Thursday, October 13, 2022

From Ian:

Yeah, Buoy!!!
The government’s new pitch was that this would be the real benefit of the deal: preserving and enhancing Israel’s security interests through the now-famous buoy line. Barak Ravid, the local Israeli journalistic mouthpiece of the Obama-Biden policy team from the Iran deal days, relayed that government officials who briefed reporters on the deal said that anchoring the “line of buoys” was “very important” because “in the last 20 years the Israeli military operated along this line unilaterally and the Lebanese side had international legitimacy to challenge it.” The deal, however, “will allow Israel to treat it as its northern territorial border.”

In other words, in the two decades up to this moment, Israel has had total freedom to operate in the area to ensure its security against Hezbollah. However, without the deal, the terror pseudo-state to its north would suddenly have enjoyed “international legitimacy” to challenge Israel. That sounds very serious—and certainly warrants ceding territory with potential energy resources under threat of force to a terrorist group that is stockpiling and pointing tens of thousands of rockets at you.

Needless to say, the Lebanese side disagrees with the Israeli reading. Instead, it claims another point on land farther south at Naqoura. Squaring this circle, probably with some creative language, is what the U.S. mediator likely has been busy figuring out.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was spit-balling another set of talkers: “This is an agreement whose essence is economic,” Gantz said last week. “And if it is signed, we, as well as Lebanon and its citizens, who are suffering from a severe crisis, will enjoy it for years to come.” The logic here was that if Lebanon gets its rig in its Block 9 opposite Israel’s rig at Karish, then Hezbollah will have a stake in maintaining calm and smooth operation of both rigs. So, in the future, if Hezbollah attacks Israeli energy infrastructure, Israel can target a gas rig owned and operated by France’s Total—putting France on Hezbollah’s side.

This pretense of hard security and pseudo-deterrence posture rang even more hollow as it clashed with another key government talker: that Israel had to conclude this awful deal ASAP if it wanted to avoid a new war with Hezbollah. An IDF official sent out to make this pitch put it this way: “There is an urgency and a necessity to reach an agreement in the near future and without delay, in order to prevent an escalation of security [dangers], which is [otherwise] highly likely, and to utilize the unique window of opportunity to reach an agreement.”

The logic here was itself unique in the annals of deterrence: If your psychopathic neighbor keeps slashing the tires on your shiny Mercedes, the solution is to buy him a spanking brand-new Mercedes of his own that you can then pretend to hold hostage.

The source of this weird pitch was again the Biden administration. As a senior U.S. administration official relayed through Ravid, the reason Biden wanted Lapid to wrap up the deal within weeks was “because the issue has become urgent and the lack of an agreement could lead to dangerous consequences for the region.”

Yet when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that he was troubled by how the Biden administration “pressured our Israeli allies” into a comically terrible deal, the Washington arm of the Obama-Biden messaging machine sprang into action. The progressive lobbying group J Street put out a brief that “fact checked” Sen. Cruz’s ignorant partisanship. Daniel Shapiro, Obama’s former ambassador to Israel who is intimately familiar with the communications environment in Israel, weighed in, regurgitating the same exact talkers and asserting that it was “definitely NOT” American pressure that pushed Israel into this deal.

Yet the reason the Biden administration announced that a gas deal was a key priority was precisely because it’s a deal with Hezbollah. Stabilizing and investing in Iranian regional “equities” is at the core of the Obama-Biden doctrine of realignment with Iran. It’s how you achieve “regional integration”—by publicly showcasing your ability to pressure your allies to prop up Iranian assets, even as the Iranian people are being mowed down in the streets.
How to Lose Friends and Influence Over People
Americans have a reputation, with others and in their own national literature, for being careless and breaking things. Often this is because they are so admirably creative, dynamic, and unattached to the past. But for the last two decades, the epicenter of American carelessness has been the Middle East, an area of the world that seems to encourage fantasies among all Westerners, yet where real-world margins for error are small. The result has been a series of disasters for the peoples of the region and for American prestige. This week brought what looks like another unforced error in policymaking, fed by hubris, fantasy, airy talk, and a refusal to acknowledge reality.

On Tuesday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby announced that President Joe Biden will be reevaluating America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia after OPEC+ announced the previous week that it would cut oil production. Kirby’s announcement followed a statement by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., claiming that Saudi Arabia is helping to “underwrite Putin’s war” through OPEC+. “As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” Menendez said, “I will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine.”

