Friday, May 29, 2015

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Barack Obama’s anti-Semitism test
By rejecting the policy significance of anti-Semitism for the Iranian regime, Obama exhibited yet another anti-Semitic behavior. Obama asserted that if you fail to recognize the danger that anti-Semitism constitutes for Israel’s survival, then you are an anti-Semite.
Obama’s statements about the Palestinians also indicate that he feels little love for Jews. As has been his consistent practice since assuming office, in his charm offensive last week, Obama continued to ignore the fact that if the Palestinians were primarily interested in a state, rather than in the destruction of the Jewish state, they could have had one at almost any time since the release of the Peel Commission report in 1937 that first suggested partitioning the land west of the Jordan River between a Jewish and an Arab state. His consistent refusal to deal with this simple fact, and his insistence on blaming Israel for the Palestinians’ expressed misery despite Israel’s repeated offers to partition the land in exchange for peace raise serious questions about his intentions toward the Jewish state.
As Obama rightly understands, in the coming months, as he tries to sell his nuclear deal with Iran and his anti-Israel positions at the UN to the American public, the question of whether or not he is an anti-Semite will become more salient than ever before.
Now that he has answered the question, Israel needs to act in accordance with Jewish values, and choose life even at the expense of good relations with the Obama administration.
Melanie Phillips: Israel’s Foreign Ministry moves to be right
Israel’s new deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, has caused a sensation, not least in her own ministry. She has told the truth.
She said Israel must not hesitate to assert that the entire Land of Israel, including the West Bank, belongs to the Jewish people.
That right, she said, came from the Hebrew Bible. She referred to Maimonides, who asserted that Genesis began with the creation of the world in order to provide a riposte to foreign nations accusing the Jews of stealing the Land of Israel.
Israeli diplomats were aghast. “It’s the first time anyone has asked us to use verses from the Torah for public diplomacy abroad,” one was quoted as saying.
It is true that the hostile West (and many Israelis) may write off Hotovely as just another religious zealot who wants to annex the West Bank.
In fact, she also said she is committed to a two-state solution along the lines laid down by Prime Minister Netanyahu: that Israel would support a Palestine state established to live in peace alongside Israel.
Palestinians drop bid to have Israel banned from FIFA
The Palestinian delegation to FIFA on Friday dropped a motion to have the Israeli soccer federation suspended from international football amid pressure from dozens of national delegates.
Palestinian soccer chief Jibril Rajoub submitted a last-minute amendment to the proposal and told the Congress that “a lot of colleagues” asked him not to call for Israel’s suspension.
He said dozens of football presidents called on him to drop the bid, “but it does not mean that I give up the resistance.”
Instead, Rajoub called on international delegates to vote on setting up a monitoring mechanism to oversee three points: the movement of Palestinian soccer players and soccer equipment donated to the Palestinians, monitoring racism and discrimination against Palestinian soccer players, and the issue of Israeli teams from settlements in the West Bank, which he referred to as “five racist clubs which should be banned.”



PM: Anti-Israel push at FIFA shows Palestinians oppose our right to exist
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday slammed a Palestinian motion to expel Israel from FIFA, soccer’s governing body, asserting that the move, up for vote in Zurich later in the day, constituted opposition to Israel’s right to exist.
“These days and at these hours right now, together with [Israel Football Association President] Ofer Eini and members of the football association, we are taking part in a persistent and just battle against the Palestinian attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Israel and Israeli soccer,” Netanyahu wrote on his official Facebook page.
“The Palestinian move to boycott Israel in the soccer arena and the international arena in general is not due to something we do or do not do. It stems from an opposition to our right to our own state.”
Netanyahu acknowledged that “Israel is not a perfect state. There is no such thing. But it is a state of values that protects human rights,” he said, in a region where such rights are widely violated. “No people wants peace and cooperation more than we do,” he said. “No democracy faces more challenges than Israel, and none does more to protect the values of morality, pluralism and humanity.”
