Thursday, April 15, 2021

From Ian:

J Street and Americans for Peace Now back bill that restricts Israeli spending of US aid
Two liberal pro-Israel groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now, are backing a House bill to be presented this week that would list actions Israel may not fund with U.S. money.

The measure, which will be introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and was first reported by The Intercept, would restrict Israel from using U.S. funds to detain Palestinian minors, appropriate or destroy Palestinian property or forcibly move Palestinians, or annex Palestinian areas.

The endorsement by two groups that describe themselves as pro-Israel and McCollum’s new seniority as the chairwoman of the defense subcommittee of the powerful Appropriations Committee suggest that the bill could attract broader Democratic support than previous attempts to restrict how Israel spends U.S. assistance. Americans for Peace Now is a member of the umbrella Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“It’s time that Congress stand up and defend the human rights of the Palestinian people,” McCollum said Wednesday on Twitter.

Spokesmen for J Street and Americans for Peace Now confirmed that they backed the bill. The latter’s president, Hadar Susskind, emphasized that the bill does not condition aid to Israel but restricts it. Thus Israel may carry out the activities named in the bill, but would incur no penalty if it can show the actions were completed without the use of American funds.

U.S. assistance to Israel, $3.8 billion a year, overwhelmingly goes to weapons systems.

The bill requires State Department and General Accounting Office reporting on whether Israel is using U.S. funds to carry out the restricted activities, but it does not describe a mechanism to penalize Israel.

“The one thing this bill does is that it requires reporting,” Susskind said.

The bill expands prior attempts by McCollum to restrict areas where Israel may spend U.S. funds. McCollum has sought previously to keep Israel from spending U.S. funds on detaining Palestinian minors. Those bills attracted only a handful of backers, and no support from groups that described themselves as pro-Israel. Center and right-wing pro-Israel groups, chief among them AIPAC, have forcefully opposed the McCollum initiatives.


The Caroline Glick Show: Episode 1: The "accident" at the nuclear facilty: Iran, Israel and the Biden administration
In the premiere episode of the Caroline Glick show, Glick and her co-host historian Gadi Taub take a deep dive into last weekend's "incident" at Iran's nuclear installation at Natanz. They discuss the stakes, the pathologies of U.S. Iran policy going back to 2002. Caroline, who was an embedded reporter with the 3rd Infantry Division at the outset of the Iraq War analyzed the consequences of the war on Iranian power. Gadi discussed the roots of America's "woke" Iran policy in Edward Said's anti-intellectual legacy. And Glick and Taub marked Israel's 73rd birthday considering the threats and triumphs of the Jewish state.




JINSA Podcast: When a Week Seems Like a Year: Parsing the Middle East’s Very Busy Week with John Hannah
JINSA’s newest Senior Fellow John Hannah joins host Erielle Davidson to break down an eventful week in the Middle East, from a potential coup to oust the Jordanian king to the latest Iran deal negotiations in Vienna. Mr. Hannah discusses why recent events in Jordan should remain on the U.S. radar and what internal dynamics within Jordan might have contributed to the alleged coup. He then unpacks some of the concerns facing the United States as it begins talks to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. John and Erielle also review Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s timely visit to Israel, as well as the conclusion of the Iraq Strategic Dialogue.


The Crumbling Walls of Arab Holocaust Denial
Four factors have gradually legitimized honest regional discussion of the Holocaust and made traditional statements of denial and distortion less acceptable.

Nearly 20 years ago, I moved with my family to live in Rabat, Morocco, and set out on a journey to find a way to talk with Arabs about the Holocaust—seriously, maturely and constructively. There is still a long way to go, but two decades later, I can report that this conversation is now flourishing, as discussion of the Holocaust in Arab societies has become increasingly vibrant, mainstream, and legitimate.

Traditionally, Western scholars and institutions enervated by the Holocaust denial and distortion regrettably common in Arab societies had two strategies to talk with Arabs about the Holocaust. One was to recount the faraway horror of the attempt by European fascists to exterminate European Jewry and expect Arabs to express compassion. The other was to recite long lists of outrageous statements by Arab leaders and public figures and expect Arabs to express remorse. Both may be necessary, but neither was very effective. Several factors have combined to change this dynamic.