As a Saudi who loves the United States, and believes deeply that our two countries need each other, the only word that comes to mind regarding the contemporary “reevaluation” of our relations is: obscene.

It was the Obama administration that decided to give Vladimir Putin a foothold in the eastern Mediterranean, which it sold to the American people as a way to “deescalate” the civil war in Syria. As the United States romanced Putin, offering him Crimea and warm water ports in Syria in exchange for pulling Iran’s irons out of the fire over the past decade, U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Israel have had no choice but to cope. Last month, while Russian-operated Iranian drones and missiles were pounding Kyiv, Riyadh used its diplomatic leverage to obtain the release of American and British POWs from Putin.

America saddled us with the reality of a neighboring country controlled by Iranian troops and the Russian air force. Worse, as part of its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Obama administration sent tens of billions of dollars flowing into Iranian coffers—money that was used to demolish Iraq, crush Syria, create chaos in Lebanon, and threaten Saudi territory from Yemen. Iranian rocket and drone strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia are now routine. In response to the barrage of missiles on Saudi infrastructure last year, the Biden administration withdrew U.S. missile defense batteries from Saudi territory.

Having watched Russian forces support or directly commit atrocities against innocent civilians and facilitate the use of chemical weapons for seven years in Syria, the Saudi government was quick to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Unlike many in the West, who expected a short, parade-ground war, the Saudis understood full well what Putin was capable of. So did the Israelis.
Why Jerusalem Is the Right Location for the UK's Embassy
Up until 1948, the world generally referred to "Palestinians" as the Jews who lived in what was to become modern Israel. The "Palestinian" flag until 1948 contained a Magen David, the Palestine Post was the region's Jewish newspaper and Palestinian football teams comprised Jews.

Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Old City and eastern Jerusalem by the invading Jordanian and Arab armies in 1948. Jews were the majority of the population of the Old City. Synagogues were desecrated and destroyed and the vibrant Jewish community erased. The Jewish neighborhood of Simon HaTsadik (Simon the Just) became the Muslim area of Sheikh Jarrah.

The default position for the location of an embassy is a country's capital city, and it is for the country itself to decide its location. Israel has declared that Jerusalem is its capital city and this must be respected. The UK already has a consulate in eastern Jerusalem to serve the local Arab communities. Why, therefore, should there not be an embassy in Jerusalem to serve Israeli citizens?

The Abraham Accords and the immense benefits for the region flowing from them has shown that the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem has had no adverse effect. Neither would the relocation of the British embassy.


Israel Passing Intelligence to Ukraine on Iranian-Made Suicide Drones: Report
Israel is reportedly sharing with Ukraine “basic intelligence” about Iranian-made drones used by Russia to hit civilian infrastructures and energy installations, according to a report in the New York Times.

Citing a senior Ukrainian official, the Times also reported that a private Israeli company was providing the war-torn country with satellite images of Russian military positions.

The report comes as more than a hundred Russian cruise missiles and 50 combat drones struck Ukrainian civilian infrastructure and energy installations in less than two days this week. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s military shot down more than ten Iranian-made drones sent by Russia, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Moscow has been deploying Iranian-made Shahed “suicide” drones in its war against Ukraine, according to Zelensky.

On Monday, Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid “strongly” condemned Russian attacks on the civilian population in Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February Israel has declined to provide military aid to the war-torn country limiting its assistance to humanitarian aid. Zelensky has repeatedly criticised Israel for failing to send Kyiv anti-missile systems, such as the Iron Dome defense system, to help counter Russian attacks.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk this week thanked Lapid for his support for his country and uttered a personal appeal to the Israeli government: “Help us save the lives of our women and children with anti-missile systems and other defense systems.”

Relations between Ukraine and Israel have, however, been strained since Russia’s invasion earlier this year.

Israel has condemned Moscow and provided humanitarian aid and former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had sought to act as a mediator to try and bring an end to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, while also balancing regional security interests implicating Moscow.
Israel Votes at UN to Condemn Russian Annexation of Ukrainian Regions
The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned Russia's September annexation of four Ukrainian regions in a 143-5 vote, with 35 abstentions.

