Thursday, December 30, 2021

From Ian:

Mansour Abbas crossed the Rubicon, more need to follow
This conflict will not end until the rejectionists accept defeat and recognize the legitimacy and permanency of the Jewish State. Let’s not forget that this is the same Abbas who once said: “Since 1948, when all of the land of Palestine was occupied by the Zionist movement gangs, and this state was established, our people have been expelled from our land.”

However, this Abbas is no more because he has accepted that this worldview will not be victorious. It has been defeated.

Mansour Abbas has demonstrated that this can be achieved in a peaceful manner in a way that benefits both the Israeli Arab community and wider Israeli society.

Nevertheless, for the process that Abbas mentions to succeed and win the battle for hearts and minds in the Arab community against those like Salah, Israeli society, especially its leaders, have to embrace it. They have to show that there is a significant carrot for those who follow Abbas and reject Salah.

The defeat of Salah, and those who have slammed Abbas, like senior Palestinian Authority officials, is not just a victory for the Ra’am leader and his followers, but for all of Israel.

Hopefully, Mansour Abbas represents a large public, and support for him grows. There is no doubt that as this public grows, so will the rejectionism by the forces that oppose recognition and cooperation.

At the same time as embracing Abbas, Israeli leaders should increase the pressure on his and our opponents. There has to be a clear message to rejectionists that it will not be rewarded. Those like Raed Salah should be sitting in jail for more than a year and five months for incitement to violence. Inciting Palestinian leaders should not receive gifts in the form of the construction of 1,000 housing units in Area C of Judea and Samaria, and financial assistance.

Abbas has shown through act and deed that, as far as he is concerned, the conflict is over, the Jewish State will be preserved. We must understand the path that Abbas has taken, and ensure that more Arabs, on both sides of the Green Line, understand that the conflict is over and violent rejectionism will be defeated. This will then be a win for all.
INSS: The Beginning of the End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict?
In its familiar format, the Arab-Israeli conflict is fading away and we are now witnessing the beginning of the end. This is not the dream of peace that was promised by the Oslo process. It is possible that the threats to Israel have actually increased because of the actions of Iran. It certainly does not signal the end of the conflict with the Palestinians.

What is new is Israel's success in breaking the pan-Arab front against it, and in convincing the majority of the Arab countries to effectively acknowledge in their policy that a strong Israel is an essential condition for their survival. Violence and instability in the region remain as they were, but the axis of struggle is not between Israel and "the Arabs"; it is between an Arab-Israeli coalition, on the one hand, and Iran's Islamic Revolution and Erdogan's Turkey, on the other.

Most of the Arab states are unwilling to go to war against Israel, contribute concrete and significant national assets to the struggle against it, or refrain from cooperation with Israel on matters of importance to them. These positive trends depend predominantly on the image of Israel's power in the Arab environment.
UN inquiry comes with new independent façade, same anti-Israel bias
The notorious United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone Report, accused both the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian terrorists of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in the Gaza War of 2008-09. Only two years later did the report’s namesake, South African jurist Richard Goldstone, publicly retract the report’s accusations that it was Israeli government policy to deliberately target citizens. The damage had been done, though.

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in early 2010 of a “Goldstone effect,” ranking it alongside Iran’s nuclear program and the rocket arsenals of Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorists among the three main threats facing Israel, due to the headlines it generated and its use in public discourse.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the U.N. in Geneva confirmed to JNS that Israel will not cooperate or collaborate with the new commission.

According to the spokesperson, the commission’s first report will be submitted to UNHRC in June, before a summary is turned over to the U.N. General Assembly next December. While neither the UNHRC nor the General Assembly can produce a binding resolution with the force of law, the General Assembly could make recommendations that would require another body, such as the U.N. Security Council or, more critically, the International Criminal Court, to act.

But, unlike other U.N. Commissions of Inquiry, this one won’t end after six or nine months or even a year. It is set to carry on in perpetuity.