Netanyahu: Suspending Israel Could Cause FIFA to Collapse
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Thursday that acceding to the Palestinian demand to suspend Israel from FIFA threatened to unravel the international soccer organization.
In an interview with reporters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu commented on Friday’s upcoming vote to oust Israel at the FIFA congress in Zurich, calling it a “blatant intrusion of politics into the field of sports.”
According to Netanyahu, who is also an avid soccer fan, “sport has become an arena of goodwill and cooperation between peoples, and because of that an attempt to attack Israel in FIFA will cause FIFA to collapse.”
The prime minister added that Israel was currently holding talks with the organization, but at this point it was impossible to know what decision it would take regarding the Israeli Football Association’s membership. Netanyahu said that if the decision to suspend Israel is accepted, “we will fight and condemn it.”
Netanyahu noted that he had conveyed this message to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Bomb alert at FIFA congress in Zurich
Zurich police Friday responded to a bomb alert at the venue where FIFA is hosting its widely-watched annual congress, amid a massive corruption scandal rocking world football’s governing body.
No explosives were found, however, and the congress’s proceedings resumed after a brief delay.
Zurich police spokeswoman Brigitte Vogt confirmed to AFP that a bomb alert had been received at the venue.
“The police are there,” she said, refusing to provide further details. An AP reporter at the scene said the Hallenstadion’s concert hall auditorium in the venue was cleared, but the building itself was not evacuated.
Pro-Palestinian protesters interrupt FIFA congress
Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly interrupted the FIFA congress on Friday, with the governing-body set to vote later on whether to expel Israel from world soccer.
The two female protesters interrupted president Sepp Blatter’s opening address, waving red cards at FIFA representatives and chanting “Israel out!” before being escorted out of the hall by security guards. Earlier, a group of around 150 pro-Palestinian protesters had gathered to chant outside Zurich’s Hallenstadion before the congress started.
Palestine, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, wants the governing body to expel Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players. It also opposes the participation in the Israeli championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. If the motion passes at the FIFA congress, it would effectively leave Israel unable to participate in international soccer tournaments.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Rajoub is riding the right horse
The honey trap of "a non-violent struggle against the Israeli occupation" is gaining achievements, although the campaign's leaders are a group of sophisticated and despicable people with funding flowing in from Qatar, and their declared ambition is to destroy the State of Israel. They are the propaganda wing of Hamas and Fatah. And it's working.
If we think that Rajoub's failure in FIFA is guaranteed, we should stop being so indifferent – because it's not just the bloc of dark countries which votes against Israel. The World Health Organization (WHO) held a discussion a week ago. Only one country was explicitly condemned there – Israel. The reason: Israel's violation of the health rights of Syrians in the Golan. The international organization doesn’t care about the massacre of Sunnis, Shiites and Alawites in Syria. Nor is it interested in the fact that Israel cares for injured Syrians, or that Israel set up the biggest hospital in Nepal. The majority is only interested in the condemnation. The absurd reaches new heights when the gap between today's anti-Israel sentiments and the past's anti-Semitism is erased.
So Rajoub is riding the right horse – the horse of hatred and incitement against Israel. He knows that even Israel's friends in the WHO, including Germany and France and the Czech Republic, voted with the dark majority. So who knows, perhaps the camp of darkness and hatred will succeed in FIFA as well. Instead of the free, enlightened world influencing the dark world, the dark world is taking over the world which should have been free and enlightened.
That same Rajoub said that Israel was a foreign element threatening humanity. That's exactly what they said about the Jews in Europe 70 years ago. But who remembers? And that tune is returning.
Qatari Abuse of Nepalese Migrants Highlighted in Wake of Earthquake
The treatment of Nepalese migrant workers building the World Cup 2022 venues in Qatar has come into focus in the wake of last month’s devastating earthquake, the Daily Beast reported today. The Nepalese workers were forbidden to return home for funerals of relatives.
