Wednesday, April 26, 2017

From Ian:

Gil Troy: Act like lions to impose peace, not lambs
Even those still mourning Hillary Clinton’s loss must admit: if she were US president, Israel would be drowning in peace processors. The Oslo Evangelists would return, wielding their tired ideas, their worn maps, their usual fingers pointing at Israel, their inexcusable blinders regarding Palestinian incitement – replicating president Barack Obama’s failures.
Shimon Peres, their spiritual guru, never admitted that the Oslo peace process failed, despite Yasser Arafat’s deadly tricks, despite Palestinians’ return to terrorism in 2000. By contrast, president Bill Clinton blasted Arafat, saying: “I’m a failure and you have made me one.” Those who cannot acknowledge mistakes cannot learn from them.
Those ready to escape the Oslo rut should consult the historian Daniel Pipes.
His recent Commentary essay “The Way to Peace: Israeli Victory, Palestinian Defeat,” reflects two rules of war so conventional they have become clichés: “to the victor belong the spoils,” and, as Dwight Eisenhower said, “in war, there is no substitute for victory.” Israel should do what victors do, Pipes says, crushing Palestinian hopes of destroying Israel. Only by feeling defeated will Palestinians finally accept Israel.
This Thursday, Republican Representatives Ron DeSantis and Bill Johnson will launch the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC) boosting this plan – I wish they had bipartisan support.
Oslo made Israelis diplomatic Charlie Browns, forever running to kick the football – only to have Palestinians as Lucy pull it away at the last minute, repeatedly. The Palestinians make demands as if they won.
The Palestinians Don’t Want a Mandela, They Want Another Arafat
Part of his appeal lies in the fact that he’s been in prison for the last 15 years, while the rest of his Fatah party’s corrupt leadership has been running the West Bank like mafia chieftains. Even though there’s no reason to think a former Arafat aide like Barghouti will be different, like the equally corrupt and more fanatical Hamas rulers of Gaza, the current PA leadership is entirely discredited.
But Barghouti’s popularity rests on more than just the fact that he isn’t Abbas. Throughout the century-long Palestinian Arab war on Zionism, the political bona fides of that movement’s leaders have always rested on a resume including violence against Jews, not good government or a vision of independence and peace. Barghouti’s credentials rest solely on the fact that he is responsible for the deaths of Jewish men, women and children during the intifada. The political culture of the Palestinians — which is reinforced by a media and an education system promoting hatred of Jews and glorifying terrorism — is what makes Barghouti look good to the Arab street, not the hope he will rise above a record of wanton slaughter.
The reason why Abbas has been incapable of making peace, even if he really is a moderate, is that he understands Palestinians see any recognition of the legitimacy of a Jewish state — no matter where its borders are drawn — as a betrayal. The same factor argues that a man with Barghouti’s record will be expected to pursue more violence rather than become a Mandela. If the last quarter century has taught us anything, it is that the Palestinians don’t want a Mandela in the person of a transformed Barghouti. What they want is another Arafat.
A Palestinian State or an Islamist Tyranny?
Abbad Yahiya's novel takes aim at Palestinian taboos such as fanaticism, Islamic extremism and homosexuality. The novel's publisher has been arrested and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yahiya.
The head of the Union of Palestinian Writers, Murad Sudani, attacked the writer and called for an exemplary punishment. Ghassan Khader, a Facebook user, wrote on his page that Yahiya "should be killed".
We could go on with this list of Palestinian intellectuals who paid a high price for daring to speak the truth to Mahmoud Abbas and his corrupt circle on many issues: coexistence with the Jews, secularism, sexual freedom, freedom of conscience, human rights, or telling the truth about the Holocaust.
A Palestinian state created with the current Palestinian Authority would destroy freedom of conscience for journalists and writers; exile Christians and homosexuals; torture Arab inmates; impose sharia as the only law, and put people to death for "atheism" and "apostasy" (read, conversion to Christianity).