“The Inquisition lasted hundreds of years. This inquiry might, as well,” said Neuer.
Once Again, the UN Treats Israel Like the Most Evil Country on Earth
While tens of millions of poor souls are dying and starving under brutal regimes in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Congo and Somalia, among others, the UN decided last Thursday that only one country merits an open-ended investigation - Israel. What did the world's only Jewish state do this time? Last May, Israel decided it didn't want to see thousands of its citizens - Jews and non-Jews alike - perish at the hands of Hamas terror rockets. Israel's defense of its people triggered the UN's Human Rights Council, which voted to investigate Israel for possible "war crimes."

The way the UN treats Israel significantly worse than the most murderous and evil regimes on earth is itself a crime. Not only does it undermine the UN's credibility, it adds fuel to Jew-haters everywhere.

JPost Editorial: Gantz-Abbas meeting makes good common sense
Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s meeting in his Rosh Ha’ayin home Tuesday evening with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas neither heralds peace lurking around the corner nor portends a massive Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

What it does do is make good common sense.

Abbas is no lover of Zion. His history of Holocaust denial is despicable. His paying hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorists and their families is unconscionable, and his libel of Israel is contemptible. Yet he and the PA he heads are still better from an Israeli perspective than the Hamas alternative.

And make no mistake. If the PA goes down, those likely to come in its stead are not going to be benevolent actors. Just look at what happened in Gaza.

Israel has an interest in propping up the PA, as flawed and corrupt as it is, because security cooperation with the PA is important in keeping a lid on the violence in the West Bank, and because there must be an address if and when the time does come for serious diplomatic discussions. That address can only be the PA; it can’t and won’t be Hamas.

You cannot prop up those with whom you don’t interact, so dialogue is important and necessary.

As President Isaac Herzog rightly said, “I certainly think this dialogue is positive, and I think the very fact of the meeting is important and correct, especially during a challenging security period in Judea and Samaria. The security cooperation is an essential part in the war on terror.”
US ‘Very Pleased’ With Meeting in Israel Between Gantz, Abbas
The United States welcomed news of the meeting in Israel on Tuesday between the Jewish state’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the US was “very pleased” to hear of the diplomatic encounter.

“The US is very pleased Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted PA President Abbas at his home in Israel. We hope confidence-building measures discussed will accelerate momentum to further advance freedom, security, and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike in 2022,” Price posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

The meeting at Gantz’ residence in the central Israeli city of Rosh Ha’ayin on Tuesday night marked the first time since 2010 that Abbas met with a senior Israeli official inside the borders of the Jewish state.

It was the second meeting between the two since the new Israeli government was formed in June.

This past August, the defense minister traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah — the de facto administrative capital of the PA — to discuss security, political, civil, and economic issues with the Palestinian leader.

According to the Defense Ministry, Tuesday’s meeting lasted for two and a half hours, with part of the time spent with just Abbas and Gantz talking.
Lapid, Saudi FM were on US-hosted call together
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud were on a conference call with other top diplomats, organized by the US last week.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the call, which was about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and included several other foreign ministers.

The presence of the foreign ministers of Israel and Saudi Arabia, which do not have diplomatic relations was first reported by CNN and verified by The Jerusalem Post.

Following the Abraham Accords, in which Israel established diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco last year, the Trump administration attempted to convince Riyadh to normalize ties with Israel, even orchestrating a meeting between former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in November 2020.

Lapid tweeted after the December 21 call: “I participated in a Zoom for foreign ministers about Omicron, together with US Secretary of State Blinken and the foreign ministers of Japan, India, Mexico, Australia, Germany and many other countries.
British-Israeli Relations Have Entered a Golden Era
This is a golden age of Anglo-Israeli relations. In November, Parliament voted to proscribe Hamas in its entirety, rather than just its military wing, something for which Israeli governments have been lobbying for decades. With the latest round of nuclear negotiations with Iran in Vienna, Britain is leaning towards Israel in this fight. It seems unbelievable, but when it comes to Iran, this country is now more sympathetic to Israel than the U.S.

