Tuesday, August 24, 2021

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Arabs: Biden Brings Extremism, Terrorism Back to Life
For the first time in several years, the jihadis sense US weakness, confusion and lack of vision under the Biden administration.

"The United States withdrew from [Afghanistan] to open the door for its enemies and opponents to fill the vacuum.... If we assess the situation, we will find that the forces that will replace the US there are: Russia, China, Pakistan, and of course Iran. Russia and China are driven by the desire to exploit the vast mineral wealth of Afghanistan." — Jameel Al-Theyabi, Saudi journalist and political analyst, Okaz, August 15, 2021.

"The escalating threat of terrorism from Afghanistan appears to be taking place with the support and patronage of major countries... by turning a blind eye to the activities of violent and terrorist organizations, which require Arab and international solidarity to confront the threat of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda together." — Monir Adib, Egyptian expert on global terrorism, Al-Ain, August 16, 2021.

"The Americans must admit their failure to build a state, or an army, in Afghanistan, or even a movement to confront terrorism and extremism, and now it is withdrawing all its agents, leaving Afghanistan hostage in the hands of extremists." — Osama Saraya, former editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram; Al-Ahram, August 16, 2021.

Thanks to the Biden administration, say the Arabs and Muslims, terrorist groups that want to wage jihad (holy war) against the US and Israel and threaten the security and stability of many Arab countries have firmly increased their foothold in the Middle East.
Noah Rothman: The Largest Hostage Crisis in American History
“Given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders—it’s hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month,” said U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Monday. A number of prominent federal legislators are demanding that the administration commit to a longer operation, and they are joined by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He will use the occasion of an emergency G7 summit on Tuesday to pressure Biden to “ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years.”

Joe Biden finds himself in a trap of his own making. U.S. forces operate out of Kabul’s airport at the pleasure of the Taliban. At any point, what Biden called a “ragtag” group can disable the airport and reengage in combat with the American forces they’ve so far allowed a narrow berth. Biden is determined to avoid that outcome. The only alternative to such a disaster would be to bribe the Taliban into submission. It’s an option the president has already foreshadowed. “The Taliban has to make a fundamental decision,” Biden said on Sunday. To be successful, they are “going to need everything from additional help in terms of economic assistance, trade, and a whole range of things.” The Taliban, Biden said, is “seeking legitimacy to determine whether or not they will be recognized by other countries.” No doubt, all these carrots are being dangled before our captors by CIA Director William Burns, who was this week dispatched to Kabul likely to negotiate an extension of our mission there.

The message from the Taliban couldn’t be clearer: Your money or your lives. And there are thousands of Americans in Afghanistan from which the Taliban might choose to make a few examples. As the heartrending audio received by Rep. Carol Miller’s office attests, the Americans trapped behind enemy lines believe they are abandoned by their government to the mercies of a vengeful Islamist militia. As one staffer at the abandoned American embassy admitted, “it would be better to die under the Taliban’s bullet” than to face the brutality of a likely unsuccessful effort to reach American service personnel on their own. Our citizens and friends are resigning themselves to a terrible fate.

America’s humiliation in Afghanistan did not end with the fall of Kabul. It is only just beginning.
Commentary Magazine Podcast: Hostages Abroad and Hostage at Home
Author and editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro, joins the podcast today to talk about the ongoing nightmare in Afghanistan, which is evolving from a debacle into a hostage crisis. But Americans get no respite at home as COVID has evolved from a pandemic into a lifestyle brand.
Ben Shapiro: President Biden has chosen decline
In November 2009, the late Charles Krauthammer gave a seminal speech, titled "Decline Is a Choice." In it, Krauthammer stated, "The question of whether America is in decline cannot be answered yes or no. There is no yes or no ... Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice."

Last week, President Joe Biden chose decline.

That choice was not inevitable. It was foolhardy in the extreme, a symptom of Biden's commitment to his own idiotic ideology – an ideology that crashed headlong into the steel wall of reality in Afghanistan. Former Presidents Obama and Trump both wanted to remove the United States from Afghanistan, but both recognized the reality on the ground: that removing all American support from the Afghan military would result in the Taliban – the terrorist regime responsible for providing aid and support to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida in the run-up to and aftermath of 9/11 – taking over the country.

