Wednesday, May 13, 2020

From Ian:

The long arm of the 1975 UN declaration "Zionism equals Racism"
On the 37th anniversary of the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), the UN General Assembly declared that Zionism is racism and a form of racial discrimination (Z=R) when it adopted Resolution 3379. The resolution, which passed on November 10, 1975, was part of an organized global campaign by the Soviets and the Arab states to delegitimize the State of Israel, after an abortive attempt to expel her from the UN.

On the same day, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 3376, creating an Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Sixteen of the original 20 members on the Assembly committee did not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and some had never acknowledged Israel’s right to exist. [1]

The Z=R resolution attracted worldwide attention to Zionism as “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” guaranteeing Israel would be viewed as a racist state the international community would have to confront. Although the resolution was abrogated in 1991, depriving it of legal status, the hostility it generated toward Israel in most UN member nations, and in the UN’s own institutions continues unabated. [2].

No Longer Just a Common Reprobate
Israel was “no longer among the ordinary evil-doers of this world, all of whom at one time or another attack and harm civilian populations, oppress minorities, and institute exclusive immigration laws and monopolistic religious laws.” wrote Ehud Sprinzak, a Hebrew University political science professor. Israel’s crimes were committed “as part of an entire ideological system” and therefore every Israeli government action was racist and “antihumanistic.”

Israel had gone from being a legitimate national liberation movement to one that opposed the rightful aspirations of other nations and peoples. The UN General Assembly provided the stage and a guilt free path, assuming one was needed, for antisemites and antisemitism at the UN [3]

Even more insidious, the resolution went to the heart of Israel’s right to exist, opined Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine. Israel was denounced not only “as an illegitimate entity,” but, “the very idea of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East (Zionism), let alone the actuality of one, no matter what its boundaries might be, was by definition declared criminal (racist)…. Israel could only cease to be criminal if it ceased to be both Jewish and sovereign—if, in other words, it ceased to exist. Returning to the boundaries of 1967 or even the boundaries of 1948 would make not the slightest difference. For the resolution did not concern boundaries or occupied territories; it concerned the right of a sovereign Jewish state of any size or shape to exist in the Middle East.” [4]

International Kangaroo Court to Investigate Israel for War Crimes
According to the ICC's charter, the Court cannot investigate the conduct of non-signatory states of the 1998 Rome Statute that established the Court. Israel, like the U.S., is not a signatory of the statute.

Bensouda, by accepting the Palestinian Authority (PA) as plaintiff, further violates the Rome Statute: the ICC is only permitted to investigate allegations brought by a sovereign state. There is no State of Palestine. There are no established boundaries of any possible future Palestinian state. There is no population of a sovereign state to act as a plaintiff....

Bensouda's decision appears to undercut the ICC's already damaged reputation that it is neither independent nor impartial. The ICC's budget is limited and increasingly hostage to the UNGA. The UN also appoints the ICC's panel of judges, an intrinsically political process, subject to bloc voting in the UNGA.

The spokesman for the 45-member PA Executive Committee that briefed the ICC is Dr. Ghazi Hamad, deputy foreign minister of the terrorist group Hamas, which is unquestionably dedicated to destroying Israel. The committee also includes representatives of two other terrorist organizations besides Hamas, namely, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF).

A recent Jordanian newspaper article reinforces the claim that Bensouda secretly colluded with the PA to target Israel. This collusion between Bensouda and the PA may explain the optimism of longtime Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat that the ICC's investigation will ultimately be successful.

Bensouda has already proved her bias by her conduct in a previous investigation of baseless charges of systemic human rights abuses by British military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.
New report traces how European money makes its way to terrorists
Money donated by European governments and private individuals is making its way into the coffers of terrorist organizations, a new report from the Strategic Affairs Ministry warns.

The ministry issued the report after the European Union announced it would be funding Palestinian "civil society organizations," even if they include members who support terrorism.

According to the report's findings, Palestinian activists have established a way of securing European monetary donations that allow them to carry out terrorist activity in addition to civil society work.

"The links to civil society entities in the west allows them a way of securing financial assistance that they could not receive any other way," the report states.

In the past two years, the Shin Bet security agency has exposed a number of incidents in which Hamas took control of money belonging to aid organizations that are active in the Gaza Strip, and in some cases used them for military purposes against Israel.

