Friday, July 01, 2022

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Licking Ben &Jerry's
There’s an obvious analogy here with Israel. The Oslo Accords and the “peace process” undermined Israel’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. The proposed Palestinian state would involve sacrificing land to which only the Jewish people has any legal, historical or moral claim.

Those who support the Palestinian cause actually endorse paying in Israeli blood for the illusion of peace. This will remain a mirage unless it is based upon law, justice and the containment of Palestinian Arab imperialism.

And yet the Foreign Office that Liz Truss leads continues to champion the Palestinian cause, promote the “peace process” and accuse Israel falsely of being in illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and his supporters in the west invert reality over the war in Ukraine by claiming grotesquely that NATO is the aggressor and that Putin had no choice but to attack.

Such mind-bending assertions that black is white were of course the standard brainwashing tactic of the former Soviet regime. It is no coincidence that this also characterises the Palestinian fantasy narrative, which was cooked up in the 1960s between the Palestinian terrorist leader Yasser Arafat and his allies in the Soviet Union.

One person who really does get all this is the former American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. In a passionate speech last week to the Hudson Institute, he urged the west to stand firm over Ukraine in order to defeat the alliance between Russia and China that aimed to defeat the west.

And he said America must help build “the three lighthouses for liberty” that should be “centred on nations that have great strife: Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan”. These could become the “hubs of new security architecture that links alliances of free nations” across the world.

In other words, Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan were the outliers of western freedom. If they should ever go down, the west goes down.

From Ben & Jerry’s to Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel, evil can be defeated provided it is fought. As Pompeo said, that requires dauntlessness, seriousness of purpose and the will to win. But it also requires a clear-eyed understanding of exactly who and what we are up against.

Unless this is explained and understood, Israel and its allies will continue to rush around dousing small blazes while the conflagration which has sparked them roars on unabated.




Ben & Jerry’s Foundation President Steered Funds to His Own Charity
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation steered more than $100,000 to a charity run by its own president, in the second case of a sitting board member’s nonprofit group benefiting from the foundation’s grants.

Social Ventures Inc., a charity run by Ben & Jerry’s board member Jeff Furman, raked in around $118,000 from the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation between 2016 and 2020, according to financial disclosure records.

During this time, Furman served as president of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation from 2018 to 2020 and as treasurer in 2016 and 2017. He was also a member of Ben & Jerry’s corporate board and in-house counsel for more than 30 years, according to the foundation’s website.

The funding raises questions about the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation’s financial activities days after the ice cream maker’s high-profile effort to boycott Israel fell apart. The grants are also prompting concerns from ethics watchdogs who say they pose a conflict of interest and could violate laws against self-dealing.

The National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group that has been tracking the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation’s spending, told the Washington Free Beacon the funding poses a conflict of interest.

"Unilever should understand they’re dealing with a radical progressive board with apparently huge conflicts of interest with corporate funds that are magically being steered to personal pet projects and nonprofits of board members," said Tom Anderson, the director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project.


How Financial Giant Morningstar Blacklists Companies That Help Israel Stop Terrorism
A prominent financial services firm promotes divestment from companies that help the Israeli government combat Palestinian suicide bombers, according to an independent investigation conducted by a Washington, D.C. think tank.

Morningstar Inc., a financial research firm that advises investors, is accused in a new report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) of downgrading companies that help Israel combat terrorism, including those that work on the country’s security barrier built to stop Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking cities. Ratings produced by Morningstar and similar research firms act as a primary guide for investors and can greatly impact how a company is valued.

The author of the FDD report told the Washington Free Beacon that Morningstar’s practices comprise a key pillar of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement—which wages economic warfare on Israel—and could force states with anti-BDS laws to cut ties with Morningstar. FDD concluded that Morningstar’s ratings are "driven by a quantifiable bias against Israel" and that the company "risks running afoul of numerous state statutes" meant to curb support for the BDS movement.

The focus on Morningstar stems from its 2020 acquisition of Sustainalytics, a research firm that rates companies based on their social values. Following Morningstar’s acquisition of Sustainalytics, watchdog groups including NGO Monitor and JLens accused Morningstar of allowing its research arm to promote the BDS movement through ratings that negatively impact companies working with Israel. These claims prompted the Illinois Investment Policy Board to initiate an investigation into the company’s practices. They are also fueling calls for at least 34 other states with similar anti-BDS laws to cut ties with Morningstar.

