Thursday, September 30, 2021

From Ian:

Is It Time to Say, "Who Cares"?
No one in the U.S., including the president, has the power to settle the conflict with the Palestinians (see the Rogers Plan, Reagan Plan, Camp David Accords, Clinton Parameters, Middle East Road Map, Kerry Plan, and Deal of the Century). There is no magic formula that is yet to be discovered to change the status quo. Peace will only come when the Palestinians decide they are prepared to give up their delusions of having a state from the river to the sea where every Palestinian can return to the homes they lived in before 1949.

Who cares what professors think about Mideast policy? The Washington Post published a survey of 557 professors where 65% agreed the current situation is akin to Afrikaner South Africa. If they are using the university to indoctrinate students with their personal agendas, they are committing academic malpractice.

Who cares about people who deny Israel's right to exist? Abba Eban said: "Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its 'right to exist.' Israel's right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel's legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement....There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its 'right to exist' a favor, or a negotiable concession."

Who cares about anti-Semites telling Jews the definition of anti-Semitism excludes them? Racists don't get to tell non-whites what constitutes racism. We have an internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism.

People need to stop telling Jewish students to be scared because it is making them fearful. We never did that in the past when things were no less hostile on campus. We should be creating muscular Jews - proud, knowledgeable and confident - not snowflakes.
2 states for 2 peoples? Try 4 states for 1 people
With the return to power of former US President Barack Obama's team, we are once again hearing murmurings of "two states for two peoples." It is being reinforced by political media agencies with the aim of suppressing thought, but above all else – it conceals a lie.

What is meant by the term "Palestinian people"? What Palestinian people is deserving of a state to be called "Palestine"? They all pretend as if this was a population that lives in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, based on the fiction that Israel "occupied" these territories, which in fact were occupied for generations, by the Jordanian regime, and were never under "Palestinian" rule. Does this refer only to the residents of Area A, in which the Palestinian Authority already enjoys partial autonomy? Should we add to this the Gaza Strip? What about the 5 million pseudo-Palestinian "refugees" (originally numbering 600,000 people), who have been waiting 73 years to enjoy the "right of return"? The return to what territory exactly? If we are to believe the statements from Palestinian leaders, this right of return will pertain to the State of Israel's territory on the 1967 borders.

It is clear, therefore, from the Palestinian statements that they are referring to more than the territory that was "occupied" following the Arab defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War. The territory of the entire State of Israel is on the line, and no Palestinian state will yield its demand for the unification of territories and populations. Let us not forget there is yet another branch of the Palestinian "people" that constitutes 70% of the population in Jordan, in which a Bedouin minority controls the throne. A glance at this landscape raised two geostrategic questions:
How will the West Bank be connected to Gaza? Any land-based connection will cut Israel in two and expose it to the threat of infiltration, and this is in an era in which the Negev Region is already seen as a kind of no man's land. Do we intend to bring back the Polish Corridor? That territory, which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea and divided the bulk of Germany from East Prussia, was the pretext for the Nazi invasion of Poland that marked the beginning of World War II.
Why Iraqis hate Palestine
As the world watched the US Marines pull down Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad, on April 9, 2003, and as Iraqis defaced every Saddam poster or mural around the country, other Iraqis did one more thing that went uncovered. Hundreds stormed the Palestinian neighborhood in Baghdad and threw rocks on its residents, forcing them to flee. All the Palestinians in Iraq, numbering five thousand, relocated to Treybeel, on the Iraqi border with Jordan, where the UN constructed a makeshift refugee camp. The UN eventually resettled those Palestinians around the world. Today, there is barely any Palestinian who lives anywhere in Iraq. Palestinians are simply not welcome among Iraqis.

When Saddam Hussein ordered his troops to invade Kuwait in 1990, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat stood next to the Iraqi tyrant as both men paraded the army that had just decimated a fellow Arab country. The more Saddam found himself isolated because of invading Kuwait, the more he leaned on the “Palestinian Cause” and Arafat, who had himself become irrelevant and living in Tunisia but was enjoying the largesse of oil-rich Iraq.

