Wednesday, January 20, 2021

From Ian:

EXCLUSIVE: As Trump exits, the full Mossad story on normalization into focus
As the administration of president Donald Trump exits stage left, it’s time to take stock of the four normalization deals that Israel has already signed.

But there is a crucial piece of the story that has not been emphasized.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, although the July-to-December 2020 wave of deals provided the historic photos, the turning point moments were back in 2017 and 2019, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Also, though, it has not yet signed an agreement itself, the key party was always Saudi Arabia.

Much of the de-emphasis of these points has to do with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen – whose acts were mostly shrouded in mystery until a major speech in July 2019 – who was leading the Israeli push by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

There have been multiple narratives about who really got the ball rolling between Israel, the US and the UAE, and about when was the critical turning point.

Of course, part of the complex answer is that each country in the Israel, UAE, US triad played its part.

Also, each of the countries that came afterward made its own contributions which helped form the order of who would be “in” during the Trump era and who would play “wait and see.”

But to properly understand what happened in 2020, Israeli intelligence sources would say that it is imperative to understand the behind-the-scenes role of Cohen and the Saudis and what happened in September-November 2017, and in July 2019.
Trump officials: Mauritania, Indonesia were next to normalize, but time ran out
The Trump administration was closing in on agreements with Mauritania and Indonesia to be the next Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel, but ran out of time before the Republican president’s term ended, two US officials told The Times of Israel this week.

An agreement with Mauritania was the closest to being reached, with US officials believing they were mere weeks away from finalizing a deal. The northwest African country was identified by the Trump peace team led by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Avi Berkowitz as a likely candidate to follow the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in normalizing with the Jewish state, given that it once had relations with Israel.

Mauritania became just the third member of the Arab League to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1999, but severed ties 10 years later against the backdrop of the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

After the UAE agreed to normalize ties with Israel in August, Mauritania’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement offering tepid support for the deal, saying it trusted Abu Dhabi’s “wisdom and good judgment” in signing the accord.

Mauritania also has close ties with Morocco, which similarly established relations with Israel in the 1990s only to break them off several years later. The Trump peace team was encouraging Rabat to push its neighbor and ally to forge ties with the Jewish state.

The next most likely candidate to join the so-called Abraham Accords was Indonesia, the US officials said, claiming that a deal could have been inked if Trump had another month or two in office.
Melanie Phillips: On Iran, it's groundhog day all over again
When anxiety first surfaced that in Joe Biden the US would once again be led by a president who would be soft on Iran, some others attempted a positive gloss. Don’t worry, they said; in light of Iran’s appalling aggression over the past four years and the fact that the regime was now far weaker than it had been, Biden would be exceptionally stupid to cosy up to Tehran and re-empower this lethal threat to the Middle East and the west.

But with the Biden era about to begin, those fears have become even stronger. For the signals are all pointing towards the Democratic party’s cultural default of empowering evil people both at home and abroad and abandoning or actively trashing their victims. And against stiff competition from the world’s tyrants (China, North Korea, Russia), the Iranian regime is arguably the most dangerous.

In 2015, it was given a tremendous boost by the nuclear deal, brokered by US President Barack Obama and supported by (to their eternal shame) the UK, France, Germany and others. The fiction was that the deal would stop Iran from developing the nuclear weapons with which they had pledged to erase Israel and attack the west, because the agreement would bring the regime in from the diplomatic cold and thus transform it into a regular government.

The opposite happened. The deal funnelled billions of dollars into the regime, enabling it to increase its dominance of the region, repress its own people still further and continue its sponsorship of international terrorism. Far from stopping the Iranian bomb, the terms of the deal meant that at best it would only delay the Iranian nuclear weapons programme by a few years, and only assuming that the regime would not continue to cheat and lie.

It was actually a deal to facilitate the Iranian bomb and fund the regime’s genocidal and fanatical aggression abroad and tyrannical repression at home. It made Neville Chamberlain’s Munich agreement with Hitler look by comparison like an act of principled statesmanship.


Second class citizens no more
Speaking at the AIPAC policy conference in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump proclaimed: “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one. And when I say something, I mean it, I mean it.”

Obviously, this was an applause line, meant to fire up the audience, many of whose members felt that the past eight years under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had put a strain on the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Upon hearing that line, the majority most likely assumed that if Trump was elected, the U.S.-Israel relationship would return to something akin to what it had been during the administrations of George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. In both cases, it was a warm relationship, and Obama’s administration was a departure from that. However, Trump’s phrase “second-class citizen” didn’t appear to have a specific meaning.

