Friday, March 17, 2023

From Ian:

Melaine Phillips: Israel's two-faced allies
America and Britain claim to be allies of Israel. There is no gainsaying the deep links between them of military assistance, intelligence and trade. Israel is the invaluable strategic asset for America and Britain in the Middle East, a crucial bulwark in the defense of the West.

And yet, both America and Britain undermine Israel's security and defense against existential attack by sanitizing, promoting and funding Palestinian Arabs, whose active cause remains the destruction of the Jewish state.

A recent event illustrated this particularly sharply when British diplomatic officials in Jerusalem effectively endorsed the Palestinian Authority's agenda to eradicate Israel.

Palestinian Media Watch has revealed that at last Friday's annual "Palestine Marathon" held by the PA, seven British officials taking part as "#TeamUK" wore marathon T-shirts displaying the PA's map that erases Israel and represents the whole country as Palestine.

The Jewish Chronicle reports that the team consisted of the UK's Deputy Consul General Alison McEwen and Foreign Office colleagues. A picture of the team was tweeted from the official account of the British Consulate in Jerusalem, hailing "the incredible Palestine Marathon to support #FREEDOMOFMOVEMENT for all Palestinians."

Palestinian Media Watch observes that this hashtag was conceived to support the PA's demand that Israel remove the security measures it has adopted to prevent the flow of Palestinian terrorists from PA-controlled areas into Israel's cities.

According to The Jewish Chronicle, the marathon was organized by a group called "Right to Movement," which campaigns against "the many obstacles that we live daily under fascist racist occupation."

The race was held under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation Organization Supreme Council for Youth and Sports headed by Jibril Rajoub, a man who has been convicted of numerous terrorist offenses and who persistently glorifies Palestinian terrorist murderers.

So these British diplomats took part in an event supervised by a terrorist sympathizer; openly supported the Palestinian Arabs' lie that Israel is subjecting them to "fascist racist occupation"; openly opposed Israel's measures to protect its citizens against attack; and openly endorsed the eradication of Israel altogether.
Biden Is Delivering the Middle East to China
In return for participating, at least partially, in a China-centric economic sphere, Xi is presenting Beijing to the Gulf Arab states as an alternative to Washington for managing the Iranian threat. The Saudis made their Iran focus clear when, in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel, they recently asked the United States for security guarantees, help in developing a civilian nuclear program, and missiles and drones, the very weapons that tilt the regional balance of power in favour of Tehran. In essence, the Saudis said that if Washington will check the rise of Iran, they will participate with Israel in an American-led regional bloc.

Biden perhaps fears that the Saudis are bluffing, that they will pocket any concession the United States makes and still continue to hedge toward Beijing. Or perhaps he fears that Iran will draw the U.S. into a military confrontation. With a war raging in Ukraine and the threat of war looming over Taiwan, neither Biden nor the Pentagon relish the prospect of an escalation in the Middle East.

But American options are diminishing by the day. In the Middle East, the United States cannot outcompete China economically. The Chinese are now the world’s largest purchaser of oil from the region, and they are rapidly expanding their exports to the Middle East. As a great power patron, the only thing that distinguishes the U.S. from China is its military might.

But the Biden team refuses to check Iran militarily. In that case, what good is Washington to Saudi Arabia? Why wouldn’t Riyadh turn eastward? In contrast to Washington, Beijing at least wields influence in Tehran. It is eager to export drones and missiles, it won’t hesitate to provide assistance with a civilian nuclear program, and it won’t deliver sermons on human rights. Best of all, Xi’s grand economic strategy compels him to woo Riyadh.

America’s refusal to build an anti-Iran bloc is delivering the Middle East to China.
ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over Russian war crimes in Ukraine
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Friday against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes committed in Ukraine, but Moscow said the move was meaningless.

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its one-year-old invasion of its neighbor.

The ICC issued the warrant for Putin's arrest on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

The court also issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights, on the same charges.

Moscow: ICC's arrest warrant has no bearing on Russia
In the first reaction to the news from Moscow, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel: "The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view."

"Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it."

There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin.

UKFI: UN official reported for tweets about Israel
A UN official’s tweets about Israel have breached the UN social media guidelines and International Civil service guidance on impartiality, according to UKLFI.

UKLFI has reported Craig Mokhiber, Director and Deputy for the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) at the UN for his alleged breaches.

Mr Mokhiber is very active on Twitter, and has used the platform to express his views about Israel.

