Tuesday, May 10, 2022

05/10 Links Pt1: The Doctrine of American Unexceptionalism; 75% of Arab Israelis believe Jews have no right to sovereignty; Palestinian fashion craze: T-shirts – celebrating M-16 rifle used to murder 5 Israelis

From Ian:

Michael Doran: The Doctrine of American Unexceptionalism
The doublespeak in Biden’s World War III tweet now defines the lived reality of America’s Middle Eastern allies. The Biden administration’s zealous efforts to transform the Islamic Republic from pariah to partner are neither containing nor deterring Iran’s leaders—quite the opposite. They are emboldened, as the ballistic missile attack on Erbil (not to mention the recent rise to the presidency of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi) indicates.

In the meantime, thanks to the Biden team’s steadfast intention to empower Iran, America’s Gulf allies have become security orphans. They increasingly look for help from China, the great power with the most influence over Tehran. The list of hard power arenas in which China is now a major player is long and growing longer by the day: It manufactures military drones in partnership with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE; it builds ballistic missiles together with the Saudis, whom it is also helping to master nuclear technology; and it is selling jets to the UAE, where last year it was secretly building a military site at Khalifa Port near Abu Dhabi.

Under pressure from the Americans, the Emiratis shut down the facility in the spring of 2021, but it won’t be long before Abu Dhabi and Riyadh refuse to comply with any such demands from the United States. Deference to Washington rests on the understanding that the United States will provide security—hard power deterrence. Instead, the Biden administration is offering its allies doublespeak based on utopian theories about how giving Tehran a hug and hundreds of billions of dollars will persuade it to play nice.

Among themselves, America’s allies wonder how such a crackpot idea ever became the guiding concept of American foreign policy. Senior leaders in both Israel and the Gulf have told me personally that they find the Biden team’s policies incomprehensible and its explanations of those policies fundamentally incoherent, if not dishonest. In quiet voices in Tel Aviv, Israeli leaders are now talking about when, not if, they will have to take major military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

None of this is likely to change minds in the White House. The progressive foreign policy paradigm is a closed intellectual system, which can never be falsified. It is also a domestic political initiative, which readily attributes any of its failures to the behavior of its adversaries. Is Iran more aggressive now than ever before? Perhaps, but not because Obama’s nuclear deal was ill-conceived. Iran is aggressive, because President Trump abandoned the JCPOA and thus rejected Obama’s path to peace. He provoked the Iranians, so now we are all paying the price.

Of course, the Israelis will always prove a ready scapegoat. The binary choice that Obama presented to Americans—between support for the nuclear deal or catastrophic war—divided the world into two camps. His was the party of peace. Opposite it stood the party of war, which included, among others, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party, Evangelical Christians, hawkish Republicans, and the Saudi leader, Mohammed bin Salman—a cast of characters whom progressives reviled even before the deal. While this formulation does not turn Iran into a member of the peace camp, it does transform it into the object of diplomacy.

As a means of stopping Iran from getting a bomb, the nuclear deal is sadly wanting; but as a tool for branding the Saudis, the domestic rivals of the progressives, and, above all, the Israelis as warmongers, it is an effective propaganda tool. When a kinder and gentler Islamic Republic fails to arrive—and fail it most certainly will—then the Biden administration mandarins will lecture us like didactic professors. More in sorrow than in anger, they will shake their heads and lament the fact that those damned Israelis and Saudis just couldn’t learn to share the Middle East with the Iranians. We tried to tell them, but they just wouldn’t listen.

The pointy heads in the Biden administration are marching us toward a beautiful world of perpetual peace. They will never get there. But they will find plenty of people and countries to cancel along the way.
Why is Joe Biden so obsessed with Israeli settlements? - opinion
The year was 2010. Then-vice president Biden was visiting Israel. Almost exactly at the moment Biden was speaking at a press conference with Israel’s prime minister, “somebody” leaked to the press that the Israeli government supposedly had just announced plans to build 1,600 Jewish homes in “occupied east Jerusalem.”

It was not some new plan; it was an ordinary housing construction project that had been awaiting bureaucratic approval for years. And the government did not “announce” it at the moment of Biden’s visit; the old plan just happened to advance a bit through the normal bureaucratic channels.

Not only that, but the plan was not for 1,600 “homes,” which made it sound as if Israel was going to build 1,600 separate houses. It was for 1,600 apartments in apartment buildings (taking up less than one-tenth of the land that houses would require).

