Friday, August 18, 2017

From Ian:

13 Dead, More Than 80 Wounded, As ISIS Claims Responsibility For Barcelona Day Of Terror
At least 13 people have been murdered and over 80 wounded in a vehicular-ramming attack along the famous Las Ramblas thoroughfare in the Catalan city of Barcelona on Thursday. Hours after the atrocity, reports emerged of a second attack in the city, as two men opened fire on police manning a checkpoint.
The Sunni Islamist terror organization ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released by the Amaq news agency, but there has been no independent verification of the group’s claim. Catalan President Carles Puigdemon said on Thursday evening that two suspects had been arrested.
Initial photos of the attack showed debris outside the kosher “Maccabi” Restaurant on Las Ramblas. However, a local journalist reached by The Algemeiner on Thursday afternoon said that the restaurant was not the target, an assessment later confirmed by the Barcelona Jewish community. Video footage of the attack indicated that the terrorists plowed their van into a crowd along the sidewalk, causing horrific injuries and fatalities. Las Ramblas is Barcelona’s most famous street, hosting crowds of locals and tourists and

Following attack, Barcelona’s chief rabbi says his community is doomed
The Jewish community in Barcelona is “doomed,” because authorities in Spain do not want to confront radical Islam, the chief rabbi of Barcelona warned on Friday, a day after the deadly car-ramming attack in the city.
Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen has been encouraging his congregants to leave Spain, which he called during an interview with JTA a “hub of Islamist terror for all of Europe,” for years before the attacks Thursday and Friday, he said. At least 14 victims and five suspected terrorists were killed in Barcelona and the resort town of Cambrils, 75 miles south of the city.
To Bar-Hen, whose community on Friday resumed activities that it had suspended briefly following the Barcelona attack, “Jews are not here permanently,” he said of the city and region. “I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost. Don’t repeat the mistake of Algerian Jews, of Venezuelan Jews. Better [get out] early than late.”
Barcelona Attack Hits near Kosher Restaurant, Keeping Israel on Edge
With thousands of Israelis currently on vacation in Barcelona at the height of the summer tourism season, Jerusalem carefully monitored the situation there following Thursday’s terrorist attack, trying to track down all Israelis believed to be in the area.
As of 9:30 p.m. Israeli time, the Foreign Ministry put the number of Israelis who had not yet made contact with relatives in Israel at 31, and said there was no immediate indication that any Israelis were injured in the attack, which took place in the vicinity of the Maccabi kosher restaurant.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the country’s foreign minister, went to the ministry’s situation room soon after the attack to monitor developments and speak by video conference with Israel’s ambassador in Madrid, Daniel Kutner.
Netanyahu “strongly condemned” the attack, saying that “tonight we saw again that terrorism strikes everywhere, and the civilized world must fight it together to defeat it.”
The Israeli Embassy dispatched a delegation of three diplomats to Barcelona in case any of the Israelis there were in need of assistance.
Chief Rabbi of Barcelona Meir Bar-Hen said that all community events would be canceled, and that he was headed to the scene of the attack to offer his services. Bar- Hen said that it did not appear that Jews were targeted.
Mincha prayers as kosher restaurant put on lockdown

Barcelona Synagogue, Jewish Institutions Protectively Shuttered Following Terrorist Atrocity
Barcelona’s main synagogue will be closed for a minimum of 24 hours following Thursday’s deadly terrorist attack in the city, in which at least thirteen people were murdered and upwards of 100 wounded.
Barcelona Rabbi Meir Bar Chen said that all “community institutions” had been closed in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity. Bar Chen confirmed that “this was not a terrorist attack directed against Jews,” following initial reports that a kosher restaurant on the Las Ramblas thoroughfare along the path of the terrorists’ van had been their primary target.
In an interview with The Algemeiner on Thursday, a prominent Catalan journalist highlighted the vulnerabilities facing the Spanish authorities in confronting terrorism both regionally and nationally, as more details of the attack poured in.