As reported by The Guardian, Tek Bahadur Gurung, Nepal’s labor minister, is not only making this latest human rights violation public, he’s demanding accountability from both Qatar and FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, which is being indicted by the U.S. on 147 charges of corruption and money laundering.
“After the earthquake of 25 April, we requested all companies in Qatar to give their Nepalese workers special leave and pay for their air fare home. While workers in some sectors of the economy have been given this, those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time,” Gurung said. “They have lost relatives and their homes and are enduring very difficult conditions in Qatar. This is adding to their suffering,” …
Gurung knows all too well that “nothing will change for migrant workers until FIFA and its rich sponsors insist on it. These are the people who are bringing the World Cup to Qatar. But we are a small, poor country and these powerful organisations are not interested in listening to us.”
Qatar Might be Buying Votes to Suspend Israel From FIFA, Israeli Diplomats Say
Qatar could be buying votes to suspend Israel from FIFA, Israeli diplomatic sources said on Thursday.
“We suspect that Qatar, about whom claims are circulating that it paid in order to host the 2022 World Cup, is now paying countries to vote in favor of the Palestinians,” diplomatic sources told Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
Israeli diplomats have been working globally behind the scenes to ensure that a vote at the FIFA congress on Friday to suspend Israel from the world soccer federation, spearheaded by the Palestinian Football Association, does not pass.
Although FIFA was racked this week by an explosive corruption scandal instigated by the U.S. indictment of nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives over financial conspiracies, Friday’s congress and the vote to suspend the Israeli Soccer Association were set to move forward.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to elaborate on allegations of Qatari attempts to buy votes.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Egypt's Blockade of Gaza
Palestinian human rights activist Salah Abdel Ati said that Egypt's continued closure of the Rafah border crossing was a form of collective punishment against the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. "The Rafah terminal is the only opening of the Gaza Strip to the outside world," he explained. "Its continued closure is a violation of human rights and causes grave suffering to thousands of people. We understand Egypt's security concerns in Sinai, but it's time for the Egyptians to reopen the border crossing on a permanent basis, especially in light of the historic relations between Egypt and Palestine."
While Egypt's security concerns may be justified, particularly in light of the war that the Egyptian authorities are waging against jihadi terrorists in Sinai, there is no reason why the Egyptians continue to prevent Palestinians from returning to their homes in the Gaza Strip. There is also no reason why the Egyptians are continuing to punish thousands of university students, laborers and patients in need of urgent medical treatment.
It is shameful for the Egyptians and other Arabs that, while they are imposing various forms of restrictions on Palestinians, Israel is helping patients from the Gaza Strip undergo surgery in Jerusalem.
The Egyptians are capable of checking every passenger entering or leaving the Gaza Strip the same way Israel does on its border with the Gaza Strip.
Egypt's keeping the Rafah border crossing shut only aggravates the humanitarian and economic crisis in the Gaza Strip. The irony is that the frustration and bitterness eventually translate into violence against Israel, and not Egypt. The Palestinians are well aware that attacking Egypt would draw a very strong response from the Egyptian army. Instead of pointing the finger of blame at Israel, it is time for the international media and community to put pressure on Egypt and other Arab countries to help their Palestinian brethren and to stop torturing and humiliating them.
Israel said unfazed by sale of S-300 missiles to Egypt
At a conference Wednesday, Eshel conveyed Israel’s worry that Russia’s impending sale of S-300 rockets to Iran would make it more difficult to stop Iran’s nuclear program militarily, a fact that could also make it more difficult to stop the program diplomatically.
“It (an Iranian S-300) is a very big challenge. It is a strategic problem long before it is an operational problem,” Eshel said, according to Reuters. “Someone who has an S-300 feels protected and can do more aggressive things because he feels protected.”
Asked if Israel was similarly concerned over reports in March that suggested Egypt was also acquiring the system, Eshel said, “Are you kidding me? We’re at peace with them.”
