Thursday, July 18, 2019

From Ian:

PMW: PA: The US is "racist" and helps Israel "Judaize" Jerusalem
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Envoy Jason Greenblatt, and US Senator Lindsey Graham took part in the inauguration ceremony last month of the Pilgrimage Road subterranean archaeological site, located south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The excavated road was used by Jewish pilgrims visiting the Second Temple around the first century CE, and the Arab neighborhood of Silwan has since been built above it.

The PA called the opening of the ancient road an act of "Judaization," and PA Chairman Abbas repeated the PA libel that Israel works to "change Jerusalem's Arab characteristics":
"[PA] President Abbas explained to his Russian colleague [President Vladimir Putin] about the crisis in the relations with Israel, and also about the daily violations, the latest of which was the excavation of a tunnel in order to change Jerusalem's Arab characteristics" [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 13, 2019]

Senior PA officials used the opportunity to criticize and condemn the American officials present at the opening. Abbas' advisor on religious affairs and Islamic relations, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, accused Friedman and the other US officials of "piracy" and repeated the PA's denial of any Jewish historical presence ever in Jerusalem, claiming that it is "an Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic city":
"He [Al-Habbash] emphasized that [Friedman's] actions constitute piracy and a blatant attack against international law, which considers Jerusalem an occupied city and a purely Islamic heritage [site]... Al-Habbash said that the colonialist acts of Trump's administration and its representatives - led by settler Friedman - in Jerusalem... will not change the historical and religious truth regarding the city, as it is an Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic city - it was and will remain such until Allah inherits the earth and its inhabitants. He noted that the plots of the occupation state, and behind it the colonialist administration that controls the White House, will not succeed in Judaizing the city or changing its Islamic and Palestinian character." [WAFA, official PA news agency, June 30 2019]

Al-Habbash added that Friedman is like an extremist and racist settler:
"Friedman's activities are as far as possible from diplomacy, as he is behaving like an extremist settler who is controlled by racist ideas against all people, and not only against the Palestinian people."
From the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs: Examining the international community's long-standing double standard on refugees
Is it time for some tough-love for the Palestinian refugees? What role has the international community played in keeping the Palestinians as perpetual victims? If hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab lands can be resettled, why can't the Palestinians?

From the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs: Examining the international community's long-standing double standard on refugees, written by Natalie Hilderan, editor-at-large for the J'accuse Coalition for Justice.

The following steps, in particular, are necessary to make progress toward improving the status of Palestinian refugees:

1. ...UNRWA ought to be replaced by a program that promotes self-governance for Palestinians currently in the Palestinian Authority, and citizenship for Palestinians living in other Arab countries, rather than simply welfare for an ever-ballooning refugee population....

2. ...Arab governments hosting Palestinian refugees must embrace the benefits of integration, beginning with full citizenship....

3. ...In addition to pursuing economic prosperity for Palestinians, Arab governments must abandon culturally and/or religiously motivated retribution against Israel because such an attitude allows Palestinians to prioritize resistance ahead of reconciliation....
Read it all here
Yisrael Medad: Southern Syria, aka "Palestine"
I have blogged several times that, historically, a specific Palestinianism, that is, an Arab nationalism based on a country called Palestine and one distinct from other forms of Arab nationalisms, was quite late in developing.

Palestine was a region of Syria. It never was an independent country or state and its borders altered over centuries as did its internal administrative boundaries.

The idea to rejoin Palestine to Syria was a staple of their propaganda.

Into the mid-1920s, the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission was receiving such requests. This line continued years later.

Here are some abstracts from a PhD dissertation relating to the subject:
...In December 1918, Hitti and George Khairalla established the New Syria National League. The group lobbied for the establishment of a Greater Syria under American protection, reaching from the Sinai to the Euphrates.229 These groups intensified their activities in light of the upcoming peace conference in Paris. Shatara and Hitti reached out to John Huston Finley, the chief of the Red Cross Commission in Palestine, asking Finley not to detach Palestine from Greater Syria.230 During the conference, Hitti’s New Syria National League also sent a telegram to Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau advocating an American protectorate over Syria. 231 Abraham Mitrie Ribhany, the
author of ‘America save the Near East’ (cited above) and a member of both the Palestine Antizionism Society and the New Syria National League, attended the Paris conference. His presence allowed for direct lobbying with the American representatives in Paris and the members of the King-Crane commission. On March 15, he sent a petition on behalf of the New Syria National League to the Americans, which was also read by commission chief Henry C. King. The petition made the case for an American mandate over a Greater Syria.

