Monday, January 20, 2020

From Ian:

How can the Middle East change?
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still widely supported by the international community, despite the fact that neither Israel nor the Palestinians are moving any closer to that solution.

It is unfortunate that the international community is so attached to current borders, even if those borders are unjustly drawn up against the popular will of the people.

Indeed, most of the borders in the Middle East, not to mention Africa, some of Asia and the Americas, were established by the former colonial powers of Europe with little regard for the native inhabitants. People of different ethnicities and religions were forcibly incorporated into new countries like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

It is also ironic that the European powers imposed most of the Middle East’s current borders without taking into consideration the ethnic and religious makeup of the region, because in Europe itself, following the World War I, they were doing the exact opposite.

After the war ended, the victorious Allied powers decided that there would no longer be multinational empires ruling the continent. Hence, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up and its territory was divided into separate states based on nationality. This is how the current states of Hungary and Austria were born, as well as the former states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
Michael Lumish: An Alternative Solution
What I am considering is more along the lines of Caroline Glick and Martin Sherman. It is one possible answer to Enno's question. Annex Judea - Samaria, up to the Jordan River. Those hillsides above Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are traditional Jewish land. The Arabs, along with others, conquered it, but the Jews are the only extant indigenous people to that land. That is our land and we should not respect the rights of conquerors to steal it from us, particularly within living memory of the Holocaust (Shoah).

There are two major fears concerning the Jewish annexation of Jewish land. The first is demographic and the second is international reaction. What I propose -- with some modesty, thank you -- is that Israel annex Judea - Samaria up to the Jordan. The demographic problem need not be a problem if it is dealt with in a straightforward manner. A reasonable percentage of non-Israelis who live on that land would need to be interviewed. Those who despise Jews would need to move elsewhere. Those who do not express any such hatred would need, just like Jewish citizens of Israel, to do a few years of national service. Those who complete that service with good report should be offered Israeli citizenship.

The international reaction to a Jewish annexation of Jewish land is more complex. Western-Europe, the European Union, the United Nations, and the Democratic Party leadership essentially despise the Jewish people and our state. If Israel were to annex our own land they would throw a fit. But if we fail to do so in coming years than we will never be able to do so and we will remain forever back on our feet. We will always be at the mercy of Europeans who think that persecuting Jews is a matter of "social justice" and Arabs and Muslims who simply want us dead or gone from our own historical homeland.

But if there was any a moment in recent Jewish history to claim our land, now is probably the time. Not only do we have an ally in the White House, but we have greater economic, technological, medical, scientific, and diplomatic reach than in any time in Jewish history.

What I would suggest to my friend, Enno, despite the fact that I am sitting in my perch in northern California, is that perhaps now is the time for bold action.
Shin Bet chief Argaman: We thwarted 560 terror attacks this year
Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman said on Monday that his agency thwarted 560 significant violent attacks this past year, more than 300 of them shooting attacks.

Argaman was speaking at a ceremony to give prizes to top performers in the country's intelligence agencies.

He gave credit to the entire Shin Bet and other agencies for their efforts in nabbing terrorists before they could kill Israeli civilians.
Operatives who participated in six key operations were given awards.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the ceremony, emphasizing that Iran remains the country's main threat.

He said that Iran threatens Israel using conventional warfare, and is a potential nuclear threat in the future and via proxy terror groups.
Netanyahu thanked the intelligence agencies for both keeping the Israeli public safe and giving them a relative sense of safety in the midst of a dangerous region.

The British soldier who won't stop defending Israel
On Richard Kemp’s Twitter biography are the words “Keep attacking” — a mantra which could sum up this military man’s life.

He is an anomaly in British society, a soldier down to his bootstraps, who uses every public platform he can to speak well of the Israel Defence Forces, which he describes as one of the most moral armies in the world. And he has received plenty of hatred for his stance.