And they weren’t in “occupied east Jerusalem,” a term used to falsely imply that it was in some Arab neighborhood. The apartments were to be built in Ramat Shlomo, an existing Jewish neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. But alas, poor Ramat Shlomo happens to lie just beyond the pre-1967 lines, which in Biden’s eyes means it was born in sin.

So, Biden responded to the leak by publicly denouncing what he called “the steady and systematic expansion of settlements.” Even though it was within an existing Jerusalem neighborhood. Even though Israel had already frozen most construction because of pressure from the Obama-Biden administration.

Biden’s public accusation was wrong and unfair. He was condemning something that had not happened and mischaracterizing it in order to make it look like something that it wasn’t.

I don’t know what it is about the prospect of more Jewish apartments that drives Biden or his advisers to engage in such irrational behavior. All I know is that such behavior has all the classic signs of an obsession – a very unhealthy obsession.
Biden considering visit to Palestinian hospital in east Jerusalem
US President Joe Biden is considering a visit to the Makassed Hospital, the largest Palestinian medical center in east Jerusalem, an Israeli official said on Monday.

The visit, during Biden’s trip to Israel next month, would be in the framework of an American initiative regarding the hospital.

Biden would visit the hospital unaccompanied by Israeli officials, which would be viewed as not recognizing Israeli sovereignty over that part of the capital – and rolling back, to some extent, former US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

No previous US presidents have made similar visits. Biden’s plan to visit east Jerusalem was first reported by KAN.

Though the Biden administration has sought to strengthen the current Israeli coalition government, the visit signifying a divided Jerusalem would likely spark disputes within the coalition.

The visit would be in the framework of an American initiative regarding the hospital, which could mean renewed funding after the Trump administration cut $25 million to the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, of which Makassed is a member.

Biden’s consideration of a visit to east Jerusalem comes amid a wave of Palestinian terrorism against Israelis and Hamas incitement over false claims about Israel making changes to the Temple Mount.

The US President had promised to reopen the US consulate to the Palestinians in western Jerusalem, but Israel opposes the move, saying it undermines its sovereignty in its capital city.

Poll: 75% of Arab Israelis believe Jews have no right to sovereignty
Arab Israelis are constantly conflicted by questions of political and national loyalty, as the majority of them have little faith in Israel's law enforcement agencies, a survey by Habithonistim–Protectors of Israel, a movement of Israeli defense officials advocating for Israel's future security needs, revealed Monday.

With the first anniversary of Operation Guardian of the Walls approaching and against the backdrop of rising security tensions, the poll found that 69% of Jewish Israelis are concerned about what the future holds for the Jewish state, and 67% believe stricter measures – including fines and the use of live fire – should be employed to prevent riots and friction between Jews and Arabs.

The survey, which examined the Israeli sense of security and governance among a sample of 1,068 Jews and Arabs aged 18 and over, further derived that 75% of the country's Arab citizens believe Jews have no right to sovereignty in the land of Israel, while only 25% said that they gave this right.

However, asked where their loyalties would lie in case of an existential battle between Israel and Arab states, 26% of Arab Israelis said they would support the Jewish state, 23% would back the Arab aggressors, and 51% said they would not support any of the warring parties.

The poll further showed that Arab Israelis place little if any faith in the country's law enforcement agencies: 66% of all Israelis said they distrust the Israel Police, and within the Arab sector, the figure jumped to 73%.

Some 71% of Arab Israelis said they have little or no sense of personal safety, while 44% of Jewish Israelis said the same.

Dearborn, Michigan Quds Day Rally: We Call for Armed Resistance, Complete Liberation of Palestine

INSS: One Month after the Start of the Escalation: The Fog Dissipates
However, both in Jerusalem and in the West Bank masses did not take to the streets, in the style of the intifada that erupted in late 1987, which attracted international and inter-Arab attention and within a few years set in motion a far-reaching political process. In the current reality in the Palestinian arena, the masses can take part in such a campaign in one of two situations: in coordination between Hamas and Fatah, which alone have the power to create a consensus, or as Hamas claims, with increased friction and casualties with the Israeli police, especially around the holy sites in East Jerusalem. But coordination between Hamas and Fatah is not viable today and there is no Palestinian consensus on a widespread confrontation with Israeli security forces. Moreover, the preparations of the Israeli police and the defense establishment in time to deal with the friction without causing many casualties in fact prevented mass involvement, which is so vital to Hamas, from developing.