Final Steps Underway for Jerusalem’s City of David Visitor’s Center
Final steps are underway for the City of David’s “Kedem” visitor’s center in Jerusalem, with a number of Israeli public officials and prominent archaeologists speaking out in support of the project.
According to the City of David, the building was designed by Arieh Rahaminmoff, the former chairman of UNESCO in Israel, and will sit on top of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavation just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. The visitor’s center will serve as an entryway to the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which includes the City of David and Mount Zion, as well as to the Old City’s Ophel and Hulda Gates.
The project, however, has been criticized by some Palestinians and left-wing activist groups for its location in the predominately Arab eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and for interfering with the skyline of the Old City.
Nevertheless, a number of public officials and archaeologists—such as Harvard University professor of design Carl Steinitz, Nobel Laureate Yisrael Aumann, renowned archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay, former IDF military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, and former Mossad director Shabtai Shavit—have spoken out in favor of the project. (h/t NormanF)
David Singer: Netanyahu Goes For Gold In Shoot-Off With Obama
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's appointment of former United Nations ambassador Dore Gold to head up Israel's Foreign Ministry ensures that Israel will be confronting President Obama as he continues attempting to deviate from the commitments made to Israel by his predecessor President Bush in a letter dated 14 April 2004 to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Bush Commitments).
The Bush Commitments acknowledged the risks involved in Israel unilaterally disengaging from Gaza and evacuating the 8000 Jews who had established twenty-one settlements there over the preceding 35 years whilst additionally agreeing to remove another four settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
President Bush assured Israel of the following:
6. It seemed clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement would need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.
8. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it would be unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations would be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It was realistic to expect that any final status agreement would only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.
Man arrested in Cyprus suspected of planning terror attack against Israelis
Cypriot police suspect a man arrested on Wednesday was planning an attack on Israeli interests on the island after they found almost two tonnes of ammonium nitrate in his basement, newspapers reported on Friday.
The 26-year-old man is Lebanese-born and has a Canadian passport. He was detained by police after authorities discovered the stockpile.
Authorities are investigating possible links to Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, which views Israel as its arch enemy, three Cypriot newspapers said on Friday.
Police suspect Israeli interests were the target, the Simerini, Politis and Phileleftheros newspapers said.
The unnamed individual may have a close link with the group's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nazrallah, two newspapers said.
"There is some information that he could possibly be connected with them (Hezbollah), and this is something that is under investigation," a security source told Reuters, requesting anonymity.
Cyprus is a popular holiday destination for Israelis and the Jewish state has an embassy in Nicosia.
ISIS in Sinai Threatens to Bomb Eilat in Coming Days
An Islamic State affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula posted a threat against Israel on its Facebook page on Thursday, saying the group would shell the southernmost Israeli city of Eilat in the coming days.
The organization, formerly known as Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis is today called Wilayat Sina.
The group, which has launched several terrorist attacks against Egyptian security personnel in the restive Sinai over the past few years, has sworn loyalty to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and has announced close ties with the Islamic State branch operating in the Gaza Strip.
One of the terror group’s activists, Abu Othman Al-Musuli — a nom de guerre revealing his Iraqi origins — also posted on one of Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis’ Facebook pages that the organization is seeking to recruit new operatives into its service, according to Israeli news portal NRG.
Al-Musuli called on activists living in Egypt to move to Sinai to strengthen the ranks of the terrorist organization, which has also staged several attacks against Hamas, with the ultimate goal of taking over the Gaza Strip.
New in IDF: Tactical Kamikaze Drones
After years of development, UVision Air Ltd. of Israel has unveiled its new weapon system: drones capable of loitering over a target and attacking it like a missile, reports IsraelDefense.