Though many supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship hoped that Trump would live up to his campaign promises, there was still skepticism. Would he be fundamentally different from previous presidents on issues such as Jerusalem and the settlements, and would he actually take the major step of withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal? Yes, these issues were important to his evangelical base, and his campaign team contained pro-Israel figures. But how he would operate as president remained unknown.

As we have witnessed over the past four years, the Trump administration’s approach to Israel has been qualitatively different from that of all its predecessors. Trump adviser Jared Kushner summed up this difference in October, saying that previous administrations viewed being to openly pro-Israel as inhibiting peace, whereas in reality the opposite happened.

He also dismissed the “false notion of America being an honest broker.”

“America is not impartial,” he said. “America’s job is to look after the interests of America. And one of the things that is a fundamental underpinning of our Middle East policy toward stability is the relationship with Israel, which we want to strengthen.”

And strengthen it they did.
Dr. Miriam Adelson: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, dear friend!
President Trump showed global leadership in the face of evil, by withdrawing from the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran and increasing sanctions against it.

And he always – always - backed Israel and the Jewish people.

President Trump knew that America stands tallest when it stands with its true friends and allies. He knew that Israel's interests are US interests and that when one of these nations becomes great again, so too does the other. He knew that the Red-White-and-Blue looked terrific flying alongside the Blue-and-White - Stars and Stripes alongside the Star of David.

We owe President Trump our sincere and heartfelt thanks - without apology or hesitation.

That's what it means to have a common cause and a shared destiny.

Our enemies' weapons do not discriminate among Israelis. And our friends - our real friends - do not discriminate between the "right" or "wrong" time to support Israel, or the "right" or "wrong" Israeli government to engage with.

We must embrace such friends. We must embrace President Trump. The gratitude we owe him is above partisan politics. It is a duty we must feel in our souls, that speaks to the very heart of our existence.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, dear friend and ally. You will be missed. In Zion, you will always have a home away from home.

God bless you, and God bless the great United States.
Honest Reporting: Following HonestReporting Petition, US Gov’t Reveals True Number of Palestinian Refugees
Indeed, the United Nations treats Palestinians differently from all other refugees, whose needs are attended to by the body’s High Commissioner for Refugees. But the Palestinians are under the auspices of UNRWA, created uniquely for them and which reinvented the concept of refugee as an inherited characteristic.

Today, therefore, UNRWA counts four generations of Palestinian “refugees” — more than 5 million people — all descendants of the original 750,000-odd Palestinians who fled in 1948.

In this respect, the Palestinian leadership has long insisted that these “refugees” be granted the “Right of Return” to what is now the State of Israel, which would effectively end Jewish self-determination.

Clearly, this distorted, if not malicious, figure serves to diminish the prospects of a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Accordingly, in 2012, the US Congress prompted the Department of State to conduct a study to determine the exact number of Palestinian refugees but the report was subsequently “classified,” effectively burying it.

But Pompeo has now dispelled a 70-year-old myth, prompting Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has dealt with the issue extensively, to explain:
THE 12 MOST IMPORTANT MOVES TRUMP MADE IN THE MIDEAST
With the Trump administration officially at its end, it is worth looking at the most important moves that President Donald J. Trump made in the Middle East.

The president, after all, leaves office highly popular in Israel.

Last January, the Pew Research Center found that Trump had a 71% approval ratingamong Israelis, his highest rating anywhere in the world.

Last October, just before the American elections, a poll published by i24 TV news in Tel Aviv found 63.3% of Israelis favored Trump to win, while only 18.8% wanted Joe Biden to win.

It is not difficult to understand why Israelis came to appreciate Trump so much. It was precisely because he made one decision after another to strengthen Israel’s security and sovereignty, advance Arab-Israeli peace, and confront the threat posed by the Iranian regime.

Even as we ask what President Biden will do in the Middle East over the next four years, let’s take a moment to consider just 12 of the most important moves Trump made over the past four.
U.S. declares China's actions against Uighurs "genocide"
With just one day left in President Trump's term, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has officially determined that China's campaign of mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constitutes "genocide" and "crimes against humanity."

Why it matters: The U.S. has become the first country to adopt these terms to describe the Chinese Communist Party's gross human rights abuses in its far northwest.

