Monday, August 24, 2020

08/24 Links Pt1: President Trump is doing good in the Middle East. Why won't the Foreign Office support him?; A Second JCPOA Would Accelerate Nuclear Proliferation

From Ian:

Donald Trump is doing good in the Middle East. Why won't the Foreign Office support him?
President Trump has got it right on Israel – and the Foreign Office has got it badly wrong

The US has triggered a process at the UN to reinstate sanctions on Iran. France, Germany and the UK have opposed it. The UK also lobbied against America leaving the nuclear deal, and its response to the UAE peace deal was remarkable for its leaden orthodoxy, almost damning with faint praise. Dominic Raab welcomed the normalisation of relations along with Israel’s pledge not to annex land in the West Bank, adding, “there is no substitute for direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, which is the only way to reach a two state solution and a lasting peace.” To repeat: “There is no substitute.”

Well, there is, and this is it. The UAE’s move has shown that Arab states can be persuaded to deal with Israel if they face a greater threat, namely Iran. So why, even when the Iran nuclear deal is dead, won’t Europe accept the new dynamic and follow Trump’s lead? The other curiosity, of course, is why Brexit Britain is falling in line with the Europeans at all, and why it sticks to outdated formulas on Israel like a parrot reciting the Nicean creed.

Lack of bandwidth is one answer: in the middle of Covid, the Government just can’t process events. Another is the Foreign Office’s prejudice against Israel, fuelled by guilt for the way we carved up the Middle East. As the foreign policy thinker Ed Husain points out, this is likely to get worse because the Department for International Development is about to be rolled into the Foreign Office, stuffing an already biased department with “Left-leaning” bureaucrats whose raison d’etre is to hand out cash as penance for British imperial history.

There is a third calculation: Trump is going to lose the election, putting the Democrats – and the State Department – back in charge. But even if this is correct, why not recognise that the Trump doctrine has brought real movement to Middle East politics, that the anti-Iranian coalition could be the basis for an Arab detente with Israel and that the Palestinian question could be settled on a new, more realistic basis?

Never mind what the Foreign Office feels comfortable with, let’s start by examining what Britain wants and needs in 2020. Several Arab states like and trust us and Israel is always ready to talk, so why not make ourselves indispensable to this process as the champions of engagement? The long-term destination remains peace and it would be an act of utter madness not to walk through that door just because Donald Trump was the one who opened it.
Richard Kemp: Appeasement: The European Sickness
Now, Britain and France seek to appease the three powers that most threaten the world today: Iran, China and Russia.

Both countries [Britain and France], as well as Germany and the EU itself, knew only too well that, rather than its stated purpose of denying Iran a route to nuclear weapons, the JCPOA in fact paved Iran's pathway — not just to acquiring nuclear capabilities, but doing so legitimately.

The re-imposed sanctions will then leave China, Russia and the European countries with tough choices about whether they observe them or take the damaging consequences to their own trade with the US.

And for what? Perhaps for the benefit of Russia and China, whose weapons sales to Iran will both bring financial benefit and extend their influence in the region at the expense of America and Europe.

If US snapback sanctions succeed, that can only hasten the end of the terrorist regime in Tehran. It will also boost confidence and security among the Arab countries, increasingly fearful of a nuclear-armed Iran
Terminate the UN Interim Force in Lebanon
UNIFIL is now effectively another UN aid agency. The mission highlights its work with the local population and its delivery of assistance, as recently as the COVID-19 crisis, to municipalities often run by Hezbollah.

For the last three years, the U.S. has endeavored to address these failures by attempting to beef up UNIFIL's mandate. Predictably, this approach has failed. In the end, it's not only that the Russians and the Chinese—each of whom contributes troops to the force—have opposed changes to the mandate. It's also that the French, who contribute one of the larger contingents, are routinely threatened by pro-Hezbollah media. Moreover, the French are invested in the status quo for other reasons that have to do with their perceived diplomatic role and financial investment in Lebanon, as well as their broader regional agenda.

The Trump administration is now pushing for UNIFIL to operate without any restrictions, and to be able to inspect all sites, including so-called "private property." But U.S. officials reportedly are also looking to reduce the size of the force, and to shorten the mandate's extension period from one year to six months.

This is all very reasonable, given UNIFIL's track record. But if the Security Council members reject these modest requests, the administration is prepared to veto the renewal of the mandate altogether, leading to the dissolution of the force.