Melanie Phillips: The BBC's hilarious new comedy production
The BBC has produced a new comedy which is an absolute roll-on-the-floor, laugh-out-loud side-splitter. It’s called the revised Editorial Guidelines.

Here are some comic highlights.

“In our journalism in particular, we seek to establish the truth and use the highest reporting standards to provide coverage that is fair and accurate… We are impartial, seeking to reflect the views and experiences of our audiences – so that our output as a whole includes a breadth and diversity of opinion and no significant strand of thought is under-represented or omitted. We are independent of outside interests and arrangements that could compromise our editorial integrity…”

Well now, let’s see if we can think of some examples of these stellar BBC journalistic standards, shall we?

How about this morning’s Today programme report on Iran, an item which, despite the tyrannical, belligerent and genocidal character of the regime, was a soft-focus presentation aptly described by Iranian blogger Potkin Azarmehr as “more like a party political broadcast for the Islamic Republic”?

According to a Huffington Post scoop, the BBC agreed to conditions set by the Iranian regime “to not share reporting materials it gathers in Iran with its Persian-language channel, BBC Persian… The agreement was made with the Iranian government in exchange for Iran allowing a BBC correspondent into the country, and, according to emails that HuffPost obtained, it’s not the first time the British broadcaster has agreed to such terms”.
Hezbollah branded as terrorist organization in Argentina, assets frozen
Argentinian authorities ordered the freezing of Hezbollah assets in the country on Thursday and effectively designated the Lebanese Islamist group, which it blames for two attacks on its soil, a terrorist organization.

The announcement coincided with a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as Argentina marks the 25th anniversary of the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died. Argentina blames Iran and Hezbollah for the attack. Both deny any responsibility.

Argentina also blames Hezbollah for an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 that killed 29 people.

Argentina's financial information unit ordered the freezing of assets of members of Hezbollah and the organization a day after the country created a new list for people and entities linked to terrorism.

"At present, Hezbollah continues to represent a current threat to security and the integrity of the economic and financial order of the Argentine Republic," the unit said in a statement.

The freezing of assets automatically places Hezbollah on Argentina's registry, designating it a terrorist organization, a government source with direct knowledge of the action confirmed. The designation is the first by any country in Latin America.

U.S. and Argentine officials say Hezbollah operates in what is known as the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where an illicit economy funds its operations elsewhere.
Mourning Israelis in Bulgaria call on gov’t to charge Hezbollah for terror
Hezbollah must be charged for terror in Bulgaria in relation to the 2012 murders of five Israelis and their driver, according to families of the victims during a ceremony marking seven years since the attack.

In his speech, Kobi Price, one of the family members, noted that "three years ago... four years after the attack, the criminal trial opened" and in the indictment, only two attackers were charged.

“We the mourning families ask the Government of Bulgaria to rise above narrow political considerations and to add the terror organization Hezbollah to the indictment without delay,” said Price.

Price continued, “Without Hezbollah, there is no morality in the trial. Without Hezbollah, the trial is ineffective. Without Hezbollah, there is no justice for the murdered victims.”

In January 2018, The Jerusalem Post exclusively disclosed that the Bulgarian state prosecution had decided not to charge Hezbollah as an organization with involvement in the 2012 bomb attack that killed the five Israelis, their bus driver, and wounded another 32 Israelis.
MFA: 25 years since the Iranian terror attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Argentina
On July 18th, 1994, Iranian proxy Hezbollah targeted the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina in a terror attack which claimed the lives of 85 victims. The perpetrators of this deadly attack are living freely in Iran, serving in influential positions and traveling widely on behalf of the Iranian regime. 25 years on, we remember the victims of this horrific attack. May their memory be a blessing

Israel is the victim in conflict with Palestinians, says US peace envoy
US Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in an interview broadcast on American TV Wednesday that Israel is the victim in the conflict with the Palestinians and that in his view, has not made any mistakes over the decades the strife has continued.

