official says Arab countries should be more open to Israel.”
At UN, Trump calls on Mideast nations to fully normalize ties with Israel
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged Middle Eastern nations to fully normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, while maintaining that crippling US sanctions imposed on Iran would continue until the Islamic Republic changed its behavior.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the US president accused Tehran of trafficking in “monstrous anti-Semitism” and engaging in a “fanatical quest” to obtain nuclear weapons. Trump said the rogue regime’s aggression had created newfound regional alliances to counter the Iranian threat.

“Thankfully, there is a growing recognition in the wider Middle East that the countries of the region share common interest in battling extremism and unleashing economic opportunity,” Trump said. “That is why it’s so important to have full normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors.”

He continued, “Only a relationship built on common interest, mutual respect, and religious tolerance can forge a better future.”

In a highly anticipated address before the international community — as tensions with Iran intensified after it allegedly attacked two Saudi oil facilities — Trump insisted that he would maintain his “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran.

Iran, he said, was on a “fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.” The world, Trump continued, “must never allow this to happen.”
Trump at U.N.: We won’t tolerate Iran’s ‘monstrous antisemitism’
Iran’s antisemitic hatred of Israel is unacceptable, US President Donald Trump told the UN as he warned Tehran that sanctions against it would not be lifted as long as it’s “bloodlust” and nuclear drive continued.

“For 40 years, the world has listened to Iran’s rulers as they lash out at everyone else for the problems they alone have created,” Trump said as he addressed the opening segment of the 74th General Assembly.

In describing the dangers of Iran, Trump said that its leaders “conduct ritual chants of ‘Death to America’ and traffic in monstrous antisemitism.”

“Last year, the country’s supreme leader said that Israel was a ‘malignant cancerous tumor that has to be removed and eradicated. It is possible and it will happen,’” the US president said, adding that such antisemitism is “unacceptable.”

“America will never tolerate such antisemitic hate,” Trump said. “Fanatics have long used hatred of Israel to distract from their own failures. Thankfully, there is a growing recognition in the wider Middle East that the countries of the region share a common interest in battling extremism and unleashing economic opportunity.”

Those common interests present an opportunity, Trump said, and that “is why it is so important to have full, normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors. Only a relationship built on common interests, mutual respect and religious tolerance can forge a better future.”

He called on the international community to stand up to Iran.
Abbas said set to pledge Palestinian elections at United Nations assembly (not satire)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will renew a pledge to hold fresh parliamentary elections in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, a senior official said.

Abbas will say that “after he returns to Palestine he will call parliamentary elections and specify a date and begin formal preparations,” Ahmed Majdalani, a senior Palestinian official and Abbas aide, told AFP on Wednesday.

Abbas, 84, has made similar pledges in recent years, but no Palestinian parliamentary elections have taken place since 2006.

Those elections, which were surprisingly won by Islamist terror group Hamas, eventually led to a dramatic split, with Hamas seizing control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Since then Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction have traded accusations of blame over the lack of elections.

In December 2018 Abbas pledged to hold parliamentary elections within six months.
Israel angrily rejects Holocaust-Gaza comparison from Erdogan
Israeli leaders on Tuesday lashed out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who likened the Jewish state’s Gaza policies to the Nazi treatment of the Jews during a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

According to a report by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, Erdogan told US Muslim leaders in a Monday meeting in New York that “we view the Holocaust in the same way we view those besieging Gaza and carrying out massacres in it.”

On Tuesday, in his UN speech, Erdogan slammed Israel again, questioning its borders and accusing it of harboring expansionist aims.

“The Palestinian territory under Israeli occupation has become one of the most striking places of injustice,” Erdogan said, brandishing a map frequently featured by critics of Israel purporting to show how Israeli territory grew over the years at the Palestinians’ expense.

He also claimed that a Palestinian woman shot and killed during an alleged stabbing attempt last Wednesday — while carrying a knife at a checkpoint — was “murdered heinously.”