The main obstacle to the U.S. effort is France. Not only are the French opposed to a reduction in size, but they appear not to take seriously the U.S. threat to veto, believing it to be a mere bluff and a negotiating tactic. They are poised to oppose the U.S. changes, or to agree only to a watered-down compromise.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has floated recommendations for a "more agile and mobile" force, which would replace heavy infantry functions with "high-mobility light tactical vehicles and reconnaissance vehicles with improved monitoring capacity." However, Guterres' recommendations assume the continuity of deployment and, in fact, more investment in the force.
UN Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon “Slightly Concerned” that Violence Reflects Poorly on Them (satire)
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, also known as UNIFIL, is set to have its mandate renewed at the end of August. They are concerned, however, that the collapse of Lebanon over the last decade and the violence that Hezbollah has inflicted on the country, could reflect poorly on their ability to carry out their mission.

In a normal year their mandate would almost certainly be renewed given that “not being able to carry out their mission” is the unofficial slogan of UN peacekeeping forces. However, the devastating August 4 blast at Beirut’s port has brought further scrutiny to the country. Some UN officials have expressed concerned that a complete failure to keep the peace, disarm Hezbollah, or stop the group from attacking Israel might reflect poorly on their ability to carry out their mission to keep the peace, disarm Hezbollah, or stop the group from attacking Israel.

One officer with UNIFIL said that punishing peacekeepers, or any UN officials for that matter, for not fulfilling their role would be unprecedented. Further, “the UN has a long and proud tradition of failing at the most basic peacekeeping tasks like preventing violence, not spreading disease, and not raping people.”

A Second JCPOA Would Accelerate Nuclear Proliferation
Once Iran was given a deal, the original JCPOA, that fell far short of the gold standard, not to mention did not deal with Iran's ballistic missile program or its nefarious activities in the region, nations such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia became less interested in abiding by greater restrictions than their most dangerous geopolitical foe. Beyond the nuclear file, the UAE has moved forward with the historic step of normalizing relations with Israel—a step which, beyond the obvious self-interest of creating stronger economic ties between two leading regional states, is in no small part a reaction to the Iranian threat and a recognition that America's approach to Iran can fluctuate between administrations.

Most recently, Anthony Blinken, senior foreign policy advisor to Joe Biden, made clear that it would be a Biden administration's intent to enter into a second nuclear deal with Tehran. Meanwhile the official Democratic Party platform calls for a return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Whether a return to the 2015 deal is even feasible, or rather a JCPOA 2.0 is the goal, nations who must deal with the Iranian threat on a daily basis look at such prospects with great skepticism and alarm.

Such a move would, by extension, end the "maximum pressure" campaign implemented by the Trump administration, which has left Iran's economy in shambles. Perhaps more importantly, discoveries such as the Iran nuclear archive and Tehran's rebuffing of IAEA inspectors from key sites has demonstrated that Iran's intentions have never changed. In June, an IAEA report warned that "Iran's refusal for several months to allow inspectors to access two sites is a major concern." Britain, France and Germany likewise accused Iran of breaking the nuclear deal earlier this year.

A JCPOA 2.0 very well might push Abu Dhabi and Riyadh over the edge to seek their own unrestrained nuclear ambitions.

Following the UN Security Council's failure to extend the expiring arms embargo on Iran, the United States has rightfully notified the UN of its intention to trigger the reimposition of all international sanctions on Iran. This follows a letter by the six Arab nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council urging extension of the embargo.

If world powers, and the Europeans in particular, are interested in restraining nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, then sanctions against Tehran should snap back and a second round of Iranian appeasement should be taken off the table.
Exposé: Iran's $150 b. from the US is $300 m.per dead US soldier
In a recent TV campaign ad, Democrat Nominee for US President, Joseph Biden, accused President Trump of ‘betrayal’ for allegedly ignoring intelligence that Russia put a bounty on heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Once again, it’s another “Samestream” Media fake news story, and Pres. Trump’s National Security Advisor O’Brien cateforically stated “The president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence.”

Despite this contextual clarification, Biden in his ad goes on to fulminate that “This is beyond the pale. It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation–protect & equip our troops when we go into harm’s way.”

Since Biden has raised the issue, let’s look at how Vice President Biden betrayed his “most sacred duty” by ignoring the murder of US troops in Iraq at the hands of Iranians. In fact, despite the fact that VP Biden knew that the Defense Department had already conclusively found by July 9, 2015 that Iran had directly murdered a minimum 500 US soldiers with Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) in Iraq over the past seven years, a mere five days later, on July 14, 2015, VP Biden cheerled the Iran Nuclear deal that handed Iran $150 Billion dollars.