What they're saying: "After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang," Pompeo said in a statement, adding in a second determination that the CCP has also committed "genocide" there.

The latest: During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, President-elect Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Tony Blinken, said he agrees with the determination that China is committing "genocide" in Xinjiang.

Details: Pompeo said "these crimes are ongoing" and include:
Arbitrary imprisonment of over 1 million people.
Forced sterilization.
Torture of those detained.
Forced labor.
Restrictions on religious freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.
Trump pardons Pollard handler Aviem Sella in last-minute clemency flurry
Outgoing US President Donald Trump pardoned Aviem Sella on Wednesday morning, the Israeli agent who recruited and initially handled former spy Jonathan Pollard, as part of a wave of last-minute presidential pardons before leaving the White House.

Sella, 75, is an Israeli citizen who was indicted in 1986 on espionage charges related to the Pollard affair. Sella never stood trial in the United States. His request for clemency was supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Dr. Miriam Adelson.

"The State of Israel has issued a full and unequivocal apology, and has requested the pardon in order to close this unfortunate chapter in U.S.-Israel relations," the White House said.
Will Biden's presidency be Obama's third term?
The rise of the Biden administration and the current situation in the United States raises more concerns than hope.

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens this week published a comprehensive essay on US policy in the Middle East, and his advice to the new president is: "Please Don't Mess Up the Abraham Accords."

But a more interesting part of the article is his description of the rise of Israel in the Middle East and the retreat and recklessness of the United States.

Israel's rise since the bombing of the nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007 has mainly occurred under the helm of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Whereas the goal of de facto ending the Israeli-Arab conflict was achieved together, with impetus from President Donald Trump. Both Netanyahu and Trump acted against globally accepted institutional perceptions.

The achievement came about after two terms of former US President Barack Obama, who acted contrary to the national interests of the United States, and especially Middle Eastern countries. Now President-elect Joe Biden appears to be starting Obama's third term.

He is being used by fanatics in a political party that is based on lies of systematic racism in society. The Republican party, the Right, the conservatives, anything that is identified as "white" falls under the democratic ideology of "white supremacy." At least in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario: "Nazism."

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter Alicia Garza has recently published a book. The revolutionary movement is the rear engine of the Democratic party. She sees the new radical black movement as a generation of activists that are "being shaped by the conservative consensus and the Right's rise to power."


2020: Biden campaign appears to walk back apology over condemning Linda Sarsour
The Biden campaign has been sending conflicting messages over whether or not it regrets comments directed at Linda Sarsour, a prominent pro-BDS activist.

On a private call on Sunday with dozens of prominent Arab and Muslim activists, the Biden campaign expressed regret over how it construed a statement condemning former Women’s March leader and Bernie Sanders surrogate Linda Sarsour. Sarsour was featured last week at the Democratic National Convention’s Muslim Delegates Assembly, despite her history of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and other bigotry.

In that call, top foreign policy adviser Tony Blinken expressed “regret” over the matter, according to Middle East Eye, which obtained a recording of the call and first reported on it.
Biden's Pentagon nominee: Iran a threat to US allies, forces in Middle East
Retired Army General Lloyd Austin, President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Pentagon, said on Tuesday that Iran posed a threat to American allies in the region and forces stationed there.

"Iran continues to be a destabilizing element in the region. ... It does present a threat to our partners in the region and those forces that we have stationed in the region," Austin said during his confirmation hearing.

"If Iran were ever to get a nuclear capability, most every problem we deal with in the region would be tougher to deal with because of that," he added.

Meanwhile, Biden's choice to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, threw his support behind a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but said he doubted near-term prospects for such a deal.

"The only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish, democratic state and to give the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled is through the so-called two-state solution," Blinken said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But, he added: "I think realistically it's hard to see near-term prospects for moving forward on that."
UAE's new vision for Mideast includes Israel
It is safe to say that the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel represents an important strategic shift, and a fundamental turning point for the long-running conflict between Arabs and Israel.

It can be described as one of the clearest practical manifestations reflecting the new ideological approach being adopted by UAE’s leadership to address the region’s conflicts and challenges.

Concerning the agreement and its strategic implications, the last decade of the 21st century (2010 to 2020) has witnessed a fundamental transformation in the Middle East, so that it could be said that the regional order that we have known since the end of the Second World War has ended.

The states taking the lead on the Arab world have also changed along with the prevailing visions, interests, priorities, and threats.