In an interview with PBS, Greenblatt also said calling Israeli communities in the West Bank “settlements” is pejorative — he considers the territory “contested” rather than “occupied” — but affirmed that the Trump administration peace plan does answer the question of Palestinian self-determination.

The as-yet unveiled peace plan had its economic section published in June, envisioning a $50 billion injection to boost the Palestinian economy.

The White House has indicated that it is waiting until after a government is formed in Israel following September 17 elections before it releases the political part of the peace plan and has not revealed any of its details.

Greenblatt was asked how responsible Israel is for the current situation of conflict with the Palestinians, which has continued unabated since the founding of the Jewish state in 1948.

“I think that Israel is actually more the victim than the party that’s responsible,” he replied. “From the moment of its formation, they were attacked multiple times. They continue to be attacked with terrorism. So — I’m not sure I understand the premise of the question.”

Greenblatt said he “can’t think of single instances” where Israel may have made mistakes or gone beyond its authority.

“But I think even our great country has made mistakes over the years. And, over time, you try to correct those mistakes. But I think Israel is doing the best that it possibly can under very challenging circumstances.”
PBS: Jason Greenblatt interview: The West Bank Is Disputed Territory
Resolutions endorsing two-state solution, condemning BDS adopted by House Foreign Affairs Committee
The US House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted two resolutions on Wednesday, one condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel and another endorsing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The anti-BDS resolution, which also reaffirms support for the Jewish state, currently has 340 cosponsors. It was introduced by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). It currently has 340 cosponsors: 172 Democrats and 168 Republicans.

During the debate over the resolution, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed opposition to it, saying, “We cannot condemn non-violent means,” which caused Zeldin to respond, “Don’t come to this committee and blame Israel for all the violence.”

The resolution calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was introduced by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.). It emphasizes the US-Israel relationship on issues from national security to shared values such as “democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

The resolution currently has 147 cosponsors, all Democratic.

Finally, the committee adopted the US-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, which strives to improve bilateral security and economic ties between the two countries. It was introduced by Reps. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). It currently has 273 cosponsors: 141 Republicans and 132 Democrats.

The measures now go to the House floor and are expected to be voted on next week.
Washington Watch: Does Israel need a defense treaty?
During a recent visit to Israel and in a meeting with Jewish Republicans, US Sen. Lindsey Graham brought up the idea of a mutual defense treaty between Israel and the United States. Graham, one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the Senate, said it would leave potential adversaries with no doubts about America’s commitment to the security of the Jewish state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to be “exploring” the idea, less for its strategic value than its political benefits to his reelection campaign.

US President Donald Trump has tweeted his strong support for Netanyahu and his desire to “make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.”

Among those pressing the idea are US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who have the ears of both leaders.

Their message is that this is the best opportunity for such a deal. The Trump administration has shown a willingness to give Israel just about everything it asks for, and with both leaders facing tough elections, opportunity is knocking.

A treaty will let Trump boast – mostly to Evangelicals but also to right-wing Jewish voters and donors – that he is Israel’s best friend ever and wants to defend it, and Bibi will swear to that. And Trump will accuse any of the arrangement’s critics of being anti-Israel, or even borderline antisemitic.
UN officials join calls against East Jerusalem home demolitions
A day ahead of the possible demolition of 10 East Jerusalem buildings built near the security barrier, United Nations officials joined calls on Israel not to carry out the demolitions, saying they would displace 17 Palestinian residents and mean “massive property loss” for 350 more.

Israel says the structures facing demolition in the Sur Baher neighborhood, which straddles areas under Israeli and Palestinian Authority control, are in an area where construction is barred because of its proximity to the security barrier.

