Friday, December 09, 2022

From Ian:

A tale of two narratives
At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies a clash of two narratives.

On the one hand the stirring, fact-based Zionist narrative, on the other, the openly conceded fabricated “Palestinian” narrative—which as one senior PLO official openly admitted “serves only tactical purposes”, and whose sole purpose is to function as “a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

Although enormous international efforts have been invested in futile endeavors to portray these two narratives as reconcilable, the truth is that they are inherently and incontrovertibly mutually exclusive. Either one of them will prevail, absolutely and exclusively, or the other will.

The reason for this unfortunate impasse is—as is becoming ever clearer with the passage of time--that Palestinian-Arab enmity toward a Jewish state does not arise from anything the Jews, do, but from what the Jews are.

This enmity, therefore, can only be dissipated if the Jews cease to be.

Successive Israeli governments, cowered by left-leaning civil society elites, have refused to articulate this "inconvenient truth", and refrained from formulating policy that takes it adequately into account.

Accordingly, they have perpetuated the myth that there is some fictional "middle ground", which, if found, would leave both sides not totally un-aggrieved ", but still tolerably satisfied enough to eschew violence.
Melanie Phillips: The Good Jew/Bad Jew demonization strategy
One of the favorite strategies deployed by Jew-baiters is to divide the community into Good Jews and Bad Jews.

Good Jews have politically correct, progressive opinions. Jews who don’t hold with those opinions are Bad Jews.

This distinction is helpful to Israel-bashers, who can use it to claim that they can’t possibly hate the Jews because there are Jews who support their hostility to Israel.

The White House this week hosted a round table on antisemitism to discuss the alarming escalation in attacks on American Jews. Yet the Biden administration conspicuously failed to invite to this discussion the Zionist Organization of America, the Coalition for Jewish Values and the Jewish Leadership Project.

These organizations defend Israel and the Jewish people against left-wing ideologies. They are therefore Bad Jews.

Sadly, this odious Good Jew/Bad Jew trope is now being promoted within the Jewish world itself.

Both in Israel and the Diaspora, progressive Jews have been convulsed over the composition of the new government being assembled by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is because he is handing out government positions to three highly controversial lawmakers.

The rabble-rouser Itamar Ben-Gvir is set to become minister of national security.

Bezalel Smotrich, who hankers after an Israeli theocracy, will reportedly be a junior defense minister with certain powers over the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.

Avi Maoz, whose party opposes LGBTQ rights and other progressive causes, is apparently being given control over outside input into the school curriculum and a new office devoted to “Jewish identity.”

This has produced epic pearl-clutching by Diaspora Jews, who are falling over themselves to announce that they might now withhold their support from Israel. Such hysteria also promotes the Good Jew/Bad Jew agenda.
Caroline Glick: Lapid and friends use demonization to incite a civil war
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid has never been a high-minded politician. During his five months in power as caretaker prime minister, he tried to get the only non-leftist television station in the country thrown off the air. He called his political opponents and their voters “s**ts,” and “forces of darkness,” who have no right to exercise their legal right to oversee the actions of his lame duck government.

In the leadup to the elections, he accused Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu of being anti-democratic and warned that Netanyahu would not accept the election results if he lost.

As is invariably the case with progressive elitists like Lapid and his colleagues, it turns out that it is they who reject the basic rules of democracy and refuse to accept the results of the elections. Rather than accept that they received a drubbing at the polls and will spend the next four-and-a-half years in the opposition, Lapid and his comrades have doubled down on their demonization. They use their slanders of Netanyahu and his colleagues to raise the barricades and call for civil war.

Lapid’s opening volley came last Wednesday during the official annual memorial ceremony for Israel’s first premier, David Ben-Gurion. In his speech, Lapid used Ben-Gurion as a means to justify the statements and actions he took in the days that followed. Lapid did two things in his address: First, he totally distorted Ben-Gurion and what he stood for, and then he used his imaginary Ben-Gurion as a foil to demonize Netanyahu and his coalition partners.