One notable example was a case of European donations that went to fund terrorists involved in the murder of Rina Schnerb in the summer of 2019. Samar Arbid, head of the cell that killed Schnerb, 17, and wounded her brother in an attack at the Danny Spring in Samaria, played a key role in an organization named Addameer, which is defined as "active in human rights."

Other member of the same cells earned a living from European government donations to "civil society groups."

Last Thursday, Israel reprimanded Emmanuel Joffre, head of an EU delegation to Israel, for the announcement that the funding would continue.



JPost Editorial: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit comes at historic time
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting Israel today during a momentous time. Israel is on the verge of swearing in a new governing coalition after more than a year of political uncertainty. Iranian threats continue to loom over the region, and Israel is playing a key role in confronting them.

The US is Israel’s strongest ally and a key partner in discussions about a new peace plan and possible annexation in July. Pompeo will arrive during the pandemic, the first major foreign trip of this kind, highlighting the unprecedented bond between Jerusalem and Washington.

The US and Israel have never had such a strong, multilayered partnership as they do today. The Trump administration and Pompeo have been key players in building on past administrations to make that flourish. Pompeo has been at the forefront of important initiatives, from intelligence sharing when he was at the CIA to supporting Israel on the diplomatic front. This has included support for budding relations in the Gulf and also making sure that various proposals, such as recognizing Jerusalem, the Golan and changing the US view on Israeli communities in the disputed territories, have been rolled out smoothly and consistently.

Officially, issues on the agenda relate to Iran’s malign influence in the region, future annexation plans and Israeli ties with China. Pompeo helped lay out the US approach to ending the Iran deal in 2018. This involved a number of points that Iran needed to adhere to in order to get a new deal. Iran must stop its ballistic-missile development and end entrenchment in Lebanon, as well as its support for various armed militias that stretch from Lebanon to Iraq.

Instead, Iran has increased its role, sending precision-guided munitions to Hezbollah, entrenching near the Golan and sending proxies in Iraq to fire rockets at US forces. Iran has mined ships in the Gulf of Oman and attacked Saudi Arabia with drones. All of this is a message to Israel as well. Drone attacks on Saudi Arabia are but a tip of the spear that is aimed at Israel. An Iranian drone flew into Israeli airspace in February 2018, and Iran has fired rockets at Israel from Syria and sent killer-drone teams to aim attacks from the Golan.


Visiting Israel, Pompeo calls for ‘progress’ on Trump peace plan, assails Iran
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a whirlwind visit to Jerusalem Wednesday, called for “progress” on the implementation of the American proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace, but stopped short of specifically addressing the timing of Israel’s planned annexation of large parts of the West Bank.

“We’ll get a chance also to talk about the ‘Vision for Peace,’” he told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his official Jerusalem residence, referring to the administration’s peace plan unveiled in January.

“There remains work yet to do, and we need to make progress on that. I am looking forward to it,” he said, ahead of their meeting.

The US administration has said it would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire Jordan Valley and all Israeli settlements across the West Bank in exchange for assurances that Jerusalem would be ready to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians based on President Donald Trump’s plan.

Various reports suggested that the administration may want to ask the Israeli government not to rush into applying sovereignty, but Pompeo has repeatedly said that annexation is an Israeli decision.

Netanyahu, in his remarks, briefly referred to the peace plan. “Now we’re about to form a national unity government,” he said, referring to the coalition government between his Likud party and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White that will be sworn in Thursday.

“This is an opportunity to promote peace and security based on the understanding that I reached with President Trump in my last visit to Washington in January,” he said.

“These are all tremendous challenges and opportunities, we can do them because we have such a powerful bond that makes the alliance between Israel and US stand out, certainly for us, but for many other countries looking around,” he added, without elaborating.
Secretary Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Netanyahu Discuss COVID-19, Iran


The coalition government has a unique opportunity to expand Jerusalem
The new coalition government has an opportunity to build in Jerusalem and expand the city like never before. All the stars are lined up in the right constellation. We just need the courage to act.

Just two years ago, on May 14, 2018 (the 70th anniversary of founding of the State of Israel), the US opened an embassy in Jerusalem to great fanfare. Earlier, on December 6, 2017, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He explained that Jerusalem always had been the historic capital of the Jewish people, and the seat of Israel’s government.