Until 1990, Saddam had sponsored Arafat’s rivals, including the most notorious global terrorists such as Abu-Nidal, who ordered the assassination of Israel’s ambassador in London, which precipitated the 1982 Lebanon War. Another Palestinian terrorist Saddam hosted was Abul-Abbas, whose claim to fame included recruiting Samir Kuntar, who killed a family in northern Israel and was serving a life in prison until Hezbollah freed him in a prisoner swap that had ignited the 2006 Lebanon War. But by 1990, Saddam was not seeking mercenaries, only legitimacy that he found in Arafat.

When America launched Operation Desert Storm that ejected Saddam’s troops from Kuwait, the Iraqi dictator calculated that he could lineup the Arabs behind him by throwing 39 Skud missiles on Israel. He threw a dozen on Saudi Arabia too. The Arabs — including radicals like Syria’s Assad and Libya’s Qadhafi — never took Saddam’s side. Only Palestinians took to the streets and cheered for Saddam, shouting “Oh Saddam our love, hit Tel Aviv” (it rhymes in Arabic).

Saddam’s love story with the Palestinians continued throughout the 1990s, but unhappy with Arafat’s peace with Israel, Saddam started sponsoring Hamas, whose campaign of suicide bombings, throughout the 1990s, aborted peace and resulted in the Second Intifada in 2000. To every family of a Palestinian “martyr,” Saddam offered 5,000 Euros.

Israeli Foreign Minister in Bahrain to Sign Deals, Open Embassy
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid flew to Bahrain on Thursday on the highest-level Israeli visit to the Gulf state since the countries established formal relations last year.

Lapid, who landed at Bahrain’s international airport in an Israir plane with an olive branch painted on its nose, will inaugurate Israel’s embassy in Manama and hold talks with his Bahraini counterpart.

Bahrain and Gulf neighbour United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel last year in a US-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords that built on shared business interests and worries about Iran. Sudan and Morocco followed suit.

“We see Bahrain as an important partner, on the bilateral level but also as a bridge to cooperate with other countries in the region,” the spokesperson said.

In Gaza, the Islamist Hamas group criticized Bahrain for hosting Lapid, who returns to Israel on Thursday evening. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said this represented “an encouragement” of what he described as Israeli “crimes against our Palestinian people and their sacred sites.”

The accords have also been criticized by Bahraini opposition figures, speaking largely from abroad, as well as locals who stand against normalization.

UK Labour leader ‘welcomes Israel-Arab diplomatic normalization’
Leader of the UK Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer has said he welcomes the Abraham Accords agreements between Israel, the United Emirates and Bahrain, and that he welcomes diplomatic normalization between Israel and Arab countries.

His comments were made to the Labour Friends of Israel lobbying group during the current Labour Party annual conference, and came following a motion passed by delegates calling for an arms boycott and other sanctions against Israel for its policies toward the Palestinians.

“We must bring people together... not drive them apart with boycotts. That’s the path forward for Israelis and Palestinians,” said Starmer, although it is unclear exactly when his comments were recorded.

“Labour welcomes the Abraham Accords and the growing diplomatic normalization between Israel and its Arab neighbors. This will enhance prosperity and security for all peoples across the region.”

Starmer praised the new Israeli government for including an Arab party, Ra’am, in the coalition, and said that he is “encouraged by the steps the government is taking to repair relations with the Palestinian Authority and its proposals to tackle the terrible plight of the people of Gaza.”

He added that he is seeking to visit Israel as soon as possible, and that he is “committed to doing all I can to continue rebuilding the important bond with our friends in Israel.”
Saudi Arabian Textbooks Show Improvement
A new IMPACT-se report finds further dramatic improvements in Saudi textbooks in 2021.

The research on the Saudi Arabian school curriculum shows a trend of continuous improvement and dramatic changes over the span of just one year. The textbooks have removed or edited several lessons demonizing Jewish people, Christians, and other "non-believers."

An entire textbook unit on jihad was taken out of the curriculum, the unit advocating violence to spread Islam and protect Muslim land.

