Thursday, October 25, 2018

From Ian:

New Evidence Shows That Iran Was Closer to Building a Nuclear Bomb Than Previously Thought
In April, Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israeli operatives had spirited a vast, secret archive relating to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program out of the country and brought it to Jerusalem. Having studied the documents that have been made public, David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Olli Heinonen, and Frank Pabian conclude that Tehran has been carrying out research necessary for the development of a nuclear bomb at a military facility in Parchin, and that this research was more advanced than experts had believed. If so, the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal and the current regimen of inspections are not preventing the Islamic Republic from continuing on its path to the bomb:

Iran’s stark aim, in violation of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and contrary to its signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, contradicts the finding by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in December 2015 that Iran’s nuclear-weapons activities had not gone beyond feasibility and simple scientific studies. . . .

The archive provides the public its first look inside the Parchin nuclear weapons-development facility and at the type of nuclear weapons-related activities that took place at the site, [and it includes] confirmation that Iran was testing . . . a specialized, difficult-to-develop, neutron initiator to start the chain reaction in a nuclear explosion. The new information about Parchin . . . shows that Iran conducted far more high-explosive tests at the site than previously understood. It may have maintained some of the equipment for later use, and did in fact resume (elsewhere) some of those activities related to nuclear-weapons development under a new organizational structure. . . .

More broadly, at issue remains [the question of] whether Iran is simply preserving, curating, and improving its nuclear-weapons capabilities, awaiting a decision to reconstitute a full-blown nuclear-weapons program at a later date, if such a political decision is made. Its failure to destroy all of these documents, and purportedly, the equipment used in these activities, does not align with its commitment under the nuclear deal “that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons.”
Amb. Alan Baker: Why is the ICC prosecutor interfering in Khan al-Ahmar?
In a somewhat irregular statement by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court published on October 17, Fatou Bensouda saw fit to criticize Israel and voice concern over the planned evacuation of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar, as well as over the continued violence at the Gaza border.

She pointed out that extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in occupied territory constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Recalling the fact that the ICC is conducting a preliminary examination of Palestinian allegations of war crimes by Israel’s leaders and military commanders (at the behest of the Palestinian leadership), she threatened to “take appropriate action, within the confines of the independent and impartial exercise of my mandate under the Rome Statute.”

Curiously, she added that such action by her would respect the “principle of complementarity.”

This statement raises a number of issues reflecting an element of ignorance on the part of the prosecutor as to the legal situation in the case of Khan al-Ahmar and the highly publicized background of repeated appeals by the residents of the village to Israel’s Supreme Court. It perhaps reflects not only a deliberate omission on her part, but also an evident and even alarming lack of the very impartiality and independence she mentions in her statement and that should guide her in fulfilling her function as ICC prosecutor.

The “principle of complementarity” which she mentioned is the basic, underlying requirement of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as set out in its first article establishing the court. It determines that the exercise by the court of its jurisdiction regarding the most serious crimes of international concern “shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdiction.”

This means that the ICC may not take action on a complaint referred to it if the courts at the national level are dealing, or have dealt with, the particular case.
IsraellyCool: A Photo You Won’t See In the Mainstream Media
The below photo shows 7-year-old Israeli Yonatan Regev from Kibbutz Mefalsim on his bicycle pedaling away from a fire caused by an incendiary balloon from Gaza. It was taken by 13-year-old Uriya Kabir, who lives in the same kibbutz, and supposedly went viral on social media.

I did not see it, so if it did go viral, perhaps it did so in WhatsApp groups in Israel. And it sure hasn’t been picked up by any of the mainstream media, which is too preoccupied showing how palestinian “demonstrators” (read: rioters) are being injured and sometimes killed – of course without the context of the violent activities they are engaged in, or how they are putting themselves at risk.

We hear about the incendiary balloons, but the way it is reported, you’d think they are more of an annoyance than anything. Sure, some have reported how thousands of acres of Israeli land have been scorched, but those reports are mostly from Israeli media outlets.

This photo shows how the fires are affecting the lives of so many Israelis, even to the point of threatening their lives. And unlike the palestinian rioters, the Israelis – like young Yonatan Regev and Uriya Kabir – are just minding their business, trying to live their lives.

Please spread this post and photo so more people out there understand the reality of the situation, and not just the distorted mainstream media version.