Immediately after the speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Erdogan of “lying.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a a faction meeting of his Likud party at the Knesset on September 23, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Someone who does not stop lying, who slaughters Kurds, who denies the massacre of the Armenians, should not preach to Israel,” he said. “Stop lying Erdogan.”
Turkey's Erdogan at U.N.: Either We All Get to Have Nuclear Bombs or None of Us Do
Islamist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to either impose global nuclear disarmament or establish laws that allow any nation to develop nuclear weapons, as the status quo breeds “inequality.”

Erdogan repeated his anti-Security Council mantra, “the world is bigger than five,” a reference to the five permanent members of the Security Council: China, Russia, America, France, and the U.K., all of which are nuclear powers.

He also boasted of Turkey’s repeated violations of Syrian and Iraqi sovereignty in attempts to bomb Kurdish targets in both areas. Turkey shares a border with Syria and routinely sends fighter jets into Syrian airspace, much to the chagrin of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan’s troops target Syrian Kurdish troops allied with America, however, not Assad’s forces or Shiite terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

The Turkish president has never explicitly said he wants Turkey to become a nuclear-armed nation, but this month decried as unfair the fact that Turkey signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and thus cannot possess nuclear weapons legally.

Erdogan opened his speech Tuesday with a warning that “the international community is gradually losing its ability to find lasting solutions to challenges such as terrorism, hunger, misery, and climate change.”
Ambassador Danny Danon: How Israel achieved the impossible at the UN
For years, we in Israel thought that the hostile reality at the UN was something unalterable. We became impervious to automatic condemnations and stopped getting upset when Palestinian incitement was met with open arms.

To clear the air the anti-Semitism that pervaded the corridors of the organization, we launched a long but justified battle, possibly the most justified one ever waged in the UN.

In the past few years, we have spearheaded a number of precedent-setting initiatives that helped us throw off the hostile atmosphere and strengthen our status in the organization.

It started on the day I was appointed chairman of the Justice Committee, an unprecedented occurrence that proved that Israel can win, even in the UN. The new balance of power stood out especially when ambassadors from the countries hostile to Israel were forced, for the first time, to face a senior committee head who was also Israel's ambassador to the UN, and ask for the right to speak.

In every fight, we assemble the moral majority, led by our friend the US. Together we have led proposals for resolutions that were voted on in the General Assembly and designed to isolate nations that support terrorism and block anti-Israel declarations.

Eighty-seven countries stood alongside Israel and the US when we brought to the vote a resolution to condemn Hamas in the General Assembly. A broad coalition of nations openly stated that the loathsome terrorist group was an international problem.

We are proudly making Jewish culture and legacy part of the organization. For the first time, Yom Kippur was recognized as an official UN holiday, kosher food was made available in the cafeteria, and Jewish holidays are marked by official events.
The Future of UNRWA: Einat Wilf at UNHRC Side Event


The Future of UNRWA: Dr. Leah Goldin at UNHRC Side Event


The Future of UNRWA: James Lindsay, former UNRWA General Counsel


‘Forgotten’ Syrian war a footnote at annual UN meeting
As dozens of heads of state convene for the annual UN General Assembly in New York this week, the lingering conflict in Syria is taking a back seat while tensions in the Persian Gulf and global trade wars take center stage.

Now in its ninth year, many Syrians fear the unresolved war has become a footnote in a long list of world crises, with weary leaders resigned to live with President Bashar Assad ruling over a wrecked and divided country for the foreseeable future.

On the eve of the global gathering in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that a long-awaited committee that would draft a new Syrian constitution has been finalized — a step the UN hopes will put the war-ravaged country on track for a political solution.

But few see any real chance that the committee can make significant progress toward that end.