While "Kamikaze" drones, like the IAI's Harop, have existed on the battlefield for at least ten years, thus far they were intended primarily for strikes against strategic targets – that is, important targets, deep in enemy territory. The new weapon system series is intended for use at the tactical level as well, such as enemy ships, tanks, missile systems, etc.
The loitering attack munition, designated "Hero," has been developed in several versions, to be employed in accordance to the size of the target and the way in which the munition is to be deployed.
The smaller attack munition weighs just 3 kg, writes IsraelDefense. The Micro-Stamp payload by Controp of Israel, weighing 300 grams only, is fitted to the head of the UAV. It enables daytime and nighttime video surveillance, transmitting images to operators on the ground.
The UAV may also be used for surveillance and intelligence collection missions.
Amnesty’s Reports on Hamas Refute Its Allegations Against Israel
Over the past two months, Amnesty International has quietly confirmed nearly all of Israel’s main claims about Hamas’s conduct during last summer’s war in Gaza. Yet the organization still lacks the intellectual honesty to admit that its findings about Hamas completely undercut its main allegations against Israel – made vociferously both at the time and in a series of reports last fall and winter.
Amnesty turned its attention to Hamas only after months of reporting on alleged Israeli crimes. First came a March report on Hamas’s rocket fire, then one this week on its extrajudicial killings of alleged collaborators. Each undercuts a key claim against Israel.
The most interesting finding in the March report was that Hamas’s rockets killed more civilians in Gaza than they did in Israel. Altogether, Amnesty said, the rockets killed six Israeli civilians and “at least” 13 Palestinian civilians. Where did the latter figure come from? From a single misfired rocket that killed 13 civilians in the Al-Shati refugee camp. In other words, Amnesty didn’t bother checking to see whether other Hamas rockets also killed civilians; it simply cited the one case it couldn’t possibly ignore, because it was reported in real time by a foreign journalist at the scene.
But according to Israel Defense Forces figures, roughly 550 rockets and mortars fired at Israel fell short and landed in Gaza, including 119 that hit urban areas. And it defies belief to think those other 549 rockets and mortars produced no casualties.
Hezbollah Runs Away as Jabhat al-Nusra Captures Another Syrian City
A Syrian rebel group, Jaish al-Fatah, which is a coalition of Islamic rebels led by the Al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, captured Ariha, the last remaining Syrian-government controlled city in the north-western province of Idleb.
Syrian forces and Hezbollah retreated after fierce battles, according a report in the Lebanon Daily Star.
The Nusra front now controls all the cities in the province, which shares a border with Turkey.
Mordechai Kedar: Syrian Death Throes
The deteriorating situation in Syria has forced Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader who led his organization into the Syrian quagmire, to schedule three appearances in which he found himself facing mounting criticism from Lebanese Shiites. The large number of Hezbollah casualties has raised the possibility of a general draft, causing high school pupils to be kept from school by their Shiite parents for fear of forced induction into the Hezbollah militia.
The terrible situation in which the Syrians have found themselves has sown panic among the Alawites, who know full well that the connection between their heads and their bodies has a good chance of being severed if the Jihadists prevail. This, naturally, causes them to look for someone to blame and their natural choice is Bashar Assad. Many Alawites accuse Assad of destroying the country and creating the situation in which they - that is, close to two million people - are now in mortal danger. They know how the majority of Syrians view them after forty five years of the Assad family's regime and its extreme cruelty, cruelty which was especially evident when dealing with Sunni opponents.
The Alawites are deathly afraid of the day that mass graves of about twenty thousand people who "disappeared" in Tadmor prison between 1980 and 1981 will be found. Most were peaceful citizens murdered for being suspected of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. The regime has never told their bereaved parents, widows and orphaned children the fate of their loved ones. The discovery of the graves and the sight of the many skulls they contain will serve to exponentially increase Sunni hatred and thirst for revenge against the Alawites.
Expert: Foreign Fighters and Iranian Money are Keeping Assad In Power
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite a series of setbacks and defeats on the battlefield, has “moved aggressively to prevent regime collapse” with backing from foreign troops and Iranian financial support, according to an analysis written by Phillip Smyth yesterday in Foreign Policy.