PMW: Palestinian blood cult: Water the soil with your blood
A cartoon in the official Palestinian Authority daily illustrated the blood cult ideology often disseminated by the PA and Fatah, which promotes the message that the land needs Palestinian blood in order to thrive. In the cartoon above, a prisoner is watering the soil with blood directly from his vein and a plant is successfully sprouting.
Palestinian Media Watch has shown that Fatah promotes a "the-land-needs-your-blood" ideology, even to children:
"Teach your children...there is a seed in the soil if you water it with blood, it will sprout a revolution"
[Facebook, "Fatah - The Main Page ," Jan. 6, 2014]
During the terror wave of 2015-2016, PMW noted that at times the PA was promoting this like a Palestinian cult of blood worship and "Martyrdom". After a terrorist was killed, the official PA daily reported:
"[Palestinians] insisted on perfuming themselves with the Martyr's blood... The residents of Jerusalem looked at the blood spots which were still on the ground and on the water which turned slightly red from it, formed a circle and recited the [Quranic Sura] Al-Fatiha for the Martyr's [soul]."

[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 15, 2015]
When a terrorist murderer had stabbed two Israelis to death, PA official Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh, Laila Ghannam described the morning as one "fragranced by the blood of the Martyrs":
Palestinians: The Secret West Bank
As Abbas and his advisors prepare for the May 3 meeting with Trump, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah to call on Arab armies to "liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea." The Palestinians also called for replacing Israel with an Islamic Caliphate.
It is possible that deep inside, Abbas and many of his top aides identify with the goals of Hizb ut Tahrir, namely the elimination of Israel. Abbas also wishes to use these Islamic extremists to depict himself as the "good guy" versus the "bad guys." This is a ploy intended to dupe Westerners into giving him more funds "out of fear that the Islamists may take over."
Abbas's claim that he seeks a just and comprehensive peace with Israel is refuted by fact after fact on the ground. His sweet-talk about peace and the two-state solution will have far less impact on Palestinians than the voices of Hizb ut Tahrir and its sister groups, which strive to "liberate Palestine, from the river to the sea."
The Muslim Brotherhood Has Earned Its Terrorist Designation
In an April 11 Brookings Institution report titled "Is the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization?" senior fellow Shadi Hamid states that the Trump administration's proposed designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group "could have significant consequences for the U.S., the Middle East, and the world."
Among many astounding claims in the report, the three most misleading among them begin with his statement that the Muslim Brotherhood is a "non-violent Islamist group," that "there is not a single American expert on the Muslim Brotherhood who supports designating it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization," and that President Trump's advisors were enlisting Americans in what Mr. Hamid calls "civilization struggle."
First, there is overwhelming evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood is indeed a violent terrorist organization. The Brotherhood's slogan is "'Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
There is overwhelming evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood is indeed a terrorist organization.
Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise that nearly every Sunni terrorist group in the world was either fully or partially founded by active or former Brotherhood operatives.
Brotherhood-linked terrorist organizations include ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya.
10 held over deadly attack on Paris Hyper Cacher store
Ten people, including a suspected arms dealer, are in custody as part of an investigation into a deadly 2015 attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, sources close to the probe said Wednesday.
Claude Hermant, who is awaiting trial in a separate arms trafficking case, and the other suspects have been rounded up since Monday, and there could be more arrests, the sources said.
Investigators are trying to piece together how France-based jihadist Amedy Coulibaly obtained the weapons used in the January 9, 2015 attack on the Hyper Cacher.
Coulibaly killed four people after taking shoppers hostage at the Jewish store. Elite police later shot him dead as they stormed the building.
Talks underway for Trump to make first Israel visit in May
Officials in Jerusalem and Washington are in advanced talks to arrange a visit by US President Donald Trump to Israel in May, an Israeli official said Wednesday in what would be Trump’s first ever visit to Israel.
The official confirmed talks were ongoing, but said no date had yet been set.