“This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” he said. He refrained, however, from delineating the city’s borders.

Critics deplored these US moves because of their potential destabilization of the region. They warned of an impending wave of Palestinian terrorism, of riots in the streets of the Arab world, and of violence against US embassies.

Nothing of this sort happened. What did happen? The American decisions inspired other nations to take steps to recognize Jerusalem, to move their embassies and to establish missions in the city.

So far, Guatemala is the only other country to have moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Australia now have trade offices in the city, with varying levels of diplomatic status. Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia have pledged to open similar missions in Jerusalem as well.
Israeli Ambassador the UN Danny Danon Discusses Sovereignty Over the West Bank


European Nations Threaten Action Against West Bank Annexation




Indy corrects claim that US peace plan gives Israel 'all' of West Bank
An article in the Independent by Alex Woodward (“Joe Biden says he will keep US embassy in Jeruslaem“, April 30) included the following sentence:
“Earlier this year, the Trump administration broke from decades of US foreign policy to help Israel carve out a fractured Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank and would allow Israel to annexe the Jordan Valley and all occupied territory, including areas containing settlements that are illegal under international law.”

We pointed out to editors that the US peace plan would not allow Israel to ‘annexe’ “all” of the West Bank. Rather, it would see Israel apply sovereignty to roughly 30% of the territory, whilst the Palestinians would get 70%.

Our complaint was eventually upheld, and the sentence was revised:
Earlier this year, the Trump administration broke from decades of US foreign policy to help Israel carve out a fractured Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank and would allow Israel to annexe the Jordan Valley and some occupied territory, including areas containing settlements that are illegal under international law.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad to boycott Ramallah meeting to discuss ‘annexation’
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) announced on Wednesday that they would not attend a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah this coming Saturday to discuss Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

On Tuesday, Palestinian officials said that representatives of the two groups have been invited to attend the meeting. According to the officials, the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has also been invited to attend the meeting.

However, it was not clear whether the PFLP would participate in the meeting. On Wednesday, the PFLP again called on the Palestinian leadership to implement previous decisions by PLO and Fatah institutions to renounce all agreements with Israel and halt security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF in the West Bank.

Hamas and PIJ have also called on the Palestinian leadership to cut all ties with Israel in response to the policies and measures taken by the Israeli government and the US administration in the past few years.

Hamas said in a statement that it has not received an official invitation to participate in the meeting. The statement said that Hamas was ready to participate in a “serious meeting that is capable of bringing about the needed change.”

The official Palestinian position towards the Israeli plan is very weak, Hamas added.
Initial Analysis of HRW’s Housing Report: Ignoring Facts in Service of a ’48 Agenda
On May 12, 2020, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released “Israel: Discriminatory Land Policies Hem in Palestinians,” the latest installment in its decades-long campaign to assail Israel’s legitimacy. Timed to coincide with the observance of Nakba Day (May 15) – when anti-Israel activists mourn the establishment of the Jewish State as a “catastrophe” – HRW once again invents rights while embracing a 1948 agenda.

The document purports to demonstrate that Israeli planning policy is driven by an anti-Arab agenda that artificially creates a housing crisis for the country’s Arab citizens. In the words of Eric Goldstein, HRW’s acting Middle East executive director, “Israeli policy on both sides of the Green Line restricts Palestinians to dense population centers while maximizing the land available for Jewish communities” (emphasis added).

HRW ignores the inconvenient reality of urban planning in Israel: housing is a general problem, for Jews and Arabs alike. A February 2015 survey conducted in advance of national elections found that 47% of voters saw Israel’s housing crisis as having “a significant or very significant impact” on their vote. Moreover, only 18% of Israelis professed faith in the state’s housing planning, according to data released by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) in January 2020.

Moreover, according to the Israel Planning Administration (IPA), Israel has taken steps to address these concerns, including in Arab-majority villages and towns. Among the measures referenced in a letter to HRW is the approval of over 160,000 housing units in Israeli-Arab communities from 2012-2019, with over 25% of them approved in 2019 alone. Additionally, the IPA points out that 119 of 132 Israeli-Arab communities enjoy a “master plan,” necessary for expansion.