Items removed from 2021 Saudi textbooks include forbidding friendships with Jews and Christians, called "infidels" as they are "enemies of God" and lessons justifying and praising violence and murder on behalf of the Prophet Mohammad.

“The trend of significant reforms to the Saudi textbooks that we noted last year is continuing, reinforcing the view that we are witnessing a clear Saudi governmental policy of making rapid improvements to its textbooks in line with standards of peace tolerance in school education," says Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se.

"The country’s rulers have stated their aim of preparing Saudi children with the skills to positively interact with the different cultures and world-views that they may encounter, and this textbook reform is a key element. The improvements this year build on the significant changes instituted in 2020, following our report being presented to the Saudi authorities. IMPACT-se is gratified that so much of the offending material that we noted has now been removed.”

"My Friends Joined the Islamic State, I Enlisted in the IDF"
Until a few years ago, Yoel Levi, 21, never thought that one day he would live in Israel and enlist in one of Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) combat units.

He was born in Melilla, an autonomous Spanish city located on the northwest coast of Africa next to Morocco where the majority of the population is Muslim.

"Everyone thought my mother was a Muslim and my father a Christian. Had they known I was Jewish, it would not have been good for me," he says in Hebrew, a language he only learned in the past year.

"Melilla has changed. In the past, there were many Jews there but now there are almost none."

Levi claims that Melilla has turned into an Islamic State hub in recent years. "If you ask children what they want to do when they grow up, the answer for many would be to wage a 'holy war,' which means terrorist attacks."

As he was about to graduate high school, something began to change inside the young man after he had learned that three of his classmates joined the jihadist group. "Every time they talked about Israel, which of course they would call Palestine, I would see the hatred in their eyes," he recalls.
The making of a terrorist hero
Members of Knesset from the Joint Arab List are happy this week. Their national hero, Khalida Jarrar, was released from Israeli jail after two years, and they are now making pilgrimages to her home and calling her on the phone to congratulate her.

Jarrar is a Palestinian Authority parliament member who was convicted for her activities as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization, whose members carried out an attack in Samaria in 2018, murdering 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and seriously wounding her father and sibling.

MK Ayman Odeh visited her at her home near Ramallah, hailed her as a freedom fighter, saluted her and of course, vowed that the "occupation" would not win. MK Aida Touma-Sliman publicly glorified the "Palestinian leader who finally left prison," while MK Ofer Cassif boasted that he spoke with Jarrar over the phone to congratulate her on being released. In earlier chapters of this story, even MKs from the Labor and Meretz parties advocated for and acted on her behalf on various occasions.

Our expectations from the Joint Arab List are so low, that it isn't even "news" when their Knesset members make pilgrimages to meet a terrorist leader. When MK Itamar Ben-Gvir hangs a picture of Baruch Goldstein on his living room wall, it sparks public outrage and a media frenzy of condemnation. When MKs publicly laud and congratulate a member of the PFLP on every stage imaginable – it's not even a newsflash.
Palestinian Killed After Firing on Israeli Forces Near Jenin
A Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist was killed after firing on Israeli security forces in the village of Burqin near Jenin on Thursday morning, according to Israel Police.

Border Police undercover officers were shot at from close rage during a riot while they were operating in the village. The agents fired back at the terrorist, killing him and seizing the Carlo submachine gun he used to fire at them.

The Palestinian was identified as Alaa Nasser Zayoud, 22, a terrorist in the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel Police said that there were no casualties to the forces, who were conducting arrests of suspects and locating weapons as part of a larger campaign to root out Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the area.

The anti-terror operation involved the Border Police and Israeli soldiers from the Kfir Brigade’s Haruv urban warfare unit.

Five Palestinian suspects were killed early Sunday morning in separate incidents in the West Bank during gunfights with Israeli forces that saw two IDF soldiers seriously wounded in Burqin.

Israeli officials said that the operations targeted a Hamas cell, preventing a major terrorist attack.