Palestinians have charged that the security concerns are a pretext to push them out of the Jerusalem area, and say it is nearly impossible to receive construction permits from Israeli authorities, resulting in a housing shortage in Arab neighborhoods in the city.

“Demolitions and forced evictions are some of the multiple pressures generating a risk of forcible transfer for many Palestinians in the West Bank,” the UN statement says. “Residents of East Jerusalem and adjacent areas have been particularly affected, with a significant rise in demolitions there in 2019.”
Former diplomats rally to aid BDS activist facing deportation
In an unusual move, three former Israeli ambassadors have filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, asking it prevent the state from deporting a known activist with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Alon Liel, Ilan Baruch and Eli Bar-Navi have asked the court to intervene on behalf of Omar Shakir, a BDS activist who has been in Israel for several years with a visa he obtained via Human Rights Watch, which he heads.

Last year, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan decided against extending his visa. The decision was made after the two were presented with evidence of Shakir’s anti-Israel activities.

A US citizen, Shakir was ordered to leave Israel earlier this year and has been fighting the deportation order in various courts.

Baruch, Liel and Bar-Navi are veteran members of the Foreign Service. All three have served in senior diplomatic positions, including as ambassadors to key countries.
German diplomat for Palestine liked antisemitic and neo-Nazi/KKK tweets
The director of the German Foreign Ministry’s representation for the Palestinian territories, Christian Clages, was revealed on Thursday to have liked scores of antisemitic tweets while using his government Twitter feed.

Germany’s best-selling paper Bild broke the story and showed screenshots of the tweets on its website, stating the diplomat liked a large number of “antisemitic and anti-Israel” tweets.

Bild wrote that Clages wrote with respect to “a video praising a two-minute mob attack on Israeli soldiers with the words ‘Hats off!’”

The paper commented on a second tweet from Clages, saying: “An article that compares the work of the Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem with the historical account of ‘totalitarian states’ was described by him as a ‘must-read.”’

Clages previously served the German ambassador to Lebanon.

The German Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a Jerusalem Post press query as to whether Clages will be dismissed.
Netanyahu to become Israel's longest-serving PM this weekend
Benjamin Netanyahu will make history this weekend by becoming the longest-serving Israeli prime minister, surpassing a record held by the country's founding father David Ben-Gurion.

Yet the prime minister, who will match Ben-Gurion's 8,475 days in office on Friday, faces an election in September after the Knesset unexpectedly dissolved in June. Netanyahu pushed the dissolution bill after he failed to muster enough support from his right-wing allies to win a confidence vote and swear in a government.

"Who's counting?" he said airily when asked about the career milestone during a conference hosted by Israel Hayom and attended by US envoys.

To judge from his solid approval ratings, Netanyahu, 69, has delivered what Israelis wants: a purring economy and relative security.

He has also rallied a rising Israeli right-wing with rhetoric against the country's Arab minority and cut down potential political challengers with divide-and-conquer tactics.

Netanyahu became Israel's youngest-ever premier in 1996, serving until his defeat in a 1999 election. Re-elected in 2009, he extended his tenure through the ballot box in 2013 and 2015.

But in a surprise turn, he failed to form a new coalition government after claiming victory in an election three months ago, and now serves as a caretaker prime minister.
Comparing Longstanding Leaders Ben Gurion and Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu is now tied with David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister and founder, for the long tenure as prime minister. How do the pair stack up against each other? Our Ellie Hochenberg compares.

Israel to plant trees near Gaza border homes to thwart anti-tank missile attacks
Israel’s defense establishment plans to plant trees around homes in Gaza border communities to obscure potential targets for anti-tank missiles fired by terror groups, Channel 13 news reported Tuesday.

Moshe Feder, 68, was killed in May when a Kornet anti-tank guided missile slammed into his car as he was driving along Route 34, close to the border with Gaza. The Hamas terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Israel Defense Forces later said it had failed to recognize the risks posed to Israeli drivers on the road, north of the Gaza Strip.