“Measures against terrorism have been implemented, but there has been little cooperation between state and regional authorities, especially with the separatist issue in the frame,” Borja Vilallonga — editor-in-chief of the influential Catalan weekly El Temps — told The Algemeiner on Thursday afternoon.

Eight suspected terrorists involved in Barcelona attack
Spanish authorities believe there may have been eight people involved in a cell which carried out an attack in Barcelona on Thursday, and that the group had planned to use butane gas canisters, a judicial source with knowledge of the investigation said on Friday.
Catalan government official Joaquim Forn also told local radio earlier on Friday that it was possible that attackers had meant to use canisters in the attack on Thursday in which a suspect drove a van at speed along a busy pedestrian street.
Security forces are hunting for the van's driver, who was seen escaping on foot, and police said they had killed five attackers on Thursday night in Cambrils, a town south of Barcelona, to thwart a separate attack.
"The priority right now is work out the identity of these people, to prove and show the relationship between the different people involved, those that took the van and those that have been able to escape," Forn said.
As of Friday morning, three people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, local Catalan police confirmed on Twitter.
Catalan emergency services said six civilians and a police officer had been injured in the attack in Cambrils, which police said was linked to Thursday's Barcelona van attack.
Catalan police said on Twitter that a bomb squad in Cambrils would carry out several controlled explosions after they determined that the attackers were carrying explosive belts.
On Friday morning, the regional head of the region announced that the explosive belts on the suspects were fake.
A speeding car and fake bombs bring repeat carnage to Spanish resort
Catalan authorities confirmed Friday that the five suspects killed in a police shootout in the seaside resort of Cambrils had ploughed down pedestrians and police in a car attack and were wearing fake bomb belts, as the resort city recalled a night of terror.
The attack early Friday in Cambrils came hours after a white van mowed down tourists and locals in the popular Las Ramblas promenade in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100.
Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, told the Onda Cero radio that the suspects in Cambrils were driving in an Audi 3 and began plowing down people when they reached a populated area near the boardwalk. A police car was damaged and an officer was among at least six people injured.
One of the civilians injured is in critical condition, emergency services said on Twitter.
Tel Aviv City Hall lights up in solidarity with Barcelona
The Tel Aviv municipality building, situated in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, donned the colors of the Spain following Thursday's deadly terror attack in Barcelona.
At least 13 people were killed when a van plowed into crowds in the heart of Barcelona, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.
A Catalan government official said the death toll could rise above the 13 so far confirmed.
Joaquim Forn, from the Catalan government's interior ministry, told a news conference that over 100 people had been injured when the van mowed down pedestrians in Barcelona's city center.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's Amaq news agency said.
"The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states," the agency said, referring to a United States-led coalition against the Sunni militant group.

Israeli Political Figures, Jewish Groups Across Globe Condemn Deadly Barcelona Terrorist Attack
Israeli political figures and US Jewish groups issued condemnations on Thursday of the deadly attack in Barcelona in which a terrorist plowed a vehicle into pedestrians along the Las Ramblas thoroughfare in the heart of the city, killing at least 13.
“I was updated this evening in the Foreign Ministry’s situation room on the terrorist attack in Barcelona,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “As of now, we do not know of any injured Israelis, and we hope there are none. We will continue to monitor events. I send my condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for a full and speedy recovery to the wounded.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon stated, “Terror is terror, and Israel stands by the side of the people of Spain as we pledge to fight all those who seek to harm the free world.”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said, “At times like this, it is important to understand that Islamic terror is attacking the values of freedom and democracy, in Barcelona, London, Paris and Jerusalem. The West must stand strong in the face of terror and defeat it wherever needed.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, “The World Jewish Congress harshly condemns this heinous act of violence and carnage, and is carefully monitoring this situation with concern. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this attack and their families, and with all the people of Barcelona.”
Two dead, several stabbed in Finnish city of Turku
Several people were stabbed in an knife attack in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday but it was not immediately clear if this was a militant action or had some other motive.