Israeli ‘extra-judicial executions' slammed by PA, demanding international protection
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday accused Israel of carrying out “extra-judicial executions” and called on the United Nations to provide protection for the Palestinians.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), meanwhile, called on Palestinians to step up the “resistance” against Israel in response to the killing of a gunman near Jenin and a woman who tried to stab police officers in the Old City of Jerusalem early Thursday.

In the village of Burkin, near Jenin, soldiers shot and killed 22-year-old Alaa Zyoud, a member of the PIJ’s armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades.

Hours later, police officers shot and killed Israa Khuzaimia, a mother of three from the town of Kabatiya, also near Jenin. The woman was shot while she tried to carry out a stabbing attack near the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The PLO accused Israel of killing the two “in cold blood” and called on the international community to assume its responsibilities toward “the enforcement of international and humanitarian laws in the occupied territories.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned “in the strongest terms the two heinous field executions committed by the occupation forces and its police in both Jerusalem and Burkin.”

According to the ministry, the killings are the direct result of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s evasion of the Palestinian issue during his speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this week.
Palestinians Demand Cancellation of Agreement Signed with U.S. to Resume UNRWA Funding
Palestinian factions in Gaza organized a conference on Sept. 14 to call for the revocation of the framework between the United States and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The conference, which was organized in al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, was attended by hundreds of citizens. The Palestinian flag was raised while several banners stressed “the refugees’ rejection of the conditional funding of UNRWA and the rejection of the agreement.”

The Framework for Cooperation between the UNRWA and the US for 2021-2022 called for restoring US funding to the UN agency after it was cut off for several years under former US President Donald Trump.

The framework, signed in July, stipulates, “The US will not make any contributions to UNRWA except on the condition that UNRWA takes all feasible measures to ensure that no part of the US contribution is used to assist any refugee receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestinian Liberation Army or any other guerrilla organization or has participated in any terrorist act.”

Under the framework, the US paid an additional $135 million to the agency.

Palestinian national and Islamic parties in the Gaza Strip led protests back on July 15 against the framework.

In April, the US government resumed its financing for UNRWA with $150 million. In May, the US also provided about $33 million in humanitarian assistance to UNRWA in response to the difficult humanitarian conditions that followed the military confrontation between the resistance factions in Gaza and Israel.
Palestinian woman tries to stab cop in Jerusalem Old City, is shot dead – police
A Palestinian woman was shot dead as she attempted to stab police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City early Thursday morning, police said.

According to police, the woman approached the officers near the Chain Gate leading to the Temple Mount at around 6:30 a.m., took out a knife and tried to stab them. The officers opened fire, shooting the woman.

“Medical forces who arrived at the scene later pronounced her death,” police said.

None of the officers were injured in the attack, according to police.

The Palestinian woman was said to be roughly 30 years old, from the town of Qabatiya, outside Jenin, in the northern West Bank. It was not immediately clear how she entered Israel.

Police closed off the area and brought in a sapper to ensure that the woman did not have an explosive device on her.
Palestinian teen to be charged over Jerusalem Central Bus Station stabbing
A Palestinian teenager was set to be indicted Thursday for allegedly stabbing two people in a terror attack outside the Jerusalem Central Bus Station earlier this month, according to police.

Basil Shawamra, a 17-year-old from the Hebron area, is accused of stabbing two people in a store next to the bus station on September 13, moderately wounding them. He was shot by a police officer as he fought with one of the victims and hospitalized in serious condition.

According to a police statement, Shawamra entered Israel with a friend earlier that day after telling family he was going to pick up his salary. Once in Jerusalem, he came to the bus station via the light rail from the French Hill neighborhood.

Before allegedly carrying out the attack, the suspect published posts on social media praising terrorism and expressing solidarity with Hamas, according to police.

Police said prosecutors would ask the Jerusalem District Court to keep Shawamra in custody until the end of legal proceedings.
The Middle East has a terrorist club - opinion
Hamas was one of the first to congratulate the Taliban. “The demise of the American occupation and its allies proves that the resistance of the peoples, foremost of which is our struggling Palestinian people, will achieve victory,” Hamas stated the day Kabul fell to the Afghani terrorist organization.