Ben-Gurion, of course was the leader of the Zionist revolution. He was a Jewish nationalist. He led the settlement of the Land of Israel before and after the establishment of the state. He built and led the IDF in two wars. He defied the American Jewish leadership and transformed Israel into the voice of the Jewish people and the center of Jewish life worldwide.


Benjamin Netanyahu: What Rashida Tlaib Doesn't Seem to Know (Pt. 3)| Rubin Report
Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” talks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about why so many people are ignorant of history, especially Israel’s; the history of Israel; how the Israel Palestine conflict is misunderstood; what Rashida Tlaib doesn’t seem to understand about Jewish history; and much more.

What is the current state of the international political economy? Is US foreign policy damaging international politics? We are more aware than ever of international news stories and the effect of our foreign affairs, but do we truly understand the perspectives of our global neighbors?




FDD: How Biden, Congress can stop the UN from legitimizing antisemitism
United Nations officials urged countries in October and November to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, the global benchmark for identifying anti-Jewish prejudice. The call to reject the IHRA definition reflects a split within the UN, where some officials are moving firmly against antisemitism, while others have adopted practices that are antisemitic per the definition.

On October 6, 2022, E. Tendayi Achiume, then UN Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, reported to the UN General Assembly that despite widespread endorsement of the IHRA definition across Europe and North America, it “has become highly controversial and divisive owing to its susceptibility to being politically instrumentalized and the harm done to human rights.” She claimed the definition is “wielded to prevent or suppress legitimate criticisms of the State of Israel” and urged countries “to suspend the adoption and promotion of the working definition and the examples attached to it.” In response, the U.S. State Department reaffirmed its support for the definition, which it described as “one of the most fundamental and critical tools in the arsenal to combat” antisemitism.

The IHRA (formerly the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research) has 35 member states and eight observers. In 2016, acting on the belief that governments cannot effectively combat antisemitism without knowing what it is and how it manifests itself, the IHRA adopted a working definition of antisemitism with concrete examples.

Those examples include: “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations;” “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor;” and “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

According to the IHRA, 38 countries from across Europe, South America, North America and Asia — along with a “large number of regional/state and local governments” — already use its definition of antisemitism. In September, Lufthansa became the first airline to adopt it. The Obama administration embraced the definition in 2016 and the Biden administration affirmed U.S. support in March 2021.
Mark Regev: Are Israeli-Australian ties in danger?
Nonetheless, the real challenge to Israel-Australia ties may still lie ahead. Institutions of the Labor Party have adopted resolutions favoring recognition of the PLO’s self-declared State of Palestine. Party decisions do not necessarily bind the government, but ministers are not ruling it out.

Proponents of such a step claim it will advance peace. However, divorcing Palestinian statehood from a negotiated solution will accomplish the exact opposite. If the Palestinians can receive international recognition for a state without engaging with Israel or moderating their positions, it severely curtails their motivation for ever doing so.

Moreover, the proposal is to bequeath such recognition unconditionally, regardless of ongoing harmful Palestinian behavior – which includes the provision of financial incentives to terrorists who butcher Israeli civilians, as well as the ubiquitous incitement to violence and propagation of anti-Jewish hate speech.

While the specifics of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute may be peripheral to Australia’s national security, for Israel, core interests are at stake.

So far, the only Western country to recognize a State of Palestine was Sweden in 2014, and that led to a downgrading of Jerusalem-Stockholm ties that lasted for eight years. During this period, Sweden’s influence with Israel plummeted, as did its ability to support the Palestinians.

In February 2022, Jeremy Corbyn, the former UK Labour leader, reiterated his call for “the immediate and unconditional recognition of the State of Palestine.” Of course, for Corbyn, a rupture in Britain-Israel ties is a desired policy goal.

Recognition is also advocated by Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald who, according to opinion polls, could be Ireland’s next prime minister. Sinn Féin is a radical nationalist movement, but on McDonald’s twitter handle there is no Irish flag, only a Palestinian one.