Biden knew this. He just didn't care. As he reportedly expressed in 2010, while speaking with Richard Holbrooke about American responsibility in Afghanistan, "F*** that, we don't have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it."

And so, Biden destroyed the stalemate in Afghanistan that had allowed America's counterterror mission in-country to continue successfully. The Afghan military was built to work with U.S. close air support; Biden withdrew that support. In fact, he went so far as to bar American contractors from entering the country to help the Afghan air force maintain its equipment. He cut the Afghan military off at the knees, then blamed them when they left the battlefield.

And Biden lied. He lied that Afghanistan represented an "endless war" carrying the possibility of "endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery"; in reality, the United States ended its combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, had just 2,500 troops on the ground before Biden's unplanned pullout, and has not suffered a combat casualty since February 2020.


Taliban rejects extension of Western withdrawal beyond looming deadline
The Taliban said on Tuesday that they would not agree to an extension of a looming deadline to evacuate Afghans from Kabul airport, even as Western countries said that they were running out of time.

European nations have said that they would not be able to airlift at-risk Afghans before the August 31 cut-off, and United States President Joe Biden has faced calls from all corners to extend the evacuation window.

But speaking at a press conference in the capital Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the Islamist group would not agree to an extension, and told the US to stop evacuating skilled Afghans.

Mujahid also said that female Afghan government workers should stay home until security conditions in the country improve.

US-led troops have ramped up operations to get thousands of people out of Kabul, after the Taliban warned they would not allow the US to extend the deadline for a complete withdrawal.

Biden has said that he would stick to the schedule, but faced growing pressure to negotiate more time for the evacuations.

Germany said on Tuesday that Western allies simply cannot fly every Afghan who needs protection out of Kabul before the cut-off date.

“Even if [the evacuation] goes on until August 31 or even a few days longer, it will not be enough to allow those who we, or the United States, want to fly out,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Bild TV.


How Israeli weapons were used to hunt the Taliban
As Western forces leave Afghanistan, Israeli weapons systems will no longer hunt Taliban fighters.

Though Israeli troops have never been on the ground in the war-torn central Asian country, numerous coalition nations used Israeli systems during the 20 years of fighting against the radical jihadist terrorist group.

While many Israeli defense companies have stayed mum on the use of their products in Afghanistan, according to multiple reports, countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Australia have used their products for years.

Numerous countries used remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) to collect intelligence, and Israeli-made SPIKE missiles were used in battle. Troops were also able to drive around safely in high-intensity areas in Israeli-made MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) military light tactical vehicles.

One of the main Israeli weapons systems used by foreign militaries in Afghanistan was drones.

Foreign reports state that Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones and has sold such systems to numerous countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea.

The German Air Force began operating the Heron TP, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), in Afghanistan in 2010. They were involved in thousands of missions, logging thousands of flight hours.

The Heron TPs are IAI’s most advanced RPAs with 40-hour endurance, a maximum take-off weight of 11,685 pounds, and a payload of 2,204 pounds. They can be used for reconnaissance, combat and support roles, and can carry air-to-ground missiles to take out hostile targets.

The German pilots were trained in Israel regarding how to operate the RPA and learn about its surveillance capabilities.
MEMRI: Saudi Columnists: Feeble U.S. Policy A Danger To Global Stability; Iran, Which Understands Only Force, Must Be Dealt With Firmly
Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban's takeover of the country, Saudi columnist Safouq Al-Shammari wrote that the Biden administration's policy is feeble and dangerous, and that the allies of the U.S. must understand that they cannot rely on it to eliminate the Iranian threat. The conclusion to be drawn from the tragedy of Afghanistan, reasoned Al-Shammari, is that the Middle East countries must form a new regional security and defense mechanism and work together against Iran and its militias. He even argued that Israel should be given a free hand to act against the Iranian nuclear program, whether or not this is counter to U.S. policy.

