Monday, January 06, 2020

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: Don’t mourn Soleimani
Unfortunately, because of the polarization that has become more extreme under Trump, his political rivals found it impossible to praise him. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and fellow progressives went so far as to introduce legislation to block funding for any military action connected with Iran without congressional authorization.

Similar sentiments were expressed by other representatives of the Left, emphasizing the possible risk of war as a result of the targeted assassination.

What they ignore is the very high and escalating risk of war that existed under Soleimani, which the arch terrorist himself fostered. As British commentator Maajid Nawaz put it in part of a longer tweet, those opposed to the targeted killing will “proactively and without invitation condemn ‘America in the region’ without saying anything at all about ‘Iran in the region.’”

Care should be taken not to turn this into a partisan issue, despite the obvious temptation to do so in a presidential election year.
Similarly, this should not be seen as the US carrying out Israel’s dirty work for it. It’s true that Israel, across the broad political spectrum including some of the Arab parties, welcomed the removal of Soleimani. So, too, did Saudi Arabia. As did many people struggling against Iran’s pernicious and spreading control in the region.

Iran might want to turn Soleimani into a martyr, but he was no saint. He should not be mourned or missed by anybody with a sense of moral decency.

Israeli Analyst: Killing Soleimani Comparable to Killing Holocaust Architect Reinhard Heydrich
Veteran Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari told Israel's Channel 12: Soleimani's execution "is the most important assassination from the Jewish point of view since the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the Final Solution, in Prague in 1942."

"This man was the brains and the engine of the Iranian machine that is trying to wrap the Middle East in the arms of an octopus. He was the head of the octopus in this regard."

"He is the man that conceived the idea of how to slowly tie the noose around Israel's neck, so I say - second only to Heydrich."

As a high-ranking officer in the SS, Heydrich headed the Wannsee Conference that approved plans for the genocide of the Jews. He was killed by Czech partisans.
Photos: Top 10 atrocities from the now-vaunted Soleimani
As creeps like Rep. Ilhan Omar denounce the rubout of Iranian terrorist kingpin Qassem Soleimani as the killing of a "foreign official," the press calls him "a farm boy" or "icon," and stupid Hollywood celebrities send their condolences to "the Iranian people," (who are celebrating, actually) the ugly hard reality remains that Qassem Soleimani, leader of the terrorist Quds force, was a monster, a stone-cold killer of innocents, the driving force behind Iran as a state sponsor of terror. His funeral song should be "That Smell." He stunk of death all around him and liked the stench. According to the Washington Post:

“The warfront is mankind’s lost paradise,” Soleimani said in a 2009 interview. “One type of paradise that is portrayed for mankind is streams, beautiful nymphs and greeneries. But there is another kind of paradise. ... The warfront was the lost paradise of the human beings, indeed.”

But this isn't stopping the left from lionizing the beast. Here's a list, in no particular order, of the worst of what he did:

10. The first 9/11s. Soleimani was involved in the still-unpunished bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992 and the even bigger AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed more than 100 people. Up until then, mass casualty murder of civilians was not a terrorist 'thing.' After that, it was. AMIA was said to be the first 9/11, the model for this sick new mode of terror which culminated in 9/11. Soleimani wasn't the chief of the Quds force at the time but the Guardian reports he was thought to have been in on it. We know he got promoted not too long after.

This list is just a little list. The beast's terrorism career extended across the world, with his involvement in attacks in India, in Thailand, in France. He's the creep who gave Hugo Chavez all that protection and entrenchment in Venezuela. Remember the bizarre assassination bid against the Saudi ambassador that originated in Texas? Him again. He never stopped aiming for the big atrocities. Let him explain them now as he meets his Maker.

Noah Rothman: A conservative foreign policy manifesto
Critics of America’s extroverted role in the world do have a point. The U.S. currently deploys roughly 200,000 service personnel to countries all around the world. That’s an astonishing deployment for a nation at relative peace.

But where exactly are those deployments? Roughly 13,000 U.S. troops operate in an advisory capacity in Afghanistan, protecting American interests and civilian contractors from Taliban insurgents. Six thousand U.S. soldiers are stationed in Iraq, where they helped local forces successfully push ISIS back from cities it occupied only a few short years after U.S. troops abandoned the country entirely in 2011. Between 45,000 and 65,000 soldiers are stationed elsewhere in the Middle East in defense of U.S. allies against terrorist organizations and Iran, which is executing a dangerous campaign of terrorism and sabotage across the region.

Seventy-eight thousand U.S. soldiers are stationed in Japan and South Korea, where they help contain a nuclear-armed state supporter of terrorism (North Korea) and an increasingly aggressive near-peer competitor (China). There are 35,000 U.S. forces stationed in Europe, where Russia has become the first nation to invade and annex sovereign soil on the continent since 1945 and is currently prosecuting a shooting war against Ukraine (an action it took only months after America withdrew thousands of troops and the last of its armored divisions from the continent in 2013). Seven thousand American soldiers are stationed in Africa, helping to combat Islamist terrorist groups in places such as Chad, Somalia, Mali, and Niger. And, finally, about 2,000 advisors and Special Forces are training and supporting humanitarian and counterterrorism operations in Latin America and the Pacific.