"The world had its say," a grateful Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted after Wednesday's vote. The Russian Federation's "attempt at annexation is worthless [and] will never be recognized by free nations. [Ukraine] will return all its lands," he stated.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kulebasaid added that "The demand is clear: Russian decisions on attempted annexation must be reversed; Russia must withdraw its forces from all of Ukraine’s territory."

Only Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua and Syria stood with Russia.

Iran ducked the issue and was absent from the vote; China and India were among those that abstained.

All Western states, including Israel, stood with Ukraine.

The United States led the drive to condemn Moscow at the General Assembly after Russia blocked any UN Security Council action on the matter.
Terrified of Putin, 13 NATO Countries Want Israel’s Arrow 3
Germany, Britain, Slovakia, Norway, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Czechia, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, and Slovenia on Thursday signed a letter of intent indicating their plan to jointly purchase Israel’s Arrow3 defensive system, as well the US-made Patriot system, Reuters reported.

The Arrow 3 interceptor is part of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Arrow Weapon System, the world’s first operational stand-alone Anti Tactical Ballistic Missiles defense system. Based on the uniquely effective Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 interceptors, the Arrow modular air defense system detects, tracks, intercepts, and destroys incoming TBMs carrying a range of warheads and over a large footprint, thereby protecting strategic assets and population centers.

According to the IAI, the innovative Arrow 3 interceptor is designed to intercept and destroy the newest, longer-range threats, especially those carrying weapons of mass destruction.

According to Reuters, the signing ceremony took place at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels.

Deutsche Welle reported last March that Israel’s successful record of shooting down thousands of Hamas rockets during the Gaza clashes of May 2021 “heightened the allure of missile defense” as Russia was launching missile volleys indiscriminately at Ukraine’s civilian centers.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed at the time that “we have to be prepared for everything, seeing that we have a neighbor that is prepared to use violence to carry out its interests.”

Many more missiles have been launched by Putin’s failing army since March, and when Prime Minister Yair Lapid visited Berlin in mid-September, he and Scholz discussed a €2.5 billion purchase of Israeli-made anti-missile defense systems, according to a report in Maariv.
Jonathan Tobin: Is the Israel-Lebanon maritime deal as good as the Abraham Accords?
Yet Jerusalem is supposed to be comforted by Biden’s promise that the U.S. will guarantee that the agreement is kept, as well as another vacuous pledge about ensuring Israeli security. Nor does it in any way, shape or form constitute a Lebanese recognition of Israel’s right to exist or a stepping stone towards normal relations.

A ceasefire agreement accompanied by an economic payoff may be better than a war, though we shouldn’t assume that Hezbollah’s threats were credible, since both it and Lebanon stand to lose everything they value should they actually provoke an all-out conflict with Israel.

But that shouldn’t be confused with peace.

All of which makes plain that this is the traditional model of Middle East diplomacy that is predicated on pressure on Israel to appease its foes in exchange for meaningless promises and empty guarantees that it can’t possibly rely on. That is the opposite of the sort of diplomacy that the Trump foreign-policy team pursued—one based on building on the common interests of both Israelis and the Arab states in working together against Iran, and on the benefits of normal relations, including trade and travel.

The formula adopted by the Obama and Biden administrations involves Israel’s giving up tangible assets in exchange for something that is called peace but is nothing of the kind. The Trump formula omitted the Israeli concessions and led to genuine progress towards peace, as well as tangible advantages for all involved.

It remains to be seen whether the best-case scenario for the agreement will help, rather than hurt, Lapid or Israel. Nor is it clear whether it will achieve Biden’s goal of ingratiating an Iranian regime currently preoccupied with crushing its own people’s hopes for an end to theocratic tyranny.

But even if it does temporarily buy quiet with Hezbollah, the notion that it is some kind of diplomatic achievement or in any way comparable to the Abraham Accords isn’t merely an exaggeration. Appeasement and buying protection from criminals only strengthen the forces that are committed to endless war against the existence of the Jewish state. That ultimately makes peace less, rather than more, likely.
10 reasons faulty Israel-Lebanon gas deal smells foul
After 10 years of failing to reach an agreement on the Israel-Lebanon maritime border, Prime Minister Yair Lapid has announced that an accord has been reached, calling it a “historic achievement.”

The agreement is highly controversial for a number of reasons, including that Israel essentially ceded the entire negotiating position it held firmly for over a decade and accepted the border demarcation proposed by Lebanon at the start of negotiations, with the exception of a small portion of territory near the land border between the two nations.