Smyth noted that many Iraqi Shiite fighters left Syria to fight in Iraq in early 2014, but the slack was picked up by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah and its sponsor, Iran.
Hezbollah’s military deployments within Syria have expanded along with its increased numbers. Not only is the group maintaining its advisory role with pro-Assad militia groups, but it has a significant combat presence in vital strategic areas. It played a leading role in an offensive in southern Syria, near the city of Daraa and in areas near the Golan Heights, and has reportedly taken casualties in the coastal area of Latakia. The most active front for Hezbollah, however, is the mountainous and strategically vital Qalamoun region, which links the northern coastal highlands to Damascus and directly abuts the organization’s Lebanese Bekaa Valley heartland. Following the melting of the winter snows, Hezbollah launched a major offensive in the area. These military advances have not been cost-free for the group: Since May 1, it has announced the deaths of 35 of its fighters.
Tehran also turned to entire new communities of foreign fighters to bolster the Assad regime. Starting in 2013, reports emerged of the funerals of tens of Afghan Shiite fighters in Iran, most originating from the Afghan Hazara refugee population in Iran. Some reports stated that the Iranian commanders viewed the Afghan Shiite troops as mere cannon fodder, reportedly sending criminals and paying them paltry sums. Regardless, since 2014 they have been active across Syria — in the Qalamoun region, Damascus, Latakia, Daraa in the south, and the restive city of Aleppo.
ISIS Destruction of Palmyra Begins, With Vow to Destroy Only 'Idols'
The Islamic State commander in Palmyra, Syria, announced the terrorist group will destroy anything in the UNESCO World Heritage Site that promotes idolatry, but everything else will remain untouched.
“Concerning the historic city, we will preserve it and it will not be harmed, God willing,” said the commander. “What we will do is break the idols that the infidels used to worship. The historic buildings will not be touched and we will not bring bulldozers to destroy them like some people think.”
The proclamation comes only a day after ISIS released a video to show the world the militants did not destroy the landmarks. But witnesses told the media the group started to destroy statues after two days.
JCPA: Implications of the Fall of Key Syrian and Iraqi Cities to ISIS
Iran will have to make tough choices: It has declared in the past it would intervene militarily if the holy shrines of Shi’ism (Samarra, Karbala and Najf) are attacked and in the event IS troops get within 100 kilometers of the Iranian border. Since most of its “popular militia” is already involved in Iraq, Iran will send, as it did in Syria, Iranian-commanded foreign formations (like the Afghan brigades in the Golan) or an expeditionary force based on the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds intervention force, headed by Major-General Qassem Suleimani. Iran could also dispatch aircraft to assist the Iraqis in their military efforts.
Most interesting is the fate of Iran’s proxy offshoot, Hizbullah, which has been engaged in battle in Syria and has become an important pillar of the Syrian regime. Hizbullah has taken heavy casualties and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah had to explain that the battle Hizbullah is waging is an existential one. “Had we not fought in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus,” Nasrallah argued, “we would have fought in Baalbek, Hermel, al-Ghazieh, Sidon, Tyre, Nabatieh and other Lebanese villages, towns and cities.”5 Hizbullah understands too well that much is at stake at this point. This is the reason behind the general mobilization declared by Nasrallah. A defeat of Assad would mean inevitably a defeat for Hizbullah and the beginning of a domestic war in Lebanon with all the rivals waiting to see the demise of Hizbullah.
With the fall of Ramadi and Palmyra the outlines of a new map of the Middle East are starting to take form. The Arab-nation states are trying to oppose this trend: Saudi Arabia and its allies are fighting this development in Yemen; Egypt is trying to create an all-Arab intervention force to deal with Libyan quagmire; while the Sahel countries are also trying to organize militarily to counter the IS and Al-Qaeda threat in their areas of Africa.