There is a reason why the last three consecutive U.S. presidents campaigned on a platform that advocated a humbler foreign policy but abandoned that pledge when in office. The devil is in the details. Which of these deployments are ancillary? Which missions are expendable? In what regions are vital American interests not at stake? American commitments abroad are easier to demagogue in the aggregate than they are individually.

Of course, the U.S. can and has disengaged from theaters where it once had substantial military, financial, and diplomatic commitments, but those successful disengagements were predicated on dramatic changes in the security situation in those theaters. Such changes cannot be willed into existence on artificial political timetables set in Washington.

Aspirants to high office in the U.S. too often profess their distaste for American commitments abroad. But the task before every serious thinker on the issue is to posit a viable alternative to those commitments. And when those alternatives beget civil conflict, power vacuums, socially destabilizing refugee crises, the disruption of international commerce, or the prospect of great power conflict, sober minds should conclude that the cure is worse than the disease.
Prepare for potential broad war between Iran and US – INSS annual report
As tensions heat up between Iran, the US and Israel following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani last week, the absence of a stable government will harm Jerusalem’s ability to achieve its broader national security and foreign affairs goals, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) said in its annual report on Monday.

This lack of stability could be highly problematic, according to the report, if Iran and the US slip into a broader war that could engulf the region.

The report was delivered by INSS executive director Amos Yadlin to President Reuven Rivlin on Monday. Researchers worked to add an additional, special section ahead of the presentation that covers the implications of the assassination of Soleimani, Iran’s IRGC Quds Force leader.

According to the report, a vast array of challenges, leading with Iran, are confronting the country “against the backdrop of a continuing political crisis in Israel that will make it difficult to developed updated strategies.
The report explained some of what the institute believes will be Israel's major challenges in the near future, including that "Iran’s increased daring and determination in the nuclear arena," as well as its attempts to establish a presence in Syria and other areas, could provide it with "new abilities to act against Israel."

The report also noted that “Hezbollah’s attempts to obtain a large number of precision weapons and the efforts of Hamas to reduce the pressure on Gaza and to impact the terms of an understanding with Israel,” are major challenges.
Foes Can't Beat Him with Caricatures
Far from retreating in the face of alleged Russian expansionism, the US has increased the number of its troops in Europe and released military aid to Ukraine, frozen under President Barack Obama.

The same caricature is used to censure President Donald Trump for his refusal to enact he so-called Paris Climate Agreement. However, the fact is that none of those who signed the accord, including is main promoters have fulfilled their promises.

Trump has forced China to engage in trade talks designed to persuade Beijing's leadership to comply with rules and norms of fair trade that could ultimately benefit Europe as well.

Relations may have cooled somewhat with Germany, France and Canada where US protection was taken for granted and America-bashing had become a popular sport. Instead, Trump has warmed up relations with countries that regard of the US as an ally and not as a mere partner in a loose coalition, among them Brazil, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Israel and Great Britain.
Canada’s recent, though rare, vote against Israel at UN sparks concern in Jewish circles
Aside from the United States, Canada has been one of Israel’s most stalwart allies on the international stage, often voting against one-sided resolutions targeting the Jewish state. However, a number of recent votes by Canada at the United Nations have led to growing concern that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be shifting towards a more critical stance on Israel.

In early December, Canada voted in favor of a U.N. General Assembly resolution that supports Palestinian self-determination while denouncing Israel’s presence in Jerusalem, characterizing it as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The resolution, co-sponsored by North Korea, also condemns Israel’s security barrier—built in 2004 during the Second Intifada and helps protect the country against suicide-bombings—by claiming it “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

That vote, which passed 167-5 with 11 abstentions, follows a preliminary vote in late November at the Third Committee, where Canada also voted “yes.” Canada’s vote went against its own principled record over two decades in opposing the annual targeting of Israel through 20 one-sided resolutions, according to the Geneva-based U.N. Watch.

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn rejected Trudeau’s claim that the votes were meant to support a two-state solution, saying that Canada could have issued a public statement that, for example, told the United Nations that it cannot expect a “yes” vote on such resolutions until it “takes a more balanced and objective approach on Israel.”

Mostyn continued, saying, “Anti-Israel positions and attitudes in U.N. bodies feed a vicious circle, which is used to equate these positions as support for anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. This vote reflects poorly on Canada’s record as a defender of democracy and justice. It will be a stain on Canada’s reputation. The key point is that strong words in defense of Israel at the U.N. must go hand-in-hand with a concrete demonstration of courage when the chips are down.”

Not invited to speak, Poland president may skip major Jerusalem Holocaust forum
Amid a bitter Russian-Polish disagreement over the history of the beginning of World War II, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda is set to skip a major Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem later this month because he was not invited to speak at the event.

Five foreign leaders are scheduled to address the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, which is scheduled to take place on January 23 at the Yad Vashem memorial museum in Jerusalem in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Representing the winners of World War II are Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prince Charles of the UK and a senior US official, most likely Vice President Mike Pence.

Speaking on behalf of the “perpetrators” will be Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a spokesman for Yad Vashem said.

In addition, President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Holocaust survivors are expected to address the event, which will be attended by “dozens of world leaders,” according to organizers.

