January 22, 2020

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01/14 Links Pt1: Lee Smith: Obama Passed the Buck. Trump Refused to Play; Noah Rothman: Why the Press Got Iran so Wrong; France, Britain, Germany trigger Iran nuclear deal dispute mechanism

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2020/01/0114-links-pt1-lee-smith-obama-passed.html

From Ian:


Lee Smith: Obama Passed the Buck. Trump Refused to Play.
If this all seems unbelievable, it’s because it is—and also because you’re probably still imagining that Obama’s goal was to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. But once you understand the real purpose, these moves become much clearer. To wit: Why did Obama give the regime enough uranium to make 10 nuclear bombs? To pressure the incoming Trump administration to stick with the nuclear deal. If Trump chose to leave the JCPOA, he’d have to deal with the fact that with 130 tons of uranium already on hand Iran had an easier path to the bomb. In effect, the last president handed the Iranians a loaded gun to be pointed at his successor.

The press corps was crucial in helping Obama deceive the American public. There were some journalists at the time who asked important questions about the JCPOA; most of them on the State Department beat, like the AP’S Matt Lee and Bradley Klapper. The media echo chamber, on the other hand, who helped sell the deal, consisted largely of reporters covering the White House and national security beat who were accustomed to being hand-fed by the Obama inner circle. This group would later form the core of the media operation pushing the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

For the Iran deal, the task of these correspondents was to drown out anyone who challenged the wisdom of Obama’s fire sale, including senior Democrats, like Sens. Chuck Schumer, Ben Cardin, and Bob Menendez. They were smeared as dual loyalists in formerly prestige press outfits like The New York Times, aghast at the “the unseemly spectacle of lawmakers siding with a foreign leader [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] against their own commander in chief.” The administration also spied on Democrats and pro-Israel activists critical of the deal.

Cory Booker was the one candidate among the field of Democrats running in 2020 who understood the nature of the JCPOA. He backed it at the time but said in a June debate that he wouldn’t necessarily reenter the deal. On Monday Booker announced he was dropping out of the race. And what about the Democrat leading the polls? Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden is proud of his role pushing the JCPOA, even if he’ll have to manage the consequences of the deal if he defeats Trump in November. As for the rest of the field, they’re making their opinions known with their silence regarding the Iranian protesters.

Now three years after Obama left the White House, it’s clear why the former president’s party is worried about the fate of his signature foreign policy initiative. By killing the Iranian commander Obama officials were sending messages to, Trump has shown his fiercest critics to be right—he’s nothing like Obama.

Noah Rothman: Why the Press Got Iran so Wrong

The smoke had not yet cleared above the crater in which the body of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Qasem Soleimani’s languished before the American press pronounced its verdict. “Trump’s Iran war has begun,” pronounced Vox.com’s Zack Beauchamp. Donald Trump’s “actions put the U.S. on a new path of escalation,” McClatchy reported. The president had “miscalculated,” in the view of the Independent’s deputy political editor Rob Merrick. “This is a massive walk up the escalation ladder,” the New York Times quoted the Middle East Institute’s Charles Lister as saying. “With Soleimani dead, war is coming.” Trump sought to “bully” Iran by appealing to the “Jacksonian logic of sudden and terrifying force as a first and last resort,” New York Magazine’s Ed Kilgore opined. Soleimani’s “assassination,” as New Yorker’s Robin Wright characterized it, was “tantamount to an act of war.”

In the ten days that have elapsed, these reactions to the Trump administration’s strike seem more than a little hyperbolic. But that hyperbole was not a product of the fog of war. Those who adopted a cautious response to the president’s actions were informed by the months of preamble leading up to this confrontation, to say nothing of the basics of international relations.

Before Trump’s strike on Soleimani, Iran had engaged in a campaign of attacks on American interests for which it faced no proportionate consequences. When the United States finally did proportionately respond to the killing of a U.S. contractor and the wounding of three service personnel in one of the regular rocket attacks on American positions by Iran-backed militias in Iraq, Iran’s proxy forces mounted the siege of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that put the U.S. diplomatic presence in Iraq in jeopardy. As I wrote at the time, this was not escalatory but de-escalatory. The administration’s attempt to impose unacceptable costs on a reckless adversary while degrading its capacity to execute attacks on American interests and those of its allies was an effort to step back from the precipice of direct, conventional conflict.

If observers were shocked by Iran’s attempt to take the temperature down with a face-saving volley of rockets into Iraq (which were self-limited, and those limits were communicated to Iraq and the United States), they should not have been. These events might have represented the best-case scenario for the Trump administration, but the administration did not luck its way into a textbook method for deterring an aggressive and revisionist adversary. To recognize the strategy, you need to have read the textbook.

Protesters avoid trampling US, Israeli flags during march in Iran

Hundreds of protesters in Iran refused to trample US and Israeli flags and denounced others who did as rallies continued against the regime for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet that killed all 176 people on board.