“We consider these tweets to be particularly offensive because Mr Mokhiber is using his position as a civil servant at the UN to establish a narrative of the conflict which is not accepted by both sides and to isolate Israel at the UN. This is not in keeping with the UN’s main objectives of promoting peace and maintaining independence.” commented Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI.

The vast majority of Mr Mokhiber’s tweets on Twitter relate to the Israel-Palestine conflict. UKLFI could not find a single tweet in support of any Israeli position.

UKLFI has requested that the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services carry out a full investigation into Mr Mokhiber’s conduct on social media, and take the appropriate disciplinary measures if the complaints are upheld.

UKLFI has pointed out to the OIOS that Mokhiber had breached both the UN Guidelines for the personal use of social media and the Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service.

The February 2019 UN Guidelines for social media state:
“As international civil servants, staff members are required to be mindful at all times that their conduct on social media must be consistent with the principles set out in the United Nations Charter”. In addition “staff must ensure that the expression of their personal views and convictions on social media does not adversely affect their official duties, reflect poorly on their status as international civil servants or call into question their duty of loyalty ,impartiality and responsibility to the Organization”.

The Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service state the following:
Paragraph 8: “if the impartiality of the international civil service is to be maintained, . . . their conduct must reflect that independence”.
Paragraph 9: “While their personal views remain inviolate, international civil servants do not have the freedom of private persons to take sides or to express their convictions

UKLFI considers that Mr Mokhiber’s position on Israel is in breach of the UN Guidelines and the Civil Service Standards of Conduct.

Could the Saudi-Iranian deal lead to peace with Israel? - opinion
After the Abraham Accords, representatives from all Palestinian factions held a meeting in Beirut in which they denounced the Gulf, prompting the Gulf Countries Council (GCC) to demand a Palestinian apology. In another one of his editorials, Aldosary wrote that Gulf countries should not be blamed for giving up on “a cause abandoned by its own people,” arguing that “a Palestinian apology cannot fix relations... that have been broken for good. “

Aldosary also said that he agreed with PA Chairman Mahmud Abbas that even though they signed peace with Israel, neither the UAE nor Bahrain spoke on behalf of Palestinians. “By the same token,” according to Aldosary, Palestinian leaders did not have any right to speak on behalf of the Emiratis or the Bahrainis or decide which policies served the interests of the two Gulf nations.

For his call to put national Gulf interests ahead of Palestinian ones, Aldosary’s appointment as minister angered advocates of perpetual conflict with Israel. “Asharq Alawsat [daily paper] was at the peak of its Zionism when Salman Aldosary was its editor-in-chief,” Tweeted a Saudi opposition account with 1.1 million followers.

But Aldosary was not alone in fighting back. Saudi cartoonist Fahd Aljubairi posted a drawing that depicted six characters sobbing as they watched the news about the appointment of Aldosary. The shirt of one of them, a goat, had on it a picture of Jerusalem with the hashtag “Normalization is betrayal,” a slogan used by anti-peace activists who call for boycotting Israel.

While Riyadh still conditions its peace with Israel on Palestinian statehood, the general Saudi Arabian mood – from MBS to Aldosary and Aljubairi – seems to be shifting. Under MBS, Saudi Arabia has abandoned its dogmatic policies and replaced them with more realistic ones, prioritizing Saudi interests over anything else, including the Palestinian cause.

Saudi First has been Riyadh’s policy in Lebanon, an Iranian satellite state ungrateful for Saudi Arabia’s enormous support over the past decades. After investing tens of billions of dollars to prevent the collapse of the Lebanese economy and state, Saudi Arabia reasoned that Lebanon is a lost cause. In 2018, MBS cut Saudi Arabian losses and folded.

In its relations with Palestinians, too, Saudi Arabia has nothing to show for its huge investment in money and diplomacy. Why Riyadh has not yet cut the Palestinians loose – like it did the Lebanese – is anybody’s guess. When Saudi abandons its outdated policy on the Palestinians, peace with Israel will logically be the next step.
The Diplomatic Agenda behind Benjamin Netanyahu’s European Travels
Yesterday, Benjamin Netanyahu met with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz; last week, he was in Rome meeting with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The Israeli prime minister was also in Paris in February and is expected to visit Britain soon. While Netanyahu has received domestic criticism for being out of the country amid terrorist attacks and ongoing controversy over legal reform, his recent travel is in the service of an urgent, diplomatic purpose, according to Ron Ben-Yishai. That purpose is to shore up support for resisting Iran:

Netanyahu has apparently been attempting to convey to his European counterparts that weapons shipments coming out of the Islamic Republic are mostly meant for Moscow, to assist Russian efforts in the less-than-stellar military campaign against Ukraine. That in itself, Netanyahu says, compromises all of Europe. He has stressed to them that the technological and military cooperation between Russia and Iran is designed, among other things, to improve the accuracy and range of Iranian-made payload-carrying drones and anti-aircraft missiles to target the Ukrainians. In exchange, Iran gets a fresh supply of Russian fighter jets.