Israel Radio said the talks had been going on for several weeks and that a US delegation to prepare for the visit was set to arrive in Israel on Thursday. A senior diplomatic official told the radio that the chances of Trump coming to Israel were at 80 percent.
Trump, whose first scheduled foreign trip as president is a visit to Brussels next month, is looking to expand on that by arriving in Israel on May 21 or in the days after, Hebrew media reports said.
If Trump were to visit on those dates it would coincide with Israel’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, which falls this year on the eve of May 23 and the day of the 24th.
Documents Reveal Trump Plans to Increase Aid to Palestinian Authority
US State Department documents revealed on Monday that the Trump administration plans to increase increase aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), even as the White House prepares significantly cut foreign aid in other parts of the world.
The documents, published by Foreign Policy magazine, detail the State Department’s internal budget plan and show a planned increase of 4.6 percent in aid to Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza for the fiscal year of 2018, amounting to some $215 million.
Syria, Iraq and Libya will also see increases in aid for the 2018 fiscal year, but aid will to Egypt will be cut 47.4 percent and Jordan will see a drop of 21 percent, according to the documents.
The proposed budget changes strike a different tone than President Donald Trump expressed in January, when he informed the PA that the White House had frozen a transfer of $221 million to the Palestinians made in the last hours of President Barack Obama’s administration.
North Korea’s Threat to Israel
Reviewing a recent study of Pyongyang’s involvement in the Middle East, Jack May explains the serious dangers the Communist regime poses to the Jewish state, especially through its close alliance with Iran:
North Korea can facilitate Iran’s aspirations for nuclear weapons. Missile cooperation between the two countries goes back to the Iran-Iraq war, when North Korea assisted in the development of the Iranian Shahab-1 missiles. . . . The [2015 nuclear] deal with Iran has reinvigorated their relationship. It has not curbed Iranian nuclear ambitions; the Iranian foreign minister warned recently that Tehran is “completely ready” to restart its nuclear program if the U.S. fails to meet its commitments. . . . [W]orrying loopholes in the deal allow Iran to develop its nuclear program externally, with a likelihood of North Korea being its nuclear “backdoor.” Moreover, it appears Iran can use the $100 billion provided by lifted sanctions to fund this endeavor. . . .
[In addition], Iran has previously tweaked North Korean ballistic missiles to bear nuclear warheads. It seems the Iranian assurance that it does not envisage nuclear applications for its missiles should be viewed with skepticism, particularly as new reports indicate North Korea could provide Iran with the materials to miniaturize nuclear warheads for use on ballistic missiles, following attempts to sell a form of lithium metal used for this purpose on the international market. . . .
Top IDF officer: North Korea tensions could impact Israel's security
Ongoing tension between North Korea and the US could impact Israel’s security, a senior IDF officer told reporters at a special briefing held on Tuesday.
The officer referred to the developing diplomatic rift between the US and the peninsula following North Korea’s recent and defiant attempts to extend its nuclear activity, despite repeated warnings from the West.
He explained that Israel could bear the brunt of such an escalation in the relations between Washington and Pyongyang should it occur, because the US would have to divert security resources from the Middle East to Korea.
The officer also revealed new information regarding the most serious incident to take place between Israel and Syria in years. On March 17, IAF jets were targeted by Syrian missiles, an attack the IDF responded to immediately.
UK won’t apologize for Balfour Declaration, Palestinian Authority threatens to sue
Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to the UK, said on Tuesday that unless Britain apologized, canceled planned celebrations and recognized a Palestinian state, the Palestinians would go ahead with plans for a lawsuit against the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration.
“This is the only condition upon which we can close this file permanently,” Hassassian said.
Palestinians have long condemned the document as a promise by Britain to hand over land that it did not own.
Abbas called the Balfour Declaration “sinister” at the Arab Summit in Jordan in late March.
Trump’s U.N. envoy Nikki Haley gets hero’s welcome at World Jewish Congress
America’s ambassador to the United Nations received a hero’s welcome at the World Jewish Congress plenary before saying a word – then insisted standing for the truth meant standing with israel.
