Friday, September 08, 2023

From Ian:

The Arafat I knew was undermining Oslo from the very start
From Arafat’s perspective, the Oslo Accords of September 1993 were not intended as harbingers of peace, nor was he being “brave” in signing them. Rather, he was a master of hypocrisy.

For instance, Israeli security had found a wanted terrorist concealed in the boot of a car Arafat and his entourage were driving triumphantly into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in 1994.

“We knew straight away that what Arafat said publicly was very different from what he did, or wanted to do, more privately,” said the officer in charge.

That double-speak was confirmed when a reporter made a secret recording of Arafat speaking on a tour of South Africa. Arafat told worshippers at a mosque that the PLO’s apparent acceptance of Israel’s right to exist was just a subterfuge for overall conquest.

To this day, Palestinians, often slavishly reported by the mainstream media, continue to claim that Israeli hardliners sabotaged the Oslo Accords.

True, there was little progress towards a “final settlement” that the Accords had envisaged should take five years. But the reality of what stopped serious progress was somewhat different.

Arafat really did not feel he needed a “final status”, which would condemn him to the obloquy of most of the Palestinian and Arab elite, and which would reduce him to the leader of a small and unimportant “state”.

He felt much more comfortable politically and psychologically in being portrayed internally and around the Islamic world as a revolutionary, not as a statesman, or, worse, as a sell-out. During our interview with him he was pleased to show us his tiny bedroom, still displaying some small holes made, he said, by Israel shrapnel. In reality, he had a much grander bedroom reachable by a corridor to the other side of the Mukataa.

What Arafat desired and got was a path to continued and expanded influence and international importance. The Accords were in many ways a propaganda and financial victory for the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
JPost Editorial: Mahmoud Abbas is a delusional liar and is unfit to lead the PA
The Palestinians deserve to hear the historical truth
Steffen Seibert, the German ambassador to Israel, was quick to respond to Abbas’s outrageous claims.

“The recent statement of President Abbas on Jews and the Holocaust is an insult to the memory of millions of murdered men, women, and children. The Palestinians deserve to hear the historical truth from their leader, not such distortions,” Seibert tweeted.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, also rightfully slammed Abbas’s statements, tweeting that “this is the true face of Palestinian leadership. Just as Abbas blames the Jews for the Holocaust, he also blames the Jews for all the Middle East’s issues. While he spreads this pure antisemitism, he also pays Palestinian terrorists for murdering Israelis and publicly commends Palestinian terrorism.”

“The world must wake up and hold Abbas and his Palestinian Authority accountable for the hatred they spew and the ensuing bloodshed it causes. There must be zero tolerance for Palestinian incitement and terror,” Erdan added.

Abbas’s statements were unfortunately nothing new. In May, he accused Israel of lying like Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. And last year, sitting alongside Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Germany at a press conference, he accused Israel of perpetrating “50 holocausts,” drawing the German leader’s condemnation.

His views were developed as a young man when he wrote a lie-riddled doctoral thesis with the title, “The Relationship Between Zionists and Nazis.”

Given his detachment from reality on this subject and his advanced age, how can Abbas possibly be considered a clear-headed thinker or leader when it comes to the critical issues that fuel the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Abbas has been in power since 2005 and has increasingly consolidated his control of the PA.

In 2018, he dissolved the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the PA’s legislature, and during the last two decades, he has instituted reforms that have weakened the judiciary in a successful campaign to take single-handed control of the Palestinian political system.

The Palestinian people deserve better leadership that will bring them into the future, instead of dwelling on the lies and distortions of the past, in which Abbas is clearly still living.

Caroline Glick: A Nazi speech in Ramallah tells a much larger tale
Abbas attacked the United States and the British. “America was a partner to the Balfour Declaration. Who invented that [Jewish] state? It was Britain and America—not just Britain,” he said. “I am saying this,” he explained, “so that we know who we should accuse of being our enemy, who has harmed us and took our homeland away, and gave it to the Israelis or the Jews.”

Abbas’s appalling statements weren’t novel. He has made similar anti-Jewish diatribes throughout his career. Indeed, Holocaust denial, Holocaust projection, conspiracy theories, Nazi apologetics, Islamic jihadist anti-Jewish epithets, denial and appropriation of Jewish history and Soviet anti-Semitic gaslighting have all been major features of his long career as a Palestinian terrorist and political warrior against the Jewish state.

