Thursday, January 09, 2020

From Ian:

Noah Rothman: Has Iran Blinked?
On Tuesday night, that response came in the form of a barrage of ballistic and cruise missiles launched from Iran at U.S. targets inside Iraq. But the volley produced no casualties—a conspicuous outcome given Iran’s capabilities. Their targets did not include some of the positions where the U.S. forces were concentrated in the largest numbers and excluded some likelier targets closer to the Iranian border. In the wake of the strike, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif talked about Iran’s retaliatory response in the past tense, telegraphing a desire to deescalate. Donald Trump’s refusal to respond to the Iranian volley indicates that Washington got the message.

It would be premature to suggest that the crisis is over, but it is possible that a worst-case scenario has been averted. For American policymakers, the most pressing threat posed by Iran is its capacity to execute deniable attacks against soft targets and civilians in theaters far removed from the Middle East. That threat will persist, but the prospect of direct and conventional conflict between the United States and Iran has dissipated for now. If Iran returns to a strategy of unconventional and asymmetric attacks against the U.S. and its allies, it would be a reversion to the status quo ante that has prevailed for the better part of the last 40 years. That’s hardly ideal, but it would represent a dramatic retreat from Iran’s strategy of taking direct (or implausibly deniable) action against U.S. and allied assets, personnel, and interests.

On Wednesday, commentators and media figures praised Iran’s restraint and suggested Tehran had provided the president with a way to deescalate the conflict if he so chose, but this is a myopic and unfair assessment of how the Trump White House managed this crisis. This administration didn’t accidentally stumble its way into a textbook strategy for defusing a cascading spiral of violence against a revisionist adversary. It’s too soon to say if Iran is once again deterred, but there is reason to be cautiously optimistic. If there is any credit to be doled out at this early stage, it’s the Trump administration, not the Mullahs, who deserve it.
Ben Shapiro: Trump’s Iran Policy Isn’t the Problem. Barack Obama’s Was.
This is a deliberate misreading of history designed to absolve the Obama administration of its Iran policy debacle. The administration pursued a policy of strengthening Iran economically — and did so while openly acknowledging that Iran would use that newly gained economic strength to pursue terrorism and ballistic missile testing. In speaking of the sanctions relief given to Iran, then-Secretary of State John Kerry explained in January 2016, “I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists.”

That’s precisely what happened. In March 2016, then-U.S. Central Command nominee Army Gen. Joseph Votel said that Iran had become “more aggressive” since the advent of the nuclear deal. Indeed, Iran has built up Hezbollah in Lebanon, propped up Bashar Assad in Syria, increased its presence in Iraq and bolstered its war in Yemen. In the past few months, Iran and its proxies have attacked shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, Saudi oil facilities, an American drone and an American embassy, among other targets. All of this occurred while the Trump administration did little or nothing in response.

Then Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani. Suddenly, we have been informed by dishonest Democrats and their media allies, Iran has gone rogue.

Nonsense. Iran has been rogue for decades. The Iran deal was simply an attempt to whistle past the graveyard with the terror regime — to pay it off long enough so that President Barack Obama could declare the problem handled. This was, after all, the Obama strategy in Crimea and Syria: Declare a red line; run away from it; pretend that pusillanimous inaction is bravery and deterrence provocation.

Trump thought differently. Now Iran has come face to face with the prospect that actions have consequences — and those consequences don’t involve pallets of cash being shipped over to fund terror organizations that span the globe.
Ben Shapiro: Iran Loses Its Showdown With Trump
At this point, it behooves the administration to allow Iran to save face. No Americans were killed; the base was not American. What’s more, the Iranians will seek the last word in this latest exchange — which means that unless the United States is truly willing to go to war, we ought to let the Iranians save face with this tepid response.

The truth is that Iran came off poorly in this exchange. That’s not just because a ballistic missile attack that fails to damage American assets looks pitiful. It’s because Iran just undercut its entire case in Iraq. In the aftermath of Soleimani’s killing, the left-wing press, Democrats, and isolationist right in the United States were blaming Trump for escalating the Iranian situation; that take will not hold water after this latest response.

Meanwhile, Shiites in the Iraqi parliament were militating in favor of pushing America out of Iraq, suggesting that Trump had participated in aggression in Iraq by killing an Iranian terrorist there — but now Iran is responsible for firing on Iraqis in Iraq directly. Iran has also put itself in position for further diplomatic isolation from its erstwhile friends in Europe, who were already moving earlier today toward re-establishing sanctions thanks to Iran’s statements about restarting its nuclear program.