Faced with concerns from its own shareholders, Morningstar insisted in March 2021 that it was not unfairly targeting companies that work with Israel. But the Illinois investigation into its actions prompted the company to hire an outside law firm, White & Case, to conduct an investigation into Sustainalytics’s business practices. That report was published earlier this month and touted by Morningstar as proof it does not discriminate against the Jewish state.

"This investigation concludes that Morningstar’s Sustainalytics products do not recommend or encourage divestment," the report reads."
Morningstar’s ‘Modified Limited Hangout’
To comprehend why this issue is crucial not only for Israel and the Jews, one needs to understand the importance of ESG and Morningstar’s leading role in ESG screening. As the report itself states, ESG investing accounts for $17 trillion of investments in 2022 and growing rapidly.[1] To put this in perspective the value of all the US stocks is about $45 billion. This means mutual funds, pension plans, and all manner of investment vehicles that involve almost all Americans are influenced by ESG ratings. Further, there are just two firms that are doing the bulk of the screening for ESG: Morningstar, through its subsidiary Sustainalytics, and MSCI.[2] Thus, the power of these two companies to direct where this money goes is massive. As one top investment bank put it to its corporate clients, “Ignore the noise… it is important to focus your efforts on the key providers most commonly used by investors—MSCI and Sustainalytics. Understand which factors might get you screened out…business involvement screens [are vital to] understand which controversial business involvement will get you flagged.”[3] Being flagged means that the $17 trillion investment pool will exclude your firm, or in the case of Israel, a country. This is why it is so vital for raters to be absolutely transparent about how they arrive at their ratings and to be crystal clear about whether the criteria used really reflect investor concerns. In the case of Israel, the Sustainalytics ratings led to a de facto boycott of Israeli companies based on strange, obsessive, skewed, and above all, unexplained criteria. The focus and bias with respect to Israel was so extreme, that some investors began to ask questions as early as 2016. In what became the beginning of a pattern, Sustainalytics ignored these questions and offered no insight into its selection criteria.

In Spring 2020, Morningstar acquired complete ownership of Sustainalytics, having previously been a minority investor. Almost as soon as the transaction was announced some investors asked Morningstar about Sustainalytics’s bias against, and obsession with, Israel. They were assured by senior management that if Sustainalytics had enabled a de facto boycott of the country in the past, new ownership would stamp it out. But nothing changed. Morningstar soon also displayed a bias against Israel that was so blatant that it, too, compelled attention. For example, just two months after the acquisition, a widely read Morningstar publication highlighted an advisor who listed about 100 companies from a universe of thousands that should be eliminated from investment consideration. Of these 100, 59 related to Israel.[4] JLens was the first to note that the sources cited by Sustainalytics were notoriously biased against Israel. These included Danwatch, the Electronic Intifada, Who Profits, Mondoweiss, Iran Daily and others of a similar viewpoint. Although some Israeli sources were used from time to time, they were disingenuously curated. Rather than offering a different viewpoint they referred to various forms of opposition against Israel, such as an organization voting for a BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) resolution. Further, in proprietary reports I was able to read, but unfortunately cannot cite due to Morningstar’s confidentiality agreement with clients, I found conspiratorial language about Israel and its imagined nefarious impact on the world.
Seth Frantzman: Who benefits from recent reports on Israel-US-Gulf ties? - analysis
Key Obama allies like then secretary of state John Kerry were quoted as saying Israel-Gulf ties wouldn’t happen without a Palestinian peace deal.

There is a debate on whether Israeli strikes in Syria reflect US policy and whether Iran might attack US forces in response. That debate, which lasted into the first years of the Trump administration, was put to rest when the US began to support Israel’s actions in Syria.

This matters now because of Israel’s elections. Netanyahu’s combative relationship with the Obama administration could overshadow relations with the current democratic administration. What matters is that media leaks during the Obama administration tended to focus on the Iran issue. Today it is less clear.

Will the US come up with some new agreement in the wake of recent talks Iran held in Doha which Iran says were positive?

The campaign between the wars
Meanwhile, the “campaign between the wars”, Israel’s opposition to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, may have reached a new stage as former prime minister Naftali Bennett hinted at the new “octopus” doctrine. The doctrine means going after the head of the Iranian threat. Recent reports suggest the IRGC has replaced its intelligence chief. If the campaign heats up, or if Iran increases enrichment, or if a new Iran agreement is on the table, the situation in the region could escalate.