Abbas’s statements make him an anti-Semite. But they also make him a faithful disciple of the founder of the Palestinian national movement and the Arab war against the Jewish state, the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin el Husseini, a Nazi agent whom Abbas has praised as a “pioneer.”

Husseini was a pioneer, in the war against the Jews.

Beginning in the 1920s, Husseini began fusing European race-based anti-Semitism with Islamic Jew hatred when he translated into Arabic and published “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Husseini, like his friend Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, was an early supporter of the Nazis. Through Nazi funding, in 1936 he launched the Arab terror war against the British and the Jews of pre-state Israel which continued until 1939.

In June 1941 Husseini incited a pro-Nazi coup in Baghdad, and the Farhud, a massive pogrom against Iraqi Jewry, in the city. Ahead of a pursuing British force, Husseini made his way to Berlin, where he met with Hitler in November 1941 and set up shop. Husseini was an active supporter of and participant in the annihilation of European Jewry. He blocked the rescue of thousands of Jewish children in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. He drafted thousands European Muslims to an SS division that engaged in the annihilation of Yugoslavian Jewry. He was a close associate of Adolf Eichmann and other top Nazis.

Just as significantly, Husseini operated a short-wave radio station that broadcast throughout the Arab world from Berlin. Husseini’s broadcasts fused Islamic Jew hatred with Nazi anti-Semitism to create a hybrid form of genocidal Jew hatred directed at the Jews of the Islamic world, including especially, the Zionist Jews in pre-state Israel.

Husseini was arrested as a war criminal after the war and held in France, pending trial at Nuremberg. But the French allowed him to escape to Egypt in 1946, thus enabling him to start a new chapter in his war against the Jews.

Here we come to another important aspect of Husseini’s legacy. Before becoming a Nazi agent, Husseini sometimes worked with the British and the French.

In Mandatory Palestine, Husseini’s allies were the often anti-Semitic British officers who dominated Britain’s military government. It was at the urging of these officers that the Zionist but feckless High Commissioner Herbert Samuel appointed Husseini to serve as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and enabled him to become the sole leader of the Arabs of the Palestine Mandate.

Husseini was able to work with all sides because key figures on all sides shared his Jew hatred, which Husseini knew how to tailor to their specific prejudices. In this manner, both before, during and after the Holocaust, Husseini was able to use his fervent hatred of Jews to develop Western opposition to Zionism.

‘Hateful, Anti-Semitic Remarks’: Palestinian President Justifies the Holocaust
The United States and European Union on Thursday criticized remarks about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

In a statement, the EU's diplomatic service said the 87-year-old Abbas's remarks, made in late August to a meeting of his Fatah movement's Revolutionary Council, were "false and grossly misleading."

Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, called for an immediate apology for what she said were Abbas's "hateful, antisemitic remarks."

There was no immediate comment from Abbas. Members of his Fatah party did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

In his remarks, Abbas said Jews were targeted by Nazi Germany because of their "social role" rather than their religion.

"This has been explained by many Jewish authors," Abbas said. "When they said that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews, and that Europe hates the Jews because they were Jews, no. It was clearly explained that they fought [the Jews] because of their social role and not their religion."

Abbas has frequently drawn the anger of the international community with remarks about the Nazi Holocaust, in which around six million Jews were murdered, as well as members of groups such as the Roma community, people with disabilities, and those from sexual and gender minorities.

In a statement, the foreign affairs spokesman for the EU, one of the major donors to the Palestinian Authority, called the remarks "an insult to the millions of victims of the Holocaust and their families."

"Such historical distortions are inflammatory, deeply offensive, can only serve to exacerbate tensions in the region and serve no one's interests," he said. "They play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated for."

Paris mayor strips Abbas of prestigious award after Holocaust denial speech
The mayor of Paris has condemned Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for "justifying" the Holocaust and stripped him of a prestigious honour granted by her city.

In a letter sent to the Fatah leader, Anne Hidalgo said he could no longer hold the Grand Vermeil medal because: "the comments you made are contrary to our universal values and the historical truth of the Shoah."

She added: "You can therefore no longer hold this distinction."

In remarks that appeared on social media on Wednesday, Abbas said: “They say that Hitler killed the Jews because they were Jews and that Europe hated the Jews because they were Jews. Not true.

“It was clearly explained that the Europeans fought the Jews because of their social role, and not their religion.

“Several authors wrote about this. Even Karl Marx said this was not true. He said that the enmity was not directed at Judaism as a religion but to Judaism for its social role.

“The Europeans fought against these people because of their role in society, which had to do with usury, money, and so on and so fourth.”