Caroline Glick: Khashoggi Affair Endangers America’s Core Interest in the Middle East
The Jamal Khashoggi affair is no mere “whodunnit” murder mystery. It is an event that has the potential to endanger all of America’s core interests in the Middle East.

To understand why that is the case, it is necessary to remember what those core interests are, to consider which regimes share American interests, which regimes threaten them, and how the U.S. can best use its leverage in the region to secure and advance its interests.

The top three U.S. interests in the Middle East are more or less as follows:
  1. The preservation and protection of the unfettered transport of inexpensive energy products to the world market through the Straits of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Bab el Mandab;
  2. The prevention of the export of terrorism and the deployment and proliferation of unconventional weapons from the Islamic world;
  3. The retention and preservation of America’s position as the most powerful superpower in the region to prevent China, Russia, or any other competitive power from challenging the U.S.’s capacity to secure its other key interests.

The Islamic country in the Middle East that most threatens these key U.S. interests is Iran. Iran directly threatens the safe transport of energy products by threatening shipping, including U.S. naval vessels in the Straits of Hormuz. It also threatens the Bab el Mandab through its Houthi proxy in Yemen.

Iran’s massive support for terror groups and its use of terror proxy armies in the Middle East and worldwide, along with its nuclear missile program and its ballistic missile program, threaten the U.S.’s second key interest in the Middle East.
PMW: Fatah's outrageous photoshopped picture: Jews seek "Death to the Goyim"
There seems to be no limit to the length Abbas' Fatah Movement is prepared to go to demonize Jews and Israelis.

Look at this picture of a man operating a security system in a casino: [Security Info Watch, July 8, 2009]

Now look at the outrageous altered version Fatah posted on its official Facebook page to make Palestinians believe Israelis/Jews seek their death and the death of all non-Jews (yellow arrows added by PMW for clarification):
[Official Fatah Facebook page, Oct. 5, 2018]

In the deceitfully edited picture posted by Fatah,
  • the man has been turned into a Jew wearing a skullcap
  • the room is decorated with an Israeli flag
  • all the TV screens have been changed to show Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi who recently served time in Israeli prison
  • a motto according to which Israelis seek the death of non-Jews has been added above the TV screens:
IAF strikes Hamas position in response to Gaza rocket fire
The Israeli Air Force targeted eight Hamas positions ‎in the Gaza Strip following a rocket attack on ‎southern Israel, the military confirmed Thursday. ‎The incident marked the end of a weeklong stretch ‎of relative calm on the volatile border.‎

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said IAF aircraft bombed ‎Hamas targets throughout the coastal enclave, ‎including a weapons arsenal and a training ‎compound. There were no immediate reports of ‎Palestinian casualties.‎

Gaza's media reported that Hamas had ordered its ‎operatives to clear several compounds in ‎anticipation of an Israeli raid.‎

The strikes came in response to an overnight rocket ‎attack – the first firing from Gaza since a missile ‎hit a house in the city of Beersheba a week ago, ‎threatening to spark another full-fledged ‎confrontation.‎

The military further confirmed Thursday that the ‎Iron Dome defense system did not intercept the ‎projectile fired from Gaza.‎

IDF data pegs Iron Dome's interception rate at 90%. ‎

Strategic Affairs Ministry: Palestinian incitement against Israel rising
Palestinian incitement against Israel has increased over the last two months, according to a report released by the Ministry of Strategic and Public Affairs.

Against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks in the in the Barkan industrial zone and Gush Etzion, the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, is consistently voicing it's firm support for terrorist attacks while Hamas is calling for a renewal of suicide attacks in Judea and Samaria, the report said.

The report, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Strategic and Public Affairs, deals with Palestinian incitement against Israel is expected to be published monthly and distributed among government officials, the defense establishment and foreign missions in Israel.

It outlines how under the pretext of the 25th anniversary of the Oslo agreements and the expected demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, Palestinian factions are carrying out systematic, antisemitic incitement against Israel, calling for a third Intifada and attempting to organize a boycott of the Eurovision song contest taking place in Tel Aviv next year, the report claimed.

Meanwhile, Gaza residents are called upon to continue rioting along the border fence through inciting cartoons published on Hamas-affiliated networks, impelling them to harass IDF forces, attempt to break through the fence and use several means of force against the IDF.
Egypt warns Abbas: No sanctions on Gaza
Egypt has warned PA President Mahmoud Abbas not to impose new sanctions on the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said on Wednesday.