None of this is likely to raise sympathy for Iran at a time when they were attempting to shift blame for the current confrontation onto Trump. No matter how unpopular Trump is on the world stage, he isn’t bombing Iraqi soldiers or threatening military action against Western allies.

Iran did what it had to do to demonstrate that it wasn’t going to let Soleimani’s death pass without response. But Iran has demonstrated that at the center of its foreign policy lies the same rot at which the Obama administration winked and nodded — and that they were perfectly happy to fire ballistic missiles, perhaps paid for with Obama-era cash and allowed by the Iran nuclear deal, at Iraqis and Americans.
White House: Iran's Campaign of Terror Will No Longer Be Tolerated
President Trump said Wednesday: "No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases....Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned....No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well."

"For far too long...nations have tolerated Iran's destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen."

"The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer."

WATCH: Medal Of Honor Recipient Speech Goes Viral As Tensions With Iran Escalate
Earlier this week, a clip of Medal of Honor recipient retired Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia speaking in June about our nation’s enemies and American strength went viral in light of the current heightened tensions with Iran.

As he was inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes in June, Bellavia warned that “threats against the U.S. such as North Korea, Iran, and al Qaeda aren’t going anywhere, and cautioned against starting a war again the U.S. if they don’t want someone else to raise their children,” Military Times reported at the time.

“The threats to our nation, they don’t sleep,” said Bellavia. “They’re watching our every move: Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, ISIS, al Qaeda — they may be watching this right now.”

“Our military should not be mistaken for a cable news gabfest show,” he continued. “We don’t care what you look, we don’t care who you voted for, who you worship, what you worship, who you love. It doesn’t matter if your dad left you millions when he died or if you knew who your father was. We have been honed into a machine of lethal moving parts you would be wise to avoid if you knew what’s good for you.”

“We will not be intimidated,” Bellavia warned. “We will not back down. We’ve seen war.”

“We don’t want war, but if you want a war with the United States of America, there is one thing I can promise you, so help me God: Someone else will raise your sons and daughters,” the Medal of Honor receipted concluded.

Senator Graham: Iranian leaders ‘religious Nazis’ who want to ‘kill all Jews’
US Senator Lindsey Graham compared the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Nazis on Tuesday evening, as tensions between Tehran and Washington remained high in the wake of a series of strikes and counter-strikes that some worried could bring the two nations to the brink of war.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Graham, a close ally of US President Donald Trump, warned that Americans must “never lose sight that we are dealing with religious Nazis.”

“They really mean it when they want to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews and they’ve been disrupting the Mideast for 40 years,” he declared. “It needs to stop.”

Iran supports proxy forces across the region, including Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both of which have come into repeated conflict with Israel and fired thousands of rockets into it’s territory over the years. Iran has also been linked to terror attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad such as the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish community center.

Lindsey Graham: If Iran Defies Trump’s 3 Demands He Will ‘Destroy Their Economy’
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday that the notion that Iran intentionally missed its targets in its missile attack is false and that if Iran does not meet President Donald Trump’s demands that the president will “destroy their economy.”

“If there’s the conflict with Iran it will be because they choose the conflict,” Graham said. “The president gave them an out. I want you to do three things, I want you to change your behavior; stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism, that’s not too much to ask; stand down your missile program because you’re destabilizing the entire Mid East; and you can have a nuclear power program, but you can’t have a pathway to a bomb.”

“Those are the three conditions that the president has laid down,” Graham told Hannity. “Iran can meet the conditions if they want to. If they choose to defy President Trump, if they choose to try to get a nuclear weapon, have a nuclear breakout, if they choose to try to kill Americans in the future, they are basically writing their own death warrant. Donald Trump will destroy their economy. He will not invade with land forces but the ayatollah’s regime will come to a fiery end if they do not meet the conditions set out by President Trump.”

Yes, Obama Helped Fund the Iranian Regime
In his address to the nation this morning, Donald Trump asserted that the ballistic missiles that targeted the al-Assad and Erbil bases in Iraq yesterday were paid for using “funds made available by the last administration.” Few things irritate media fact checkers more than Trump’s accusation that Obama helped fund the Iranian regime and its terror apparatus. Probably because it’s completely true.

Now, we don’t really know that Obama’s ransom payments to Iran in 2016 subsidized those specific ballistic missiles, but we do know that money is fungible — especially when you have access to small denominations of European cash — and that the military, IRGC, and Hezbollah were the major beneficiaries of the replenished coffers of the Iranian state. Distinctions over the details of the exact allocation of funds would be completely irrelevant in any conversation not involving Donald Trump. Yet Andrea Mitchell and CNN, and all the usual suspects, immediately rallied to Obama’s defense to also explain that actually Trump is talking about money we owed Iran.