There are believed to be significant deposits of natural gas within the disputed waters, deposits that Lebanon will now be able and expected to exploit. Israel will receive some compensation for gas extracted from its territorial waters, though the actual volume of natgas in the well remains unspecified and the percentage of the royalties has yet to be fully negotiated.

Hezbollah is celebrating the deal as a victory while many in Israel and the United States—particularly those who had long been involved in the negotiations prior to Yair Lapid’s ascension as caretaker prime minister—are calling the agreement a disaster.

1. Sovereign doctrine
The main issue relates to the value of the natural gas contained within the economic waters given up. The Qana well/Sidon reservoir is believed to have major quantities, although no commercially-viable quantities have been officially confirmed. A seismic study performed in 2012 suggested that the well may have as much as 25.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

In addition to Qana, reports have referenced other potential reservoirs in the zone. On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who supports the deal, told JNS, “We are satisfied and happy that Lebanon will now be able to develop the fields—the one that everybody is talking about [Qana], as well as other fields in those waters.”

Yet aside from the quantities of natgas, issues of sovereignty and security loom large. Where the maritime border is drawn impacts how close the Iranian proxy Hezbollah can get to Israeli population centers. And negotiations in which Israel gives up sovereign territory follow a dangerous pattern for Israel in which it signals that it is willing to cede areas of significant value whenever pressed to do so.
Seth Frantzman: Democracies and deals: From Lebanon to Iran
At the time, in early 2015, then vice-president Joe Biden said, “around the world, America’s influence depends on its ability to honor its commitments.” He warned that Republican critics that “the vast majority of our international commitments take effect without Congressional approval.”

Obama eventually secured enough support in the US Senate to block any kind of challenge to the Iran deal but it didn’t last long and in May 2018 the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement. A year later, in May 2019, Iranian threats to US troops in Iraq increased, a US drone was downed; ships were attacked with mines in the Gulf, US bases were attacked with rockets and by January 2020 the US had carried out air strikes killed IRGC Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani.

The Biden administration has considered re-entering the deal and European countries, along with Russia, have been in talks with Iran. But Iran has changed tactics as well; and there is a lot of water under the bridge; with new US sanctions on the IRGC and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Iran has also expanded its drone and missile program, threatening more of the region. Will the Israel-Lebanon maritime deal be a historic shift and be cemented by the next government, or is it heading for rough waters ahead?

One of the issues that democracies face in making deals like this is that adversaries can use timetables; such as elections or domestic politics, to pressure the government. Iran exploited divisions in the US; pushing rhetoric about the US needing to help “moderates” and fearmongering about another “war” or “endless war” in the Middle East; and even spreading anti-Israel messages about how Israel was driving the US toward a new conflict in the region.

Hezbollah also appeared to use rhetoric in the lead-up to the deal. Iran knows how to manufacture fake causes in the region, such as Hezbollah “resisting” Israel by fighting over the disputed Har Dov area on the border.

As such, Israel always risks Hezbollah conjuring up some acres of water off the coast that it now needs to “resist” and threaten Israel for not keeping up its part in the deal. In short, the deal could mean peace and security, but it can become an excuse for conflict. If the next government rips up the agreement, Iran and Hezbollah can claim that Israel is “violating” Lebanon’s maritime economic zone, necessitating “resistance.”

Iran did this with the Iran deal. Under the deal, Iran wasn’t supposed to be stockpiling enriched uranium, but when the US withdrew this gave Iran an excuse to enrich uranium; whereas before 2015 it didn’t have an excuse as to why it was enriching.

Now, Iran says it is enriching to get the US back to the deal, basically giving Iran a right to move towards a nuclear weapon under the guise of wanting the deal back. This is the problem democracies like Israel and the US face; deals can bring peace, but they can also be an excuse for conflict.
WSJ: Lebanon's Bait-and-Switch Treaty
I visited Beirut in 2020 while serving as assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs to restart the maritime border negotiations between Israel and Lebanon that had been stalled for nearly a decade. Two years later, the states have reached an agreement on their offshore exclusive economic zone boundary that heavily favors Lebanon. During negotiations, mediated by the Biden administration, Israel conceded the entirety of its claims to the 330-square-mile zone to Lebanon in return for a 3-mile internationally recognized buffer zone adjacent to the shoreline.

