Wednesday, May 29, 2019

From Ian:

The Trump administration is creating momentum for Palestinian-Israeli peace
In a recent tweet pointing to the 31 percent Palestinian unemployment rate, senior Trump administration peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, suggested, “the PA is focused on calcified talking points that have not brought peace but only misery and prevented job creation.” He recommended that the PA “focus on peace AND the economy,” because “Palestinians deserve opportunity.”

President Trump’s peace team, which also includes his son-in-law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, repeatedly state that their full plan will also address all of the core political issues in the conflict. In fact, rather than a substitute for a political solution, they have stressed that economic progress can only be achieved if the core political issues are resolved. Both components are necessary for the success of the plan. So why would the PA balk at any opportunity created to bring prosperity to their people?

Part of the answer is the growing disparity between the Palestinian leadership and the people. After all, President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in the 15th year of his four-year term in office. It’s only natural for a certain comfort in the status quo to set in, regardless of whether it best serves the interests of the people.

Take, for instance, the case of Ashraf Jabari, a 45-year-old businessman from the West Bank city Hebron. He believes in economic cooperation and peaceful co-existence with his Jewish neighbors, recently launching an economic initiative to advance joint entrepreneurship between Israelis and Palestinians. He established The Reform and Development Party focused on economic prosperity for Palestinians, with hopes of tackling the issue of high unemployment.

Instead of permitting this effort to proceed, Jabari has become the subject of a well-orchestrated smear campaign and has been denounced as a “traitor” and “collaborator” with Israel. The Palestinian news website, Wattan, even called for him to be brought to trial for treason.

The old Palestinian guard restricts both the political and economic creativity of its people and closes the door on those willing to open up opportunities for growth. This recipe provides for neither a political settlement nor economic growth, sacrificing the future of their younger generations.

The “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain is a refreshing opportunity for Palestinians to finally take the first proactive step toward a more promising horizon. It is incumbent on West Bank Palestinian leaders to engage constructively and finally choose a future fueled more by their desire to live in peace and realize their economic potential, than their desire to cling to the status quo and the talking points of the past.

Trump’s peace plan is splitting Arab world
The fissures are already visible. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two important, influential counties in the Persian Gulf, announced they will attend the U.S.-led economic conference in Bahrain scheduled for June 25-26. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have already said separately that they will boycott the summit. Egypt and Jordan are still undecided. The rest of the Arab world is licking its wounds. Iran, for its part, is looking on, grinning from ear to ear.

Jordan’s King Abdullah was able to weather the Arab Spring uprising by adopting some of the demands put forth by the masses and changing the election system. His problems didn’t end there, however, and his kingdom is still unstable. At this stage, he’d rather the deal of the century was put on hold, while the uncertainty surrounding the plan’s details is exacerbating his concerns that his country will have to pay a steep price.

Unlike Jordan, Egypt is projecting an aura of self-confidence. It is ignoring the PA in its talks with Hamas over a cease-fire understanding with Israel and has tempered its efforts to mediate inter-Palestinian reconciliation. Egypt supports the Palestinian demands regarding a final-status agreement with Israel but is not backing PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ rejectionist approach to the deal of the century. Cairo feels comfortable enough to speak with Washington honestly and is calling on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and to learn from Egypt’s experience with Israel.

Abbas has worked tirelessly to create an Arab front to foil the deal, seemingly without success. The White House hasn’t backtracked from its intention to present the plan after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Even in Israel, voices have emerged in support of postponing the plan, which likely won’t be received with unanimity across the Arab world either. To be sure, since the establishment of the Arab League in 1954, the Arab world has never been this divided.
The Palestinian War on the Trump Peace Plan
In the past few days, the Gaza-based groups have issued several statements hinting that they would use all means, including terrorism, to foil the US peace plan.

What is perhaps most worrying for the Arab leaders are the threats coming from Iran's puppets -- Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. It now remains to be seen whether the Arab heads of state will be deterred by these threats or ignore them at the risk of becoming the Palestinians' terror targets.