Poland’s President Duda was widely expected to participate in the event as well, but has recently indicated that he will only come if he is allowed to speak there.

“It turns out that presidents Putin, Steinmeier and Macron will be speaking, but the Polish president will not. I do not agree to this,” he said Sunday evening in an interview with a state-owned television station in Warsaw.
Gelsenkirchen: German police shoot knifeman dead
German police have shot dead a man who tried to attack officers with a knife in the western city of Gelsenkirchen.

Police say a search of the man's flat later did not suggest a terrorist motive. The 37-year-old Turkish citizen is thought to have been mentally ill.

He struck a police car with a stick and attempted to assault two officers standing by the vehicle, police said.

He was also wielding a knife and was shot four times after refusing to heed a shouted warning, police said.

Police are examining electronic data seized in their search of the man's flat and checking reports that he shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) during the attack.
IDF Data Shows Rocket Attacks Up, Terror Attacks Down in 2019
The Israel Defense Forces released a report on Sunday summarizing Israel’s military activity in 2019.

According to the report, terrorist acts declined in 2019, while rocket-fire at Israeli population centers rose—1,295 rockets were launched from Gaza, with 729 landing in open areas and 478 being intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, according to the report. About 85 percent of the rockets targeted population centers.

The tally was the highest in a single year since 2014, when Israel fought its third war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Terror attacks stood at 51—approximately one per week—in 2019, down from 76 in 2018.

The Israel Air Force carried out over 1,800 combat deployments and over 40,000 flight hours with unmanned aerial vehicles in one of its busiest years in the past decade, also taking part in 213 rescue missions which evacuated 158 wounded people, primarily civilians.
Palestinian convicted in murder of Ari Fuld
Palestinian Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin was convicted by the Judea Military Court on Monday in the murder of well-known American-Israeli activist Ari Fuld as well as for three other murder attempts.

Fuld, 45, was stabbed in the upper back on September 16, 2018, outside the Gush Etzion shopping center, by Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, a 17-year-old Palestinian from Yatta, south of Hebron.

Fuld's widow, Miriam, responded to the verdict, saying, "Almost sixteen months have passed since that terrible day that Ari was taken from us so suddenly... today the military courts have finally convicted the terrorist that so brutally attacked and killed Ari."

"Ari, who so loved his people and his country, fought to defend and protect them until his last breath. Today, we finally get to see some justice for him," she said. "Until, we learn to stand up and defend our people... we will never truly be safe and free in our own country."
PMW: Abbas' Fatah enters 2020 flaunting terror
Abbas’ Fatah Movement intends to continue using violence and terror against Israel in 2020. That is the clear message Fatah chose to proclaim through its 55th anniversary celebrations. In Bethlehem and Salfit, for example, numerous Palestinian men and women participated in anniversary marches and demonstrations carrying assault rifles and handguns, and wearing military uniforms and masks.

At one march, a group of masked women with automatic rifles and a young girl holding a pistol posed together for a picture.

At some marches, posters were displayed of arch-terrorist Abu Jihad who orchestrated the murders of 125, and of terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi who led the Coastal Road massacre in 1978 in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 37 Israeli civilians, among them 12 children.

Young women carry poster of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi in Bethlehem
Text on sign: "Fatah Movement – Bethlehem Branch – self-sacrificing fighter (Fida’iya)
of Palestine Martyr Dalal Mughrabi" [Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 1, 2020]

Here are some additional images from Fatah’s terror promoting rallies posted by Fatah on its official Facebook page:

From a Fatah demonstration in Salfit:
Posted text: “The young people of Salfit hold a military demonstration on the 55th anniversary of the establishment of the glorious Palestinian revolution (i.e., anniversary of first Fatah terror attack; see note below). #Fatah55” [Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 3, 2020]

Qassem Suleimani’s Reign of Terror Comes to an End
As the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani has for many years directed both Tehran’s own soldiers and its network of local militias throughout the Middle East. Michael Doran analyzes his blood-soaked career and the significance of his death at the hands of the American military:

Suleimani built Lebanese Hizballah into the powerful state within a state that we know today. A terrorist organization receiving its funds, arms, and marching orders from Tehran, Hizballah has a missile arsenal larger than that of most countries in the region. The group’s success has been astounding, helping to cement Iran’s influence not just in Lebanon but farther around the Arab world.

Building up on this successful experience, Suleimani spent the last decade replicating the Hizballah model in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, propping up local militias with precision weapons and tactical know-how. In Syria, his forces have allied with Russia to rescue the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a project that, in practice, has meant driving over 10 million people from their homes and killing well over half a million.

In Iraq . . . Suleimani’s militias ride roughshod over the legitimate state institutions. They rose to power, of course, after participating in an insurgency, of which he was the architect, against American and coalition forces. Hundreds of American soldiers lost their lives to the weapons that the Quds Force provided to its Iraqi proxies.

His departure will make Iran much weaker. It will embolden the country’s regional rivals—primarily Israel and Saudi Arabia—to pursue their strategic interests more resolutely. It will also instill in the protesters in Iran, Lebanon, and, especially, Iraq, the hope that they will one day wrest control of their governments from the talons of the Islamic Republic.
Why the Death of Iranian Commander Soleimani Won't Mean World War III
After years of striding across the Middle East seemingly in command of the region, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran's Quds Brigade, was finally killed by American airstrikes early Friday. History will not mourn one of the great mass murderers of our time who was responsible for scores of dead, mostly Arab and American.