Abbas made the remarks during a speech late last month before senior members of his Fatah party in Ramallah.

The text of the letter was published on Twitter by French Jewish leader Yonathan Arfi.

"This important decision honours Paris and the city's ongoing commitment against antisemitism," he wrote.

Writing to Abbas, Hidalgo said: "You... justified the extermination of the Jews of Europe during World War II with a clear desire to deny the genocide...

"I vehemently condemn your remarks, no cause can justify revisionism and negationism."

China: Transforming its Economic Strength into Middle East Political and Military Influence
In terms of political influence in the region, China is posing a growing challenge to the United States, particularly among pragmatic Sunni-Arab nations, which were previously firmly in the pro-American camp.

These countries (especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), driven by tensions between them and Washington, have increased cooperation with China. These tensions reflect their growing concern about the American commitment to their security.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported (August 25, 2023) that Saudi Arabia is exploring a Chinese proposal to construct a nuclear power plant. This could be a move to put pressure on the US to adhere to Saudi proposals for receiving, from the US a civilian nuclear program, as part of ongoing US-Saudi-Israeli negotiations aimed at establishing a three-way deal that would include normalization between Riyadh and Jerusalem. Saudi Arabia’s objective is to build a complete nuclear fuel cycle in collaboration with the US, but if the US refuses, the Saudis will look to China for at least receiving nuclear power plants. While that’s not the same thing as a full fuel cycle, it still acts as leverage against the US.

Cooperation with China serves as leverage against the US, encouraging Washington to invest more in the regional security architecture that it leads. If the US does not act, the Chinese option allows Sunni states to hedge risks while enhancing the status of China as a rising alternative force.

These trends have significant consequences for Israel:

At the strategic-regional level, Israel’s ability to project force and deterrence is heavily influenced by America’s position in the region. As the standing of the United States rises or declines, so will the status of Washington’s closest ally in the region, Israel.

In recent months, we have seen an increase in the number of statements made by senior officials and leaders of the radical Shi’ite axis on this subject.

In April 2023, for example, an IRGC spokesperson stated that “the United States is not in a position in the region to support Israel.”[i]

Furthermore, Israel will need to develop an updated policy that outlines courses of action and responses to China’s moves in the region. Because the American alliance is so critical for Israel’s military capabilities and geopolitical position, any Israeli move toward China should be conducted with the goal of preserving the alliance with the US in mind as the primary and leading consideration before any other.

This is founded on the understanding that, in the new era of superpower competition, Israel does not have the ability to adopt a stance of sitting on the fence. The price Israel would pay for such a position is prohibitively expensive. Israel must explicitly express its support for the US-led alliance of Western democracies.

As such, Israel has limited options for maintaining a dialogue channel and commercial connections with China. At the same time, Israel has an excellent opportunity to expand military cooperation with CENTCOM (US Army Central Command), which it joined in 2021, while also aiming to “re-recruit” pragmatic Arab governments to the pro-American camp and assist the US in returning them to their traditional course.
U.S., Saudi, India, UAE hope to ink railway deal to connect Middle East at G20
President Biden and the leaders of India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates hope to announce a major joint infrastructure deal on Saturday that will connect Gulf and Arab countries via a network of railways, two sources with direct knowledge of the plan told Axios. It will also connect to India through shipping lanes from ports in the region,

Why it matters: The project is one of the key initiatives the White House is pushing in the Middle East as China's influence in the region grows. The Middle East is a key part of China's Belt and Road vision.
- The joint railway project is expected to be one of the key deliverables Biden wants to present during the G20 Summit in New Dehli this weekend.
- It comes as the Biden administration seeks to complete its diplomatic push for a mega-deal with Saudi Arabia that could include a normalization agreement between the kingdom and Israel before the 2024 campaign consumes Biden's agenda.

What they are saying: The White House declined to comment. It said in an earlier statement previewing Biden's trip that the president will participate on Saturday in a "Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment event."
- A U.S. official involved in the talks said the work on the announcement is still ongoing and it is not final yet.
- The Indian and Saudi embassies in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Emirati officials declined to comment.
- If the four countries finalize the negotiations in the next two days, their leaders will sign a memorandum of understanding outlining the parameters of the project.
Seth Frantzman: Sudan’s army gains international support - analysis
Six months of civil war in Sudan could be reaching a new phase, as the military head appears to be cementing control – at least internationally.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the Sovereign Council, which controls the armed forces, is set to go to the UN General Assembly on or around September 19. In recent weeks, he has made major strides abroad, visiting Egypt, where he met with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Both men have a strong army background, and Sisi has been in power since 2013.