Another HRW attack is blasting Israel for not working to “accommodate natural population growth” in Israeli-Arab towns. Unfortunately for HRW, there is no obligation on the state to accommodate individual housing preferences. States must balance many factors when addressing the issues of housing, zoning, and planning, including public health and safety and environmental concerns. The housing issues in Israel related to high birth rates impact many parts of society, and is not limited to the Arab sector.

Lastly, HRW’s ignorance of the broader context of Israeli housing policy extends to its criticism of admissions committees, a hurdle that Jewish Israelis seeking residence in certain communities often do not clear themselves.


British politicians call for economic steps against Israel on annexation
The United Kingdom should take action against Israeli economically by placing new limits on the preferential-trade agreement between the two countries, the British House of Lords’ International Relations and Defense Committee said on Tuesday.

It raised concerns over Israel’s pending plan to annex West Bank settlements, in a letter sent to the British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, the Rt Hon. James Cleverly.

“The annexation of occupied territory is in violation of international law as set out in UN Security Council Resolutions,” the letter stated.
The UK has been outspoken in its opposition to the plan and has stood alongside the most vocal European countries which have also condemned any such move.

On Tuesday night, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borell told reporters that the 27-member states were divided on the matter and thus it was hard at this moment to take action.

The UK, however, is no longer bound by EU foreign policy. The Chair of the International Relations and Defense Committee, Baroness Anelay of St. John’s, asked Cleverly to confirm that the UK has not changed its position and stood behind the status quo resolution to the conflict. This is support for a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines, unless both Israelis and Palestinians came to an alternative arrangement.


Jordan's Constitutional Court Rules Parliament Can't Cancel Gas Deal with Israel
The Jordanian Constitutional Court decided Wednesday that a natural gas deal between Israel and Jordan could not be legally cancelled, as this would be "completely inconsistent" with obligations stipulated in the peace agreement between the two countries.

The decision was made in response to a parliamentary proposal to cancel the natural gas deal with Israel.

In March, the Jordanian House of Representatives declared its "utter rejection" of the deal and requested that it be "canceled at any cost."
Hunt Continues for Perpetrators of IDF Soldier’s Murder Amid Violent Clashes
Arab rioters hurled stones at Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Palestinian Authority-contolled Hebron region on Wednesday morning, during operations to apprehend terror suspects, according to IDF reports.

Israeli security forces responded to the violence with riot-control measures and live fire.

The IDF said it would investigate the death of one of the attackers, 15-year-old Zaid Jamil Al-Fayoumi, who was shot during the riots.

The clashes occurred as IDF troops arrested suspects involved in the killing of 21-year-old IDF Staff Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Yigal, who was hit in the head by a cinder block during a raid in the Arab village of Yabed in Samaria on Tuesday morning. Ben Yigal received first aid at the scene and was airlifted to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

A large-scale manhunt is underway for Ben-Yigal’s killers, with IDF troops, including soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit, and Israeli Security Services operatives engaged in the search.

Hundreds of mourners attended Ben-Yigal’s funeral on Tuesday evening at the Be’er Yaakov military cemetery in central Israel.




Why Syria Isn't Firing Its S-300 Missiles at Israeli Jets
The Israel Air Force has acquired considerable experience in evading Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. Over the past seven years, Syrian anti-aircraft systems have launched 700 missiles at IAF planes. One missile shot down an F-16 fighter jet in 2018 when it was flying in northern Israel, an event which was more of an IDF error than a Syrian success. Israel shares its experience and knowledge in this sphere with its counterparts in friendly countries, including the U.S. Air Force, which also participates in assault missions in Syria and Iraq.

Moscow has now supplied the Syrian regime with S-300 surface-to-air missile batteries. Yet after 20 months, not a single missile has been launched from an S-300 battery in Syria at IAF aircraft. The batteries have been under the total control of Russian advisers and operators, who are in charge of all the buttons, and they are not permitting Assad's army to launch the missiles.

Another reason why the S-300 batteries are not thundering through the skies is the fear in Russia that if they are indeed activated and miss their targets, it would demonstrate the technological and operational superiority of Israel and the West, which would hurt Russian President Putin and his country's defense industries.