Clearly, the very Palestinians who are boycotting a conference -- whose aim is to help them move beyond their leadership-imposed economic devastation -- will wind up the big losers in this spiteful scenario of hate. This time, however, it also seems that the Palestinians will not only deprive themselves of billions of dollars, but will also damage -- perhaps irrevocably -- their relations with influential Arab countries. By all accounts, the Palestinians appear to be heading toward another "nakba" (catastrophe).
PA President Mahmoud Abbas: May the Deal of the Century Go to Hell






MEMRI: Russian Military Academy Official At Lebanese Embassy Event Marking Israel's Withdrawal From Lebanon In 2000: Hizbullah Burned The Israeli Tanks Just As Our Army Burned The Nazi Tanks In WWII
This year, for the first time, the Lebanese embassy in Moscow held an event to celebrate 'Resistance and Liberation Day,' marking Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000. Speeches were delivered by the ambassadors to Russia of Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Iran and Syria, as well as by the deputy president of the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, Col. Konstantin Sivkov, a former member of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. According to a report on the website of Hizbullah's Al-Manar television channel, Sivkov congratulated Hizbullah on its "glorious victory" in its war against Israel and rejected the claim that Hizbullah is a terror organization, saying that its involvement in the Syria war proved that the opposite is true, since Hizbullah fought the terror of ISIS, which is "run by the U.S. and the Israeli entity." He also compared Hizbullah's confrontation of the Israeli tanks in the 2006 war to the victorious battle fought by the Soviet army against the Nazi armored forces in the summer of 1943.

This is not the first time Sivkov has made harsh statements against Israel and the U.S. In June 2018 he said that the U.S. would not be able to prevent Turkey from buying Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems, and that if the U.S. fought Turkey, Russia would come to its aid.[1] In March 2018, after details about the 2007 Israeli attack on the nuclear facility in Syria were published in the Israeli media, Sivkov said that Israel should be declared a threat to peace and that its leadership should be prosecuted by the International Court of Justice in Hague.[2]

Palestinian Ambassador to Russia 'Abd Al-Hafiz Nofal also praised Hizbullah at the event, saying that "the years-long Lebanese-Palestinian experience resisting the occupier [is] a model of shared destiny."
Report: Anti-Israel Bernie Sanders Adviser Meets Palestinian Flack Hanan Ashrawi, Slams Trump
Ashrawi, once a frequent guest on American television is known for her acerbic anti-Israel rhetoric. As Breitbart News recently noted:

Ashrawi, a longtime member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, served as late PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s deputy.

She routinely accuses Israel of “apartheid”, “ethnic cleansing” and “stealing Palestinian land.”

She has called Israel the “most racist, violent government in world history.”

Ashrawi lambasted the Israeli electorate after the April 9 national elections, saying that it … “chose to entrench and expand apartheid.”


Duss is from a family of anti-Israel activists, and was Middle East director of the left-wing Center for American Progress (CAP) during a 2012 controversy that saw several other staffers depart the organization over their use of antisemitic rhetoric. Duss himself has compared Israel to the segregated South and backs a boycott of the Jewish state.

At the time, CAP’s vice president, Faiz Shakir, admitted that the language used by the CAP staffers was antisemitic. Shakir is now Sanders’s campaign manager.

The meeting between Duss and Ashrawi is the latest sign that the Sanders campaign has taken an explicitly anti-Israel turn. Earlier this month, he suggested that he would move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem if elected president. Last month, he told a CNN town hall that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was “racist.”

Ashrawi was denied a visa to the U.S. earlier this month without explanation.


BDS doesn’t target Iran, just the Jewish state, Florida governor says
BDS has shown that it is antisemitic by targeting the Jewish democratic state of Israel rather than going after Iran, which one of the leading sponsors of terrorism, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said as he visited the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank

“Here is the thing that frustrates me about BDS,” DeSantis said as he stood under a large white tent outside the co-working space Hub Etzion, along with Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.