Do the math. That means that in 2015, VP Biden paid Iran $300 million for each US soldier Iran murdered.

VP Biden and President Obama are the greatest betrayers of our soldiers in the history of America.
Pompeo to ‘Post’: I hope one day Iran will normalize ties with Israel
It is inevitable that all countries across the Middle East, and one day even Iran, will come around to the understanding that it is in their interest to normalize ties with the State of Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post.

“I hope one day that the Iranians will normalize with Israel as well,” he said. “I have every expectation that the world will come to see Israel as the rightful Jewish homeland, and that it is going to be here. So, I leave no country out from my commitment to my core belief that one day the world will recognize that this is the right thing to do for their country – and I would include Iran in that as well.”

Pompeo landed in Israel Monday morning and met during the day with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss a range of issues, including the recent announcement of a normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Later in the week, he will fly to Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE to continue efforts to get more countries to establish formal diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. He said that he could not discuss which countries would be next in line after the UAE, but that more would come.

“I couldn’t tell you the timing and I couldn’t tell you which countries, but I think as other nations around the world come to see that there is enormous benefit to the relationship – from a diplomatic perspective, an economic perspective, and from a security perspective – I think that other nations will see that it is the right thing to do,” he said. “I think they will also come to see that building out this set of relationships is the pathway that will lead to stability in the Middle East as well.”
Pompeo: We’ll supply UAE with arms without hurting Israel’s advantage
The US will find a way to balance helping its military ally the United Arab Emirates without weakening Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Monday.

The remarks came amid controversy in Israel over whether the Washington will sell F-35 stealth jets to Abu Dhabi, now that Israel and the UAE have diplomatic relations.

“The US has legal requirements with respect to the QME, and we will respect that,” Pompeo said. “We have a 20-plus year security relationship with the UAE as well.”

Without mentioning F-35s or any other systems by name, Pompeo said the US wants to “’make sure we are delivering the equipment [the UAE] needs to defend themselves from the…threat of the Islamic Republic” of Iran.

But he said he is “sure we’ll find a way” to do so while ensuring Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East.
Israel's Military Supremacy Is Non-Negotiable
Abu Dhabi, the leader of the UAE, has impressive military capabilities based on a strong army and air force that have already proven themselves in operations beyond their borders. The Emirates already possess advanced American-made defense systems and jet fighters which they successfully deploy in a large operational radius. It is no secret that if Tehran could, it would have conquered the Gulf states if it were not fearful of the consequences.

The Arab nations, which tried time and time again to annihilate Israel militarily, have reached the conclusion that it is better to cooperate with it. But Israel must not forget that this stability could vanish at any point.

The U.S. refrains, as its policy is required by law, from selling advanced and sophisticated weapons systems to Arab countries, even those among them that are associated with Israel in peace relations. An example of this commitment is the F-35 fighter jets Israel acquired. These planes grant Israel total military supremacy in the region.

Intentions are fluid and prone to rapid change. Turkey, once a close friend of Israel, has now become a strategic foe. The same goes for Iran, which before the 1979 Revolution was a soulmate with deep ties to Jerusalem, but is today its number one enemy. In the 2011 Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt and nearly created an additional threat against Israel, until Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power.

As long as Israel maintains its qualitative military advantage, stability and peace will endure. The only way to maintain peace and long-term stability is for Israel to prevent the sale of American-made F-35 fighter jets to any other Middle Eastern state, regardless of current or future relations.

Arab Members of Knesset Lead Rally Against Peace with UAE, Promote BDS
The Balad party (which is part of the Joint Arab list in the Knesset) held a rally in Nazareth against the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), this past weekend.

Member of Knesset (MK) Heba Yazbak was harsh in her criticism of normalization between Israel and the UAE. Yazbak accused Israel of “trafficking in Palestinians’ rights to sovereign and independence, the return of refugees to an independent country, and even lifting the siege on Gaza.”

During the rally, former MK and former Balad party leader Jamal Zahalka attacked Israel and the peace agreement, declaring, “Countries that impose themselves on their people by force will disappear, and with them their shameful normalization agreements.” Referring to the president of the UAE, Zahalka also told the crowd, “If Bin Zayed surrendered and raised the white flag, we will raise the flag of Palestine.”