An Iranian textbook case
Iranian school textbooks, such as "The Quran and Life" (Grade 12) prepare Iranian children for the ayatollahs' sublime goal: the apocalyptic, horrifying, millenarian, military battle against the U.S. and other "arrogant oppressors of the world," which are ostensibly led by "idolatrous devils." While the "savior" -- the infallible, immortal, divinely ordained and eventual global leader, the Mahdi -- has not surfaced yet, Iranian children are taught that the battle is already raging throughout the world, waiting for them to make the sacrifice.
In Western democracies, school textbooks reflect the peoples' values and worldviews. In tyrannical states, school textbooks reflect the nature and goals of the regimes.
Iranian school textbooks reflect the strategy and tactics of the ayatollahs much more authentically than speeches, interviews, diplomatic statements or conversations with President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Rouhani and Zarif have both mastered the art of Quran-sanctioned "taqiyya" -- double-talk and deception-based agreements, aimed at shielding the "believers" from the "disbelievers," to be abrogated once conditions are ripe.
U.S. Intelligence: Iran Sending More Fighters to Yemen
Iran has dispatched additional paramilitary forces to Yemen to aid pro-Tehran rebels seeking to take control of the strategic southern Arabian state, according to recent U.S. intelligence reports.
The Iranian leadership earlier this month ordered militants from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, along with Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, to Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states are seeking to defeat an insurgency led by Houthi rebels that currently control large parts of the country.
The influx of Iranian forces was outlined in several classified intelligence reports circulated within government over the past two weeks, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.
A State Department official said the Sunni Arabs in nearby states are opposing the Houthis and seeking to prevent Iran from establishing a foothold on the peninsula.
Estimates put the number of both Iranian and Iraqi Shi’ite forces helping the Houthis in Yemen at around 5,000 people. The number of Lebanese Hezbollah members in Yemen is not known.
Iran to Put Cartoonist on Trial for Violating Law Against Political Expression
Iranian authorities are gearing up to put a 28-year-old cartoonist on trial for violating a law against political expression, according to reports.
Atena Farghandani was arrested last year after she drew a political cartoon expressing outrage over the restriction of birth control, according to the Clarion Project.
“She was taken to Gharchak prison for four months where she said she was beaten and interrogated for up to nine hours a day,” according to the report.
“During a brief release in December, she posted a video in Persian detailing her inhumane treatment and was rearrested,” Clarion added. Close to two months later, Farghandani went on a hunger strike and suffered a heart attack. She has been kept in solitary confinement since that time.
Iran Seeks a Foothold in Iraq’s Sunni Anbar Province
In an audio recording posted online on May 15, 2015,8 General Izat Ibrahim al-Douri, the evasive deputy of Saddam Hussein and senior Iraqi Baath Party figure, said regarding the presence of Shiite fighters in Nukhayb (a city in Anbar Province) that “Nukhayb constitutes a strategic point for Iran within Iraq, and one of the goals behind conquering it is to open a front against Saudi Arabia and link up with the fronts in Syria and Lebanon after the closing of the crossings from the north….What is occurring in Iraq is actually a Persian conquest.” Al Douri called on “Iraqis in Al-Anbar and Karbala to strongly fight the Persian criminal plan, which aims at swallowing Iraq.”
This growing Iranian involvement in Iraq will have ramifications for the fabric of Sunni-Shiite relations there, which are fragile in any case, and for the medium- to long-term possibilities of achieving Iraq’s rehabilitation and stabilization. It also further intensifies the Gulf States’ apprehensions about the depth of Iran’s involvement in the region, including in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, along with its ongoing subversion in the Gulf States. Last week’s Gulf State summit at Camp David, with the Saudi king and other leaders notably absent, did not allay their fears.