“You have people who would be willing to trade with Iran the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world. .. but they only want to boycott the one Jewish democracy in the world, that is the only place that they seem to get upset about,” DeSantis said.

“To me, that just shows you that antisemitism is driving the the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, I don't think you can separate the two,” DeSantis said.

He is the first American governor that people can recall who has so publicly crossed over the Green Line to visit West Bank settlements. The Gush Etzion stop is his second such trip during his trade visit to Israel this week, in which he is leading a delegation of over 90 people from his state. On Monday, he also visited the Ariel settlement.

DeSantis who prides himself on being the pro-Israel governor of the most pro-Israel state, said that he saw no difference between either side of the Green Line.
Florida governor, Cabinet sued over plans to meet in Israel
An open-government watchdog group and several news outlets sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and members of his cabinet on Tuesday in an effort to stop them from holding a cabinet meeting while on a trade mission in Israel.

The lawsuit argues that the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, violates the state’s constitution and open-government laws, which require that cabinet sessions be open to the public. Florida residents who don’t happen to be in Israel won’t be able to attend, and the meeting’s planned location, at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, has generated security concerns that will further restrict access.

The lawsuit was filed by The First Amendment Foundation, Gannett Co., Gatehouse Media and the owners of the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times. The Associated Press and other news outlets plan to join the suit.

The meeting was organized as part of a trade mission DeSantis is leading with a delegation of nearly 100 business leaders, lawmakers, state university officials and others. The governor’s office wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but has labeled the meeting as “ceremonial.”
Lyon Bomb Suspect Mohamed Hichem M. Alleged Illegal Immigrant from Algeria
French media reports that the suspect in the Lyon, France, package bombing is an illegal immigrant from Algeria.

Police arrested Mohamed Hickem M., 24, on Monday on suspicion of being the perpetrator behind the suspected parcel bomb attack in Lyon, France’s third most populous city, on Friday which resulted in 13 people being injured.

Sources speaking to franceinfo have said that even after a day in custody, the suspect believed to be “the man on a bike” who left in a paper bag filled with explosives outside of a bakery in downtown Lyon is not cooperating with police. Authorities confirmed that his parents, brother, and sister were also brought in for questioning.

The insiders added that DNA evidence from the scene has been linked to the suspect, while sources speaking to Le Parisien said that a search of the family home of Oullins, in Rhรดne, south-west of Lyon, uncovered the chemical elements used in the composition of TATP, the explosive substance identified in analysis of the bomb.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner told CNEWS that he was in “no doubt” that the person arrested was the author of the attack and that he “certainly” intended to kill.

Reportedly unknown to police, authorities have said that on initial investigation, Mohamed Hickem M. does not fit the Islamist terrorist profile, and authorities say they are still unclear of his motive, with a source telling media that “no element related to radical Islam has been discovered at this stage”.
ImTirtzu Turns Camera on ‘Tourists’ Harassing IDF Soldiers at Hebron Checkpoint
A gaggle of anti-Israeli “tourists” who were busy harassing IDF soldiers at a security checkpoint in Hebron on Tuesday suddenly found that sauce for the goose could be dished out to the gander as well.

Five foreigners were training their cell phone cameras and at least one professional-quality camera on the soldiers guarding the checkpoint, all of them at close range, when they suddenly found themselves to be under the equally close scrutiny of a professional camera crew from Im Tirtzu’s Video Commando team.
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The “tourists” also scolded the camera team for having the nerve to speak Hebrew, of all things.

Behold.


This is not the first time, and sadly, it’s not likely to be the last time foreign agitators attempt to harass Israeli soldiers at security checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.

The phenomenon may become less frequent, however, with the recent legislation allowing the Interior Ministry to block the entry of those who actively align with boycotts against the State of Israel. This activity greatly endangers the lives of our soldiers by distracting them from their work in an extremely hazardous area.
What is Life Like in Israel's Danger Zone?