Albanese is not Corbyn, and Australia is not Ireland. But precisely because of Australia’s international standing, if such recognition is forthcoming, Israel would be forced to react strongly to deter others from following suit. A crisis in ties is in the making.

The paradox is that Canberra justified its decision to renege on Jerusalem, by stressing its realignment with a consensus international position. But in recognizing a State of Palestine, Australia would no longer be in line with the EU, UK, US, Canada, and Japan, but standing with Russia, China, and Iran. Is that really where Australia wants to be?
FDD: Neither Here Nor There Jordan and the Abraham Accords
The Middle East witnessed remarkable change in August and September 2020 with the Abraham Accords. It began with decisions taken by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to enter into peace agreements with Israel. Sudan and Morocco followed soon thereafter.1 Seemingly overnight, a rare sense of optimism washed over the Middle East.

These agreements were certainly not the first of their kind. In 1979, Egypt made peace with Israel. In 1993, the Palestinians entered the Oslo diplomatic process with Israel, initiating more than a decade of attempted peacemaking. In 1994, Jordan made its own peace with Israel.

For the two decades that followed, observers referred to Jordanian-Israeli ties as the “warm peace,” particularly compared to the frosty ties Israel maintained with Egypt and the collapse of Oslo. However, since 2020, if not before then, the Jordanian peace has turned decidedly cold. It is especially frigid now compared to the rapidly growing ties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco. Even relations between Israel and Egypt have improved. With rhetoric that increasingly echoes the sentiments of rejectionist Arab nationalists or even Islamists, Jordan’s current policies appear to run counter to the current trendlines of the Middle East.

After the recent electoral victory of Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu, along with other right-wing Israeli politicians, Jordan issued an unprovoked and blistering statement warning Israel not to alter the status quo on the Temple Mount, invoking its role as custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The statement signaled the likely renewal of acrimonious ties between the king and Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.2

All of this should come as unwelcome news to the United States and to America’s Middle East allies. In anticipation of intensifying great power competition with China, and perhaps to a lesser extent Russia, it is crucial for Washington to project unity among allies in the Middle East. No less important for the Middle East is the prospect of stability, prosperity, and positive change, which will require Jordan as a willing partner. This is especially the case amidst the continued havoc that the Islamic Republic of Iran is exporting across the region.

The following memo assesses Jordan’s recent and escalating antagonism toward Israel. It also explores the regional friction created by Jordan’s abstention from the Abraham Accords alliance structures. The memo concludes with recommendations to tackle this challenge, which could hinder U.S. national security interests if not addressed.
Palestinian President Threatens Return to Terrorism
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas indicated the Palestinian Authority may turn to terrorism, saying "armed resistance" against Israel could commence any day.

"I do not endorse armed resistance at the moment, but I may change my mind later," President Mahmoud Abbas said in a recent Arabic-language interview translated into English on the Elder of Ziyon website, a blog that tracks Israeli-Palestinian issues. "I do not adopt military resistance at this time, but it is possible that I change my mind tomorrow or after tomorrow, or any time."

Abbas's comments come at a troubling time for his Palestinian Authority governing body, which is the weakest it has been in decades. The Iran-backed Hamas terror group, which controls the Gaza Strip, has been challenging Abbas's power, and several armed faction groups have also joined the fray in recent months. The challenge to Abbas's rule threatens to topple a fragile security framework with Israel that has been vital to stopping terror attacks on the Jewish state. Abbas's most recent remarks are likely to inflame an already dangerous situation, according to Middle East observers.

"The assessment right now is that we have not seen this much unrest in the West Bank in pretty much 15 years," Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the Treasury Department who now works on Middle East issues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Abbas "would be unwise to unleash additional chaos in the West Bank," Schanzer said. "If things escalate too far, it is highly likely he will be among the most prominent casualties."

A return to terrorism would also shatter any hopes the Biden administration has of reigniting a long-stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
President Herzog gives Netanyahu 10 more days to form government
Israel's President Isaac Herzog decided early Friday afternoon to extend the period granted to Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu to form the government by ten more days, according to Israeli media.