“The world has forgotten about us — not that anyone cared about Syria to begin with,” said Hussein Ali, a 35-year-old internally displaced father of two. He now lives with his family in one rented room in the opposition-controlled northern town of Azaz, near the Turkish border. “The rise of Daesh made the West care momentarily, but not anymore,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
Why the Palestinian Authority’s Failure to Join the Universal Postal Union Matters
Last year, Mahmoud Abbas’s government submitted requests to join several international organizations generally open only to UN member states, including the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU), which coordinates mail deliveries among countries. The effort failed to get the requisite number of votes last week. To David May, UPU membership was not a mere bureaucratic formality, but part of an effort to create a Palestinian state without negotiations with Israel, in violation of the Oslo Accords:

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), acting under the name of the “state of Palestine,” has for eight years been angling to become the 194th country recognized by the UN, a campaign known as “Palestine 194.” The United States and Israel have discouraged this initiative on the grounds that it removes one of the most important incentives for Palestinian leaders to negotiate with Israel, namely the promise of statehood.

[In 2011], the PLO gained membership at the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO]. This triggered a Clinton-era American law that prevents the United States from funding any UN agency or affiliate that “grants full membership” to non-states. . . . The next major step for the Palestinians came when the UN General Assembly recognized the “state of Palestine” as a non-member observer state in 2012, an upgrade from its status as a non-state observer. This change allowed the Palestinians to sign UN treaties.

Israel fears that the Palestinians could use their membership in international organizations as a weapon. For example, Palestinian membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has dramatically increased the threat of spurious war-crimes lawsuits against the Jewish state.

Rejection by the Universal Postal Union was a clear defeat for Palestine 194, which [heretofore] appeared to be on a clear path toward success.
Israel to get state-of-art, missile-proof blood bank to meet growing demand
In October 2012, captain Ziv Shilon opened the gate between Israel and Gaza so that IDF soldiers could return to Israel, following the nation’s disengagement plan from the Strip. At that very moment a terrorist bomb planted at the gate went off, causing a massive explosion. Shilon lost his left hand, but was still able to direct his soldiers to safety.

He was evacuated from the scene and transfused with 56 units of blood, which helped saved his life. Despite the loss of his hand, he runs marathons and engages in other intensive sports.

Israel’s wars and the constant security threats it faces makes having a handy reserve of blood a strategic need. Yet it falls short of requirements set out by the World Health Organization, which state that nations should strive for self-sufficiency with a minimum blood supply sufficient for 4 percent of their population, at any given time. Israel holds blood supplies sufficient for just 3 percent of its population, or a stock of some 260,000 units instead of the 350,000 or 400,000 it should have, by WHO standards.

Furthermore, the blood is processed and stored at a facility in Ramat Gan’s Sheba Medical Center that is unprotected from missiles, biological and chemical attacks, and earthquakes. The labs, the blood storage and the donor rooms are surrounded by windows looking out onto the hospital campus. Lovely, but definitely not safe in case of an attack.
Israeli woman stabbed near Modiin; 14-year-old Palestinian arrested
An Israeli woman was lightly injured Wednesday in a stabbing incident near the central city of Modiin.

Police arrested a 14-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank on suspicion of committing the stabbing at the Maccabim Junction along Route 443.

The woman was treated for a stab wound in her upper body.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said the woman, in her 20s, was taken in stable condition to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.

Police said a Border Police officer was also lightly hurt while restraining the suspect.

According to police, Border Police officers driving on Route 433 spotted the suspected trying to flee and chased after him on foot. The officers fired a number of bullets in the air, and collared the suspect a few hundred meters from the scene of the stabbing.
A knife that was used in a stabbing at the Maccabim Junction along Route 443 on September 25, 2019. (Israel Police)

The stabbing came after a lull in attacks following an uptick in violence in August.
How Hamas Leaders Fool Palestinians
"Frustrated Palestinian youths are committing suicide because of poverty, while the sons of the leaders are holding birthday parties!" — Hussein Qatoush, on Facebook.

The problem... is when your father is a senior terrorist leader who devotes himself to inciting against Israel and Jews and encouraging other young Palestinians to sacrifice their lives in the war against Israel. Hamad, like the rest of the Hamas leaders, would never send his own son to attack soldiers at the border with Israel.