Al-Shammari's column is one of several published recently by Saudi columnists who expressed concern about the developments in the region: Ebrahim Raisi's election to the presidency in Iran, the series of Iranian attacks on tankers and shipping vessels in the region, and Hizbullah’s rocket attacks against Israel. They argued that confronting Iran is necessary, and that it must be dealt with firmly because it "understands only the language of force." The negotiation policy of the U.S. and the West vis-à-vis Iran is futile, they said, because it serves only Iran's interests and even encourages its aggression.

The following are translated excerpts from these articles:
The Tragedy In Afghanistan Shows That Iran, Houthis Must Be Firmly Confronted Without Consideration For America's Policy

Saudi columnist Safouq Al-Shammari wrote in the Al-Watan daily: "The Biden administration behaved in a dangerous manner that will affect global stability, security and peace. It handed Afghanistan, and all the gear, weapons and technology [supplied by the U.S.], to the Taliban on a silver platter… It [also] handed over the prisons, in which thousands of Al-Qaeda and ISIS members were incarcerated, to the Taliban, which immediately released them. So the equation is now very clear: [we have] thousands of extremists, plus modern weapons and gear, plus territory and shelter – and the implications are obvious…!

"The greater disaster is that the [American] foreign policy and national security team that handled the Afghanistan issue so badly is [also] handling issues like Iran and [its] nuclear dossier, as well as Iraq, so we must not be surprised by any disaster [this team] will create in the future! Even moderate democrats have begun saying in side talks that, if this team did not manage to handle the exit from Afghanistan, how can it handle a large issue like China?

"America's allies and enemies are [both] examining this tragedy very closely. [America's] allies have learned that whoever wraps himself in the American [cloak is actually] naked, and that history is repeating itself, from [the time of the Iranian] Shah until [the present events in] Afghanistan. Conversely, America's enemies now have more appetite to provoke it, due to the incompetence of the present [U.S.] administration.

"That said, every [development], however negative, has some positive aspect. After what happened, the U.S. will no longer preach to any [other country] about international crises… or about how to handle the crises in its region. Take Yemen, for example. The demands of the [American] socialist left regarding Yemen are no longer relevant, and if anyone opens his mouth, he will be silenced [by citing] the farce of Afghanistan!


FDD: With the U.S. Withdrawing From Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran May Reconsider Its Nuclear Options
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan bears important implications for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s perception of America as a threat. Encouraged by Washington’s loss of credibility and resolve to counter its adversaries in South Asia and the Middle East, Tehran may calculate that there is no better time to acquire a nuclear weapon.

America’s departure from Afghanistan and planned drawdown of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq come in the wake of Washington’s failure to respond to a series of Iranian provocations, including Tehran’s maritime aggression in the Persian Gulf and attempted kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in New York. Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had advanced its work on enriched uranium metal, a key step toward developing an atomic bomb. The agency also reported that Tehran increased its production of 60 percent highly enriched uranium, a short step from weapons-grade.

In this context, Iran’s response to America’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq is instructive. Documentation from Iran’s nuclear archive, seized by the Israeli Mossad from a Tehran warehouse in 2018, showed that the Islamic Republic originally planned to make several 10-kiloton deliverable nuclear weapons by 2003. Yet when the United States attacked Iraq, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei likely scrapped these plans. Washington had attacked Iraq on the basis of ending an alleged threat of weapons of mass destruction, and Tehran’s leaders feared that Iran could be America’s next target.

Instead, the clerical regime — including the head of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom Israel assassinated last year — held a series of meetings in August and September 2003 and decided to disperse, preserve, and advance a more limited set of nuclear weaponization activities at research institutes and military sites. Simultaneously, Iran would maintain key fissile material production infrastructure and ballistic missile delivery work. These steps would enable Tehran to dash toward a nuclear weapon should it eventually make the decision to do so.
Ukraine denies rescue plane hijacked from Kabul to Iran
Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister reportedly claimed on Tuesday that a Ukrainian plane that was taking part in evacuation efforts of its citizens from Afghanistan was hijacked and flown to Iran, but the claim was later denied by the country’s Foreign Ministry.