The Egyptians are also trying to convince Hamas to avoid taking measures that could aggravate tensions with Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, the official told The Jerusalem Post.

Hamas leaders have told the Egyptians that they will reinstall the “administrative committee” that had functioned as a de facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip until a year ago, if Abbas imposes new sanctions on the coastal enclave.

Hamas suspended the work of the committee after it signed another “reconciliation” agreement with Fatah in Cairo in October 2017. Abbas had demanded that Hamas dissolve the committee as a precondition for signing the agreement.

Egyptian intelligence officials have been holding marathon talks with Hamas and Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip and Ramallah in an attempt to convince the two parties to end their dispute. The Egyptian officials are also trying to reach a truce agreement between the Gaza-based Palestinian factions and Israel.
Qatari-bought fuel boosts Gazans’ daily electricity
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip received extra hours of electricity on Thursday after several trucks of Qatari-bought fuel arrived at the coastal enclave’s sole power plant, Muhammed Thabet, a spokesman for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, said.

The Qatari-purchased fuel began flowing into Gaza’s power plant on October 9, but Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman halted its entry four days later following many weeks of protests, including violence against Israeli security forces, along the border between Israel and the Strip.

Israel, however, decided to lift the embargo on the entry of the fuel on Tuesday following a week of relative calm in the border region.

“Yesterday, Gaza received four hours of electricity followed by 16 hours of no electricity. Today, it received 6 hours of electricity followed by 12 hours of no electricity,” Thabet said in a phone call. “This increase in electricity supply is much needed, but we are still facing a major shortage.”

Demand for electricity in Gaza is estimated at 500 and 600 megawatts per day in the winter and summer, respectively.
Netanyahu: If not for Israel, Hamas would topple Abbas
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Wednesday to maintain a permanent Israeli military force in the West Bank, saying that if it weren't for Israeli troops stationed there, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would be "overrun in two minutes" by Hamas terrorists.

Addressing an assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America, Netanyahu remarked that Israel doesn't have the luxury of repeating the mistake it made in Gaza, where Hamas violently seized control from Abbas after Israeli forces withdrew from the coastal strip.

Asked about his vision for the West Bank, Netanyahu said he preferred to avoid labels such as "Palestinian state." But he did make clear his view that Abbas and his Palestinian Authority owe their very existence to Israel's protection and directly benefit from the presence of Israeli troops.

"They'd be overrun in two minutes. A couple of years ago we uncovered a plot of 100 Hamas men to overthrow [Abbas]. Overthrow? Kill him. Not kill him politically. Kill him. So, if we weren't there, they'd not be there, which is exactly what happened when we left Gaza," Netanyahu said.

Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, evacuating its settlements there and pulling back all its troops. The following year, Hamas won parliamentary elections and a year after that, it violently overthrew forces loyal to Abbas and has since ruled the territory with an iron fist.
America Needs More Leverage at the United Nations
The United Nations is not friendly ground for the United States. Last year, less than one-third of the votes taken in the U.N. General Assembly supported the U.S. position.

Think that’s because of the Trump administration’s “assault on multilateralism”? Think again. Since 1980, the General Assembly on average has backed the U.S. in only 35 percent of the votes taken.

Back in the Reagan administration, this lack of support for U.S. priorities led U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick to propose tying American aid to support U.S. policy positions in the U.N. Her argument went like this:
In my view, we cannot and should not maintain the compartmentalization that traditionally has separated our bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. We need to communicate to nations that their votes, their attitudes, and their actions inside the U.N. system inevitably must have consequences for their relations with the United States outside the U.N. system. We must communicate that it is not possible to denounce us on Monday, vote against us on important issues of principle on Tuesday and Wednesday, and pick up assurances of our support on Thursday and Friday.

Kirkpatrick’s 1983 testimony led Congress to require the State Department to submit an annual report to Congress on the voting practices of individual nations in the United Nations. They also required that the department take into account “a consistent pattern of opposition to the foreign policy of the United States” in allocating U.S. assistance.

Unfortunately, not even the Reagan administration implemented this requirement systematically. In the early 1990s, Congress rescinded the mandate to consider U.N. voting when determining aid allocation.
UN Palestinian Rights Official Michael Lynk Criticized for Backing Outspoken Canadian ‘Antisemite’
The UN special rapporteur on the Palestinians came under trenchant criticism on Wednesday over his connections to a Canadian political activist accused of antisemitism.

