Thursday, October 08, 2020

From Ian:

Noah Rothman: Biden’s Repudiation of Obama’s Foreign Policy
In 2013, Obama invited Moscow to play peacemaker in the Syrian conflict, and his administration insisted—all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding—that Russia had successfully negotiated the liquidation of Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile. The fateful move preserved the Assad regime, set the stage for Russian military intervention in the conflict in 2015, and preserved the conditions that eventually gave rise to the Islamic State. Only after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 did the Obama administration reluctantly impose targeted economic sanctions. But Obama dismissed the invasion and annexation of sovereign European territory as a sign that Russia was a mere “regional power” exerting “less influence” on the global stage. The extent of Russia’s geopolitical ambitions would not become clear to the president until Moscow brazenly interfered with the 2016 election cycle—too late.

By contrast, and despite President Trump’s sordid compulsion to praise Vladimir Putin, this administration preserved Obama-era sanctions on Moscow and tightened the screws. This White House imposed Magnitsky Act sanctions on Russia’s Putin-linked elite—sanctions that the Obama administration lobbied Congress against. The Trump administration provided lethal arms to the Ukrainian government, expelled Russian diplomatic personnel, and seized Russian consular property. The U.S. military under Trump has engaged in set-piece land battles with Russian mercenaries in Syria. This administration oversaw the expansion of the NATO alliance, despite covert Russian action intended to derail that effort, and abandoned the defunct 1987 intermediate-range nuclear-forces treaty, a compact to which even the Obama administration conceded only the United States was beholden.

If Joe Biden has determined that it is in America’s interest to get tougher on the rogue regimes that govern these two states, that’s great. There is, however, precious little evidence to suggest that Biden has had a genuine change of heart.

The former vice president has, in fact, pledged to end Cuba’s economic and diplomatic isolation, which he claims stifles Cuban entrepreneurs and strengthens the regime in Havana. His vague but detectable hostility toward fracking would relieve the economic pressure America’s virtual energy independence has imposed on the Kremlin. He has tacitly endorsed a de facto partition of Syria, pockets of which would be administered by Russia and the Western coalition—a move that would legitimize Russia’s troop presence in the Levant and commit the U.S. to an open-ended conflict in defense of no well-defined interest.

Though he didn’t do much to prove his thesis, Diehl is right: Joe Biden does seem to have learned from past mistakes. In the case of these two pariah regimes, those mistakes were Barack Obama’s, not Donald Trump’s.
In Phone Call, Israel’s Netanyahu and Russia’s Putin Discuss Iranian ‘Aggression’ in Middle East
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone on Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to a statement put out by Netanyahu’s office, the two leaders talked about “regional security issues, the Iranian aggression and the situation in Syria.”

“They also discussed advancing bilateral cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus,” it added.

A Kremlin statement listed Netanyahu as one of a dozen world leaders who called Putin on Wednesday to wish him a happy 68th birthday.

“In every conversation, the leaders touched upon the development of bilateral relations as well as topical regional problems,” the Kremlin said.
Caroline Glick: It's Time for Trump to Soberly Confront the Rising Turkish Threat
All of these aspects of Trump's foreign policies are vital for developing and maintaining a successful U.S. policy toward Erdogan's Turkey, as Erdogan exposes himself as a foe interested in pitting all sides against one another to enable his efforts to construct a new Ottoman Empire. Many commentators advocate expelling Turkey from NATO. But it isn't clear that a head-on confrontation with Erdogan would neutralize him. It could well empower him by helping him to rally the Turkish public behind him at a time when Turkey's economy stands on the brink of collapse.

Given Erdogan's multipronged aggression, the first goal of a realistic policy would be to diminish his power by severely weakening Turkey economically. This may mean imposing economic sanctions on Turkey for its aggression against Greece and Cyprus. Or it may mean simply giving Turkey a gentle push over the economic cliff.

Without raising the issue of removing Turkey from NATO, the U.S. can simply not sell Turkey advanced platforms while demonstrating its support for Greece and Cyprus, as well as Israel and its Arab partners.