We never “owed” the Islamic Republic any money. This is a myth. In 2016, the United States was in the middle of an unresolved dispute in front of the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague over cash advanced by the Shah for military equipment we refused to deliver after the 1979 revolution. You might recall, this is when Iran began prosecuting its war against the United States, taking hostages, and killing service members.

It is unlikely that U.S. would ultimately have been obligated to hand over a single deutschmark to the mullahs. For one thing, the U.S. had its own counterclaims over Iran’s many violations — which, in total, exceeded the amount supposedly “owed” to it. Obama, in his obsessive goal of placating Iran to procure a deal, unilaterally dismissed a stipulation held by the previous administration that the United States wouldn’t release funds until other court judgments held against Iran for its terrorist acts on American citizens were all resolved.
U.S. Knew Iranian Missiles Were Coming Hours in Advance
The Iranian missile strike on American facilities in Iraq was a calibrated event intended to cause minimal casualties and give the Iranians a face-saving measure, according to senior U.S. officials.

A senior administration official said, "We had intelligence reports several hours in advance that the Iranians were seeking to strike the bases."

The advance warning gave military commanders time to get U.S. troops into safe, fortified bunkers and to don protective gear, while some left the al-Asad air base in western Iraq before the attack.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Iranian missiles hit tents and a helicopter but did not cause major damage.
Iran: Total ‘Annihilation of Israel’ Will Be Price for Soleimani Killing
Iranian leaders are issuing renewed calls for the destruction of Israel, saying the "annihilation" of the Jewish state is the only fair price for America's recent killing of top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.

Seyed Hashem al-Heidari, cultural chief of Hashd al-Shaabi, an Iraqi paramilitary force directed by Iran, said Tehran is eyeing Israel as a primary target of retaliatory military strikes following Soleimani's death last week in a U.S. airstrike.

"Annihilation of Israel and the U.S. is the price of the blood of martyr Soleimani," al-Heidari said early Wednesday during an anti-U.S. gathering in the Iranian city of Qom.

"This aggression should be responded to by the tough revenge stressed by Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] and all options are on the table," al-Heidari said in remarks published by Tehran's state-controlled press. "All U.S. bases in the region, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and all their soldiers are within the range of resistance missiles because annihilation of Israel and the U.S. is the price of the blood of martyr Soleimani, and God willing the entire region will be liberated."

Iran's continued threats of violence followed the Islamic Republic's Tuesday evening attack on U.S. military outposts in Iraq. Iranian military sources said the strike, which was comprised of about 15 ballistic missiles, hit at least "20 sensitive points" and resulted "in the destruction of a considerable number of drones and helicopters."
Lee Smith: Offing Soleimani gives Trump an excellent chance to exit Iraq
The targeted killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani last week broke an old taboo: Finally a US president held Iran ­responsible for the proxies it uses to kill Americans. It was a strategic victory for President Trump and an opportunity to roll it into a political masterstroke, as well — the immediate and complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

For three years, Trump’s foreign policy has had to balance the two different Republican constituencies he courted during the 2016 campaign. To the isolationist wing, Trump promised no more regime-change wars in the Middle East that sent American troops to bring democracy to those shooting at them. Candidate Trump also promised GOP hawks and the overwhelmingly pro-Israel evangelicals that he’d undo President Barack Obama’s catastrophic nuclear deal with Iran.

Now that Trump has brought down the Islamic Republic’s top military commander and terror mastermind, he can reconcile the two wings of the party by declaring mission accomplished and dropping the mic. America’s work here is done.

It shouldn’t be a tough decision to make.

Despite the thousands of American lives and billions of US dollars sacrificed to ­remake Iraq, Tehran has more influence with Baghdad than Washington does. Of late, brave young Iraqis have taken to the streets to protest against their corrupt rulers and Iranian-backed Shiite militias. Since September, more than 500 Iraqis have been killed for opposing the Iranian satrap-state that rules them.

May their courage bring them the success they will have to earn on their own. After nearly 17 years, it is clear Washington can’t fix other nations.
Continetti: Trump Will Respond in a Showstopping Way If Iran Kills Americans
Washington Free Beacon founding editor Matthew Continetti on Wednesday said Iranians fear escalating conflict with the United States as President Donald Trump demonstrated his willingness to "retaliate in a showstopping way."

"If Iran or its proxies kill Americans, America will retaliate in a showstopping way, and I think that's one reason why the Iranians want to back out of this conflict," Continetti said during an appearance on Fox News's Special Report.