According to Channel 13, senior defense officials, including the commander of the Southern Brigade, toured communities close to the Gaza perimeter and mapped which homes were at risk from anti-tank missiles and would benefit from the tree-planting program.
MEMRI: Jordanian MP's Call To Bomb Israel-Jordan Gas Pipeline Sparks Angry Responses In Kingdom: "This Is The Language Of Militias, Not Of Political Action"
The deal for piping natural gas from Israel to Jordan, signed in September 2016, evoked enraged responses in Jordan even before it was signed and continues to do so today. Opposition to the deal has been voiced by tribal and political forces in Jordan, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as by MPs, on the grounds that it constitutes normalization and cooperation with Israel, which they regard as an enemy.[1]

As part of the campaign against the agreement, Tareq Khouri, an independent Jordanian MP known as a supporter of the resistance axis, called to bomb the gas pipeline from Israel to Jordan. Khouri, who made the call at an event held by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary faction, said: "[Let us] sign a charter of honor [requiring] every lover of freedom in Jordan to give up his life and the lives of his children in order to bomb any gas pipeline [from Israel] that passes through Jordanian territory. We shall all be potential martyrs. We will sign a charter of honor and not allow this gas pipeline to penetrate even one inch into Jordanian territory."[2]

Khouri's statements sparked furious responses in the kingdom, from fellow MPs as well as journalists and educators. Most of them clarified that, although they too opposed the gas agreement with Israel, the struggle against it must be waged by legal political means, not through violence and sabotage. They accused Khouri of fomenting chaos and ISIS-like action, and some of them urged him to apologize and even called to take legal measures against him.[3] On July 14 it was reported that several Jordanian citizens had filed a complaint against Khouri for inciting terror in Jordan.[4]

Following the uproar caused by his statements, Khouri partly retracted them, clarifying to a local television channel that he had not called to kill anyone that that his statements were just a metaphor intended to convey an idea.[5]
Jordan's double-game with Israel
Indeed, despite the peace accord and exchange of ambassadors, many Jordanians view Israel as a pariah enemy state. But this is a double game: Open hostility toward Israel is a tool the government uses to maintain its popularity; but behind the scenes, relations remain good, both to preserve relations with the Trump administration and to ensure the supply of water and other things that are best kept a secret.

Thus, despite the belligerent rhetoric, the Jordanian government is rational and has avoided hasty declarations capable of torpedoing the deal, which the kingdom badly needs. Additionally, a monetary fine of $1.5 billion is attached to the contract.

Jordan's King Abdullah has yet to comment on the matter. In late April, Jordanian media outlets reported he was analyzing the deal and would decide whether to greenlight or freeze it.

This is a sensitive time for Israeli-Jordanian relations, and not just because of the gas deal. On October 28, 2018, Jordan decided to pull out of clauses in the ‎peace accord that allow Israel to lease two small areas comprising 1,000 acres of agricultural ‎land‎ from the Jordanians for 25 years. We still don't know whether Jordan will seek to impose full sovereignty over these areas, or if the sides are engaged in talks to resolve the issue. It's very possible the gas deal and the land issue are intertwined.
Parents of US Girl Killed in 2001 Jerusalem Bombing Call for Congressional Investigation Into Fugitive Hamas Terrorist Living Freely in Jordan
The parents of an American victim of a devastating Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001 are calling on the US Congress to investigate why one of the planners of the atrocity — Hamas terrorist Ahlam al-Tamimi — remains at large in Jordan, nearly three years after the US Department of Justice issued a warrant for her arrest.

Arnold Roth — whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in the Aug. 9, 2001 attack at a Sbarro pizza restaurant in downtown Jerusalem, in which Tamimi played a key operational role — told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that he and his wife, Frimet, were urging American legislators to probe concerns that efforts to bring Tamimi to justice had been subordinated to continued good relations with Jordan.

The Hashemite kingdom’s highest court rebuffed a US request for Tamimi’s deportation to America in March 2017, despite an extradition treaty agreed on by the two countries in 1995.

The Sbarro bombing, deliberately timed to hit the busy lunchtime crowd at the restaurant, took the lives of 15 people. Two of the dead were American citizens — Malki Roth and Judith Shoshana Greenbaum, a 31-year-old New Jersey native who was pregnant at the time.