Rivlin: I will do all I can to prevent new elections for Israel
"I, for my part, will do everything in my power to prevent the State of Israel from going to another election campaign," President Reuven Rivlin said in a video on his Facebook page Wednesday, explaining his role in the ongoing struggle to form a government which will end at midnight on if no agreement is reached.

"If the government is not formed by midnight tonight I have two options and I must take one of them within three days," Rivlin said.

The first option Rivlin explained in the video is to place the responsibility for forming a government on another member of Knesset. The member of Knesset who was already given an opportunity to form a government, meaning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, could not be given a second chance by Rivlin to form the government in this case.

The second option in Rivlin's hands is to notify the speaker of Knesset that "there is no possibility of forming a government and that there is no alternative to calling elections."

In order to decide between the two options, Rivlin would invite representatives of all the factions to discuss the matter.

Rivlin did explain an additional option which could occur if he chooses to recommends elections.
PreOccupiedTerritory: New Elections Announced: NGOs Slam Israel For Hogging Region’s Democracy (satire)
The increasing likelihood of a second round of parliamentary elections this year in Israel has prompted criticism from human rights organizations that the Jewish state monopolizes democratic resources in the Middle East, repeatedly exercising democratic processes while its neighbors get no chance to engage in the same activities.

Israel held elections on April 9 this year, but ongoing talks to form a governing coalition have yet to bear fruit, raising the prospect of another election if no agreement emerges in the next day. In the meantime, none of the country’s neighbors have held democratic elections in years, with the last Palestinian elections for parliament taking place in 2006, a fact that civil rights groups note indicates Israel claims all the Mideast democracy for itself and does not let anyone else in the area have any.

“It’s disturbing that Israel would flaunt its exercise of democracy while others have none,” charged Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch. “This only adds to the litany of things that Israel has refused to allow others to have. With a little more research, Human Rights Watch could probably produce the right evidence to accuse Israel of actively removing democracy from Palestinians or others for its own use, but that might take a couple of days. First we need to redefine ‘democracy’ to fit whatever Palestinians did before Israel, in addition to defining Palestinians as existing as such before Israel, and not as they actually identified, as Syrians or whatever clan association they had. On that score, much of the work has already been done in the public consciousness.”
PMW: Palestinian education teaches kids to anticipate the end of Israel
A Palestinian teacher and her school's principal appeared on official PA TV, and the teacher openly expressed the school's educational methodology, teaching students about the anticipated end of Israel. An exhibition at the school featured a map of "Palestine," which included all of Israel and the PA areas, and displayed numerous small ripped Israeli flags and large whole Palestinian flags. The flags represent Israeli sovereignty being replaced by Palestinian sovereignty over all of Israel. To make sure there is no doubt about the meaning, the teacher stressed: "We hope to liberate Palestine." The PA TV host thanked the principal for this quality education of Palestinian children:


Teacher Manal Al-Tanbour: "Allah willing, this is our vision, and we hope to liberate Palestine, break the chains, smash the check points, tear down the separation wall like the Berlin Wall was torn down, Allah willing, and may we achieve the liberation of Palestine."

Official PA TV reporter: "An impressive image and a map that we hope to achieve soon. We wish for the liberation of... I want to thank you very much for this initiative. I want to thank the school principal who is with us for this good effort to educate our male and female students."
[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, May 16, 2019]
Girl’s poem encourages violence: "“Shoot, shoot, in the name of God"
Girl: "In the intifada of 2000 (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005), the leaders were united. The Elder of Palestine (i.e., Yasser Arafat) declared: [...] We will maintain our loyalty to the prisoners and exchange them for [Israeli] soldiers (i.e., kidnap-for-hostage-policy). O Palestinian carrying a rifle: Shoot, shoot, in the name of God. Shoot, shoot, in the name of God. The path of the Martyrs is above all. They have sacrificed the most precious of all so that we will see the oppressor retreating... We have sacrificed Martyrs and prisoners. O my country, we have not fulfilled our promise. The prisoners’ resolve and the Martyrdom-deaths of our heroes are two symbols that we engrave on our hearts and palms. When the flags of unity wave, they will call to the entire people. (PA TV host): Bravo, thank you very much." [Official PA TV, The Best Home, April 28, 2017]