This comes the day after Netanyahu requested an extension of his mandate to form a coalition. Politicians from the anti-Netanyahu bloc, including Prime Minister Yair Lapid, urged Herzog to not grant the request. Herzog's issuance of extension

Herzog wrote in a statement: "I request that the government that is formed act for the benefit of the entire public in Israel and that the coalition that is being formed adhere to a respectful and responsible dialogue.

"The purpose of the sections of the [Israeli] Basic Law which deal with the formation of the government is... to establish a government that will gain the confidence of the Knesset... as soon as possible," Herzog wrote in his statement. "I decided by my own authority to extend the period given to you to fulfill the duty of forming the government by 10 days."

"When you expressed your willingness to form the government, you said that you would form a government that would work for the entire nation. This is a complex time in Israeli society; disputes over fundamental issues threaten to tear [people] apart and fuel gratuitous violence and hatred," The president emphasized.
Alan Dershowitz: Democracy at Work: Supporting Israel Regardless of its Government
Israeli governments come and go based on the results of elections; Israel has had five of them in the last four years. But one's support for Israel should not vary with whether one agrees or disagrees with the outcome of a particular election, any more than one's support for the United States depends on whether Democrats or Republican are in control at a given time. One can be a patriotic American who stands and salutes the star-spangled banner even when one disagrees with policies of the government. One can work hard to change such policies. Sometimes they change. Sometimes they do not. That is democracy at work.

One can also be a fervent Zionist, which simply means that one strongly believes in the concept of a secure and democratic nation-state for the Jewish people. That is all Zionism means. It does not entail support for particular Israeli policies....

As then-President Bill Clinton once complained: "Israel is a democracy, damn it!" His point was that he could simply call the leader of a non-democratic ally and tell him what do. He could not do that to Israel, where the citizens decide what their government should do.

Democracy does not assure good outcomes. It only assures a fair process.

Those who understandably disagree with the outcome of the recent Israeli election should recognize that it is the product of factors that generally affect democratic elections: changing demography, economic considerations, external threats and numerous other variables.

So please, as Israel approaches its 75th birthday, look at the big picture: no country has contributed more to the world in its first three quarters of a century than has Israel; no country faced with dangers comparable to those faced by Israel has had a better record of human rights, compliance with the rule of law and concern for enemy civilians than Israel.

Governments and policies change. Support for the only democracy in the Middle East should remain constant.
Special i24NEWS Interview: Alan Dershowitz slams Ben Gvir's plan to change Israel's open fire rules
'If the Ben-Gvir rules ever came into effect, Israel's soldiers would be indicted and convicted by the International Court'

Speaking with The Rundown host Calev Ben David, Alan Dershowitz says changing the rules of engagement would be fundamentally wrong


World leaders propel Abraham Accords forward at Rome summit
World leaders, entrepreneurs, lawmakers, academics and clergy from over 30 countries converged in Rome on Wednesday for the First Annual Abraham Accords Global Leadership Summit, an event that focused on new ways to increase peace and tolerance.

The summit celebrated the seismic change that the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries, have brought to the Middle East and North Africa.

Delegates from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Israel shared their insights with policy-shapers from around the globe.

The summit culminated with the adoption of the Abrahamic Values Pledge, which states, “We are united by our shared Abraham values that have sustained our societies for thousands of years. We take immense pride in our mutual responsibility for one another.”

“While our shared humanity is constantly challenged by trends that question the traditional values shared by all Abrahamic religions, our deep-rooted heritage has enabled us to build a vibrant and well-knit society that is both entrepreneurial and innovative in its nature,” it continues.”The spirit of the Abraham Accords has allowed our communities to reap the fruits of peace and flourish in an ever-evolving socio-economic environment and has underscored the importance of the following foundational pillars: Tolerance, coexistence and diversity; Religion and family; Economic Peace.”
Abraham Accords nations hold global leadership summit

Abrahamic Business Circle hosts first meeting to boost mideast trade

How close is normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia?
Our Batya Levinthal speaks with Dr. Elie Abadie and Danny Danon at the Abraham Accords Leadership Summit in Rome about the normalization prospects between Israel and Saudi Arabia


Construction to start on ‘electricity highway’ connecting Israel, Cyprus and Greece
It will be the world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable, crossing the Mediterranean seabed bridging Asia and Europe.