More than 100 people were wounded in the attack, including four other Americans.

1200 year-old mosque uncovered in Bedouin city in southern Israel
The ruins of a 1200 year old rural mosque, one of the earliest mosques in the world, were uncovered in an archaeological dig in the predominately Bedouin city of Rahat north of Beersheba.

"A local rural mosque from this early period is a rare find in the Middle East and in the world in general and especially in the area north of Beersheba in which a similar building has not been found until now," said Shahar Zur and Dr. Jon Seligman, the directors of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority.

"From this period, there are large known mosques in Jerusalem and in Mecca, but here is evidence of an ancient house of worship, that seems to have been used by farmers living in the area," they added. "We found the ruins of the open-air mosque, a rectangular building with a "Mihrab" (a prayer niche) facing south, to the direction of Mecca. These features are evidence for the purpose for which this building was used, many hundred years ago."

A farm from the end of the Byzantine period (500-600 C.E.) was also uncovered in the excavations, as well as a small settlement from the beginning of the Islamic period (600-700 C.E.) with remains of buildings that were split into living spaces, open courtyards, storage space and places used for food preparation, including "tabbuns" (open-air fireplaces used for baking).

"These sites were part of the agricultural system that existed in the northern Negev in early times," explained Zur and Seligman. "The soil was suitable for growing grains and the ground water in perennial streams attracted settlers here who wanted to cultivate the land."

Two Killed in Suicide Bombing, Four Beheaded in Egypt’s North Sinai, Sources Say
A suicide bombing killed at least two people in Egypt’s North Sinai region on Thursday, a day after four headless bodies were found there, security and medical sources said.

The victims of the bombing were a civilian and a member of the security forces, the sources said.

An Egyptian military spokesman said in a statement that security forces killed the bomber before he reached a checkpoint, which was his intended target. The spokesman confirmed that a member of the armed forces was killed after the bomber’s explosive belt detonated.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq agency, saying five members of the security forces were killed or injured.

Islamist militants, some linked to Islamic State, are active in the Sinai Peninsula, and security forces launched a major operation there in February last year.

Thursday’s bombing took place at a car park in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, near the border with the Gaza Strip, a security source and a medical source said.

Former Lebanese MP Sejaan Azzi: Palestinians' Presence in Lebanon Hasn't Helped Their Cause
Former Lebanese MP Sejaan Azzi said in a June 30, 2019 interview on Al-Jadeed/New TV (Lebanon) that the presence of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has not brought the liberation of Palestine closer or given Palestinian refugees honorable lives. He also said that the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon actually harm the Palestinian cause. He argued that the Palestinians in Lebanon should "re-disperse" to countries that can offer them honorable lives such as rich countries, less-populated countries, and countries with oil.

Hizballah’s Influence Now Pervades Every Aspect of the Lebanese Government
Following the most recent Lebanese elections, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hizballah was able to join a coalition of parties that together controls 74 of the parliament’s 128 seats, and nineteen of 30 cabinet positions. At the same time, the organization has entrenched its allies and clients in the state bureaucracy, the military, and the internal security forces. Jonathan Spyer explains the consequences:

Hizballah is the senior partner [in the coalition] because it can bring to the table assets that [other members] don’t have, and against which they have no answer—namely, the financial and military sponsorship of Iran and specifically of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. . . . The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) on paper are larger than Hizballah and possess an air and naval capacity. In practice, however, Hizballah is a more cohesive and united force than the LAF, which is riven by sectarian divisions.

[But] the issue of note is the evidence of cooperation between the two forces, and penetration by Hizballah of the LAF. . . . The unwillingness of Hizballah to grant the defense ministry to its rivals demonstrates the importance the organization attaches both to controlling the official military from above while also matching it for strength and penetrating it. This has largely been achieved. . . .

