Monday, August 29, 2022

From Ian:

Ron Dermer (WaPo): On Iran, the Americans Are Not Going to Work with Israel Seriously on a Plan B
The Biden administration from the beginning was committed to going back into the nuclear deal. They started by saying they were going to get a "long and stronger" deal - which was absurd. The core Biden administration policy is the same as the Obama administration policy, which is to contain a nuclear Iran. It is not to prevent a nuclear Iran.

Once you understand that, their refusal to walk away from the table makes sense. They will never fully walk away from the table because from their point of view, the alternative to almost any nuclear deal is worse than the deal itself, because they see the alternative is military action. I don't think that's the only alternative to walking away from the deal, but the goal for them is to avoid a military confrontation at all costs.

If you ask the senior people in the Biden administration which of these two scenarios is worse - a military confrontation with Iran or a nuclear-armed Iran - they will actually say a military confrontation is worse. Their logic is that a military confrontation will only set the nuclear program back two or three years and then Iran will reconstitute its nuclear program and get a nuclear weapon anyway. So the best we can do, according to their logic, is to delay it for a few years, but that's better than a military confrontation with Iran. That's how they've always seen this problem.

You hear Israeli policymakers say, "We need to speak to the U.S. administration about different Plan B scenarios." The Israelis don't seem to understand that there is no Plan B - because they are opposed to any kind of military confrontation. So they're not going to work with Israel seriously on contingency planning, other than to put handcuffs on Israel doing military operations.

If there would be a deal that would actually eliminate Iran's military nuclear capability and at the same time would remove all the sanctions against Iran, Israel would accept that deal because it would have solved the one problem that it was designed to solve - to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This deal doesn't solve that problem. It at best delays it for a few years and in the meantime makes everything worse and gives them a kosher stamp for a nuclear arsenal.
On the Precipice of a Very Bad Iran Deal
it seems the U.S. is on the verge of reentering the Iran nuclear deal. The Islamic Republic has continued energetic work on its supposedly non-existent nuclear weapons program, making such progress that a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claims Tehran is already able to fashion a weapon. (That raises the question of why talks are continuing.)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) identified in 2019 a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities in Iran that had not been declared to the Agency and requested responses to these questions from Iran. After committing to answer IAEA questions, Iranian officials missed the agreed-upon deadline for responding. Reportedly, the current proposal to resolve the IAEA inspections dilemma is to condition implementation of the deal on the IAEA closing its investigation.

For those countries concerned about Iran's malign intentions, a "return" to "compliance" with the JCPOA will be nearly moot, as the agreement's restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities will begin to expire in a year and a half, and almost all will lapse by the end of this decade. At that point Iran will be fully within its rights under the agreement to do all the things that the Biden administration tells us today it is too risky to permit Iran to do.

Iran's nuclear program is largely on track; its missile and terrorism programs are untouched. The White House will likely ignore the angry denunciations of the new deal by the Israelis with conciliatory pats, new arms exports, and empty promises.
European Draft of Iran Nuclear Deal Leaves Critical Matters Unresolved
A close look at the final draft of the nuclear deal with Iran, proposed by the EU in July, reveals the pace of sanctions' removal is greater than the schedule for Iran to quit its uranium enrichment and get rid of its stocks of already enriched material, as well as its centrifuges.

The emerging deal addresses only the fissile material needed to build a bomb, and not other components of Iran's military nuclear program, including its development of nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them.

The deal also ignores Iran's belligerent policies in the Middle East and its use of proxies to destabilize the region.

In practical terms, in the first three months of the agreement, the IAEA will be unable to inspect Iran's nuclear program. Iran will be able to produce advanced centrifuges and hide enriched material.


JPost Editorial: UNRWA needs restructuring before it gets more funding
UNRWA was founded in 1949 to provide what was meant to be a temporary solution until the “Palestinian refugee problem” could be resolved. At the time, there were approximately 726,000 Arabs (according to UN figures) who came under UNRWA’s auspices. Today, the figure of “Palestinian refugees” in UNRWA’s care stands at more than 5.5 million. Incredibly, over the past seven decades, the number has grown by millions. UNRWA has not helped a single Palestinian refugee solve their official refugee status, on the contrary.