Welcoming “the defeat of the American occupation on all Afghan land,” Hamas praised the Taliban’s “courageous leadership on this victory, which was the culmination of its long struggle over the past 20 years.” The Taliban, in turn, declared that Israel is the only country it would not establish relations with.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who moved to Qatar from Gaza in 2019, and Taliban leaders, who opened a Doha office in 2013, reportedly met in May, soon after the last Hamas-Israel conflict. “The end of the US occupation of Afghanistan is a prelude to the end of the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine,” Haniyeh told the Taliban’s Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who today is Afghanistan’s deputy prime minister.

Does Hamas, which has sought for more than 34 years Israel’s eradication, have a new sense of confidence in fulfilling its founding Charter, to establish an Islamic state on what is now Israel, including Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza?

Hamas’s governance of Gaza is not an existential threat to Israel, but it is the roadblock to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, and particularly to resolving the quandary of the Palestinian coastal enclave that Israel left in 2005. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, there has been an uptick in Hamas violence – rockets, incendiary balloons, an IDF soldier shot dead, and protests along the border – that undermines the May ceasefire ending the 11-day Hamas-initiated battle that involved firing 4,000 rockets and missiles into Israel. Not even a fresh delivery of Qatari cash to aid Gazans has quieted Hamas for a moment.
The Real Palestinian 'Heroes': Terrorists
As far as [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas and the PA leadership are concerned, any Palestinian who joins the jihad (holy war) against Israel and Jews and gets killed, wounded or imprisoned is a "hero" and a "freedom fighter." This is the same PA that the Biden administration is now working to strengthen.

This approach by the PA leadership has sent a message to generation after generation among the Palestinians that the murder or injuring of a Jew is a noble deed that earns the perpetrator boundless respect – even adoration.

This is the theater of the absurd, where a senior Palestinian official condemns Israel for making an effort to recapture convicted terrorists who murdered and injured several Jews and are serving lengthy sentences. Israel, according to this official, should stand aside while terrorists escape from prison and return to murdering Jews.

What Abbas, the PLO and Fatah have been saying – in Arabic – about the terrorists over the past few days reveals the Biden administration's talk about reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for what it really is: a fatal phantasm.

Under such circumstances, how could Abbas – or any Palestinian leader – ever return to the negotiating table with Israel, regardless of how many hundreds of millions of dollars the Biden administration decides to waste on the Palestinians' worthless words.
PMW: PA PM Shtayyeh repeats Abbas’ vow that last penny will be paid to terrorist prisoners
If foreign donors have not understood it by now, the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh spelled it out yet again: The PA will never stop paying salaries to terrorists:
PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh: “From our perspective, the prisoners are the heart of the Palestinian national movement throughout history… The US is punishing us, and Israel is punishing us because we are taking care of the prisoners’ affairs. As President Abbas says: “Even if we are left with one penny, we will take care of them.”These people are our children and we will protect them like we protect every central element of the Palestinian public.”

[Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, Sept. 14, 2021]

The PA also regularly ensures the Palestinian public that under all circumstances the financial rewards for terror will continue. Over 40 times official PA TV has broadcast a filler praising PA Chairman Abbas for various achievements. Part of the video shows Abbas vowing to pay his “last penny” to terrorists – be they prisoners, wounded, or “Martyrs”:
PA TV narrator: “Armed with the power of the right, adhering to the national principles, defying the political pressures, defending Jerusalem… Despite the blackmail, he defends the right of the Martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners.”

Mahmoud Abbas: “A blessing is sent to our loyal Martyrs, our prisoners, and their families who are standing firm and bearing their suffering with patience. We say to them, to the families of the Martyrs, that we will defend their rights regardless of the price we’ll have to pay. I won’t submit to what Israel has requested. I won’t submit. Even if I’m left with one penny, I’ll pay it to the families of the Martyrs, to the prisoners, and to the wounded, and I won’t withhold this from them.”

