Wednesday, May 31, 2023

From Ian:

How lies became facts: The Tantura ‘massacre’ returns
The battle over Israel’s legitimacy, of which this story of the great “massacre of Tantura” is but a chapter, is part of the overall war being waged in the West by the progressive camp to impugn the moral foundations of the West as a civilization advancing freedom.

These revisionist arguments echo the ideas of the founder of the Italian Communist Party, Antonio Gramsci, and his concept of “cultural hegemony.” Progressive thought holds that Western narratives are deliberately constructed around so encompassing a body of myths and so pervasive a structure of institutions that they become the received wisdom and obscure an underlying condition of perpetuated oppression.

Gramsci argued that codes of morality are constructed by dictatorial elites in order to create norms that uphold, validate and deepen the systemic oppression inherent to the capitalist system. Even the concepts of logic, truth and facts—the foundations of Western rational debate—are dismissed as forms of such hidden systems of oppression designed to contain debate into a repressive and misleading straitjacket.

As such, the idea of “approximate truth”—where narratives trump factual records of history—become valid to legitimize a cause or perspective even when the facts would suggest otherwise, because facts are themselves a form of repression.

The story of Tantura—or rather the myth of Tantura—is thus part of this larger assault on Western foundations. It is neither a historical work, a documentary, or even a docu-drama that took some artistic license. It is the intentional obfuscation of fact in an attempt to use the device of the “approximate truth”—something factually wrong but nonetheless representing a desired truth—to actually undermine truth and rewrite the historical narrative of Israel.

It is an attempt through fiction cropped as fact to paint Israel’s creation in such a dark palette that it is exposed as a historic evil born of colonial desire to suppress the Arab and Muslim people rather than as an attempt to correct the historical wrong of the exile of the Jewish people and instead to deliver them finally their liberation and sovereignty after two millennia.
W.H.O. Singles Out Israel as Violator of Health Rights
Deviating from its focus on public health emergencies, the annual assembly of the UN’s World Health Organization held a special debate on May 24th to single out Israel, which was condemned by Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba, for allegedly violating the health rights of Palestinians and the Druze population in the Golan Heights.

By a vote of 76 to 13, with 35 abstentions, the world health assembly adopted a resolution submitted by the Syrian and Palestinian delegations requiring the WHO to hold the same debate at next year’s meeting, and to prepare another report on the “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Co-sponsors of the resolution included Syria, Libya, Algeria, Cuba, Pakistan, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen. No other country received a special agenda item at the 76th World Health Assembly, which concluded yesterday.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, an independent non-governmental organization that monitors the UN, condemned the “cynical politicization of the world’s top health agency at the expense of focusing on urgent health priorities affecting hundreds of millions around the globe.”

WHO Singles Out Israel, Ignores Russia, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia

“Out of 25 items on the current world health assembly’s agenda,” said Neuer, “only one focused on a specific country — Israel.”
Bassam Tawil: Mahmoud Abbas's Two-Palestinian-State Solution
The "right of return" is not actually a "right," especially if you are the party who started the war and then lost it, as took place in 1948.

The "right of return" is, rather, a demand: that all the Palestinians who fled their homes during the war of 1948 – and all their descendants – be allowed to return to what is currently the State of Israel.

Thousands of wealthy Arabs left their homes in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders' calls to get out of the way of the advancing Arab armies. A handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the crossfire as the Arabs waged war in response to the establishment of Israel.

"There is a limit to how far Abbas should go to appease Israel." -- Saudi commentator,, 2012.

[A]n extensive letter to Abbas, signed by 78 Palestinian organizations, contained a semi-veiled death threat.

It has now become clear that when Abbas says he supports the two-state solution, he is actually talking about one Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and another one that would replace Israel.

In Israel, there are currently about seven million Jews and two million Arabs. An influx of untold millions of Palestinians would mean, literally, the end of Israel. This appears to be exactly what Abbas and other Palestinians are hoping to achieve.