In the light of this geopolitical context, the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel will surely have broad implications beyond UAE-Israeli, Gulf-Israeli, or even Arab-Israeli relations.

The first results of this bold step between the UAE and Israel is evident in the cessation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex one-third of the West Bank territories and parts of the Jordan Valley.


Tunisian president sorry for antisemitic remarks, rabbi says
Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed for accusing Jews of being behind instability in the country, Conference of European Rabbis president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said yesterday.

“The president of Tunisia a few minutes ago called up the chief rabbi of Djerba, Rabbi Haim Bitan, and apologized for his diatribe against the Jews, faulting them for unrest in the country,” Goldschmidt tweeted.

Saïed seemed to refer to “the Jews who are stealing” while discussing the political situation with Tunisian citizens, as heard in a video posted to his Facebook page on Tuesday.

However, others have said that Saïed did not refer to Jews at all, and said “those who are sitting around stealing” in Tunisian dialect.

The edited, three-minute clip features Saïed meeting with members of the public on the street in a poor neighborhood, according to the video’s caption. He wore a mask as protection against the novel coronavirus and some of his remarks were muffled.

The Conference of European Rabbis expressed “deep concern” after Saïed’s attributed remarks about Jews stealing.

“We consider that the Tunisian government is the guarantor of the security of Tunisian Jews,” Goldschmidt said. “Such allegations threaten the integrity of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.”
US soldier arrested in plot to blow up New York City’s 9/11 Memorial
A US Army soldier was arrested Tuesday in Georgia on terrorism charges after he spoke online about plots to blow up New York City’s 9/11 Memorial and other landmarks and attack US soldiers in the Middle East, authorities said Tuesday.

Cole James Bridges of Stow, Ohio, was in custody on charges of attempted material support of a terrorist organization — the Islamic State group — and attempted murder of a military member, said Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for Manhattan federal prosecutors.

The 20-year-old soldier, also known as Cole Gonzales, was with the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, when he thought he was communicating with the Islamic State online about the terrorism plots, Biase said.

Unbeknownst to Bridges, an FBI employee was in on the chat as Bridges provided detailed instructions on tactics and manuals and advice about attacking the memorial and other targets in New York City, Biase said.

“As we allege today, Bridges, a private in the US Army, betrayed our country and his unit when he plotted with someone he believed was an ISIS sympathizer to help ISIS attack and kill US soldiers in the Middle East,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York City’s FBI office, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

“Fortunately, the person with whom he communicated was an FBI employee, and we were able to prevent his evil desires from coming to fruition,” Sweeney said in a release.
Seth J. Frantzman: How Cheap Drones Are Transforming Modern Warfare
Seth J. Frantzman, Middle East Forum writing fellow and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, spoke to participants in a December 11 Middle East Forum webinar (video) about the six-week war that erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia last September and what is tells us about the future of warfare in the Middle East and beyond.

The military confrontation over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed majority Armenian area within the borders of Azerbaijan, pitted two adversaries with relatively unremarkable conventional military arsenals, with one exception – Azerbaijan had invested a substantial portion of its defense budget on purchases of Israeli and Turkish drones.

In particular, Azerbaijan deployed large numbers of Israeli-built "loitering munitions," also known as "suicide" or "kamikaze" drones – inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) designed to fly into targets and detonate. Frantzman likened these drones, such as the Harop (Israel Aerospace Industries) and Skystriker (Elbit Systems), to remote-controlled missiles. Frantzman said that Israel is "probably the most proficient country in the world in terms of building these loitering munitions," excelling in miniaturization, precision guidance, electro-optics, and sensors, the last being "the name of the game in military technology."

Unless an enemy has a sophisticated, integrated air defense system specifically designed to handle large numbers of interceptions, a swarm of loitering munitions can easily overwhelm targets. "If you throw enough drones at an air defense system, the air defense system can't handle them all."


IDF Tanks Strike Hamas Positions in Response to Continued Rocket Fire
Israeli tanks struck Hamas military positions in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in response to the firing of a rocket into Israeli territory on Tuesday night, the Israeli military said in a statement.

The rocket, the third fired into Israel since Sunday, came down in open territory near Kibbutz Nahal Oz on the Gaza border, according to Channel 12.

On Monday, IDF fighter jets struck “tunnel-digging workshops” in Gaza in response to a pair of rockets fired at Ashdod on Sunday night, according to the military.