As per the new agreement, Lebanon will attain virtually 100% of its initial negotiating position. It's a remarkable turn of events, especially given Beirut's profound lack of leverage. Lebanese negotiators won the day by employing a time-tested bait-and-switch negotiating tactic. Immediately after talks commenced, Lebanon changed its position, demanding an even larger exclusive economic zone, a maximalist demand that led to a breakdown in the talks. When negotiations resumed, the new Israeli government saw Lebanon's readiness to return to the previous line as a significant concession.

The Israel Defense Forces say the agreement will remove one point of friction with Hizbullah. But the proposition that the maritime deal makes Israel safer or promotes prospects for normalization with yet another Arab state is dubious. With Iran upgrading its proxy's arsenal of missiles and Hizbullah digging in along Israel's border, another war appears inevitable. It's difficult to imagine that Hizbullah won't emerge from these negotiations emboldened by Israel's decision.

The compromises Israel made demonstrate how far it will go to make peace with its Arab neighbors. Unfortunately, as long as Beirut remains a satrapy of Iran and dominated by its proxy, it's unclear how any agreement will prevent the next Israel-Hizbullah war.
Lebanon and Israel's Maritime Deal Suspends Them between No War and No Peace
On Tuesday, Lebanon and Israel agreed to formally end a dispute between the two countries over their maritime borders. The agreement allows for the exploration of offshore gas reserves believed to lie along the countries' respective shorelines. However, the deal does not finalize the status of disputed land border areas. As part of the agreement, the U.S. has agreed to provide security guarantees to Israel, should there be an attack by Hizbullah against Israel's interests, and to deny Hizbullah any income from the gas revenues.

Hizbullah's support for the deal can be understood in the context of Lebanon's catastrophic economic collapse. The socioeconomic collapse has led to considerable discontent within members of the party's own constituency. The deal presents the prospect of future economic growth and offers hope that Lebanon can emerge from its current quagmire.

Despite an uptick in Hizbullah's rhetoric toward Israel, a military conflict would wreak havoc on the party's own backyard and might impinge on its expanding regional role. As a result, Hizbullah is not keen to go to war.

While this is far from a peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel, the agreement means that both countries now have vested economic interests in maintaining calm along their common border regions, reducing the long-running threat of an outbreak of war between the two countries. In the immediate term, the deal is likely to trigger the finalization of previously negotiated agreements to provide Lebanon with gas from Egypt and electricity from Jordan, in both cases via Syria.
Final Draft of Lebanon Maritime Border Deal Gives Advantage to Israel - Ron Ben-Yishai
The U.S. is more than just a negotiator in the maritime border deal between Israel and Lebanon. It is a party to the deal and a guarantor committed to solve any future disputes between Israel and Lebanon surrounding the maritime border and economic waters. This has strategic value for Israel. Moreover, the success of the deal brings the U.S. back as an active player in the Middle East, with sway over Lebanon.

The agreement states that production from the Qana gas field, predominately (83%) in Lebanese economic waters, will yield revenue to Israel, as guaranteed by the U.S.

According to Israeli intelligence sources, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah green-lit the deal even though his masters in Tehran opposed any such agreement. He realized a deal would be reached with or without his approval, and could not oppose it.


A Dangerous New Generation of Militants Is Rising in the West Bank
A new armed Palestinian political organization comprised of no more than several hundred young men is emerging in the West Bank that is only loosely associated with existing Palestinian political movements. It represents the coming of age of another generation. Committed to a broadly Islamist political outlook, and supporting a strategy of armed insurgency, it represents a fresh challenge both to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority has reduced its activities in the area, and its credibility is nonexistent among the younger generation. This rising generation did not witness the bitter insurgency of the Second Intifada in the 2000-2004 period, or the Israeli military campaign that crushed it. Weaponry proliferates and is readily available to clans or organized criminal groups.
Israel Can't Rely on PA to Stop West Bank-Based Lion's Den Terror Group
The new Lion's Den Palestinian terror group in Nablus consists of some 50 Palestinians, all under the age of 30, who are not affiliated with any "established" terror organizations. It is described by residents of Nablus as "local thugs." "They hurt our economy, run protection rackets, and behave like criminals," said one local resident.

The Lion's Den has no headquarters or a chain of command, making solid intelligence on them difficult.