Other reasons for the drop in funding follow the reports which show where the money is going. Various NGOs researching the textbooks and education system in UNRWA-run schools found evidence of support of terrorism and the cult of martyrdom. There have also been acknowledged cases of Hamas creating terror tunnels and weapons stores under UNRWA schools in Gaza.

It has been more than 70 years since the Palestinian refugee crisis was ostensibly created when the Arab world rejected Palestinian statehood alongside the State of Israel. Several Arab countries have since signed peace agreements with the Jewish state, but the Palestinians still hope they will both gain international recognition as an independent state and keep international aid as perpetual refugees.

Far from transforming Palestinian refugees into self-sufficient individuals, UNRWA has fostered dependency and a culture of entitlement; given the Palestinians no motivation to return to the negotiating table in good faith; and furthered false dreams of a “right of return,” to destroy Israel, instead of building lives based on peace and economic security alongside the Jewish state.

UNRWA doesn’t deserve more funding without undergoing a dramatic reform to ensure that it is alleviating the Palestinian refugee situation and not perpetuating it.


Palestinian media: 11 wounded in firefight with IDF, gunmen near Jenin
A firefight broke out on Monday between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen during an Israeli arrest raid in the village of Qabatiyah, near Jenin, according to the Israeli military.

The Palestinian Authority-run Wafa news agency said 11 Palestinians were injured during the operation, some severely.

The Israeli force entered the village in pursuit of a terror suspect, who opened fire on the soldiers from within a residential building, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. The force returned fire, and the suspect eventually surrendered.

The suspect, identified by Palestinian media as Alaa Omar Zakarneh, a former Israeli security prisoner, was arrested, and an M-16 rifle was seized, according to the IDF.

The Israeli force also returned fire after being shot at from multiple other locations during the operation, the statement said. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

Meanwhile, security forces conducted counterterrorism operations in other locations in Judea and Samaria, including Hebron, Bidu and Jabal Mawalach overnight Sunday.

A total of nine security suspects were arrested. There were no injuries among IDF personnel.
Israeli forces arrest wanted Islamic Jihad member in West Bank

Mahmoud Abbas’ Conflicting Legacy & the Future of the Palestinian Authority
For close to 20 years, Mahmoud Abbas has been the public face of the Palestinian Authority, meeting with international leaders, speaking at the United Nations and representing the PA in its rocky relations with Israel. Now, in the twilight of his public career, it appears that Abbas’ legacy is multifaceted and full of conflicting values.

On the one hand, Abbas has overseen greater security coordination with Israel and has moved away from the violent rhetoric of Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders who preceded him.

On the other hand, Abbas continues to financially support terrorists and their families and continues to trivialize Jewish history and belittle the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

For the Palestinians, his legacy is one of corruption, autocracy and the silencing of criticism.

However, if Abbas fails to appoint a successor (or at least establish channels of succession), his lasting legacy will be of someone who endangered the stability of the Palestinian Authority, left the door open for Hamas to infiltrate PA institutions and threatened the continued existence of everything he worked towards for most of his adult life.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: The Arrests and Torture No One Talks About
Abbas was obviously not thinking about these prisoners when he expressed concern over the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. He seems uncomfortable discussing the fact that his security forces are arresting and torturing Palestinians.

Instead, Abbas would like the world to focus only on the prisoners held by Israel and ignore the protests against the "political detentions" that take place every week not far from his office and residence in Ramallah.

Hours before Abbas's remarks about the prisoners in Israel, the mother of Ahmad Hreash, a Palestinian man arrested by the Palestinian security forces more than 80 days ago, was rushed to hospital. She has been on hunger strike for 10 days to demand the release of her son from the Palestinians' notorious Jericho Prison. The prison is infamously referred to by Palestinians as the "Jericho Slaughterhouse" because of brutal torture Palestinians say they have undergone while being held there by Abbas's security forces.

"They keep extending his detention without us, or even the lawyer, knowing what the charges are." — Mukaram Qurt, mother of Ahmad Hreash, Al Jazeera, August 25, 2022.

Palestinian Lawyers for Justice, a human rights group, said that it has documented 117 cases of "political detentions" by the Palestinian security forces since the beginning of June 2022.