In the past decade, Soleimani turned terrorism into an effective instrument of Iran's imperial expansion by marshaling a transnational Shia expeditionary force that has prevailed in conflicts across the Middle East. His death will be a blow to the Iranian theocracy but could very likely temper the clerical oligarchs, who tend to retreat in the face of American determination.

As Soleimani began expanding Iran's imperial frontiers, he understood that Persians would not be willing to die in distant battlefields for the sake of Arabs, so he focused on recruiting Arabs and Afghans as an auxiliary force. In Iraq, that meant killing and maiming nearly 1,000 American service members. In Syria, that meant enabling President Assad's killing machine.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is a cagey leader who did not become one of the longest serving rulers in the Middle East by impetuously going to war with America. The clerical oligarchs respect American determination and understand the imbalance between a superpower and a struggling regional actor. We should not expect Iran to take on a president who just ordered the killing of one of their famed commanders.

When Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency, Iran hastily released the American diplomats it had held hostage for 444 days. When George W. Bush's shock and awe campaign quickly displaced the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Iran responded by suspending its nuclear program.
White House: Eliminating Soleimani Should Have Been Done Long Ago
President Donald Trump said Saturday: "The United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him."

"For years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force, under Soleimani's leadership, has targeted, injured and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen....Today, we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani's many atrocities and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over. Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years. What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved."

"We took the action last night to stop a war. We did not take the action to start a war....However, the Iranian regime's aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors, must end and it must end now. The future belongs to the people of Iran, those who seek peaceful coexistence and cooperation, not the terrorist warlords, who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad."

"If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary, and that in particular refers to Iran."
Mike Pompeo Responds To Iranian Threats During Multiple Interviews On Sunday
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded on Sunday to Iranian threats toward the United States in response to the U.S. military killing Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani by saying that the U.S. is prepared for whatever Iran does, and is prepared to hit back harder.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press,” Pompeo said that the U.S. was “prepared for everything” in response to a question about Iran retaliating against the United States.

“We’ve all known about Qasem Soleimani for a long time,” Pompeo said. “He’s been a terrorist. He’s a designated terrorist. He’s someone who’s inflicted many deaths on Americans, over 600 in Iraq and countless other places.”

“He was even connected to what happened in Beirut so many years ago,” Pompeo continued. “This was different in the sense of we’d seen recent deaths, recent killings. On December 27th a strike, an operation conducted by Kataeb Hezbollah, directed and orchestrated by Soleimani himself – killed an American. We could see that he was continuing down this path; that there were in fact plots that he was working on that were aimed directly at significant harm to American interests throughout the region, not just in Iraq. President Trump made the decision this was the time to stop this reign of terror.”

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper, Pompeo noted that the strike was an effort to “restore deterrence that frankly is a need that results directly from the fact that the previous administration left us in a terrible place with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Team Obama appeased Iran, and it led to Shia militias with money,” Pompeo continued. “Hamas, the PIJ, hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed by Soleimani himself. This was the place we found ourselves when we came in, and we have developed a strategy to [attempt to] convince the Iranian regime to behave like a normal nation – that’s what our strategy is about. We have been executing it, we will continue to do so. We have every expectation that we will ultimately achieve that goal.”
Has Iran become more aggressive during the Trump administration?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joins 'Fox News Sunday' to discuss the current state of U.S. relations with Iran after the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Andrew C. McCarthy: Targeting Soleimani Was Justified, Legally and Strategically
When there are forcible threats to the U.S., the president has not merely the power but the obligation to repel them. Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of the Iranian-backed PMF in Iraq, were in the act of making war on the U.S. In late 2019, Muhandis' Hezbollah Brigades, backed by Soleimani, carried out repeated attacks on U.S. coalition forces in Iraq. There were 11 attacks on bases housing U.S. military personnel in the last two months.

The inconvenient fact is that the revolutionary jihadist regime in Iran has considered itself at war with the U.S. for 40 years. Soleimani was not "assassinated." He was an enemy combatant commander who became a combat casualty because of a righteous responsive strike, conducted while he was in the act of levying war by directing his forces.

The strategies of Trump's predecessors were to hope that a committed jihadist enemy would come to its senses, hope that it would realize its purported interest in regional stability, and hope that by bribing it with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, ransom, and an industrial-strength nuclear program, we could de-escalate the conflict. The U.S. has demonstrated to the mullahs what can happen when resolve backs our exponentially superior capabilities. Peace through strength is the better plan.
Bret Stephens (NYTs): The Justice of Killing Soleimani
What shouldn't be in doubt is the justice of killing Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

In 2004, Soleimani began flooding Iraq with lethal roadside bombs which killed hundreds of Americans.

In 2005, the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, and 21 others were killed in a massive car bombing in Beirut, carried out by Hizbullah. "There were Iranians on the phones directing the attack," a former CIA official said. "If indeed Iran was involved, Soleimani was undoubtedly at the center of this."