It is time for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to revolt against the leaders who are keeping them chained in poverty and sending them to their deaths.

It is also time for the international community to wake up to the fact that it is wealthy Hamas leaders, and not Israel, who are responsible for the humanitarian and economic disaster that is known as the Gaza Strip.
Israel arrests PA minister for conducting political activity in Jerusalem
Israeli police on Wednesday said they arrested the Palestinian Authority Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Fadi al-Hadami, for conducting political activity in East Jerusalem.

Police said Fadi al-Hadami was charged with allegedly breaking a law prohibiting the Palestinian Authority from carrying out political activities in Jerusalem.

The PA governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith was summoned for questioning on the same offense.

Palestinian official Adnan Husseini said in a statement that Hadami’s arrest was meant to stop “social and cultural activities.”

Sources told Wafa, the official PA news site, that Hadami was arrested in a raid on his home in the early hours of Wednesday, but that when security forces arrived at Ghaith’s East Jerusalem residence, he was not there. Family members were given a summons for Ghaith and his son.
PreOccupiedTerritory:" Gaza Blockade Tightens; Qatari Dollars Only Thing Left For Hamas To Launch At Israel (satire)
More effective implementation of restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of this coastal territory has resulted in a shortage of rockets and other weapons with which to target the Jewish State, a spokesman for the Islamist group that governs the strip admitted today, limiting the organization’s arsenal of projectiles to the wads of cash that Doha provides each month.

Fawzi Balsaq of Hamas lamented to journalists and human rights workers Wednesday morning that Israel’s almost complete control over what enters and exits the Gaza Strip now prevents the Islamist movement from augmenting its inventory of missiles, incendiary devices, explosives, bullets, mortar shells, and firearms, such that all that remains to launch at Israel is the meager quantity of American dollars left over once Hamas’s leadership has distributed the monthly allotment from Qatar to its loyalists and embezzled much of the rest.

“We used to have an impressive stockpile of explosive and incendiary materials, and any number of ways to deliver them,” complained Balsaq. “But we have been, shall we say, zealous in our use of those items, and now we have maybe a few days’ worth of inventory at current expenditure levels. I’m not only talking about bombs, mortar shells, bullets, and rockets, but even helium, balloons, and plastic sheeting for making kites to carry the firebombs. We’re even low on rocks, if you can believe such a thing, because we’ve chucked them all over the border fence.”

“Now all we can do is take wads of twenty- and one-hundred-dollar bills and fling them at Israeli soldiers,” he continued. “I suppose we could light the money on fire beforehand, which would be an apt symbolic act.”
JPost Editorial: No to Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the 74th UN General Assembly. He is pushing a message of “peace,” but it is one in which the peace Iran desires is a Middle East controlled by Tehran. This is a dangerous time, made more complex by the roles of Russia, Turkey and the United States in the region.

Israel is, as ever, at the center of Iran’s nefarious plans. Iran regularly excoriates our state, lashing it with various conspiracies and accusations. Iran claims that Israel is an enemy of Islam, one that threatens the holy mosque in Jerusalem, and is an artificial and temporary imprint here, one that will be washed away with the help of Iran’s precision-guided missiles.
For decades this has been the narrative from Tehran, and for decades its threats have been largely ignored by the world, as though the rules of international relations do not apply to Iran.

The Iranian regime kidnaps people, detains boats via piracy and even attacks countries in the region with missiles and drones. It sends its arms flooding into Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But this all goes unchecked. No other country in the world behaves like Iran does. Other countries seek peace, they behave with dignity toward their neighbors, rather than trying to subvert and colonize them using militias.

“We hope in the very sensitive situation of the region today we would be able to convey the message of our regional nations, which is the message of regional peace and end of any interference in the sensitive regions of Persian Gulf and the Middle East,” Rouhani said before his speech at the UN. He claims Iran is under pressure from a cruel economic war.