In pursuing this hardline push for the "right of return," Abbas desires a two-state solution: two Palestinian states, one in the West Bank and Gaza, and the other in all of Israel.

Scoop: Harris to give speech at Israeli Embassy's 75th independence day reception
Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to give a speech next week at the Israeli Embassy's reception celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary, according to a White House official and an Israeli source.

Why it matters: Vice presidents, including Joe Biden and Mike Pence, have attended the reception in the past. But President Biden's decision to send such a high-level representative to the event carries extra weight considering Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still hasn't received a White House invitation — five months after taking office.

Details: The reception is scheduled to take place on June 6 at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff will also attend the event, the sources said.

What they're saying: A White House official said Harris’ remarks at the event “will celebrate the unshakeable bond between the U.S. and Israel and she will reaffirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security."

“The Vice President is proud of her work to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Israel throughout her career ... The Vice President and Second Gentleman look forward to celebrating the 75th Anniversary alongside the Israeli Embassy and members of the Jewish-American community," the White House official said.
Caroline Glick Show: David Goldman: Russia, Ukraine and the End of U.S. Superpower Dominance
In the aftermath of Russia’s conquest of Bakhmut, Caroline’s guest on this week’s Caroline Glick Show was David Goldman. Goldman was perhaps the first commentator who pointed out the geostrategic implications of the Biden administration’s haphazard plan to defeat Russia.

On the show this week, Caroline and David revisited those prescient warnings in light of what has happened in the intervening months of the war. They discussed
- the future of NATO,
- the security of Poland and Germany
- the future of U.S.-European relations.
- Russia/China alliance and its impact on the Middle East

The Israel Guys: US State Department SLAMS Israel AGAIN - This Time They Have Gone TOO FAR
The US State Department has taken things too far. From slamming Israel for repealing the 2005 Disengagement Law that gave away huge chunks of Israeli territory, to criticizing them for moving a yeshiva to Israeli state land, to spending more than 20,000 words accusing Israel of religious discrimination, the State Department has gone one step too far.

UAE positions itself for UN Security Council presidency
The UAE is assuming the presidency of the United Nations Security Council for a month, with The National reporting that the country will “host key events aimed at promoting peace in the Middle East.”

The presidency of the Security Council is a rotating one-month position for the 15 members of the council, of which 10 are non-permanent members. The United Arab Emirates currently holds a two-year position on the council. This move comes amid several developments in the Emirates and the region.

The UAE and United States just completed a key exercise called Iron Union 19, which took place in the UAE. According to Abu Dhabi state media, Maj.-Gen. Saeed Rashid Al Shehhi, commander of the UAE Land Forces, watched the joint UAE-US exercise.

“The joint exercise features military scenarios which aim to strengthen joint coordination and upgrade combat readiness. The exercise is part of the UAE Ministry of Defence’s strategy to raise combat readiness and build tactical proficiency,” WAM Emirates News Agency said.

According to reports from the US Air Force, a C-17 Globemaster III flew an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank to the region as part of the drill. It was not clear what other assets were sent by the US for the drill.

The drill is an important part of the relations between the UAE and the US. It is also part of a larger footprint the US has in the region, including in Qatar, Kuwait and also US Central Command’s close ties to Israel, which have developed over the years.

CENTCOM head general Michael “Erik” Kurilla arrived in Israel this week for key meetings as well. UAE media highlighted this visit, discussing Israel’s Firm Hand drill, which is taking place this week. The UAE is keenly interested in US-Israel ties as they relate to its own partnerships with Israel and the US.

Meanwhile, Iran has indicated its hopes for increased ties with the UAE. Saudi Arabia, an indispensable partner of the UAE, recently reconciled with Iran – that means Iran is making more moves in the Gulf, including hosting Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik this week. As well, reports have come out claiming that the US and Iran are progressing on the nuclear issue, tying directly into the reduction of tension in the Gulf.
UAE says it withdrew from US-led maritime coalition tasked with securing Gulf waters
The United Arab Emirates has withdrawn from a US-led maritime coalition tasked with securing tense Gulf waterways that are vital to the global oil trade, it said Wednesday.