Police said they arrested one person after a shootout and were hunting for other possible attackers. They warned people to stay away from the city as they reinforced security nationwide.
The Turun Sanomat newspaper reported that at least one person was killed in the attack. Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat said eight people had been taken to hospital following the stabbings, some of them are in critical condition.
Interior Minister Paula Risikko told Helsingin Sanomat she did not yet know whether the attack was related to terrorism.
Finland is traditionally peaceful but the Finnish Security Intelligence Service raised the terrorism threat level in June, saying it had become aware of more serious terrorism-related plans in Finland.
'The writing was on the wall, but Facebook did nothing'
An anti-terror group which has prosecuted terrorists and supporters of terrorism in courts around the world is accusing Facebook of ignoring bigoted material and explicit calls to violence which promote and encourage terror attacks.
Less than a day after terrorists ran down pedestrians outside of a popular tourist hotspot in Barcelona, Spain, killing 13 and injuring 80, the Israel Law Center, also known as Shurat Hadin, slammed the popular social media site for allegedly turning a blind eye to incitement to terror.
“We’re not surprised to find that once again, the writing was on the wall, and Facebook did nothing,” said ILC chairwoman Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
“The murders of dozens of people have been fueled by the wild incitement on social media, yet Facebook continues to look the other way from incitement to violence and support for terrorism. At the same time, [Facebook] has shown that it can remove incitement when it wants to.”
“We demand that Facebook apologize to the public, and removes the incitement for future attacks from its pages. Facebook cannot sit in its ivory tower in Palo Alto doing nothing while innocent people are slaughtered in the streets of Barcelona. Facebook must understand that social networks also have social responsibilities.”
Barcelona terrorist ranted against Israel, 'Jewish conspiracies'
One of the key suspects tied to Thursday’s deadly terror rampage in the streets of Barcelona launched a series of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tirades on social media just days before the murderous attack.
Driss Oukabir who rented the white Fiat van used to run down hapless pedestrians outside of a popular tourist hotspot in Barcelona, Spain was arrested near the scene of the attack and is considered a prime suspect in the terror plot.
At least 13 people were killed during the attack, and another 80 injured.
The attack occurred near two kosher restaurants in the La Rambla outdoor mall in Barcelona: the Maccabi Restaurant, and Maoz Falafel.
While European Jewish leaders say the attack likely did not target the Jewish institutions, Oukabir did express anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views in the days leading up to Thursday’s attack, accusing Jews of murdering Arab children and engaging in a global conspiracy “to take over the world”.
A 28-year-old Moroccan-born legal resident of the European Union, Oukabir’s social media accounts were littered with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic material prior to the shutting down of his accounts after the attack.
On his Facebook page, Oukabir posted an image of a masked gunman clutching a screaming child.
Hezbollah says Barcelona attacker ‘tarnishing jihad’
The Hezbollah terror group said Friday that a car-ramming attack in Barcelona a day earlier claimed by the Islamic State was “tarnishing jihad.”
At least 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured when the driver drove his van onto the sidewalk in a popular tourist area of Barcelona Thursday, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State. He is still on the run.
Hours later, a car injured at least six people when it was driven onto a promenade in the resort town of Cambrils. Five assailants wearing fake bomb belts were killed in that assault.
Officials have said the incidents are likely linked.
“Targeting innocent civilians and killing them is part of a satanic plot being carried out by those terrorists, which aims at tarnishing the concept of jihad and sullying the image of Islam,” Hezbollah said.
Barcelona Truck-Ramming Mayhem Evidences Palestinian Terror Tactic
Only last month, two Israeli soldiers were injured in a car-ramming attack near Hebron in the West Bank. That attack came after another Palestinian car-ramming terrorist incident eight days earlier.
In March, a Palestinian teen attempted to ram Israelis with a vehicle outside the Etzion Junction in the West Bank.
Last October, three Israeli officers were wounded when a Palestinian driver plowed his car into them and was shot dead.