UN Watch — a Geneva-based NGO — called on the rapporteur, Michael Lynk, to denounce his longtime supporter Dimitri Lascaris, who was condemned for antisemitism last month by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as by the leaders of three other Canadian political parties and numerous civil society leaders.

UN Watch also released a video showing Lynk and Lascaris sharing a stage at a Winnipeg, Canada event on Sept. 8 – one day after Lascaris was castigated for targeting Jewish lawmakers with what Trudeau called “vile antisemitic smears.” Lascaris suggested that Jewish lawmakers were more loyal to Israel than to Canada.

During the presentation in Winnipeg, Lascaris claimed that Hamas was not a terrorist group, and that Hamas rockets fired into Israel amounted to “little more than glorified fireworks.”

When Lascaris added that “the Palestinian people have the right to use force to resist,” UN official Lynk took the microphone and said, “I agree with what Dimitri said with respect to the right to resist.”

Lascaris recently lost a libel suit in Canada concerning his meeting with the father of Palestinian terrorist Bahaa Alayan, after which Lascaris posted via social media that Alayan had been “killed extrajudicially by Israeli authorities.”

UN Watch called on Lynk to distance himself from Lascaris. “The UN was founded 73 years ago today to fight the scourge of racism, and no UN official should be legitimizing notorious antisemites like Dimitri Lascaris,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
UN expert Lynk shares stage with antisemitic activist, 'agrees' with Hamas 'right to resist'
Dimitri Lascaris and Michael Lynk at the Israel, Palestine and International Law Symposium in Winnipeg, Canada on September 8th, 2018 (one day after Lascaris was condemned for antisemitism by Canadian PM Trudeau).

Israeli Ambassador to Poland Re-Enacts Establishment of First Diplomatic Mission
In honor of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s first diplomatic mission, Israel’s ambassador to Poland re-enacted the moment when the flag of Israel flew for the first time in Warsaw.

Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari alit the balcony of the historic Bristol Hotel in central Warsaw and affixed the Israeli flag. A small crowd on the street below applauded, cheered and sang Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikva”—just as they did in 1948.

The Israeli Embassy in Poland was located at the Bristol because it was one of the few buildings in Warsaw that had not been destroyed by Germany during World War II.

The ceremony included a brief video of the 1948 ceremony establishing the mission.

The event was part of an effort on the part of both countries to repair relations following the passage of a Polish law punishing references to “Polish concentration camps” or any Polish participation in the killing or discrimination against the Jews during the Holocaust.
Vanuatu to consider Israel's Jerusalem request
Charlot Salwai was pressed on the issue by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bilateral meeting last week.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the hurdles in the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict, as occupied East Jerusalem is wanted as the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Last year, the United States switched its recognition from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision that was criticised as a major setback for progress towards any Middle East peace agreement.

Most western countries - including New Zealand - have refused to follow suit.

Mr Salwai said he will follow up Mr Netanyahu's request with his Council of Ministers.

Vanuatu has traditionally abstained from most votes on issues relating to Israel and Palestine at the UN.

It also recognises the Palestinian Liberation Movement.
Liberman rejects Russian ‘restrictions’ on Israeli strikes in Syria
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday rejected reported demands by Moscow that Israel give the Russian military additional warning before carrying out airstrikes in Syria.

“We will not accept any restrictions on our freedom of operation, and when it comes to national security, we will take action,” Liberman told Army Radio in an interview.

He indicated that Israel has carried out more airstrikes in Syria than have been attributed to it by foreign media.

“Just because the media did not report on Syria strikes does not mean there were none,” Liberman said. “I don’t think it’s our duty to report what the army must do. An army needs to act.”

On Wednesday, Hadashot news reported that Russia was seeking to reset the terms of Israeli military operations in Syria and overhaul the existing Jerusalem-Moscow coordination system.

Russia is insisting it receive further advance warning of Israeli strikes, the TV network said, though the report did not say how much. Israel usually informs Russia minutes before an airstrike.

Such a demand would likely limit Israel’s freedom of maneuver in Syria, with the report noting it could endanger Israeli aircraft and allow Iranian operatives more time to hide materiel being targeted.
Satellite images reveal deployment of Russian S-300 missiles in Syria
New satellite images made public Wednesday showed four S-300 anti-aircraft missile batteries, supplied by Russia, deployed in various locations in Syria, although some components of the system still appeared to be absent.