Rejecting Israeli Transfers Adjusted for Terrorists’ Salaries, a Broke PA to Pay Only 60% of May’s Payroll
The Palestinian Authority finance ministry on Tuesday announced it would pay only 60% of the monthly salaries payroll due the civil servants for the month of May 2019, following Ramallah’s decision to reject Israel’s transfer of May’s tax revenue from which Jerusalem deducted the amount going to pay Arab terrorists behind bars, WAFA reported.

The Ministry said it would disburse 60% of the basic salaries for civil servants, military personnel and retirees in the PA and Gaza, setting a minimum of 2,000 shekels ($554), in addition to the transportation allowance these civil servants enjoy.

WAFA noted that in April the PA government also paid only 60% of its civil servants’ salaries, compared with only 50% in February and March.

The Ministry also announced that it would continue to pay the full salaries of the families of terrorists killed and wounded as a result of carrying out murderous attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.
State refuses to prosecute PA official Jibril Rajoub for incitement
The state prosecution has essentially told the High Court of Justice that it will not prosecute Jibril Rajoub for incitement against Israel because he is a senior Palestinian Authority official.

Although the state does not say this point directly in its legal filing, provided to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, it does mention Rajoub's senior status with the PA, its consideration of diplomatic factors in its decision and that the net benefits of prosecuting him would outweigh the net costs.

The state's filing was a response to a petition filed by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) lawyer Maurice Hirsch asking the High Court to order the state to prosecute Rajoub, who has held several PA ministerial and security service portfolios over the decades.

As part of the state's response, IDF West Bank Chief Prosecutor Lt.-Col. Asim Hamid also revealed that he consulted both Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and IDF Military Advocate General Maj.-Gen. Sharon Afek regarding Rajoub, suggesting that wider considerations beyond the evidence of alleged incitement by Rajoub were taken into account.

In addition, the state basically admitted that it agreed with PMW that portions of Rajoub's statements would have justified a criminal probe and might have constituted incitement, had the state not backed off of the issue because of Rajoub's senior role within the PA.
Hamas bans Palestinian Authority daily for ‘incitement’
Hamas has decided to ban the distribution of the Palestinian Authority daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida in the Gaza Strip because of “incitement and fomentation of discontent” among Palestinians.

The decision to ban the newspaper was taken by the Hamas-controlled information and interior ministries.

A senior Hamas official accused the PA daily of violating some of the laws of the Palestinian press and publications, specifically Article 37 regarding professional standards and objectivity.

The official said that the Hamas authorities recommended that the newspaper be banned from distribution in the Gaza Strip.
Founded in Ramallah in 1995, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida is an official PA newspaper run by senior Fatah officials. In the past, Hamas also banned the east-Jerusalem daily Al-Quds from the Gaza Strip.
Russia, Iran, and Hizballah Expand Their Presence in Venezuela to Support Nicolas Maduro
The Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro—who has held on to the reins of power after his country’s national assembly declared Juan Guaidรณ the legitimate president in January—has turned to his longtime allies in Moscow and Tehran for support as domestic unrest increases. In moves strongly reminiscent of their efforts to prop up Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the two countries have sent arms, military advisers, and possibly troops to Venezuela. Jay Solomon writes:

Russia is believed to have deployed around 150 military and security personnel in Caracas in recent months. Iran has commenced weekly flights to Caracas, potentially to ferry military supplies to Maduro. Meanwhile, Hizballah and Cuba have deployed a network of intelligence officials to help him maintain control of the military and the streets, according to Venezuelan and American officials briefed on the relevant intelligence.