This week, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield visited Chad to witness and meet refugees from the fighting in Sudan.

“The United States is providing nearly $163 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Sudan and neighboring countries,” she announced on her visit.

The US Treasury Department sanctioned Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of one of the sides, accusing his group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), of abuses against civilians, something that both sides have been accused of.

Burhan traveled on to Doha on “an official visit,” Al-Ain media reported, adding that he is there for discussions with the Emir of Qatar “to address the course of bilateral relations between the two countries, ways to enhance them, issues of common interest, and developments in the situation in Sudan.”

The fighting in Sudan
When fighting began in Sudan in April, two armed factions – the army and the RSF – began fighting for control. It now appears that the US and the international community are moving to side with the army.

Qatar has also played a similar role in other places, such as hosting the Taliban and brokering a deal with the US that saw the Taliban return to power.

Once Doha makes a move, it often is with the blessing of other key countries and represents a new phase in whatever is happening. Qatar, for instance, also sent an envoy to Gaza this week.
US pans Israel-Russia film cooperation deal, citing Moscow’s ‘antisemitic propaganda’
The United States on Thursday condemned Israel for signing a cinema cooperation agreement with Russia.

“The Russian culture ministry has funded antisemitic propaganda in Ukraine and elsewhere. We discourage official cooperation between other countries and Russia, especially Russian individuals who are sanctioned like the Minister of Culture,” a State Department spokesperson said in response to a query on the matter.

“Russia is not a trustworthy ally or partner. As the world has repeatedly seen, the Kremlin creates and spreads disinformation in an attempt to confuse and manipulate people about Russia’s real actions against Ukraine and elsewhere that are designed to destabilize and weaken sovereign nations,” the statement continued. “As a general matter, we oppose partnerships with Russia.”

The Biden administration has long pushed Israel to fall in line with the Western world’s more aggressive stance against Russia in response to the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, but Jerusalem has at times resisted, not wanting to completely upend its relationship with Moscow whose approval it needs to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

US-Israel ties have been strained for months against the backdrop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s judicial overhaul and efforts to undermine prospects for a two-state solution. For seven months, US President Joe Biden refrained from inviting Netanyahu to meet him in the US. They’re slated to meet later this month when Netanyahu will be in the country to address the UN General Assembly but Biden may choose to merely meet him on the sidelines of the confab, rather than grant him a higher-profile Oval Office sit-down.

Hours before the State Department condemnation, Ukraine blasted the Israel-Russia deal signed on Wednesday, accusing Jerusalem of “collaboration” and aiding Moscow in spreading its propaganda.

“We no longer know how to comment,” said Ukraine’s embassy in a statement. “On the very same day when a Russian rocket struck a crowded market in Donbas area of Ukraine, once again killing and injuring dozens of innocent civilians, the Israeli Government signed a cooperation agreement in the field of cinema with the Russian propaganda perpetrators,” the embassy said.

On Wednesday, a Russian missile strike on a busy market in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region killed at least 17 and injured dozens more.

“Israel is collaborating with this ruthless country, well known for its cinematic endeavors aimed at spreading war propaganda,” continued the Ukrainian statement.

“While the international community isolates Russia to demonstrate that its actions are unacceptable to civilized society, it looks like Israel is offering additional platforms to the aggressive federation for the dissemination of their toxic ideas.”
JewishInsider PodCast: Limited Liability Podcast - Itai Anghel
On this week’s episode, Rich and Jarrod are joined by Israeli war correspondent and documentary filmmaker Itai Anghel, winner of Israel’s highest journalistic honor, the Sokolow Prize for Print Journalism, and recent Emmy nominee for his film "Last Stop Before Kyiv," about the war in Ukraine, for a conversation on his groundbreaking career, Ukraine, ISIS and reporting from enemy states as an Israeli.
Pew study: Israeli left 33% likelier to view UN favorably than in 2022
Of 24 countries that the Pew Research Center surveyed earlier this year, Israel had the most unfavorable view (62%) of the United Nations. Thirty-one percent of Israelis viewed the international body favorably, the lowest percentage of any country in the data.

The next closest was Argentina, with just 36% viewing the United Nations favorably, although only 27% of Argentinians viewed it unfavorably, per new data from Pew.