The PA's Preventive Security Service appears to be helpless in the face of the group's emergence. Israel can't wait for the PA to act.


Police Battle Jerusalem Arabs Overnight, Jewish Family Escapes Lynching
Violent riots took place overnight Thursday in eastern Jerusalem, with other neighborhoods joining the rioters, including Wadi al-Joz, Ras al-Amud, Sur Bahar, Al-Issawiya, Jabal Mukabar, Kfar Hashiloach (Silwan), the Shuafat refugee camp, Beit Hanina, Hizmah, A-Tur, Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah), and the Old City.

Due to the escalation, four Border Guard reserve companies were placed on call, and the decision on whether to order them in will be made this morning after a situation assessment by Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.

A lynching attempt was made in Beit Hanina when an Arab mob threw stones at a Jewish family with three children, including a baby, in their car, but the family managed to escape. Yaakov, a resident of Jerusalem, whose family’s car was stoned by the Arab rioters, told Reshet Bet radio Thursday morning: “It was a great miracle––as soon as they realized that we were Jews, someone pointed a laser beam at us and everyone stormed at us and started throwing stones.”

Yaakov entered the Beit Hanina neighborhood with his car and immediately saw that “the road was closed with rafts and pallets. As soon as I realized where we had entered, I turned the steering wheel to the right and started maneuvering there among the vehicles, we couldn’t believe we were still there. The entire car was full of glass. They threw a stone that we only saw later, and it fell at our boy’s feet, miraculously nothing happened there. The window next to our girl was smashed and the rioters tried to punch her. She pulled her head back in and we continued to move forward.”


Meeting Putin, Abbas says Palestinians ‘don’t trust America’ to solve conflict
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Thursday that the PA does not trust the United States to be an unbiased mediator in any future negotiations.

“We don’t trust America and you know our position. We don’t trust it, we don’t rely on it, and under no circumstances can we accept that America is the sole party in resolving a problem,” Abbas told Putin in a meeting on the sidelines of an international conference in Kazakhstan.

Abbas said that the US can play a peacemaking role “within the Quartet, since it is a great country, but we will never accept it as the only one.”

Abbas’s remarks reflected his frustration with the US, which has stepped back from its once-intense mediation role between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, Washington has turned its focus toward other pressing global issues like the war in Ukraine, relations with China and economic woes.

The comments also follow a crisis of confidence between the Palestinians and the US after the Trump administration cut funding to the Palestinians and pursued policies that were seen as favorable to Israel, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

US President Joe Biden has restored the funding, but kept the embassy in Jerusalem. He also has not attempted to restart peace talks, focusing instead on more modest goals such as boosting the Palestinian economy.
Fatah, Hamas take ‘positive’ steps toward reconciliation at talks in Algeria
Divided Palestinian factions met in Algiers on Thursday amid efforts to persuade them to sign a reconciliation deal to lay out timelines to hold elections within a year, officials said.

“The Palestinians have been divided for more than 15 years, which has hugely weakened our cause,” said Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Fatah delegation in the Algerian capital.

Ismael Haniyeh, chief of the Hamas terror group, said the Algerian-mediated talks which began Tuesday had been “positive and calm.”

The Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and its main rival Hamas have been at odds since elections in 2006, which were won by Hamas but never recognized by the international community.

Months later, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in a deadly conflict that consolidated years of division, with Fatah administering Palestinian-run areas of the West Bank.

Parliamentary and presidential polls, the first since the division, had been set to take place last year, but were canceled — the latest in a series of planned votes that never materialized.

Hossam Badran, a senior Hamas official, said that the sides had “agreed to hold elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, the presidency and the Palestinian National Council within a year.”


Bernard-Henri Lévy: The Women vs. the Mullahs
The other question, as in Ukraine, is whether the free world will show its face or not, and—faced with an enemy (Khamenei … Putin …) who is also their own—be up to the task.

It would require a mobilization of souls.

An increase in the sanctions that the revolutionaries wish on Tehran.

The expulsion and recall of ambassadors, resolutions with actual consequences in the U.N. Security Council.

It would require all feminists to support the daring women of Iran, who risk their lives daily for an end to their decadeslong imprisonment by medieval fanatics, in this unconscionable, real-world telling of The Handmaid’s Tale, by no longer accepting forms of subjugation that they reject in their own countries.