Yazbak also signed a new initiative during which calls on Arab public figures, jurists, academics and politicians from around the Arab world to support the “Palestinians” against the Deal of the Century and persuade others in the Arab world to align with the Arab initiative against the deal.

The initiative promoted by MK Yazbak asserts that “Palestinians” have a legitimate right to oppose the Deal of the Century and that their opposition to it should resemble Irish, Indian, and South Africans’ struggles against colonialism, by imposing boycott, divestment, and sanctions, and other legitimate methods of struggle.
Palestinians: Pompeo visit won’t advance peace process with Israel
Palestinian officials said on Monday that the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Israel and some Arab states will not contribute to any peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

The officials told The Jerusalem Post that Pompeo’s main task was to advance normalization between some Arab countries and Israel “at the expense of the Palestinian people.” The US administration, they said, has disqualified itself from playing any role as an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Pompeo’s visit aims to strengthen relations between Israel and the UAE and pressure other Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel,” a PA official told the Post. “The Trump administration is pursuing its scheme of liquidating the Palestinian issue. It’s sad to see that some of our Arab brothers are helping the Trump administration in its effort.”

Another official told the Post that the main purpose of Pompeo’s visit was to help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump. “The Trump administration has shown that it is ready to do its utmost to bolster Netanyahu’s popularity,” the official said. “The visit is also aimed at helping Trump get reelected by presenting a major diplomatic achievement in the Middle East. The Americans and the rest of the world need to understand that without the Palestinians there can be no real peace in the region.”

The officials said that the Palestinian leadership has no intention to end its boycott of the Trump administration.
Abbas: UAE Peace Treaty with Israel Is a Deception, a “Stab in the Back of the Palestinian Cause”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an August 18, 2020 speech that aired on Palestine TV that the entire world has supported the Palestinians by rejecting the legitimacy of the Deal of the Century. He said that the UAE has attempted to “delude the world” with its peace agreement with Israel by pretending that the Palestinian cause was limited only to the rejection of Israeli annexation plans. President Abbas also said that this peace agreement is a “deception” and a “stab in the back of the Palestinian cause.”

PMW: PA: Buttocks exposed - Emirates’ Crown Prince is pawn in hands of the US PA/Fatah/Hamas slogan: “Normalization is treason”
The PA is emphatic about its condemnation of the peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. From the cartoon above, showing the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as a pawn in the hands of the US with his buttocks exposed [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 18, 2020] to numerous official condemnations like the following by PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat on behalf of the PA leadership:
“The [PA] leadership and the people in the State of Palestine reject and condemn the normalization that the UAE state carried out with the occupation state at the expense of the Palestinian people and its national cause, and call on it to recant this historic mistake that is nothing but a free gift for the occupation government and [US President Donald] Trump’s administration.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 19, 2020]

In the same statement, the PA implied that the use of violence is a valid option, calling for “popular resistance” – a term Palestinian Media Watch has documented is used by Palestinians – including Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - to also refer to the use of violence and terror:
“The Palestinian leadership emphasizes that it is important to motivate the popular resistance. It also emphasizes the importance of the Palestinian people’s right to defend itself, its land, and its holy sites in the broadest framework, and this is as one of the means of thwarting these plans that are completely unacceptable.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 19, 2020]

This echoes the PA’s exploitation of the peace agreement to seek religious war and escalate confrontations with Israel, claiming the UAE made peace with “the enemy of Prophet Muhammad.” While the PA’s Grand Mufti issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims who come via the UAE to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinian Imams and preachers condemned such visits as “treason against Allah”:
MEMRI: Fatah Member Criticizes Palestinian Reaction To Israel-UAE Agreement: The Palestinians Must Recognize That The World Has Changed And They Are No Longer The Center Of The Universe; Burning Flags Is No Substitute For The Self-Assessment They Need
Dr. Sufian Abu Zaida, a Fatah member close to Muhammad Dahlan and a former minister of prisoner affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), is known for his frequent criticism of PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas and in the past was even suspended from Fatah for it. In an article published August 16, 2020 on the website, he harshly criticized the Palestinian response to the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE, which took the form of curses, accusations of treason against the UAE, and the burning of the Emirati flag and pictures of Emirati leaders. Abu Zaida called on the Palestinians to realize that they are no longer "the center of the universe" and that their cause no longer tops the agendas of the Arab countries or the other countries of the world, which are currently preoccupied with their own interests, struggles and troubles. The decline in the status of the Palestinian cause, he said, stems from the ongoing schism among the Palestinians and their failure to establish state institutions characterized by integrity, transparency and the separation of powers, as well as a clean and robust judiciary. He therefore urged the Palestinians to examine their conduct in the last decades, so as to figure out what they did right but also what they did wrong.