This profound sea change started with the Abraham Accords, the set of peace deals between Israel and several Arab states. Until that point, the Foreign Office had to balance closeness with Israel against valuable relations with important Arab states.

The benefits are obvious. Israel has been a world leader in terms of the fight against Covid. In terms of high-tech, Israel is now, relative to population, the most successful country in the world. It hosts 10% of the world's "unicorns," a new private company with a valuation of a billion dollars or more; not bad for a country smaller than Wales that is beset by enemies.
JCPA: For 10 Years Now Hamas Has Used Turkey as a Base to Operate Against Israel
A decade has passed since the official opening of Hamas’ offices in Istanbul, and Turkey is courting Israel anew.

Turkey collaborates with terror organizations on both the ideological and operational levels.

Terrorists working on Turkish soil establish infrastructures and plan terror attacks against Israel.

Hamas senior officials (most former inmates in Israel for terrorism who were released in a prisoner exchange) are operating from Turkey against Israel. Some have even been granted Turkish citizenship.

In December 2021, Israeli security forces broke up Hamas-linked terror cells in Nablus (Shechem) and Hebron in the West Bank. On December 12, 2021, Israel’s Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked signed an order banning the departure from the country of several known “senior Hamas activists” who, it was suspected, would link up with Hamas officials overseas.

Turkey today seeks another reconciliation with Israel. Israel should demand “payment in advance,” meaning that the Turks must first act against the Hamas operatives on their soil and prove that they are preventing them from continuing to act against Israel.

Only then will it be worth upgrading relations with Turkey to a level of understanding and cooperation – a goal that both sides certainly have an interest in promoting.
Why Hamas Is a Threat to Israel, the World and the Palestinians
Soumya Santosh, 32, from Kerala state, was on a video call with her husband in India on May 10, 2021, when a Hamas rocket hit the house she had been working in as a caregiver in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. She was killed immediately, while the elderly woman in her charge was hospitalized in serious condition. Many people like her, some foreigners, others Israelis, would be alive today were it not for indiscriminate terror attacks by Hamas.

We all believe in peace. We believe that even in the midst of the bitter animosities, conflicts can and should be resolved peacefully. Hamas is a radical Islamist terrorist organization, the Palestinian equivalent of the Islamic State. Its stated goal is the destruction of Israel. Hamas has fired over 27,000 rockets and mortar bombs at Israeli civilians since 2001, including over 4,300 in May 2021.

The writer is the Israeli ambassador to India.

Israeli Air Raid on Syrian Port Followed Arrival of Iranian Container Ship
Satellite imagery from Planet Labs shows the aftermath of Tuesday's Israeli airstrike on the Syrian port of Latakia. Multiple shipping containers were damaged as the result of four separate weapons impacts, although no apparent harm was done to the area immediately surrounding the port. The attack appears astonishingly precise, striking only individual or small groups of containers.

The attack may be connected to the arrival of the Iranian-flagged container vessel Shiba, which unloaded a consignment of containers at Latakia two days earlier. The ship is owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. for transporting military cargoes on behalf of Tehran.

Russian Deputy Admiral Oleg Zhuravlyov said Russian-operated air defense systems did not react because the attack coincided with the arrival of a Russian transport aircraft that landed at the main Russian airbase in Syria at Khmeimim, less than 10 miles away. However, it is known that Russia is notified by Israel in advance of Syrian airstrikes and there exists an agreement under which its air defenses do not engage the Israeli Air Force.

The attack is the second on Latakia port this month. It serves as a reminder that Israel is willing to take direct action to stop Iran from establishing a larger military foothold in Syria and to degrade its ability to bolster Hizbullah's arms stockpiles in Lebanon.
Seth Frantzman: The Latakia doctrine puts Russia in a bind
In the past, rumors have indicated that Russia and Iran do not share the same aims in Syria. Russia wants to strengthen the Syrian regime, which has made a major comeback recently. It has been speaking more with Gulf countries, Egypt and Jordan, as well as Iraq. The goal of these states is to bring it back to the Arab League.