All of that will not only serve to prolong the war in Ukraine, but to make it easier for the Iranians to endanger shipping routes from the Persian Gulf to Europe, thus compromising the Israeli capability to defend the homeland effectively.

In comes Netanyahu’s wish for a weapons embargo on Iran, set by the UN Security Council, a move that could hamper Iranian efforts to secure the requisite military capabilities to mount such a threat. . . . Netanyahu, meanwhile, has no desire to be on Vladimir Putin’s bad side. Russian retaliation against Israel could come across in the form of banning the Israeli aviation from utilizing the Russian airspace, which could change the nature of Israeli commercial flights to southeast [and east] Asia. [Moscow] could also scramble communication frequencies and launch cyberattacks against Israel.
Ruthie Blum: Herzog's framework is capitulation, not compromise
What Herzog has done here, he said breathlessly, is prevent the government from implementing the main changes it desires, with a few minor tweaks. Joining his sigh of relief was the anti-reform Israel Democracy Institute, which stated that if Herzog’s framework “were to be adopted in its entirety as a package, we would support it because it safeguards our democracy and bolsters key elements of our constitutional foundations.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid didn’t go that far; he wouldn’t dare antagonize the protest movement that’s been calling the shots, which are fired at every aspect of the right-wing government, using judicial reform as an excuse. Thus, he tweeted something vague about the need to “approach the president’s outline with respect for its standing, the seriousness with which it was written and the values that underlie it.”

He then took very specific aim at the coalition, whose “response to the outline,” he spewed, “is contempt for the institution of the presidency, utter disdain for the gravity of the moment and erasure of the notion that we are one nation.”

In a show of particular chutzpah – for someone who refused to consider any compromise, such as that put forth last week by jurist Yuval Elbashan, businessman Giora Yaron, former national security adviser Giora Eiland and former justice minister Daniel Friedmann – he lied his way up to the phony moral high ground.

“As long as the coalition gallops ahead with its extreme and predatory legislation,” he pronounced, “the danger to Israeli democracy has not passed and we will continue to fight for a Jewish, democratic, liberal and strong Israel.”

In other words, the mass hate-fests must and will carry on as scheduled. Now that Herzog has proven he hasn’t abandoned his Labor Party origins, however, the protesters might give him a break.

Maybe today they’ll be less inclined to gather outside his residence, hurling epithets and cautioning that he’d better stop suggesting that the government has legitimate concerns; or else his wife will become their target for verbal abuse – like Sara Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, the external enemies Herzog cited – those encouraged by splits in the country’s seams – are busy plotting deadly attacks on Israelis of all stripes. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take an especially bloody one to stitch the nation together again.
Israeli Ministers Call for Unity During Visit to Joseph’s Tomb
Two members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government visited Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus late Wednesday night, urging unity among the people of Israel.

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu and Minister of Culture and Sport Miki Zohar issued their plea as the country is engulfed in one of the most divisive debates in years over the planned judicial reforms.

“Ultimately, unity among the people of Israel is our strength as a nation, enabling us to defeat the many enemies that the nation of Israel unfortunately has,” said Zohar. “At this time, I call on all of Israel to unite with mutual responsibility because we have no other country.”

He said that he made the visit at this time because the biblical Joseph unified the tribes of Israel by forgiving everything his brothers did to him for the sake of peace in the nation.

The site has been a flashpoint for Palestinian violence in the past. The army escorts Jewish worshippers to the site several times a year, in coordination with Palestinian security forces.
US Secretary of State Blinken says Israel’s Judicial Reforms Require ‘Consensus’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that major political reforms in Israel require a consensus, as Israel continues to be hit by nationwide protests against the proposed judicial reforms by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his governing coalition.

In an interview with AFP on Thursday, Blinken said that while the United States would not take sides on issue that is currently paralyzing Israeli society, he believes a “consensus is the best way forward” inside what he described the “very vibrant democracy of Israel.”

Blinken’s comments come hours after the White House expressed support for the plan presented by President Isaac Herzog to find a compromise for Israel’s judicial reform crisis.

