Tuesday, August 17, 2021

From Ian:

Elliott Abrams: Afghanistan and the Abraham Accords
Simply put, Arab states face numerous threats and see their region as one where Iran, Turkey, and Israel are the most powerful nations. They also see a decline in American willingness to use power to protect U.S. interests—and to protect U.S. allies. Witness, for example, the failure of the Biden administration to respond to the Iranian drone attack on the Mercer Street commercial vessel in the Arabian Sea last month, which killed two members of the ship’s crew, or the Trump administration’s failure to respond when Iranian-backed terrorists attacked the Abqaiq petroleum facility in Saudi Arabia in 2019.

What is happening in Afghanistan will deepen the impression among Arab governments that they cannot rely on the United States to protect their security as they used to. So those states have increasingly drawn the conclusion that they have one neighbor who unlike Iran or Turkey poses no threat to them, and who continually displays a firm willingness to use military power against its enemies. That’s Israel. Israel in addition has a modern economy based on exceptional high-tech achievements, and maintains not only a close alliance with the United States but working relationships with Russia and China. For the Arabs, then, the Abraham Accords were at long last the victory of self-interest over ideology –and over outmoded versions of Arab nationalism and support for Palestinians.

This is a boon for Israel, and seeing Arab states draw closer to Israel is a benefit for the United States as well, because we maintain close relations with many of them. But the reason for this development is problematic. It does not primarily reflect U.S. pressures or urgings, especially under the Biden administration. Instead it reflects a realpolitik judgment about the U.S. role in the region, and about our willingness to act to protect allies, friends, and even ourselves. The collapse in Afghanistan will only deepen the doubts and fears many countries --including Israel and the Arab states-- have about America’s role in the world, and about the Biden administration’s understanding of the challenges we face.

Ben-Dror Yemini: The fall of Kabul is warning sign for Israel
There are those in the U.S. willing to dismiss nearly half a million dead in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the $6.4 trillion – an amount equal France's annual GDP – that went up in smoke. While they may assert that "an agreement" will make everything okay, Israel has no such option.

Anyone seeking to understand what will now happen to Afghanistan - and probably Iraq in the near future - should take a look at the Gaza Strip as a test case.

The images of Taliban militants marching victoriously through the streets of Kabul will only whet the appetites of their acolytes, wherever they may be.

If they are successful in bringing the world's most powerful nation to its knees, everyone else should be a mere pushover.

This massive geopolitical shift affects Israel directly. There is no need for most Palestinians to support Hamas or Sharia law. All that it takes is one fanatical fundamentalist group with boundless determination, regardless of public support or lack thereof.

With the Taliban defeating the Soviet Union and now the U.S., the implicit conclusion is that without Israel's security control, Ramallah - the West Bank seat of power for the Palestinian Authority - will fall to Hamas much faster than Kabul fell.

This does not mean that Israel now needs to take extreme measures such as annexing the West Bank or increasing its settler presence, both decisions that will prove fatal, but that the country's security establishment must start to think outside the box.

All nations of the West suffered complete strategic blindness to the dangers of the Taliban and Israel must take care that it does not catch it too.
Col Kemp: Greatest humiliation for America and the West in decades
We are now in transition from an elected — if deeply flawed — administration to a bunch of murderous thugs who just marched in and demanded control. Despite the lying platitudes of Taliban spokesmen the benighted Afghan people will see an immediate return to the unmitigated savagery of pre-2001 days — execution and amputation for transgressing the strict sharia code, women stoned to death, girls banned from school, institutionalised rape and recreational killing.

Afghans have already begun fleeing from these horrors and many more will follow, with a favourite route crossing Iran, into Turkey and on to Europe.

We are in direct danger too. This victory for the Taliban has already been proclaimed by jihadists everywhere who will be inspired and emboldened by it. Those that think the Taliban has broken with Al Qaida can think again. In reality the relationship between the two has strengthened and deepened over the last 20 years. The Islamic State too now has a significant and growing presence in Afghanistan. We will soon see jihadists from around the world pour into the country as they did before 9/11. They will train, organize and plan for strikes against the West, including Britain.

One of the greatest concerns over a Taliban takeover has long been the risk of further instability in Pakistan, with the potential of jihadists gaining control of their nuclear weapons. The prospects of that nightmare scenario just increased.