Iran is very good at playing the victim and perpetrator at the same time, part of its “good cop, bad cop” approach to foreign countries. It pretends to be a victim, but then again it continually threatens Israel, the US and other states.
Bloomberg Editorial: Europe Needs to Stop Coddling Iran
This endless indulgence has only encouraged Iran’s progressively provocative behavior, culminating in Sept. 14’s brazen drone-and-missile assault on giant oil installations in northeastern Saudi Arabia.

The Europeans are right to fear a conflagration in the Gulf region, but they should by now recognize that it is Iran, and not the U.S., that is most likely to spark a war. Bolton’s removal from the White House should clarify their thinking. However deep their distaste for Trump, they can’t ignore his repeated offers to negotiate. Nor can they deny that Iran’s actions are endangering the global economy.

The most powerful signal of disapproval the Europeans could send to Tehran would be to supplement American economic sanctions with their own — the nuclear deal they are so eager to protect, in fact, requires punitive action for breaching enrichment limits. They should also contribute naval assets to help protect the shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf from marauding Iranian speedboats.

If the prospect of standing behind Trump is too much for Europe’s leaders to stomach, the next best thing would be to get out of the way. They should communicate to the regime that all efforts to save the agreement are suspended until Iran ends its aggression against its neighbors and resumes compliance with the nuclear deal. There must be no more talk of lines of credit and sanctions waivers. Instead, they should press Iran to take up Trump’s offer of negotiations — with European mediation, if that helps — or face the consequences without German, French and British support.
MEMRI: Senior Iranian Official Mohsen Rezaee: We Will Catch Trump And Place Him On Trial; The Americans Cannot Defend Themselves, So How Would They Defend Saudi Arabia?
Former IRGC Commander-in-Chief General Mohsen Rezaee, who currently serves as the secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, said in a September 22, 2019 interview on Channel 2 TV (Iran) that there can be no security in the Persian Gulf unless America, England, and other foreign countries pull out of the region. He said that America's presence is at the root of the lack of security in the region and that all the countries in the region will "become friends" the day America leaves. In addition, Rezaee said that America's inability to retaliate against Iran for downing an American drone is evidence that the U.S. cannot help defend Saudi Arabia. He said that Iran will eventually catch President Trump, who he said has "played all his cards," and place him on trial before an international court for the crimes he has committed against Iran and other nations. Furthermore, Rezaee said that China has been strengthening its relations with Iran and that the two countries are working on a 25-year strategic agreement.

"The Root Of The [Region's] Lack Of Security Is America's Presence"

General Mohsen Rezaee: "Commerce in the Persian Gulf has never stopped. The [export of] oil through the Persian Gulf has never stopped. If we had wanted to block the Strait of Hormuz or to prevent international trade, we could have done it. We did not do it and we did not let others do it.
[...]
"Look, there cannot be security in the Persian Gulf unless the foreign forces pull out. As long as America, England, and other foreign countries wish to remain in the region, the lack of security of the past 40 years will continue.

"So the first condition for security is the independence of [the region's] countries. There can be no security without the independence of these countries. The root of the [region's] lack of security is America's presence. The day the Americans leave the region, all the countries will become friends with one another.
MEMRI: Editor Of Hizbullah-Affiliated Lebanese Daily: The Resistance Axis Has Moved To The Stage of Punitive Attack And Is Prepared For All-Out War; If UAE Does Not Withdraw From Yemen, It Will Face A Harsh Attack
Following the September 14, 2019 Iranian attack on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim Al-Amin, editor of the Hizbullah-affiliated Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, which is known to support the resistance axis, warned in a September 23 article in the paper that further attacks, against Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and additional targets, are likely.