True, China is already seeking to supplant the U.S. in sponsoring the Turkish economy and selling Turkey arms—but by keeping Turkey in NATO, the U.S. still has more leverage over Turkey than China.

A passive-aggressive policy for diminishing Erdogan's power and the threat he can mount is right up Trump's alley. Trump doesn't often directly attack his opponents. He embraced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un even as he imposed the harshest economic sanctions ever on North Korea and redesignated it a state sponsor of terrorism. He has acted similarly with Putin and with Erdogan himself.

Erdogan's belief that he can rebuild the Ottoman Empire while attacking EU and NATO members, the U.S., its key allies in the Middle East as well as Russia, owes to his narcissism that Obama and Biden did so much to feed.

With Erdogan now openly threatening multiple U.S. allies, it is increasingly apparent that the largest and fastest rising threat to stability and peace in the Middle East is Turkey—and the victor in next month's U.S. presidential election will have no lead time to deal with it.

Trump's reality-based foreign policy, his preference for indirect confrontations and empowerment of U.S. partners to defend themselves from aggression, rather than dictating their actions or fighting their battles for them, give the president the flexibility to diminish Erdogan's maneuver room, his economic independence and his popularity at home—while also empowering U.S. allies directly affected by the strongman's aggression to stand up to him effectively, with or without direct U.S. involvement.
Tarek Fatah: Expel Turkey from NATO
Turkey's Erdogan denounced the call for a ceasefire and, according to reports, has lent its US-supplied F-16s to Azerbaijan's forces along with drones that are equipped with Canadian technology.

This forced Ottawa to act. On Oct. 5, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne halted all military export permits to Turkey.

The reaction by Turkey was swift. The foreign ministry in Ankara accused Ottawa of "double standards" arguing: "There is no explanation for blocking defence equipment exports to a NATO ally while."

NATO ally? That's quite rich for Turkey's pan-Islamists to invoke NATO as their defence.

The only role Turkey has played in NATO since the collapse of the USSR is that of a Fifth Column. A country that has been a conduit for ISIS jihadis, the Muslim Brotherhood. A country that deploys refugees to threaten Europe and Greece while occupying Cyprus and festering war in Libya, is no NATO ally.

Time has come for Canada to ask for Turkey's expulsion from NATO. Turkey is a menace to Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Syria and Libya. It has eyes on Bulgaria, Rumania and the Balkans, which it had to relinquish in the Lausanne Treaty that is approaching its centennial.

Don't be surprised if Erdogan annuls the century-old treaty to re-establish the Ottoman Caliphate that will make Central Asia its Turkic backyard after Armenia, the only obstacle, is eliminated.
Jonathan Tobin: The Current US Approach to Turkey Is Absurd
While no one is clamoring for a revival of the late unlamented Ottoman Empire, Erdogan’s pose as the leader of all Muslims does prop him up at home and serves as the backdrop for Turkey’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy. The Turks have been using their military to threaten the efforts of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel to work together on natural gas. They’ve also been throwing their weight around elsewhere, establishing a zone of control in northern Syria with US acquiescence, and pushing the Azeris to settle scores with the Armenians, who seized territory from them in the 1990s.

Trump was severely criticized for going along with Turkey in Syria in order to enable him to start withdrawing American troops from the region. But, contrary to my expectations, this seeming betrayal of the Kurds who had fought alongside the US against ISIS terrorists didn’t lead to total disaster. Still, the US move has, along with Trump’s seeming embrace of Erdogan, encouraged the Turks in their other provocative behavior.

The American decision to go soft on Turkey was motivated by a desire to keep Erdogan from forming an alliance with Russia and because the United States has been rightly focused on isolating Iran, whose own quest for regional hegemony and nuclear ambitions are the number one threats to peace and stability.

The entangling alliances in the region are confusing and contradictory. Israel is friendly with the Azeris, who also look to Turkey as an ally, while the Armenians have gotten some support from Iran. Turkish intervention in Libya, which wasn’t discouraged by Trump, is of concern to Israel. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to revive the old Soviet empire looms over all these problems as a constant threat.