The images were released by ImageSat International ISI, which assessed that the systems are not yet operational.

The images also show special structures built adjacent to the batteries, along with other system components concealed under camouflage netting.

One of the batteries is positioned 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) from a Russian-made S-400 battery already deployed in the country.

ImageSat analysts noted that at this stage, it wasn't clear whether the system was being operated by Syrian or Russian soldiers.

Earlier this month, Israel's Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi downplayed the impact of the S-300, saying Israel's stealth fighters could defeat the new, upgraded system and possibly destroy it on the ground.
Turkey Says Russian S-400 Systems Installation to Begin October 2019
The installation of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems in Turkey will begin in October 2019, state-owned Anadolu news agency on Thursday quoted Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as saying.

Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 systems, which are not compatible with NATO defenses, has unnerved the United States and NATO member countries, which are already wary of Russia’s presence in the Middle East.

Akar told Anadolu that selected personnel would be sent to Russia to receive training and return to work in Turkey, according to Hurriyet. It was not clear where he was speaking.

The United States has warned Turkey that going through with the purchase of S-400s could result in Washington imposing sanctions and halting other existing procurements, but Ankara has pressed on with the deal.

Turkey has said that its Western allies, namely the United States, have failed to cooperate with it in its efforts to boost its defense capabilities, and that Ankara has had to look outside of the NATO to meet its needs.

While pursuing S-400 project, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey’s ties with NATO remain strong, and Ankara has sought to secure defense deals with other countries as well.
Revealed: Hezbollah builds terror infrastructure on Syrian Golan
Hezbollah is working on establishing military infrastructure in the Druze village of Khader in the Syrian Golan Heights, just across the border from Israel, it emerged this week.

The person behind the terrorist organization's military buildup in Khader is none other than Mustafa Mughniyeh, the eldest son of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah's former military chief who was assassinated in February 2008 in Damascus in an operation attributed to Israel and the CIA.

A survey of the immediate border area doesn't indicate anything out of the ordinary, but Israel has learned that Hezbollah has re-established its military presence in Khader, situated 3.5 kilometers (some 2 miles) from the Israeli border.

This effort, in its present phase, consists primarily of lookout posts and equipment that Hezbollah is providing to local residents who report back to the organization.

According to information gathered by Israel, Mustafa Mughniyeh recently held a key position in Hezbollah's arms smuggling apparatus. He is also the brother of Jihad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in January 2015 along with other senior terrorists during a tour of the Syrian Golan. The 2015 assassination was also attributed to Israel, following reports that Jihad Mughniyeh had been building up the organization's military and terrorist infrastructure in Khader – just like his older brother is reportedly doing now.
After Funding Cut, UNRWA Employees Are Out in the Cold in Gaza
Several weeks ago, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) evacuated at least 10 international senior officials from the Gaza Strip. The reason? These top staffers had received death threats following the announcement of budget cuts and planned layoffs by the agency.

This is all because the US decided not to renew the organization’s funding. The Trump administration may have been emboldened to do this by the Taylor Force Act’s prohibition on funding organizations that abet terrorism.

UNRWA confirmed later that it had “decided to temporarily withdraw part of its international staff from Gaza following a series of worrying security incidents affecting its personnel in the Strip.”

These threats were so real that it prompted an emergency exit via the Erez Crossing, which was closed for the Sukkot holiday. It had to be specially opened to permit the UNRWA employees to flee.

What sort of organization lives in mortal fear of its own employees? From a human resource perspective, UNRWA is a case study of a client hijacking a service provider. The majority of its approximately 30,000 employees are Palestinian. The few hundred internationals employed by the agency are also overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian. It is rare that any employee has dared to break the code of silence regarding UNRWA’s alleged indispensability or its internal affairs. It is a demonstration of where the power lies that international employees have become the pawns that can be sacrificed.
Bill to End Visitations for Security Prisoners Wins Preliminary Approval
The Knesset voted Wednesday in favor of an amendment to the law governing Israel’s prisons ordinance, looking to deny visitation rights from security prisoners belonging to terrorist groups that are holding Israelis captive, as a means of pressuring said groups to release the captives and hand over Israeli soldiers’ remains.

The vote was a preliminary one, ahead of three additional votes in a first, second and third reading of the amendment.