The detainees include six Palestinians who had previously served time in Israeli prison for anti-Israeli activities and are currently being held in the "Jericho Slaughterhouse." The group noted that the Palestinian security forces were continuing to imprison Palestinians because of their political affiliation of for criticizing and opposing the Palestinian Authority.

"They hit me with their legs and hands. They beat me with rubber hoses. They put me in a tiny cell with no mattresses or pillows. I had to use my shoe as a pillow while sleeping on the floor." — Mujahed Tabanjah, Palestinian journalist, Facebook, August 16, 2022.

Alarmed by the ongoing crackdown on political opponents and other Palestinians, several Palestinian activists launched an online campaign titled "Political Detention is a Crime," in protest of the arrests and torture in Palestinian prisons.

When Palestinians arrest or brutally torture other Palestinians, it does not appear to be "news that's fit to print." Palestinians who go on hunger strikes in Palestinian prisons are often ignored by the media, while those who protest against Israel receive wide coverage.

By ignoring the horrific human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority, the international community and media expose their hypocrisy in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are also doing an incalculable disservice to the Palestinian people, many of whom have been victimized by their own leaders.
UN Reports Blatant Security Violations by Armed Groups in Southern Lebanon
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said on Friday that it has recently observed at least four illicit shooting ranges in its area of operations where individuals "dressed in combat attire" were conducting live fire exercises.

"The presence of weapons and the training activities that appear to be taking place are blatant violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701," the UNIFIL spokesperson's office said.

Lebanon's Armed Forces confirmed that it did not operate the shooting ranges.

UNIFIL also said its freedom of movement has been increasingly restricted.


IUMS President, Moroccan Islamic Scholar Ahmad Al-Raysouni in Controversial Interview
Moroccan Islamic Scholar Ahmad Al-Raysouni, the president of the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said in a July 29, 2022 interview on Blanca TV (Morocco/Online) that Mauritania and the Western Sahara region should be a part of Morocco, that their separation from Morocco is a “colonialist fabrication”, and that a Jihad march should be organized into Western Sahara and the Algerian city of Tindouf, where there are large populations of West Saharan refugees. Al-Raysouni also criticized the King of Morocco and the Moroccan government for normalizing relations with Israel, saying that this is a “mark of shame.”

He elaborated that all the benefits of normalizing relations with Israel, which would include economic benefits and international recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara, would only be temporary because Israel will cease to exist. In addition, Al-Raysouni said that due to the normalization with Israel, Jews who had left Morocco will demand reparations even though they had “smuggled money” out of Morocco and left the country as “traitors”. Al-Raysouni received much criticism in the Arab world following this interview, particularly due to his calls for the Jihad march on Western Sahara and Tindouf, Algeria. On August 28, 2022, Al-Raysouni resigned from his position in the IUMS.


The Iran question
One might do well to ask why we are empowering all of America’s enemies and abandoning our friends? Is it simply to sign a deal that fulfills a campaign promise before the midterm elections? Those of us who have studied history should understand that what might seem now to be a victory, will shortly prove to be immensely deleterious to the national security interests of the United States and her allies.

There are certain Iranian demands which have been made that would be clearly difficult for the Biden administration to agree to. For example, there is the long-standing issue the Iranians had demanded—that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be removed from the State Department’s List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

The fact that this could be on the table in Vienna, as the U.S. Department of Justice has, as recently as Aug. 10, charged Sharam Poursafi, an IRGC member with the attempted assassination of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, where he was willing to pay $300,000 to his contacts in the United States. Assassination attempts have also been uncovered against former U.S. government officials, former director of the CIA Mike Pompeo and other high-ranking former American officials. The IRGC is also suspected to have been involved in a stabbing attack on author Salman Rushdie in New York State on Aug. 12.

This will be a very difficult sell to the American people. We know that on April 14, more than 900 Gold Star Families, whose loved ones have been murdered by the IRGC or have been personally wounded, signed a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden stating: “In our view, removing the IRGC’s terrorist designation would threaten American lives, harm veterans and Gold Star families, and empower a terrorist organization that continues to sponsor and commit attacks against U.S. interests and allies in the Middle East.”