But he refuses to change his position, arguing that he was “taught right from wrong” when he was growing up, and believes that fundamentally, the Israeli army and the British army are on the same side, fighting the same enemies of terrorism and extremism.

Colonel Kemp — his rank when he left the army in 2006 — was born in Essex and went to school in the garrison town of Colchester.

His father, he says, was in the army towards the end of the Second World War, but was not a professional soldier. But Richard Kemp, the second eldest of four siblings, always wanted to join the services. “I was always going to do this. So I left school one day and entered the army the next.”

And what drove him towards the army? “I wanted to fight,” he says, simply. “I was patriotic, I wanted to serve my country. It wasn’t a bloodthirsty desire to kill people. But I was physically tough, and I wanted to engage.”

In school, he says, he was a person who used his strength to deal with bullies. But everything was geared towards getting into the army, and he was just 17 when he signed up, in 1977.
Assessing Israel's Tactical Laser Breakthrough
Israel's Ministry of Defense announced on Jan. 8 a "breakthrough" in its development of laser technology to intercept aerial threats. In 2006, the same Israeli committee that recommended the development of Iron Dome for short-range missile defense also recommended that Israel continue R&D to develop a solid-state laser for the same purpose.

Israeli government scientists and industry partners have now developed a solid-state laser source capable of producing a coherent beam strong enough to intercept lower-tier rockets and missiles.

Israel is now developing three laser programs: a ground-based laser working as a supplement to Iron Dome, a maneuverable vehicle-mounted laser capable of protecting mobile forces, and an airborne version that could protect larger areas.

While the development and production of the optics, mechanics and laser source for a single beam are admittedly expensive, the cost of a single laser shot is negligible.

However, current technical realities present some limitations. While the laser beam would indeed reach the target at the speed of light, it would need to remain on the target for several seconds before destroying it.

Moreover, while Iron Dome can launch a number of interceptors simultaneously, sending each one to a different target, a single laser could focus on only one target at a time. Consequently, this technology is currently ill-suited for countering salvos of aerial threats.
Cluster of explosive devices landed near Jerusalem
Just days before dozens of world leaders are expected to gather in Jerusalem, a cluster of explosive balloons landed close the capital. They were dismantled by Israel Police bomb disposal experts.

The incident on Monday, in the area of Mesilat Tzion near the city of Beit Shemesh, caused no damage or injuries, and comes after several other clusters landed in communities in southern Israel over the weekend.

On Sunday, the Israeli military fired a shell toward a Hamas post along the Gaza border fence in response to the launching of an explosive balloon cluster from the blockaded coastal enclave, which had detonated over the college town of Sderot.

On Saturday, a cluster of incendiary balloons was found in Sderot, and on Friday, several balloons with explosive devices attached to them were found along Ashdod’s promenade. The beaches were closed off by the police until sappers had dismantled the devices to prevent danger to the public.

Honduras to officially designate Hezbollah as a terror organization
The Honduran government officially declared Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah a terrorist organization, the country's deputy security minister said on Monday.

President Juan Orlando Hernández had announced on Twitter that Honduras will officially designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization earlier in the day.

"On December 8th, 2019, I addressed the Israeli American Council,” he wrote, “describing the security threat posed by the terrorist group Hezbollah and its activities of transnational organized crime...the terror attack against AMIA in Buenos Aires, and the killing of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman.”

Hezbollah has a long history in Latin America, killing 85 in an attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. In 2015, Alberto Nisman, a Jewish Argentinian prosecutor, was assassinated shortly before he was meant to testify about Iranian activities in Argentina.

Foreign Minster Israel Katz praised the Honduran government for its decision.

"This is an important step in the international war on terror, following countries like the UK, UK, Argentina, Paraguay and other countries in the region and the world," Katz said.
Italy adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism
The Italian government decided to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism on Friday.