It would require all the implicated countries, starting with the United States, to leave their embarrassing “nuclear negotiation,” which will always be—so long as the ruling obscenity police in Qom are prepared to drown in blood a single line of red lipstick—a fruitless charade.

We have done so well with Ukraine!

We stood, with such unity, against Putin!

We should have the same resolve in front of this new affront!

More than ever, we should say “no accommodation with our radical enemies.”

Western accommodation of evil regimes has a poor track record. It is bad strategy in a world that is never short on demons. It makes a mockery of the rights and freedoms consecrated by the blood of generations of our best thinkers and fighters. It suggests that our most deeply held beliefs and most painful sacrifices are deserving of the cynical mockery of those whose world is founded on torture chambers, on the breaking of bodies, and of the enslaving of minds to the moronic aims of dictators.

Nothing is as fragile as a liberating storm.

Will we heed this liberating call? Or, to speak like another poet, this time, Charles Baudelaire, will Hope, defeated, plant his black flag?
A Second Iranian Revolution?
The events of this summer seem eerily similar to those of 1978. Amini’s murder provoked a sense of national outrage like the bombing of Rex Cinema. As with the monarchy, the regime has lost its narrative and its bearings. Ali Khamenei has said, “I openly state that the recent riots and unrest in Iran were schemes designed by the U.S., the Zionist regime, their mercenaries, and some treasonous Iranians abroad who helped them.” The shah thought and said the same things and dispatched his diplomats to ask the Carter administration why the CIA was plotting against him. In an ominous sign for the regime in September 2022, the nation’s oil workers issued a statement: “We support the people’s struggles against organized and everyday violence against women and against the poverty and hell that dominate the society.” A young revolutionary at the time of the last Iranian revolution, Khamenei surely recalls that it was strikes that crippled the monarchy and hastened its collapse.

Today, the regime seems to be taking comfort in the fact that at this point there is no charismatic personality or a political party leading the opposition. A revolution, after all, needs revolutionaries. And the mullahs are still in command of an array of security organs. But these are thin reeds. The longer the protests linger, the more they are likely to generate leaders who will take charge of the movement. In the meantime, every day, the mullahs will ask their taxed military to kill poor people and unarmed women. If the regime has only the army as its mainstay of support, then it has little in the way of national strength. The shah had a well-armed military and a seemingly all-knowing secret service, SAVAK, but their combined might could not contain a movement seeking change. The records of the Pahlavi monarchy published by the Islamic Republic reveals that the shah’s generals were most alarmed about the cohesion of their conscript army dispatched to the streets to quell peaceful demonstrations. It is entirely possible that similar conversations are taking place today in the regime’s corridors of power.

The Islamists have made nearly all the same mistakes as the monarch they overthrew. The regime lacks an appealing ideology and shields itself in rhetoric that convinces no one. It is led by a corrupt and out-of-touch elite that relies on conspiracy theories to justify its conduct. It has pursued a foreign policy whose costs are more apparent than its benefits. And the mullahs have forgotten the most essential lesson of their revolutionary triumph: Persian armies don’t like killing their people en masse.

The new Iranian revolution has begun, we just don’t know it yet.
The Demonstrations Could Mark a Turning Point in Iran
The current wave of protests in Iran represents a marked difference in both size and makeup from past protests, which were generally middle-class, issue-specific, and geographically isolated. The latest wave of protests represent a geographically, ethnically, and economically diverse cross-section of Iranian society. Women and youth are at the forefront of the protests. Protesters are also coming from Iran's upper class.

These protests also represent a turning point due to the political, economic, and social nature of the protestors' slogans, including "Woman, Life, Freedom," "We Don't Want the Islamic Republic," "I Will Kill, I Will Kill, Those Who Killed My Sister," and "Death to the Dictator, Be it Shah or Ayatollah."

To understand what's happening in Iran, it's important to note the major generational gap that exists. About 85% of Iran's population is under 55. The imposition of a specific way of life according to religious views on the entire country does not match with the lifestyle and beliefs of this new generation. The Islamic Republic has failed to instill their ideology into Iran's youth in everyday life.
MEMRI: Iranian Scholar: According to Islamic Tradition, the Iranians Will Become Masters of the World
Iranian scholar and strategist Alireza Panahian, co-founder of the Ammar think tank, said in an October 6, 2022 public address which was aired on Channel 3 (Iran) that according to Islamic tradition, the Iranians will annihilate Israel and become the “masters of the world.” He said that according to commentators on the Quran, a verse according to which servants of Allah with “great might,” who will ravage the homes of the Israelis, annihilate them, and finish them off refers to the Iranians.