We also know that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to censure Iran because they had found traces of uranium at undeclared nuclear sights. As a result of that, on June 9, Iran turned off 27 cameras in its declared nuclear sites. IAEA director general Rafael Grossi called it a “fatal blow” to the negotiations. He had given them 30 days to reinstall the cameras; otherwise, there would be a “black hole” in his ability to monitor their nuclear program. As of today, the cameras have still not been reinstalled. Leaks have started, and we do not know if Iran will decide where and when the IAEA inspections will take place.

And finally, there is the outrageous Iranian demand that once this deal is signed, it will never be revoked by a future administration. That would mean that this would constitute an international treaty and would require two-thirds of the Senate to ratify it. It would never get the required 65 votes for passage.

And we also know there is an act of law, the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. That is what is called a constitutional “check and balance.” One way that we can ensure that the United States does not enter another disastrous deal with Iran is to insist that our members of Congress do their part and, once the details come out, have a free and open public debate on it, and finally vote on it.
Israel trying to sway US over nuclear deal

Ex-Mossad chief: Israel targeted nuke program ‘in the very heartland’ of Iran
Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said Monday that Israel carried out “countless operations” against Iran’s nuclear program when he led the spy agency.

Speaking in English at an event in Switzerland marking 125 years since the First Zionist Congress, Cohen also hit out at the emerging nuclear accord between Iran and world powers.

“During my term as Mossad director, countless operations were conducted against Iran’s nuclear program,” he said.

“Without going into too many details, I can tell you the Mossad had many successes in the fight against Iran’s nuclear program,” Cohen said. “We operated around the world and on Iranian soil itself, in the very heartland of the ayatollahs.”

He noted the operation to snatch the Iranian nuclear files, which he said showed “clear evidence” Tehran lied about the military dimensions of its atomic program.

Mentioning the ongoing nuclear talks, Cohen said Israel “will continue to do whatever needs to be done” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms if a deal is signed.

“We can never allow a regime that calls for our destruction to get its finger on the nuclear trigger,” he said.

“Iran seeks to encircle Israel, from Gaza in the south to Lebanon and Syria in the north. It funds, trains and arms terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, enabling them to shoot thousands of rockets at Israel’s civilian population,” Cohen said.

“This fanatical regime must never obtain the ability to accelerate its weapon of mass destruction that would be used against the Jewish state,” he added.
Iran’s Raisi threatens Israel, says no return to nuke deal if IAEA probe continues
Iran’s president warned Monday that any roadmap to restore Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers must see international inspectors end their probe of man-made uranium particles found at undeclared sites in the country.

In a rare news conference marking his first year in office, President Ebrahim Raisi also issued threats against Israel and tried to sound upbeat as Iran’s economy and rial currency have cratered under the weight of international sanctions.

Raisi said if Israel decides to carry out its threats to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, it “will see if anything from the Zionist regime will remain or not.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid had warned Sunday: “If an accord is signed, we won’t be obligated by it. We’re not a party to it, and it won’t limit our activities. The IDF and the Mossad have been instructed by us to prepare themselves for any scenario.”

Despite the international attention on the deal as talks in Vienna hang in the balance, it took Raisi well over an hour before fully acknowledging the ongoing negotiations.

Tehran and Washington have traded written responses in recent weeks on the finer points of the roadmap, which would see sanctions lifted against Iran in exchange for it restricting its rapidly advancing nuclear program. Prime Minister Yair Lapid has slammed the emerging deal, saying the negotiators are letting Tehran manipulate the talks.

The International Atomic Energy Agency for years has sought for Iran to answer questions about man-made uranium particles found at undeclared sites.
A Second Iran Deal Would Be Based on Pure Fantasy
America is about to sign off on a second disastrous and foolhardy nuclear deal with Iran. Like Yogi Berra said, it’s “déjà vu all over again.” The same people who made the first bad deal in 2015 are about to make another. The only difference is that it is not Barack Obama at the helm but President Joe Biden.

Once again, Israel’s concerns are not being given the time of day. Biden has said over and over again that he will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. He told this to Israeli officials on his recent visit to Israel.