Hamas has so far failed in its attempt to achieve the main escalation target. No further fronts of confrontation have developed and the confrontation itself has not expanded. However, Hamas has gained achievements in three areas. The Palestinian issue, after a resounding absence from the Negev Summit in March, returned to the international agenda; the UN and the international community dealt with what was happening, and most Arab countries intensified criticism of Israel over the holy places. Jordan, which is more threatened than other Arab countries by the escalation in Jerusalem, reprimanded an envoy from the Israeli embassy and even convened a forum of the Arab League that discussed escalation and condemned Israel. Hamas also illustrated the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and the crumbling Fatah movement, including indications of rebellion in its ranks. The PA's criticism of Israel was sharp: Israel was accused of creating the escalation and thus the PA echoed Hamas messages and poured oil on the fire.

The month of Ramadan has ended, but sensitive days lie ahead, and it is possible that the picture will later include the Palestinian popular perspective. Still, it is estimated that Hamas has taken another step on its way to being perceived by the public as an alternative to the Palestinian Authority. Despite the distinction between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which was allegedly illustrated by the current escalation in Gaza's non-joining of the campaign, it is clear to all that the connection Hamas made through the escalation from the Gaza Strip or the Gaza Strip's military backing reflects the connection between the two areas. The decline of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, and Abu Mazen is evident, in the face of the rise of Hamas as a fresh and enterprising force.

Is it right for Israel to continue to focus on solutions regarding economics and infrastructure, and to continue to think in terms of punitive deterrence measures against Hamas? Is it right to continue to ignore the fact that a lack of political strategy only increases Hamas’ s power and undermines the Palestinian Authority? Political thinking is not necessarily reaching a settlement and signing an agreement, but first and foremost a recognition of the need for dialogue to clarify problems and outline ways for an agreement. The absence of such thinking is tantamount to avoidance, and avoidance will forever demand the attention of the one who hides in the dark.

Israel's operation Guardian of the Walls: One year on

Guardian of the Walls operation: the year after

PMO: Temple Mount decisions not made due to foreign pressure
Israel will not make decisions about the Temple Mount due to foreign or political pressure, the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday.

The PMO was responding to a report that Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev had given in to Jordanian demands to add 50 more security guards from the Wakf Islamic religious trust to the site. The Wakf was instituted by Jordan after the War of Independence.

“There is no change or new development in the situation on the Temple Mount,” the PMO said. “Israeli sovereignty has been maintained.”

“All decisions about the Temple Mount will be made taking into consideration sovereignty, freedom of religion and security and not through pressure from foreign or political factors,” it added. Jordan had demanded to increase the number of guards a month and a half ago, but Israel refused, the PMO said.

The demand was also included in a diplomatic missive from Amman to Washington last month.

Israel removed six Wakf security guards who were Hamas sympathizers and replaced them with 12 new guards, which was within the number previously agreed upon and not an increase in what the government would authorize, the PMO said.

Jordan said it did not accept “participation or dictation from any party,” including the Israeli government, regarding the appointment of security guards at the Aqsa Mosque compound.
Palestinian Official: Israeli Occupation’s Actions in Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Are Heralding Religious War

Israel Police lack resources to probe land fraud in West Bank’s Area C
Israeli Police lack the resources to investigate land fraud in Area C of the West Bank, where only one-third of the properties are even registered, the State Comptroller’s office said in a wide-ranging report issued on Tuesday.

Police covering Judea and Samaria are the only ones who lack a land fraud unit, which exists in all other districts. A 2017 Comptroller report highlighted the absence of such a unit, but its recommendations to create one were never implemented.

Land disputes between Israelis and Palestinians over ownership rights are one of the central points of friction in that region, with diplomatic consequences for Israel.

The question of land ownership is a critical factor in deterring the status of the land. This makes it difficult to arbitrate those disputes or make decisions regarding the evacuation of those residing on the property.

Area C is under Israeli military and civilian control and, as a result, the IDF also has oversight on the matter.

The army, according to the report, does handle some of the investigations, but that work is incomplete and needs to be strengthened by police work – particularly when it comes to identifying the culprit of the forgery.