The importance then of new security talks with the US and the Gulf, including the different tracks related to air defense and also Syria, could matter more than ever. This could pave the way for a stronger regional security foundation. Israel’s focus on new laser defenses, its Chariots of Fire drill and work with Central Command, all come into play here.

The overall question, as we look at the recent reports about US-Israel talks, Israeli strikes in Syria and regional security talks suggests a much more healthy relationship between the US and Israel, as well as between the US and other Middle East allies.

If once the US had to follow two tracks, one for the Middle East and another for US-Israel relations, now there is cross pollination and the relationship may grow beyond the sum of its parts.
Saudi-Jewish relations prospering in wake of Abraham Accords
What did we learn? While the Saudis cannot revise their recent malevolent, unforgivablehistory, they have shifted to aggressively combating extremist ideology on social media, inprint, and in other public fora.

We also learned that the government is intensifying its focus on developing opportunitiesfor its youth and its emerging new generation of leaders. Many in the meetings were young,ambitious, and innovative thinkers. We also saw women treated equally and with respect,sitting side by side with their male counterparts. We were warmly served by hotel staff, menand women who were probably having their first encounters with a Jewish group and aminyan, the Jewish prayer quorum.

Will the Saudis join the Abraham Accords? This was beyond the scope of our initial visit. Thesenior officials in the Foreign Ministry, with whom we met, will likely join the forthcomingmeeting with President Joe Biden in Riyadh. They explained many of the geopolitical factorsthat must first fall in place and how Saudi remains the bulwark holding back extremistnational actors throughout the Middle East who would be unleashed by any precipitousmoves by the kingdom.

Be that as it may, bilateral relations with Israel seem inevitable and are probably already happening behind the scenes, much as the secret March meeting attended by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and senior Arab military leaders, including Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh Al Ruwaili, in Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss countering the escalating regional threats posed by Iran. From all impressions, the new Saudi, like its GulfCooperation Council neighbors, enthusiastically welcomes the economic and technological opportunities that would follow an alliance, formal or otherwise, with Israel. The sands of the Arabian desert are always shifting. We saw them slowly shift right before our eyes, in real time! My fellow travelers and I were privileged to be part of the changing winds and shifting sands of this initial Saudi-Jewish leadership dialogue.


The prisoners' dilemma - opinion
An excruciating quandary arose this week when Hamas put the subject of the Israelis it is holding captive back in the spotlight. In a clear act of psychological warfare, the terrorist organization on Tuesday released a video of Israeli Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed attached to an oxygen mask and appearing to be in poor health. It was a reminder that Hamas is also keeping prisoner Avera Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, as well as holding the bodies of two soldiers killed and abducted via a terror tunnel in Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Unlike Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff-Sgt. Oron Shaul, who are presumed dead, Sayed and Mengistu are both believed to be alive, even though they have not been heard from since they crossed the border into Gaza, Mengistu in 2014 and Sayed the following year.

In clear contravention of international law, not only are the two being held against their will, but they have not been permitted visits even by the Red Cross. The fact that the first sign of life of Sayed was of him filmed close to death was deliberate – another cruel weapon in the arsenal of psychological warfare.

Publicity in the case of Hamas captives is, from Israel’s point of view, a matter of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The more attention the prisoners receive, the higher the price that Hamas can demand in return for information about them and for their eventual release.

For Hamas, it is a win-win situation. Although it is the Iranian-backed group that is holding the two Israeli citizens, Israel will be regarded as responsible for their fates. The worse their plight becomes, the more Israel will be blamed for not doing enough to get them back. Sayed and Mengistu have not been in the headlines the way that IDF soldier Gilad Schalit was during his more than five years of Hamas captivity. Schalit, also abducted via a terror tunnel, was eventually returned in 2011 in exchange for more than 1,000 prisoners, most of them Palestinians and Arab Israelis. Many of these released prisoners later returned to terrorism. The trauma of the Schalit exchange is one of the reasons that Israel is not willing to pay such a high price again.
JPost Editorial: Bennett is leaving Israel in a better state than he found it
After endless Knesset sessions trying to get parliament to dissolve itself, it finally happened on Thursday, and the transition of power shifted at midnight from Naftali Bennett to Israel’s new prime minister, Yair Lapid.

Even as the Knesset dispersed and set the election date for November 1, the opposition showed that politics was yet paramount: it displayed its cynical face by refusing to pass a Metro Law, which would benefit us all by expanding the Tel Aviv Light Rail.