First, Arabs have seen mass atrocities up close and, in many quarters, they triggered revulsion. Whether it was Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds and devouring of Kuwait, the killing and burning of Darfur, or the barbarities of Assad’s Syria, the cumulative impact of serial inhumanity opened many Arab minds to engage in the global discussion of genocide awareness and prevention.

Second, historians finally began to tell the Arab story of the Holocaust, that is, the persecution of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who lived in those Arab lands that fell under the domination of Nazi Germany, Vichy France, or Fascist Italy—principally Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya—and the role Arabs played as perpetrators, bystanders and even rescuers. While my own small contribution was to research, write, speak, and make a film on this story, what has been especially gratifying is seeing an explosion of rigorous academic scholarship over the past decade on the Holocaust experience in the Arab world.
Revisiting Hill 24
The first movie I ever saw, not counting Dumbo, was Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer, a landmark black-and-white film about Israel’s War of Independence. This was back in 1955, when the Jewish state and I were seven years old. My parents, both Hebrew teachers, took me to the old Vogue Theater on Coney Island Avenue to see it.

Widely forgotten today, Hill 24 was the first Israeli feature film, with a big budget at $400,000. The dialogue is in English with dollops of Hebrew. Directed by British filmmaker Thorold Dickinson, it’s an engaging neorealist melodrama, neatly packed into 101 minutes, with a stirring score by Paul Ben-Haim performed by the IDF Symphony Orchestra and a memorable cameo by Shoshana Damari, the great Yemenite Israeli chanteuse, as a Druze ululating in Arabic. It was well received at the Cannes Film Festival. The film apparently made the requisite impression on me, culminating in my move to Jerusalem three decades later.

I watched it for the umpteenth time on YouTube recently, comfort food in the Year of the Plague. Within the slim genre of English-language films about the War of Independence, Hill 24 holds up the best, certainly better than Otto Preminger’s overlong Exodus or the star-studded Mickey Marcus biopic Cast a Giant Shadow, Hollywood extravaganzas that projected diaspora anxieties onto the State of Israel. Paul Newman’s incongruous Ari Ben Canaan, the blue-eyed sabra superhero of Exodus, was patently constructed to inspire assimilating American Jews. Cast a Giant Shadow, starring Kirk Douglas as the true-life military wizard Marcus (plus John Wayne as an American general), was scripted and directed by Melville Shavelson, a former gag writer for Bob Hope, and filled with nervous one-liners about Noah’s Ark and noodle soup. Unlike Exodus, Cast a Giant Shadow bombed at the box office. Douglas declared in his memoir The Ragman’s Son: “Though Mel was Jewish, he was not Jewish enough. The movie needed to be done by someone with deep conviction, but Mel was cynical about being Jewish. And I think had he not been so, the picture would have been stronger.” Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer was, and is, a different story—and well worth a visit this Yom HaAtzma’ut.

In 2003, director Martin Scorsese told a British interviewer that “Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer is a unique film,” comparing Dickinson’s “rich sense of place” in action sequences to that of Alfred Hitchcock. “Dickinson is never afraid to push the emotion in a scene, and that’s rare in British film-making.” The movie begins with a map of Israel and a quick history lesson on the birth of the state and the 1948 war. Cut to smoke and thunder of artillery shells, four dead Israeli soldiers on a hillside. We see their faces clearly, with quick flashbacks to their living selves, so we begin by knowing how the story will end. I used to think this was a plot spoiler, but this time around, I read it more generously. By opening and closing with a stark tableau of sacrifice on a Judean hill, the film invites the viewer to excavate its strata of myth and midrash.


Operation Atlas Casts Light on Nazi Attempts to Squelch the Jewish State
During the Second World War, the Nazis and Palestinian Arab leader Haj Amin al-Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem, planned and executed a commando mission whose primary objective was killing Jews in the land of Israel. The five men who were parachuted into Palestine had all lived there for much of their lives and knew the territory well. Their plan was to incite Palestinian Arabs against Jews and to attack individual Jewish targets, such as synagogues and Jewish-owned stores. The operation was codenamed Atlas and took place in October 1944. This is the story of an event that has been all but lost to history, but which casts important light on the global dimensions of Nazi war planning—and the key role played by their willing accomplices.