Resources have not been devoted to this issue, the comptroller report stated, even though there has been an “increase in suspicions of serious forgery in the transactions and the purchase of real estate in Judea and Samaria.”
Haredi interest in firearm permits skyrockets in wake of Elad attack
In the wake of Thursday's terrorist attack on the ultra-Orthodox town of Elad, Israeli authorities are flooded with applications for firearm permits.

A particularly spike has been noted among Haredi applicants, while the overall volume of applications is three-fold in the immediate aftermath of the attack, in which two terrorists murdered three civilians after making their way from Judea and Samaria through the Green Line.

According to the figures released by the Interior Ministry at the request of Israel Hayom, more than 5,000 Israelis inquired by phone on the application process, which is three times higher than a week earlier.

More than 630 applications were filed on Monday this week, compared to just over 240 on Monday in the previous week. More than 22,000 applications have been filed since March, when the most recent terrorist spate started.

"This is unprecedented and truly amazing," senior officials at the ministry said. "We have never encountered such a volume of applications. This shows just how shaken people's sense of security is."
AFP Headline Suggests Israel’s Response to Terror Wave Is to Blame for Palestinian Violence
The facts are abundantly clear: Israeli security forces caught the two terrorists on May 8 suspected of carrying out a deadly attack in Elad, four days after they allegedly went on a rampage in the city. Yet a headline by global wire service Agence France-Presse (AFP) effectively casts doubt on a sovereign nation’s right to defend itself against those who seek to murder its own citizens, implying that Israel’s actions are to blame for the violence that has subsequently occurred:
For casual readers, this distorted headline, which confuses the cause of the terror wave roiling Israel with the country’s response to it, is all they will take away from the latest developments in this unfolding story.

AFP Buries Lede
The piece, titled “More violence after Israel arrests Palestinian suspected axe murderers,” cites the actual catalyst for the recent spasm of terror: Last week Hamas threatened Israel with rockets, knives and axes if its security forces carry out further raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.”

However, this crucial context is only included in the 27th paragraph of a 30-paragraph article. A lede is the most newsworthy part of a story. Journalists know to keep it front and center. A publication “buries the lede” when the most important part of a news item fails to appear at the beginning of a report.

Based on its choice of headline, AFP has thus seemingly deemed it inconsequential that a wave of Palestinian terror, fuelled by incessant incitement, has washed over Israel over the past two months, prompting heightened security measures. By choosing to use the phrase ‘more violence,’ AFP is giving the mistaken impression that violence begets violence. This framing then carries over from the headline to the actual story:

PMW: New Palestinian fashion craze: M-16 shirts – celebrating M-16 rifle used to murder 5 Israelis
The latest fashion craze in the PA areas and among some Israeli Arabs are shirts and pants with an M-16 rifle printed on them.
They became popular as a show of support for the murder of Israelis immediately after Palestinian terrorist Diya Hamarsheh murdered 5 in Bnei Brak (near Tel Aviv) last month, and was shown on TV and social media shooting at Israeli victims with his M-16 rifle.

Pictures of the terrorist with the M-16 rifle he used to murder 5 Israelis.

A Palestinian storeowner described the phenomenon to Al-Arab, an independent UK Arab news website:
“‘The demand for this kind of clothing is huge. I think that the reason for this is the situation in Palestine recently, and particularly in Jenin’ …Abu Hamza noted that in 10 days he sold approximately 12,000 shirts or pants that also have the print on them, and that he ordered 12,000 additional units due to ‘the huge demand.’”

[Al-Arab, independent Arab news website (UK), April 22, 2022]

It is not surprising that these shirts are especially popular in Jenin. Most of the terrorist murderers, including those who killed using an M-16 rifle, were from the Jenin region.

Al-Arab further explains:
“Palestinian and Israeli academics and politicians say that the attacks that Palestinians recently carried out against Israeli targets, which in some of them M-16 weapons were used, ‘have become an inspiring symbol for many young Palestinians, which increases their desire to copy those carrying out [the attacks].’”
MEMRI: Article On Hamas Website Provides Operative Advice On Involving Israeli Arabs In Future War With Israel
On May 9, 2022 the Hamas website posted an article by Suleiman Abu Sita titled "The Strategic Importance of the Palestinians Inside [Israel] in Any Future War." The article claims that "the Palestinians inside Israel," i.e., the Israeli Arabs, have distinct advantages in a confrontation with Israel because they live in proximity to population centers and major traffic arteries throughout the country, and can therefore cause significant damage with relative ease. The author proposes several ways in which they can harm Israel, such as pouring oil on a major highway; blocking important roads in the south, where large military bases are located, and thus cutting them off from the rest of the country; blocking rail traffic by placing rocks on the tracks; sabotaging aircraft in their bases by firing on them or flooding the hangars; starting forest fires, torching strategic factories and institutions, etc.