Nikki Haley, who received two standing ovations from the 700-strong audience as she entered the room at the Hilton Midtown Hotel, condemned the previous administration for doing nothing to stop resolution 2334 and the wider body for singling attack israel more than Iran and North Korea combined.
But to applause she added: “I can safely say it’s a new day for Israel at the United Nations.”
She said: “The United States will no longer be silent as Israel is unfairly attacked at the United Nations. Silence is not my thing anyway, but that’s especially true when it comes to standing up for America’s friends. And we have no better friend in the Middle East than Israel. The anti-Israel bias that has existed for so long at the UN is cut from the same cloth as the BDS movement and the global rise in anti-Semitism. They all seek to delegitimize Israel.”
Why Saudi Arabia won seat on U.N. women's rights body - Hillel Neuer on France24
FRANCE 24: Could the U.N. election of Saudi Arabia to the women's rights commission perhaps be seen as an attempt to encourage Saudi Arabia to bolster women's rights at home, to give it some kind of motivation to do so?"
Hillel Neuer: "No, absolutely not. Saudi Arabia has been on the U.N. human rights council for a decade and it hasn't improved their record one bit. Regimes seeks membership on U.N. human rights bodies for three reasons only: to ensure they'll never be condemned for their abuses; to obtain a false badge of international legitimacy; and to demoralize human rights activists at home."

PreOccupiedTerritory: Trump Will Buy Dome Of The Rock, Get Waqf To Pay For It (satire)
Amid rumors of US President Donald Trump planning a visit to Israel at the end of May, reports have also emerged that the chief executive will purchase the gold-topped Dome of the Rock Shrine on the Temple Mount, and rechristen it with his own moniker, in addition to forcing the Muslim religious council that administers the site to pay for the acquisition.
Administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity told journalists that in addition to a contemplated move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s declared capital, the president intended to gain personal ownership of perhaps the most contested holy sites in the world, venerated by all three Abrahamic religions.
“Regarding a visit to Israel by the president, I can neither confirm nor deny at this stage,” cautioned one White House official. “Of course the president intends to go to Israel at some point. The main question is one of timing. What I can disclose, however, is that the Dome of the Rock will soon be called something else, and it will not cost the American taxpayer a dime, because the president will force the Waqf to cover the costs.”
IDF foils attempted stabbing attack in West Bank; assailant shot
A knife-wielding Palestinian assailant attempted to stab Israeli security forces stationed near Huwara in the West Bank on Wednesday, the IDF said.
The would-be attacker was shot and wounded before being apprehended by Israeli forces. There was no injury to the Israeli side in the second such incident in the area in the past two days.
It was reported that the attackers of both incidents are cousins. A senior IDF official said that refugee camps are more tense for residents and that once an attack occurs, the IDF is aware that the risk of copycat attacks go up dramatically.
The Huwara area, located south of Nablus, has served as a flashpoint site in recent days, with a Palestinian vehicle set on fire in the region overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.
According to Israel Police, security forces arrived to the scene and identified a vehicle which was apparently set ablaze in a possible arson case. Authorities were investigating the background of the incident.
Cyber attack aimed at over 120 Israeli targets thwarted
Israel has thwarted a large scale cyber attack targeting over 120 Israeli organizations in recent days, the National Authority for Cyber Defense announced on Wednesday.
The attacks, which ran between April 19th to April 23rd, came in the form of malicious emails originating from both the servers of an academic institution as well as a private commercial company and targeted various companies in the economy sector, government ministries, public institutions and private individuals in academia and research.
The bug (CVE-2017-0199) exploited a weakness in Microsoft systems, specifically Microsoft Word, and the company has worked to patch vulnerabilities identified by the attack. “Microsoft has released a security update that prevents the attacker from exploiting this vulnerability, and we recommend that you install it,” the agency said in a statement.