Strategically the catastrophe is at least as great. Biden’s decision means America’s word will be seen to count for nothing by governments across the world that we had hoped to win onto our side against the despots in Beijing and Moscow. Those same despots will conclude that America is weaker than they thought and work to exploit it.

Noah Rothman: The fall of Afghanistan in 2021 is the result of years of American delusion
The notion that the Afghan conflict looked the same in 2021 as it did in 2016 is downright hallucinatory. The U.S. and NATO formally ended combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. In the years that followed, the American mission had been limited to support operations for local forces, many of which took place from behind the high walls of U.S.-run facilities. To the extent that America's modest, affordable and low-risk footprint in Afghanistan maintained the peace, it was largely as a deterrent force that dissuaded the Taliban from embarking on the broad offensive now underway.

The last American combat-related death in Afghanistan occurred on Feb. 8, 2020. Every U.S. soldier's death in service to the country is tragic, and their sacrifices must be honored. But to call that an unacceptable level of risk calls into question U.S. deployments to places like Kosovo, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait, where U.S. soldiers also lost their lives last year.

And yet, the happy fallacy Biden may come to regret putting his faith in most is the notion that the U.S. was desperate to dissolve our commitments to the Afghan people and would celebrate that achievement. Where are the sighs of relief from a grateful public? Where are the celebrations? If Brookings Institution scholars Madiha Afzal and Israa Saber are right, the Biden administration has misread the national mood.

"The public seems to be partly ambivalent, partly divided on the correct course of action," they wrote in a careful dissection of recent polling on the American presence in Afghanistan. "What's clear is that the common refrain in policy debates that 'Americans want out' is not accurate and should not be presented as the driving force for efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan."

That idea — the notion that the American public longed for this humiliation — may prove to be just another delusion. And a terribly costly one, at that.

Seth Frantzman: From Idlib to Gaza: Where is Taliban victory celebrated? - analysis
While some have been transfixed by the grief and tragedy facing Afghans trying to flee the Taliban in Kabul, some have been celebrating the victory.

There are two types of people celebrating. There are countries that quietly worked with the Taliban to remove the US from Afghanistan. These include Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and likely Qatar and Turkey as well.

There are also militant or terrorist and extremist groups that either have ties to the Taliban or see in them a kinship and inspiration for global far-right religious extremist victories over the West.

Included among those celebrating are people linked to Hamas and extremist groups in Idlib that are linked to Turkey. Candies and sweets were distributed in Idlib in northwest Syria, an area dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, according to numerous online reports.

HTS is a descendant of the Syrian equivalent of al-Qaeda. However, in recent years it tried to work more closely with Turkey and the United States. Several US officials in the Trump administration thought it could be an asset against the Iranian- and Russian-backed Syrian regime.

This was Cold War thinking: Use the jihadists against the Russians; use the Sunnis against the Shi’ites.

Nevertheless, there was quiet outreach. There was also one problem: The US sees HTS as a terrorist group, and now the Biden administration has also sanctioned Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sharqiya, another extremist group.

This presents an embarrassing question for US policy-makers who still see Ankara and its ruling AKP Party as an ally. Ankara has backed Hamas and extremists in Syria who support the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the US has been working in Syria with the Syrian Democratic Forces. The US is not only a close ally of Israel but also works with the Palestinian Authority Security Forces against Hamas.
From Biden to the Taliban with Love
Afghans are facing possibly the world's most brutal army of radical Muslims, now installed in Kabul, and armed with what US President Joe Biden said were "all the tools... and equipment of any modern military. We provided advanced weaponry," which the Taliban has captured from the disintegrating Afghan National Army.

Biden has, in fact, bestowed "advanced weaponry," courtesy of US taxpayers, not only on the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS, but also on Russia, China and Iran, who will doubtless now reverse-engineer the abandoned materiel.

The Afghans have good reasons to flee their own country by the millions. Iran is their typical first stop.

Once in Iran, they are given easy and safe passage to Turkey -- that is Iran's gift to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey is already home to nearly five million migrants. The arrival, over years, of another five million would paralyze Turkey, its economy, politics and relative safety. But Afghan migrants will not be only Turkey's problem.