Abu Zaida also accused the PA of hypocrisy, noting that it condemns the UAE for normalizing its relations with Israel but has never condemned Qatar for its long-standing ties with Israel. Moreover, the PA cooperated with Arab officials who maintained relations with Israel whenever this suited its purposes, he said. Abu Zaida directed similar criticism at Turkey, which maintains extensive trade and security relations with Israel yet slams the agreement between Israel and the UAE. He concluded by stating that, if the Palestinians regard this agreement as a disaster, they should prepare themselves for additional disasters of this kind. He advised them that, if they want to restore the prestige of their cause and attain their goals, they must reassess their path, unite their ranks, hold elections, and reform their institutions and judiciary.

The following are translated excerpts from Abu Zaida's article:[1]
"The tripartite Israeli-American-Emirati agreement that was announced the day before yesterday [August 13, 2020] in three capitals is a kind of political earthquake in the region that will have many repercussions. As a Palestinian, I regard the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people authorized to speak in their name, and I respect the decisions and agreements made by its institutions. [I also believe that] for any Arab country to normalize relations with Israel before the attainment of a just peace [between Israel and the Palestinians] based on the two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders is undesirable and does not serve the Palestinian interest.

Turkey's government obsessed with stopping normalization with Israel
Turkey’s government appears to be obsessed with stopping more countries from normalizing with Israel. This is apparent because pro-government channels such as Anadolu have been consistently pushing news about countries and political parties in the Middle East rejecting normalization. For instance Turkey has sought to highlight opposition among Muslim Brotherhood affiliates across the region.

On Monday Turkey’s Anadolu said that Morocco “rejects any form of normalization with Israel.” This is based on a comment from Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani, the report says. “We refuse to normalize relations with the Zionist entity (Israel) because this will embolden it to further breach the rights of the Palestinian people,” El Othmani said. He is a member of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), Anadolu reported. Turkey is concerned because Morocco is one of the countries where there are hints of possible better ties. Ankara knows that Morocco and Israel have had connections in the past.

On Saturday, Turkey’s media also highlighted Sudan’s opposition to normalization, pointing out that a spokesman had been pushed out after hinting of ties with Israel. Turkey says the communist party in Sudan rejected “any deal to normalize relations with Israel.” In Turkey, the far-right regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is opposed to communist views but it seems Turkey is happy to highlight communist parties so long as they oppose Israel.

The country also highlighted Kuwaiti NGOs for opposing normalization. Meanwhile, Turkey’s government broadcaster TRT has a headline today claiming that the UAE has been “bombed every day since UAE-Israel normalization.” TRT also highlights the visit by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to Turkey this weekend. Haniyeh praised Turkey and Kuwait for leading opposition to normalization.
Moroccan prime minister says Rabat ‘refuses’ normalization with Israel
Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani denied on Sunday that the North African nation will soon normalize ties with Israel, amid speculation that Rabat could be the next Arab country to sign a deal with Jerusalem.

“We refuse any normalization with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people,” El Otmani told his Islamist PJD party, according to the Reuters news agency.

The remarks came before an expected trip to Israel, Morocco and several Gulf states this week by US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. He will be preceded in the region by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo landed in Israel Monday morning and is also set to visit Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates this week as the Trump administration seeks to capitalize on momentum from the historic agreement between Israel and the UAE to establish diplomatic relations.

Last week, Hebrew media reported that Morocco was likely to be one of the next Arab states to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel.
Adel Al-Karaawi, Spokesman for the Iraqi Ansar Allah Militia: The UAE Has Earned Status of Apostate
Iraqi Ansar Allah spokesman Adel Al-Karaawi said in an August 17, 2020 address that aired on Al-Etejah TV (Iraq) that the UAE, which he referred to as a nation of conspiracies that has the status of an apostate, is sailing a “ship” of treason by accepting peace with Israel. He said that anybody who accepts peace with Israel has left the fold of Islam, and he warned that this “ship” will be sunk, along with any other countries that are “aboard” it. Al-Karaawi said that the UAE has no place in the world, and he elaborated that the war with the Zionists, who he said are fighting by using the “fake Torah,” is a war of Islam and a war between civilizations.