As far back as July 2008, a Palestinian terrorist driving a large construction vehicle plowed into cars and pedestrians in central Jerusalem, killing three people and wounding more than 40.
Three weeks later, a Palestinian tractor driver rammed into an Israeli public bus and five cars, wounding 15 people.
Two months later, a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem deliberately drove his BMW into a crowd near the Old City, wounding 17.
In August 2014, a Palestinian drove a tractor into a bus in central Jerusalem, wounding six victims.
AFP Omits Israeli Victims In List of Car Ramming Attacks
A few hours ago, at least 12 people were murdered in Barcelona by a Spanish national of North African descent who drove a van into a restaurant. One news source in Europe reports that prior to the attack, the perpetrator posted anti-Israel propaganda on social media. Ninety people were injured in the attack; more deaths are likely.
In its coverage of the attack, Agence France Press has included a list of car ramming attacks that have taken place over the past year, with the list beginning with an attack that took place in Nice, France in 2016. The language (which is in the screenshot above) used to frame the list is as follows:
Vehicles have been used as weapons of terror several times over the past year, often by by followers of the Islamic State (IS), attacking nations in the US-led coalition fighting the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
The list includes car ramming attacks perpetrated in France, Germany, Sweden, and England. Predictably, AFP’s list omits car ramming attacks that have targeted Israelis.
There were at least three such attacks, probably others.
Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé - Barcelona

Engaging with Islamists: What Makes Us Think It Will Ever Work?
In 2014 I prepared the Muslim Brotherhood Review, an internal review of the global Islamist movement for the British Government. Much of the British Government's policy work on the Muslim Brotherhood - and indeed Hizbullah, Hamas, the Houthis and even Iran - in recent years has been shaped by claims that we can influence the thinking of both Sunni and Shia Islamists if only we engage with them. But I cannot think of a single example where Western diplomatic or any other sort of engagement has produced any change in the position of any political Islamist.
Our decisions publicly to engage with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood after 2000 and in 2008 to re-engage diplomatically with Hizbullah's political wing produced absolutely no shift in their thinking. Attempts in Iraq to shape the thinking of Ahmad al Fartousi, leader of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr's militia, and other Iraqi Shia militias failed. They gamed us instead. We have seen the same with the Houthis in Yemen and over the years with Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza.
People sometimes say that we need to identify moderates inside such organizations and detach them by engagement from their more extreme colleagues. Again, I can't think of a single example where this has actually happened. So-called moderates rarely represent the core of any Islamist operation. And in any case, most Islamist groups from the Muslim Brotherhood onwards have a history of expelling, not accommodating, reformists.
Sustained and serious Western engagement with Hamas would have encouraged them to believe they could resist international pressure. It would not have stopped them seeking funding from Iran or Qatar or Turkey: they would simply have concluded we would do nothing about it.
Engagement is possible, but it has to be on our terms. That means consistently asking probing questions. It means expecting proper answers, not some lecture about the past. It means making an effort to understand what Islamist equivocation disguises - the will to power.
It means making sure we are absolutely clear what Islamist claims to value democracy or human rights mean in practice. It means judging engagement not on fine sentiments but on practical outcomes.
Radio Daze: Israeli Army Station Plays Song Praising Palestinian Martyrdom
Galgalatz, an off-shoot of Galei Tzahal, a radio station run by the Israel Defense Forces, is one of the country’s most popular broadcasters. It’s the station most Israelis have on when they’re stuck in traffic on their way to and from work. It’s the semi-official arbiter of the nation’s mainstream musical taste. And yesterday, it played a song in Arabic praising Palestinian martyrdom.
“Death becomes victory, not defeat,” goes the song, “Tightening Our Strength” by a group called Revolution Makers. “So I am sacrificing my soul to elevate our dignity… I’m willing to die proudly as a Shahid (martyr).”
Enraged listeners soon took to Facebook to complain, and the DJ responsible for the blunder, Sa’ar Gamzo, was quick to apologize.