In 2020, Erdogan threatened to flood EU countries with millions of Syrians.... The real number was just a couple of thousand. Erdogan's bluff had failed. Since then, he has not tried another Turkish government-sponsored migrant dump onto Greek territory.

If the Greek and EU border agencies do not want to relive the 2015 migrant crisis, they should review their blueprints to protect Greek territory from migrants and get ready for another inflow this year.

McConnell: Biden Ignored Military’s Advice on Afghanistan
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said President Biden directly ignored the advice of military leaders during briefings on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

"I was in a number of these briefings over the last couple months, it was pretty obvious to me what was going to happen," McConnell said Monday. "I know for a fact that the president's military leaders argued against this decision. I think the president himself felt strongly about this and overruled his own military leaders to do it, and he owns it."

McConnell slammed the Biden administration for its incompetent withdrawal of thousands of Americans and Afghans. Footage emerged Monday of havoc at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, that caused civilian casualties.

"Honestly, this administration looks to me like it couldn't organize a two-car funeral," McConnell said. "It is a sad day for the United States of America."
Jake Sullivan Presides Over Yet Another Foreign Policy Disaster
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is at the center of yet another U.S. foreign policy disaster. During the Obama administration, in his role as a top aide to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and then-vice president Joe Biden, the highly credentialed wunderkind presided over some of the most humiliating failures in the history of American foreign policy.

Sullivan's extensive experience as an architect of American failure in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Iran, and Myanmar, plus the fact that White House press secretary Jen Psaki is mysteriously out of the office, made him a natural choice to defend the Biden administration's handling of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

"It is certainly the case [that] the speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated," Sullivan said Monday during an interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie, who also asked about President Joe Biden's assessment that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was "highly unlikely" and "there's going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States," as there was in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.

Fact check: False. Kimberley Motley, an international human-rights attorney who has worked in Afghanistan for more than a decade, described the situation in the country as a "nightmare" that was "like Saigon on steroids."

Sullivan was unable to muster a compelling response. "To be fair, the helicopter has been the mode of transport from our embassy to the airport for the last 20 years," he said as the network rolled footage of Taliban militants streaming into Kabul.

Perhaps the 44-year-old Sullivan has grown weary of presiding over epic failures. Despite being considered one of the most brilliant foreign policy experts of his generation, Sullivan's résumé is littered with embarrassing debacles, including both of Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaigns. Afghanistan is merely the most recent example.

Seth Frantzman: Will Turkey Work With the Taliban in Kabul?
This could be the year that Ankara sets up shop in Afghanistan too. Although Turkey temporarily suspended flights to Kabul, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country will exert all efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Turkey would like this because it would mean it could be a power broker between Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia and sit in the midst of the old Great Game territory astride key trading routes and also at the junction of Islamist extremism in the world, with paws in both Idlib with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and in Kabul with the Taliban. Al-Qaeda and ISIS and other nefarious groups have tentacles stretching to these regions. Ankara would be able to be at the faucet of these extremists, able to turn them on or off as it pleases.

But Turkey has a Taliban elephant in the room to contend with. The Taliban grabbed control of Afghanistan in almost a week as Ankara scrambled to keep up. Turkey's pro-government media, which tends to represent the views of the ruling AKP party, has been talking a lot about Afghanistan now. Turkey's media said the government wants to secure talks with the Taliban and that running Kabul airport will keep Afghanistan from isolation.

The U.S. shifted from arguing that the Taliban are not serious about peace talks in Doha, to saying the Taliban might be isolated as they come to power by force—asking the Taliban to spare the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

The question about Turkey's role matters because Ankara has been drawing closer to Russia in recent years, buying Russia's S-400 and also working with China and other countries that are U.S. adversaries or near-peer rivals. Turkey also has amicable relations with Iran. Together these countries are looking to play a larger role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a Eurasion group of countries that joined a group established by China in June 2001, which included China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan initially. Iran has observer status and Turkey is a dialogue partner of the group. Overall, Ankara's interest in a larger role in Afghanistan dovetails with this shift to the east, seen in Ankara, Tehran and other countries. The question is, if Turkey ends up in Kabul with the Taliban, will it be in a place to help the Taliban get more international acceptance, or will it end up in a struggle with them, biting off more than it can chew?