In December 1943, Lieutenant Kurt Wieland reported to 32-37 Berkaer Strasse Berlin, headquarters of the SS security service. Up until 1941, the building had been a Jewish old age home. When the residents were deported, the security service, which was formally named the Sicherheitsdienst but more commonly known as the SD, took over the building.

Wieland had been summoned for an interview with an SD lieutenant colonel called Beissner, who wanted to know what Middle Eastern countries he was familiar with. Beissner mentioned Syria, Transjordan, and Palestine as examples. Wieland replied that he only knew Palestine.

Wieland had wanted to lead a commando mission to Palestine for some time. Through his cousin, an SD official, he’d managed to get himself in front of Beissner. The interview went well enough that Wieland was transferred from the Brandenburg Special Forces regiment to the SD and given control of an operation targeting Palestine called Elias. Wieland promptly changed the name to Atlas and focused it on a Special Forces mission to train and incite the Arabs of Palestine against the Jews. He would later write that the military aim of the operation was to cause “the greatest possible damage to the common enemies (Jews, English, Americans and the Allies).”

The Wieland family had left Germany for Palestine in 1923 when Kurt was 7 and had lived there as members of the German Templer community. Kurt attended junior school in Jaffa and Sarona and went to high school in the German Colony in Jerusalem. He left Palestine to go back to Germany in 1936 and spent another year in Palestine in 1938 before returning to Germany in time for the war. In late 1942, he was wounded while fighting in Odessa in the Ukraine. Shortly after recovering, he was sent to officer school.

Roughly a month after his meeting with Beissner, Wieland was taken to the Adlon Hotel in Berlin to meet with the self-styled grand mufti, the Palestinian Arab leader al-Husseini, for the first time. Husseini was a Palestinian leader who is widely blamed for the deaths of scores of Jews in the 1920s and 1930s. He led a three-year insurrection against the British from 1936 to 1939, during which he was chased out of Palestine by the British Army. After being forced from Palestine in 1937, the mufti made his way to Berlin, where he was warmly welcomed and paid considerable sums of money by various Nazi ministries for work that included propaganda and recruitment. Himmler himself ordered that the mufti receive 1 million Reichsmarks.

In the mufti’s hotel suite Wieland was quizzed about his plans for the Palestine mission. The mufti wanted to know how he planned on getting into the country, what he was going to take with him, and who he would need to carry out his mission. Wieland came to understand that this was to be a joint operation between the SD and the mufti.
‘Two-Gun Cohen’: The Chinese general who swung the UN vote
My husband, Charles, was related to the only Jew, probably the only Westerner, to become a general in the Chinese Army – known as “Two-Gun Cohen” – who played a historic part in China’s abstention and the UN’s recognition of a Jewish state in 1947.

In 1961 Charles’s mother, while staying at the King David Hotel Jerusalem, had to call the house doctor. Dr. Cyril Sherer arrived and, serendipitously, they discovered they were cousins! Cyril, a Londoner, lived many years in New Zealand but was now in Jerusalem. It was he who told the family about their illustrious cousin.

Moishe Abraham Mialczyn was born 1887 in Poland. Two years later, his family emigrated to London’s East End. His name was changed to Morris Abraham Cohen. School did not interest him, but he loved street life, markets and particularly the boxing clubs, where at age nine ‘Cockney Cohen’ won his first bout. Fortunately, his father never knew about it even after his nose was broken! He also worked for a glazier. Moishe went out at night breaking windows for the glazier to repair the next day. A perfect partnership.

At 13, he was arrested for pickpocketing and sent to a reform school. Run on military lines, they learned carpentry, gardening and English. After three years he left with no future plans. His father, Yossef, worried, called a family council and decided to send Moishe to Canada to work on a relative’s farm. He remained there just long enough to master skills with dice, cards and guns from Bobby, a local cowhand. These became very useful in later years.