The UAE “withdrew its participation” in the 38-nation Combined Maritime Forces two months ago, a foreign ministry statement said, without giving reasons for the move.

“As a result of our ongoing evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners, two months ago, the UAE withdrew its participation in the Combined Maritime Forces,” said the statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

The Bahrain-headquartered CMF was established in 2001, initially as a partnership between 12 nations. It is active in crucial but troubled Gulf waters where tankers have been seized and attacked in recent months.

A spokesperson for the Combined Maritime Forces said the UAE remains a partner nation, despite putting its participation on hold.

“The CMF still includes 38 partner nations, of which the UAE is one,” Commander Timothy Hawkins told AFP.
Pro-Israel resolution from Arkansas breaks new ground
A resolution passed by a unanimous vote in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which includes a strong statement in support of Jewish ties to Judea and Samaria, has garnered growing appreciation among Israel supporters.

The resolution passed on April 6 calls on Arkansas to enter into strategic partnerships with Israel and build upon a Memorandum of Understanding then-state Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed with the Israel Innovation Authority in 2022.

Heartland to Heartland
“The State of Arkansas, which lies in America’s heartland, has a special kinship with Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland,” the resolution reads.

“Cities across Arkansas bear the names of biblical cities throughout Judea and Samaria, such as Bethel, Hebron, Shiloh, Salem, and numerous others,” the resolution continues.

Other U.S. states have also issued resolutions recognizing Israel’s connection to Judea and Samaria, including Florida in 2012, South Carolina in 2018 and Texas in 2023. They speak of historical and biblical Jewish ties but also offer a modern legal background to justify Jewish rights in those areas, referring either to the League of Nations or the United Nations, or both.

Arkansas’s resolution goes a step further. By skipping over references to modern international law, it takes for granted the natural right of Jews to Judea and Samaria, their ancestral heartland.

“The decision of the House of Representatives in Arkansas is unique because, unlike most decisions of [state] houses in the United States regarding relations with Israel, this decision for the first time speaks of the special relationship with the Land of Israel … including Judea and Samaria,” the Samaria Regional Council said in a statement.
Canadian Parliament event to host anti-Israel who’s who
A May 31 event planned for Parliament Hill in Ottawa promises to be a who’s who of anti-Israel activism.

Three members of the Canadian Parliament—Alexandre Boulerice, Elizabeth May and Mario Beaulieu—will host “Embracing Responsibility: Canada’s responsibility towards Palestine under international law.” The announcement refers to the “chilling” effect of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

“We are disappointed that, yet again, individuals known to have promoted antisemitism are invited to participate in events on Canada’s Parliament Hill,” Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, an agency of the Jewish Federations of Canada, told JNS.

“We reiterate our calls for members of Parliament to undertake careful vetting prior to issuing invitations to ensure that individuals that have histories of promoting hate are not given a platform at the heart of our democracy,” Fogel added.

Karen Rodman, who supports BDS and who has called Israel “apartheid,” will moderate a discussion with six speakers, including Francesca Albanese, U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, who has compared Israelis to Nazis, and Michael Lynk, who formerly held that U.N. role, and who has a history of anti-Israel statements.

The four other speakers include those who have lobbied against the IHRA working definition, pushed for Israel to be investigated in The Hague, supported former UK Labour head Jeremy Corbyn and called Israel “a colonial project from the very beginning.”

Terror victim Meir Tamari laid to rest
Terror victim Meir Tamari was buried in Shaked in Samaria on Wednesday, a day after being shot near the Jewish community of Hermesh.

Tamari sustained a bullet wound to the upper body and was evacuated by helicopter to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, where he was pronounced dead.

Tamari, who leaves behind a wife and two young children, was buried on his 32nd birthday.

“Today we were supposed to have a fun day with the children to celebrate your birthday,” his widow, Tal, said at the funeral. “Instead, we are here eulogizing you.”

Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take concrete steps to prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks.

“Wherever there is no settlement, there is terrorism. We will increase settlement, both to honor God and to strengthen the State of Israel,” Dagan said at the funeral.

“We cry out to the prime minister, the defense minister and other government ministers: This murder could have been prevented. Why did you close the checkpoints? Why didn’t you go on a military campaign against the Palestinian Terror Authority? We demand answers. Jewish blood cannot be forfeit,” he continued.

Dagan’s council earlier Wednesday called for an “Operation Defensive Shield 2” in the wake of dozens of shootings, stone-throwings and Molotov cocktail attacks that take place regularly in Samaria.

Foreign Ministry slams Qatari paper for urging terror attacks against Israelis - exclusive
The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday blasted a Palestinian columnist for the Qatar daily paper Al-Watan who authored a commentary in May calling on Palestinians to carry out terror attacks on Israelis, including calls for Arab countries to go on war footing against the Jewish state. The Middle East Media Research Institute first located and translated the column from Palestinian journalist Samir al-Barghouti.

According to MEMRI, Barghouti wrote “Hit [them] in the depth of the Jerusalem settlements, in Tel Aviv and in all parts of the land they stole and whose people they expelled, from Ras Al-Naqoura [in the North] to Rafah [in the South]. Hit [them], and may your hands be blessed. Even if you do not hurt a single one of them, it is enough to terrify them and sow fear among them.”

Barghouti added that “had there been someone to hit [them] inside the 1948 territories, the Apartheid State [i.e. Israel] would not have continued to exist on our soil to this very day. Had it not been for the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accords, not a single Zionist would have remained in Palestine [today]…”

In an exclusive statement to The Jerusalem Post, the Foreign Ministry said it “strongly condemn[s]” the article “calling for Palestinians to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. Such inflammatory rhetoric and glorification of violence are deeply disturbing and contribute to the perpetuation of the hatred and hostility in the region.”
Iranian Qods Force Commander In Letter To Palestinians: Iran Will Continue To Support You With All Its Abilities Until The Zionist Entity Is Eliminated; Hamas Leader Replies: Iran Is A Firm Foundation For Our Struggle Against Israel And U.S.
On May 14, 2023, one day after the end of the latest round of fighting in Hamas-controlled Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organization, several websites affiliated with the resistance axis posted a letter from Esmail Qaani, commander of the Qods Force in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), to the Palestinian resistance factions. Addressing the people of Gaza, the jihad fighters throughout Palestine, the resistance factions and the commanders of the Joint Operations Room,[1] Qaani congratulated them on their victory in the "Revenge of the Free Campaign" (the Palestinian name of the latest round of fighting in Gaza). Speaking on his own behalf and on behalf of Iran, he added that this great new victory joins the Palestinians' previous victories, which form a series of confident steps towards "the final great victory" over Israel. Qaani stressed that "the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to use all its abilities and resources to support the Palestinian people and its courageous resistance, and to strengthen the resistance axis until the oppressive Zionist entity is removed from all the lands of blessed Palestine." He also thanked all the resistance movements, and in particular the Lebanese Hizbullah, for supporting the Palestinians.

About one week later, Isma'il Haniya, head of Hamas' political bureau, answered Qaani with a letter of his own, in which he thanked Iran for its "unreserved" and strategic support of the Palestinian resistance, and added that "Iran is a firm foundation for the Palestinian resistance and for the resistance axis in its main struggle against the Zionist enemy and the American hegemony."