US President Joe Biden’s administration said that the plan put forth by Herzog “is a plan that is consistent with Israel’s and the United States’ shared democratic values,” and emphasized that the US fears the proposed judicial reform in its current form and has urged Israeli leaders to find a consensus.
Itamar Ben Gvir: Strengthening Israel's Security for All
Yet another place that Israel is lax in confronting its foes is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site, to which I recently made a pilgrimage.

After the 1967 Six Day War, the Israeli government allowed the Jordanian Waqf to manage general affairs on the Mount—the third holiest place for Islam—with Israel assuming responsibility for security. Sadly, the Islamic clerics in charge of the Temple Mount have allowed Hamas and other jihadist outfits to weaponize the holy site against Israel. From the Temple Mount, far too many jihadists broadcast incitement in the form of fiery hate speech, viral videos, and posters of "martyrs" calling for the destruction of Israel.

Making matters worse is the systematic discrimination against Jewish worship in that sacred plaza. Anyone who reads the Bible or who knows basic history, such as my secular parents from Iraqi and Kurdish Jewish backgrounds, knows that the Temple Mount, the site of our two ancient temples, plays an extremely important role in Judaism. Yet, absurdly, it has become the norm to criminalize the most natural thing—Jewish prayer there, in the very heart of our eternal capital. Jews face Israeli government-enforced restrictions on Temple Mount visitation times, days of entry, visitor group size, the movement of lips in prayer, and the banning of prayer books themselves.

For me, civil rights are sacrosanct. I believe that most Americans can relate to the Israeli voters who empowered me to restore basic freedom of worship on the Temple Mount. And that is also why Israel's Ministry of National Security, under my leadership, is committed to Israel's long-standing policy of protecting Muslim freedom of worship at the Temple Mount. In fact, I plan on holding a meeting with Muslim leaders to ensure that the often-turbulent month of Ramadan runs smoothly.

My party and this broader government coalition came to power as a result of a democratic election, and we are working on the very policies the voters selected us to implement. There are many Arabs who hope I will help subdue jihadism, which is the greatest threat to the minds and lives of their own children. These Arabs want to live in a free Israel, not an oppressive Afghanistan. And there are many Jews yearning to live a vibrant Jewish life free of antisemitic hate crimes and discrimination—as befits the original mission of the Jewish State of Israel.

Rather than being enemies, I believe that most people living in Israel and the broader region—Jews, Bedouins, Circassians, Druze, Arabs, and others—share a covenant of life. With the help of God, I am confident that the efforts of the Israeli government to provide security for all will allow peace-loving residents to enjoy a bright future in the Holy Land.
The Tikvah Podcast: Peter Berkowitz and Gadi Taub on the Deeper Causes of Israel's Conflict
To understand the dramas, disagreements, and protests roiling Israeli politics at this moment requires an understanding of the government’s proposed judicial reforms, as well as the history of Israel’s Supreme Court and its relationship to the Knesset. It also requires knowledge of Israeli society, and how the founding generations of Israel’s political leadership—which tended to be Ashkenazi, secular, and oriented to the political left—have given way to an Israeli population that tends to be more ethnically diverse, more traditional and religious, and oriented towards the political right.

That history, in turn, has got to be mapped onto the fact that Israel is also home to subcommunities that each have different historical relations to one another and to the government, and that is each pursuing different interests and outcomes. To understand this Israeli moment, in other words, requires understanding how each Israeli sector—Arab, Haredi, secular, national religious—relates to the nation as a whole.

This week, Jonathan Silver discusses the judicial reforms and those deeper causes together with the professor, media personality, and author Gadi Taub, as well as the political scientist, and former state department official Peter Berkowitz.

Israel’s Judicial Fate Lands Front Cover of ‘The Economist’
Amid widespread protests in Israel and abroad against the Israeli government’s proposed judicial reform, The Economist magazine has placed the headline “Will Bibi Break Israel?” on their front-cover with a photo of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu behind a cracked Israel flag.

The magazine’s article starts off with all of Israel’s accomplishments and excellent economic results, including a GDP that reached $55,000 per capita last year. After listing the accomplishments, the article dives in and says, “instead of Israel celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, we are facing a crisis. The judicial reforms proposed by the right-wing faction of the coalition will undermine the rule of law and weaken Israeli democracy,” the editorial said.

The article points out the economic danger of the government’s proposed reforms: “With reserves of about $196 billion, Israel is not in danger of economic collapse. But the core of its economy is technology, which accounts for more than half of its exports. This is maintained by spending (5% of GDP) on research and development higher than in any other country.”