Despite the backdrop of Israel entering a fifth election campaign in a span of three years, the peaceful transition once again showed Israel at her best: a thriving democracy in the Middle East.

The symbolism is important. Bennett is leaving Israel better than his coalition found it a year ago. It is a stronger country, working on laser air defenses, working closely with the US and Central Command, building bridges with the Arab Gulf states, and also working with other allies from Europe all the way to India.

This is the Israel Jews yearned for: a country that is diverse and a prime minister who values a broad inclusive coalition. This Israel of the last year has made up for much of what went wrong in the past.
Turkish Media: Iranian Attack on Israeli Diplomat Thwarted ‘at the Last Moment’
Turkish media reported that a recent intended target of an Iranian cell in Istanbul was Israeli diplomat Yosef Levi-Sfari, Israel’s former consul general to the city, who was rescued “in a movie-like operation.”

The report indicated that the Iranian assailants were staying at the same hotel as Lvi-Sfari and his partner, who were there on vacation, according to Ynet.

It added that seven of the eight members of the terror cell were brought before a judge to extend their pre-trial detention, and that they intended to target Israeli tourists after Lvi-Sfari.

Turkish authorities reportedly followed the cell’s movements since it entered the country and caught them “in the act, at the last moment” in possession of weapons.

Israel on Tuesday lowered the threat level for its nationals in Istanbul after previously categorizing Turkey as a high-risk country, citing the potential for Iranian plots after the Jewish state was accused of the death of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer.
Info of over 300,000 Israelis leaked as Iranian hackers target travel booking sites
Iranian hackers have recently hacked into a number of popular Israeli travel booking websites, managing to obtain the personal information of over 300,000 Israelis.

The incident occurred two weeks ago and was confirmed by Israel’s Privacy Protection Authority on Thursday evening.

The attack affected websites operated by Gol Tours LTD, a tourist company that owns over 20 travel booking websites.

The leaked information includes telephone numbers, addresses, dates and locations of booked vacations, and sensitive medical information, the authority said in a statement.

The affected websites reportedly include: hotel4u.co.il, booking-hotels.co.il, booking-kibbutz.co.il, mlonot.co.il, noapass.co.il, gol.co.il, funtoursisrael.co.il, ortal.net, come2israel.co.il, and come2israel.com.

The Privacy Protection Authority said it had immediately contacted the owner of Gol Tours LTD following the hack, in an effort to address the security flaws that the hackers took advantage of, but was met with a refusal to cooperate.

“The required changes were not made,” the authority said, noting that it has launched an investigation into the incident.
Media’s UNRWA Love Affair: Evidence That Agency Teachers Have Encouraged Murder of Jews, Posted About ‘Filthy Zionists’ Goes Unreported
One might think that such brazen displays of antisemitism by staff at UNRWA’s schools would be treated as significant news stories by the international media. After all, on the very day these revelations came to light UNRWA’s commissioner-general was pleading the agency’s poverty at a press briefing.

Not so, as aside from an article by Fox News, other mainstream media outlets decided to steer clear of reporting on UNRWA’s documented antisemitism problem.

For example, the Washington Post’s reference to the epidemic of Jew-hating UNRWA teachers appeared at the very end of its article and was framed as a mere allegation by Israel’s United Nations ambassador Gilad Erdan:
Ahead of Thursday’s donors conference, Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Erdan calls on countries to freeze contributions until all UNRWA teachers that it claims support terrorism and murdering Jews are fired.

Lazzarini said UNRWA received a letter from Israel’s U.N. Mission Friday which he hadn’t read, but he said all allegations will be investigated and if there is a breach of U.N. values and misconduct ‘we will take measures in line with U.N. policies.’”


If you thought Lazzarini’s promise to investigate reports of antisemitism by UNRWA staff members sounded familiar, you would be correct.

In September of last year, Lazzarini faced a grilling by members of the European Parliament following the release of a report that revealed textbooks being taught in UNRWA schools contained violent and antisemitic materials.

Speaking to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the agency boss pledged to carry out a review of the educational materials and ensure they were “in line with UN value[s].”

And a month prior to that in August, Lazzarini rejected calls for antisemitic staff to be fired, including one teacher who expressed support for Adolf Hitler and another who claimed Jews invented COVID-19. Instead, Lazzarini promised that employees would be offered training in “neutrality” and “tolerance workshops.”