Japan had the next highest unfavorable ratings after Israel’s (50% unfavorable, 40% favorable) and then came several countries with high unfavorability rates but higher favorable ones: Greece (45%, 49%), the United States (40%, 58%), Spain (37%, 59%) and Australia (34%, 64%). The median of the 24 countries was an unfavorable rating of 28% and a favorable one of 63%.

The United Nations had the most fans in Poland (86% favorable, 8% unfavorable), Sweden (81%, 16%), Kenya (79%, 16%), South Korea (79%, 18%) and Nigeria (77%, 16%). The United Kingdom viewed the United Nations favorably at a rate of 72% with 25% unfavorable.

Pew surveyed a national, random sample of 3,576 American adults from March 20-26 and relied on nationally representative phone polls (and online surveys in Australia) of 27,275 adults worldwide, conducted between Feb. 20 and May 22. Due to COVID-19, this is the first time since 2019 that Pew’s Global Attitudes Survey included responses from Africa and Latin America.

“The Israeli public has historically expressed unfavorable views toward the U.N.: At least 58% have viewed the organization negatively since this question was first asked in 2007,” according to Pew.
Is UNESCO Going to Erase Jewish History From Another Israeli City?
When the United States rejoined the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in July of this year, there was some cautious optimism that perhaps the US presence would temper the organization’s anti-Israel sentiments and agenda, which has been on display for years.

Unfortunately, those hopes appear to have been premature, as demonstrated by UNESCO’s agenda at its upcoming World Heritage Committee session, which will be held in Saudi Arabia later this month.

During the session, various locations around the world will be officially listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites. One of those sites, which was submitted at the behest of the Palestinians, is ancient Jericho. The Palestinians want its location listed as the “state of Palestine” — thus ignoring or negating the thousands of years of Jewish history at the site, and creating a Palestinian state where none exists.

The revisionist approach to Jewish history in Palestinian discourse and diplomacy is not new.

Jews have witnessed similar assertions for decades — yet they very clearly gained impetus when UNESCO became the first UN body to recognize “Palestine” as a full member state in 2011. Since then, UNESCO has passed resolutions defining the Temple Mount in Jerusalem — Judaism’s holiest site — as solely a Muslim holy site. It’s also declared that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron — believed by both Jews and Muslims to be the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — is a Palestinian heritage site.

It was these malicious and absurd attacks on Jewish history that led both Israel and the United States to withdraw from UNESCO in 2017.

Jericho is considered the world’s oldest city, and is most famous from the Bible as the first city that Joshua conquered when the Israelites entered the land of Canaan after 40 years in the desert. Today, the ancient site of Jericho contains ruins of synagogues that are thousands of years old, where mosaics inscribed with Hebrew writings have been discovered. This is unequivocal archaeological evidence of the historical Jewish presence in the ancient city.

The push to name Jericho as a “Palestinian heritage site” is just part of the larger Palestinian objective of rewriting the evidence-based historical record in the Holy Land, and replacing it with a fictitious narrative designed to sever any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

The Israel Guys: BREAKING: 4,000 Ancient Holy Sites in ISRAEL Are In DANGER Of Complete DESTRUCTION
International Support for the destruction of Biblical sites in Israel is booming as the Arab & pro Palestinian revisionist writers take to erasing the 4,000 year old Jewish connection to the land of Israel!

Be warned that today’s show is going to infuriate any rational and historically literate listeners among you!

Israel needs a new strategy against Hezbollah
Hezbollah’s increased boldness can be attributed to a continuous erosion of Israeli deterrence, as a result of a number of variables.

First, the maritime border agreement signed between Israel and Lebanon was made with clear threats and pressure exerted by Hezbollah, who threatened to take military action against Israel if it began producing gas from its Karish reservoir without signing the agreement with Lebanon. At the same time, Hezbollah sent three UAVs towards a gas rig in Israel on July 2, 2022.

In addition, Israel did not respond to most of the provocations and actions by Hezbollah in the past year, including the establishment of the military tent located in sovereign territory on Israeli soil (as of this writing it has not been evacuated); and the terror attack in Megiddo. This reality has significantly weakened the deterrence against Hezbollah and increased its appetite for further aggression.

Israel’s current stance is not geared towards escalating tensions in the northern region and entering into a conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The nation is currently facing more pressing political and security challenges, including internal divisions within Israeli society, including the IDF; efforts to advance normalization with Saudi Arabia through a tripartite agreement involving the United States; the ongoing development and expansion of the Abraham Accords; and the intricate task of addressing the Iranian threat – including the nuclear deal and potential undisclosed interim agreements between the United States and Iran.