According to the legislation’s abstract, “The bill aims to address the disparity between the conditions that Israel provides for terrorists who seek to harm it and the conditions provided by terrorist organizations to Israeli captives.”

Likud MK Oren Hazan, who submitted the bill, said, “It is unthinkable that we don’t know what happened to our boys.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also spoke about the legislation, saying that “The proposal addresses the lack of comparability between the conditions in which the State of Israel holds terrorists that seek to destroy it and the conditions in which terrorist organizations hold our soldiers.”

Don’t throw MBS under the bus
Last December, I warned in this column that Israel should not bear-hug the problematic and weak Saudis, nor fall prey to over-enthusiastic fantasies about Saudi peace overtures to Israel.

Don’t assume, I wrote, that the de facto new leader of Saudi Arabia, the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (referred to as MBS), is the answer to Israel’s prayers in facing down Iran.

It was appropriate to wish MBS success in checking the power of extremist Wahabi Islamist clerics and fixing the broken Saudi economy, and salute him for calling Iran’s Supreme Leader “the new Hitler of the Middle East” and speaking warmly about Israel’s role in the Middle East.

But it was clear that the whole Saudi reform effort was iffy, and that a too-publicly close alliance with Riyadh – even with the dynamic MBS – could backfire on Israel.

For all its legendary wealth, Saudi Arabia is, after all, a failed state with tribal divisions, Byzantine oligarchic intra-family enmities, zealously-rigid religious leaders, and a barbaric “justice” system – all of which could coalesce to thwart the reforms that MBS is almost single-handedly seeking to implement.

Furthermore, Saudi past behavior encourages deep skepticism about its true determination or ability to confront Iran. The Saudis have never been adept at turning their gazillions of petrodollars into power on the ground. As a counterweight to Iran, Saudi Arabia has underwhelmed.
MEMRI: Saudi Arabia's Arab Allies Come To Its Defense In The Khashoggi Murder Affair
In contrast to the scathing criticism directed at Saudi Arabia by Western media and by Saudi Arabia's Arab rivals, headed by Qatar, following the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom's Arab allies, as well as Arab bodies and organizations, have come to its defense. Their support was expressed in official statements which appeared almost simultaneously, and also in articles in the state press, published both before and after Saudi Arabia's admission that Khashoggi had died in its consulate in Istanbul.

Chief among the allies that supported Saudi Arabia were Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and pro-Saudi elements in Lebanon, headed by Prime Minister Sa'd Al-Hariri.[1] Kuwait delayed issuing a statement of solidarity, perhaps due to its role as mediator in the Gulf crisis with Qatar, Saudi Arabia's rival. In statements issued before the Saudi admission, these countries called to wait for the outcome of the investigation and denounced the media attack on Saudi Arabia, stressing its regional role and its importance for regional and global peace and stability. After the Saudi admission – which came on October 19, 2018, and claimed that Khashoggi had "died in an altercation" in the Saudi consulate, and that the Saudi authorities had arrested 18 individuals in connection with the incident and had dismissed senior general intelligence officers as well as a royal advisor[2] – the same countries issued statements commending Saudi Arabia for its transparency, its investigation efforts, and the steps it had already taken.[3]

Many articles published in pro-Saudi state papers before the Saudi admission, stated, explicitly or implicitly, that Qatar, Iran, Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood were responsible for the attack on Saudi Arabia. An Egyptian and a Palestinian daily also placed some of the blame on the U.S., which they said wanted to economically blackmail Saudi Arabia and to divide the Arab world. Some articles suggested taking active steps to demonstrate the Arab support for Saudi Arabia. A Bahraini journalist went so far as to state that the Arabs were willing to die for this kingdom.

Among the elements that supported Saudi Arabia were the Arab League, which issued a statement on behalf of "a senior source in [its] general secretariat" denouncing the threats and pressures directed at the kingdom; the Arab Parliament, which expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia; and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General 'Abd Al-Latif Al-Zayani, who condemned the campaign against the country. These elements reiterated their support for the kingdom after its admission of Khashoggi's death.[4]

The following are translated excerpts from the statements of support for Saudi Arabia issued by Arab countries and elements, and from the articles in pro-Saudi Arab state papers.
Diplomats: EU Mechanism for Iran Trade to be Symbolically Ready on Nov. 4
A new European Union mechanism to facilitate payments for Iranian exports should be legally in place by Nov. 4, when the next phase of US sanctions hit, but will not be operational until early next year, three diplomats said.