Meanwhile, Iran wants to use the weakened Syrian regime to kind of hollow it out and make Syria an advanced Iranian base. That inevitably relies on the Syrian regime being weak and lets Iran run a swath of Syria from Albukamal to T-4 and areas near the Golan.

But letting the Iranian octopus openly put tentacles in Latakia would perhaps be a bridge too far for Moscow. Moscow doesn’t want a target on every key area of Syria. It wants the regime to have breathing space.

This means that Russia may hedge its bets in regard to what is happening in Latakia. However, that may also not be the case, and Moscow may be distracted by other tensions with the US over Ukraine.

There are many issues at play, not the least of which is the fact the US could leave eastern Syria or the Tanf base in the next year.

An Iran deal might influence that decision or Iranian attacks on US forces in Syria. This makes the current context a multisided puzzle.

Adding Latakia into that puzzle as an area of Iranian infiltration and trafficking in weapons makes the Syria conflict more complex, at a time when reports indicated there was far less fighting in Syria this year than in previous years.
Arabs Attack Israeli Buses near Jerusalem
Two Israeli buses were attacked by stone throwers in the Jerusalem area on Tuesday and Wednesday, N12 reported.

Israeli bus driver Abed al-Aziz Sonokrot, who was attacked on Tuesday night near the Hizma Junction north of Jerusalem, said, "All of the glass flew over my body and face, even inside my mouth....A similar incident happened to me last week."

On Wednesday morning in the same area, bus driver Pini Moyel said that he saw "some young Arabs sitting on the side of the road." One of them hurled "a very large rock" at the bus and "shattered my entire forward windshield."

More than 60 stone-throwing and terrorist incidents were recorded in the last month and a half in the area, with seven people injured.
Palestinian gets 21 years in jail for stabbing man in Rosh Ha’ayin terror attack
A Palestinian man was sentenced on Thursday to 21 years in prison for stabbing a man in a terror attack in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin last year.

Walid Mansour, from the town of Jenin in the West Bank, repeatedly stabbed Refael Levi, causing him seriously injuries, at a construction site in August 2020.

Mansour was convicted in Lod District Court in a plea deal after admitting guilt to charges of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm as an act of terrorism. In addition to the jail term, he was ordered by the court to pay a fine of NIS 200,000 (approximately $64,000).

The attack was initially investigated as a brawl, but after Levi awoke from a coma he gave investigators information that led them to change course and probe it as a terror attack.

According to the indictment, Mansour slipped through a hole in the West Bank security fence, armed with a knife. He encountered Levi at the building site, where the latter had an apartment under construction. The suspect is said to have lied to Levi, saying that he had keys to check on the apartments in the building, and the two went inside, ostensibly to review Levi’s property. Inside the building Mansour stabbed Levi some 20 times, leaving him in critical condition.

Taking his victim’s cellphone and car keys, he fled the scene and headed back to his hometown of Jenin.
HonestReporting: Media Distort Headlines Amid Rise in Palestinian Terror in West Bank
The Israel Defense Forces has released its annual report on Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank. Palestinian terror attacks reached a four-year high in 2021, with over 6,500 incidents in the last 12 months.

The report noted 5,532 incidents? of rock-throwing targeting vehicles and residents, 1,022 arson attacks, 61 shootings and 18 stabbings. Two Israeli civilians -- Yehuda Guetta on May 5 and Yehuda Dimentman on December 16 -- were killed.

Here's how leading media outlets framed just a few Palestinian terror attacks.

Fatah no longer has much reason to celebrate
When Fatah Day is celebrated on Jan. 1, it will be marked with a procession of several hundred mercenaries at the Muqata in Ramallah. However, by the time the procession reaches the end of the street, it will learn that the next generation is no longer there. Nor is the Arab world.