Tensions are high between the United States and Iran after Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was the leader of the Quds Force for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Quds Force was responsible for training, funding, and arming Iran-sympathetic terrorist groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and around the Middle East. Hundreds of American troops have been killed by these terrorist groups.

"He's no longer around the table and that has put, I think, the Iranian regime in a state of not panic but shock and confusion," Continetti said.

Dutch rally protesting Soleimani killing includes caricature blaming Jews
Participants at a protest rally in the Netherlands against the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani waved anti-Semitic posters, a local watchdog group told police.

At the demonstration Tuesday in front of the American Embassy in Wassenaar near the Hague, two women were photographed holding up a poster titled “the makers of terrorism,” which featured a caricature of two men, one wearing an American flag and another dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, standing on the shoulders of a scarecrow labeled “terrorism.”

The women were wearing black head coverings favored by observant Muslim women.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, wrote in a statement that it contacted police and will file a criminal complaint over incitement to racist hatred. In talks about the incident, police officials told CIDI that officers at the scene did not spot the poster or would have intervened to have it removed immediately, CIDI wrote.

“CIDI is shocked that such an anti-Semitic caricature is openly displayed,” the statement said.
Ukraine wants to search Iran plane crash site for possible Russia missile debris
A senior security official in Ukraine said Thursday that investigators want to search the site where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Iran the day before for possible debris of a Russian missile, and said there had been a reference online to the existence of such debris.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, told Ukrainian media that officials had several working theories regarding the crash, including a missile strike.

“A strike by a missile, possibly a Tor missile system, is among the main (theories), as information has surfaced on the internet about elements of a missile being found near the site of the crash,” Danilov said. He did not elaborate on where he saw the information on the internet.

An investigation team from Bellingcat, a journalism website that focuses on fact-finding, tweeted that it had seen an image purported to be Russian missile debris, but the angle of the picture meant it would be impossible to geolocate and prove it was at the crash site of the jetliner near Tehran.
Boris Johnson says US has ‘right to protect’ troops, tells Iran to de-escalate
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among American allies around the world condemning Iran’s missile attacks on Iraqi bases that house US and coalition troops, saying slain Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani had the “blood of British troops on his hands.”

Johnson said the US had a “right to protect” its forces and interests in the region.

The British leader blamed Soleimani, who headed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, for spreading violence across the Middle East that led to the deaths of “innocent civilians,” propping up the “brutal and barbaric” regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and providing explosive devices to terrorist groups that “killed and maimed British troops.”

“That man had the blood of British troops on his hands,” Johnson said in a speech to Parliament.
Hungary wants to see EU stance on Iran to align closer with Israeli/US stance
Hungary would like the European stance on the U.S.-Iran conflict to be closer that held by Israel and the Unites States, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday.

"I would like for the European stance, which is not clear on this Iranian issue, to be oriented towards the Israeli-United States stance," Orban told a news conference.The European Union's foreign ministers meet on Friday in Brussels to discuss the Iran crisis, with a focus on easing tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Stock Market Indexes Hit All-Time Highs After Trump Announces Iran ‘Standing Down’
In a televised statement Wednesday, President Trump addressed Iran’s attack on two military bases in Iraq and announced that no U.S. or Iraqi personnel were killed and that Iran “appears to be standing down.” The announcement sent stocks soaring, both the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 reaching all-time highs, while the Dow Jones jumped over 250 points.

“I am pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy: No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime,” President Trump told the nation Wednesday morning following the Tuesday night attacks by Iran (video of address below). “We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.”

“Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” said the president, adding later that no lives were lost “because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well.”

After launching the missile strikes, which Iran declared a retaliation for the Trump-ordered airstrike that took out Iran’s top military leader, General Qassem Soleimani, Iran has indicated that it wants to de-escalate, a point that Trump stressed in his statement. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned, and a very good thing for the world,” he said.
MEMRI: Following Killing Of IRGC Qods Force Commander Soleimani, Lebanese, Syrian Press Reveal New Details About His Aid To The Assad Regime And Hizbullah, His Struggle Against The U.S., And The Arming Of Gaza Terrorist Organizations
Following the U.S. killing of IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, Lebanese and Syrian media outlets, particularly the Hizbullah-affiliated Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, published many reports providing new details about Soleimani's activity and his support for Hizbullah, the Assad regime in Syria, the Palestinian factions in Gaza, and the Iran-backed Shi'ite resistance factions in Iraq. The articles explain how Soleimani managed and equipped fighters to confront the U.S. forces in Iraq; how he turned Syria into a center for coordination between the various resistance forces in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine, with the cooperation of Hizbullah military chief 'Imad Mughniyeh; how he helped the Assad regime deal with the protests against it and persuaded Russian President Putin to intervene in Syria; and how he oversaw the arming of Gaza via many channels, and even on occasion mediated among the Palestinian factions.