“Last Sunday, our plane was hijacked by other people. On Tuesday, the plane was practically stolen from us, it flew into Iran with an unidentified group of passengers onboard instead of airlifting Ukrainians,” Yevgeny Yenin said, according to the Russian TASS news agency.

“Our next three evacuation attempts were also not successful because our people could not get into the airport,” he was said to add.

Yenin claimed the hijackers were armed, according to the Russian report.

But Iran’s aviation organization rejected the report, and said the plane had stopped in Mashhad overnight for refueling.

Shortly after, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement asserting that no plane had been hijacked.

“There are no hijacked Ukrainian planes in Kabul or elsewhere. The information about the ‘hijacked plane’ that is being circulated by some media outlets is not true,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, told the local RBC news agency.

The plane has since landed in Kyiv.
As a Muslim, I'm horrified the BBC gave a platform to an apologist for the Taliban, writes Dr TAJ HARGEY, Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation
Every Muslim in Britain is celebrating the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. That's what Khola Hasan of the Islamic Sharia Council suggested on BBC Radio 4 at the weekend.

Even as she was speaking, thousands of Afghans were trying to escape the country. People were being trampled to death in the stampede for places on flights out of Kabul airport.

For Ms Hasan to proclaim that Muslims in the UK are united in welcoming this seizure of power by religious zealots, and the resulting chaos, is both obscene and an affront to the British Muslim community. It is insulting, a travesty and a sign of just how pitifully ignorant she is.

But for the BBC to give her a platform to air her doctrinal falsehoods, without then demolishing them with the real facts, is unforgivable.

Tripe

The broadcaster has failed in its duty to address the news impartially. Instead, the BBC appeared terrified of contradicting Ms Hasan, simply because she is a Muslim woman and should therefore be allowed to assert any nonsense she likes without fear of contradiction.

'Every single person that I know as a Muslim,' she said on the Sunday programme, presented by William Crawley, 'whether on social media, I don't know them personally but I know them on social media or as friends, are celebrating and saying, "Give them a chance".'

I listened to that inarticulate tripe, wishing that the BBC still employed rigorous journalists instead of 'wokelings' who are afraid to question anything for fear of seeming sexist or racist.

The show did feature a courageous campaigner for Afghan women's rights, the filmmaker Diana Saqeb Jamal, who dismissed Hasan's claims as 'insane'.

But Ms Hasan ignored her, and was permitted the last word. She was also allowed to assert that oppression of women in France was worse than in Afghanistan, and that negative accounts of life under the Taliban were all lies: 'Western media loves misrepresenting Muslims.'
British Islamist site 5 Pillars provides PR for the Taliban
On Aug. 16th, a 5 Pillars published an openly pro-Taliban op-ed by Islamist extremist (and former Jihadist) Moazzam Begg (“History will record the foreign occupiers of Afghanistan were the bad guys”), and even suggested that “Taliban Islamic courts” represents a judicial system to be emulated.

In an Aug. 17th 5 Pillars webinar about Afghanistan, which included both Mozzam Begg and Yvonne Ridley (formerly of Iranian PressTV), Salih accused those in the West who’ve expressed concerns about the rights of women, minorities and opponents of the Taliban regime as “scaremongering”. During the webinar, Begg consistently praised the Taliban’s, including what he termed their “un-bureaucratic” and “non-corrupt” courts and system of jurisprudence. There wasn’t one word of criticism of the Taliban (by Salih, Begg or Ridely) during the more than one hour webinar.

On Aug. 17th, they published an op-ed by antisemitic extremist cum journalist Abdel Bari Atwan (“What will the second Taliban emirate look like?”), which praised the Taliban for standing “firm for 20 years against the mightiest power in history”.

On Aug. 18th, 5 Pillars published an article (“Taliban: We will rule as a strong Islamic government”) uncritically amplifying the risible claim by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid that the government will protect women’s rights.