The following are translated excerpts from this article:
"The number of Palestinians in the occupied interior [i.e., Israeli Arabs] is two million, which means they are a significant and influential force that troubles the Zionist entity [i.e., Israel] – especially since they have significant strengths that the occupation started noticing following the Sword of Jerusalem campaign [the May 2021 round of fighting in Gaza]. During this campaign, these citizens confronted the occupation and its settlers, while their brethren in the Gaza Strip were fighting a heroic battle in response to [the events] at Al-Aqsa, which faces vicious Zionist aggression. The action [of the Israeli Arabs] worried the occupation forces, which started to include among their military considerations the possibility that Palestinian youths inside [Israel] may impede the movement of military forces and sabotage their military operations and plans. [They were also forced to consider] the possibility that large-scale clashes with the settlers [i.e., with Jewish Israelis] would erupt, which the police would be unable to deal with, [a development] that would necessarily require bringing in the military, thus affecting its performance in other areas and exhausting it by engaging it in tasks other that its main mission.

"What makes the impact of the Palestinians inside [Israel] even greater is their proximity to the Zionist settlers' population centers, so that if one of them wants to carry out an operation, he can do so immediately, without having to cross borders and checkpoints, for he is right in the midst of the enemy. The Palestinians inside [Israel] have significant strategic strengths, for they are dispersed throughout Palestine, from Acre and Haifa in the north to the Negev in the south, through Ramleh, Lod and the Triangle in central [Israel], which means that their activity affects the entire [Israeli] entity, not just a specific area.

"In case of a confrontation, the Gaza Strip, for example, cannot actively impact the northern [parts of] of occupied Palestine. Likewise, if the Lebanese resistance [i.e., Hizbullah] joins the conflict with the enemy, it cannot actively impact the south of Palestine. But the Palestinians inside [Israel] can affect the entire [Israeli] entity, especially since the enemy cannot isolate these Palestinians and besiege them…
Hamas Eyes Malaysia as a Possible Operations Base
Malaysia has emerged as a potential external operations base for Hamas, if Turkey expels or restricts the group’s movements as a part of its rapprochement with Israel.

Turkey has in recent months deported Hamas activists, or refused them entry into the country, as it seeks to improve its troubled relations with Israel, according to Israeli press reports.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara in March, becoming the first Israeli president to do so in 15 years. At a summit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both leaders pledged to open a new chapter in the relationship.

The press reports suggested that the deported Hamas operatives had been on an Israeli list presented to Turkey, of individuals involved in the group’s armed activities in violation of their terms of residence in Turkey. Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’ deputy political bureau head, and former military commander, reportedly was among those expelled.

Sources close to Hamas warned that a withdrawal of support for the group would undermine Turkish efforts to position itself as a champion of Muslim causes, at a time that it is competing for geopolitical leverage and religious soft power in the Muslim world.

Israel has long demanded that Turkey, which has granted Turkish citizenship to some Hamas leaders, crackdown on the group, as part of any improvement in relations.
“The lowly Israelis don’t support peace… hatred flows through their veins,” Egyptian lecturer
Official PA TV newsreader: “On the phone with us from Cairo is Dr. Ahmed Karima, a lecturer on Islamic Shari’ah law at Al-Azhar University... What is required from the Muslims in order to bridle these violations, attacks… arrests, and wounding in the plazas and within the Al-Aqsa Mosque?” …

Lecturer on Islam at Al-Azhar University Ahmed Karima: “I remind everyone that in the Quran, Allah exposed and directed attention to the nature of the Israeli Zionists… The lowly Israelis don’t support peace and don’t love peace, but rather hatred flows through their veins and their blood. The Al-Aqsa Mosque naturally belongs to the Muslims, because Allah determined there [Prophet Muhammad’s] Night Journey and Ascent to Heaven.”

[Official PA TV News, April 15, 2022]

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Sinai Attack That Killed 11 Egyptian Soldiers
Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack the previous day that killed 11 members of the Egyptian security forces, the United Arab Emirates-based The National reported on Monday.