This matters because a Turkey that is working with the Taliban could see them as a conduit to working with more extremist groups, rather than mollify Ankara's aggressive behavior which has led it into controversy with Greece, Egypt, Israel, the U.S. and other countries in recent years. Of course, it may end up just being a cynical ploy for Ankara to send back Afghan refugees to Afghanistan via the airport. Whatever the final goal, Ankara's attempt to swoop in as the U.S. leaves is an important part of Turkey's global game plan.

Taliban Leaders Used Twitter and WhatsApp to Help Capture Kabul
Taliban leaders used Twitter and WhatsApp to spread propaganda and establish control over Kabul as they stormed the Afghan capital over the weekend.

On Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that residents welcomed the Taliban and that "the situation in Kabul is under control." The jihadist group used WhatsApp to disseminate a similar message to Kabul residents as it entered the city. In recent days, Taliban leaders have circulated WhatsApp numbers that Afghan regime officials or soldiers could call to negotiate their surrender.

The Taliban has swept across Afghanistan in the weeks following Biden's withdrawal of U.S. troops, capturing major cities with little resistance. The Pentagon on Sunday deployed an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan to aid evacuation efforts as Afghans and Americans swarmed Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Administration officials said in July that they expected a Taliban takeover to take months.

The Taliban has used WhatsApp and Twitter for years to share official statements, but in the past week it has escalated its use of the platforms, using WhatsApp to announce new rules for Kabul residents.

On Monday, Mujahid tweeted a warning against looting and unauthorized intimidation of Afghan officials. The Taliban's "complaint commission" posted WhatsApp numbers for city residents to call "if they face threats from anyone" and set up an emergency broadcast system via the app as well.

Twitter and Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, regularly banned ISIS members from their platforms. But the sites appear to let the Taliban broadcast its messages without incident.
Dead Afghan Found in US Military Jet’s Landing Gear
The body of a dead Afghan was discovered in the wheel well of a cargo jet involved in the U.S. military's chaotic evacuation from Kabul, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The plane's crew discovered the human remains after the jet departed from Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai International Airport. The plane is one of several cargo jets the military has used to evacuate Americans and pre-cleared Afghans who fear reprisal from the Taliban, which took control of the capital city on Sunday.

Kabul's airport has been the scene of a frenzied evacuation effort amid the U.S. troop withdrawal and the Taliban's takeover of the country. Thousands of Afghans flooded its tarmac in a desperate attempt to board U.S. flights—some civilians climbed onto the planes and fell from the jets mid-air. At least seven Afghans have died at the airport amid the disarray, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. military, which paused evacuations Monday, has deployed thousands of troops to the airport to help resume operations.

The United States risks leaving behind thousands of Afghans who aided the military in its decades-long conflict in the country. The Afghan nationals qualify for special U.S. visas but face an extensive backlog and persecution from the Taliban, according to the New York Times.

Iran Celebrates U.S. ‘Defeat’ in Afghanistan
Top Iranian officials are celebrating the United States' "defeat" in Afghanistan as the Taliban seizes the capital of Kabul and the Biden administration scrambles to evacuate remaining U.S. forces.

President Ebrahim Raisi—the newly elected Iranian leader known for his hardline views and mass murder of regime opponents​​—applauded the American "defeat" in Afghanistan as an opportunity to "revive life, security, and lasting peace" in the region.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the reign of the will of the wronged people of Afghanistan has always created security and stability," Raisi said. "While consciously monitoring developments in the country, Iran is committed to neighborly relations."

Tehran also dispatched Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif to meet with China's Afghanistan czar, Yue Xiaoyong, on Monday. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China is prepared to pursue "friendly and cooperative" relations with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Both countries maintained friendly ties with the Taliban as the terrorist group combated American troops over the past decade. China opened up a secret backchannel with Taliban officials in 2015, and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has called the group a "crucial military and political force" in the country. Iran has received multiple diplomatic delegations from the Taliban in 2021 alone.

U.S. adversaries are moving to strengthen ties with the Taliban as the Biden administration struggles to respond to worsening conditions in the country. Following the Taliban's capture of Kabul over the weekend, many Americans remain trapped in the city and behind enemy lines.

Responsible Statecraft Gets Its Moment
When the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft was founded in 2019, the mainstream media celebrated its emergence as a beacon of hope for a more restrained American foreign policy. Two years later, the humiliating failure wrought by the toxic mix of isolationism and anti-Americanism at the heart of the Quincy Institute is on full display.