As such, UNRWA continues to display contempt for the core values that the United Nations purports to hold dear – “integrity,” “respect for diversity” and “professionalism.”

And in failing to fully report on the agency’s failings in its schools, international media outlets have also shown contempt for journalistic values – truth, accuracy and impartiality.
UNRWA's Teachers of Hate — Hillel Neuer on ILTV
UN Watch director Hillel Neuer hosted by Lital Shemesh of ILTV, June 30, 2022.

UNRWA has placed six employees on administrative leave after a new report by UN Watch exposed UNRWA teachers who publicly call to murder Jews.

"Teachers who call to murder Jews must be barred from the classroom for life," said Neuer. "These temporary suspensions are just a slap on the wrist."

"UNRWA is trying to pretend they solved the problem, even as they signal to their staff—and to terrorist organizations like Islamic Jihad which pressed UNRWA to reject the UN Watch report—that they don't really object to the virulent antisemitism of their teachers, which UNRWA and its donors know pervades the agency," said Neuer.




EU Agrees to Fund PA, Despite Terrorism and Hate Education
The PA teaches its children that its “right to its homeland Palestine” includes all of Israel. The text on these maps on the PA Ministry of Education Facebook Page is explicit: (bottom) “Palestine – the entire land is ours, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River”] and (top) “My homeland.”

Speaking just weeks before the EU decided to renew its aid, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas made clear, once again, that the PA’s top priority is rewarding terrorists, and that any funds they have will be set aside first and foremost for this goal:
Mahmoud Abbas: “We emphasize that the issue of the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners is at the top of our list of priorities, and any amount [of money] we have will be earmarked for them.”

[Official PA TV, Stories from Palestine, March 5, 2022]


While the EU may attempt to justify its renewed aid to the PA citing humanitarian concerns, the PA itself admits it prioritizes its terror reward payments over the welfare of its law-abiding citizens. The EU announced that the money to the PA is going for “payments of the salaries and pensions of civil servants, the social allowances to vulnerable families, [and] the referrals to the East Jerusalem Hospitals.” The EU certainly understands that their funding of salaries and allowances to needy Palestinians is what enables the PA to use other money to reward terror and terrorists.

It is unclear why the EU has now decided to ignore the PA’s prioritizing of terror payments, since the EU policy of ignoring the PA’s hate and terror promotion does not promote peace. Rather the opposite is true. By unconditionally renewing its aid to the PA, the Palestinian leadership says they are receiving a clear message: The EU condones and is willing to financially support Palestinian hate and terror.


Hamas and the PA left out of the Middle East
Hamas knows that increased tensions and violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem further undermine the credibility of Abbas and the PA leadership among the Palestinians. As far as Hamas is concerned, the death of each Palestinian in clashes with the IDF is another nail in the coffin of the PA leadership and any “political horizon” with Israel. The daily IDF raids on Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps are increasing the anger and frustration not only against Israel, but also against Abbas and the PA leadership.

Like Abbas, the leaders of Hamas are also worried about their group’s growing isolation in the Arab world. In an attempt to shift attention to the Gaza Strip, Hamas has renewed the talk about a possible prisoner exchange deal with Israel by releasing a video of Israeli-Arab citizen Hisham al-Sayed, who has been held captive by the terror group since he crossed into the Gaza Strip in 2015.

The purpose of the video is to put the issue of a prisoner swap back on the agenda ahead of Biden’s visit to the region. Hamas is hoping to send a message to the Americans, the Arabs and Israel to the effect that the terror group remains a major and relevant player in the Palestinian arena and that it holds the key to security and stability.

By raising the issue of the prisoner swap, Hamas is also hoping to score points with the Palestinian public by showing that it is the only party working to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons at a time when Abbas is not doing anything in this regard. Hamas is well aware that securing a prisoner exchange agreement would increase its popularity among the Palestinians.

It’s hard to find a single Palestinian who believes Biden’s visit to the region will yield positive change for the Palestinians, especially in light of the recent collapse of the ruling coalition in Israel.

The day after Biden leaves, Abbas will realize the current stalemate with Israel is likely to remain intact, at least until the next Israeli elections, which are scheduled for four months from now. Moreover, Abbas and Hamas will wake up to a new Middle East in which the Arabs continue to shift their attention from the PA/Hamas-engineered Palestinian plight to their own pressing problems.
Hamas and PA torture of jailed Palestinians is 'crime against humanity' - HRW
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas terror organization in Gaza are systematically mistreating and torturing Palestinians in detention, Human Rights Watch and Palestinian rights group Lawyers for Justice found in a joint report.