Even more importantly, Turkey has sought to sabotage peace deals between Gulf state Arabs and Israel, something that is one of the Trump administration’s greatest achievements. While the Trump administration has done well in focusing on stopping Iran, its Turkey policy has been a confusing mess exacerbated by the president’s foolish boasts about commanding Erdogan’s respect. To the extent that Biden has a position on these issues, it involves being tougher on Turkey, but also includes a return to former President Barack Obama’s feckless appeasement of Iran.

What the United States needs going forward is to realize that it’s possible to continue to quarantine the dangerous Islamists of Tehran without allowing an authoritarian megalomaniac like Erdogan to think he has America’s blessing to be just as disruptive a force as the Iranians. Both Iran and Turkey have each used the rallying cry of taking Jerusalem from the Jews to justify their insane and dangerous goals.

A rational American foreign policy going forward will not involve being suckered by either Iran or Turkey. It remains to be seen if either Trump or Biden is capable of that kind of clarity.
Deciphering the Azerbaijan-Armenia War
Azerbaijanis ("Azeris") are Turks who speak a language that is almost completely intelligible to Turks in Turkey. But, unlike the rest of the Turkish/Turkic world, which is Sunni, Iranian Azeris are Shi'ite. 3/4 of the total Azeri population in the world live in northwest Iran, just across the border from the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. 80% of Tehran's population either speaks Azeri or is of Azeri origin.

Most Soviet Azeri intellectuals believed that when they created their own country, Azeris living in Iran would clamor to join them. But Iranian Azaris wanted to remain part of Iran and suggested that the former Soviet Azeris should also join Iran, possibly giving the Azaris greater political leverage in that country.

Many international actors have a stake in the outcome of the Armenian-Azeri conflict. Russia supports Armenia. India also supports Armenia, in part because Turkey is training radical Indian Muslim clerics and sending them to fan the flames of Hindi-Muslim tensions. Sunni Pakistan supports Shi'ite Azerbaijan, in part because of its historically close ties with Turkey - since Pakistan's upper class is largely of Central Asian Turkic origin.

MERMI: Editor Of AKP Mouthpiece: 'Turkey Is A Global Power – Now It's Time For Azerbaijan To Rise; Iran Backing Armenia! What's Tehran Afraid Of?'
In his October 2, 2020 column, titled "Turkey Is A Global Power. Now It's Time For Azerbaijan To Rise. Iran Backing Armenia! What's Tehran Afraid Of?" in Turkey's AKP mouthpiece Yeni Şafak daily, the paper's editor-in-chief İbrahim Karagül assessed that Turkey got its "geopolitical mind" back into action, after a century-long hiatus. "This is a history-maker, region-builder mind that founded very powerful empires on earth," he noted, further describing it as power in Turkey's political genes.

Karagül stated that the "world order's central actors" are watching with great surprise Turkey's "geopolitical mind" in action. This mind is now operative in the Caucasus, but we can see it "everywhere... We saw it first in northern Iraq. Then in Syria, followed by the East Mediterranean, and the Aegean."

Now that Turkey got back its "geopolitical mind," Karagül asserted that Ankara won't be any longer under the U.S. and Europe's tutelage, since it is a rising new global power. "As a nation... we rejoice in this rise. Our aim is not to spread conflicts but to replace, reinstate what rightfully belongs to us." In this regard, it is worth noting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a recent speech broadcast on KararTV: "Jerusalem is our city; it is a city from us," stressing that the current physical appearance of the Old City, which is the heart of Jerusalem, was built by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.[1]

Karagül further stressed that Turkey is spreading throughout the whole region the powerful political wave that started in Anatolia. Turkey's geopolitical mind is now in South Caucasus, and united with Azerbaijan, it has formed a surprising power. Stating that Azerbaijan unleashed a "war of independence" in Nagorno-Karabakh, Karagül mentioned that there will not be an attack on "Armenia's territory."[2] "The terrorist occupation on Azerbaijani territory is being ended," he added.