[Official PA TV, June 4 (twice), 5 (twice), 6 (four times), 9 (twice), 11 (twice), 12, 15, 16 (twice), 18, 19, 20, 22, 26, 28, 30, July 2, 3 (twice), 4, 6, 7, 8, 13 (twice), 17 (twice) 23, 26, Aug. 9 (three times), 13, 14, 20, 21, 29, 30 (twice), 2021]

PA TV committed to follow report on terrorist’s daughter born from sperm smuggled from prison
Official PA TV reporter: “Viewers, this is Milad, who was born from smuggled sperm in spite of the jailer. She is the other face of the freedom tunnel…

Regarding prisoner Walid Daqqa (i.e., murderer of 1) and the birth of his daughter Milad, we actually followed this entire process ever since Milad was born. We took it upon ourselves to convey the image of Milad to her father."

Walid Daqqa - Israeli Arab terrorist and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Daqqa was part of the squad that kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam in August 1984. Daqqa is serving life in prison.

“The freedom tunnel” refers to the escape tunnel dug by 6 terrorist prisoners in the 2021 Gilboa Prison escape – 6 Palestinian terrorist prisoners escaped from Israel's Gilboa Prison on Sept. 6, 2021, by widening the hole of the shower drainpipe in the floor of their cell. One terrorist is from Fatah - Zakariya Zubeidi, and the other five are from Islamic Jihad - Ayham Kamamji, Muhammad Ardah, Mahmoud Ardah, Yaqub Qaderi, and Munadil Nafiyat. Four of the terrorists were recaptured after five days: Zubeidi, Ardah, Ardah, and Qaderi. Kamamji and Nafiyat were arrested in Jenin on Sept. 18, 2021 along with two accomplices.

Zubeidi was head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Fatah's military wing) in the Jenin area during the PA terror campaign (the second Intifada, 2000-2005), when he oversaw numerous lethal attacks, and he also carried out shooting attacks in 2018-2019.

Kamamji participated in the murder of 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri on June 25, 2006, and planned to blow up a bus using an exploding car. Muhammad Ardah participated in initiating and executing a suicide bombing on bus no. 823 on Nov. 29, 2001, in which 3 people were murdered and many others were wounded.

Mahmoud Ardah was involved in numerous attacks; the website of Islamic Jihad’s military wing defined him as the "commander" of the prison escape.

Qaderi committed a shooting attack on Sept. 18, 2002 with an accomplice in which Israeli Yosef Ajami was murdered and a foreign worker was wounded.

Nafiyat was being held in administrative detention.

MEMRI: Lebanese Forces Party Official: Hizbullah Is Part Of Iran's Islamic Revolution, Aims To Change Lebanon's Character As A Civil State; Coexistence With It Is Impossible
On August 31, 2021, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi sent a letter to Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah thanking him for his words of congratulations upon Raisi's election to the presidency and praising Hizbullah and its activity, which, he said, "is no longer confined to Lebanon and Palestine." In his letter Raisi compared Hizbullah to a tree that produces fruit -- young jihad fighters and "the blood of the martyrs of the resistance" -- and called Hizbullah "the hope of the entire Islamic nation" and a regional element whose influence is such that "no political, military or security element in the region or the world can ignore it." He added that Hizbullah "can constitute a unique political model operating according to the religious principles and the directives of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei."[1]

This letter evoked a response from Charles Jabbour, head of the media and communications department of Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces party, known for its opposition to Hizbullah. In an article he published in the Lebanese daily Al-Jumhouriyya, which is identified with the party, he wrote that Raisi's letter proves once again that Hizbullah receives its orders from Iran's Supreme Leader, forms an integral part of Iran's Islamic revolution and acts to promote Iran's goals, one of which is to transform Lebanon from a civil state into a religious one. Jabbour stressed that this contravenes the Lebanese constitution, which defines Lebanon as a pluralistic civil state. Therefore, he said, there is no way to coexist with Hizbullah and maintain a stable country in its presence. According to Jabbour, Raisi's letter describes Hizbullah as a tool for establishing the Islamic nation and for confronting Israel. This, he said, belies the claim that Hizbullah has been marketing for years, namely that it is fighting Israel in order to defend Lebanon's sovereignty, and shows that Hizbullah is actually fighting Israel as part of the great Iranian program.