In this context it should be noted that Hamas refrained from participating directly in the last round of fighting with Israel, but claimed that it had been part of the fighting through its membership in the Joint Operations Room of the Gazan resistance factions. This message of unity among the Palestinian factions was stressed by both Hamas and the PIJ throughout the latest round of fighting and after it, although, as noted, this unity did not take the form of active involvement by Hamas in the hostilities.[2]

It should also be mentioned that Qaani's letter is an expression of Iran's years-long support of the Gazan terror organizations with funds and weapons. Over the years the organization leaders have repeatedly thanked Iran for this support, as reported in numerous MEMRI publications.[3]
Fatah spokesman calls Golda Meir "the woman in hell"
Fatah Spokesperson in Jenin Nasri Hamamreh: “I want to mention a phrase said by the woman in hell [former Israeli Prime Minister] Golda Meir, one of her nine famous phrases: “I hope that I will wake up one day and not a single Palestinian child will be alive” (sic., PMW found no record of Meir making such a statement). This is not just criminal thinking, but rather they are translating this criminal thought [into action] on the ground.”
[Official PA TV, May 13, 2023]

Hamamreh made this statement at the funeral in Jenin of terrorist Ahmed Atatra, who attempted to stab Israeli soldiers

Ahmed Atatra – Palestinian terrorist who ran at Israeli soldiers with a knife to stab them at the Shaked Crossing east of Jenin on May 13, 2023. The soldiers responded by shooting and killing Atatra in self-defense.

Israel denies parole of Palestinian terrorist Walid Daqqah
The early release of terrorist Walid Daqqah was denied by a parole hearing on Wednesday, after a protest and social media campaign by Daqqah’s victim’s family which drew support and statements from Israeli politicians and activists.

Daqqah’s family said that the parole board decision was a death sentence for the ill terrorist, who is afflicted with bone marrow cancer. The appeal for Daqqah’s early release was based on his worsening condition, which supporters asserted required consistent medical treatment outside of prison.

Ortal Tamam, niece of the IDF Moshe Tamam who was tortured and murdered by Daqqah’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) cell in 1984, welcomed the decision and told The Jerusalem Post that she hoped that the story would end with Wednesday’s hearing.

“There are still special committees, and there may still be more attempts by the terrorist to free himself,” Tamam in a Facebook post. 
Intensification of the protests for Israel to parole Walid Daqqah

The Daqqah family called on legal organizations and Palestinian factions to intensify their protests and efforts for the convict’s release before he succumbed to his disease. Tamam said that she didn’t have any expectations from their enemies, but would continue to have expectations of Israel and the flag that her uncle died for.

Palestinian terror group blames Israel for overnight airstrike on Lebanon-Syria border
Israel has reportedly denied Arab media reports that its troops attacked a position of the Popular Front Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) terrorist organization on the Lebanon-Syria border, killing five.

Arab media reports claim the incident allegedly happened near the village of Qousaya, which is in Lebanon on the Syrian border.

Reports say the explosion took place overnight or in the early morning, but there was no video to corroborate the time. The Alma Research and Education Center, which covers security issues in the north, noted online that “Israel is denying any involvement. It is highly probable that this is a local accident of an explosion, probably ammunition, possibly rockets. The organization, for its part, of course, blames Israel for the explosion.” The PFLP-GC denied that it was an “internal explosion.”

According to the pro-Syrian regime outlet Al-Mayadeen, an official from the PFLP-GC said there were five “martyrs” and 10 wounded after the incident and accused Israel of “aggression.”

Who are the PFLP-GC terrorist group?
The PFLP-GC is a Palestinian group founded in 1968 by Ahmed Jibril, which split from the PFLP. It was involved in terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s and during the Syrian civil war worked closely with the Iranian-backed Assad regime. It was involved in battles in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp areas where it is based.

Pro-Syrian regime groups such as Liwa al-Quds and also the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad both have members in Syria and have threatened Israel from Syria in the past.

5 Palestinians killed in explosion on Syria-Lebanon border
5 operatives of the Palestinian Popular Front organization were killed in an explosion on the Syria-Lebanon border. After accusing Israel of carrying out the airstrikes, Israel denied its involvement

Double Duty and Journalistic Dereliction_ Ashraf Ibrahim, Served Both Intelligence and Terror Forces
Ashraf Mohammad Ibrahim, killed in Jenin two days ago during a pitched gunbattle with Israeli troops, was a Palestinian intelligence officer. He also moonlighted as a fighter belonging to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a designated terrorist organization affiliated with Fatah. While many news outlets reported his day job, they initially neglected to note his role as a terror operative. Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, media outlets including Reuters, Associated Press and Times of Israel added the terror affiliation, while Haaretz and Agence France Presse ignored calls to share the relevant information.