Furthermore, commenting on Iran's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Karagül said: "Iran and its elements adopted a position on the Armenian front against Muslim Azerbaijan. It is making intense military deployment to Yerevan. While almost half its population is of Turkish origin, [Iran] does not pay any heed to how those masses feel." He then added that the Turkish-origin population in Iran will also undergo mental shock. "In fact, the shock has already started," he opined.
EU won’t give PA more aid as they refuse Israel-collected tax funds
The EU turned down requests from Ramallah for additional aid, as long as the Palestinians refuse to accept their own money because it is collected by Israel.

“No stopgap extra funding should be expected... if they do not accept their own money,” an EU diplomat said on Wednesday.

The PA will, however, continue to get the aid it usually receives from the EU.

"There is absolutely no change in the position of the EU when it comes to our cooperation and assistance given to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority," EU Foreign Affairs Spokesman Peter Stano said in a press conference on Thursday. "The EU will continue to be the largest international supporter of the Palestinians and a firm supporter of the PA."

At the same time, Stano said, "we are encouraging them to again accept the transfers of their own tax revenues because this is their own money, but this is where it stops."

All imports to the PA go through Israeli checkpoints, and Israel collects VAT and tariffs for the PA. Those funds are the largest source of income for the PA. Israel also collects income tax and health insurance funds for Palestinians who work for Israelis.

Group of European Parliament MPs Call for Withholding of Funding for Palestinian Authority Over Incitement in Schools
A multi-party group of more than 20 European Parliament members issued an open letter on Wednesday to top EU officials demanding that the supra-national body withhold certain funds from the Palestinian Authority until it expunged racist and antisemitic incitement from its school textbooks.

The letter — signed by MEPs associated with the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) group in the European Parliament — said in part, “Palestinian Authority textbooks are replete with troubling insertions of antisemitic content and imagery, hate speech and incitement to violence, martyrdom, and jihad across all grades and subjects.”

“These textbooks are drafted and taught by education sector civil servants and teachers whose salaries are financed through the EU’s PEGASE instrument,” it said, referring to an EU mechanism for transferring donor funds to Palestinian institutions and projects.

The textbooks, the letter charged, “violate each of the UNESCO standards for peace, tolerance, and coexistence in school education.”

“In the interests of advancing peace and putting an end to harmful incitement, we suggest that the Commission put a 5% reserve on funding for the Palestinians until such time that it makes substantive positive changes to the textbooks,” it urged.

The letter was addressed to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, and Neighborhood Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi.

TFI Chair MEP Lukas Mandl of Austria, commented, “It’s unacceptable that the EU is funding Palestinian textbooks which glorify terrorism and peddle antisemitism.”

Jewish leaders welcome continued detainment of Daniel Pearl's killer
Jewish leaders have welcomed a recent decision by the Supreme Court in Pakistan to keep one of Daniel Pearl's killers in jail despite his acquittal by a lower court in April.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has been on death row since 2002, sentenced to death for masterminding the beheading of Pearl that same year. Pearl, a Jewish American, was the South Asia Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal. He was based in Mumbai, India, where he was investigating links between Pakistani militants and "Shoe Bomber" Richard C. Reid when he was kidnapped and later beheaded by terrorists.

In April, a Pakistani court commuted Sheikh's death sentence and acquitted three others co-accused for Pearl's murder.

"No evidence has been brought on record by the prosecution to link any of the appellants to the murder of Pearl and as such all the appellants are acquitted of murder," said a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court, in a ruling seen by Reuters.

However, the Sindh provincial government's Home Department on the same day issued an order to arrest and detain the four before they were released from prison, for a period of three months.
Saudi Arabia Must Focus on Own Interests, National Security While Serving Palestinian Cause: Prince Bandar
Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, said the kingdom must focus on its own interests and security while supporting the Palestinian cause.

In the final episode of a three-part interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television aired on Wednesday, Prince Bandar once again criticized Palestinian leaders.

“We are at a stage in which rather than being concerned with how to face the Israeli challenges in order to serve the Palestinian cause, we have to pay attention to our national security and interests,” he said.

Prince Bandar previously in the interview criticized the Palestinian leadership for their “transgression” and “reprehensible discourse,” in opposing the decision of some Gulf states to normalize ties with Israel.