No casualties or damage have been reported from any of the attacks. The rockets fired at Ashdod landed in the sea.

Though it is not clear which Palestinian terror group fired the rockets, the IDF reiterated its position that “Hamas bears responsibility for what goes on in and comes out of the Gaza Strip.”

The recent rocket attacks come less than a month after Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad conducted a large-scale “military” drill involving 12 armed groups in Gaza, among them the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fatah.
Treasury Sanctions Egyptian Terrorists Harbored by Turkey
The U.S. Department of the Treasury last Thursday designated two Egyptian terrorists based in Turkey for “being leaders of HASM,” the acronym for Harakat Sawa’d Misr (Arms of Egypt Movement), which Treasury first sanctioned in 2018. The new designations – the fourth set since April 2019 targeting a Turkey-based terrorist network – expose the extent to which radical Islamists thrive in the permissive environment Ankara has cultivated.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of State designated HASM itself as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, stepping up sanctions against the militant organization, which State had placed on its Specially Designated Global Terrorist list in January 2018. HASM, established in 2015, first surfaced in July 2016 by claiming responsibility for the assassination of a senior police investigator in Fayoum, a town southwest of Cairo. The Egyptian government accuses HASM of being the armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, whereas the State Department described it as a “violent splinter group,” some of whose leaders “were previously associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.”

Following a January 2017 shootout with the Egyptian police on the outskirts of Cairo, which left a police officer and a senior HASM militant dead, the organization reportedly declared a new phase, “jihad and resistance,” against the Egyptian government. Over the years, HASM claimed responsibility for the assassination of an Egyptian National Security Agency officer, a failed assassination attempt against Egypt’s former grand mufti, a car bomb that killed at least 20 people outside of a Cairo hospital, and the bombing of Myanmar’s Embassy in Egypt. One of the group’s foiled plots involved attacks during Christmas celebrations.


The many reasons Biden should not enrich Iran's rulers
In 1998, an indictment issued by a U.S. district court stated that al Qaeda had “forged alliances” with the “government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.”

In 2011, a federal judge in New York ruled that the Tehran regime had provided support for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

From 2011 to 2016, the Obama administration repeated in formal terrorist designations and other official statements that the Iranian regime had a “secret deal” with al Qaeda that allows the group to “to funnel funds and operatives through” Iranian territory.

Under President Obama, the Treasury and State Departments described this network inside Iran as al Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline,” identified its leader as Yasin al-Suri, who had been allowed by “Iranian authorities” to operate inside Iran since 2005. This month, the State Department revealed that he is still working inside Iran.

A letter written by Osama bin Laden, found by the Navy SEALS who killed him in 2011, included this: “Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel, and communication … There is no need to fight with Iran unless you are forced to.”

Another document seized during that raid, but not released until 2017, states that al Qaeda operatives in Iran were given “everything they needed,” including “money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

Then, two months ago, it was revealed that Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, al Qaeda’s second-in-command, a planner of the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, had been living comfortably in Tehran, permitted to maintain a false identity as a Lebanese history professor. He was about to go somewhere in his car when assassins — presumably dispatched by Israel — ended his career.

Which raised a question: To what extent are Iran’s rulers currently enabling al Qaeda? Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided an answer.

For the past five years, he told reporters at the National Press Club, Iran’s rulers “have provided safe haven and logistical support — things like travel documents, ID cards, passports — that enable al Qaeda activity.”

AQ leaders in Iran also are allowed to “to fundraise, to freely communicate with al-Qaeda members around the world, and to perform many other functions that were previously directed from Afghanistan or Pakistan.”

He added: “As a result of this assistance, al Qaeda has centralized its leadership inside of Tehran.”
Eli Lake: Biden’s Nominee for CIA Director Is All About Iran
The secrecy of those talks was necessary not only to avoid political friction in Washington, but also as a signal to the Iranians. Early on, Burns’ Iranian interlocutors warned that if the fact of these talks ever got out, the Iranian side would walk away. When U.S. officials finally did brief America’s allies, most were annoyed but understanding. One exception was Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Burns writes in his memoir that the Israelis likely knew about the talks from their own intelligence service. Nonetheless, he writes that Netanyahu “saw our back channel as a betrayal.”