Peace deals ignore the elephant in the room
President Trump cannot help being willful and impulsive. He likes to call the shots; whatever advised to do he does the opposite. Critics think because he is not obedient he’s a brute. But despite or because of prickly traits, there’s been no incumbent of the White House more likely to bring down the curtain on a conflict that defies a deal.

Could the smirking face under the yellow coiffure make Israel and the Palestinians smoke the peace pipe?

It all depends. If ‘Mr Not Nice Guy’ is not blind to the elephant in the room he could be the one. He mustn’t be as myopic as, in his Trumpian brag, “All prior administrations from President Lyndon Johnson on, who tried and bitterly failed.”

Trump could do the impossible. But to do it he would have to spot that lurking mammoth. It alone knows what caused decades of peace proposals to be archived.

The peace camps haven’t a clue. They like to blame four problems of little bearing.
(1) Antipathy of Palestinian Arabs to the idea of a Jewish flag in the neighborhood;
(2) Israeli settlement building in the 'West Bank';
(3) Israeli "occupation"; and
(4) Palestinian Arab insistence on the time bomb labeled ‘Right of Return.’
British FM heads to Israel to push dialogue with Palestinians
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will visit Israel and the West Bank on Tuesday for meetings with top Israeli and Palestinian officials in a trip meant to express London’s opposition to any future Israeli annexation in the West Bank.

He will “press for renewed dialogue” between the sides, according to a statement by the British embassy in Israel.

He is slated to meet in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

The trip marks the first official visit to Israel by Raab. According to the embassy, Raab will not give interviews during the visit.

“Israel’s suspension of annexation is an important step towards a more peaceful Middle East,” Raab said in a statement released by his office. “It is now time for both sides to come together and engage in the dialogue that’s needed to deliver the negotiated two-state solution that can secure lasting peace, security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Hungary summons German ambassador over EU minister's anti-Semitism criticism
Hungary’s foreign ministry has summoned the German ambassador to a Monday meeting to explain remarks by his country’s European Union minister in which he accused Hungary of anti-Semitism, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a statement on Sunday.

Szijjarto rejected the accusations but did not specify where the comments by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth were published.

His spokesman, however, told Reuters that Szijjarto was referring to an interview with website published late on Friday in which Roth criticised Hungary and Poland for an erosion of democratic culture and also said one aspect that “led to the Article 7 case against Hungary was rampant anti-semitism in Hungary”.

The EU invoked Article 7 of its governing treaty against Hungary in 2018, having invoked the procedure for the first time against Poland in 2017, for flouting the rule of law. The process could lead to the suspension of their EU voting rights if all other capitals agreed.

In the past few years, Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, has also angered the EU with his harsh anti-immigration stance and a 2017 campaign against U.S. financier George Soros which critics said had anti-Semitic undertones. The government rejected that accusation.

Orban has pledged zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.
Trying to avoid a Gaza war of attrition
The Hamas leadership has gone underground in Gaza in light of the gradual security escalation along Israel's southern border and the subsequent indications that Jerusalem may renew its policy of eliminating terror leaders in the Strip.

In light of Israel's threat, Hamas' senior political echelon and the heads of the organization's military wing have disappeared, taking extreme care to compartmentalize their movements and their whereabouts.

As such, on Sunday the IDF refrained from attacking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip for the first time in 10 days.

The Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammed al-Emadi is expected to arrive with his country's monthly stipend to the Strip in the coming days. His entry to Gaza, however, depends on the security situation in the area.

If Hamas continues sending incendiary balloons and rockets into Israeli territory, Jerusalem will not allow al-Emadi to step a single foot in the Strip to deliver the money.

PreOccupiedTerritory: IDF Shooting Airborne Children’s Toys In, Around Gaza (satire)
Israel’s military keeps taking aim at Palestinian toys for children and using either bullets or lasers to destroy them, observers report.

Eyewitnesses on both sides of Israel’s frontier with the Gaza Strip confirmed to reporters that the military has been shooting at balloons, kites, and other children’s toys for more than a week that have been lofted into the air on the Palestinian side. Instead of leaving the toys alone, or retrieving them and arranging for their return to whatever children in Gaza may have lost them, observers note, Israel tries to bring down as many of the items as it can before any of the objects land on its side of the barrier.

Experts estimate the number of balloons thus destroyed in the thousands, with kites in the hundreds. “There are that many fewer such toys in Gaza for the children of that territory, and Lord knows they are deprived enough already,” remarked Human Rights Watch coordinator Omar Shakir. “The vindictiveness of Israeli policy is on full display, and they have gotten away with it for so long that they no longer even attempt to conceal this behavior.”