Haaretz, for instance, whitewashed (“Palestinian Officer Killed By Israeli Army Fire in West Bank City of Jenin,” Jack Khoury):
A Palestinian intelligence officer was killed Monday morning by Israeli army gunfire in the West Bank city of Jenin, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. . . .

According to the health ministry’s statement, the officer who was killed with 37-year-old Ashraf Ibrahim.

Palestinian sources in Jenin told Haaretz that Ibrahim was active in the Fatah, and spend 11 years in Israeli prisons before being released in 2019. Like many other former prisoners, he joined the ranks of the Palestinian security organizations, finding a role in the intelligence wing.

But, as this graphic (below) issued by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade confirms, Ashraf Mohammad Ibrahim was also a “martyr, colonel and clash participant” and “one of the commanders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.”

Similarly, Times of Israel had initially reported (“Palestinian killed, 7 wounded in IDF raid in Jenin. . .”):
A Palestinian man was killed and at least seven were wounded during a raid by the Israeli military on the northern West Bank city of Jenin early Monday, according to Palestinian health officials.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said 37-year-old Ashraf Muhammad Amin Ibrahim was fatally shot in the abdomen and chest by Israeli troops during the raid.

In the international press, Agence France Presse likewise ignored Ibrahim’s terror affiliation, reporting (“Israeli forces kill West Bank Palestinian in West Bank raid: ministry“): “Ibrahim was an officer in the Palestinian intelligence service, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.”
Palestinian Authority President Issues Decree: Denying Nakba A Crime Punishable By Imprisonment
Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud 'Abbas issued a presidential decree on the topic of commemorating this event. The decree designates May 15 as the official day for commemorating the Nakba and holding activities "to establish the national Palestinian narrative in Palestine and throughout the world." Defining the Nakba as "the crime against humanity committed against the Palestinian people in 1948," it also stipulates that "the denial of the Nakba is a crime punishable by up to two years' imprisonment" and that "the relevant state authorities are tasked with holding perpetrators to account in accordance with the law, inside the state and out of it."

It should be noted that the Palestinian leadership has recently intensified its efforts to establish the Palestinian narrative of the conflict with Israel by marking Nakba Day in Palestinian and international forums and calling to recognize the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes inside Israel. One manifestation of this was the event held at the UN General Assembly on May 15, 2023, which was the first official UN commemoration of the Nakba. 'Abbas attended the event and delivered a pointed speech calling for the return of the Palestinian refugees, and noted that he himself is a refugee and wishes to return to his birth city, Safed. He described Israel as an "apartheid regime" that promotes a false narrative "like Goebbels," and stated that the West, especially Britain and the U.S., bears a direct moral and political responsibility for the Nakba of the Palestinian people. He also announced that a national monument was being built in Palestine to commemorate the Nakba and that a presidential decree had been issued on marking Nakba Day.[1]
Arms Smuggling from Jordan: Lessons Learned
A flood of weapons has crossed Israel’s borders in the last year for use in criminal and terror activities – and maybe in preparation for the day after Abu Mazen.

The Palestinians have a large demand for weapons, and Jordan has a large supply. As a result, both sides are motivated to engage in the illicit trade.

Israel and Jordan’s efforts and counterterror activity have not deterred the ongoing smuggling.

Israel should increase its intelligence and operational efforts and strengthen deterrence with harsher punishments. Unfortunately, the quick release of the Jordanian parliamentarian, notwithstanding serious political considerations, did not contribute to this context.