In 2006, Hizbullah operatives abducted and killed Israeli soldiers in an operation that was carried out with Soleimani's help. It sparked a month-long war in which thousands of people were killed.

There's a great deal more. He was an evil man who died as he had killed so many others.
The Old Foreign-Policy Rulebook Shielded Bad Actors
Qasem Soleimani was the mastermind of the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. No matter how much mayhem he spread, he believed that he was untouchable. And three American administrations run by both Democrats and Republicans validated that belief, forgoing opportunities to kill the man who had the blood of many Americans and countless Syrians, Lebanese, Israelis and others on his hands. But following the orchestration of attacks on American forces in Iraq and an assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Soleimani's get-out-of-jail free card given by the international community expired.

What happened was more than a settling of scores. It proclaimed that the old rules by which Iran had been able to do its worst against the U.S., Israel and the West - never to face any consequences - were no longer valid. The foreign-policy rulebook that had restrained America in the past wound up shielding bad actors like Soleimani.

Killing Soleimani won't start a war; Iran has been waging a hot war against America and its allies for years. The Soleimani operation makes it clear to Iran's leaders, perhaps for the first time, that the costs of their provocations are now going to be borne by them, and not only their foes. Playing by rules that served the interests of a rogue regime is what endangered American lives and interests by making Iran stronger and feeling less constrained about employing its brutal tactics.
A world in which the world's leading state sponsor of terror is afraid of the U.S. can't be much worse than one in which the ayatollahs have nothing but contempt for Washington's resolve to defend American interests.

Key US allies push to deescalate crisis with Iran after top general killed
German, French and British leaders agreed on Sunday to work together to deescalate the situation in the Middle East, where tensions have been high since an American drone killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, a German government spokesman said.

Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s Quds Force, was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport on Sunday.

“The Chancellor (Angela Merkel), the French President (Emmanuel Macron) and the British Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) have agreed to work together to reduce tensions in the region,” the spokesman said after Merkel had spoken by telephone with her British and French counterparts.

The three leaders “agree that deescalation is now urgent,” added the spokesman. “Iran in particular is urged to exercise restraint in the current circumstances,” he said.
The wreckage of an American airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. (Social media)

Macron on Sunday assured US counterpart Donald Trump of “his complete solidarity” and urged Iran to avoid “military escalation that could aggravate instability in the region.”

Macron noted “mounting tensions in Iraq and in the region,” and expressed concern that Iranian forces that were commanded by Soleimani could take actions that would destabilize the region, in a statement issued by the Elysee presidential office.

The French president “reiterated the necessity that Iran put an end” to such activities.

“The priority should be pursuing international coalition action against Daesh, with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, for its security and for regional stability,” Macron said, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State group.

Britain’s Johnson, who also spoke with Trump, issued a similar statement on Sunday.

“General Qassem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilizing behavior in the region,” he said. “Given the leading role he has played in actions that have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and western personnel, we will not lament his death.”

Iran just withdrew from the nuke deal – but not really
Now that Iran has tossed the 2015 nuclear deal, the world needs to prepare for the bumpy, ever-escalating avalanche toward a conflict that could be not only between the United States and Iran, but that might also include Israel.

Or do we really need to get ready?

The Islamic republic's announcement on Sunday that it had ended all restrictions on uranium enrichment was the least significant violation to date.

One might ask: Isn't the country racing toward a nuclear bomb?

This is not so clear, and it depends on a few factors.

There are two other announcements that would mean a dash toward a nuclear bomb: either that Iran is enriching its uranium to a much higher percentage (at least 20% or higher), or that Tehran is reattaching and activating many of its centrifuges. This would be especially indicative if it includes more of its second-generation IR-2m centrifuges.

A third announcement, that it was kicking out the IAEA inspectors, might also show that Iran was making a dash, but Iranian officials specifically said they would keep the inspectors.

Ha'aretz: Soleimani's Successor Will Have to Take into Account the Vulnerability of Iran's Oil Terminals
Qasem Soleimani's successor, Esmail Ghaani, who served as second in command of the Quds Force since 1997, must take into account the implications of Iran's response to Soleimani's death.

Iran's oil terminals in the Persian Gulf, mostly controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, are an easy target for the U.S. Air Force and Navy.

The bases of the Shi'ite militias in Iraq proved their sensitivity last week to American attacks, while a decision to completely withdraw from the nuclear deal would play right into the hands of Israel and the U.S.
Soleimani’s successor promises ‘bodies of Americans’ across the Middle East
Esmail Ghaani, the successor to slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, threatened the US Friday following his appointment to head the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations arm.

“Be patient, and you will see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East,” Ghaani said.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, named Ghaani as Soleimani’s successor, saying “following the martyrdom of the glorious general haj Qassem Soleimani, I name Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani as the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

The US killed Soleimani in an airstrike early Friday in Baghdad, saying the powerful commander of the Quds force was planning a significant campaign of violence against the United States.

Ghaani was described by Khamenei as one of the “most decorated commanders” of the Guards during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. He has been deputy commander of the force for some two decades.

“The orders for the [Quds] Force remain exactly as they were during the leadership of martyr Soleimani,” said the supreme leader.