The United Arab Emirates agreed a historic deal to normalize relations with Israel in August, and the Gulf state of Bahrain, a close Saudi ally, followed suit in September. Palestinian leaders regarded the deal as “betrayal.”

Palestinians fear the moves will weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position — known as the Arab Peace Initiative — that calls for Israeli withdrawal from “occupied” territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab states.
Israel and Jordan sign historic airspace agreement
Israel and Jordan reached an agreement allowing flights to cross over both countries’ airspace, the Transportation Ministry announced on Thursday.

The deal allows flights crossing over one country to also fly over the other.

The agreement will significantly shorten the length of flights from Israel to the Gulf and East Asia, cutting the time it takes to travel between countries and cutting gas costs and pollution.

It will also allow the UAE and Bahrain, which recently made peace with Israel, along with other countries in the region, to fly over Israeli airspace.

Jerusalem and Amman reached the deal after several years, but peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia allowing Israeli flights to the UAE over its airspace hastened the process.

The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, known as EUROCONTROL, played a major part in negotiating the agreement.

Transportation Minister Miri Regev said “we are once again breaking new boundaries, and this time it is in the air.
Jordan’s King Abdullah Appoints Palace Aide Bisher Khasawneh PM
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday appointed veteran diplomat and palace aide Bisher Khasawneh as the country’s new prime minister, days after accepting the resignation of Omar Razzaz, the royal palace said.

The monarch dissolved parliament on Sept. 27 at the end of its four-year term, a move that under constitutional rules meant the government had to resign within a week.

In a letter of designation, the monarch said he entrusted British-educated‮‮ ‬‬Khasawneh, who has been a palace adviser since last year after a career mostly spent as a diplomat and peace negotiator with Israel, to form a cabinet of qualified ministers who would rise to the country’s challenges.

“The formation of this government comes at an exceptional time,” the monarch said, referring to the fast spread of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the new government should boost capacity in the health care system amid medical fears it could collapse if community spread gets out of control.

Khasawneh will oversee parliamentary elections due on Nov. 10 whose outcome is expected under an electoral law that marginalizes the Islamist opposition to maintain a majority of pro-government deputies.
Qatar F-35 Request Raises Questions
In that five years Qatar has chosen to be more amicable with Tehran, so as not to be threatened and to hedge its bets while working with the US. The other states, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have chosen a different path. Opposing the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah, they have sought out a closer relationship with the Trump administration and also Israel, Egypt, Greece and Cyprus.

However, Qatar has sought to undermine the traditional support Riyadh received in Washington, working with key media and influencers to paint Saudi Arabia as a renegade and unstable or authoritarian state. The latter is an ironic accusation, since Doha is also a monarchy. However, the Middle East is divided between the authoritarian regimes of Qatar and Turkey, which are allies, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia – and Iran and its friends. Tehran increasingly works with Moscow and Ankara, while the southern Gulf states are concerned about Turkey's growing influence.

THE US decision on F-35s will thus have major ramifications for the region. If it says no to requests by either Abu Dhabi or Doha, it will potentially humiliate them. If it sells them a token number of aircraft, which will take years to deliver, it will show it supports them.

However, there will be lingering questions about why Qatar is rewarded in the same way as the UAE, despite the UAE normalizing relations with Israel. In essence, the question is: What did Qatar do to deserve the aircraft? But if the US only sells the aircraft to one and not the other, it will show favoritism. In addition, Israel has expressed concern about preserving its qualitative military edge, and that will factor into the decision.

In the end, the Trump administration faces an election, so it likely will not make the decision quickly, and there could be other hurdles in Congress. That could put the ball in the next administration’s court.

F-35s are a key part of US military industrial complex diplomacy, a way that the US shows who its real friends are and knits together a global alliance system. Toward that end, it likely wants more sales in the Middle East because 5th generation fighter jets work well together and then the US could do joint drills with the UAE, Israel and its F-35s.