The Foreign Ministry has called for as many countries as possible to use the definition as a guideline for what should be considered antisemitism, and Israeli Ambassador to Italy Dror Eydar has advocated for its adoption.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism, drafted in 2016, states that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

It also lists a number of examples, such as calling to kill or harm Jews or spreading dehumanizing allegations about Jews or the power of Jews as a collective, but also targeting Israel as a Jewish collective, such as denying Jewish people the right to self-determination or comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

The Italian cabinet decision states that it adopts the definition, and that it appointed Prof. Milena Santerini as the national coordinator of the fight against antisemitism.
Italy's Salvini to recognize Jerusalem as capital if elected
Italian opposition leader Matteo Salvini has vowed that if he is elected to head the government he will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Salvini is the head of the League party, which has been traditionally considered in the far-right spectrum of Italian politics. Still, it is also currently the largest right-wing party in the Italian Parliament and by far the largest party in general according to polls conducted in the past year – League regularly polls above 30%.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Israel Hayom, Salvini explicitly stated that if he becomes prime minister, he will "absolutely" recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Italian politician also discussed several issues, including the rise of antisemitism in Europe.

"I think that it has to do with the strengthening of Islamic extremism and fanaticism in the last years. Most importantly, it is connected to the fact that some academics and media are mobilized against Israel, and they create hate of Israel to justify antisemitism. There is, of course, antisemitism of small political minority groups – Nazis and communists. But, now the massive presence in Europe of migrants coming from Muslim countries, among whom are many fanatics who are getting the full support of certain intellectuals, is spreading antisemitism, in Italy as well," Salvini said.
PMW: Israel is always guilty - even of natural disasters - libel in official PA daily The PA blamed Israel for “flooding the civilian lands in eastern Gaza”
The last few weeks Israel and its surroundings – including the PA and the Gaza Strip – have experienced extremely heavy showers, which have led to flooding in many areas.

As is its custom to blame Israel by default, the PA hurried and accused Israel of “flooding the civilian lands in eastern Gaza”:
“The occupation forces yesterday [Jan. 18, 2020] opened the dams gathering rain water in the direction of the civilian lands in eastern Gaza City, which caused the flooding of hundreds of dunams (1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters) in agricultural areas.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 19, 2020]

The official PA daily even came up with “an eye witness” who apparently stated that Israel “deliberately opened… rain water dams and gutters, which caused the flooding of hundreds of dunams of wheat, barley, and legume crops, and other crops.”

This “eye witness” must have extraordinary vision because Israel has no dams in southern Israel that can be opened!

This is not the first time Palestinians have disseminated this libel. In 2015, Al-Jazeera printed the false claims from Palestinian sources that Israel had deliberately flooded Gaza by opening alleged dams. But realizing that Israel has no such dams, Al-Jazeera retracted the claims the next day:
Al-Aqsa preacher: Jerusalem will soon be capital of global caliphate
Jerusalem will soon become the capital of a global caliphate, a Palestinian preacher has told a crowd of Muslim worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, before calling on them to seek martyrdom.

Speaking at an event held by Hizb ut-Tahrir to mark the anniversary of the 1453 AD capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire, Nidhal “Abu Ibrahim” Siam said the date brought tidings that Rome will soon be conquered in the name of Islam.

The event sparked disturbances on the Temple Mount where al-Aqsa is located, forcing the Israel Police to disperse the crowd, which numbered in the hundreds.

In a video recording of the event uploaded to the Internet on January 17, and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Siam can be seen telling the enthusiastic crowd that three prophecies would soon be fulfilled: that a rightly-guided caliphate will be established, that Jerusalem will be liberated and established as its capital, and that Islam “will throw its neighbors to the ground” and achieve world domination.

The real task of the Muslim faithful is to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah and make the word of the infidels inferior to the word of Allah, he said, before calling upon them to become martyrs for Allah.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Female Palestinian Terrorist Lifetime Pensions Only 70% Of Males’ (satire)
Feminist organizations voiced outrage this week upon the publication of statistics indicating that Palestinian Authority payments to murderers of Jewish Israelis, or to the families of the murderers if the latter was killed in the attempt, allocate for women attackers only seven tenths of the amount it pays to men for killing the same number of Jews.