Videos and reports emerged Sunday showing the crowds deliberately walking around the edges of the massive flags painted on the pavement of a university in Tehran.

Those who did walk across the Stars and Stripes and the Star of David were immediately pointed at and booed, with the crowd chanting “shame on you.”

Many of the protesters shouted, “Our enemy is Iran, not America.”

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of the human rights group UN Watch, tweeted out a video of the crowds taking pains from treading on the flags on Sunday.

“These courageous Iranian students who refuse to trample the U.S. & Israeli flags represent the hope for a better Middle East. Engage with and promote them instead of their oppressors, and maybe Iran-backed wars & terror across the region will end,” he posted.

The unrest surged across Tehran and other Iranian cities and towns for a second day on Sunday after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard admitted mistakenly shooting down the Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday.

Trump on Sunday continued to show his support for the protesters as he did Saturday in a series of tweets.

The Palestinian Authority must change their approach

Since the final months of the Clinton administration, it has been generally understood that the major settlement blocs would become part of Israel under any workable final status agreement. This was a bedrock principle of the Clinton Parameters, acknowledged by president George W. Bush in a famous letter to then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, and even implicitly endorsed by the Obama administration, which called for “mutually agreed land swaps.”

But while the United States has continuously acknowledged that the major settlement blocs will eventually become part of Israel, the Palestinians still refuse to accept that a Jewish state under any formulation will endure. To this day, high-ranking Palestinian officials still consider Israel’s mere existence illegitimate.

Until the Palestinians earnestly accept that Israel is here to stay, attempts to resolve the conflict will prove futile. Until they reform their educational system, which teaches children that killing Jews is an ideal, and until the program that gives pensions to families of terrorists who die in the name of jihad is ended, resolutions will never happen. By suggesting that Israeli settlements do not inherently violate international law, the United States has made clear to the Palestinians that not only will Israel endure, but territory the Palestinians desire for a future state may also become part of Israel the longer they remain intransigent.

If the Palestinians want the Trump administration to change its approach to the conflict, they must change their approach first. As a strong supporter of Israel and a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I want to help improve conditions for the Palestinian people while securing Israel’s safety. By recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and terminating all acts of violence and incitement, the Palestinians would do well in advancing their cause.

PMW: Did PA and Fatah officials threaten terror against Israel?

PA religious leader:
Use “all forms” of resistance “wisely and intelligently”

Fatah official:
“We must… shake the foundations of Israel… Necessity permits that which is forbidden”
“The popular resistance ‎will amaze the world, as we are content with Martyrdom. We want to die as we did at Karameh”

Recently, two top officials in the Palestinian Authority and Fatah have used the Palestinian code words to call for violence and terror against Israel.

PA Chairman Abbas’ former advisor and current head of the PA’s Shari’ah courts Mahmoud Al-Habbash instructed Palestinians in a sermon that they must use “all forms” of “resistance.” Palestinian Media Watch has documented that terms such as “all means” or “all forms of resistance” – when ‎used by PA leaders – include all types of violence. The terms refer to everything from deadly terror ‎against Israeli civilians such as stabbings and shootings, throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails – alongside other means of “resistance” such as diplomacy and negotiations.

Supreme Shari’ah Judge and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah Justice Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “We need to have at our disposal the tools of resistance in all their types and forms, and use them wisely and intelligently in order for them to realize its goals and our goals.”
[Official PA TV, Nov. 29, 2019]

Echoing the religious official’s call for violence, Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki stated that Palestinians ought to “shake the foundations of Israel.” When the interviewer asked him “how,” Zaki answered “that which is forbidden” – indicating he wants terror and violence:

An-Najah Broadcasting Channel host: “Mr. Abbas [Zaki], what if Israel firmly refuses to submit to the American or European pressures and insists on [PA] elections not being held in Jerusalem?”
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki: “We must put our house in order and shake the foundations of Israel.”
Host: “How?”
Zaki: “Necessity permits that which is forbidden.”

[YouTube channel of An-Najah Broadcasting Channel, Personal Meeting, Dec. 12, 2019]

Unidentified aircraft strike Iranian militias in Syria: report

Dozens of militants and Syrian regime forces have defected and Iranian militias are on high alert after a series of airstrikes in recent days have targeted their positions in areas near Al-Bukamal in the Deir Ezzor area of eastern Syria.

The reported airstrikes come as tensions remain high in the region in the aftermath of the US assassination of former Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and a subsequent retaliatory missile attack by the IRGC on US bases in Iraq.

Airstrikes last Thursday targeted warehouses storing weapons belonging to Iranian militias in a village near Al-Bukamal, according to the STEP news agency. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), drones flew over the area to monitor the movements of pro-Iranian militias in the region.

At least eight people of non-Syrian nationality were killed and a large number were wounded in attacks by unidentified aircraft on pro-Iranian militias along the Syrian-Iraqi border near Al-Bukamal on Thursday night, according to SOHR.