Nevertheless, it remains imperative for Israel to bolster its deterrent capabilities against Hezbollah. Consequently, a middle ground must be sought, and the Campaign Between the Wars (CBW) strategy should be activated in Lebanon, mirroring Israel’s actions in Syria and various other locations in the Middle East. This operation must be carried out discreetly and with ambiguity, to minimize potential reactions from Hezbollah.

By initially subjecting Hezbollah to targeted strikes on “lesser” targets that they can manage, Israel can progressively escalate its operations to target higher-value objectives and so forth. Israel’s primary objective should be to disrupt Hezbollah’s military power buildup, including its missile precision program while striving to prevent a retaliatory response from the terrorist organization.

This strategy inherently carries the risk of escalation, which must be factored into the equation. Consequently, Israel must prepare in advance for the possibility of a brief, multi-day conflict with Hezbollah, during which it can exploit the opportunity to inflict substantial damage on the organization’s missile and rocket stockpiles, along with its military infrastructure.
Rebel News: Ariel, the bustling Israeli town the UN said is illegal
Sheila Gunn Reid is in Israel this week on a fact-finding mission aimed at uncovering the misinformation propagated by mainstream media, politicians, and the United Nations. Today, she is visiting the town of Ariel.

Rebel News: Israelis, Palestinians and asylum seekers agree: deport violent Eritreans
Avi Yemini reports from Tel Aviv, where Israelis, Palestinians and asylum seekers are finding agreement when it comes to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal of deporting asylum-seeking Eritreans who were involved in a recent violent clash.

At least 20 wounded as clashes renew in Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon
Clashes in a Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon have left 20 people wounded, official news agency NNA reported Friday, weeks after a deadly outbreak of violence rocked Ain al-Helweh.

The fighting late Thursday in the camp, which is located on the outskirts of the coastal city of Sidon, once again pitted members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement against Islamist militants.

An AFP correspondent in Sidon reported the sound of intermittent automatic weapon fire and rocket launchers emanating from within the camp on Friday morning.

Dozens of families with children fled on Thursday evening from the camp’s northern end where the clashes were concentrated, and some took shelter in a nearby mosque, the correspondent added.

NNA reported “intensive contacts made between Lebanese and Palestinian leaders” in a bid to restore calm.

Ain al-Helweh is home to more than 54,000 registered refugees. It was created for Palestinians who were driven out or fled during the 1948 war that coincided with Israel’s creation. Thousands of Palestinians who sought refuge from Syria’s civil war have also joined the camp in recent years.

In the worst outbreak of violence in years, five days of clashes that began in late July left 13 people dead and dozens wounded in Ain al-Helweh.

By long-standing convention, the army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps — now bustling but impoverished urban districts — leaving the factions themselves to handle security.
How Hezbollah funds terror through the global cocaine trade
It’s January 2014 and Jack Kelly, an agent with America’s Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA), has recently been reassigned. For several years he has been coordinating investigations into the narcotics trade’s biggest networks: being “an eye in the sky”, as it was called. Divorced and in his forties, on weekends Kelly would wake up early, drink his morning coffee, and then hit the gym before spending hours working on open source research.

The project was codenamed “Cassandra”, named after the Trojan princess who was fated to never be believed but whose prophecies were eventually proved correct. The closer Kelly looked, the more wiretap transcripts he studied and the more reports he read, it became clear to him that something deeply troubling was happening. It was like being at the centre of a panopticon watching cash, drugs and guns moving across borders.

A drug cartel in Colombia could be shipping cocaine to mafias in Europe, who in turn laundered their money through Middle Eastern banks holding cash for rogue regimes.

Those sanctioned governments could then use the funds raised on the international black market to purchase bombs and weapons.

The DEA had picked up numerous leads about Iran and Hezbollah exploiting these networks to circumvent US sanctions. Governments such as Iran’s still needed to procure hard currency and arms as before, but now increasingly had to turn to criminal schemes to source them. To do this they used procurement agents or “super facilitators” — cells that operated in the shadow dimension of international arms and drugs trafficking.

There was one man out there who was likely at the centre of it all: the end user. His name was Mustafa Badreddine, and he was a legendary Lebanese terrorist who had been dispatched to Damascus to lead Hezbollah special forces fighters in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Everyone knew that 30 years before it was Mustafa who had executed the deadly attack on the US marine barracks in Beirut, watching through his binoculars from the roof of the nearby building.