Local and international women’s organizations issued a joint statement Monday to denounce the flagrant sex discrimination evident in Palestinian pensions to “martyrs” and their relatives, following the release of a report that provided a breakdown of lifetime payments according to gender. The report, a collaborative effort by Amnesty International and the Palestine Center for Human Rights, found that Palestinian women who killed Israeli Jews receive just over two thirds the amount that Palestinian men receive for identical acts and quantity of victims, regardless of whether they accomplished the murder via stabbing, shooting, bludgeoning, firebombing, stoning, ramming, strangulation, or some other method. The groups’ statement called for payments for killings of Israelis by Palestinian women to be increased to match those that men receive.

“This kind of discrimination is unconscionable,” declared the organizations. “Women martyrs and would-be martyrs, as well as their families, deserve equal pay to that of their male counterparts. A society that seeks to establish itself among the company of its progressive, enlightened allies and supporters must do better. The current statistics demonstrate that in terms of wage discrimination of this type, Palestine performs no better than any Western country, despite headlining the progressive agenda across all intersectional issues. This must change.”
Lebanon protesters regroup after day of violent clashes injures hundreds
Hundreds of anti-government protesters converged on the center of the Lebanese capital Sunday, a day after violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces that injured more than 400 people.

Unprecedented protests have rocked Lebanon since October 17, with Lebanese from all political and religious backgrounds demanding the wholesale ouster of a political class they view as inept and corrupt.

Despite rainfall, hundreds kept up the demonstrations in central Beirut, gathering by the barricaded road leading to parliament amid a heavy deployment by security forces.

“Revolutionaries, free people, we will complete this path,” they chanted, some wearing colorful waterproof ponchos or clutching umbrellas.

A protester called Mazen said he and others were “fed up with politicians.”

“After three months of revolution, they have proven to us that they don’t change, don’t listen, and have nothing to give,” the 34-year-old said.

Two Iraqi Policemen, Two Protesters Killed as Anti-Government Unrest Resumes
Four Iraqis including two police officers were killed and scores were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces, medical and security sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.

Two protesters succumbed to their wounds in a Baghdad hospital after police fired live rounds of ammunition in Baghdad's Tayaran Square, security and medical sources said. One protester was shot by a live bullet in the head, while the second was hit by a tear gas canister, the sources added.

Protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters witnesses said.

"They (security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who are we? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?" said one woman protester in Baghdad who declined to give her name.

In the Iraqi oil city of Basra, two policemen were struck and killed by a civilian car during the protest, security sources said. The driver was trying to avoid the scene of clashes between protesters and security forces when he drove into the two officers, they said.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protesters burned tires and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.

Study: Israeli Public Favors Military Action Against Iran, Even at Risk of War
The Israeli public supports the continuation of military activity against Iranian entrenchment in Syria even if it means going to war, according to a new study by the Institute for National Security Studies.

The National Security Index is an annual public opinion study that has been conducted by the INSS since 1984, and offers insight into public opinion trends over the years.

According to the 2019 study, 31 percent of the Israeli public believes the northern sector, including Lebanon and Syria, poses the greatest threat to national security, 26 percent think Iran’s nuclear program is the central threat to Israel, and just 14 percent view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the most serious security problem facing the country.

Only 14 percent of the Israeli public considers Hamas in the Gaza Strip as a strategic threat.

The study also reveals that while 54 percent of Israelis believe the home front is ready for a war, 72 percent said they were not preparing for war or were only slightly preparing for it, while just 28 percent said they were very much readying themselves for war.

Additionally, the study found that 82 percent of the public agrees with the statement that “Israel can rely only on itself” in a war, while 60 percent agree with the statement that “The people of Israel are the chosen people.”