The EuroAsia Interconnector, nicknamed the “energy highway,” will connect the national electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

Over a decade in the planning, construction on the mammoth, €2.5 billion ($2.63 billion) first phase will now get underway, Israeli and Cypriot officials said this week, with 50% of the total cost secured.

The first stage, which has received a €657 million ($736 million) European Union grant, will run 558 miles (898 km.) and link the electricity grids of Greece and Cyprus via the Greek island of Crete.

The second stage will be 190 miles (310 km.) long and connect Kofinou in Cyprus and Hadera in Israel. The project is slated to be completed within five years.
US anti-drug agency using Israeli spyware, but Biden looking to crack down — report
The US Drug Enforcement Administration has been using phone spyware developed by an Israeli company as part of its investigative work, The New York Times reported Thursday in an exposé that said the global spyware industry was spiraling “out of control.”

Citing five unnamed individuals with knowledge of the matter, the report said the DEA is using software known as Graphite made by Paragon, a cyber technology startup backed by former prime minister Ehud Barak.

The spyware allows users to collect data backed up from an individual’s phone to the cloud.

The report cited a DEA official as saying the agency has only used it outside the US in its efforts to stop drug cartels. The DEA didn’t deny using the spyware, saying it was “using every lawful investigative tool available” in its pursuit of foreign-based drug traffickers.

The US blacklisted Israeli spyware firms NSO and Candiru late last year. According to the Times, the FBI had pushed in late 2020 and the first half of 2021 to use NSO’s infamous Pegasus program, considered among the most powerful tools of its kind, before it was banned. The tool has been sold to law enforcement agencies around the world, though critics charge it has also been used by governments and repressive regimes to track journalists, activists, dissidents and others.

The Times found that Paragon and other firms — some employing former NSO employees and other Israeli tech workers — are filling the gap left by the blacklisting of NSO, developing software capable of copying the entire contents of an individual’s phone and using it to spy on the user.


Israel’s Rafael to supply anti-drone weapons system to Asian navy
Israeli defense giant Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has signed a multi-million dollar, five-year contract to supply its Typhoon Mk30-C naval defense system to an undisclosed Asian country.

The contract includes an option for the purchase of additional systems, according to the company.

The Typhoon, a stabilized naval Remote Control Weapon System, is equipped with a Mk44 Bushmaster II 30mm chain gun, which is compatible with both high-explosive and Air Burst Ammunition, and is capable of shooting down Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, according to the Rafael.

The company has installed more than 750 naval remote control weapons systems to date.
One of Israel's first Air Force pilots, Danny Shapira, passes away at 97
Danny Shapira, one of the first Israel Air Force pilots, passed away on Friday at the age of 97.

A fifth-generation Sabra, Shapira was born in Jerusalem in 1925 and will be buried at the Morasha cemetery in Ramat Hasharon on Sunday.

“The IAF bows its head and shares its sincerest condolences with the Shapira family,” said IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar. “Danny was one of the founding fathers of the IAF, a brave and professional combatant who educated generations of combatants. In his groundbreaking path as a test pilot, he was one of the people who paved the path to the success of the IAF.We will continue to commemorate his glorious legacy and accompany his family. May his memory be blessed".

“I started when we didn’t have our own country, our own army or air force. We didn’t fight with weapons, but we fought with our hearts; we had to win,” he told The Jerusalem Post in a 2018 interview. “The wish for freedom, sacrifice, dedication, and the dream to have our own country under our own flag is what won the War of Independence.”

Shapira joined the Hagana’s Sherut Avir (Air Service), the precursor to the Israel Air Force, and began flying before becoming a gliding instructor at the age of 18.