“The experts and entrepreneurs responsible for this do not want their country to be enslaved by religious fanatics. Nor can Israel afford financially to alienate itself from the United States, which guarantees its security and provides 80% of its imported weapons.”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has led Israel for 15 of the past 27 years, is proud of having strengthened Israel over the years. Now he risks destroying his legacy and may leave Israel in a position where it will not be able to face the social and geopolitical challenges of the coming decades,” the article continued.

Canadian Jews Concerned As Activist Accused of Antisemitism Wins Ontario Parliament Seat
Jewish organizations in Canada have expressed concern following the election of an activist accused of making antisemitic comments to Ontario’s provincial parliament.

Sarah Jama — a 28-year-old disability and housing rights activist — won an overwhelming victory in Thursday’s byelection for the Hamilton Centre seat in Ontario as a candidate for the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP).

In the run-up to the election, Jewish groups highlighted her record of allegedly antisemitic remarks concerning Israel. According to B’nai Brith Canada, Jama is a supporter of the movement to subject Israel to a regime of “boycotts, divestment and sanctions” (BDS).

Video has been circulating of a speech Jama delivered at a May 2021 rally in downtown Toronto during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Standing in front of signs denouncing Israel as an “apartheid” state and declaring “Zionists you will see, Palestine will be free,” Jama accused police in Hamilton of “protecting Nazism” and targeting “Black Muslim Palestinians, saying we don’t have the right to push to exist.”

On another occasion, Jama described Israel as an “illegitimate country,” asserting that the “same people will continue to fund the killing of people here, locally, and globally,” apparently referring to Jews, the National Post reported.

Prior to the election, B’nai Brith had called on NDP leader Marit Stiles to withdraw Jama’s candidacy, despite the likely cost to the party in the form of a seat.
Israel, PA set for Sunday summit in Egypt as terror alerts rise before Ramadan
Israeli, Palestinian, American, Egyptian and Jordanian officials were set to convene Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for their latest summit meant to foster regional calm ahead of the sensitive Ramadan period.

National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi was set to once again lead the Israeli team, as he did in the previous summit in Jordan’s Aqaba in February. Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and Brig. Gen. Ghassan Alian, the military liaison to the Palestinians, will also attend.

Israel committed to halting new settlement projects at the Aqaba meeting, according to a joint communiqué issued after the meeting, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly denied there would be any construction freeze over the Green Line.

According to the joint readout, Israel and the Palestinian Authority also agreed to de-escalate tensions and prevent further violence ahead of the Muslim holy month. The two sides agreed to “immediately work to end unilateral measures for a period of 3-6 months,” said the readout of that meeting.

A top PA official later told The Times of Israel that Jerusalem had also committed to transfer millions of dollars in tax revenues it has withheld from the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, but had not done so.

“They promised at Aqaba that they would transfer all of the funds, but as of now we haven’t gotten anything,” PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said in early March. Al-Sheikh also serves as secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee and is one of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s closest advisers.
Two Israeli teens indicted for firebombing mosque in Herzliya
Two teenagers from Tel Aviv were indicted on Friday for firebombing the Sidna Ali Mosque in Herzliya in January.

The two, ages 16 and 19, were arrested after an investigation found that they were nationalistically motivated to try to torch the mosque.

A Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation found that the two were originally planning to jump an Arab citizen but abandoned that idea and decided to attack a mosque instead. After examining mosques in the Tel Aviv area, they decided to attack the Sidna Ali Mosque in Herzliya.

On Friday, the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office filed an indictment against the two charging them with crimes of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, a terrorist act of arson in a team and acting with weapons for the purpose of terrorism in a team.

"Beyond the production of Molotov cocktails that were prepared in order to carry out the arson plan, and beyond the fact that the crime of arson is a crime that entails a real risk not only to the thing that is sought to be set on fire but to the surroundings as a whole, if the respondents' plan had been fully realized and the mosque had caught fire, it could have brought about an escalation of severe acts of violence in Israeli society, on a religious-nationalist background," noted attorney Tal Eliyahu in the request for arrest.