But that is a long way in the future. If history tells us anything, it won’t be before 2025 that these countries could conceive of getting a squadron of the planes. And a lot can change in five years.
The End of the Age of Islamist Insurgency?
20 years ago, the Second Intifada witnessed bus and cafe bombings perpetrated by organizations wrapped in the banners of insurgent political Islam, most importantly Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). It was the first eruption of political Islam in its insurgent form against a Western democracy. One year later, as Israel was still in the middle of its assault of suicide bombings, al-Qaeda destroyed the twin towers in New York. That attack - together with subsequent ones in Madrid, London, and Paris - ushered in a global focus on insurgent political Islam.

For a distinct period, insurgent political Islamism was the most vital political ideology in the Middle East, capturing the energy that was once invested in pan-Arab nationalism. The high point of Islamist popular mobilization and insurgency was evident from 2010 to 2014 with the takeover of the Syrian rebellion by Sunni Islamist militias, the Muslim Brotherhood's brief triumph in Egypt, and the Islamic State's caliphate. Today, where does one find an insurgency led from below - a jihad, a popular revolt?

There is certainly disorder. The end result of ten years of political chaos triggered by Islamist insurgencies is that large swaths of the Arabic-speaking world are smoking ruins, with semi-functioning governments in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
Antibodies survey finds 5% of Israelis exposed to COVID, far from herd immunity
A nationwide serological survey conducted by the Health Ministry from July to September found that 5.5 percent of Israelis have coronavirus antibodies, indicating that the country is far from achieving so-called “herd immunity” from the pandemic.

The study released Thursday indicated that the virus was far more widespread than known, but fell short of assessments that had predicted the pathogen had gone undetected in the vast majority of cases.

According to the study, up to half a million people may have caught the virus, about double the number of cases that had been confirmed by the end of September, and about four times the number who had been confirmed infected at the start of September.

The Health Ministry announcement did not say whether the study had included September, and a spokesperson could not be reached for clarification.

Either figure would still fall well short of predictions. Earlier this month, Dr. Michael Ryan, head of emergencies at the World Health Organization, estimated that one-tenth of the planet may have been infected, some 20 times the number of confirmed cases worldwide. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is known to have vastly different effects on people. For some it is fatal, but many others do not experience any symptoms.

MEMRI: Former Palestinian Minister: The Armed Intifada Was A Great Mistake; We Must Learn From Past Errors, Formulate New Political Vision
In a recent article in the daily Al-Ayyam, Fatah member Ashraf Al-'Ajrami, a former minister of prisoner affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), harshly criticizes the PA's political policy in the last 20 years, and calls on the Palestinians to recognize their political mistakes and formulate a new vision and reasonable political plans. Among the Palestinians' mistakes he counts the armed action in the Second Intifada, which continued even after 9/11, when a global consensus against terror had emerged. This violence, he says, provided Israel with a pretext to build the separation fence. It also caused the Palestinians heavy losses in lives and money, and laid the foundations for Hamas's takeover of Gaza.

Al-'Ajrami adds that another mistake was the Palestinians' failure to refute what he calls the false Israeli narrative that held the Palestinians responsible for the breakdown of the peace negotiations. He states that it was the Israelis who halted the talks, but that the Palestinians failed to clarify this to the world. This was because they were more interested in presenting themselves as heroes who had resisted pressures and opposed the insufficient proposals made by Ehud Barak in July 2000 or by Ehud Olmert in September 2008.

As evidence for the "Israeli lie and deception," he mentions a recent article by Yossi Ben Ari, a former senior figure in Israel’s intelligence establishment, which accused Israeli intelligence chiefs of concealing information from Israel's political and military leadership - specifically information indicating that Yasser Arafat had not initiated the Second Intifada but had only joined it after failing to suppress it.[1] Al-'Ajrami writes further that, with the help of "the Western media, some of which belong to the Jewish fortune," Israel managed to convince many in the world of the rightness of its narrative, just as it did when it invented a false historical narrative connecting it to Palestine, a narrative that is completely at odds with the "proven" historical facts regarding the Palestinians' ownership over their land.