Trailblazers for an Israeli future
When the decision was made to establish the State of Israel, Shapira, along with another 100 people who held flying licenses, were called up to start taking reconnaissance pictures and bringing supplies such as arms to the Jewish yishuvim (communities) around Jerusalem under the guise of private flights.
....
He credited the strong bond between the US Air Force, which sold Israel the F-16s and F-15s, to another historic moment in his career, the defection of the Iraqi MiG-21 in 1966 in an operation led by the Mossad. After the plane landed in Israel, Shapira became the first Western pilot to fly the Russian-made jet, learning the plane’s tactical weak spots without a flight manual or checklist.

After flying against elite Israeli pilots to show them the tactics that eventually led them to shoot down many enemy planes, Shapira was sent to the US on a secret mission to teach American pilots who were up against the same planes in Vietnam.
The US army chose a new helicopter. Will Israel reconsider the V-22 now?
The US Army said this week it had awarded the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract to Bell Textron. This an important and major investment by the army in a new helicopter that will replace thousands of Blackhawks over time.

The army initiated this program back in 2019. It might have ramifications for US partners abroad and for what types of helicopters other countries will be acquiring in the future. Israel is one of those countries that needs new helicopters.

First let’s understand what the US procurement means for the helicopter industry and the future. “FLRAA will expand the depth of the battlefield by extending the reach of air assault missions and enabling ground forces to converge through decentralized operations at extended distances,” the army said. “FLRAA’s inherent reach and standoff capabilities will ensure mission success through tactical maneuver at operational and strategic distances.”

According to Defense News, “in a December 5 statement, Scott Donnelly, Textron’s chief executive, said the company is ‘honored that the US Army has selected the Bell V-280 Valor as its next-generation assault aircraft. We intend to honor that trust by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army’s mission requirements.’” The V-280 includes technology from a number of companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries.

The V-280 is a tiltrotor aircraft, meaning that it takes off like a helicopter but then the wings tilt and the rotors face forward, so it can cruise along like an aircraft. In terms of legacy and evolution, it looks like a V-22 Osprey, the Bell helicopter that first flew in 1989 and is used by the US Marines and US Air Force.
A resident of Ma'ale Levona now writes to me: "You must spread to the public, we live on miracles." This is how it looks today on Route 60 near Ofra, a Jew was miraculously saved at the last minute from the bloodthirsty beasts of prey.

Turkey and Israel: 'On' Again, Only to Be 'Off' Again
Turkey's Islamist strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appears to be on yet another hoax charm offensive: he is faking the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel and Egypt, and even signalling peace with President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.

He needs to look pretty to his Middle East nemeses to A) avoid further Western sanctions, B) wink at Washington, and C) raise some international cash flows into the badly ailing Turkish economy that threatens to end his reign after two decades of uninterrupted rule.

Erdogan and his ministers pledged to isolate Israel internationally. Instead, it was Turkey that was isolated by the international community, including the European Union, the US, Israel, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

There will always be the risk of Turkish-Israeli friction, including the possibility of a new break up, as long as any Islamist regime in Turkey refuses fully to respect the Jewish state's sovereignty and admit that Hamas is a terrorist entity that aims to annihilate Israel by any means necessary (see Hamas charter).

Come May 2023, with the commemoration day of the "Nakba" ("catastrophe") -- meaning the loss by five invading Arab armies of the war they had initiated to try to destroy Israel in 1948 -- there is likely to be a new escalation of hostilities with a fresh wave of Hamas violence, and Israel's response to Hamas's violence, then Turkey's response to Israel's response. Erdogan will try to exploit this in Turkey's June presidential elections.

Once again Erdogan plans to be shining as the anti-Zionist, Islamist neo-Ottoman sultan, the savior of oppressed Muslims!
Seth Frantzman: The impossible challenge facing Kurds and minorities in eastern Syria
Last month, Turkey claimed that a bombing in Istanbul gave it the right to carry out a massive campaign of airstrikes across eastern and northern Syria, targeting mostly Kurdish areas.