According to the report, the jihadist organization released a statement on its Amaq news agency and on Telegram.

The Egyptian military said five other soldiers had been injured in the attack, one of the deadliest in Sinai in recent years.

Terrorists opened fire on soldiers at a checkpoint protecting a water-pumping center in Qantara, in the Sinai province of Ismailia, before fleeing the scene, the report said.

Thousands reportedly attended separate funerals for the casualties in Egypt on Sunday.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi held a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on the day after the attack, discussing the incident and its consequences with senior military figures.

Hassan Nasrallah: No Firm Will Come to Drill in Israel’s Karish Gas Field, If We Make Serious Threat

IAEA Concerned About Iran’s Undeclared Nuclear Activities, Still Hopes for Deal
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s chief said on Tuesday he is still hopeful for a deal between Iran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear pact but that talks were struggling and the moment could be lost.

“We are, of course, still hopeful that some agreement is going to be reached within a reasonable time frame, although we have to recognize the fact that the window of opportunity could be closed any anytime,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said, speaking to European Parliament committees via webstream.

He said he had also warned Iran that the country was not being transparent enough about its nuclear activities.

“In the last few months were able to identify traces of enriched uranium in places that had never been declared by Iran as places where any activity was taking place,” he said.

Iran's Electromagnetic Pulse attack threat
Washington’s bipartisan consensus is that Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons or missiles capable of threatening the United States with nuclear attack. But some Israeli analysts and some highly credible U.S. experts disagree with the “consensus view.”

Several senior Reagan and Clinton Administration national security officials warned in 2015 and again in 2021: “Regardless of intelligence uncertainties and unknowns about Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, we know enough now to make a prudent judgment that Iran should be regarded by national security decision makers as a nuclear missile state capable of posing an existential threat to the United States and its allies…The fact of Iran’s…proximity to nuclear weapons necessitates that Iran be regarded as a nuclear missile state—right now… Iran probably has nuclear warheads for the Shahab-III medium-range missile, which they tested for making EMP attacks”

Iran has hundreds of medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs and SRBMs), more by far than any other nation in the Middle East. If armed with a nuclear warhead, any of these could be fused for high-altitude burst to make an EMP attack.

Iran has not demonstrated a military intercontinental missile equipped with a reentry vehicle capable of penetrating the atmosphere, accurate enough to strike a city. Yet a High-altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) attack does not require a reentry vehicle or accuracy.

If North Korea, Iran’s strategic partner, gives the IRGC a Super-EMP nuclear weapon, they would not have to wait for a “true ICBM” but could use a satellite to blackout North America and terminate the “Great Satan.”

Iran’s intentions to exploit HEMP offensively may be reflected in their efforts to protect at least some of their critical infrastructures from HEMP attack.
Congress Investigates Biden Admin for Granting Visa to Iranian Ally of Terror Leader Soleimani
Congress is probing the Biden administration over its decision to grant a U.S. visa to an Iranian national tied to Iran’s terrorist fighting force and its former leader, Qassem Soleimani.

Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is asking the Biden administration to explain why it granted a visa to Iranian actor Parviz Parastui, according to a copy of the investigation letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The lawmaker says Parastui has an "overt connection" to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the U.S.-designated terror organization responsible for killing scores of Americans.

Parastui was permitted to attend a film screening event in Los Angeles late last month that was organized by the far-left anti-Israel group Code Pink. While attending the event, Parastui was caught on camera assaulting an Iranian dissident who challenged him on the regime’s human rights abuses. Parastui’s ties to the hardline regime and support for Soleimani—which includes signing a 2020 letter by Iranian leaders condemning the Trump administration’s assassination of the terrorist leader, who they referred to as a "martyr"—should disqualify him from entering the United States, according to Banks and former top U.S. officials who spoke to the Free Beacon about the situation.

Parastui’s visit comes amid active threats by Iran and the IRGC to assassinate U.S. officials, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. It also comes as the Biden administration mulls lifting the IRGC’s terror designation as part of a package of concessions to Iran meant to entice it into signing a new version of the 2015 nuclear accord.

"Parastui has been directly involved in IRGC-funded propaganda projects, promoting a hardliner ideology that seeks to shape Iran’s culture to the agenda of the Iranian regime," Banks wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. "He played roles in numerous pro-regime and pro-IRGC films. Parastui also never shies away from expressing his affinity with the IRGC in public."

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