MEMRI: Al-Jazeera Reporting Following Soleimani's Killing: Retaliation Is 'Something Absolute And Inevitable' And Its Arena Will Stretch From Palestine To Uzbekistan
In the days since the January 3, 2020 U.S. killing of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, Al-Jazeera has published numerous op-eds on its English-language website. For example, Ibrahim Al-Marashi, identified as an associate professor at the Department of History, California State University, San Marcos, wrote on January 3 that Soleimani's assassination "may prove to be U.S. President Donald Trump's most reckless foreign policy decision in the Middle East" and that "the events of the last week demonstrate how the U.S. continues to misunderstand the ramifications of its actions in the Middle East."

Sultan Barakat, identified as Professor of Politics at the University of York, UK, provided a summary of the events leading up to Soleimani's killing, and termed "promising" the Qatari foreign minister's January 4 visit to Tehran and his call for "finding a peaceful solution to reduce the tension." He added: "Qatar enjoys the respect and trust of both Iran and the United States and has a direct interest in defusing the tension, given it hosts the largest U.S. airbase in the region and shares gas fields with Iran."

In fact, the Qatari foreign minister's visit to Iran conveyed a different message – he was accompanied by a delegation and met first with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, and only afterwards with his counterpart Javad Zarif. His meeting with Rohani bore all the trappings of a conventional condolence visit; indeed, on social media, one tweet described it as just that and quoting the foreign minister as telling Rohani: "We convey to you from Qatar our warm condolences for the martyrdom of General Qassem Soleimani, a loss to the people."
MEMRI: Shi'ite Militias In Iraq Threaten To Target U.S. Bases There: Iraqi Forces Should Keep Their Distance From These Bases; Our Missiles Are Prepared
In response to the January 2, 2020 assassination of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian IRGC's Qods Force, and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy head of Al-Hashd Al-Sha'bi (Popular Moilization Forces – PMF), Iraqi Shi'ite militias implicitly threatened to target U.S. bases in Iraq, warning the Iraqi security forces to keep away from them starting January 5 in the evening. In addition, an official in the militias called to enable "martyrdom-seekers" to volunteer for suicide missions against the foreign forces in Iraq.

The following is a translation of these statements:
A January 4 announcement by the Hizbullah Brigades' Special Operations Command called on the Iraqi forces to "maintain a distance of at least one kilometer from the bases of the American enemy, starting Sunday evening," and added: "The commanders of the [Iraqi] security forces must uphold the principle of ensuring the safety of their troops and not let them be used as human shields for the occupying crusaders."[1]

On January 3, 2020, the Hizbullah Brigades military chief, Abu 'Ali Al-'Askari, called to provide "martyrdom seekers" with the opportunity to volunteer for suicide missions against the foreign forces in Iraq. He tweeted: "'Mobilize, light or heavy, and strive with your possessions and your lives in the cause of God' [Quran 9:2]. I call to open registration for martyrdom seekers to carry out martyrdom operations against the foreign crusader occupation forces. I would be honored to be the first to sign up, and with Allah's help I will be the first of the martyrdom seekers."[2]
Israeli Analyst: Most Iraqi Shiites Did Not Mourn Soleimani
Veteran Middle East analyst Ehud Yaari noted, "The most important event of the last day following Soleimani's assassination is what did not happen: Baghdad's Shiites did not take to the streets to participate in a funeral procession." This demonstrates the crumbling of Iranian influence over Iraqi Shiites, who "have gone to Baghdad's squares for weeks to protest the government and burn [Iranian Supreme Leader] Khamenei's and Soleimani's pictures."
"It turns out that most Shiites in Iraq are unwilling to join Soleimani's adulation as a fairy-tale hero and do not want to see Iraq become a battlefield between Iran and the United States." Yaari also pointed out that "most Shiite militias deployed by Iran in Iraq have left the country in recent days for fear of further assassinations by the Americans."

Khamenei "in no way wants war. He would like to drag the United States into a skirmish in the form of attrition around the presence of 5,000 American troops in Iraq, but he does not want to provoke Tomahawk missiles and the U.S. Air Force. Iran has no answer to U.S. capabilities."

Avi Melamed, President of Inside the Middle East: Intelligence Perspectives, noted, "Some argue that the assassination of Soleimani will increase tensions in the Middle East. This outlook confuses cause and effect: Tensions in the Middle East have intensified over the past decade because of the violent Iranian aggression which Soleimani spearheaded."
Suleimani demise: Iranian Jews relieved but fearful
Among Los Angeles’ Iranian Jewish community, many responded positively to Suleimani’s assassination.

Some who were doing their pre-Shabbat shopping in Pico-Robertson described Suleimani as an enemy of Israel, which has been locked with Iran and Saudi Arabia in a struggle for regional dominance.

An Iranian Realtor carrying bags of Shabbat groceries said the U.S. needed to take action after pro-Iranian militias attacked the U.S. Embassy in Iraq earlier this week — the event that apparently triggered Thursday’s military response.

“The concern is about effects that will happen around the region, but I don’t think the U.S. could [just] stand there,” said the man, who fled Iran with his family during the Islamic Revolution and did not want to be identified.

“I think Trump needed to make a stand in some way.”