A warning of this sort of attack, was given by the agency on April 12th, and was later exposed by the hacking group ShadowBrokers. According to the agency, the attack behaved in the same manner as a previous cyber attack carried out by OILRIG, one of the most active hacking organizations sponsored by the Iranian government.
IDF officer: Israel destroyed 100 Hezbollah-bound missiles in Syria
The target of an air force strike in Syria about six weeks ago was a shipment of 100 missiles earmarked for delivery to Hezbollah, a senior IDF officer told reporters on Tuesday in a press briefing on the country's security challenges. All the missiles were destroyed in the attack, the officer said.
The IDF has operated in Syria on several occasions in recent years, said the officer, who remained unnamed. The army also had intelligence in real time regarding Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of sarin gas on civilians earlier this month.
According to the officer, Israel does not give Russia advance notice before launching air force strikes inside Syria. He added that the Russian presence in Syria was weakening Iran's foothold in the country.
Speaking of Iran and its upcoming elections next month, the officer described conservative presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi as an extreme hard-liner. The officer said the elections are significant, because after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose to power and became president in 2005, the IDF's multi-year work plan was altered to prioritize Iran -- which could happen again if Raisi becomes president.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, Iran has continued to be the IDF's number one mission, the officer noted.
After 'Palestinian propaganda' row, Israel okays visa for HRW official
Israel gave a one-year work visa to a Human Rights Watch researcher on Wednesday after initially denying him a permit and accusing the organization of engaging in "Palestinian propaganda," the group said.
The decision in February to deny Omar Shakir a work permit was criticized by the United States.
Shakir, a US citizen, received the visa on arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport and he will take up his position as the New York-based group's "Israel and Palestine" director.
"We welcome this opportunity to work in Israel and Palestine alongside vigorous national human rights organizations," Iain Levine, executive deputy director for program at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on the group's website.
How Times Of Israel Fed ISIS Is Israel Conspiracy Nonsense
It is a deeply ingrained in parts of the darker internet that Israel or Zionists along with neo-con Jews and other “deep state” Americans created ISIS or allowed it to come into being. The existence of these conspiracy theories is not hard to come across or follow.
A couple of days ago former Israeli Defence Minster, Moshe Ya’alon, participated in a 40-minute interview with Eli Levi (from Israeli TV’s Channel 10) at a cultural event in Afula. Out of this long interview the increasingly left-wing WordPress blog, Times of Israel, pulled the following:
Ex-defense minister says IS ‘apologized’ to Israel for November clash
Moshe Ya’alon’s office refuses to elaborate after alluding to contact with terror group
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Saturday said the Islamic State terrorist group in the Syrian Golan Heights “apologized” for attacking an Israeli unit.
“There was one case recently where Daesh opened fire and apologized,” Ya’alon said, using the terror group’s Arabic nickname.

This was not picked up by any significant news site in Israel because, frankly, it’s not nearly as explosive as ToI’s correspondent has painted here (including the conspiratorial “refused to elaborate” lede). Also note Ya’alon left office in May 2016, well before this incident occurred.
Hundreds of artifacts found in raid on Palestinian home near Nablus
Hundreds of archaeological artifacts, including items believed to be from the Bar Kokhba, Hasmonean, Second Temple, Assyrian, Roman and other periods, were confiscated early Tuesday in a joint raid by the police and Israel Defense Forces on a home belonging to a Palestinian man in the village of Huwara near Nablus.
The overnight raid, carried out by the Samaria and Shai District police departments and the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit, came on the heels of intelligence information about an unusual, and illegal, inventory the man was keeping in the home.
During the search of his home and shop, security forces found hundreds of rings, vases, statuettes, ceramic weights, rare jewelry, basalt stones for grinding wheat, lead tools, and water and oil jugs.
Investigators from COGAT's archaeology unit assessed the artifacts' ages. Initial appraisals valued the artifacts as worth at least in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Israeli prison allows homosexual conjugal visit for first time
Prison authorities decided Tuesday to allow a homosexual prisoner a conjugal visit with his male partner for the first time in Israel.