He played cards for a living, then moved to selling real estate in Edmonton, beginning a life long association with the Chinese community. He felt an affinity between Jews and Chinese – two ancient peoples with strong traditions of hard work, the will to succeed and links to their ancestral homelands.
PA slams UK’s ‘subversion of global order’ after Johnson opposes ICC probe
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday reacted angrily to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement a day earlier that London opposes the International Criminal Court’s decision to probe Israel for possible war crimes

In a letter to Conservative Friends of Israel, Johnson said, “We do not accept that the ICC has jurisdiction in this instance, given that Israel is not a party to the Statute of Rome and Palestine is not a sovereign state,” adding that the decision “gives the impression of being a prejudicial attack” on the Jewish state.

In response, the PA’s mission in London said the letter “marks a low point in UK-Palestine relations and undermines the UK’s credibility on the international stage.”

“The letter is a contradiction of international law. It is a contradiction of British policy. It subverts the rules-based global order. And it sets back efforts to secure a lasting and just peace in Palestine,” the diplomatic mission said.

“If Mr. Johnson disputes this, he disputes the legitimacy of the Court,” the Palestinian mission in London added.
Israel, UAE, Greece, Cyprus Foreign Ministers to Meet Friday
The foreign ministers of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, and Cyprus will meet in Paphos, Cyprus on Friday, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement issued on Wednesday said it would be the first meeting of its kind involving the four nations, as part of efforts to advance regional strategic interests.

Last year, Israel and the UAE normalized ties, one of four deals the US brokered between Israel and Arab countries in September 2020, formally known as the Abraham Accords.

Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan are also signatories of normalization deals.


Biden Suspending Saudi Arms Sales, Raises Travel Warning Levels to Kingdom
The US State Department escalated travel warnings for Saudi Arabia to a Level 3 on Tuesday, in light of the ongoing missile and drone attacks on the Saudi’s civilian structures by Yemen’s Houthi Rebels, as well as Covid-19. The Houthis act as military proxies for the Islamic regime in Iran, and the Saudis and Houthis have been fighting one another.

Just two months ago, the Biden administration removed the US’s terror designation from the Houthis, which in light of this US travel warning seems to have been a bit premature.

The NY Times reports that the US has decided, after previously suspending all weapons deals made by former President Trump to the Saudis and the UAE, that it will not sell any potentially offensive weaponry to the Saudis.

The sale of self-defense weapons will still be permitted, though according to the report, the Biden administration is debating which weapons would be included in that definition of self-defense.

As reported yesterday, the US is expected to approve the $23 Billion deal with the UAE, including the sale of F-35 stealth fighters. That deal had been frozen by the Biden administration for review right after he entered office.

President Biden announced in February that he wants to “reset” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, and would end all support for the Saudi offensive operations in Yemen.
US Envoy: Border Talks With Israel Will Help Crisis-Hit Lebanon
The United States stands ready to facilitate maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel that will have benefits for the crisis-hit Lebanese economy, a US envoy said on Thursday.

On a visit to Beirut, Under Secretary of State David Hale blamed Lebanese leaders for failing to end a deadlock in cabinet talks to tackle the collapse, which has crashed the currency. He warned that “those who continue to obstruct” progress open themselves up to punitive actions, without naming individuals.

As part of its pressure campaign on Tehran, Washington escalated sanctions last year against Lebanese allies of Hezbollah, hitting former ministers on charges of corruption and ties to the Iran-backed group, which it classifies as terrorist.

Hale accused Hezbollah and Iran of undermining the state after meeting on Thursday with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a political ally of the group whose son-in-law became a target of US sanctions.

Hale said that talks with Iran on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal could foster regional stability but “would only be the beginning of our work” as the United States addresses “the other elements of Iran’s destabilizing behavior”.

While pledging not to abandon US interests in Lebanon, Hale said resolving a maritime border dispute with Israel would “have potential to unlock significant economic benefits for Lebanon”.