A bunch of DEA agents were never going to get close to a guy such as Mustafa. He was a ghost, a phantom who had evaded the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies for decades. But Kelly knew that they could at least go after some of the people sending weapons to people like him and others supporting Assad in Syria. They just needed the right leads.

Even Mustafa’s enemies — and he had many — had to admit that he wasn’t just good: he was one of the best. For more than three decades he had presided over one of the longest uninterrupted sprees of bombings, assassinations and kidnappings the world had ever seen. And he had always managed to slip away.

WaPo: Inside the saga of the State Department’s missing Iran envoy
Feeling misled, lawmakers began demanding answers. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) demanded a classified briefing. He emerged from the briefing to decry the lack of information provided.

“The Department’s failure to inform Congress of this matter demonstrates at best a lack of candor, and at worst represents deliberate and potentially unlawful misinformation,” he wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In Washington, Malley is a polarizing figure with strong supporters and detractors. At the time of his security clearance suspension, Malley was deeply involved in a complicated set of multilateral negotiations. His extensive network of relationships, including with Iranian officials and various go-betweens, was surely an asset in those diplomatic endeavors. But the question is whether he crossed the line by sharing some sensitive information he shouldn’t have with the wrong person.

Most of the public information about the case has come from the Tehran Times, which first reported (on July 10) that Malley’s security clearance had been suspended much earlier than the State Department acknowledged.

The Tehran Times claims to also possess a classified internal State Department memo detailing options for U.S. intelligence agencies to help the Iranian protesters late last year. Malley surely would have been involved in such a memo; could that be connected to his security clearance issue? The State Department won’t say — and now McCaul is calling for a leak investigation as well.

Administration officials have given congressional staffers explanations for each of these perceived slights. In April and May, Malley technically was on “personal leave,” and the State Department officials who conveyed that to Congress weren’t aware of the investigation and therefore didn’t know they were omitting key information about why, officials said.

Officials claim it was a coincidence that Malley was transferred to unpaid leave the same exact day the news broke of his investigation. They say any misstatements to reporters were the result of internal confusion rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead. Yet even this most benign reading of events (which stretches credulity) amounts to a defense of incompetence.
Iranian Regime-Supporting Princeton Professor Pressures FWI to Mislead Public
Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a "Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at the Program on Science and Global Security" at Princeton University, has sought to manipulate media coverage of his invitation to a U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) conference in mid-August.

On August 30, Mousavian, a former ambassador for the Islamic Republic of Iran to Germany, contacted Focus on Western Islamism (FWI) to speak about his appearance at the conference, downplaying his regime ties. After the initial conversation, he tried to pressure FWI into retroactively considering his comments to be off-the-record, suggesting that FWI misattribute the source of an unverifiable claim to another person.

Politicians, activists and journalists criticized the decision to invite Mousavian to STRATCOM, with journalists noting his long history of close involvement with the regime in Tehran. After the U.S. killing of designated-terrorist Qasem Soleimani in 2020, for instance, Mousavian appeared to praise the IRGC leader and attended his funeral. More recently, and widely reported by Western media, in an interview for an Iranian documentary, Mousavian smiled as he spoke enthusiastically about the Iranian regime's threats to America's then-Iran envoy, Brian Hook, for the U.S. killing of Soleimani.

During his keynote address at the U.S. Strategic Command symposium, Mousavian faulted the United States for a failed Middle East and blamed America for Iran's aggressive stance. "Iran and the U.S. might still have good relations, could be friend, not false,[sic] if the U.S. had not [been] overwhelmed by its great power ambitions," he said.

Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat who is now a prominent opposition leader living in the UK, told FWI that Mousavian used his opportunity at STRATCOM to "enhance his credentials," noting that, "Indeed, the crux of his message contained nothing more than how the U.S. had got everything wrong for the past 70 years! His pontifications said nothing about the numerous heinous acts committed by the regime he has worked for either at home or abroad, falsely alleging that the anti-U.S. positions advocated by the 'Deep State' in Iran has the support of the Iranian nation – i.e., a brutally suppressed population that have visibly flouted and de-legitimized the regime's values and policies."

A spokesperson for U.S. Strategic Command told FWI, "We were aware of Mr. Mousavian's previous position within the Iranian government and believe that, in the context of the Deterrence Symposium, we would have benefited from that insight into an opposing viewpoint. The views expressed in the panels and keynotes are not the position of or endorsed by U.S. Strategic Command."
US Seizes 1 Million Barrels of Smuggled Iranian Oil Headed for China, Congress Demands Action
A Greek shipping company has pleaded guilty in US federal court to smuggling 1 million barrels of Iranian oil intended for China that have now been seized by the American government, according to newly unsealed court documents.