Tabby Refael, an Iranian refugee and a prominent voice in L.A.'s Persian Jewish community, said “the first ones to breathe a sigh of relief were the Persian Jews, because Suleimani was not only an enemy of the Iranian people, he was an enemy of the Jewish people.”

She and others in the Persian Jewish community said their most immediate concern was for family in Israel rather than about any direct retaliation against the U.S.
Iranian Jewish leaders visit Soleimani’s home to pay condolences
Representatives of the Jewish community in Iran visited the home of former Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Sunday to express their condolences for his death in a US airstrike early Friday.

The Jewish leaders, as well as representatives of some of the other religious minorities in Iran, expressed their regret over Soleimani’s demise.

Hours after Soleimani was killed, the Jewish community issued a statement that unequivocally condemned the US action, apparently to create a distinction between the Jewish religion and Zionism, and possibly to avoid being targeted in retaliation.

"God will avenge the blood of Soleimani," the message declared.

According to the Israeli religious news website Bahadrei Hadarim (, it reported that visitors to Soleimani’s home included Chief Rabbi of Tehran, Yehuda Gerami.

Rani Amrani of Israel’s RadioRan, which broadcasts in Farsi, explained that it was "very important to minorities [in Iran], especially the Jews," to condemn Soleimani’s death.
British imam says Muslims should 'aspire to be like' Qassem Soleimani in tribute to 'martyred' general at London Islamic Centre
An imam paid a passionate tribute to assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani outside the Islamic Centre of England yesterday, describing him as a martyr and saying that people should 'aspire to be like him'.

Dozens of Muslims attended a memorial service held at the religious hub in Maida Vale, London.

The imam, speaking in front of the building, addressed mourners and heaped praise on the slain general.

The crowds had squeezed into the building and sat beneath a painting of the Islamic Republic's second-in-command and Iraqi military commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, as they paid their respects to those massacred in the US airstrikes.

The imam said: 'I would like to give you all my condolences but I would also like to congratulate you.

'We are lucky enough to live in a time where we can see, touch and feel a man like Qassem Soleimani and we hope and we pray and we work hard to make sure that there will be many many more Qassem Soleimanis.

'We aspire to become like him, we are jealous and we want the same thing for ourselves and our loved ones.
Killing Trump wouldn’t be revenge enough for Soleimani, says top Iran general
A top commander of Iran’s missile array said Monday that even killing US President Donald Trump would not be satisfactory retribution for America’s slaying of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps senior commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Rather, only the complete removal of US forces from the entire Middle East would suffice, said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, who is in charge of missiles that can hit US bases across the region.

Speaking on the sidelines of the massive funeral for Soleimani in Tehran, Hajizadeh said that revenge required more than “just four missiles, targeting a US base, or even killing Trump,” Iran Front Page reported.

“None of these have the same value as the blood of this martyr,” Hajizadeh said. “The only thing that can compensate the blood of this martyr [Soleimani] is the complete destruction of America in the region.”

He also said that Trump, who “fled the Vietnam War, had better order coffins for American soldiers,” apparently a reference to Trump’s five deferments, which kept him out of the army and the Southeast Asia conflict in the late 1960s.

George Lopez On Rumored Iranian Bounty On Trump: ‘We’ll Do It For Half’
Comedian George Lopez appeared to back a rumored $80 million bounty placed on President Donald Trump from the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday, writing on Instagram, “We’ll do it for half.”

An Instagram account posted a graphic that stated: “Iran ‘offers $80 million bounty for Donald Trump’s head’ after death of general.”

The Instagram account wrote in a caption: “#Iranian authorities have put a bounty on American President Donald Trump’s head during the televised funeral of General #QasemSoleimani after he was assassinated last week. What are your thoughts?”

George Lopez responded, “We’ll do it for half.”
Here’s George Lopez saying he’ll take Trump’s life for half the bounty. A real class act.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 6, 2020
Lopez’s remarks are just the latest in a long list of controversial remarks that have been made by celebrities against Trump.
Ben Rhodes, Creator of Iran Deal ‘Echo Chamber’, Complains About NYT Coverage of Soleimani Strike
Ben Rhodes, the former national security aide to President Barack Obama who created the notorious “echo chamber” to spread fake news about the Iran deal, complained on Saturday that the media was not critical enough of President Donald Trump’s airstrike against Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week.

Rhodes retweeted a complaint about a New York Times article on Friday whose headline declared, “Trump Says He Ordered Killing of Iranian to Prevent New Attack on Americans.”

The headline did not vouch for the truth, or otherwise, of Trump’s claim, merely reporting that he had made it.

Ironically, Rhodes once admitted creating what he called an “echo chamber” to sell the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran to the American public.

In a 2016 profile, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru,” the Times reported:
Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters. In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

Contrary to what many experts — including in the administration itself — had been led to believe by the “echo chamber,” the deal did not stop Iran from eventually developing a nuclear weapon, nor did it preclude Iran from ballistic missile development.

American Trump Derangement Syndrome Is An Iranian Strategic Asset
One word summarizes the past three days since the killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, by an American drone on order of Donald Trump: Speculation.

The media is full of speculation as to what will happen next, from World War III (which apparently trended on Twitter and caused a server overload at the Selective Service Administration) to not much (because Iran is in no position to spark an all-out war), and everything in between. Reasonable and reasoned arguments can be made for dozens of scenarios (but not World War III).