Charles Koch, once pilloried for his conservative politics, was celebrated for a collaboration with George Soros that aimed to "bring an end to America's age of endless wars and to reduce the nation's military footprint around the world."

While the left and right alike remain allergic to bipartisanship, the so-called transpartisanship of the Quincy Institute's retrenchment remains very much in fashion in Washington. It can now claim full credit for the foreign policy debacle in Afghanistan.

The institution itself—and the White House—agrees. The Quincy Institute trumpeted its "success" in a Monday night email. "We knew that if we could bring the forces against endless war on the Left and the Right together, we could achieve the impossible," the Quincy Institute wrote to supporters. White House chief of staff Ron Klain, for his part, retweeted the top Koch aide William Ruger’s wet kiss to Biden: In Ruger’s view, the president is "showing the requisite realist spine America needs at the moment." Congratulations!

Quincy cheered President Joe Biden's announcement in April that the United States would leave Afghanistan, sneering that that "the military high command's never-ending urge to stick with a failed war was complemented by the inside-the-Beltway Blob's doomsday scenarios and tired nostrums."

The Soros network may have been pushing on an open door with Democrats, but Charles Koch gets the credit for doing the heavy lifting to provide intellectual cover for isolationists on the right.

Poll: Nearly 70 Percent of Americans Disapprove of Biden’s Handling of Afghanistan
Nearly 70 percent of Americans disapprove of President Joe Biden's handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to a national poll of likely voters.

The poll, conducted over the weekend by the Trafalgar Group, found that 69 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden's botched pullout, with nearly 60 percent saying they "strongly disapprove." Democrats also see the Biden administration's actions—which saw the Taliban take control of Afghanistan's civilian government in mere hours—as a failure. Forty-eight percent disapprove of Biden's military actions in the country, while just 40 percent approve.

The findings came as Biden prepared to address the American public on the ongoing crisis, cutting short his Camp David vacation. While Biden reportedly planned to wait a "few days" to discuss the fiasco, he returned to the White House Monday afternoon as U.S. evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport spiraled into a frenzy.

Just hours before Biden's scheduled speech, the White House released talking points on the issue, which state that the administration planned for a "quick fall" of Kabul. Just weeks before, however, Biden and top administration officials expressed confidence that Afghanistan's civilian government would retain control of the capital city for months, allowing American troops, civilians, and allies to exit safely.

Bennett Defends Lack of Response to Gaza Rocket, Says Israel Will Retaliate ‘Under the Conditions That Suit Us’
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett defended on Tuesday his government’s decision not to immediately respond to a rocket fired at the southern city of Sderot the day before.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported that during a situation assessment in Israel’s south with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Bennett said, “We will act at the time, place, and under the conditions that suit us and nobody else.”

Bennett met with the soldiers who man the Iron Dome missile defense batteries and thanked them for their contribution to Israel’s national security.

“Our mission is to bring long-term security to the residents of the south and the Gaza border area,” Bennett said.

“From our point of view, the address in Gaza is Hamas,” he emphasized. “Not troublemakers and not anyone else — just Hamas.”

The rocket aimed at Sderot was the first since Israel’s brief conflict with Hamas in May, and came shortly after an Israeli undercover unit killed five terrorists.
Police Confiscating Guns from Jews in Lod
Six Jews from Lod have had their licensed personal sidearms confiscated by police recently, for no clear reason, according to a report in Makor Rishon.

The citizens were asked to come down to the police station to deposit their guns and were told the guns would remain there for around a month. After inquiring, some of them were told it was part of a murder investigation.

The residents said they hope this isn’t the beginning of a quiet attempt by police to disarm the Jewish citizens of Lod, or was based on false accusations by their Arab neighbors.

“We do not know if this is a blood libel of the Arabs against us as a continuation of the riots, or if the police just want to show that it works and that there is symmetry,” one of the Lod residents said. “We hope that there is no quiet plan here to collect weapons from Jews. We do not want to wake up to a situation where, God forbid, [Arab] riots arise again in the city, and people here are incapable of defending themselves, their children and their neighbors.”