US readies strategy to target Syria’s Captagon trade
The Biden administration will soon release a congressionally mandated strategy to stem the flow of Captagon, an illegal amphetamine driving much of the debate over whether Syria’s neighbors should re-engage with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Twelve years after the country descended into bloody civil war, Syria has emerged as the global hub for Captagon. Western officials say the highly addictive drug has become a main source of revenue for the regime, helping fill its coffers in the face of broad economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its European allies.

Authorities across the Middle East and southern Europe have seized billions of dollars' worth of Captagon in recent years that they say originated from government-controlled parts of Syria. It is then typically smuggled overland to Jordan before making its way to the Gulf, where it is widely used recreationally among young people.

An estimated 80% of the world’s Captagon supply is now produced in Syria, where Western officials say Assad’s relatives and associates have created a lucrative illicit enterprise with the help of the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon and Iran-backed militias.

Major players also include the Fourth Armored Division of the Syrian Army, which is commanded by Assad’s brother, Maher al-Assad. The president’s cousin, Samer Kamal al-Assad, is said to oversee Captagon facilities in the port city of Latakia in coordination with the Fourth Division.
BBC erasure of Hizballah from Syria drug trafficking story persists
Clearly none of those four reports provides BBC audiences with an adequate portrayal of the involvement of members of the Assad family and their associates in the multi-billion dollar Captagon industry. Neither of the two reports published after May 8th mentions the Jordanian airstrikes in southern Syria on that day (about which the Syrian regime has been notably silent) which allegedly targeted a drug production facility and a drug dealer and his family.

No less remarkable is the fact that none of those brief portrayals of Syrian drug production and trafficking by multiple BBC journalists mentions the involvement of the Iran-backed terrorist organisation Hizballah in that industry.

It is of course worth remembering that – despite Hizballah’s long-standing and well-known involvement in drug trafficking in other parts of the world – in January 2021 the BBC News website published a report headlined ‘Hezbollah denies any role in production of amphetamines’. Since then the corporation has largely steered clear of that topic, at best presenting allegations and denials on equal footing.

The story of Assad’s return to the Arab League fold cannot be properly told without explaining why the issue of Captagon trafficking is so important to some members of that organisation, including Jordan. The pledge reportedly made by the Syrian regime to curb the drug trafficking into neighbouring countries would affect not only its own income but, significantly, also that of the Hizballah terrorist organisation which is backed by Iran – the regime upon which Assad’s survival is also partly dependent.

BBC audiences, however, are not being provided with the full range of information essential for understanding of this story and possible future developments.
US expresses renewed interest in Iran nuclear diplomacy: ‘Our goal is to reach a diplomatic outcome with Iran’
The Biden administration officials’ recent comments, however, suggested that whatever diplomatic outcome the U.S. would be prepared to pursue now, it may not be a revival of the JCPOA. Nor does it seem, at least in the near term, that the U.S. is exploring a diplomatic option through the format of the so-called “P5+1”—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia and China + Germany) which negotiated with Iran to reach the 2015 deal—but seemingly an understanding that might be reached between the US and Iran, possibly with third country mediation.

Biden National Security Council Middle East advisor Brett McGurk traveled to Oman on May 8 to discuss with the Omanis if the Iranians would be “open to taking to steps that would put some limits on their nuclear program and de-escalate the regional situation and what they would want in return,” Axios’ Barak Ravid reported Tuesday.

Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said conducted a two-day trip to Iran last weekend (May 28-29) during which he met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran protests subside, Iran nuclear program advances
“I think that it's true that it was difficult for us to engage in negotiations when Iran was engaged in the brutal crackdown against its own people,” Ali Vaez, director of the Iran program at the International Crisis Group, formerly headed by Malley, told me Tuesday. “But now that the dust has settled, the problem of Iran's nuclear proliferation is looming large again, and so obviously, the US has to pursue a diplomatic solution to try to curb Iran's activities.”

“It’s a question of priorities,” Vaez said. “I think that there's a change in how the U.S. perceives key concerns about Iran's activity. A few months ago, human rights was at the top, and now I think the nuclear issue is once again… flashing red.”