In 2016, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani ordered the assassination of Mustafa Badr al-Din, one of the three supreme military commanders of Hizbullah and commander of Hizbullah forces in Syria since the beginning of the civil war. Due to the large number of casualties among his fighters (over 2,000 dead and thousands of wounded), Al-Din demanded the reduction of Hizbullah's presence in Syria. On May 13, 2016, Soleimani summoned Al-Din to a meeting at Damascus international airport. When Soleimani left the room, his bodyguards entered and shot Al-Din at short range with their pistols.
PMW: Mother of murderer: My greatest achievement in life was giving birth to a hero
As a deterrent against future terror attacks, Israel this week demolished the house of terrorist Qassam Barghouti. Barghouti was one of the terrorists who murdered the 17-year-old Israeli girl Rina Shnerb. The terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) used a remote detonator to activate a bomb next to the Shnerb Family as they visited the Danny Spring near the town of Dolev north of Ramallah on Aug. 23, 2019. Rina was killed and her father and brother were injured.

Now the murderer’s mother says her greatest achievement in life as a mother was giving birth to a hero:
Mother of terrorist murderer Qassam Barghouti: “I say to [my son Qassam], to all of them [prisoners], that we are proud of you. If we want to talk about our achievements as mothers, then the most important achievement that we have made in our lives is that we gave birth to heroes such as these.”
[Twitter account of Quds News Network, May 11, 2020]

Palestinian Media Watch has documented similar expressions of pride by other murderers’ parents.

PA and PLO officials condemned Israel's demolition of the house of murderer Barghouti.

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh called the demolition “a war crime” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 12, 2020] and condemned it in the name of the entire PA government, claiming that “the world” will object to it. [Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, May 11, 2020]

Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr said Israel is “waging a real war against our brave prisoners” and that the house demolition is one of Israel’s “dirty methods of oppression” whose aim is to “criminalize the Palestinian struggle and label it as terror.” [WAFA, official PA news agency, May 11, 2020]

Another PA official, Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor Laila Ghannam, even appeared at the site of the terrorist murderer’s house to comfort his mother. Whereas Ghannam described Israel's demolition of the murderer’s home as “a crime,” she apparently doesn’t view the murder of an Israeli civilian - a 17-year-old girl - as a crime. Instead she described the demolition as an “attack” against Palestinian civilians:

Posted text: “Ghannam emphasized that the occupation’s destruction of the Barghouti family’s home is a new crime that is added to the crimes that it is committing every day against our defenseless people. She noted that the house destructions are a blatant violation of human rights and of all the international conventions and norms…
She noted that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s right-wing government is ignoring all of the international conventions by attacking civilians and destroying their homes on baseless excuses.”


[Facebook page of Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor Laila Ghannam, May 11, 2020]

MEMRI: Speaker At Hamas Police Graduation Ceremony: The Sons Of Palestine Were Born To Blow Up Their Enemies, Die As Martyrs
On May 7, 2020, Al-Aqsa TV (Gaza – Hamas) aired a police graduation ceremony. A speaker at the ceremony said: "Palestine is a mother [that says]: 'My son, come join the fight. You were not born to live, but in order to die as a martyr, blowing up your enemies in the occupation.'"

To view the clip of speaker at the Hamas police graduation ceremony on MEMRI TV, click here or below.

"Palestine Is A Mother That Gives Birth Only To Heroes"

Speaker: "Palestine is a mother that gives birth only to heroes. When she pushes a child out of her belly, what does she say to him?

"You Were Not Born To Live, But In Order To Die As A Martyr, Blowing Up The Enemies In The Occupation"

"'My son, come join the fight. You were not born to live, but in order to die as a martyr, blowing up your enemies in the occupation.'"






PreOccupiedTerritory: Afghanistan War Photographer Hopes His Work Makes It Big Enough To Be Recaptioned ‘Gaza’ (satire)
A photojournalist who focuses on documenting the lives and struggles of everyday people living amid the destruction and hazards of a war-torn country under Islamist rule in South Asia voiced his aspiration today that someday the images he records will capture enough emotional power and attract enough attention that Palestinian activists will appropriate those images and label them as depicting Palestinian life under Israeli “occupation.”

Mahmoud Kazani, a photographer who has worked for National Geographic, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, the Associated Press, and several other international media outlets, admitted Wednesday that while he enjoys the professional recognition, the income, the sense of purpose, and the satisfaction of a job well done born of his work, he hopes that some day in the not-too-distant future, his photographs will be deemed wrenching enough to be taken out of context and captioned with “Gaza” to generate sympathy for Palestinians and antipathy for Israel.