“They even have special units assigned to the task,” he continued in disbelief. “Entire platoons who spread out not far from the border and just start shooting at balloons and kites. It’s a sickening sight that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. But not a peep from the international media. They just don’t want to talk about the balloons. Just the Israeli airstrikes that hit empty facilities and buildings when a new bunch of balloons floats east.”

On occasion the destruction also targets condoms, a move that human rights groups characterize as an Israeli effort to spread sexually-transmitted diseases in Gaza.
Australian Islamic Scholar: It's Highly Likely the Beirut Port Blast Was Israeli Attack on Hizbullah
Ismail Al-Wahwah, a senior member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir Australia, said in an August 5, 2020 podcast that was posted on Hizb-ut-Tahrir Australia’s Facebook page that there is a strong possibility that the recent Beirut port blast was an Israeli attack on Hizbullah ammonium nitrate storage facilities. He said that it is possible this was done as a warning to Palestinian “resistance” factions to surrender and comply with the Deal of the Century. Al-Wahwah also said that Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has previously threatened to strike Israeli ammonium storage facilities in Haifa, and Al-Wahwah suggested that Israel used this idea against Hizubllah.

Iraqi Researcher: Israel Carried Out the Beirut Port Explosion as Part of Plan to Start a World War
Muhammad Sadeq Al-Hashimi, the Head of the Iraqi Center for Strategic Studies, said in an August 5, 2020 interview on Ahd TV (Iraq) that the recent Beirut port explosion was an attempt on Israel’s part to send a message that it can “restore the balance of power in the region.” Comparing the blast to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Al-Hashimi said that Israel wants to show its allies in the Gulf that it is stronger than Iran and its proxies, and that it will not tolerate Iran’s attempts to export the “resistance.” He said that Israel is targeting Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, and that that the Beirut port explosion, along with the January assassinations of IRGC General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi PMU Deputy Leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, are a part of an Israeli plan to start a world war.

Seth Frantzman: Russian General Killed in Syria, Moscow So Far Silent about Response
A Russian major-general was killed in Syria last week, but the incident has not yet led to escalation or repercussions. Maj.-Gen. Vyacheslav Gladkikh was killed along with the commander of the local National Defense Forces (NDF) during a patrol, according to reports. A “roadside bomb” killed him, according to footage posted online and reports by Rudaw, Al-Monitor and other channels.

What is known about the incident is that on August 18, the Russian general was traveling in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, apparently on the western side of the Euphrates River, when an improvised explosive device exploded.

Two Russian servicemen were wounded, according to Rudaw, a Kurdish news network. The incident took place near an oil field called At-Taym, but it was not clear exactly where, Russian media reported.
The Iran-Turkey Alliance: A Plan for Regional Domination?
Both Turkey and Iran have been struggling economically in recent years. The currencies of both countries have plummeted in value against the dollar. But their leaders have reason to feel emboldened regarding the respective directions they are headed in. Turkish President Erdogan this month announced that 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves had been discovered off the coast of the Black Sea. He says this will usher in a “new Turkey.” Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has rejected a US proposal to extend the arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire in October.

However, the economic upswing in both countries could lead to struggles between the two since they have taken different sides in Syria, Libya and Armenia, and they may use their new wealth to become even more involved in these conflicts.

Or, as recent developments have indicated, strengthened economies could lead to a reconciliation, as the two consolidate their radical axis against Israel even as more moderate Arab states are on a path towards normalizing relations with Israel.

For its part, Israel is taking no chances. Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad spy agency, has told his counterparts from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt that they should consider Iran and Turkey as serious threats to those seeking stability in the Middle East.
JCPA: The U.S. Triggered the Snapback Mechanism after Failing to Extend the Arms Embargo on Iran
Following the failure at the UNSC, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “It is unfortunate that France and Britain did not support the demand of the Gulf States and Israel.” He further stated, “The UNSC failure to defend international security is a grave mistake and is unforgivable.3 The Security Council had failed to recognize Iran’s responsibility and allows the world’s biggest supporter of terrorism to sell and buy lethal weapons and ignore the demands of the Middle East countries. The United States will continue to work to correct this error.”4

Following the U.S. failure at the Security Council, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry stated, “The international community has once again rejected in a clear voice the destructive and irresponsible attempts of the United States to undermine the credibility of the UNSC.” He also added, “In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated.”