Iran is continuing its push to encircle Saudi Arabia and challenge its regional and international status in an effort to dominate the region. It is operating on the border of Yemen with Saudi Arabia and helping the Houthis fight the Saudi-led Arab coalition. In addition, Iranian naval forces are projecting power in the Red Sea near Saudi Arabia’s borders to the west, and now Iran is trying to gain a foothold on Saudi Arabia’s eastern border via the Sunni districts of Iraq, thus stepping up its arenas of confrontation with Saudi Arabia and the disintegrating Arab world.
Like ISIS, An Iranian Organization is Establishing Branches Throughout the Middle East
An Iranian strategic-intelligence organization called “The Headquarters” has been spreading out into Iraq, Syria and even elsewhere overseas.
The group — which was established after the Iran’s 2009 elections and takes inspiration from the Islamic State model — supplements Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence gathering operations in the Middle East, said European diplomatic sources, according to a report in Israeli news portal NRG.
The increased involvement of this other organization – also known as The Amar Strategic Headquarters, The Amar Headquarters, or simply the Headuqarters — has been noted in recent months, the sources said.
“The Headquarters” represents a new variety of Iranian intelligence, a kind of hybrid between an intelligence organization and a think tank whose top brass comprises the closest of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s associates.
The Headquarters’ members work in tandem with the Revolutionary Guards and its foreign operations branch, the Quds Force, the sources said.
Video Shows Turkey Smuggling Arms to Syrian Jihadists
Images and video footage allegedly showing trucks belonging to Turkey's state intelligence service carrying weapons en route to jihadist rebels in Syria were published Friday in a Turkish daily.
The Turkish government has vehemently denied earlier claims that it is arming rebels fighting in Syria and accused dozens of prosecutors, soldiers and security officers involved in the searching of trucks of attempting to bring it down by suggesting that it is doing so.
Earlier this month, Turkey arrested four prosecutors who ordered searches in a similar incident in January 2014 and they are now in prison pending trial.
More than 30 security officers involved in that interception also face charges including military espionage and attempting to overthrow the government.
Turkey: Not-Quite Rule of Law
The testimonies are spectacular documents revealing how Turkey's "mild" Islamists were -- and probably are -- "fighting" their more savage ideological kin. Turkey and its NATO allies have totally different threat perceptions and goals in Syria's civil war. For the Western flank, the Islamic State and twenty or so similar jihadist groups are a major threat to peace in the region, but for Turkey they, are potential military allies to topple Erdogan's worst regional enemy, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey, which supports the Muslim Brotherhood, would like a Sunni, Muslim Brotherhood-type of rule in Syria after Assad's downfall. To that end, Turkey is currently viewing various jihadist groups in Syria as potential political allies to Islamize Syria exactly along those Sunni, Muslim Brotherhood lines.
Poll: Turks Believe Israel, US Biggest Threats to Their Country
A recent survey conducted in Turkey revealed that citizens believe Israel and the U.S. pose the biggest threats to their country, Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman reported on Wednesday.
The poll was conducted by İstanbul’s Kadir Has University which surveyed 1,000 people in April across Turkish cities. When asked which country they see as the biggest threat to Turkey, 42.6 percent of respondents said Israel while 35.3 percent said the U.S. The countries received 37.1 and 41.7 percent disapproval rates, respectively, during the same survey in 2013. Following Israel and the U.S. was Syria with 22.1 percent and Armenia with 20.3 percent.
Although Turkey is a candidate for membership to the European Union, 10.2 percent of respondents said EU countries are a threat to Turkey, according to the report. The figure dropped slightly from 12.8 percent in 2013. When respondents were asked if they want Turkey to become an EU member, 42.4 percent said yes and over 20 percent were undecided. The figure marked a decline from 2013 when 47.5 percent supported EU membership.
The survey also revealed that 8.7 percent believe that no country poses a threat to Turkey and 38.9 percent said “Turkey has no friends.” The latter belief is almost unchanged from the same survey in 2013, in which the figure stood at 38.6 percent.


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