Threatening to boycott the JNF
The threat by left-wing Jewish groups to boycott the Jewish National Fund in Israel strikes a blow at the Jewish unity to which we all aspire. But it also serves a clarifying purpose—it shines a light on the hypocrisy of many on the Jewish left, especially concerning the future of Jerusalem.

In February, the board of the Jewish National Fund - Keren Kayemet L’Israel (which is separate from the American JNF) voted to authorize the purchase of private land in, or adjacent to, Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria. It was a democratic vote. Left-of-center groups voted against it, but they lost.

What do you do when you lose a democratic vote? If you are committed to the value of democracy, you accept votes that you lose just as you accept the ones that you win. Instead, several chapters each of a dozen left leaning Jewish organizations sent a letter to JNF-KKL chairman Avraham Duvdevani, threatening to boycott the group if Duvdevani respects the democratic vote.

This “I’m—taking-my-marbles-and-going-home” approach undermines civil discourse in the Jewish world. How can we maintain standards of tolerance and free debate if the losing side in a democratic vote stalks off and starts threatening boycotts, instead of accepting a perfectly legitimate decision by the majority…?

It also reflects a regrettable Balkanization of world Jewry, in which each side seals itself off in its own camp, associating only with like-minded factions and refusing to interact with those who differ.
A Closer Look at Israel’s New High-Tech Barrier
Israel reported significant progress last month on an underground fence around the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Officials say Israel is close to completing the underground component and can see the finish line with the above-ground elements (roughly 80% complete). Once fully assembled, the three-layered barrier may be the most sophisticated barrier in the world.

The threat to Israel from Gaza and other adjacent territories has been constant. Suicide bombings by Hamas, Fatah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad during the Second Intifada prompted Israel to build a barrier to control border crossings. This inspired Hamas to instead construct and fire thousands of crude rockets into Israel. In response, Israel developed the Iron Dome missile defense system (and others for longer range threats). Frustrated again, Hamas began digging commando tunnels for fighters to reach Israel to gather intelligence, conduct terrorist attacks, or even launch surprise, coordinated assaults.

The Israelis first understood the need for such a barrier during the 2014 Gaza conflict, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, after uncovering several commando tunnels. But it was not until 2016 that Israel set out to build this complex, multilayer barrier.

The new border fence has three levels: a deep underground layer, an upper fence physical layer, and an upper hi-tech layer that includes detection devices like robots, drones, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and more. They are all equipped with visual, electronic and intelligence equipment and powered by artificial intelligence. And they all operate through command-and-control bases along the barrier.

The physical upper layer of the Gaza barrier is similar to what Israel erected along the Egyptian border. It stretches across the entire 40-mile border with the coastal enclave. All of the elements are not yet public. But Israeli officials say it is adaptable to a range of threats.


Israel Defense Forces in 1 Minute
Israel is a country founded by immigrants, surrounded by enemies, and defended by the people, for the people. Against all odds, we have not only survived but thrived in our ancestral homeland. As we celebrate Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, we remember our past, while looking ahead and continuing to shape our future.


MEMRI: Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahar: Arab Regimes Should Ask Why The Holocaust Happened; European Countries Deported, Killed Jews Because They Spread Corruption, Collaborated With The Enemy
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar asked whether the "Neo-Arab-Zionist" regimes consider the possibility that the Holocaust happened for good reason. He made these remarks on Al-Etejah TV (Iraq) on April 10, 2021 in response to a Holocaust memorial event held in the UAE earlier that month. Al-Zahar suggested that the "people who burned the Jews" did so because the Jews in those countries "took over the economy and politics and exploited the resources of these peoples for their own benefit." He said that the Holocaust was not an "extraordinary" case, because all European countries deported the Jews and killed them, and that they did so because Jews spread corruption, and collaborated with those countries' enemies in times of war.

"[Did The Holocaust Happen] Because Those Who Burned [The Jews] Were Criminals, Or Was It Because The Jews In Those Countries Took Over The Economy And Politics And Exploited The Resources Of These Peoples For Their Own Benefit?"