“I’ll know I’ve officially made it as a photojournalist when the ‘Free Gaza’ slacktivists repurpose my photos for their propaganda,” he disclosed in an interview. “Here in Afghanistan, where I’ve done the bulk of my work for the last eight years, I’ve encountered some of the most heart-rending images, and succeeded in capturing them on camera. Those images have helped outsiders gain some understanding of, and I hope some empathy for, the ordinary people fighting just to sustain themselves and nurture their families, even as the Kabul government and its Western allies continue to face violent opposition from Taliban and other Islamist elements. I’ve photographed children sheltering in ruins or under carts from inclement weather; I’ve captured images of leathery-skinned old people waiting for handouts of international food aid. But the real indication that those images really touch something in the human soul will be if Palestinians and their allies find those photos stirring or heartbreaking enough to serve their disinformation purposes.”
JCPA: Is Iran Seeking a Historic Compromise with the United States?
On May 8, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted to mark the birthday of Imam Hassan (the Second Imam): "I believe that Imam Hassan was the greatest hero in the history of Islam....He was prepared to sacrifice himself, along with his good name among his comrades, to further his goals, and he agreed to peace for the sake of the future of Islam."

In 2013, in the midst of the negotiations on the nuclear deal, Khamenei coined the term "heroic flexibility," which also appears in the book he later wrote under the title, The Peace of Imam Hassan: The Most Wonderful Heroic Flexibility in History. Khamenei's allusion to Imam Hassan's "heroic flexibility" was seen as a green light to promote the nuclear deal, which was eventually signed in 2015.

Some claimed that Khamenei's tweet signaled that Iran, which is in very poor economic straits amid the sanctions and the coronavirus crisis, is (again) seeking a compromise with the United States, possibly on the nuclear issue.

The coronavirus crisis has greatly exacerbated Iran's economic distress because of the dramatic decline in oil prices and the United Arab Emirates' closing of its ports to Iran to prevent the spread of the virus. Iran had been using some of those ports to circumvent the sanctions.

Despite its difficult situation at home and abroad, Iran continues to adhere to the key objectives of its strategy: to advance the nuclear program and to expand its regional influence through subversion in the Persian Gulf, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.

Even if he allows a period of calm between Iran and the United States, Khamenei will not want to be remembered as someone who gave in to America, and he will keep adhering to Iran's basic objectives.
Iran doctors reveal how regime sacrificed thousands to keep COVID-19 stats low
They are regarded as heroes, their fallen colleagues as martyrs. But for doctors and nurses still dealing with Iran’s growing number of coronavirus infections, such praise rings hollow.

While crippling sanctions imposed by the US government left the country ill-equipped to deal with the fast-moving virus, some medical professionals say government and religious leaders bear the brunt of the blame for allowing the virus to spread — and for hiding how much it had spread.

Those medical workers say they were defenseless to handle the contagion. And as a result, doctors and nurses in Iran have been hard hit by the virus. During the first 90 days of the virus outbreak alone, about one medical staffer died each day and dozens became infected.

“We are heading fast toward a disaster,” said a young Isfahan doctor who has been working tirelessly, checking dozens of suspected coronavirus patients before referring them to hospitals.

It is no secret that Iran has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Official government figures show that around 100,000 people were infected by the virus and around 6,500 have died. But a report by the research arm of Iran’s parliament said the number of cases could be eight to 10 times higher, making it among the hardest hit countries in the world. The report said the number of deaths could be 80 percent higher than officials numbers from the Health Ministry, about 11,700.
Iranian-founded Afghan Shia militia celebrates 7th anniversary in Aleppo
Liwa Fatemiyoun, an important Iranian-backed proxy fighting in Syria, has released a series of photographs showing its fighters in Aleppo celebrating the seventh anniversary of the group’s founding.

In the series of published images, fighters of the division gathered in a room adorned in its banners and martyr posters of the group’s former commander Abu Hamed and his deputy Reza Bakhshi. The photos were from one of the group’s headquarters inside Aleppo.

Both commanders were killed ten days apart fighting against Syrian rebels in 2015. Banners of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei could also be seen.

As previously detailed in FDD’s Long War Journal, Liwa Fatemiyoun was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in 2013 to fight against Syrian rebels under the pretext of defending the shrine of Sayyida Zainab in Damascus.