Al-'Ajrami concludes by urging the Palestinians to learn from the mistakes of the past and formulate "a vision and a view to the future" instead of repeating unfounded political slogans.
Arab “traitors” normalize with Israel- Martyrdom-death for Palestine is good–in poem posted by Fatah
Arab “traitors” normalize with Israel – “the occupying dogs” - Martyrdom-death for Palestine is good – in poem posted by Fatah

How the Arab World Turned Against Hizbullah
For many people across the Middle East, Hizbullah fighting on the side of the Assad regime has disrupted its cultivated image as a "resistance" force defying Israel. In the 19 interviews conducted for this article, Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians described growing feelings of unease towards the group.

In Lebanon, Hizbullah's traditional Shia support base is suffering as a result of the country's ongoing financial crisis. While Hizbullah members and fighters receive salaries in U.S. dollars, everyone else is paid in Lebanese currency, which has lost more than 3/4 of its value since October 2019. The party's access to dollars - from where remains unclear - pits the Hizbullah haves against the have-nots.

Husayn, a Hizbullah unit commander who served in Syria, spoke with disdain about the Assad regime's army. "There are traitors among them. Some of them have killed many of us. They shot us from the back several times while we were attacking. A number of our fighters were martyred because of them."
Hizbullah Is Losing Its Ability to Intimidate Anyone
Lebanon is going through a terrible economic crisis, exacerbated by the resistance of the country's politicians to introducing reforms that would unlock financial aid from the International Monetary Fund. Such reforms would threaten their networks of corruption and patronage.

Over 50% of Lebanese live under the poverty line, and many of them believe Hizbullah to be part of the corrupt political elite. Hizbullah's disregard for the discontent in Lebanon, along with its refusal to help revive the country through economic reform, has meant that it has poisoned its own environment, limiting its margin of maneuver on Iran's behalf.

Iran showcases anti-ship ballistic missile to threaten US carriers
Iran heralded an anti-ship ballistic missile as a strategic game-changer for the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf regions.

The missile has a range up to 700 km., and Iran’s Fars News says it is a “new long arm” for the Islamic Republic. It was showcased during an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps exhibit on the strength of the IRGC aerospace force. Iran has continued to show off new radars, drones and missiles in recent weeks, sending clear messages that are meant to threaten the US and its allies in the region.

The Zulfiqar Basir missile appears to be named after the Zulfiqar ballistic missile that has been used to strike land-based targets by Iran. Tehran has used long-range precision missiles to strike at ISIS, the US and Kurdish dissidents. Iran says it is similar to China’s DF-21D anti-ship missile. These kinds of missiles are said to be “carrier killers” and Iran’s Fars News played this up on Thursday.

It showed satellite images of US aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Oman to assert that Iran tracks the ships and could strike at them. The Islamic Republic recently launched a military satellite and has acquired new radar capabilities. Tehran also says it has extended the range of this missile from 300 km. to 700 km.
US Expected to Impose New Sanctions on Iran’s Financial Sector: Source
The United States is preparing to impose fresh sanctions on Iran’s financial industry as soon as Thursday, a Republican congressional aide briefed on the matter said, as Washington ramps up pressure on Tehran weeks ahead of a key US election.

The move, which would effectively shut Iran out of the global financial sector, comes after the United States last month said it triggered a “snap back,” or resumption, of virtually all UN sanctions on Iran, an assertion rejected by key European allies and most UN Security Council members including Russia and China.

The Washington Post first reported on the US plan.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.

US sanctions have crippled the Iranian economy. President Hassan Rouhani in June said his country was experiencing the toughest year because of US economic pressure and the coronavirus pandemic which has hit the Islamic Republic hard.

Iran hawks inside and outside the Trump administration have been pushing for the targeting of Iran’s entire financial sector for some time.
U.S. Seizes 92 Websites Run by Iranian Intel Services
The Department of Justice on Wednesday seized the domain names of 92 websites that it says Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was using to spread propaganda and disinformation to American audiences.

Iran and the IRGC used these websites to "spread propaganda covertly" and "sow discord" among the American public ahead of the 2020 presidential elections. Iran has spent resources trying to influence the election in favor of Democratic challenger Joe Biden, according to John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security. Iran's clandestine operation of these websites violates U.S. sanctions.