It should be noted that this article is part of the growing criticism voiced against Hizbullah by its opponents inside Lebanon, which regard it as a tool of the Iranian regime which violates Lebanon's sovereignty.
‘We Will Remove You’, Hezbollah Official Told Beirut Blast Judge
A senior official in the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah told the judge investigating the disastrous Beirut port blast that it would remove him from the probe, according to a journalist who says she conveyed the message and a judicial source.

Judge Tarek Bitar described the message in a letter to the public prosecutor, said the judicial source. The justice minister and judiciary were following up on the matter but a formal investigation has yet to be opened, the source said.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a judicial matter and judge Bitar’s letter was marked private.

Reuters could not reach Bitar, who is not permitted to speak to the media in his capacity as an investigating judge. He has not issued any statement about the matter since reports of the warning began circulating in Lebanese media last week.

Neither the Hezbollah official in question, Wafik Safa, nor other Hezbollah officials could be reached for comment.

More than 200 people died when a huge stockpile of chemicals stored unsafely at Beirut port for years exploded on Aug. 4, 2020.

Bitar is the second judge whose investigation has been stymied by powerful factions in Lebanon, where a lack of high-level accountability are blamed for systemic corruption, governing gridlock and economic meltdown.
Bennett's UN speech shows Israel has no real strategy against Iran
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's attacks against Iran in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Monday highlights Israel's strategic distress against the Islamic Republic as its nuclear program continues to rapidly progress.

The premier made an almost desperate call to the U.S. and its European allies to toughen up their stance on Tehran and take more drastic measures to halt its accelerating nuclear weapon.

Israel is mainly worried that the brakes former president Hassan Rouhani put on the pace of the nuclear program have been lifted under his ultra-conservative successor Ebrahim Raisi. There is no longer a moderate force in the leadership of the regime that can counteract the hardliner Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - along with the Revolutionary Guard and the mainly conservative parliament.

Israel fears that by the time the Americans and their allies come to their senses and understand what the new regime is really striving for, Iran will already be a nuclear threshold state or even on the verge of their first nuclear weapons' test.

Bennett's despair stems from the fact that Israel, at least for now, has no efficient, reliable and conventional military option to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions before they come to fruition, at least at a reasonable cost.

Israel needs not only to thwart Tehran's military nuclear capabilities, but to ensure they could not be rebuilt further down the road.
Iran to Challenge ‘Presence of Israel’ With Military Exercises on Border With Azerbaijan
Iran is set to hold military exercises on its border with Azerbaijan in an attempt to challenge what it claims is “the presence of the Zionist regime” in the area.

The exercises include a large amount of materiel, such as armored units and attack helicopters, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Azerbaijan has relatively warm relations with Israel, which include oil supplies to the Jewish state from Azerbaijan and military aid to Azerbaijan from Israel. This in stark contrast to Iran’s theocratic regime, which regularly calls for the genocide of Israel’s Jews and engages in crude antisemitic propaganda.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh explicitly connected the military exercises to what he called “the presence of Israel” in Azerbaijan.

“It’s clear that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime near its borders, and in this respect, it will implement any action it deems necessary for its national security,” he said.
FDD: The Sanctioned Cabinet of Ebrahim Raisi
The Cabinet1 of Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, represents the culmination of a decades-long political project by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to promote ultra-hardline elites to key leadership positions.2 Drawn from an increasingly narrow bench, Raisi’s appointees include several persons who served under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005–2013),3 who also harbored immense hostility to the West and stacked his Cabinet with veterans of Iran’s security forces.4

Reflecting this new constellation of power, Raisi’s Cabinet boasts 12 sanctioned individuals, more than any other in the history of the Islamic Republic. These persons are subject to overlapping international penalties imposed by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, and United Nations due to their role in Khamenei’s networks, support for Iran’s nuclear program, ties to terrorist groups, and human rights abuses. These 12 also hold some of the most important portfolios, including the ministries of defense, interior, and petroleum as well as two vice presidencies.