The report, which was submitted to the United Nations' Committee Against Torture, found that abuse of jailed critics and opponents by Palestinian authorities "may amount to crimes against humanity" due to its systematic nature. Crimes against humanity

The report accused Palestinian police in the West Bank of "violently dispersing popular protests demanding justice and rounded up scores of people for peacefully protesting." It cited a Palestinian man who claimed a PA officer in civilian clothes arrested him while he was on his way to a protest.

More testimonies gathered accuse authority officers of arresting protesters at their homes, detaining Palestinians for planning protests and blocking protests from taking place.

Hamas security forces were accused of "routinely taunting and threatening detainees" and of exercising the use of solitary confinement and various forms of beatings, such as whipping detainees' feet, forcing them into painful positions for prolonged periods and hoisting their arms behind their backs with cables or rope.
Hamas aiming to rebuild ties with Assad after Syrian civil war triumph
After a decade of stalemated ties between the Sunni Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas and the Alawite-dominated Syrian regime, dialogue aiming to rebuild the relationship has reached an advanced stage, according to leaks by Hamas officials.

“There are indeed serious and continuous steps toward completing the reconciliation with Damascus and turning the page. However, there are orders at the movement’s internal level not to circulate news through the media until further notice,” a high-level Hamas source said on condition of anonymity.

Before 2011, the Syrian regime extended significant benefits to Hamas that enhanced its political stability, whether through logistical support, military training, or allowing it to move its headquarters to Damascus. This poses a fundamental question: What made Hamas sacrifice all these advantages and stand up against the Assad regime? Akram Atallah, a Palestinian writer, answered this question, writing in the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper on Monday.

“Hamas’ position was not, as it claimed, based on political or civil considerations, related to the right of the Syrian people to freedom … because in its limited experience of rule of Gaza and in its struggle for power with the Fatah movement, Hamas did not show the slightest respect for human rights,” he wrote.

Hamas’ abandonment of the Syrian regime, according to Atallah, “related to its ideological interests … as the turmoil in the region seemed to be in the interest of the Muslim Brotherhood movement and the capitals seemed to fall one after the other into the hands of the [Muslim Brotherhood] movement, beginning with Tunisia and then Cairo, and Damascus seemed to be on the same road.”
Chances for Iran Nuclear Deal Worse After Doha Talks: US Official
The chances of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are worse after indirect US-Iranian talks in Doha that ended without progress, a senior US official told Reuters on Thursday.

“The prospects for a deal after Doha are worse than they were before Doha and they will be getting worse by the day,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

“You could describe Doha at best as treading water, at worst as moving backwards. But at this point treading water is for all practical purposes moving backwards,” he added.

The official would not go into the details of the Doha talks, during which European Union officials shuttled between the two sides trying to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement under which Iran had limited its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

Then US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and restored harsh US sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to start violating its nuclear restrictions about a year later.

“Their vague demands, reopening of settled issues, and requests clearly unrelated to the JCPOA all suggests to us … that the real discussion that has to take place is (not) between Iran and the US to resolve remaining differences. It is between Iran and Iran to resolve the fundamental question about whether they are interested in a mutual return to the JCPOA,” the senior US official said.

“At this point, we are not sure if they (the Iranians) know what more they want. They didn’t come to Doha with many specifics,” he added. “Most of what they raised they either knew – or should have known — was outside the scope of the JCPOA and thus completely unsellable to us and to the Europeans, or were issues that had been thoroughly debated and resolved in Vienna and that we were clearly not going to reopen.”
Iran executions more than double in 1st half of 2022, with 251 hanged through June
Executions in Iran have more than doubled in the first half of 2022, an NGO said Friday, warning that the surge in hangings was aimed at spreading fear at a time of protests.

From January 1 to June 30, 251 people were hanged in Iran compared with 117 in the first half of last year, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) said in a report.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had expressed concern last month over the rise in executions, with Iran again executing drug offenders in high numbers and many people from ethnic minorities.

Iran has over the last months seen nationwide protests over economic grievances such as the rise in cost of basic staples including bread.

“There is no doubt that spreading fear to counteract the growing popular anti-regime protests is the main goal of these executions,” IHR founder Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP.

“Only stronger international reactions and domestic campaigns against the executions can raise the political cost of these executions for the authorities and stop the increasing trend,” he said.






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