In the past, the Palestinian issue was of greater concern to certain Arab sectors than their own country's domestic affairs. This is the reason the Palestinian umbrella organization known as the Palestine Liberation Organization was the recipient of a great deal of money from individual donors, international organizations, and both Arab and non-Arab states. This financial support was accompanied by such great moral support that in some Arab states, cries of "We are all Palestine" were commonplace.

No more. The lack of motivation among Palestinian youths to launch a third Intifada is just one symptom of this phenomenon. Saudi, Moroccan, Emirati, and even Palestinian yuppies have had enough of the empty "Palestine First" slogan. In recent years, it has become evident that they have chosen to adhere to a new outlook, to the regret of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO, Fatah, and Hamas. This outlook is one of contempt for the Palestinian leadership, which is perceived as corrupt, anemic, and one whose time is up.

What brought about this change? The atrocities perpetrated by Arab rulers in Arab states led these people to rethink their perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For decades, they were educated to hate "child-killing" Israel. From watching what transpired in Iraq and Syria, they realized this was incitement, and there was no truth behind the propaganda. They discovered Israel was entirely different from their misconceptions.
PMW: The crux of Abbas’ Fatah remains: Terror and Martyrdom for “Palestine” as Fatah celebrates 57 years of terror
While PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is busy meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz for “trust building,” his Fatah Movement is preparing for its 57th anniversary on Jan. 1st, which celebrates Fatah’s 57 years of terror on the date of its first terror attack against Israel in 1965, attempting to blow up Israel's National Water Carrier.

But while Abbas is telling Gantz words of trust, a look at what his Fatah is telling Palestinians about Fatah’s values pretty much tears that trust to pieces.

As Fatah’s anniversary approaches, Abbas’ movement is reminding Palestinians what it’s all about: Terror and death as Martyrs for “Palestine”!

Celebrating the upcoming anniversary of the Intilaqa – “the Launch” of Fatah, Fatah’s branch in Hebron posted the poster above of masked men in military uniform wearing yellow Fatah headbands and holding assault rifles. The posted text states that Fatah’s goal is “victory” and “liberation” of all imprisoned terrorists:

PMW: Released terrorist says terrorist prisoners are Abbas' “loyal soldiers,” Abbas blesses him
Hussein Suleiman Al-Zre’i – Palestinian terrorist and member of the Islamic Jihad terror organization who committed shooting and mortar attacks against Israeli towns in Gush Katif, inside the Gaza Strip. Al-Zre’i was arrested on Dec. 20, 2002, and sentenced to 19 years. He was released in December 2021.

Defiant in War and Isolation, Hamas Plays Long Game in Gaza
Some 2,000 truckloads of fuel, cement and other goods entered Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing in September, nearly twice the monthly average in 2019 and 2020. Hamas collects tens of millions a month in taxes and customs at the Rafah crossing to pay its 50,000 civil servants and support its powerful armed wing, while international aid covers most of the basic needs of Gaza's 2 million residents.

UN agencies have spent more than $4.5 billion in Gaza since 2014, including $600 million in 2020. Qatar has sent $1.3 billion to Gaza since 2012 and its largesse can be seen in Gaza City, where Qatari funds were used to build a seaside promenade and expand a main road that runs past a Qatari-funded housing complex and the Qatari diplomatic mission. It all looks very prosperous, with families strolling past beach cafes, amusement parks and even luxury hotels. But the average Gazan only has 13 hours of electricity a day and tap water is undrinkable.

There has been almost no public opposition to Hamas within Gaza because Palestinians see no viable alternative. The Palestinian Authority is seen by many as corrupt and authoritarian. A poll this month found that 47% of Gazans would vote for Hamas if parliamentary elections were held, compared to 29% who would vote for PA President Abbas' Fatah.