In his article, Al-Amin outlined the "new strategy" which he says has been adopted by the resistance axis to contend with the enemy led by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and their allies, especially with respect to the Yemeni arena. The most significant aspect of this strategy, he said, is the transition from the stage of restraint to the stage of punitive attack. According to Al-Amin, the stage of punitive attack is already in effect, and cannot be stopped unless the American enemy and its allies cease their wars against the resistance axis. He also claimed that the resistance axis is willing and able to move to the stage of all-out war if necessary. Stressing that the punitive attack is not limited to a specific period of time or to a specific target, he noted that it may be extended to include all those involved in these wars against the resistance axis. The operation against the Aramco facilities, he said, had revealed only "the tip of the iceberg of the capability of the countries and forces of the resistance axis," and that the punitive attacks will include more painful blows to the aggressive countries. He added that recently the UAE had received a clear and final warning that it must quit the war in Yemen or face an extremely harsh attack.

Mocking Saudi Arabia and its allies, which he said had been embarrassed and surprised by the technological and military means which the Houthis have proven that they have at their disposal, Al-Amin warned that the Houthis will, if they have no choice, escalate their response to the point where red lines no longer constrain them.

It should be noted that in recent days the Houthis have continued to threaten Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin Al-Houthi and Houthi Supreme Political Council chairman Mahdi Al-Mashat announced that if the coalition headed by Saudi Arabia does not cease its aggression against Yemen, the Houthis would step up their attacks.[1] Similarly, in a September 17, 2019 Al-Jazeera interview, Houthi spokesman Muhammad 'Abd Al-Salam warned of an attack on UAE territory. The next day, September 18, Houthi military spokesman Brig. Yahya Saree said that the Houthis have a list of dozens of potential targets in the UAE, and added, addressing the UAE leaders: "Even one single operation will cost you dearly."[2]
Iranian general denies two of his staffers arrested as Israeli spies
In October 2018, a pro-regime Iranian news website reported that two people working for a senior officer of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had been arrested as alleged Israeli spies.

According to Radio Farda, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi (Naqdi) denied the report. He also announced that he would file a complaint against the pro-reform former minister and member of parliament, Behzad Nabavi, who spread the claim in an interview he gave to the news site Alef, which is managed by conservative former member of parliament Ahmad Tavakkoli.

"Two persons working for the office of an IRGC general were discovered as Israel's spies and arrested. They were behind bars along with several political prisoners," Nabavi said, as quoted by Radio Farda. "One of the two was later executed," he added.

The Iranian branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty pointed out that this was not the first time that people with ties to the IRGC have been accused of cooperating with Israel.
Attacks on Saudi Oil Plants Reveal Weaknesses in U.S.-Made Defenses
Ground-hugging swarms of drones and cruise missiles that decimated Saudi oil production facilities this month did billions' worth of damage and defeated U.S.-made Hawk and Patriot air-defense systems.

Washington Institute analyst Michael Knights wrote, "Many of the components needed to defend against a cruise missile swarm are in place - radars, missiles batteries, and anti-aircraft cannon - but they were evidently not alert enough or not handled boldly enough to parry this blow."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said that U.S. air and naval forces in the region did not track the swarms. "We don't have an unblinking eye over the entire Middle East at all times."

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) analyst Anthony Cordesman said the drones and cruise missiles hugged the ground to evade radar and had "the ability to home in remotely with great precision on key point targets that can include the most expensive fixed industrial, infrastructure and military targets and use comparatively small amounts of explosives to destroy key components."

CSIS analyst Seth Jones noted, "All of Saudi Arabia is threatened by Iranian missiles, and the number of Iranian missiles capable of reaching the country would overwhelm virtually any missile defense system."



Iran’s president says Israel ‘undoubtedly’ backing Islamic State in Syria
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday claimed that Israel was backing the Islamic State jihadist group, and accused the United States of being the primary supporter of terrorism in the Middle East.

“Israel… on a daily basis targets the people of Palestine, Lebanon and most recently even Iraq and Syria… there is no terrorism in the world that matches the activities of Israel,” he said in a Fox News interview on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“Those who fight for the freedom for their land, they are not terrorists,” he said, referring to Palestinian groups that target Israelis.

“The ones who are terrorists are those who render aid to Daesh,” he said, using the Arabic name for the Islamic State.