Lod was recently the scene of Arab pogroms against Jews, in which Jews were attacked and murdered, and cars, homes and synagogues were torched.
Fire services chief: Israel can cancel requests for international aid
Israel Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Dedi Simchi has informed Public Security Minister Omer Bar-lev that there is no reason to call in the cavalry to help contain the massive wildfires that erupted around Jerusalem on Sunday, and that Israel can cancel requests for assistance from Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and France.

During a tour of the fire areas, Simchi and Bar-lev met with firefighters and expressed appreciation for their devoted word.

Chief of the Jerusalem District Fire and Rescue Services Nissim Twito said, "in the next few hours, with comfortable weather and high humidity, we will make a concentrated effort to put out the localized fires still burning in Shoeva, Beit Meir, Ramat Raziel, Eitanim, and Givat Yaarim."

While Israel is cautiously optimistic it can forgo international aid, the Israeli Air Force has been called up, with Super-Hercules aircraft scrambled into service to dump flame retardant on the active fires.

This is a trial, as the aircraft were not intended to be used for fighting fires, but the IAF has agreed to send them in.

The fire has burned some 5,000 acres of forested land on the outskirts of Jerusalem since it erupted Sunday afternoon has died down somewhat.

"The fire subsided overnight, but there are still lots of localized fires close to communities," an Israel Police official announced, adding that residents of the evacuated Givat Yaarim and Kibbutz Tzova were still under orders to stay away. The fires have damaged the electricity grid close to both communities.

"There are several locations where low-level fires are still burning. All in all, the situation is contained, I hope I will be the bearer of good news today," Simhi said in an interview to Kan Bet Radio.

Arab men in Israel 36 times more likely to be shot than Jews, study shows
A report prepared by a Knesset research unit underlines that Arab men in Israel are significantly more likely to be a victim of illegal gun violence than their Jewish Israeli counterparts.

The details of the study by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center were first reported by the Ynet news site on Monday, one day after Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton’s adviser on Arab affairs was shot dead outside his home in the northern town of Rameh.

The study examined violence in 2017-2020 and found that Arab men over the age of 25 are 36 times more likely to be shot than Jewish Israelis the same age.

Young Arabs (the report did not specify age) are 21 times more likely to be shot than their Jewish Israeli counterparts.

Those living in an Arab locality were 30 times more likely to be a victim of gun crime than those living in Jewish areas, the study said.

The Parallels Between Taliban and Hamas That Media Won’t Acknowledge
Over the past week, the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan has dominated news coverage across the world. International outlets have published numerous articles each day detailing the rapid advancement of gun-toting Islamist militants as they marched towards the capital, Kabul. Various photos have been printed that show dramatic scenes of Chinook helicopters airlifting US officials away from the besieged city (see here, here and here).

Yet, very little appeared in the media about Hamas offering its congratulations to Taliban on its “victory that came as the culmination of more than 20 years of struggle.”

A statement on the Gaza-based terror organization’s website said its political bureau chief, Ismail Haniyeh, spoke to his Taliban counterpart Abdul Ghani Barader to offer his best following the “demise of the [United States] occupation on Afghan soil.” Haniyeh described the event as a “prelude to the demise of all forces of oppression and, foremost among them, the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine.”

In return, the Taliban chief “wished Palestine and its oppressed people that God would grant them victory and empowerment as a fruit of their jihad.”

Of the few publications that did note Hamas’ effusive support was the Associated Press, which, to its credit, produced a brief 150-word piece explaining how the “Palestinian group that opposes Israel’s existence” lauded the Taliban on bringing an “end to the United States’ 20-year presence in the country.”
As Media Berate Israel, Hamas Reportedly Hiding Enough Funds to Fully Rebuild Gaza Strip
Leading German daily Die Welt has published an expose on Hamas’ secret foreign investment portfolio. According to documents obtained by the newspaper from Western intelligence sources, the US-designated terror group holds interests in some 40 international companies in the Middle East and North Africa, with an estimated value exceeding $500 million.

“For years there were rumours about such a portfolio, which seem to be corroborated now by information found on a Hamas computer,” Clemens Wergin, Die Welt’s chief correspondent, noted on Twitter. “The balance sheet also contains coded references about 49 Million US Dollars that went from the portfolio into Hamas’ coffers, an estimated 40% of which went to military/terror expenses.”