MEMRI: Hamas Military Drill in Gaza Simulates Kidnapping IDF Soldiers, Attacking Israeli Military Positions
On December 29, 2021, Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) aired a report about a Hamas-led joint military drill named “Al-Rukn Al-Shadid 2.” In the drill, which included various armed factions in Gaza, forces simulated kidnapping Israeli soldiers and attacking Israeli military positions and vehicles. Khaled Mansour, a commander in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Jerusalem Brigades, said that the score has not yet been settled with the Israeli. Muhammad Abu Nasira, the General Commander of the Al-Nasser Salah Al-Din Brigades said that this drill is intended to prepare for a “war of liberation.” In addition, a group of armed fighters pledged to return all the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel., said that the resistance factions have put the issue of the Palestinian prisoners at the top of their priorities.

Muslim Brotherhood found a new home in Europe
After Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi overthrew the Egyptian government led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist leadership ended up in jail. The Economist tells us that Ibrahim Mounir, the new Supreme Guide, now lives and works from London, from which he "oversees the international network of the Brotherhood and has good relations with foreign governments".

"In the depths of the British capital, the Muslim Brotherhood office has become one of the most active branches of the Islamist group," writes Foreign Policy.

London was the "natural home" for the Islamic Brotherhood. It was already home to the Brotherhood's English-language site, "Ikhwanweb". Gomaa Amin, the second in command and the oldest member of the Brotherhood not in prison, also lives in London. The son of Essam al-Haddad, arrested by the Egyptian security forces, is one of the leaders of the London wing. They use facade foundations, such as Cordoba, which takes its name from the Spanish city that was long conquered by Islam.

The Sunday Telegraph revealed that the main hubs for the Brotherhood's operations in Europe are Westgate House, a building to the west of London, and Crown House, to the north. "They contain at least 25 organizations linked to the Brotherhood".

And from London, the Muslim Brotherhood is now launching mega projects in the heart of Europe.

The Europe Trust, a UK-based organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, has just acquired a € 4 million property in Berlin's Wedding district, reports Die Welt. “Wedding - a former working-class neighborhood in Berlin - has been transformed into a stronghold of political Islam and a hotspot for religious extremists. Now it is known for being a community full of mosques, shops, Islamic cultural centers and associations ”.
The Hizbullah Drug Trade
Hizbullah is behind the brazen drug trafficking in the Middle East.

There have been attempts to smuggle more than 600 million pills from Lebanon in the past six years - hidden in shipments of pomegranates, pasta, cocoa, and mechanical equipment.

In 2006, when the war with Israel drained Hizbullah financially, Iran equipped it with labs for drug manufacturing.

Captagon, heroin, crystal meth, and hashish come from Hizbullah strongholds in Lebanon and Syria.
Morton Klein: US negotiations with Iran are dangerous and ludicrous
Throughout much of the past year, the Biden administration attempted and failed to negotiate a return to the fatally flawed 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and appeased Iran by rescinding and failing to enforce sanctions.

Meanwhile, Iran accelerated its longstanding violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and nuclear deal. Its proxies launched rockets and drones against US bases in Iraq. In a “warning” test on December 24, Iran fired 16 advanced ballistic missiles, including missiles capable of reaching Israel, Egypt, US regional bases and parts of Europe – and some that may be made capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is reporting deep concerns about nuclear material at undeclared secret Iranian sites. Iran thwarted IAEA inspectors’ access and verification mechanisms, and is now enriching uranium up to 63% purity, far closer to weapons grade than the 3.67% level allowed under the 2015 deal. Iran now has an estimated stockpile of almost eight times more enriched uranium than allowed under the deal.

The negotiations have been a farce. Iran is insisting that the US guarantee an immediate, permanent lifting of sanctions, while Iran gives up nothing that could interfere with nuclear weapons development. On November 30, 2021, Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, backtracked on all previous six rounds of negotiations. During a November 4 “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” demonstration, celebrating the 42nd anniversary of Iranian Islamists seizing the US Embassy and taking more than 60 US hostages, Iran’s new hard line President Ebrahim Raisi vowed that Iran would “not retreat from the interests of our nation in any way.” Raisi is under sanctions for torturing and hanging thousands of political opponents.