On Aug. 23, echoing Salih’s own tweets about the MSM’s ‘fake news’ about the Taliban, 5 Pillars published an article (“Taliban urge international media to stop trying to wreak havoc in Afghanistan”) uncritically amplifying senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi accusing the Western media of peddling anti-Taliban propaganda.

In contrast, our review of both Salih’s Twitter feed and the content on 5 Pillar’s site found no examples of anti-Taliban views.


It’s Italy’s turn to shun the Durban conference
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi knows very well that he must not allow the shame of past Durban conferences to regain the world stage. French President Emmanuel Macron already did so, by announcing earlier this month that France would not participate in the upcoming fourth session of the 2001 conference that—under the auspices of UNESCO and with the bogus title “Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance”—established the theoretical and political basis for the current wave of lethal anti-Semitism.

This surge in what the late historian Robert Wistrich called the “longest hatred,” which includes rabid anti-Zionism and doesn’t hide its genocidal purpose, is particularly dangerous, as it has no geographical boundaries, is intertwined with terrorism and violence and cloaks itself in the veil of “human rights” and “legitimate criticism” of Israel.

Durban IV, slated to take place on Sept. 22, has already been rejected by the United States, Canada, Germany, Israel, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Italy must follow suit.

At the first “anti-intolerance” conference in Durban, South Africa 20 years ago, the slogans declaring Israel to be a racist, apartheid and genocidal state were not only hateful; they were lies. The Jewish state, in fact, is passionately democratic.
Russia hosts Jordan’s king, hints at UAE deal
King Abdullah II of Jordan met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. They discussed the situation in Syria and Afghanistan, according to Russian media reports. “Of course, we hope for an exchange of views on the most pressing matters…They are the normalization of the situation in Syria and the current escalation in Afghanistan,” Putin said.

These comments come during an important military event in Russia and Russian outreach to the UAE, as well as S-400 deliveries to India and Russian-Iran ties which are growing.

It is part of Russia’s interest in expanding its role in the Middle East and in Afghanistan. Russia has been talking to Turkey about coordinating relations with the Taliban, and Russia may hold a joint military drill with China and Iran later this year or in 2022, Iran’s Tasnim media said. The Russian ambassador announced that the exercises of the three countries will focus on maritime security and the fight against piracy, Iran’s media reported.

“Apart from Russia, Iran and China, countries such as India, Syria and Venezuela will also participate in this exercise.” Russia will also support Iran’s application to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This organization increasingly is seen as a Russian and Chinese balance to declining US global hegemony. “Moscow and Tehran have similar positions on some international and regional issues,” the report says.
Gregg Roman: Russia Sent S-300 Anti-Missile Systems to Protect Syria from Israel Because of Joe Biden’s Weakness
Gregg Roman, chief operations officer of the Middle East Forum, said President Joe Biden’s foreign policy and military “disaster” in Afghanistan led to Russia’s provision of S-300 and Pantsir anti-missile systems to Syria for use against Israel’s military.

Roman contrasted the Biden administration’s actions in Afghanistan with America’s surrender of Saigon at the conclusion of the Vietnam War on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday with host Joel Pollak.

“If you saw Vietnam as being the last disastrous withdrawal that the United States had in 1975, leading to the abdication of the U.S. supremacy in Southeast Asia from ’75 until maybe about 2000 to 2001 … [then] this is the equivalent for the Middle East,” Roman held.

He continued, “This is a sign to every single Islamist organization and every single dictator that the U.S. has tried to face down — not just for the past 20 years since 9/11, but for the past 41 years, since the Iranian Islamic Revolution — that the U.S has abandoned its commitment — not just in terms of dollars, not just in terms of blood, but in terms of its will to fight wars that have to be won, not just wars that end up in a status of stasis or end up in stalemate.”

“I think that this is Joe Biden’s first and probably greatest foreign policy — if not military — disaster, not just of his term in office so far, but this will be a hallmark and what marks his foreign policy for at least the first term of his presidency.”
Meretz's Arab MK Calls for Direct Negotiations with Hamas
Israeli lawmaker Esawi Frej (Meretz) called on Tuesday for Israel to negotiate with Hamas directly, sans mediator.