The following are translated excerpts from these reports:

Soleimani Made Syria Into An Aid And Supply Base For The Resistance In Iraq, Lebanon, And Palestine
In a January 4, 2020 article in Al-Akhbar, writers Elie Hanna and Hussein Al-Amin described how in 1998 Soleimani had operated in Syria and made the country into an aid and supply base for conducting the fight against the Americans in Iraq and for supporting Hizbullah in Lebanon: "This [Soleimani-Syria] relationship began in 1998, two years before the liberation of South [Lebanon] in 2000, when Soleimani was appointed Qods Force commander. At that time, the commanders of [Iran's] Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC], who wanted to monitor foreign affairs, particularly the relations with the resistance forces in Lebanon and Palestine, chose to live in Syria. Since then, Hajj Qassem [Soleimani] considered Syria a 'safe' base for assigning missions, holding meetings, and utilizing the resources and capabilities of the Syrian military, as well as [Soleimani's close relationship with] Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

"Then came the American invasion of Iraq, in 2003, and it appeared that Syria would be next in line to be invaded by the U.S. At that time, a base was established [in Syria] for aiding the Iraqi resistance [by supplying it] with arms and equipment for it to fight the Americans, and Qassem Soleimani played a prominent role in this aid...

"The real turning point in the Soleimani-Syria relationship came after the July 2006 [Second Lebanon] war. His role in Syria grew by orders of magnitude, as a new stage began in the activity of his comrade and partner in Hizbullah, the martyr 'Imad Mughniyeh. Two years later [in 2008], Mughniyeh, the partner in Soleimani's projects in Syria, was martyred,[1] and therefore this entire burden fell on the shoulders of Soleimani alone."[2]

Soleimani Helped Establish The National Defense Forces Militia To Protect The Assad Regime From The Rebels

MEMRI: Urdu Daily Says Soleimani's Death Could Be Avenged In Afghanistan: 'Thousands Of Volunteers… Trained By General Qassem Soleimani Are Present In Afghanistan'
An Urdu-language daily in Pakistan reports that the assassination of Iran's General Qassem Soleimani could be avenged in Afghanistan. The Urdu daily, Roznama Ummat, which is said to be close to the Afghan Taliban and other jihadi organizations, reported: "Thousands of volunteers of the Fatemiyoun Brigade trained by General Qassem Soleimani are present in Afghanistan who can undertake retaliatory action against American forces."

"The chief of Qods Force [General Soleimani] had played an important role in the Iran-Taliban understanding," the Urdu daily said. The understanding was struck in 2011. "Qassem Soleimani had not only played a role in arranging a meeting between the former Taliban emir Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and key officials of Iran, but had become their interlocutor too," it noted.

The Urdu newspaper quoted unidentified sources for its report. It added that after Soleimani's assassination, "All operations at Shindand airport and Mazar-i-Sharif airbase have been suspended, while the U.S. has also limited activities at the Bagram airbase." Roznama Ummat said in its report that General Soleimani had been seen in western Afghanistan, along the Iran border, many times, and once in the Nimruz and Herat provinces "after which the Taliban had launched attacks on the capital of Nimruz [Zaranj]."

China Touts 'Strategic Partnership with Iran,' Still No Condolences for Soleimani
China’s envoy to Iran, Chang Hua, said on Tuesday that nothing would soften Beijing’s determination to develop a strategic partnership with Tehran. He said this shortly before Iran launched a missile attack against two Iraqi military bases.

China has been more than willing to cover for Iranian aggression, simultaneously denouncing “military adventurism” by the United States and blocking a U.N. Security Council statement against Iran’s assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, a blatant act of war. When the United States targeted Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani with an airstrike to retaliate for the embassy assault and prevent further attacks on American interests, China condemned the strike as an “abusive” use of force and a violation of international norms.

In Foreign Ministry briefings, however, Beijing has been careful not to say anything positive about Soleimani or offer condolences, despite Iran declaring three days of mourning and making a spectacle of national funeral rites.

“No matter how the global and regional situations have changed, China’s determination to develop a comprehensive strategic partnership with Iran will not change,” Chang declared on Tuesday. He went on to praise “good momentum” in agricultural and tech cooperation between the two countries.