Fixing the 2015 nuclear deal’s fatal flaws has not even been on the negotiating table.
Iran reads what Israeli officials say, and claims it is winning
Iranian regime media is a constant consumer of Israeli media. Despite their claims of wanting to destroy Israel and complaining about the “Zionist” regime, they need Israeli media to confirm their own claims of vast operational abilities.

Iran recently tested missiles and drones in a military drill and it tends to eagerly await Israeli coverage of the tests so it can then launder the reports to make it appear that Iran has achieved what it claimed to have achieved. In a sense Iran’s media, and by extension, its leadership and IRGC analysts, use Israeli media and Israeli officials as their “fact-checkers.” When they want a fact to be true, they wait to see if Israelis are also saying the same thing.

In recent months, Iran has tended to think that it may be closer to achieving its stated goals. This isn’t just about bragging that it can destroy Israel; Iran routinely makes these kinds of comments. Tehran has warned Jerusalem of a “crushing response” to Israeli actions in November 2020. In May 2021 the head of the IRGC claimed the Jewish state could be destroyed in one operation. This coincided with the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas. The recent missile tests were reportedly a “warning” to Israel.

Iran’s Tasnim media reported today that an official gave a speech where he said that Tehran’s enemies now see the “power and capability of the Islamic Republic” and that these enemies “understand and consider in their calculations and know that the system of the Islamic Republic is a powerful system.” He went on to say that “the country's armed forces have become more powerful than ever… Iran's missile capability is at the first level of the world's missiles and we are very powerful on land, sea and air.”
Iran's Missiles Have Become a More Immediate Threat than Its Nuclear Program
On Jan. 8, 2020, Iran fired eleven ballistic missiles - each carrying at least a thousand-pound warhead - at U.S. troops stationed at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq. It was the largest ballistic-missile attack ever by any nation on American troops. 110 Americans suffered traumatic brain injuries. Two years later, many are still experiencing profound memory, vision, and hearing losses; 80 have been awarded Purple Hearts.

Iran's missile arsenal is the largest and most diverse in the Middle East, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported. Iran can fire more missiles than its adversaries can shoot down or destroy. Iran's missiles have become a more immediate threat than its nuclear program, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told me. "Iran's strategic capacity is now enormous. They've got overmatch in the theatre - the ability to overwhelm."

Underground complexes house Iran's nuclear and missile programs. Most of Iran's "missile cities" are in the west, facing Israel, or on the southern coast, across from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf sheikhdoms.

Iran now has enormous reach in several directions from afar. Iran is gambling that it can harass the U.S. into eventually withdrawing from the entire Middle East. Seven American Presidents have failed to contain Iran's political influence and military leverage.

Iran Says Rocket Sends Three ‘Research Payloads’ Into Space
Iran has used a satellite launch rocket to send three research devices into space, a defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday, as indirect US-Iran talks take place in Austria to try to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal.

He did not clarify whether the devices had reached orbit.

Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programs in the Middle East, has suffered several failed satellite launches in the past few years due to technical issues.

Spokesman Ahmad Hosseini said the Simorgh satellite carrier rocket, whose name translates as “Phoenix,” had launched the three research devices at an altitude of 290 miles. He did not give further details.

“The intended research objectives of this launch were achieved,” Hosseini said, in comments broadcast on state television. “This was done as a preliminary launch … God willing, we will have an operational launch soon.”

Iranian state television showed footage of what it said was the firing of the launch vehicle.
Saudi king says kingdom concerned about Iran's 'lack of cooperation'
Saudi King Salman said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia was concerned about Iran's lack of cooperation with the international community on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz said in an address to the kingdom's advisory Shura Council that he hoped Iran would change its "negative" behavior in the region and choose dialogue and cooperation.