Tarlan Hankishayev, a former state’s witness jailed for fabricating evidence against a suspect in a deadly shooting at a Tel Aviv gay youth club in 2009, had had two requests for such a visit denied by the authorities on the grounds that there was insufficient proof that he and his partners were in a real relationship.
Prison regulations require that a partner in a relationship prove either that he or she is married or known as a partner in common law. Hankishayev and his partner had signed a joint declaration before a lawyer, but the prison authorities rejected it, claiming that Hankishayev could not be trusted because he had had a different partner at the time of the shooting.

Explosion in Gaza injures 2 at reported Hamas military site
Two men were injured by an explosion in the Gaza Strip on Monday, the Hamas-run health ministry said, in what appeared to be an accident at one of the terror group’s military sites.
Palestinian media in the Strip said the explosion occurred in a site belonging to Hamas’s military wing, but gave no further details.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidre said in a statement that the “two men sustained injuries, one critically and the other moderately, resulting from an accident in Gaza.”
In a break from past statements about others accidental explosions in the territory, Qidre did not give an approximate location for the site of the incident.
In Egypt, Pride above Economy?
It’s one of the ironies of Middle Eastern studies and Western media that the Israel-Palestinian conflict tends to get outsize coverage in comparison to so many other matters more pertinent to local Arabs. Consider border disputes: From Morocco across the region to Iran, the only neighbors who do not have border disputes are Israel and Egypt, Israel and Jordan, Algeria and Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and, ever since accepting international arbitration, Bahrain, and Qatar.
Intra-Arab border disputes can be as intractable as those involving Israel and can be far more violent. Consider, for example, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait or the constant Syrian infringement on Lebanese sovereignty that played out to devastating effect during the 1975-1992 civil war and, arguably, to the present day. While Iran is not Arab, the war between it and Iraq sparked by a border dispute ended up killing hundreds of thousands.
Egypt is the largest Arab country; one out of every five Arabs—perhaps even more—live in Egypt. In November 2016, as part of an International Monetary Fund package of reforms, Egypt floated its currency and, overnight, the Egyptian currency lost more than half of its value compared to the U.S. dollar, more than doubling the cost of imported goods. To be fair, Egypt had no choice. It was hemorrhaging money as a result of subsidies and should have reformed its currency three or four decades ago. Politically, Egyptians are also exhausted. The last decade has seen the Arab Spring, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their subsequent ouster in what many in the West call a coup and Egyptians call a revolution. Recent Islamic State attacks on Egyptian churches raise the specter of growing terrorism. Domestic problems seem so great that Egyptians concentrate on just getting by.
So, with so many huge issues with which to deal, what motivates Egyptians? Last year, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi agreed to transfer to uninhabited islands—Tiran and Sanafir—back to Saudi Arabia, thus ending a decades-long dispute between the two countries. Enter Egyptian nationalism and pride: Egyptians took to the streets twice last April to protest the “selling” of Egyptian land to the Saudis, even though ample documentation existed that the islands were Saudi all along: The Saudis invited an Egyptian garrison on the islands in the 1950s against the backdrop of the Arab-Israel dispute, but government hostility between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on one hand and Israel on the other has largely faded and the garrisons are long gone.
U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Syria After Deadly Chemical Attack
The U.S. administration has imposed new sanctions on Syrian regime personnel responsible for stockpiling chemical weapons and ballistic missiles.
The Treasury Department, which is responsible for applying international financial sanctions, named 271 members of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center in one of the largest sanctions lists ever seen.
The U.S. Treasury said the Syrian agency, described as a medical and agricultural study center by the regime, was responsible for developing and producing “non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them”.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the “United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor, and we intend to hold the [Bashar] al-Assad regime accountable for its unacceptable behaviour”.