“Every week, I put together a show consisting of groovy music from around the world, with an emphasis on Israel and the Middle East,” he said. “In case of this particular song, I made a mistake. I don’t speak Arabic, I don’t understand Arabic, and I don’t read Arabic. I chose the song because it fit the vibe of the show. Had I understood the lyrics, I wouldn’t have aired the song… I hope we can continue to celebrate the beauty of music moving forward.”
Beduin diplomat sanctioned over threat to take Israel to The Hague
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely initiated disciplinary measures on Thursday against a Beduin diplomat who wrote and then removed and apologized for a Facebook post slamming Israel for real-estate policies in his northern village of Khawaled.
Ismail Khaldi, Israel’s first Beduin diplomat, accused the Zevulun Regional Council and the Israel Lands Authority in an English Facebook post on Tuesday of “Beduin heritage cleansing” because the council plans to sell plots in the village near Haifa to people from outside the village, “including Arab real-estate mach’ers/traders.”
The result of this policy, he said, is that local residents won’t be able to afford the land, “leading to the elimination/ cleansing of Beduin heritage, tradition and norms.”
Khaldi continued, “What to do? Keep fighting. Even if we need to go to the ICJ (International Court of Justice!) We we won’t allow the council to turn Khawaled into an isolated ghetto!!” Hotovely said the ministry “will not tolerate a situation where an Israel diplomat gives backing to the industry of lies against Israel.” Khaldi currently works in the ministry’s department of public diplomacy.
Hotovely characterized as “unprecedented” a situation where an Israeli diplomat calls for action against Israel at The Hague, and said that it must be dealt with severely.
Following Hotovely’s statement, Khaldi posted an apology on his Facebook page.
He said that he posted the original comment “in a moment of anger.”
Iran player breaks silence over ban for playing Israelis
One of two Iranian footballers threatened with a lifetime ban after playing against an Israeli club broke his silence on Friday, saying he had no intention of causing offense.
“My country has always been and will be my priority,” wrote midfielder Masoud Shojaei on his Instagram page.
“I have always tried to work wholeheartedly to be a suitable representative for the country.”
It came a week after news he and teammate Haji Safi had been banned for life from the national team for playing in a Europa League qualifier with their Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The Iranian government does not recognize Israel and bars its sportsmen from participating against Israelis in any event, including at the Olympics.
Israeli company offers ‘anti-terrorism’ adventure to tourists
The foreigners yell “fire, fire, fire” before shooting their automatic weapons as Israeli instructors look on — but this is no military training.
The 20 or so Jewish tourists from South America are on an “anti-terrorism” course run by former Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. Their targets are balloons nearby.
“The aim of the training is not to teach you how to shoot,” Eitan Cohen, one of the instructors, says to the group, “but to make you understand what we do here in Israel to fight terrorism.”
The tourist attraction offers an unusual option for visitors coming to see Jerusalem’s holy sites or to float in the Dead Sea.
But while it may be exhilarating or instructive for some, others find it offensive, accusing the company of profiting from Israel’s fears of Palestinian terrorism.
The company is called Caliber 3, located near the Israeli settlement of Efrat south of Jerusalem, and it began in 2003 as a training camp for professional security personnel such as police.
UAE to pay Gaza $15 million a month
The United Arab Emirates will provide $15 million a month to Gaza, Gulf News reported Thursday, citing Palestinian Arab politician Mohammad Dahlan.
“15 million dollars will be pumped monthly from the beginning of next month to the Palestinian Joint Liability Committee in support of relief, humanitarian and development projects in the Gaza Strip to alleviate their suffering,” Samir Al-Mashharawi, an ally of Dahlan, was quoted as having said in a statement.
Dahlan, the longtime political foe of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has been working with Gaza’s Hamas rulers. He recently took part in a public meeting with Hamas members of parliament aimed at reaching "understandings which are able to restore hope to the people of Gaza and alleviate their suffering."
The Joint Liability Committee was established in the wake of agreements made between Dahlan and Hamas in early July in Cairo, according to Gulf News.
Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction have been at odds since Hamas violently took control of Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007.
The Pentagon Fills Hezbollah’s Shopping List
In recent years, federal law enforcement agencies have repeatedly arrested Hezbollah operatives in the US who were trying to procure weapons and other combat-related equipment for the group. Those arrests have given US law enforcement a pretty clear idea of the specific items on Hezbollah’s wish-list – advanced rifles, night goggles, specialized communications gear and so forth. Hezbollah might also have wished that its agents had succeeded in their clandestine buying missions instead of being busted and going to prison. Yet even in the fever-dreams of Hezbollah’s bunker-bound leader, Hassan Nasrallah, it seems unlikely that anyone in the group imagined that the Pentagon would simply ship the advanced American gear they sought to obtain to Lebanon, gratis.
But on Monday, US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard revealed that the Pentagon has done exactly that – or near enough to make Hassan Nasrallah jump for joy inside his bunker. In remarks delivered at the Port of Beirut, Ambassador Richard reviewed the material contents of a $100 million contribution that the US is making to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which last month provided support to Hezbollah in a joint military operation in northeastern Lebanon. Hailing the first eight of a promised thirty-two M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles that the US will be delivering to the LAF, Richard reviewed the items the US has delivered to the LAF over the past 12 months. Along with heavier weapons, Richard revealed, the list includes “4,000 M4 rifles,” “320 night vision devices and thermal sights,” and “360 secure communication radios.”
Why is this noteworthy? Well, as it happens, these precise items have been on Hezbollah’s shopping list consistently for almost a decade.
Lebanon annuls ‘marry the rapist’ law
Lebanon’s parliament abolished a controversial article that allowed rapists to escape prison by marrying their victims.
Wednesday’s move by the legislature followed years of campaigning against articles dealing with violence against women. The law had been in place since the late 1940s.
Earlier in August, Jordan’s parliament repealed a similar law.
The Lebanese law stated that rapists are punishable by up to seven years in prison. If the rape victim is a person with a special need, physical or mental, the penalty was increased. Article 522 added that if the violator marries his victim, criminal prosecution is suspended.
Supporters of the law in socially conservative areas of the country argued that the marriage would salvage the honor of the woman and her family.
Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt have also scrapped similar clauses over the years, according to Human Rights Watch.
Enforcing the Ceasefire May Be America’s Way Forward in Syria
Taking advantage of the July ceasefire agreement, which applies in certain areas of southern Syria, Bashar al-Assad and his allies have been consolidating and expanding their control in other parts of the country. What’s more, writes Dennis Ross, the Russians “have agreed to several previous ceasefires or cessations of hostilities and have enforced none of them,” suggesting that they, and forces loyal to Assad, might resume fighting elsewhere when it suits them. If, with Russian support, Iran-backed, pro-Assad groups expand their influence, they will no doubt threaten U.S. interests and even undermine attempts to prevent the resurgence of Islamic State. Ross explains how the U.S. might be able to limit Russia and Iran from further taking advantage of the situation:
The Israelis have made it clear they won’t let Iran open up a . . . front against them in Syria. Maybe this will deter the Iranians; at a minimum, they will test and probe to see just how serious the Israelis are. Unfortunately, they are far less likely to be deterred from trying to position themselves along the Jordanian border, convinced this will give them the means to destabilize the Hashemite kingdom and threaten the Gulf states from yet another direction. . . .
[T]he ceasefire agreement is supposed to keep the Syrian regime and the Iranians 40 kilometers from the Jordanian border. [This], however, depends on the Russians stopping the Syrians and Iranians. If the past is any guide, they won’t, unless, of course, they decide that this will extend the conflict and increase their costs.
The Trump administration could make it clear that there is a cost. If it were prepared to say the U.S. will enforce these ceasefire areas and buffer zones if the Russians don’t, Putin would pay attention. Not only would it signal that the U.S. was going to be an arbiter of events in Syria—something Putin seeks to avoid—but it would also mean we would act to punish the Syrian regime for its transgressions.