"We follow with concern the Iranian government's policy which is destabilizing regional security and stability, including building and backing sectarian armed militias and propagating its military power in other countries," the 85-old ruler said in a speech published by state news agency SPA.

"(We follow with concern) its lack of cooperation with the international community regarding its nuclear program and its development of ballistic missiles," he added.
MEMRI: Retired Iranian Diplomat Ambassador: Our Foreign Policy Goal Should Be to Become “Normal”
Ebrahim Rahimpour, who has served as Iran’s ambassador to India, Austria, and Ireland, said in a December 4, 2021 interview with Didar News (Iran) that the goal of Iran’s foreign policy should be to “become normal” and to maintain relations with most of the countries of the world. Rahimpour said that it is wrong to think that Iran could have relations with Asia without having relations with America or the West, because Iran’s value to China will plummet once it understands that Iran will never draw closer America, Europe or Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Rahimpour said that Iran must have relations with America, even though it is the “Great Satan” and an “international bully.” Rahimpour criticized Iran’s past foreign policy, especially during the term of President Ahmadinejad, saying that it had been “amateurish” and a mistake to discuss the Holocaust so much. He explained that this only served Israel’s interests and resulted in relations between Israel and countries like the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Azerbaijan. Regarding domestic issues, such as food and resource shortages, Rahimpour said that the Iranian people deserve answers.

Iran Federation Defends Footballer in Row Over ‘Israel Flag’ Jersey
Iran’s football federation threw its weight behind former national team captain Mehdi Mahdavikia Wednesday after facing criticism for wearing a jersey bearing an Israeli flag during a friendly game.

“He is one of the greats of Iranian football” and “a symbol of pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran,” secretary-general Hassan Kamranifar said in a statement on the federation’s website.

Ultraconservative lawmakers had criticized the veteran player after wearing a jersey featuring the flags of all FIFA member countries, including Israel, during a friendly match in Qatar on December 17.

Iran does not recognize arch-rival Israel as a state and prohibits contact between athletes from the two countries.

Mahdavikia “must apologize to the Iranian people for his actions and must stand trial because he has betrayed the Iranian nation,” Parliament member Bijan Nobaveh-Vatan said, according to the ultraconservative Fars news agency.

Kamranifar said Mahdavikia had handled the situation with “vigilance.”

PreOccupiedTerritory: Biden Admin Shocked Iran Still Fomenting Terror After Pinky-Swear (satire)
Senior American diplomatic officials voiced their dismay today upon discovering that despite extraction by those officials of a commitment from Tehran, backed by a binding gesture involving the fifth finger, not to underwrite, coordinate, or support attacks on civilians and US allies in the Middle East, the regime continues to engage in such problematic behavior. A State Department spokesman declined to specify what steps the administration might take in response.

Robert Malley, the United States Special Envoy for Iran, acknowledged Thursday that a pinky-swear he and his negotiating staff had won from the Iranian delegation in Vienna after hours of hard-nosed bargaining, to the effect that the Islamic Republic will cease its support for terrorism and imperialism in the region, appears not to have had the desired outcome.

“We are conducting consultations as to how to react to this development,” Malley noted.

In addition to its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran has long sought regional hegemony by means of undermining neighboring countries and either installing puppets or exploiting the resulting political instability to achieve its aims. The regime has also supplied, trained, funded, and directed terrorist groups and attacks against rivals’ interests, both in the Middle East and elsewhere, as far away as South America. In parallel, the Ayatollahs have pursued ballistic missile technology as a means to deliver a nuclear strike. A much-touted 2015 deal under the Obama administration claimed to curtail various elements of that malignant package, while in effect granting Iran sanctions relief and a clear path to nuclear weapons without constraining the regime’s violent, destabilizing machinations in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere. Malley and his team had assumed a pinky-swear from Iran’s negotiators signified a reliable commitment to change direction.

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