Rouhani said that Israel was “certainly and undoubtedly” supporting the jihadist group, based on the fact that it had provided some aid to rebels fighting against the Assad regime in Syria, one of Tehran’s staunchest allies in the region.

“Israel is the country that takes care of injured IS fighters and they make weapons available to them — so Daesh are the terrorists,” he said.
Iran Has Spent More Than $16 Billion on Terrorism in Recent Years
Iran has spent more than $16 billion during the past several years to fund militant terrorists across the Middle East, cash that was repatriated to the Islamic Republic under the terms of the landmark nuclear deal, according to new disclosures from the Trump administration.

As Iran's economy teeters on the brink of collapse under the tough sanctions regime imposed by the Trump administration, the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leadership has spent its limited cash reserves to bolster terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as militant terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

The Trump administration is taking a range of steps to thwart what it describes as Iran's expansionist foreign policy that seeks to establish hardline governments across the region.

"Our pressure is making the regime's extremist foreign policy and the ideology that drives it more expensive than ever before," Brian Hook, the administration's special representative for Iran told the Asia Society on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, or UNGA, which is being held this week in New York City. "This was long overdue."
Iran Thinks Brazen Escalation Can Work
In July, the head of the coordination council of Ansar-e Hezbollah, a paramilitary organization that crushes dissent inside Iran, spoke openly about Tehran's strategy toward the United States.

"If the Americans make a mistake, we can use our missiles with a range of less than 70 kilometers to hit oil centers that the world needs in the Ahmadi area [in Kuwait]," said Hossein Allahkaram, a former general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to a clip flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "We can hit oil areas of Dharan [in Saudi Arabia], and areas in the UAE. Twenty million barrels of oil leave that area every day. We can hit them all at once."

"But we are not doing it," he continued, "because of our defense strategy. So we are acting in keeping with the crisis escalation theory. We keep escalating the crisis more and more. On the nuclear issue, we have made ourselves clear. We keep escalating the crisis. We keep escalating the crisis in the regional issues as well, and we do it also with regard to the oil."

Iran certainly escalated tensions with the West over the summer, shooting down an American drone, harassing international oil tankers, and breaching core measures of the 2015 nuclear deal. But the Iranians took their aggression to a new level with attacks on oil facilities inside Saudi Arabia earlier this month—Saudi, American, and now British officials all say Iran is responsible. Each belligerent step is part of Iran's effort to test President Trump's resolve to continue his campaign of maximum pressure against Tehran, create international fear and pressure other countries not to cooperate with Washington's campaign, and create leverage in future negotiations with the United States.


State Secretary Mike Pompeo: Iran is the aggressor not the aggrieved
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit in New York on Wednesday, ahead of Iranian President Hassen Rouhani's expected address to the #UNGA

"This is the beginning of the awakening that Iran is the aggressor not the aggrieved. Iran has a long 40-year history of unprovoked aggression, for murdering and torturing their own people, killing Americans, harboring Al-Qaeda," Pompeo said.

Pompeo then referenced Iran's involvment in backing terror groups, after the country signed the 2015 nuclear deal. He said Iran "protected and preserved its nuclear know how, indeed after the deal was signed."

He also said Iran was "calling every play in the playbook," before going over Iran's list of actions including, attacking oil tankers, threatening to defy its nuclear commitments, and calling for death to Israel, as evidence that "the playbook won't succeed."

The Secretary of State accused Iran of telling "flat out lies" and said that "each of us needs to call them on it." He continued, "Too many people listen to Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister] Zarif. Rouhani is desperate to deceive."

He acknowledged that "More and more nations are standing up to Iran's thuggish behavior."

"No responsible government should sponsor Iran's blood thirst."
Gabbard: Iran’s Attacks on Saudi Arabia Were ‘Retaliatory’
Presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) attempted to justify Iran's attack on vital oil facilities in Saudi Arabia as "retaliatory."