According to Israeli data, this $49 million alone is enough to build 1,405 homes, 310 medical clinics, 114 mosques or 98 schools in the Gaza Strip. This would, needless to say, go a long way to reconstructing the enclave in the wake of May’s 11-day Hamas-initiated conflict with Israel. More broadly, the alleged $500 million Hamas has stashed away would be sufficient to, according to the World Bank, repair all physical damage incurred during the war as well as make up for the resulting economic losses.

Nevertheless, the story of Hamas’ apparent foreign investment portfolio — whose value is nearly equivalent to the net worth of Queen Elizabeth — was only picked up by two English-language media outlets; namely, The Algemeiner and the UAE-based The National. This, even though The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and other high-profile outlets have, since the May 21 cease-fire, published over 80 articles related to Gaza’s prospective reconstruction.

All the while, Israel is more often than not blamed for the lack of progress towards forging a long-term truce that would allow for the Hamas-ruled territory to be rehabilitated. Left unmentioned is that the terror group is, in fact at fault, primarily over its demand that it be granted access to tens of millions of dollars in Qatari cash without giving any guarantees that the money will actually be used for humanitarian or civilian purposes.

Emily Schrader: How Hezbollah destroyed Lebanon - opinion
Since its inception, Hezbollah has manipulated Lebanon, a diverse and sectarian country, driving deeper societal divides and exploiting them for political control through whatever means necessary – “democratically” winning large numbers of seats in the Lebanese parliament, and refusing to work with other parties for the betterment of Lebanon. When that doesn’t meet their ends, Hezbollah hasn’t been afraid to assassinate political opposition, even at the highest levels (such as the assassination of prime minister Rafik Hariri).

Their most recent refusal to form a government, along with their demand to control certain ministries (such as the finance ministry) so Hezbollah can circumvent US sanctions on their terrorist activity, has significantly fed today’s instability, as the country is unable to address their people’s basic needs under an extended caretaker government. Yet this status quo of chaos has allowed Hezbollah (and Iran) to continue prioritizing their terrorist agenda in foreign operations in Syria and abroad. Unfortunately for them, the people of Lebanon may just be waking up.

In the last few weeks, Lebanese have taken to the streets over an unprecedented economic crisis. The people of Lebanon are fed up with Hezbollah in a way we have never seen before. When Hezbollah launched rocket attacks on Israel, a stark violation of UN resolution 1701, the residents of the Druze village they attempted to use fought back physically, kicking out the Hezbollah terrorists. Shortly after, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai publicly called on the Lebanese army to fight against Hezbollah, to protect the interest of the Lebanese people. On the streets of Lebanon nearly every night over the past week, Lebanese can be heard chanting against Iran, the ayatollah of Iran, and Hezbollah – and is it any wonder?

Lebanese journalist Baria Alamuddin recently wrote that “Hezbollah and Aoun [the current President] have destroyed everything that made Lebanon great.” Indeed, since 1982, Hezbollah has dragged Lebanon into a bloody civil war, multiple foreign wars, a crippling economic crisis, a deeply divided society, a corrupt and undemocratic political system which ignores the needs of the people, countless bloody terror attacks against minorities and assassinations of Lebanese political leaders, and the Beirut blast amongst other “accidents’’ that killed Lebanese.

The terrorist organization Hezbollah, with the backing of Iran, is rapidly turning Lebanon into a failed state. The world must stand with the people of Lebanon against such activity and give back sovereignty to the people of Lebanon, not the ayatollahs.

IAEA: Iran producing uranium metal, which can be used in nuclear bomb
With the chances of a return to the 2015 nuclear deal fading, Iran has progressed with producing uranium metal, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday. “On 14 August 2021, the Agency verified… that Iran had used 257g of uranium enriched up to 20% U-235 in the form of UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) to produce 200g of uranium metal enriched up to 20% U-235,” the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote, according to Reuters. Uranium metal can be used as a component in nuclear weapons. Iran had signed up to a 15-year ban on “producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys,” under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in 2015 with world powers. Iran previously told the UN nuclear watchdog that it was advancing research on uranium metal production, saying it is aimed at providing advanced fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. The IAEA added that the move was step three in a four-step plan, the fourth being the production of a reactor fuel plate, according to Reuters. But Iran has insisted its nuclear activities are peaceful and that it is not aiming at building a weapon.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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