The Cabinet members under sanctions include eight persons on the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List,5 seven persons subject to UK sanctions,6 seven persons subject to EU sanctions,7 and one person on a UN sanctions list.8 The EU and UK lists mirror one another, and both entities will delist the same three persons come October 2023, pursuant to the implementation timeline of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).9 Similarly, UN sanctions will terminate in October 2023 pursuant to the same JCPOA implementation timeline.10 The other four EU and UK designations against members of Raisi’s Cabinet will remain, as they were issued under human rights-related authorities and are separate from each entity’s JCPOA commitments. Three of those four individuals have yet to be sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.11

While Raisi is by now known for serving on a “death commission” in 1988 that led to the execution of several thousand political prisoners, he is subject to U.S. sanctions for having been elevated by Khamenei to a state position.12 Several other Cabinet members have been designated under this broad and unique U.S. sanctions authority, which exposes and penalizes the supreme leader’s network of appointees.13 They include First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber,14 who previously led a multibillion-dollar holding company owned by the supreme leader, known by its acronym, EIKO,15 as well as three others.16
Young Iranians Increasingly Want Out
After years of sanctions, mismanagement and the pandemic, many prices in Iran have more than doubled since 2018, living standards have skidded, and poverty has spread, especially among rural Iranians.

All but the wealthiest have been brought low.

The darkening mood for middle-class Iranians can best be measured in the rush to leave the country after graduation, in delayed marriages and declining birthrates.

The rial plunged from 43,000 to the dollar in January 2018 to 277,000 this week, a decline that forced the government last year to slash four zeros off the bills.
Seth Frantzman: Iran's IRGC Quds Force head hints at group's power at home and Middle East
Recent years have seen an ascendancy of key individuals linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran. The IRGC already has a parallel state in Iran, controlling parts of the economy and foreign policy, and building up new military technologies such as missiles, drones and attack boats.

According to the Tasnim News Agency, IRGC Quds Force head Ismail Qaani congratulated Dr. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on his election as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a visit to the ministry.

Why does this matter? In the past, former IRGC Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani was seen as the “shadow commander” in reports, a figure who moved around the Middle East and pushed Iran’s agenda far and wide, but who did not often brag of his role. When the US killed Soleimani in a drone strike in January 2020, he was replaced by Qaani, a man of unclear abilities. Qaani was rumored to be an expert on Afghanistan, and it may be that his role there helped remove the US from Kabul this year, but his role in Iraq and Syria is not yet fully formed.

Nevertheless, the reports of his meeting at the Foreign Ministry seek to showcase his power and influence. In the meeting he emphasized “the special and significant position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in securing the national interests of our country,” the report said.

But why does the Ministry, previously run by Javad Zarif, who had fame in the West, need the blessings of the Quds Force? Because this illustrates the real power structure and how the ministry works hand in glove with the IRGC.
Iran: We Have Established Six Armies Outside Our Borders
Iranian Maj.-Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid said that Revolutionary Guards Gen. Qassem Soleimani announced, three months before his death, that he had organized six armies outside Iranian territory to defend Tehran against attack.

These armies include Lebanese Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the regime forces in Syria, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, and the Houthi militia in Yemen.
Seth Frantzman: Iran’s naval commander highlights naval success - analysis
A prominent Iranian military commander said that his country has “six armies outside its borders that work for it.”

Gholam Ali Rashid, the commander of what is known as “the headquarters of Khatam al-Anbiya”, said in statements carried by the Iranian Mehr Agency, that Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force, announced, three months before his death, that he had organized six armies outside Iranian territory.

He added that Soleimani was supported by the leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the General Staff of the Army.

He added that these armies have ideological tendencies, live outside Iran, and their mission is to defend Tehran against any attack, according to his claim.

In his statements, he also said that these armies include the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Hamas and Jihad movements, the regime forces in Syria, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, and the Houthi militia in Yemen, stressing that these forces represent a deterrent force for Iran.


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