If Maduro survives, Russia, Iran, and Hizballah would score another major victory against the West, essentially replicating their defense of Assad in the Western Hemisphere at a much lower cost in lives and treasure. They would also solidify a beachhead in Latin America through which to challenge U.S. allies while drawing from Venezuela’s enormous energy and mineral wealth. U.S. officials are particularly concerned about Hizballah’s ability to exploit the weakened state to generate more revenue from narcotics trafficking. . . .

[The Iranian flights to Venezuela] commenced just a week after Maduro’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, visited Lebanon and Syria to meet with two of Tehran’s closest allies: Assad and Hizballah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah. . . . The Iranian proxy militia has been active in Latin America for decades, often infiltrating Arab รฉmigrรฉ populations to conduct operations. For example, investigators concluded that the group coordinated with Iran to bomb the Israeli embassy and Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s, with some senior Argentinian officials accused of complicity in the latter crime. More recently, the Treasury Department blacklisted the Lebanese Canadian Bank in 2011 on charges of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars of Latin American drug money into Hizballah accounts in Beirut.


US Calls Russian, Assad Regime Airstrikes in Syria ‘Reckless Escalation’
The United States continues to be alarmed by Syrian government and Russian air strikes in northwest Syria and believes they are a “reckless escalation” of violence, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Government air strikes, backed by Russia, have focused on the south of Idlib province and nearby parts of Hama, uprooting nearly 250,000 people. The bombing has killed 229 civilians and injured 727 others, according to the UOSSM medical charity.

“Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and public infrastructure such as schools, markets and hospitals is a reckless escalation of the conflict and is unacceptable,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

“The violence must end,” Ortagus said.
France has ‘indication’ of recent Assad regime chemical attack in Syria
France’s top diplomat said Tuesday that the country had an “indication” that a chemical attack had been carried out in Syria’s Idlib province this month, an attack alleged by Washington last week.

“We have an indication that chemical weapons were used in the Idlib region, but for now it has not been verified,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary commission.

“We’re being cautious because we consider that chemical weapons use has to be proven and be lethal, in which case we can react,” he said.

President Emmanuel Macron has made use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government a “red line” that would trigger a military reprisal against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The United States has also threatened reprisals if the suspected Idlib attack is proven.
Israel's not-so-subtle message to Iran
An Israeli satellite imagery company released photographs in recent days showing what it described as “Iran’s land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean.”

The images show Iranian construction work on a new crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi border, which, according to ImageSat International, would allow Iran to transfer weapons, armed personnel and oil into Syria.

The images are from an area that has been in the headlines in the past. An older border crossing in the same area, known as Albukamal, was destroyed in airstrikes attributed to Israel by international media reports a little over a year ago.

The 2018 strikes were unusual not only because they demolished an Iranian-run border crossing, but also because they destroyed a building that served as a headquarters for Iranian-backed Shiite Iraqi militias, exactly the kind of forces Iran wants to inject into Syria, along with weapons and oil, to bypass U.S. sanctions.

According to reports from last year, dozens of Iraqi militia operatives, most of whom were members of an organization called “Hezbollah Battalions,” were killed in the attack.

Now it seems Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps is building a new land corridor in the very same area. The satellite imagery can be interpreted as an Israeli warning to Iran to cease its activities or face additional strikes.
German intel: Iran wants to expand to weapons of mass destruction
The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to a program of weapons of mass destruction, the domestic intelligence agency for the southern German state of Bavaria said in its May 2019 intelligence report.

The hair-raising section of the report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post states Iran’s regime is “making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction.”

Iran was termed a “risk country” in the 335-page document outlining serious threats to the security and democracy of the state of Bavaria.

The domestic intelligence agency’s formal name is the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution in its intelligence report. FoxNews.com first reported on Tuesday that the Bavarian intelligence agency issued a report that “accuses the Islamic Republic of seeking to build weapons of mass destruction.” Although the report was published in May, it covers intelligence gathered in 2018.