What strikes me is how Trump Derangement Syndrome has overwhelmed the Democrat and media responses. This cannot be lost on the Iranians.

While the pleas for Mullah mercy from the likes of Rose McGowan and Michael Moore, and the woke rants of Colin Kaepernick, may be laughed off by the Mullahs as typical western weakness, the reaction of Democrat politicians is more serious and may lead to Iranian miscalculation that Americans will turn on Trump before they turn on the Mullahs.

It’s clear that Democrats are doing to the killing of Soleimani, who has the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands, what they did to Russia Collusion and every other anti-Trumpism that motivates their throbbing Trump-hating base.

Scalise reacts to the division on Capitol Hill over US airstrikes
Democrats suggest President Trump is using the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani as a distraction from impeachment; Rep. Steve Scalise weighs in. FOX News operates the FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOX News Radio, FOX News Headlines 24/7, and the direct-to-consumer streaming service, FOX Nation. FOX News also produces FOX News Sunday on FOX Broadcasting Company and FOX News Edge. A top five-cable network, FNC has been the most-watched news channel in the country for 17 consecutive years. According to a 2018 Research Intelligencer study by Brand Keys, FOX News ranks as the second most trusted television brand in the country. Additionally, a Suffolk University/USA Today survey states Fox News is the most trusted source for television news or commentary in the country, while a 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation survey found that among Americans who could name an objective news source, FOX News is the top-cited outlet. FNC is available in nearly 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape while routinely notching the top ten programs in the genre.

WATCH: ‘Anti-War’ Protests In New York City, Washington Quickly Turned Anti-Semitic, Anti-U.S.
ANSWER, the group that organized the protests (with some help from Code Pink), however, is an “intersectional” group that bills itself as an anti-war collective, and the marches experienced a fair amount of “mission creep,” with subgroups protesting against poverty, for workers’ rights, and, of course, against the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territories.

It wasn’t long before the New York City rally, particularly, devolved into an anti-Semitic tirade, with at least one speaker railing against the “racist monstrous state that sits on the land of Palestine that is known as Israel … free free Palestine end all aid to Israel.”

ANSWER Coalition was founded in the days after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to oppose the Bush Administration’s decision to attack targets in Afghanistan in order to wipe out the roots of international terrorism. The group’s initial marches billed themselves as opposed to “the Bush administration’s reactionary foreign and domestic policy and the IMF and World Bank,” but the group later organized itself as an “anti-racist, anti-war, peace and justice group.”

However, ANSWER is regarded by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the nation’s top-ten anti-Israel organizations and it regularly organizes anti-Israel protests featuring anti-Semitic rhetoric. ANSWER, ADL reports has “sponsored and organized numerous anti-Israel events, rallies and demonstrations” involving “anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, expressions of support for terror, and offensive Holocaust imagery likening Jews and Israelis to Nazis.”

The group, ADL continues, in its comprehensive report on ANSWER, has “repeatedly expressed support for terrorist groups determined to dismantle the state of Israel, including Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as ‘resistance’ groups fighting U.S. forces abroad.”

Saturday’s rallies were, of course, no exception.
Warren Refuses to Condemn Terror Master Soleimani
This week on the Sunday news shows: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) refused to condemn Iranian terror master Qassem Soleimani, retired Army general David Petraeus said President Donald Trump's decision to kill Soleimani may deter future attacks against American assets, and New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss said the national media have "absolutely" been slow in their coverage of anti-Semitism.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) on Sunday conspicuously refused to condemn Iranian terror master Qassem Soleimani, the deceased military leader responsible for hundreds of American deaths.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Warren described Soleimani, the leader of a designated terrorist organization, as "a high-ranking military official" and "government official."

"Look, it was a targeted attack on a government official, a high-ranking military official for the government of Iran, and what it has done has moved this country closer to war," Warren said. "We are not safer today than we were before Donald Trump acted."

The Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate further questioned the timing of the U.S. attack on Soleimani, prompting Tapper to ask whether she was suggesting this was a distraction from impeachment.

Iran Accepts Rose McGowan as Refugee (satire)
Calling it a sign of mercy towards the American people, the Iranian government has accepted Rose McGowan’s asylum claim following the actress’ tweet begging the ayatollahs’ forgiveness following recent US airstrikes.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s Supreme Leader, launched a daring mission to rescue McGowan after she tweeted, “We are being held hostage by a terrorist regime. We do not know how to escape. Please do not kill us.”

Khamenei told The Mideast Beast that Iranian fighter planes were already in the air, set to completely annihilate the US, when he read McGowan’s tweet. The Supreme Leader immediately called off the strike, instead opting to save the Charmed star from the American regime and ferry her to Tehran.

“I am so happy to finally be living in a non-terrorist country that would never disrespect another nation’s flag or people,” McGowan stated. “I am excited to bring both my art and my activism to my new country.”

As off press time, McGowan has been executed after leaving her hotel room with her head uncovered.

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Elder of Ziyon - ุญู€ูƒู€ูŠู€ู… ุตู€ู‡ู€ูŠู€ูˆู†

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


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