Half of the respondents said they do not trust the United States to stand by Israel if it is attacked as Saudi Arabia was recently attacked by Iran.
What's Next for the Iran Nuclear Deal?
"It's unlikely that the parties will be able to reach a serious resolution, and the EU knows it...." — Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner, January 17, 2020.

"Trump has distinguished himself from his predecessor. The world's most famous dealmaker appears not to be angling for a deal, and for good reason — there's no deal to be had because there's nothing left to negotiate. [Former U.S. President Barack] Obama set it up that way." — Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine, January 13, 2020.

"The JCPOA guaranteed that the Iranians would all but have a bomb within 10 years — or by the end of the second term of Obama's successor.... The point of the deal was not to stop Iran from ever building a bomb but to prevent the Iranians from doing so until Obama left office." — Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine, January 13, 2020.

"The nuclear deal with Iran is over — it failed. You cannot and must not continue to negotiate with the Islamic regime, you cannot trust it. Such talks are useless. Governments should stop defending the regime through such talks, keeping it alive." — Mina Ahadi, Chairwoman of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, Bild, January 14, 2020.
Europe Dithers While Iran Enriches
In May, when Tehran announced that it would no longer abide by the limits set by the 2015 nuclear agreement on its enrichment of uranium, Europe found legal excuses not to react. When, earlier this month, the Islamic Republic went a step further, renouncing any limits on enrichment, the EU—led by France and Germany, both parties to the deal—at last initiated a formal process that might lead to the re-imposition of sanctions. Bobby Ghosh comments on the dangers of European apathy:

In their anxiety to keep the deal alive, and give their companies access to business deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the Europeans lost sight of [the deal’s] purpose: to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threat. The possibility of action was renewed when Iran stepped up enrichment, but Europe used the letter of the deal as an excuse to do nothing even as its spirit was being flouted.

Their reward from the regime in Tehran has been only scorn. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has derided Europe’s efforts to salvage the [nuclear agreement], dismissing them as a “joke,” and warning his countrymen to “give up all hope” that these would amount to anything.

Even now that Europe has acted, it could be weeks before sanctions go into effect, giving European nations ample opportunity to back down. Ghosh wonders if they will:

France seems to cling to the idea that the deal might yet be saved by discussion. Britain has come around to the Trump administration’s view that the deal is dead, and that a new one must now be negotiated. Absent the sudden excavation of a backbone, the most likely outcome is more dithering.

From Iran, meanwhile, has come only more—and more open—blackmail. Even President Hassan Rouhani, often touted as the regime’s kinder, gentler face, has descended to bald-faced threats. If the EU pressures Iran on its enrichment program, he said, “tomorrow, European soldiers may also be in danger.” As of this writing, the Europeans have not responded to Rouhani. Their hands, one imagines, are occupied with more wringing.
Iran Says It Will Quit Global Nuclear Treaty if Case Goes to U.N.
Iran said on Monday it could quit the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if European countries refer it to the U.N. Security Council over a nuclear agreement, a move that would overturn diplomacy in its confrontation with the West.

The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms control since the Cold War, including a 2015 deal Iran signed with world powers that offered it access to global trade in return for accepting curbs to its atomic program.

Britain, France and Germany declared Iran in violation of the 2015 pact last week and have launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the matter referred back to the Security Council and the reimposition of U.N. sanctions.

"If the Europeans continue their improper behavior or send Iran's file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, according to comments carried by IRNA and other Iranian news agencies.

He also said Iran could take other steps before withdrawing from the NPT, although he did not specify them.
Arabs now see the Iranians for what they are
Al-Kassam has hit on the key question: What will the destroyers of Israel, whether they be Erdogan’s Neo-Ottomans, or Khamenei’s Neo-Iranian Safavids, do with Israel the day after they have, heaven forfend, achieved their goal?