Speaking with radio 103 FM, Frej, who serves as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s regional cooperation minister, questioned the need for mediators when dealing with the terrorist group, saying Israel should handle the issue by itself.

As a matter of policy, Israel does not negotiate with terrorists, and any contacts with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah are conducted through mediators. Egypt has spearheaded negotiations with Hamas for years, while Israel is usually assisted by an E.U. member state when dealing with Hezbollah.

“The PLO was a terrorist group and [its leader Yasser] Arafat was an arch-terrorist. And [former Israeli premiers Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Ehud] Barak and [Yitzhak] Rabin all met with him and reached deals,” said Frej.

“Why do we need mediators to talk to Hamas? We should be talking to them directly, not through third parties,” Frej said.

Asked about potential fresh hostilities vis-à-vis the terrorist groups in Gaza, the minister said, “This ritual we started in 2005 — [terror] tunnels, missiles, demonstrations, balloons, wars, civilians being killed, the suffering and anguish of residents—this ritual keeps repeating itself. Unless we have the courage to think outside the box on how to resolve things, we are doomed to repeat them.”
IDF Strikes Gaza After Arson Balloons
Hamas appears to be increasing the pressure on Israel, using border clashes and incendiary balloons

Israel and Hamas are once again heading towards a new confrontation in Gaza, as the militant group encourages further violent protests along its border, a security official said on Monday.

The official told Channel 12 that Hamas is seeking to increase the pressure on Israel by renewing both the protests on the Gaza border and the launching incendiary balloons from the Strip.


Report: Hamas Vows to Stop Launching Arson Balloons Following Talks With Egypt
Hamas agreed on Tuesday to stop launching incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel following talks with Egypt, Palestinian media Al-Ayyam reported.

The launching of incendiary balloons set off fires in southern Israel on Monday and provoked retaliation from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), hitting several Hamas targets on Monday evening.

The IDF said in a statement that “fighter jets struck a Hamas weapons manufacturing site in Khan Yunis as well as a terrorist tunnel entrance in Jabalia.”

“A Hamas underground rocket launch site that is located adjacent to civilian homes and a school in Shejaiya was also struck,” the IDF added. Shejaiya is located east of Gaza City.

Later that night, the IDF said, Hamas fired machine guns into Israeli territory, leading Israeli warplanes to attack a tunnel entrance in Khan Younis.

Earlier on Monday, Israel Fire and Rescue Services investigators determined that arson balloons launched from the Gaza Strip caused at least nine fires that broke out in southern Israel.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all actions taken toward its territory.

Israel and Hamas fought for 11 days in May with the Gaza-based terrorist organization firing thousands of rockets at Israeli territory and Israel responding with targeted airstrikes in the Palestinian coastal enclave.


BBC’s Bateman shoehorns Israel into reports on Palestinian vaccinations
Listeners would obviously understand from Bateman’s portrayal that the Palestinian Authority has to date only received enough doses to fully immunise around 20% of the population under its responsibility: one million out of five million. According to the ‘Our World in Data’ website, as of August 16th 8.4% of Palestinians were fully vaccinated (429,818) and an additional 4.3% (218,577) were partially vaccinated. Clearly “the issue of limited supplies of vaccines” is by no means the sole factor at work but Bateman showed little interest in exploring the reasons why “vaccine hesitancy” among the Palestinian population has resulted in less than half a million people being immunised to date.

Bateman did not bother to clarify to BBC audiences that 41% of the population in the Gaza Strip and 36% of the population in PA controlled areas (38% overall) is under the age of 14 and hence not currently included in WHO recommendations which advise vaccination from age 18 upwards except in cases of high risk at younger ages. The median age in the Gaza Strip is 18, meaning that about half the population of around two million is not currently intended for vaccination. In other words, “enough to vaccinate around a million Palestinians” actually means that a higher proportion of the target population could have been fully vaccinated by now.