JPost Editorial: Iran’s great game
Iran doesn’t keep its policies secret either. Press TV, which is related to the regime in Tehran, headlined on Thursday that President Hassan Rouhani’s “new pick for defense minister has underlined his resolve to further enhance ballistic missile capabilities.” Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami boasted that “in the next four years, apart from enhancing combat and defense capabilities, we will devote a special effort to boost missile and ballistic power, strategic air power as well as strategic maritime power and increase rapid reaction force.”
Iran’s defense chiefs have also made frequent strategic visits abroad. In April the defense minister was in Moscow and on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Baqeri flew to Ankara to meetings with defense officials.
The larger picture also involves Iran’s progress in filling the void left by the decline in Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. As ISIS is defeated, pro-Iranian proxies have filled the vacuum in the western deserts of Iraq and also in the swath of desert in Syria that leads to the Euphrates River. This would create a physical land-bridge from Tehran to the sea, a corridor of influence and power that is unprecedented. Hezbollah has threatened to use Shia Iraq fighters in the next war with Israel, and Israel is concerned that cease-fire agreements along the Golan have empowered Iran, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.
The reported visit by Israeli officials with their American counterparts should include attempts to get America’s defense establishment on board with a plan to confront Iran in the region. This doesn’t require reneging on the Iran nuclear deal, because the real Iranian threat today is through proxies and influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It is essential that the defeat of ISIS be followed by a policy for dealing with Tehran.
Haley to press IAEA on Iran deal compliance
"Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump's envoy to the United Nations, will travel to Vienna next week to discuss the US government's concerns about the Iran nuclear deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The high-profile visit comes as the former South Carolina governor has staked out a hard line on Iran and sharply pro-Israel positions, perhaps with an eye to her own future political ambitions.
Haley will hold meetings with IAEA leaders and experts in Vienna on Wednesday, the US mission to the UN confirmed to Al-Monitor.
'She will meet with IAEA leadership, Iran safeguards experts and others,' a spokesperson said...
Haley, ahead of the trip, signaled she was skeptical of Iran's compliance with the deal, and vowed the Trump administration would not be held hostage to it.
'Iran cannot be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage,' Haley said in a press statement Tuesday, after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to leave the accord if the Trump administration tacks on more sanctions. 'Iran, under no circumstances, can ever be allowed to have nuclear weapons. At the same time, however, we must also continue to hold Iran responsible for its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights and violations of UN Security Council resolutions.'
'The nuclear deal must not become 'too big to fail,' she added.
"A Saudi-led military coalition conducting airstrikes in Yemen committed 'grave violations' of human rights against children last year, killing 502, injuring 838, according to a draft report by the U.N. Secretary General António Guterres.
'The killing and maiming of children remained the most prevalent violation' of children's rights in Yemen, according to the 41-page draft report obtained by Foreign Policy. 'In the reporting period, attacks carried out by air were the cause of over half of all child casualties, with at least 349 children killed and 333 children injured.'...
The chief author of the confidential draft report, Virginia Gamba, the U.N. chief's special representative for children abused in war time, informed top U.N. officials Monday, that she intends to recommend the Saudi-led coalition be added to a list a countries and entities that kill and maim children, according to a well-placed source. The decision will have to be taken by Guterres, who will make the final report public later this month...
The findings were included in a draft copy of the U.N.'s annual report of Children and Armed Conflict, which documented human rights violations of at least 15,500 children last year by government forces, terrorists and armed opposition groups in more than a dozen conflicts around the world...
The publication of the report, which is expected to be issued later this month, presents Guterres with a tough dilemma: if he shames the Saudi coalition he runs the risk of provoking a break with the U.N.'s most influential Arab governments. But if he doesn't act, he is likely to face charges of undermining the U.N.'s commitment to human rights...
Last year, Saudi Arabia was included on the list on the grounds that the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for more than half of the 1,953 child casualties in the Yemen conflict.

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