The formal bodies and instruments of state—armed forces, internal security organizations, legislative and executive bodies, etc.—continue to exist. But a reality has emerged in which none of these can conceivably be mustered against the wishes of Hizballah, because Hizballah has inserted itself into these bodies themselves, and/or into the structures that command them—usually a combination of both. This has led to a situation in which Hizballah, which long constituted a kind of shadow quasi-state alongside the official state, has now effectively swallowed up the official state, and its will now constitutes the final authority, against which there is no appeal, in Lebanon.
Iran says it seized foreign oil tanker and 12 crew members
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces seized a foreign oil tanker accused of smuggling oil, Iran’s state TV reported Thursday. The vessel appears to be a United Arab Emirates-based tanker that had disappeared off trackers in Iranian territorial waters over the weekend.

The seizure was the latest in a series of dramatic developments as tensions mount between the United States and Iran over the unraveling nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The Panamanian-flagged oil tanker MT Riah stopped transmitting its location early Sunday near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it, according to data listed on tracking site Maritime Traffic.

Iran’s state television did not identify the seized vessel or nationalities of the crew, but said it was intercepted on Sunday. It said the oil tanker had 12 foreign crew members on board and was involved in smuggling some 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.
What's Behind the Latest Iranian Oil Tanker Seizure?
Iran "towed" into port a foreign oil tanker claiming it had sent a distress signal. Now, it claims the tanker it towed had smuggled oil illegally. Iran expert Meir Javedanfar analyzes.

Lawmakers Demand Trump Admin Nix Loopholes Permitting Iranian Nuke Work
A delegation of 50 members of Congress petitioned the Trump administration on Wednesday to cancel a series of sanctions waivers that have permitted Iran to continue its most contested nuclear research, including at a military site known to have housed the Islamic Republic's bomb program, according to a copy of the letter exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.), represents the strongest protest to date by lawmakers who view the waivers as an attempt by some deeply entrenched U.S. officials to keep the landmark nuclear deal on life support against the White House's wishes.

The Free Beacon has reported multiple times in the past months on a protracted inter-agency battle between hardline officials in the administration who seek to nix the nuclear waivers and those who maintain they are necessary to keep Iran appeased. A growing number of lawmakers have expressed frustration with the Trump administration's decision to continue renewing these sanctions waivers at a time when Iran is openly breaching international restrictions on the amount of enriched uranium it stockpiles inside the country.

The group of lawmakers are now demanding that the administration make good on its promises to wage a so-called "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran. This would include killing the waivers permitting Iranian nuclear work and also pressuring the United Nations to invoke a mechanism that would restore the international community's sanctions on Iran, most of which were lifted as part of the nuclear agreement.
Iran Arrests Paris-Based Academic, France Demands Answers
Iran confirmed Tuesday that it arrested Fariba Adelkhah, a prominent French-Iranian academic, but refused to provide details on her situation.

"This person was detained recently … but due to the nature of the case, this is not the proper time to give any information about it," said Gholamhossein Esmaili, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary. "More transparent information will be provided as the case progresses."

Esmaili's comments came one day after the French Foreign Ministry publicized the arrest, which occurred last month, and said that Iranian authorities have denied Adelkhah, a researcher at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, contact with French consular staff.

"France calls on the Iranian authorities to shed full light on Mrs Adelkhah's situation and repeats its demands, particularly with regard to an immediate authorization for consular access," the ministry said in a statement.

"French authorities in this difficult context have taken steps with Iranian authorities to get information from them on her situation and the conditions of her arrest and asked for consular access," added Agnes von der Muhll, a spokeswoman for the ministry. "No satisfactory response has been given to these requests."
BBC News continues to parrot Iran’s nuclear messaging
The BBC knows that in December 2015 (after the JCPOA had already been agreed upon) the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA – produced a report which stated that:

“…the agency “assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place” up to 2009.”

The BBC also knows that in April 2018 Israel revealed documents from Iran’s nuclear archive which raised new issues.

Nevertheless, it chose not to inform readers of this report of those relevant parts of the story.

Instead – despite being under obligation to “offer a range and depth of analysis…not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers…so that all audiences can engage fully with major…global issues…as active and informed citizens” – the BBC continues to uncritically parrot Iranian messaging while sidestepping important background.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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