The failure to provide relevant information concerning demographics hinders audience comprehension of the figures given in both of Bateman’s reports. His focus on talking points relating to Israel rather than any serious examination of why less than half the number of Palestinians who could have been fully immunised at this stage have actually received the vaccine is clearly not conducive to building audience understanding of the story he purports to report.


BESA: A New Palestinian Authority NGO Decree Might Halt US Aid to the West Bank and Gaza
President Joe Biden has said he wants to resume aid to the Palestinians, but recent Palestinian laws are making it difficult for him.

Congress has banned US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), citing the PA’s incitement of terrorists and financial rewards to terrorists and their families. To open the way for aid to Palestinians, the Biden team is distinguishing between the PA, which Congress has deemed pro-terrorist, and Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which Congress has not classified as such. But the PA has blurred that distinction.

If Congress determines that NGOs are no longer independent of the PA, or that US-provided NGO funding will be shunted into the PA treasury, it could compel the administration to suspend all US aid to the West Bank and Gaza.

The PA’s recent Law-by-Decree No. 7/2021 is the latest in more than two decades of PA actions aimed at eroding the independence of civil society. The decree requires that NGO work plans “conform” with those of the PA. It authorizes Palestinian officials to transfer NGO funds to the PA treasury with virtually no transparency. It also imposes new fees on NGOs, effectively compelling donors to NGOs to subsidize the PA. If US aid is caught up in that scheme, it would violate US laws prohibiting economic assistance to the PA.

Congress can be expected to examine the PA’s control of NGOs as part of its oversight of US aid.

This study summarizes the PA’s gradual nationalization of Palestinian civil society organizations. It recommends that Congress review which US funds have ended up in the PA treasury, examine whether NGOs are independent of the PA, and determine whether US economic aid is precluded by Law-by-Decree No. 7/2021 or other PA laws and regulations.
UN, EU denounce Palestinian Authority for arresting activists
The UN and the EU expressed concern Tuesday over a spate of arrests of activists by Palestinian security forces, amid sustained protests following the death of a leading government critic.

Demonstrators in the West Bank have demanded justice since the June death of Nizar Banat — an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority and its 86-year old President Mahmoud Abbas. Banat died in custody after security forces stormed his home in the flashpoint city of Hebron and dragged him away.

The United Nations human rights office said it was “deeply concerned at continuing pressure on those seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in Palestine.”

It said the security forces had arrested 23 people in Ramallah on Saturday on the grounds that “they were holding a public protest,” but noted that 21 of them “were detained before any protest had even started.”

It said “more arrests appear to be taking place” targeting “well-known human rights defenders and political activists,” and called for “the immediate release without charge of these individuals.”


Emboldened Iran To Hold War Drills With Russia and China
Iran is set to hold a series of war drills with Russia and China, as the hardline regime celebrates the United States' bungled evacuation in Afghanistan and boosts its enrichment of nuclear weapons-grade uranium to historically high levels.

Iranian and Russian leaders announced on Monday that their countries, along with China, will hold joint maritime war exercises in the Persian Gulf later this year or early in 2022, according to Iran’s state-controlled media. The countries said they will focus on "shipping security and combating piracy" as the United States reduces its military footprint in the region following its marred withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The announcement comes as the rogue countries step up their involvement in war-torn Afghanistan amid a hurried effort by the Biden administration to evacuate U.S. personnel from the country. Iran, Russia, and China have all expressed an interest in replacing the United States as a powerbroker in the nation and working with the newly installed Taliban government. Iran's foreign ministry announced that "Iran is in contact with all parties in Afghanistan to pave the ground for dialogue and reconciliation" and that the Russian and Chinese embassies remain functioning.

Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, celebrated what he called America's "military failure" in Afghanistan last week, saying the Biden administration's "military defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security, and durable peace in Afghanistan." Iranian officials also have sought to increase ties with the Taliban, historically a regional enemy, as it expands its footprint in the region.

As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates for the United States, Iran has increased its enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported late last week that Iran produced uranium metals that were enriched up to 20 percent purity for the first time in its history. It also amped up its uranium enrichment program to 60 percent purity, a threshold level that allows the regime to produce the fuel needed for a nuclear weapon.











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