Six days after its failure at the Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered (August 20) letters to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and the Security Council president, Indonesian Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djanipushing, activating the “snapback” mechanism5 intended to automatically reinstate all the U.N. sanctions on Iran that existed prior to the 2015 JCPOA agreement.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “We knew in advance what would be the results of the vote at the Security Council… We will resort to the snapback mechanism, and you will see it next week.”6

The U.S. State Department drafted a legal document claiming that the United States, although it withdrew from the JCPOA, can still legally “participate” in the nuclear accord, and thus, the United States reserves the legal right to use provisions in UNSC 2231 if there is significant Iranian noncompliance. Iran argues that the United States is not eligible to use provisions in the agreement because it withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and is therefore not a party to the agreement.
New U.K. Sanctions Offer Opportunity to Narrow Transatlantic Gap on Iran
One small step for British sovereignty is amounting to one large leap for economic statecraft.

In a historic, but underreported move this summer, the U.K. government issued its first tranche of penalties pursuant to a new human rights sanctions regime. As London stands up its first autonomous economic measures due to Brexit, there is a need for close coordination on sanctions not just with the European Union, but with the world's most powerful sanctions authority—the U.S. Treasury Department. Such coordination can have the added benefit of narrowing the transatlantic gap over contentious policy issues, like Iran.

According to U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the new sanctions are a "forensic tool." Rather than impeding major patterns of global trade, these penalties expose and, importantly, aim to "deter" rights abusers around the world. But it is by this metric that the initial batch falls short.

The penalties target a combination of 49 persons and entities across four countries—Saudi Arabia, Russia, Myanmar and North Korea. Yet Iran, a notorious rights violator subject to increasing pressure from the U.S. Treasury, was absent from the U.K.'s list. This represents a missed opportunity for the U.K., both to signal seriousness to its transatlantic partner about the Iranian threat, as well as to affect the calculations of kleptocrats in Tehran.

Under The Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020—also known as the U.K. version of Magnitsky sanctions—London is targeting those who engage in three types of violations. These include the "right to life," freedom from slavery or "compulsory labor" and freedom from torture or "degrading treatment." The penalties for these violations mirror the penalties attached to U.S. designations by the Treasury or State Departments: an asset freeze and a travel/visa ban for the target.

The U.S., which passed its own Global Magnitsky sanctions to target corrupt officials and human rights abusers across the world, has used the law and the associated executive order against 200 targets. While Washington has not specifically used Magnitsky sanctions against Iranian officials as of the time of this writing (instead, using it to target pro-Iran Shiite militia leaders in Iraq), it has marshaled other executive branch authorities against Iranian violators.
The Islamic Republic of Iran: A Criminal Enterprise, Not a State
Venezuela, Iran's ally, has also made clear its intention to buy Iranian missiles that can reach American cities.

It is not as if China's criminal track record is not well known. The CCP deliberately let the Covid-19 virus spread around the world. It has directed the theft of trillions worth of intellectual property from the United States and Europe. It has hollowed out some eight million US manufacturing jobs, and it is illegally sending tons of the opioid fentanyl across US borders in partnership with the Mexican drug cartels.

As for Iran, desperate for cash and weapons and pummeled by US-led sanctions, the mullahs are contemplating signing on as a partner of the Communist Party of China (CCP). In return for sending China cheap oil and giving the CCP military bases in the region, Iran will get billions in cash.
Iran’s nuclear agency says blast at Natanz facility was result of sabotage
An Iranian official said on Sunday that the mysterious blast at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility last month was the “result of sabotage.”

Iran’s nuclear agency spokesperson, Behrouz Kamalvandi, made the statement to the country’s state-owned Arabic-language Al-Alam news channel.

“The explosion at Natanz nuclear facility was a result of sabotage operations. Security authorities will reveal in due time the reason behind the blast,” Kamalvandi said, according to a translation by the Reuters news agency.

he development was also reported by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

The July 2 explosion, which foreign media reports have attributed to Israel or the US, damaged an advanced centrifuge development and assembly plant. It has been reported by some experts to have significantly set back Iran’s nuclear program,

According to a report last month by Iranian news website “Didban Iran” (“Iran Watch”), tied to the country’s intelligence ministry, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has concluded that the instigator of the blast was Ershad Karimi, a contractor at the site who owns a company, MEHR, that supplies precision measuring equipment.

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