Mahmoud Al-Zahar: "The [Arab] regimes that subscribe to the Neo-Arab-Zionism, which emerged after Christian and Jewish Zionism... How come they do not ask why the Holocaust happened?

"Was it because those who burned [the Jews] were criminals, or was it because the Jews in those countries took over the economy and politics and exploited the resources of these peoples for their own benefit?

"Every Single Country In Europe Deported The Jews Because They Spread Corruption... And Collaborated With The Enemy In Times Of War"

"As historical evidence, see how many countries deported Jews. Every single country in Europe deported the Jews, because they spread corruption in those countries, controlled their money, exploited their economies for their own benefit, and collaborated with the enemy in times of war.
Khaled Abu Toameh: How Palestinian Leaders Treat Their Refugees
These Palestinian officials, in other words, would rather see their people continue living in devastating poverty as refugees rather than improve their living conditions and search for new opportunities in Western countries. They want millions of Palestinians to remain stuck in refugee camps so that the Palestinian leadership can continue milking the world for money.

The assault on the woman triggered a wave of condemnations by Palestinian activists, who took to social media to express outrage over the Palestinian leadership's decision to use force against Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinians who protested outside the PA embassy in Beirut, however, seem somewhat dubious that this new American money will go into the right hands. The protesters have been in Lebanon for several years now and the Palestinian leadership has done precious little to assist them.

Judging from experience, it is safe to assume that the Palestinians in Lebanon would be lucky to see a single dollar of the Biden administration's new aid package. This is what happens when Western donors shower money on a corrupt and ruthless Palestinian leadership that sends its thugs to beat up starving refugees who are begging for help.
US said to scold PA over death threats toward Palestinian-American Abbas critic
The US has raised concerns over death threats made against a well-known Palestinian-American activist critical of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a report said Tuesday.

Fadi Elsalameen, originally from as-Samu, a village south of Hebron, recently traveled there from Washington, DC. Upon his arrival, the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terror group issued an official statement threatening to shoot him.

Calling Elsalameen “one of the most prominent agents of America and Israel,” the terror group said its “rifles will be aimed at him and at those with him, without the slightest hesitation.”

Officials in the State Department, including Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, raised the issue of the threats with PA officials, stressing Washington’s concern, the Axios news site reported.

An American official told Axios that “the welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is the State Department’s highest priority.”

With nearly 1 million followers, Elsalameen frequently comments on the PA’s “freedom of speech violations against Palestinians” on his Facebook page, he told The Times of Israel in 2019.


Jordanian Analyst Blasts UAE Holocaust Memorial Ceremony: It's an Attempt to Cover Up Real Massacres
Jordanian analyst Muhammad Faraj denounced a Holocaust memorial ceremony held in the UAE, saying that restoring the memory of the Holocaust is a UAE attempt “to cover up the real massacres” perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians and Arabs. He made his remarks in an interview that aired on Mayadeen TV (Lebanon) on April 8, 2021. Faraj said that Israel does not have the right to “play the victimhood card.” He quoted Jordanian poet Assad Qasim, who wrote: “I was not a guard in Auschwitz, oh child killer.” Faraj then continued to criticize the ceremony holders for lighting six candles to commemorate the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, saying that it is a “Zionist strategic policy” to focus on only six million of the 42 million who were killed during World War II. He continued to say that “senior writers and historians” such as holocaust deniers Roger Garaudy and David Irving have said this figure is “incorrect.” Faraj added that some people say that only hundreds of thousands of Jews died in the war, while others say that the majority of deaths were due to illness such as typhus.


US Sanctions Pushed Iran to Brink of Bankruptcy
Iran burned through nearly all of its cash reserves in the final years of the Trump administration as harsh economic sanctions crippled the country’s economy and brought the hardline regime to the brink of financial collapse, according to findings published by the International Monetary Fund.

The Islamic Republic had $122.5 billion on hand in 2018 and just $4 billion by 2020, when the former administration’s "maximum pressure" campaign on Tehran was at its height, according to the IMF’s 2021 Middle East and Central Asia report, which tracks the region’s economies. Iran burned through $118.5 billion in two years, nearly depleting its cash reserves. The country’s coffers are forecast to grow by several billions in the coming years as the Biden administration moves to unwind sanctions as part of an effort to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal.