This gets at another way Burns will be crucial to Biden’s efforts to restart diplomacy with Iran: managing Israeli sabotage inside the country. During the Trump years, the CIA and its Israeli equivalent, the Mossad, formed a close partnership. Recent Israeli operations inside Iran include taking out the scientist overseeing its nuclear weapons program and a top al Qaeda official. In 2018, the Israelis announced their successful mission in Iran to raid a secret warehouse that contained the files on Iran’s never declared nuclear weapons program. Should Biden seek to reel in those efforts, he will need Burns to conduct that diplomacy with Israel.

However, a better approach for Biden would be to treat Israel’s extraordinary intelligence capabilities inside Iran as a hedge if nuclear diplomacy fails. Cyber attacks, industrial sabotage and assassinations will not get Iran’s current regime to unlearn the nuclear physics it has mastered to build a crude weapon, but such tactics could delay Iran’s program. As CIA director, Burns will be in the best position inside the U.S. government to advise Biden on this delicate question.

In the meantime, the Senate Intelligence Committee should ask Burns his views on both renewing diplomacy with Iran as well as sustaining a partnership with the Mossad. Burns should ponder this question as well. Three years ago Israeli saboteurs and spies exposed the limits of the nuclear agreement Burns helped negotiate. Will he restrain them now that he has a chance to negotiate with Iran for a second time?
Robert Malley being considered for special envoy on Iran
Robert Malley, who served as a national security official in the Obama administration, is being considered for a position in the Biden administration as special envoy on Iran, sources with knowledge of the plans inform Jewish Insider.

Malley was critical of the targeted killing of top Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last November, saying that the attack would “make it all the more difficult for [Trump’s] successor to resume diplomacy with Iran.”

After leaving the White House, Malley, who served as special assistant to the president and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region, served as president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based International Crisis Group.

Malley, the son of an Egyptian-born Syrian Jew, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in 2019 while the Iranian official was in New York attending meetings at the United Nations. A Clinton White House veteran, Malley was initially pushed out of Obama’s 2008 campaign following reports that he had met with members of Hamas, but was brought into the administration in March 2014 to serve as a top Middle East advisor.

In the final year of the Obama administration, Malley led the Islamic State portfolio, coordinating Washington’s approach to the terror group.
Iranian Regime Booster Charged With Lobbying for Tehran
The Department of Justice charged a political scientist and frequent contributor to left-leaning foreign policy publications and mainstream newspapers with acting as an unregistered agent for Iran, according to an announcement from federal prosecutors.

Using the guise of a free-thinking academic, Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi has since 2007 been pushing regime propaganda in publications including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and the Nation magazine, as well as many academic journals. Afrasiabi was formally charged on Tuesday with "acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran," according to an indictment unsealed in a Brooklyn federal court.

The charges expose how Iran’s regime peddles influence in Washington, D.C., even without formal diplomatic ties with the United States. Afrasiabi, well known in left-of-center foreign policy circles, is one of the most prominent experts found to be taking money from Tehran for unregistered lobbying activities.

In addition to his writings in mainstream publications, Afrasiabi has appeared as an expert voice on CNN, PBS, and other international television outlets. He also has written for the Middle East Journal, Global Times, Asia Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, among many others.

Several of Afrasiabi's works advocating for the Iranian regime were published on LobeLog, a far-left foreign policy journal that has been among the most vocal champions of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. LobeLog, which was absorbed by the isolationist Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft early last year, also published other progressive foreign policy voices such as Trita Parsi, Quincy's executive vice president. Parsi himself has faced accusations of acting as an Iranian regime lobbyist during his time as the leader of the National Iranian American Council.


Frequent New York Times Opinion Writer Was Secret Iranian Agent, Federal Prosecutors Charge
The New York Times published more than a dozen opinion articles and letters to the editor by Kaveh Afrasiabi. A 2018 Times op-ed under his byline identified him as “a former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.” A 2012 Times op-ed identified him as “a former political science professor at Tehran University and former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.”

This week, Afrasiabi was arrested and charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Iranian government.

A press release from the Department of Justice announcing the unsealing of a criminal complaint in the case says, “Since at least 2007 to the present, Afrasiabi has also been secretly employed by the Iranian government and paid by Iranian diplomats assigned to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in New York City (IMUN). Afrasiabi has been paid approximately $265,000 in checks drawn on the IMUN’s official bank accounts since 2007 and has received health insurance through the IMUN’s employee health benefit plans since at least 2011.”

The press release said that while employed by the Iranian UN mission, Afrasiabi “authored articles and opinion pieces espousing the Iranian government’s position.”







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