At least four of these websites were set up to appear as news outlets. They were, however, actually controlled by the IRGC, Iran's paramilitary fighting force responsible for conducting cyber operations on the Islamic Republic's behalf. This behavior violates the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which mandates that foreign governments disclose their activities in the United States. Visitors to these websites will now only see a Department of Justice notice about the domain name seizure.

Internet and technology giant Google assisted the Trump administration in its investigation, according to FBI special agent in charge John Bennett.
MEMRI: 'Kayhan' Editor Shariatmadari To Trump: The IRGC Will Take Revenge Against You Personally For Your Involvement In Killing Of Qods Force Commander Soleimani
On September 19, 2020, Hossein Shariatmadari, longtime editor of the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan and a close associate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote in the newspaper about the promise made by IRGC commander Hossein Salami to U.S. President Donald Trump – i.e. that the IRGC would seek vengeance if a single Iranian was harmed. Salami had also reiterated Khamenei's statement that anyone involved in the January 2020 killing of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani would be harmed.

Also in his article, Shariatmadari emphasized that the IRGC had always kept its promises, and that because President Trump had acknowledged giving the order to kill Soleimani, it would settle accounts with him personally, either during his term in office or afterwards.

Earlier, on September 8, the IRGC had posted on its Telegram channel an image featuring IRGC commander Hossein Salami at Trump's desk in the Oval Office, with Trump seated before him chastised and humbled.

The following are the main points of Shariatmadari's September 19 article in Kayhan, and of his statements promising personal vengeance against Trump for Soleimani's killing.

Also below is the image shared by the IRGC Telegram channel showing Salami and Trump in the Oval Office.
Iranian Terror Proxies Prop Up Venezuela’s Maduro, Report Says
A network of Iranian terror proxy groups operating in Latin America, including Hezbollah, are providing the resources necessary for dictator Nicolas Maduro's regime in Venezuela to flourish, according to a new investigation released on Wednesday.

Maduro's oppressive regime has faced down months of U.S. opposition and sanctions by forming "an extensive relationship with several foreign terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and its terror sponsor the Islamic Republic of Iran," according to a new report published by the Atlantic Council and the Center for a Secure Free Society, a national security think tank.

The relationship is centered on keeping the anti-U.S. Maduro in power and solidifying Iran's terrorist footprint in Latin America, which has long served as an operational hub for Hezbollah forces. Iran has found an ally in Maduro, who has accepted millions of barrels of Iranian crude oil in recent months—a central lifeline for the isolated Venezuelan regime. In return, Maduro has opened Venezuela's borders to Iranian operatives and terror affiliates like Hezbollah, according to the report. Details about this relationship are likely to renew concerns about Iran's operations near the U.S. southern border, which could pose a direct threat to the American homeland.

Hezbollah's operations in Latin America—which include drug trafficking and other illicit activities—have provided the group with significant cash resources and the ability to evade international sanctions. The blossoming relationship with Maduro has fortified the Iranian terror group's operations in the region and paved the way for Hezbollah's External Security Organization to embed itself into Venezuela's economy.
Olympics slammed for not caring about murder of Iranian wrestler
The organization Global Athlete issued a scathing indictment of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday for its refusal to act against Iran's regime in response to the execution of Iranian champion Greco-Roman wrestler Navid Afkari.

“The IOC’s failure to stand up for athletes’ human rights – their willingness to stand by while athletes are jailed, tortured and executed – is a gross abdication of duty," said two-time Olympian Noah Hoffman, a Global Athlete member.

"Navid was targeted because he was an athlete. Any semblance of due process or the rule of law was nothing more than a sham. And the IOC turned away, claiming that Navid is not their problem," he said. "In doing so, they have sent a message to all athletes that they do not have our backs; they don’t care what happens to us as long as the Games go on and the farce of global unity is preserved.”

Global Athlete, a sports advocacy organization that seeks to advance the rights of athletes, said the IOC has neglected its “duty to care for athletes by failing to take action against Iran."

The Global Athlete statement said that “over the past month, athletes and human rights leaders have campaigned for the international sport community to sanction Iran and other countries that have clearly breached the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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