The intelligence report defines weapons of mass destruction as “the spread of atomic, biological, chemical weapons of mass destruction.”
In UAE, Bolton accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons
U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton said on Wednesday there was “no reason” for Iran to back out of its nuclear deal with world powers other than to seek atomic weapons, a year after the U.S. president unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.

Bolton also claimed that the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in early May came from naval mines placed “almost certainly by Iran.”

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, he also told journalists that there had been a previously unknown attempt to attack the Saudi oil port of Yanbu as well.

“We take all of this very seriously,” he said. “These attacks were unfortunately consistent with the very serious threat information that we had been obtaining. It is one reason we increased our deterrent capability in the region.”

Bolton said the United States was trying to be “prudent and responsible” in its approach. “The point is to make it clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of activities risk a very strong response from the Americans.”
Fake Social Media Accounts Spread Pro-Iran, Anti-Trump Messages During 2018 Election, Cybersecurity Firm Finds
A network of fake social media accounts impersonated political candidates and journalists to spread messages in support of Iran and against US President Donald Trump around the 2018 congressional elections, cybersecurity firm FireEye said on Tuesday.

The findings show how unidentified, possibly government-backed, groups could manipulate social media platforms to promote stories and other content that can influence the opinions of American voters, the researchers said.

This particular operation was largely focused on promoting “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes,” according to the report by FireEye.

The campaign was organized through a series of fake personas that created various social media accounts, including on Twitter and Facebook. Most of these accounts were created last year and have since been taken down, the report said.

Spokespersons for Twitter and Facebook confirmed FireEye’s finding that the fake accounts were created on their platforms.
Iran Will Restart Contested Nuclear Work Unless Cash ‘Demands Are Met’
Top Iranian leaders issued a series of warnings on Tuesday, telling world leaders it is on the brink of restarting a significant portion of its most contested nuclear work, including the enrichment of uranium to prohibited levels that could be used as part of a weapons program.

With tensions mounting between the United States and Iran following a bevy on new sanctions issued by the Trump administration, Iranian leaders warned their counterparts in Europe that the country will begin to enrich uranium—the key component in a nuclear weapon—to levels needed for weapons research.

Iran also will begin to stockpile low-enriched uranium instead of shipping it out of the country, as it had been doing under the nuclear agreement. The Islamic Republic also will stop exporting its heavy water reserves, a nuclear byproduct that can provide a plutonium-based pathway to a weapon.

Both of these moves are enflaming global tension surrounding Iran's nuclear program, which the country has used to receive billions in sanctions relief and cash windfalls as a result of the Obama administration's accord. Iranian leaders insist that if Europe does not reject the new U.S. sanctions and help Tehran bypass them, they will stop adhering the nuclear deal, which several European counties are still party to.

Tehran's demands have become increasingly clear since the Trump administration enacted a hardline policy meant to strangle the ruling regime and its economy. Iran is seeking compensation from Europe—particularly in the arenas hit hardest by U.S. sanctions—in exchange for its adherence to the nuclear pact's prohibitions on uranium enrichment and other matters.

Iran will continue to rollback its adherence to key portions of the deal until all of its "demands are met," according to the country's senior leadership.


'Flying the Hizbullah Flag Risks Arrest' at Quds Day Marches
Quds Day protests and marches were instituted during the final week of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, by Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The rallies call for the elimination of the State of Israel and the "liberation" from the "infidels" of Jerusalem. Alongside Tehran, Beirut and Damascus, "Quds Day" rallies are held in several Western cities, among them London, Berlin and Toronto, under the auspices of pro-Iranian Muslim organizations.

In London this year, the display of Hizbullah flags at the "Quds Day" march in London will likely result in arrests, following the British Parliament's vote in February to end the UK's controversial distinction between Hizbullah's "political" and "military" wings.

In Berlin, participants in this year's "Quds Day" march on Saturday will face a counter-demonstration supported by Jewish, Kurdish and LGBT+ groups, among others.

In Toronto, Jewish activists have been pressuring city authorities to "stop subsidizing this hate rally at taxpayers' expense."






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