The IRGC-sponsored militia primarily recruits from the Hazara population of Afghanistan and Iran. The Hazara are Afghanistan’s largest ethnic minority. Many have fled to Iran to avoid religious persecution in their own war-ravaged country.

In Jan. 2019, the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Liwa Fatemiyoun for “assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-Qods Force.”
Backing Iran, Russia nixes UN arms embargo extension, slams US ‘snapback’ plans
Russia’s UN ambassador said Tuesday that Moscow will oppose any attempts by the United States to extend the arms embargo on Iran and reimpose UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Vassily Nebenzia’s comments at a video news conference made clear that the Trump administration will have a tough time advancing any measures to impose further punishment on Iran in the UN Security Council, where Russia has veto power.

The United States circulated a draft UN resolution that would indefinitely extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expires in October, to a small number of council members in late April.

It would strike the expiration of the arms embargo from the council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between six major powers — the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — and Iran, according to Trump administration officials and UN diplomats.

Russia has made no secret of its desire to resume conventional weapons sales to Tehran.

Nebenzia said the arms embargo is “a byproduct” of the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, and was temporary.

“It expires in October. … And for us that’s clear, that’s clear,” he said. “I do not see any reason why an arms embargo should be imposed on Iran.”
Outrage after Al-Jazeera promotes, then deletes, Soleimani podcast video
In a video posted on Sunday evening, Qatar’s Al Jazeera posted a video praising the late Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

Al Jazeera called him a “warrior in the path of God.” Soleimani is widely reviled by some in the Middle East for his role in supporting the Syrian regime and suppressing dissent in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

The US killed Soleimani in a January airstrike. Iran has vowed revenge for the killing. Qatar hosts US forces and has welcomed the Taliban and other terrorists over the years, including Hamas.

The video of Soleimani, showing him in an animated clip where he is portrayed as a kind of victim and hero, a religious warrior serving Iran, caught many by surprise. Al Jazeera was once seen as sympathetic to protests in the Middle East during the Arab spring and was even accused of being too sympathetic to Sunni extremists, including groups that supported suicide bombings.

However, Qatar has been involved in a spat with neighboring Saudi Arabia since 2017 and it has drifted to be closer to Iran and also the pro-Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Ankara.

This has led to a more sympathetic view of Iranian-backed groups, including Hezbollah and the IRGC. This may be why programming at Al Jazeera has shifted from supporting protests, to supporting more authoritarian regimes that Qatar is allied with.

The podcast, which appeared to be uncritical and a kind of hagiography of Soleimani, was then deleted on Monday.


U.S. Tells Iran to Send Plane so Washington Can Deport 11 Iranians
The U.S. urged Tehran on Monday to send a charter plane to take home 11 Iranian nationals whom Washington wants to deport.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, said Washington had been trying for months to return Sirous Asgari, an Iranian science professor who was acquitted in November of stealing trade secrets but was still in U.S. custody, and that Tehran was delaying the process.

Iranian sources have said talks for a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran have been in the works for some time.


FBI Accidentally Releases Name Of Saudi Official Suspected Of Directing Support For 9/11 Attack
The FBI accidentally revealed the identity of a Saudi government official who officials had suspected of helping direct support to two of the Al-Qaeda hijackers that carried out the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans.

Yahoo News reported late on Tuesday that the revelation was contained in court documents filed late last week, which have since been withdrawn, in response to a lawsuit from families of the 9/11 victims against the Saudi government.

Buried more than 850 words in Yahoo News’ article, reporter Michael Isikoff wrote:
[The filing from Jill Sanborn, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division] says in one instance that it involves “any and all records referring to or relating to Jarrah.”

The reference is to Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, a mid-level Saudi Foreign Ministry official who was assigned to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 1999 and 2000. His duties apparently included overseeing the activities of Ministry of Islamic Affairs employees at Saudi-funded mosques and Islamic centers within the United States.

Relatively little is known about Jarrah, but according to former embassy employees, he reported to the Saudi ambassador in the United States (at the time Prince Bandar), and that he was later reassigned to the Saudi mission in Morocco. His current whereabouts are unknown but he is believed to be in Saudi Arabia.


The report noted that the Jarrah’s name was released in a portion of the declaration where Sanborn referenced a partially declassified report on possible ties between the hijackers and the Saudi government.




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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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