Will they create an idyllic democratic “Palestinian State” where all the Arabs have American-style constitutional rights? No, the Neo-Ottomans or Iranians will enslave their Arab pasties and murder them without mercy or thought. One need only look at the Iranian “successes” of Iraq and Lebanon to see what the Arab’s Iranian slave-masters will do to the Arabs if they are ever allowed to attack Israel.

My “Eastern Theater” Strategic maps show that the true objective reality is Israel is the only thing protecting the Arabs from being wiped out and massacred by the Turks and/or the Iranians. My video of these strategic gaming maps, proves that it is the great and tragic irony that the Jews of Israel are protecting the Arabs from an enslavement worse than death and this all the while the Arabs are attacking Israel.

Let’s hope President Trump can consummate his Grand Strategy of freeing the Arabs from the great terror of the Iranian faux-Islamic regime. In World War I, Lawrence of Arabia freed the Arabs from their enslaving Turks. If President Trump is successful in stoking a Pan-Arab anti-Iran rebellion, history will crown him the “Donald of Arabia,” the American President who heroically freed the Arabs of the monstrous and murderous Iranian Regime.
Germany's moral choice
Since the 1960s, German historical memory of the Holocaust was the foundation for a moral obligation to support the existence and security of the Jewish State, Israel.

Having perpetrated the genocide of six million Jews, Germany has been loath to publicly criticize Israeli positions. One might say that German politicians had a type of inhibition vis-a-vis Israel; however, many commentators inside and outside Germany, are becoming more focused on a choice between adherence to this historic inhibition or following what they assert to be mutual interests and realpolitik with respect to the wider Middle East.

Accordingly, the “special relationship” formerly based on morality, is feeling certain strains as historical memory fades, Islamic immigration increases, and Germany bases its decision on political and economic interests, and the voting patterns of a younger generation, not so cognizant of the Holocaust, who, like many of their peers in western universities, are subject to anti-Israel incitement.

Shimon Stein writes in his March 7, 2018 essay, “Germany-Israel Relations: Unique or Normal”, INSS The Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University, of certain strains that threaten to transform the relationship from “special” to “normal”.

Given the increasing anti-Israel, pro-Arab, outlook of the rest of Europe that plays along with UN General Assembly hostility to Israel, “normal” is not good enough.

In the past, there have been tensions over sale of German tanks to Saudi Arabia, and the sale of military chemicals to Iraq which were useful in attacks on civilians. More recently, Germany’s refusal, as one of the P5+1 nations, to follow the American lead in tearing up the Iran deal which would see Iran legally achieve nuclear weapons in about 2031, was viewed negatively by Israel and the United States.

Israelis remember that Germany was “neutral” in the Arab Yom Kippur War of 1973. We might all ask whether Germany would also be neutral , in the event of an Iranian attack against Israel, using the 150,000 rockets they have stockpiled in Hezbollah- occupied Southern Lebanon, or nuclear weapons,
German-Afghan army adviser on trial for spying for Iran
A German-Afghan translator for the German army goes on trial Monday along with his wife on charges of treason for allegedly spying for Iran.

Abdul S., 51, stands accused of “a particularly serious case of treason” and of “violating state secrets” in 18 instances, according to the higher regional court of Koblenz in western Germany.

The suspect was arrested in January 2019, reportedly after a tip-off from abroad and an ensuing set-up to catch him in the act.

His 40-year-old wife Asiea S. will be in the dock with him, after prosecutors in December charged her with aiding and abetting treason.

Asiea S. is accused of “helping her husband from the very beginning” with his espionage activities for Iranian intelligence services, the Koblenz court said.

Abdul S. worked for several years as a civilian translator and cultural adviser to the German Bundeswehr at the Heinrich-Hertz barracks in the town of Daun, near Koblenz.
BBC News website recycles misleading map
The article includes a map which was previously seen in a BBC report published last November. As noted here at the time, that illustration informs readers that “changes agreed” under the JCPOA included Fordo being “converted from fuel enrichment to technology centre”.