HILL: The Left’s Hilariously Low Expectations For The Islamic World
In the days since the killing of Iranian terrorist-in-chief Qassem Soleimani, the media and Democrats have bent over backwards trying to show that Soleimani was anything other than a piece of human garbage who deserved his fate. While they do this out of a greater hatred for President Trump than hatred for the killer of hundreds of Americans and countless others, they also display yet another instance of low American expectations for the Middle East.

A recent example is the selective use of the term “cultural sites.” In response to the death of Soleimani, the Iranians raised a red flag over a significant cultural site, Jamkarān Mosque in Qom, Iran. According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, “This red flag is a call for the deaths of anyone who opposes Shiite Islam.” When President Trump, deterring the Iranians on Twitter, mentioned cultural sites as potential targets in retaliation for terrorist action, he was referring to the cultural sites that the Iranians themselves are desecrating by turning them into military targets. Instead of reporting on how Iran uses and misappropriates cultural sites as threats to the West, outlets like NBC News and The Washington Post ignore that aspect of the story to attack President Trump.

This shouldn’t be surprising. The very same media that now fawn over the crowd size at Soleimani’s funeral downplayed the large-scale protests against the Iranian regime just a few weeks earlier. They worked hard to ignore the mass slaughter of those very protesters, likely on the order of Soleimani himself. Under normal circumstances, a bevy of op-eds would have been written, but expectations are so low for the behavior of the Iranian government that it was swept under the rug. The 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square is part of the history books, but the victims of Iran will be forgotten because nobody cared to talk about them.
Mourning Soleimani, from Hollywood to the Campus
Also popular is the stability cliché, which claims that killing Soleimani destabilized the Middle East. One less prone to groupthink might ask, When was the Middle East stable? Was it in the good old days before the Trump administration, or perhaps before 9/11? Or was it before the Iranian Revolution, or the Balfour Declaration, or the Ottoman Empire?

In the University of Michigan’s Experts Advisory addressing “Implications of Soleimani’s death,” Ronald Grigor Suny, professor of history and political science, embraced both the stability and wag-the-dog clichés in his assertion that Trump has “created an incredibly unstable and unpredictable situation” that doubles as a “crisis [that] aids the president in his moment of vulnerability, when he has been impeached and faces a trial in the Senate.” His colleague Michael Traugott, professor of political science and communications, fears that “the decision to target General Soleimani . . . was an attempt to distract from new disclosures about internal emails related to the withholding of aid to Ukraine.” Juan Cole, professor of history and the third expert in Michigan’s shura council, warns of war and accuses Trump of crimes: “By murdering Qassem Soleimani,” he argued, “Trump has brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran.” But fear not, for Cole assures us that “Iran’s leadership is too shrewd to rush to the battlements at this moment” and will likely just continue to stir up “massive protest at the U.S. embassy and at bases housing U.S. troops.”

Cole is an outlier in his belief that war between the U.S. and Iran is not imminent. Nearly everyone on the left fears that killing Soleimani will bring a reprisal that will escalate into war. Foreign-policy maven Rosie O’Donnell tweeted: “off to war — god help us #RemoveTrump.” Likewise, Professor Abrahamian, quoted above, predicts a “110% chance” of all-out war between Iran and the U.S. if Trump is reelected.

The Hollywood script of Trump as bumbling reactionary is more honed among the professoriate, but the elements are the same. It follows well-established patterns developed during the Reagan and both Bush presidencies. No surprise, then, that both Iraq and Iran experts agree that Iran’s leaders are wilier than Trump. Abbas Kadhim, Johns Hopkins University’s Iraq specialist, claims that Iran “set a trap” for the U.S. by killing an American contractor in Kirkuk, prompting a response that they hoped would be severe, “exactly giving the provocateurs what they wanted” — escalation.

From the squad to the quad, contempt for Donald Trump has led many to “respond . . . with immediate caustic-ness, getting all chummy with the enemy of my enemy,” as Jack Fowler put it. Some of them can’t help themselves (who expects restraint from Alec Baldwin?), but others should know better.

Warren, Sanders Hosting Call With Pro-Tehran Lobby Group
Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) are slated to host a conference call with an Iranian-American advocacy group that has been accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf.

Along with Reps. Ro Khanna (D., Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), Sanders and Warren are scheduled to speak Wednesday evening with members of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). The group played a central role in what former Obama national security adviser Ben Rhodes called the administration's pro-Iran Deal "echo chamber," spinning journalists, lawmakers, and citizens.

The Democratic candidates' willingness to engage with NIAC—a group that aggressively pushed the accord and has strongly advocated against U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic—reflects their desire to see America reenter the nuclear deal, which released up to $150 billion in cash to the regime. Much of that money has gone to fund Iran's regional terror operations, including recent attacks on American personnel stationed in the region.