"This latest attack on Saudi Arabia is a retaliatory attack because of all the sanctions that are in place that are essentially blocking Iran from selling their oil on the market," Gabbard said Tuesday on CNN.

She also argued the United States cannot enter a cycle of retaliation with Iran due to the high costs of a war, saying conflict with Iran would make the Iraq War look like a "picnic." Gabbard pledged to reverse the Trump administration's maximum pressure strategy if elected president.

"What I would do is re-enter the Iran nuclear agreement, take away those sanctions that have been put in place so that Iran is brought back into an agreement where they are complying, we have inspectors going in," Gabbard said. "Every single day that this doesn't happen, Iran is moving forward towards developing a nuclear weapon."

"Our troops deploying now to Saudi Arabia at his direction are not there serving the interests of the American people or our own national security," she added.




Turkey Has Become a Haven for Terrorist Groups
Four years ago this coming Tuesday, a group of Hamas operatives murdered Eitam and Naama Henkin while they were driving with their children. Earlier this week, the four children—who were injured but survived the attack—filed suit in a federal court against the Turkish bank Kuveyt Turk, which they accuse of providing financial assistance to Hamas. (Since Eitam Henkin had American citizenship, the case can be tried in the U.S.) Jonathan Schanzer and Aykan Erdemir write:

The lawsuit against this . . . bank, which counts the Turkish government as a shareholder, comes two weeks after the U.S. Treasury sanctioned eleven Turkey-linked entities and individuals for supporting Hamas and other jihadist outfits. . . . Between 2012 and 2015, Tehran [too] relied on Turkish banks and a gold trader with dual Iranian-Turkish citizenship to circumvent U.S. sanctions at the height of Washington’s efforts to thwart the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. It was the biggest sanctions-evasions scheme in recent history.

Turkey has also proved a forgiving host to terrorists. . . . Islamic State terrorists continued to operate from Turkish territory well into 2018. . . . Saleh Arouri, the Hamas military commander responsible for the 2014 kidnapping and killing of three teens in the West Bank, spearheaded that operation from Turkish soil. . . . Arouri is just one of many Hamas operatives who have operated in Turkey. In 2011, ten Hamas operatives released by Israel as part of a prisoner exchange arrived in Turkey, and many remain active there.

It’s already clear that Erdogan’s Turkey has become a permissive jurisdiction for illicit and terror finance. But this new case on behalf of an American victim of terrorism and members of his family could finally begin to hold the regime in Turkey responsible.
A new investigation alleges Nutella could be made with Turkish child labour, and now Aussie supermarkets want answers
While Nutella has previously faced criticism for its use of palm oil, it’s now under fire for a different ingredient – the humble hazelnut.

Three quarters of the world’s hazelnut supply are produced in Turkey, with a new BBC investigation revealing that many of the nation’s farms use child labourers. That puts Nutella and its parent company Ferrero – the world’s largest hazelnut buyer º in a tight spot. The product is wholly reliant on hazelnuts, buying a staggering one-quarter of the entire global supply to make its cocoa spread.

The BBC has reported that the majority of hazelnut pickers are Kurdish migrants, including children. The Kurds are an ethnic minority group living predominately in the poor south and east of Turkey. For their physical labour on one of the 400,000 small hazelnut farms dotted around Turkey, they can be paid as little as $13 a day according to the BBC.

Once the nuts are picked they are then sold on to traders by the sack before Ferrero gets its hands on them. That convoluted supply chain makes it difficult to ascertain exactly what kind of labour was used, Ferrero maintains.

“We are determined to prevent and eliminate child labour all along our supply chains, with the conviction that every child should be protected, by all possible means, from any form of exploitation,” a spokesperson told Business Insider Australia.

“Ferrero is committed to contributing to influencing and driving sustainable changes in the hazelnut production sector. This includes combatting child labour with a multi-stakeholder approach… the complexity of the hazelnut supply chain means it cannot be transformed by one single actor, and cooperation is absolutely essential to tackling the issue of child labour.”



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