The IMF’s findings are the clearest evidence to date that the years-long U.S. sanctions campaign was successful in emptying the regime’s pocketbook at a time when Iran was spending great sums on its foreign terrorism enterprise and nuclear enrichment program. Sanctions gutted Iran’s oil trade, a key source of revenue for the regime, and forced it to tap heavily into reserve funds. While liberal critics of this approach claim that sanctions only hurt the Iranian people, the IMF’s findings show the hardline regime was under more economic stress than previously known. It is also likely that Iran would not have been able to weather another four years of the Trump administration’s sanctions. Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo said 96 percent of Iran's foreign exchange reserves were "wiped out" as a "direct result of our maximum pressure campaign."

Any sanctions relief granted by the Biden administration in its new diplomatic talks with Iran will provide the regime with a much-needed lifeline for survival. The country’s dire economic situation has generated several waves of democratic protests that threaten to depose the ruling clerical mullahs. Iran’s interest in restarting discussions with the United States early in the Biden administration’s first term signals the regime is desperate for sanctions relief and recognizes that its grip on power is under threat.


Iranian official admits Israel swiped nuclear archive
An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei admitted on Wednesday that Israel stole the country’s nuclear archive, in what appears to be the first public admission of the 2018 Mossad operation by an Iranian official.

Momeen Rezaei, secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council that reports directly to the supreme leader, told Iran’s Mehr News that the country needs a major revamp of its security.

Rezaei said “the country has been widely exposed to security violations, and the example is that in less than a year, three security incidents have occurred: two explosions and one assassination.”

The two explosions took place at the Natanz nuclear site, first in July, taking out about three-fourths of the above ground centrifuge assembly facility, and then on Sunday night, when the site’s electric grid and backup system were destroyed, along with large numbers of centrifuges. The assassination was of the head of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November of 2020.

Rezaei added that “before this, documents from our entire nuclear [archive] have been stolen, and before that, a few suspicious drones came and did some work.”


Iran, world powers resume nuclear talks amid enrichment, Natanz attack
Iran and global powers resumed talks on Thursday to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal in an effort potentially complicated by Tehran's decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at a nuclear site.

Casting a shadow over the Vienna talks, Tehran on Tuesday announced its decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity, a big step closer to the 90% that is weapons-grade material, in response to an explosion at its key Natanz facility on Sunday.

Calling the move "provocative," the United States and the European parties to the deal warned that Tehran's enrichment move was contrary to efforts to revive the accord abandoned by Washington three years ago.

The 2015 agreement sought to make it harder for Iran to develop an atomic bomb in return for lifting sanctions.

Tehran's refusal to hold direct talks with the United States forced European intermediaries to shuttle between separate hotels in Vienna last week when Iran and the other signatories - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - held what they described as a first round of “constructive” negotiations.

Senior diplomats, excluding the United States, initially met to set the tone on Thursday in what diplomats anticipated would be a tougher round of talks to salvage the pact.
UAE official says US in driver's seat for stronger Iran deal
President Joe Biden's negotiators should use leverage gained against Iran by the previous U.S. administration to reach a better nuclear deal with Tehran in talks in Vienna, the United Arab Emirates' ambassador to Washington said.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia had supported former President Donald Trump's decision in 2018 to quit the 2015 accord between Iran and world powers and reimpose harsh sanctions on their foe.

"You [US] are essentially in the driver's seat to get to a point to where we can address what I believe were shortcomings in JCPOA," envoy Yousef Al Otaiba said in a virtual discussion with Stanford University's Hoover Institution on Wednesday, using an acronym for the deal.

He listed the shortcomings as the deal's duration, that it did not address Iran's missiles program and support for regional proxies and that it still allowed uranium enrichment.

"Why do they get to have enrichment that can ultimately lead them to a militarized program, whereas your partners and allies ... did a nuclear program without enrichment, without reprocessing?" he said.









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

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