NIAC has deep ties to Iran's regime, including senior officials like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Zarif worked closely with NIAC founder Trita Parsi, who, in turn, consulted with the Obama administration.
Meadows: Democrats Showing ‘True Colors’ by Complimenting Iran
Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) on Wednesday criticized congressional Democrats for their failure to condemn a comment from an anonymous member who complimented the Iranian regime for avoiding war with the United States.

"The Washington Democrat Party continues to show its true colors, even if it's done anonymously from behind a keyboard," Meadows said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "If they don't want to be accused of undermining the country for their own political interests, I’d suggest a good place to start would be not making jokes complimenting a terrorist regime at the expense of an American president."

Meadows was responding to the anonymous Democrat who told Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, "You need two crazy leaders to start a war, and fortunately, Iran doesn't have one." Weigel has declined to reveal the source of the quote.

Meadows called on his Democratic colleagues to "step up" and condemn the remark, saying it contradicts claims that they are taking the current impasse with Iran seriously.

Ilhan Omar Says Iran Tensions Are Triggering Her PTSD
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said Wednesday that discussions about military tensions between Iran and the United States were triggering her post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I feel ill a little bit, because of everything that is taking place and I think every time I hear of conversations around war, I find myself being stricken with PTSD," Omar said during a press conference held by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "And I find peace knowing that I serve with great advocates for peace and people who have shown courage against war."

Omar has previously referenced her post-traumatic stress disorder to excuse a 2012 tweet that said Israel "hypnotized" the world, an anti-Semitic trope. "You know, I have PTSD around, like, guns and ammunition and bombs," she told the New Yorker, citing her childhood in war-torn Somalia.

At other times Omar has used the term in a more joking manner, such as when she said the new Democratic House majority had "minority PTSD…. The kind of mindset you develop when you are in the minority is one that really is traumatizing," she said.

WATCH: Ilhan Omar Laughs While Colleague Talks About U.S. Casualties In Iraq
Far-left Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) laughed and giggled during a press conference on Wednesday while her colleague, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), discussed U.S. casualties from the Iraq war.

“I’m very glad to say that I was part of the 132 and also the vote for Barbara Lee’s amendment, but I think that the point of that is that that is the same war that we’re dealing with today,” Lee said. “We never solved any problems with AUMF, we left four thousand plus, maybe even forty four hundred dead, and over sixty thousand who came back injured in some form and the war never ended.”

As Lee spoke, Omar could be seen standing behind her laughing while talking to her Democrat colleagues.

Wendy Sherman Complains About Trump Blaming Obama
Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state under President Barack Obama, complained on Wednesday about President Donald Trump blaming Obama for Iran’s nefarious actions after he's been in office for three years.

"It's a little pathetic, I must say and actually childish … that he is blaming everything on President Obama after being in office himself for three years," Sherman said on MSNBC's The Beat With Ari Melber.

Sherman's former boss often did exactly what she so despises, however. Not only did Obama blame former President George W. Bush throughout his first term, he continued to do so well into his second term.

Sherman continued to criticize Trump for his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal that she helped negotiate, saying Obama's deal had "elated" the Iranians.

CAMERA Op-Ed The Media Have Long Ignored Iran’s Threats
The January 2 death of Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, has prompted consternation from some press and policymakers. Killed in Baghdad by a U.S. drone strike, Soelimani was described by The Washington Post as a “revered military leader” and by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as a mere “foreign official.”

In fact, he was an arch-terrorist responsible for the murders of thousands of people — including hundreds of American servicemen and women, many of who were murdered and maimed by Iranian-created explosive devices.

Pundits and reporters alike have claimed that Soleimani’s death has led to Iran threatening the U.S. But they have it backwards. Tehran has been threatening the U.S. for years — a fact the media have often ignored or obfuscated.

Indeed, in the days prior to his death, Soleimani and the Shiite militias under his command had murdered an American contractor and attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Ever since its founding in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has consistently called for “death to America.” Anti-Americanism, like anti-Semitism and imperialism, is a core tenet of the regime’s Islamist ideology. For four decades, Iran has sought to make good on its threats, kidnapping and torturing Americans, bankrolling terrorist groups — Sunni and Shiite alike — that attack Americans, and murdering our troops.
NYT Reporter: In Iran, Soleimani’s Death Is Like MLK’s Death in America
New York Times reporter Farnaz Fassihi compared the mourning in Iran over the death of Qassem Soleimani to America's reaction to the death of Martin Luther King Jr. during Tuesday's episode of the podcast "The Daily."