This is the second time the U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons. In January, the Treasury blacklisted 18 Syrians, including six connected to the Scientific Studies and Research Center, after an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded that the regime was responsible for three chlorine attacks on civilians.
France says analysis shows Syria regime behind sarin attack
France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that the chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria earlier this month “bears the signature” of President Bashar Assad’s government and shows it was responsible for the deadly assault.
According to Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, France came to this conclusion after comparing samples from a sarin attack in Syria from 2013 that matched. The findings came in a report published Wednesday.
The Kremlin promptly denounced the French report, saying the samples and the fact the nerve agent was used are not enough to prove who was behind it.
France knows “from sure sources” that “the manufacturing process of the sarin that was sampled is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories,” Ayrault added. “This method bears the signature of the regime and that is what allows us to establish its responsibility in this attack.”
Report Desperate Syrians sell kidneys, eyes to Lebanese organ traffickers
Trade in illegal organs is a booming business in Lebanon as desperate Syrian refugees resort to selling body parts to support themselves and their families, according to an investigation by the BBC.
A trafficker who brokers deals from a coffee shop in Beirut, identified as Abu Jaafar, said while he knew his "booming" business was illegal, he saw it as helping people in need.
He spoke to the BBC journalist Alex Forsyth from his base in a dilapidated building covered by a plastic tarpaulin in a southern Beirut suburb.
"I exploit people, that's what I do," Jaafar told Forsyth.
"I know what I'm doing is illegal but I'm helping people, that's how I see it.
"Some of my clients would have died anyway."
Iranian Opposition Group: Tehran Violating JCPOA With Covert Nukes Research at Site Off-Limits to Inspectors
Iran is cheating on its historical deal with the U.S. by secretly conducting research into nuclear weapons components such as bomb triggers and enriched uranium, the main Iranian opposition group said Friday.
The regime is doing engineering and weaponization testing at a walled military complex south of Tehran, a location which Iran has declared off-limits to inspectors, said the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its main operational arm, the People’s Mujaheddin of Iran (MEK).
“This is the site that has been kept secret,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, NCRI’s Washington office deputy director. “There is secret research to manufacture the bomb and basically cover up the real activities of the Iranian regime.”
The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), negotiated by the Obama administration, has become a major foreign policy issue for the Trump White House as it evaluates whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran. Iran has benefited with billions of dollars in freed-up funds while it pursues interventions in Iraq, Syria and Yemen against U.S. interests.
Iranian ‘attack craft’ approaches US Navy destroyer in Persian Gulf
An Iranian “fast attack craft” approached a US Navy destroyer Monday in the Persian Golf, prompting the American vessel to change course and fire warning flares.
While the foreign vessel did not come any closer than 1,000 meters, it was close enough for the USS Mahan to sound its danger signal and ready its weapons as it shifted course to avoid the Iranian ship, Fox News reported late Tuesday.
In January, the same US vessel fired three warning shots at a group of Iranian ships that approached it at high speed in the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has previously harassed US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and around the Strait of Hormuz, with the most notable case being Iran’s capture in January 2016 of 10 US Navy sailors who had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems.
Iraq Voted onto UN Women’s Council, Saudi Arabia Shocked (satire)
Saudi Arabia, recently elected to represent women on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, is apparently shocked that Iraq, a country where women’s rights are declining rapidly, would be included. A Saudi leader commented, “I mean, I understand why we were elected to join, but Iraq!?!?”
“We aren’t really sure how our country was elected, it’s definitely not something we support… women’s rights that is. We’re pretty much the wife beater of the Middle East. But at least we’ve been consistent regarding their treatment so it makes sense that we are on the commission.”
In recent years, Iraqi women have found their lavish freedoms diminishing. One Iraqi woman anonymously stated that “we used to be one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East. Women were even able to go out in public with their eyes uncovered, but now we live in fear of genital mutilation, honor killings, and our female babies being murdered. Perhaps it was us or North Korea on the short list. I can see how that would be a difficult choice.”

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