The mechanism, a so-called special purpose vehicle (SPV), is designed to circumvent the sanctions, under which Washington can cut off any bank that enables oil transactions with Iran.

The SPV, which could incorporate a barter system, aims to sidestep the US financial system by using an EU intermediary to handle trade with Iran. It could ensure, for example, that Iranian oil bought by Europeans could be paid for with EU goods and services of the same value.

“We’re trying to put the SPV in place before Nov. 4 and are pretty confident we can do it,” one EU diplomat said. “It won’t be operational immediately. It will take time and the time that takes will be months.”

The physical location of a head office and other issues still had to be worked out, the diplomat added.

A second diplomat said everything was in place to have a symbolic start date to show Tehran that the EU was meeting its promises. The bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, announced the plan at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.
German bank holds account for soon-to-be-sanctioned Iran Air
The Jerusalem Post can reveal that the German bank Varengold in the city of Hamburg conducts business with Iran Air – an airline that will be sanctioned by the US government on November 4 – and the Liechtenstein-based Union Bank is also involved in commerce with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A highly reliable source confirmed the business of the two European banks with Iran. The source’s information was buttressed by Iran Air’s website, revealing the bank account data for Varengold. Iran Air Deutschland (Germany) lists on its website account information for transfers to Varengold.

Iran Air has been accused of aiding Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in his war against Syrian opposition groups. The new round of US sanctions on Iran’s bank, airline and energy sectors will be imposed on November 4, creating legal and financial exposure among companies in Germany and across Europe which could face US economic penalties for doing business with Iran.

Post press email queries to Varengold Bank, Union Bank and Iran Air’s Frankfurt office were not immediately returned.

Major German and European banks are staying away from Iran’s market because they fear US sanctions. In a May 2018 Atlantic magazine article titled “How Iran Can Evade Sanctions This Time,” Liechtenstein was mentioned as a country where “Iran used a shifting network of front companies” to conduct business.
Report: Key Chinese Bank to Stop Dealing with Iran ahead of U.S. Sanctions
Kunlun, the main official channel for money flows between China and Iran, has verbally informed clients that it will stop accepting yuan-denominated Iranian payments to China from Nov. 1, said the sources, who include external loan agents and business officials who trade with Iran.

The bank, controlled by the financial arm of Chinese state energy group CNPC [CNPC.UL], had already quietly suspended euro-denominated payments from Iran in late August, the four sources said, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Kunlun did not respond to an emailed request seeking comment. A CNPC spokesman declined comment.

It was not immediately clear how long the suspension of services will last and how Chinese businesses still selling goods or services to Iran would be able to receive payment. It was also not clear whether the bank’s services settling China’s payments for Iranian oil purchases would be affected.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Mossad Postpones Tehran Earthquake Till Agents Finish Stealing Mullahs’ Shoes (satire)
Israel’s secret intelligence service has delayed the operation of its newest seismic device to provide more time for the theft of Iranian leaders’ footwear, a source inside the organization told PreOccupied Territory.

A Mossad operative who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed Thursday that the Tehran Richter Engagement Mechanism for Oppressive Regimes (TREMOR) device was scheduled to spark its inaugural earthquake next month, following midterm elections in the US, but that an ongoing mission to remove one shoe from the pairs owned by Iran’s spiritual and political leadership has been enjoying such success that the launch date will be moved back at least two months to allow for an expansion of the shoe-stealing effort.

The Mossad agent noted that while the agents engaged in spiriting away the various ayatollahs’ shoes could simply leave Tehran, the Islamic Republic’s capital, before TREMOR launches, agency higher-ups elected to provide as much flexibility as possible to its field operatives, in light of the effectiveness of the ongoing shoe-theft operation.

“It’s best to keep things simple,” explained the agent. “From an opsec standpoint, as well, it makes more sense to keep our agents in Iran in the dark about this other project. It should make little difference in the long run whether we hit Tehran with a devastating earthquake this year or next. And we’ve calculated that the psychological impact, which is the real aim, will be greater if the two operations are conducted successively, rather than simultaneously.”

TREMOR replaces an older device that, while effective, did not allow operators to calibrate the intensity of an earthquake beyond a crude range of values. The new technology, which the source credits to a joint project between the Mossad and the Haifa Technion, enables its operators to direct a specific strength of seismic movement within four decimal values on the Richter scale.

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