"What you [Fassihi] are describing feels like the kind of unified national outpouring that is reserved for a small handful of figures in any country," host Michael Barbaro said during the episode, titled "Why Iran Is in Mourning." "A beloved president, a civil rights leader like Martin Luther King in the United States. Not for what our colleagues have described as a general who specializes in covert operations in Iran."

But it would be wrong for Americans to assume Soleimani is not similarly respected, argued Fassihi, who covers Iran for the Times.

"I think it's difficult for most people in the United States and outside of Iran and perhaps the region to grasp the unique place and role that General Soleimani played in Iran and in regional politics," Fassihi said. "He was singlehandedly the most revered and influential character in Iran."

BBC radio passes the microphone to Iranian propaganda
Marandi began by describing Soleimani as a “war hero” who, during the Iran-Iraq war, had survived chemical weapons attacks. He went on to promote a lie he has been peddling for over a decade, claiming that those chemical weapons “were provided to Saddam Hussein by European countries and the United States”.

Sharp failed to provide any challenge to that falsehood or to the subsequent claim that Soleimani “helped the Palestinians and their cause…ah…they’re…they live under apartheid and colonisation.”

He was similarly silent when Marandi claimed that it was a US objective to “create a Salafist state between Syria and Iraq”.

Marandi’s falsehoods and conspiracy theories continued unquestioned until Sharp closed the item by reminding listeners of his academic titles but with no mention of his regime connections.

Obviously the amplification of Iranian regime approved propaganda does not meet the BBC’s public purpose remit of providing “duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world” – especially when that propaganda goes unquestioned and unchallenged by underinformed BBC presenters clearly trying to fill airtime. Moreover, the damage done to audience understanding of the story is exacerbated when audiences are not informed (as required by BBC editorial guidelines) of the relevant context of the contributor’s “particular viewpoint” and affiliations and he is presented as a supposedly neutral and reliable ‘academic’.

Chris Matthews Compares Soleimani to Elvis Presley and Princess Diana
MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews on Wednesday night compared deceased Iranian terror master Qassem Soleimani to Elvis Presley and Princess Diana.

"When some people die, you don't know what the impact is going to be. When Princess Diana died, for example, there was a huge emotional outpouring," Matthews said. "Elvis Presley in our culture—it turns out that this general we killed was a beloved hero of the Iranian people to the point where—look at the people, we got pictures up now—these enormous crowds coming out. There's no American emotion in this case, but there's a hell of a lot of emotion on the other side."

Soleimani led the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which trained, funded, and armed Iran-sympathetic terrorist groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and around the Middle East, killing thousands, including hundreds of Americans.

"Should our leaders know what they're doing when they kill somebody?" Matthews asked Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas).

MSNBC Guest: Trump ‘Not Graceful In Victory’ During Iran Press Conference
Daily Beast columnist Margaret Carlson on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump for not being "graceful in victory" during his press conference addressing Iran's missile strikes on U.S. air bases in Iraq.

"He certainly doesn't want to ask for help from our NATO allies. He doesn't like our NATO allies and he's repelled them," Carlson said on MSNBC. "In other parts, he's reading from the teleprompter. It's not his best way to communicate and talking about more sanctions. He's not a graceful winner if you want to call this even a short win. He's not graceful in victory."

She criticized Trump's comments, adding that she felt like the press conference felt like a "hostage tape" to her.

PreOccupiedTerritory: After US-Iran Escalation, Israel Braces For More Empty Threats (satire)
IDF and government officials maintained a heightened state of alert today in the wake of Iranian ballistic missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing US troops Tuesday night, anticipating that Tehran will issue blustery statements naming locations within the Jewish State as its next targets, statements it will then fail to back up with attacks.

Ministry of Defense personnel and military senior commands conducted consultations overnight as the missiles struck two bases in Iraq, causing no US casualties, and intermittently through Wednesday and Thursday. Intelligence and operations personnel agreed Israel must prepare itself to receive a barrage of empty threats from the ayatollahs of Iran and its proxies in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, various forces in Syria, and the Iran-supported Sunni groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Iran had promised bloody retaliation for the killing by US drone-fired missiles of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force – the regime’s principle organ for arming, training, and coordinating its various proxy militias throughout the Middle East. 11 missiles from Iran struck the Erbil and Assad bases in Iraq, of a total of 15 launched; four exploded en route. Tensions remain high, with observers unsure whether Iran will consider the strikes sufficient retribution or pursue a bloodier outcome, considering no US personnel came to harm. Previous moves against US interests have targeted American allies via proxy forces, but Iran remains stretched thin militarily and economically, and its allies in the region face their own difficulties, making attacks on Israel less likely.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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