The Shin Bet noted that it "considers these acts, which are carried out based on nationalist motives, a danger to the security of the state, and in cooperation with Israel Police, will continue to act to end them as well as to bring the full severity of the law against the perpetrators of these acts."
The Israel Guys: Hezbollah Terrorist infiltrates Israel and Explodes Bomb, Is Israel Going to War?
Hezbollah crosses over the Lebanon/Israel border and explodes a bomb in Israel. All the details just released here on the show

After the Saudi-Iran deal, will Tehran force the Houthis to peace talks?
UN envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Sunday as part of his efforts to put an end to Yemen’s nearly decade-old civil war. Grundberg met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian for consultations over the situation in Yemen, including the latest prospects for peace, a possible prisoner exchange and the country’s humanitarian crisis. During the meeting, Amir-Abdollahian said the Islamic Republic backs any negotiations which would help establish peace and stability in Yemen.

The visit to Tehran came just days after Saudi Arabia and Iran signed an agreement ending the years-long diplomatic rift between the two countries.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations also reaffirmed that Amir-Abdollahian promised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to host talks that would put an end to the crisis in Yemen.

Iran's links to Yemen's Houthis
Many analysts and observers see a strong relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Ansar Allah movement, the armed wing of the de facto authority in Yemen (DFA) - which rules the north of the country, known collectively as the Houthis.

This relationship is seen in speeches by Houthi officials, including the leader of the movement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi. It is also evidenced by attempts to smuggle weapons from Iran into Yemen, as well as the presence of Iranian military experts in Yemen.

Many observers believe that the Saudi-Iran agreement will have an effect on the decisions and actions of the DFA, and that it will compel the Houthis to agree to enter into peace negotiations.

Wedad al-Qadi, a lecturer at Sanaa University who specializes in political sociology, told the Media Line that it is clear that the Houthis have a relationship with Iran and that the Saudi-Iran deal could change the course of the conflict in Yemen.
The Tikvah Podcast: Jonathan Schachter on What Saudi Arabia's Deal with Iran Means for Israel and America
News broke last week that China had mediated a restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Afterwards, analysts of the Middle East wondered what that means for the quiet relations that Israel and Saudi Arabia had been building recently thanks primarily to their joint opposition to Iran. Had Israeli domestic politics turned Saudi Arabia away? Did the American withdrawal from the Middle East over the last decade create a vacuum that China saw an opportunity to fill? How, if it all, did this relate to reports of recent liberalization in Saudi society, or the ongoing protests in Iran? Would this deal breathe new strength into the latter regime at the very moment that it has acquired new fighter jets from Russia and grows closer to breakout nuclear capacity?

Jonathan Schachter, one such observer of the Middle East, thinks that the Iran-Saudi deal is, in significant measure, a diplomatic signal directed at President Biden and the United States. In conversation here with host Jonathan Silver, he looks at that deal in light of a set of Saudi announcements that were released just one day before. Those announcements hint at what might induce Saudi Arabia to formalize its relations with Israel and even more deeply root itself in the American-led, Western alliance structure. He believes that the Saudis are sending America a question: do you, the United States, want to see us go in the direction of our Thursday announcement, or do you want us to go in the direction of our Friday one?
Latest Biden Admin Sanctions Waiver Allows $500 Million Payment for Iran, Tehran Says
Update 4:55 p.m.: Following publication of this article, the Treasury Department told the Washington Free Beacon: "The United States did not provide a waiver for the payment of any blocked or restricted funds to Iran." The official would not provide additional information about Iran’s claims or what may have been negotiated with the Iraqis.

The Biden administration has cleared the way for a $500 million payment to Iran's hardline regime that was being held up by sanctions, according to Iranian officials.

Hamid Hosseini, the secretary general of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce, said last week that the Biden administration had "granted another sanction waiver and allowed the payment of 500 million dollars from Iraq's electricity debt to Iran." Hosseini said the agreement was made while Iraq's foreign minister was in Washington, D.C., a trip that included meetings with State Department officials.

The State Department, which has to approve sanctions waivers of this nature, would not confirm or deny the report and instead directed the Washington Free Beacon to the Treasury Department. A State Department spokesman also would not answer questions about whether this payment was raised in recent talks with the Iraqi government.

The $500 million owed to Iran was frozen in an Iraqi bank due to U.S. sanctions on trade with Tehran, Iran's state-controlled media reported late last week.

Republicans say the funds will help prop up Iran's hardline regime as it cracks down on protesters and provides lethal military equipment to Russia for Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine. Iran over the past several months has killed, tortured, and imprisoned scores of protesters who are trying to take down the hardline regime. While the Biden administration has mostly abandoned its hopes of reviving the 2015 nuclear accord, the alleged payment indicates it is leaving the door open to granting Tehran further concessions as part of a new deal.

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