The company, Empire Navigation, has agreed to a $2.4 million fine and three years of probation for its part in a scheme to conceal the Iranian oil transferred to their tanker, the Suez Rajan, for eventual sale in China in violation of US sanctions.

According to the statement of facts agreed to by Empire, the complex scheme involved fake logbook entries and falsified ship transponders in an attempt to hide the oil transfer from two other tankers, Virgo and Brilliance.

“The individuals and entities involved conspired to make it appear that the Suez Rajan received the oil, in its entirety, from the Brilliance rather than primarily from the Virgo, to obfuscate that it was overwhelmingly of Iranian origin,” the filing reads.

The Suez Rajan has been sitting off the coast of Texas since May, and tracking data revealed that the seized oil began unloading in August. However, the newly released documents are the government’s first public acknowledgement of the seizure.

Among the reasons for the delay in the transfer and in revealing the March plea agreement were fears for the safety of any company that helped the US offload the oil.

In July, the commander of the navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a US-designated terrorist organization, said that Iran would retaliate against any company that assisted the US government in the seizure.

“We hereby declare that we would hold any oil company that sought to unload our crude from the vessel responsible and we also hold America responsible,” he said. “The era of hit and run is over, and if they hit, they should expect to be struck back.”
Iran Claims To Bust US-Backed Network Fostering Anti-Regime Riots
Iran claimed on Thursday that its security forces had disrupted a U.S.-supported network of foreign agitators who were plotting riots meant to overthrow the country's hardline government, comments that are drawing speculation the regime is increasingly nervous about a fresh wave of popular protests that challenge its grip on power.

Iran's Intelligence Ministry, in cooperation with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps intelligence unit, busted "a foreign-affiliated network" that it says was planning to renew a protest movement that erupted across the Islamic Republic following the brutal murder of a young woman at the hands of Tehran's morality police. Iran claims the U.S. State Department funded and supported the anti-regime network.

But the claims, which were presented by Iran's state-controlled media without evidence, indicate the Iranian regime may be seeking to use the U.S. government as a scapegoat before the ongoing protest movement launches a new wave of demonstrations to bring down the hardline Islamic government, according to one former Pentagon adviser.

"Let's put aside the notion of any State Department involvement," said Michael Rubin, a veteran Middle East analyst who has consulted with the American government and works as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute think tank. "Iran's ayatollahs have no better friend than [Secretary of State] Antony Blinken, [National Security Adviser] Jake Sullivan, and, if he's awake, Joe Biden. Most important, never forget: Iranians have agency [and] they don't need foreigners to teach them about freedom or protesting."

U.S. involvement in Iran's protest movement is unlikely under the Biden administration, Rubin said, and such claims are mainly disseminated to delegitimize the country's legitimate anti-regime activists.

Moreover, the exposure of a U.S.-funded network in Iran would most certainly stall any talks surrounding a new nuclear deal. Iran's government often claims the United States and Israel are fomenting chaos in the country as part of a bid to take down the hardline Islamic government, though it rarely presents evidence to support these claims.
Iranian Aircraft Takes Off From Closed Simferopol Airport In Crimea
An Iranian transport aircraft recently departed from the closed Simferopol airport in Crimea, raising questions about the nature of Iranian involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The aircraft, the IL-76TD owned by Pouya Air, took off from Simferopol at 17:09 local time, having arrived in Crimea just two hours prior. Simferopol airport has been closed for civilian air travel since the commencement of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The development was reported by Flightradar24, a prominent air travel tracking service.

Pouya Airlines has dismissed reports about the flight in the Crimean Peninsula to assist Russian forces as "pure fabrication." The airline stated that the aircraft had been parked at Mehrabad Airport for the past 48 hours.

Ukrainian military sources have previously alleged that Russian forces stationed in Crimea have been utilizing the Chauda training ground to launch Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 drones into Ukrainian territory. However, there is no confirmed information regarding the presence of Iranian personnel assisting Russian military operations during these drone launches.

It is noteworthy that Russia began employing Iranian-produced Shahed drones for attacks deep within Ukrainian territory the previous year. These so-called kamikaze unmanned drones possess the capability to operate without the need for a conventional runway, detonating upon impact.

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