The problem is that Iran is nearly at the point of nuclear breakout and a nuclear bomb is achievable in a very short time. No deal is going to stop the Iranians at this point. The deal will only be “smoke and mirrors.” In a very important sense, a bad deal is worse than no deal at all.

The two main American critics of the first Iran deal, former National Security Advisor John Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now have Iranian bounties on their heads.

The Iranians learned how to build a bomb and fool the West from North Korea. Iran has been following the same playbook for years. All the while, it has used the $150 billion it received from Obama as part of the 2015 deal to remain the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

As of 2020, North Korea had 40 nuclear weapons, along with the ability to make at least seven more per year and outfit its long-range missiles with nuclear warheads. If one looks at the timeline of North Korea’s agreements and deals with the United States and the West from 1994 until its nuclear breakout in 2006, one sees an eerie reminder of Iran’s actions.

The difference, however, is that Iran is in the Middle East. Although South Korea is central to America’s interests, the Gulf states and Israel are game changers. The oil states have all joined Israel via the Abraham Accords to fend off Iranian aggression. Yes, the Abraham Accords go much further and deeper than that, but it was Iran’s nuclear ambitions that got the ball rolling.
Iranian Media React to a Possible New Nuclear Deal
In discussions on renewing the Iran deal, there are three main issues in dispute: lifting the sanctions, guaranteeing the sustainability of the new deal and the economic benefits for Iran even if the U.S. administration is replaced, and the issue of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) oversight and inspections.

Fereydoon Abbasi, the former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Aug. 20, 2022, that even if a deal was signed, the West would not change its attitude toward Iran.

"Its ideology and its principles lead it to seek Iran's destruction and curtail its revolutionary activity throughout the world, particularly in Asia and Africa. The West will try in every way to continue the heavy economic pressure on Iran and the Iranian people."
Iraq’s Powerful Sadr Says He Quits Politics, Protests Escalate
Iraq’s powerful Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Monday he was quitting politics and closing his institutions in response to an intractable political deadlock, sparking protests by his followers and raising fears of more instability.

Sadr’s supporters, who have been staging a weeks-long sit-in in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, a sprawling area of ministries and foreign missions, stormed the main cabinet headquarters and demonstrated inside after his announcement.

Iraq’s army declared a curfew from 3:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) and urged the protesters to leave the Green Zone to avoid clashes.

During the stalemate over forming a new government, Sadr has galvanized his legions of backers, throwing into disarray Iraq’s effort to recover from decades of conflict and sanctions and its bid to tackle sectarian strife and rampant corruption.

Sadr was the biggest winner from an October election but withdrew all his lawmakers from parliament in June after he failed to form a government that excluded his rivals, mostly Iran-backed Shi’ite parties.

Sadr has insisted on early elections and the dissolution of parliament. He says no politician who has been in power since the US invasion in 2003 can hold office.

“I hereby announce my final withdrawal,” Sadr said in a statement posted on Twitter, criticizing fellow Shi’ite political leaders for failing to heed his calls for reform.
At least 3 killed in Baghdad clashes; Iraqi army declares nationwide curfew
Three protesters were killed and Iraq declared a nationwide curfew after supporters of Moqtada Sadr stormed the government palace in Baghdad’s Green Zone Monday following the powerful Shiite leader’s declaration that he was quitting politics.

Shots were fired in the fortified area which houses government buildings as well as diplomatic missions, an AFP correspondent said, as tensions soared amid an escalating political crisis that has left Iraq without a new government, prime minister, or president for months.

The army announced a nationwide curfew from 7 p.m. local, after earlier declaring a Baghdad curfew that demonstrators ignored.

An Associated Press photographer heard gunshots being fired and saw several protesters bleeding and being carried away. A senior medical official confirmed at least three protesters were killed by gunfire.

Medical officials said at least 15 protesters were wounded by gunfire and a dozen more were injured by tear gas and physical altercations with riot police in the protests that followed the announcement by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Witnesses said Sadr loyalists and supporters of a rival Shiite bloc, the pro-Iran Coordination Framework, were exchanging fire.

Security forces also fired tear gas to disperse the Sadrists at the entrance to the Green Zone, a security source told AFP.






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