But Vaez expressed skepticism that even an interim nuclear deal is possible in the near term, and suggested what was likely being explored was much more modest.

Beat Iran at its own game
As Iran takes advantage of Israel’s enemies, Israel should respond by taking advantage of Iran’s enemies by forging alliances with the Islamic republic’s oppressed ethnic groups. Israel would do well to support these groups’ struggles for self-determination by providing any kind of support it can, up to and including military aid. By doing this, Israel can establish footholds not just on Iran’s borders, but within Iran itself.

Israel should begin by strengthening relations with the Kurds. I say strengthen because Israel has had cordial though clandestine relations with the Kurds for a long time. The Kurds are particularly important because they straddle the borders of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Thus, strengthening relations with the Kurds has the potential to allow Israel to have eyes in all four of these countries.

The Kurds are also the largest ethnic group in the Middle East without a country of their own. They of all people deserve self-determination and Israel can help make that happen. In exchange, the Kurds should allow Israel to put intelligence and military assets in their territory to target Iran.

In fact, there are indications that this may have already occurred. Earlier this year, news emerged that Israel supposedly has a secret base in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Iraq. Whether or not it’s true is up for debate. But if it is true, then Israel is already on the right track.

The next step would ideally be for Israel to extend its hand to other oppressed minority groups in Iran and give them any support possible—moral, financial, military, etc.—to help them gain their independence from the Islamic republic in exchange for allowing the Jewish state to base intelligence and military assets in their territory. After all, if Iran can play the proxy game, so can Israel.
Israel, Azerbaijan are both targets of Iran, Isaac Herzog says
Israel and Azerbaijan both face hostility from Iran, President Isaac Herzog noted, wrapping up his visit to Baku, the capital, on Wednesday.

Azerbaijan is “aware of Iranian hostility towards it, going back to the establishment of the state,” Herzog said, pointing to an Iran-backed shooting attack on an Azerbaijani parliamentarian this year.

Herzog spoke of the Iranian threat publicly, in his remarks to the press after his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev a day earlier, but Aliyev did not.

“Just a visit by an Israeli leader here makes a statement” to Iran, a source in Herzog’s entourage said. That being said, “no country wants to be made out to be the secret weapon against Iran.”

The reverse dynamic was on display with regard to Israeli weapons sales to Azerbaijan; Aliyev mentioned it, but Herzog did not. Aliyev was even photographed with Israeli Harop drones last year, during a time of heightened tensions with Iran.

The source in Herzog’s delegation said that Israeli arms did not come up in the meeting between the presidents, as that is the Defense Ministry’s department.

The president insisted in a briefing to journalists that the relationship between Israel and Azerbaijan is “not just Iran and defense; it’s also about trade, tourism and energy.”

“We offered them to be partners in gas reservoirs in Israel,” Herzog said. “They have a gas pipeline from here to Italy under the Adriatic Sea. Because of the Russia-Ukraine war, their strategic value rose as a provider of oil and gas.”
Hacked Document Shows Tehran Debating To ‘Redefine’ Ties With Baku
A report, claimed by an opposition group to have been hacked from the Iranian presidency servers, advises the government to redefine its relations with Azerbaijan.

“The government of Azerbaijan has misunderstood the self-restraint and good-neighborliness policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran as its weakness and inferred out country’s determination to avoid conflict with itself,” the report released by MEK-affiliated Telegram account GhyamSarnegouni (Uprising till Overthrow) Monday says.

The group released a trove of secret and top-secret document on Monday that it said were obtained by hacking the government’s servers.

Describing Baku’s actions as “serious threats,” the report provides a summary of recent developments in bilateral relations and a summary of Azerbaijan’s relations with other regional players, Turkey and Israel, in the context of its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and says failing to redefine relations will lead to “increased hostility” from Azerbaijan.

“Undoubtedly, the Zionist regime will be the principal beneficiary of heightened tensions between the two sides,” the report says.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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