Panahian continued to say that according to Islamic tradition, this will happen before the rise of the Mahdi and before the appearance of the Hidden Imam, the rulers of the entire world will be Iranians. He added that all the “free nations” of the world, the Yemenis, Iraqis, Syrians, and Lebanese, are proud of these traditions, and that the Iranians will liberate the world. Panahian further said that the “wanning” Western civilization has no choice but to be annihilated in confrontation with Iran. For more information about Alireza Panahian, see MEMRITV clip no 8158.




Iraqi Official With Alleged Ties to Iranian Terror Proxies Granted Entry to United States
An Iraqi official with alleged ties to the Iranian regime and its terrorist proxies traveled this week to the United States for high-level meetings amid a global energy crisis that has sent oil prices skyrocketing.

Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail, Iraq’s oil minister and acting finance minister, is listed as an official Iraqi government participant for World Bank meetings scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., according to a list of participants published by the organization. He is also expected to hold meetings with Biden administration officials, according to sources familiar with the matter. A coalition of Republican lawmakers want to know why the Biden administration is "roll[ing] out the red carpet" for Ismail and how he was able to obtain a U.S. visa.

Three Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress are pressuring the Biden administration to reconsider engaging with Ismail, citing his alleged ties to Iran’s terrorist regime and the country’s efforts to evade U.S. economic sanctions.

Under Ismail’s leadership, Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization "has a track record of business dealings with Iran, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and Iranian-backed terrorist organizations Asa’ib ahl al-Haq and Katai’b Hezbollah," Reps. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), Mike Waltz (R., Fla.), and Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) wrote on Wednesday to the White House, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The lawmakers say it is inappropriate for the United States to host an official believed to be enabling the Iranian regime’s global terrorism enterprise, particularly amid mass protests in Iran that threaten to topple the hardline government.

"Joe Biden publicly criticized Italy’s new conservative prime minister, but his administration is happy to roll out the red carpet for criminally corrupt officials with ties to Iranian terrorists," Banks, head of the Republican Study Committee, Congress’s largest Republican caucus, told the Free Beacon. "There is no low the Biden administration won’t stoop to for its disastrous proposed Iran deal and to avoid investing in American energy."

A State Department spokesman would not comment on the status of Ismail’s visa or the issue raised by members of Congress, telling the Free Beacon, "We cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases." In general, the spokesman said, "whenever an individual applies for a U.S. visa, a consular officer reviews the facts of the case and determines whether the applicant is eligible for that visa based on U.S. law."
Effective Ways to Support the Iranian Protests
[T]he Biden administration, even during the Iranian regime's current brutal crackdown on its own citizens, and the US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, are still seeking to revive the lethal "nuclear deal" -- allowing the regime to enrich uranium to acquire an arsenal of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them -- and reassuring the mullahs that the US has no "policy of regime change."

While the West is unwilling to hold Iran's regime to account, the IRGC, officially designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State, does its best to reinstate repression, sparking grave concerns about further bloodshed in Iran and abroad. If that is how Iran treats its own citizens, why would anyone expect it to treat others any better?

Sadly, the US and its allies are still using every diplomatic and political resource to revive the lethal nuclear deal, which would permit the Iranian regime to enrich uranium for an arsenal of nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver it in just a few years -- all to safeguard the West's economic interests and energy supply, which the US already has in abundance.

President Joe Biden and his foreign policy team's failure in Afghanistan, and their preliminary message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that a "minor incursion" would be acceptable, undermined any credible deterrence to Putin to discourage him from invading Ukraine. Now, the policies of the Biden administration seem to be repeating similar disasters in Iran and Taiwan.

To support the Iranian people, the White House should announce that the Iran nuclear deal will not be revived and end the negotiations – which are not even being conducted by the US, but by Russia - which has most gallantly offered to hold Iran's "excess" enriched uranium, presumably for future use.

Biden also should replace Malley with someone who understands the Iranian regime's malevolence not only to its own people, but to other countries as well, both in the Middle East and throughout Latin America.






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