Iran did not comply with that requirement (as documented in this report) but nevertheless the BBC continues to promote a map which tells audiences of “changes agreed” but does not provide any information concerning the reality of Iranian compliance with those agreements.

A report published by the Institute for Science and International Security in November states:

“Iran has rendered defunct the JCPOA’s provision that the Fordow plant be converted to a nuclear, physics, and technology research center. Instead, as we warned in our previous analysis, Iran retained its enrichment plant at Fordow four years into the JCPOA’s implementation. [Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) spokesman, Behrouz] Kamalvandi recently emphasized that reality, stating on November 9, “In fact, we can say that we have abandoned a number of clauses of the JCPOA, including the 44th, which stipulates that Fordow should be transformed into an international nuclear and physical center.””

One must therefore ask why the BBC continues to use a map which does not reflect the situation on the ground and hence misleads audiences.
Iran’s foreign minister cancels attendance at Davos summit
Iran said Monday its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will skip this week’s World Economic Forum after organizers changed the event he had been planning to take part in.

The annual summit, which kicks off in the Swiss resort of Davos on Tuesday, has been overshadowed by escalating tensions between Iran and the United States.

Zarif had been scheduled to attend the gathering after receiving a personal invitation, his ministry said.

“They changed the original program they had for him, the program that had been agreed upon, and came up with something else,” said spokesman Abbas Mousavi.

“Either way, this trip unfortunately will not happen,” he told a news conference in Tehran. It was not immediately clear what change prompted the cancellation.
CNN Reporter Informs Iranian Protesters They're Supposed To Be Shouting 'Death To America' (satire)
As Iranians protested their government's downing of a passenger jet, a frantic CNN reporter ran through the crowd lecturing them on how they were actually supposed to be shouting "Death to America!"

The CNN reporter arrived at the protests, excited to cover another anti-US protest but quickly realized they were actually shouting "Death to the dictator!" and blaming their government for shooting down the plane.

"Guys, you're ruining the narrative!" he cried through a megaphone. "We can't run with this! You're willing to assign blame to Iran more readily than the media and the Democrats were! This isn't good for our viewership! Are you guys in league with Fox News?"

"Please guys, please shout 'death to America,' just for a few minutes so I can get some B-roll!"

His efforts weren't having any effect, so the reporter began trying to start up the chants himself. "Come on, people! Death to America! Death to America! When I say 'Death to,' you say, 'America!' Death to!" A shoe was thrown in his direction, though, and he scattered, fearing for his life.
MEMRI: Turkish Journalist: Qassem Soleimani Was 'Enemy Of Turkey,' Discouraged PKK From Making Peace With Turkish Government In 1999
Bingöl described an event he witnessed in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq. He said: "Qassem Soleimani was entirely a Persian nationalist. He had very good relations with the PKK.[2] He was behind the actions of the PKK... When the Ali Sapan Group[3] was surrendering to Turkey, I was in the Hakurk Camp.[4] Qassem Soleimani did not want the group to surrender to Turkey. He said: 'You cannot trust the Turks... If you decline to surrender to Turkey, you can benefit from the outposts and hospitals in the border area [of Iran]. It was 1999, he was not that famous at that time. When he was given a negative answer, because [PKK leader] Abdullah Öcalan made the decision in the prison here, Qassem Soleimani played one more card. He said: 'We'll give you Katyusha rockets.' During that time, the PKK really wanted Katyusha rockets. They rejected this too because the decision had been made by Abdullah Öcalan and it would be carried out.