For years, Ankara has threatened to expand its invasion of eastern Syria and ethnically cleanse more areas of Kurds and other minorities along the border. This puts millions of people’s lives in constant limbo. Many of them survived the war on ISIS, only to face continued threats to their day-to-day life.

Today, the situation in eastern Syria remains unclear. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, formed in 2015, is the main group that helped defeat ISIS. In general, the SDF was based on Kurdish fighters, as well as Arabs, Christians and other groups.

Eastern Syria has many minorities, including a historic Christian community and Yazidis. The People’s Defense Units, or YPG, formed one of the key Kurdish groups that fought ISIS. However, Turkey accused it of being a “terrorist” group – even though it has never engaged in any terror attacks. Turkey used this as an excuse to attack the YPG, first in 2016 near Manbij and later in Afrin in 2018.

This created a complex puzzle in eastern Syria. Basically, the beleaguered country is still divided and the remnants of the Syrian Civil War still dominate the landscape. The Syrian regime returned to control most of the cities in western Syria, such as Dara’a, Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo.
'Step by step, the regime will lose control’: An interview with an Iranian revolutionary
‘The problem is not only the hijab. This is a symbol. The Iranian regime is intent on controlling how women live, And women are saying, ‘I am human and I have a right to live.’ This time it’s different.”

Kawthar Fatahi, 33, a former teacher from Bukan in Iran’s Western Azerbaijan Province, is now a leading activist and organizer for the Iranian Kurdish Komala Party. We are sitting in her office at the movement’s HQ in Zergwez, Sulaymaniyah Province, northern Iraq, about 50 km. from the Iraq-Iran border. The base was the target of an Iranian drone and missile attack on September 28.

“I thought it was a motorcycle, at first” she tells me. “A horrible, weak, buzzing sound. But it was a suicide drone. You could see it in the sky but you didn’t know where it was going to land.”

The countryside near the Iraq-Iran border is green, verdant and beautiful, in contrast to the desert landscapes a little further west. But two days after our conversation, the base will be targeted again. Fatahi’s office is located in one of the buildings struck by the drones.

In quiet and measured tones, she describes the unexpected outbreak of the uprising that followed calls by Iranian Kurdish organizations, including her own, for protests following the September 16 killing of Mahsa Jina Amini for improper wearing of her compulsory hijab.

“Initially I wasn’t too optimistic. I thought it might be limited to Kurdistan. But now I think it’s different,’” she says. “Nobody thought it would be this big, because a week before in Mariwan, another girl was killed and there were protests – but only in Mariwan. No one else supported them. Then the Kurdish parties called a strike, which was completely successful. So they called the protests. ‘Jin, jiyan, azadi.’ [‘Women, life, freedom’ – a main slogan of the uprising]. And then a few days later, we heard this Kurdish slogan in Tehran.”

SHE IS concerned, nevertheless, at the limited base of support for the revolt.


Iran Holds First Execution Over Anti-Regime Protests
Iran hanged a man on Thursday convicted of injuring a security guard with a knife and blocking a street in Tehran, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said, the first such execution over recent anti-government unrest.

Nationwide protests that erupted after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 represent one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.

Authorities have been cracking down on the protests and on Monday, the Revolutionary Guards encouraged the judiciary to swiftly and decisively issue judgments against those accused of "crimes against the security of the nation and Islam".

The Tasnim news agency named the executed man as Mohsen Shekari, but gave no further details.

State media published a video of what it said was Shekari's confession where he appears with a bruise on his right cheek. He admitted to striking a member of the Basij militia with a knife and to blocking a road with his motorbike alongside one of his friends.

Rights groups have said Shekari was tortured and forced to confess.

British foreign minister James Cleverly said he was "outraged" by the news of the execution. "The world cannot turn a blind eye to the abhorrent violence committed by the Iranian regime against its own people," Cleverly said on Twitter.

Germany also condemned the execution.

"The Iranian regime's contempt for humanity knows no bounds," said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. "But the threat of execution will not stifle people's will for freedom."






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