"When the Ali Sapan Group surrendered to Turkey from Şemdinli [district of Turkey's Hakkari province], Iran struck the Qandil [Mountains] with 200 rockets. He answered their surrendering to Turkey, their making peace with Turkey, with Katyusha rockets. To tell you the truth, for Soleimani to be aggrandized has saddened me. To be honest it has also surprised me that he has been declared a hero in nationalist circles... that an enemy of Turkey, without knowing who Qassem Soleimani was, has been exalted this much. For two tyrants [i.e., the U.S. and Iran] to strike each other is not very important from our perspective."
Seth Frantzman: Turkey rapidly succeeds in taking over Libya conflict - analysis
Just weeks after Turkey’s parliament approved deploying troops to western Libya after Turkey signed a controversial Mediterranean deal with the embattled government in Tripoli, Ankara is now the central player in Libya. Nine years after he overthrow of the regime of Muammar Qadaffi, Ankara has transformed the Libyan conflict in weeks, more than many countries have accomplished in years. In Berlin at a summit on Libya's conflict Turkey's delegation has now met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the future of Libya. This has long-term implications for Israel because Ankara's current leadership is hostile to Israel and has hosted Hamas.

Libya is in the midst of a civil war that pits Khalifa Haftar, a general controlling most of the country, against a weak government in Tripoli that is called the Government of the National Accord. However, like other failed and failing states that have seen years of war, the government in Tripoli may not command most of the countryside but it commands a role internationally. It also has money and it has hired lobbyists and it realized that it can give away rights in the Mediterranean that it doesn’t control to Turkey. It did just that in November, which benefits Ankara by giving Turkey a claim to a huge swath of sea that gives Turkey overlapping claims with Greece and Cyprus and potentially frustrates a gas pipeline that Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and others wants to build.

Good news for Turkey. With a bit of pluck and the usual nationalist religious chest-beating in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan positioned Turkey as a player in the Mediterranean after years of watching international energy companies seek to explore off the coast of Cyprus, Israel or Greece. Turkey used the Libya deal to distract from its failures in northern Syria. In Syria Turkey has sold out Syrians in Idlib to constant bombing by the Syrian regime which is backed by Russia. Turkey has an S-400 deal with Russia and a TurkStream gas pipeline with Russia and it doesn’t want to jeopardize those. So Turkey is signaling an openness to the Syrian regime. Turkey’s main goal in Syria is to defeat Kurdish fighters who were aligned with the US until October 2019 when the US abandoned part of northern Syria so Turkey could takeover.
EU warns Turkey against ‘illegal’ Mediterranean gas exploration plans
The European Union has urged Turkey to drop plans to drill for oil and gas around Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, saying such exploration was “illegal.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Thursday that his country would start exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean “as soon as possible” this year, after signing a maritime deal with Libya.

“Concrete steps towards creating an environment conducive to dialogue in good faith are needed,” EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano said in a statement released Saturday.

“The intention by Turkey to launch further exploration and drilling activities in the wider region goes, regrettably, in the opposite direction.”

Ankara has angered neighboring countries in the Mediterranean with an agreement signed with the Tripoli government in November, which claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey.

Greece says the deal fails to take into account the island of Crete, while Turkey has already upset Cyprus by sending ships to search for oil and gas off the divided island.
Cyprus blasts ‘pirate state’ Turkey’s new gas drilling bid
Cyprus on Sunday denounced Turkey as a “pirate state” that flouts international law as Turkey’s bid to drill for natural gas in waters where Cyprus has economic rights rekindled tensions over energy reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus said Turkey was now attempting to drill inside an exploration area, or block, south of the ethnically split Mediterranean island nation that’s already licensed to energy companies Eni of Italy and Total of France.

This would be Turkey’s fourth such drilling effort since last July when it dispatched a pair or warship-escorted drill ships to the island’s west and east. It would also mark the second time a Turkish ship was drilling in a block licensed to Eni and Total.

Overall, the two energy companies hold licenses to carry out a hydrocarbons search in seven of Cyprus’ 13 blocks off its south coast. Other companies holding such licenses include ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum, as well as Texas-based Noble Energy and Israeli partner Delek.

Cyprus said despite emerging energy-based partnerships among the countries in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey has opted to “go down a path of international illegality” of its own accord. It said Turkey has “provocatively ignored” repeated European Union calls to stop its illegal activities.

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