On Friday, ammunition depots and vehicles belonging to Iranian militias in Al-Bukamal were targeted by airstrikes.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed Stanford University’s Hoover Institute on Monday.

“On the 3rd of this month, we took one of the world’s deadliest terrorists off the battlefield for good….President Trump and those of us in his national security team are re-establishing deterrence – real deterrence – against the Islamic Republic.”

“In strategic terms, deterrence simply means persuading the other party that the costs of a specific behavior exceed its benefits. It requires credibility; indeed, it depends on it. Your adversary must understand not only do you have the capacity to impose costs but that you are, in fact, willing to do so.”

“You can have the greatest army in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you are not prepared to use it to achieve your strategic objectives….For decades, U.S. administrations of both political parties never did enough against Iran to get the deterrence that is necessary to keep us all safe.”

“We put together a campaign of diplomatic isolation, economic pressure, and military deterrence. The goal is two-fold. First, we wanted to deprive the regime of resources, resources it needs to perpetrate its malign activity around the world. And second, we just want Iran to behave like a normal nation.”

“President Rouhani himself said that we have denied the Iranian regime some $200 billion in lost foreign income and investment as a result of our activities. This is money that would have in large measure gone to support the very activities that would have put you and your fellow citizens at risk.”

“And you can see it, too. The Iranian people are increasingly angry at their own government for stealing their wealth for the sake of violently spreading the regime at enormous cost to them.”

“The regime certainly must now understand what we will do if they ever again pose risk to American lives. If Iran escalates, we will end it on our terms.”

Eli Lake: Trump’s Latest Plan for Iran: Regime Disruption

Since President Donald Trump ordered the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani earlier this month, his administration has argued the attack has two main benefits. Taking out Soleimani helped to prevent a series of attacks he was planning, officials say, and his death will deter Iran from further escalations against the U.S. in Iraq and the region.

For a handful of Trump’s advisers, however, there is a third strategic benefit to killing Soleimani: Call it regime disruption. Trump and top U.S. officials have said repeatedly that the U.S. does not seek regime change in Iran, but they have also in recent days cheered on Iranian protesters who have flooded the streets blaming their country’s supreme leader for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet.

The case for disruption is outlined in a series of unclassified memos sent to former National Security Adviser John Bolton in May and June 2019 — the period when Iran’s latest round of escalations began in the Persian Gulf.

Their author, David Wurmser, is a longtime adviser to Bolton who then served as a consultant to the National Security Council. Wurmser argues that Iran is in the midst of a legitimacy crisis. Its leadership, he writes, is divided between camps that seek an apocalyptic return of the hidden imam, and those that favor the preservation of the Islamic Republic founded in 1979. All the while, many Iranians have grown disgusted with the regime’s incompetence and corruption.

Wurmser’s crucial insight, and one that goes some way toward explaining the Soleimani strike, is that Iran’s leaders expect America to respond to its provocations in a measured and predictable fashion. “Iran has always been careful to execute its ambitions and aggressive aims incrementally to avoid Western reactions which depart from the expected,” Wurmser argues. “In contrast, were unexpected, rule-changing actions taken against Iran, it would confuse the regime. It would need to scramble,” he writes. Such a U.S. attack would “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the regime depends for stability and survival.”

Soleimani killing: Window of opportunity open for Israel against Iran

If Iran continues its nuclear program at the rate it is now, it is estimated that Tehran will be capable of producing enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb by this spring and a missile capable of carrying a nuclear bomb within the next two years.

Over the past year, Iran has gradually lifted all limits on its production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons.

While the IDF does not believe that Iran is currently interested in rapidly developing an atomic bomb as quickly as possible, if Tehran continues its nuclear program at their current projected rate it will be capable of producing 1,300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium in order to get the 25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium by winter 2020.

It would take another two years to make a missile capable of carrying a nuclear bomb.

Israel has warned repeatedly about Iran’s regional goals and has admitted to hundreds of airstrikes as part of it’s “war-between-wars” campaign to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the entrenchment of its forces in Syria where they could easily act against the Jewish state.

However, according to the assessment, while Iran is moving forward with its program, Israel has a window of opportunity to increase its operations against Iranian entrenchment in the Middle East due to the assassination of the architect of the Islamic Republic’s hegemonic aspirations, Qasem Soleimani.

On Iran, Trump Shows Obama The Real ‘Right Side Of History’

It is Donald Trump, and not Barack Obama, who is on the “right side of history” on the issue of Iran.

You would never know that from our media elites — nor from the other sheltered denizens of our bicoastal ruling class clerisy who barely conceal their dripping disdain for the rubes and yokels of flyover country. Really, hold aside for a moment the oh-so-predictable pro-Iran apologia of moral midgets like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). It is our media vanguard, who on cable television and the nation’s leading broadsheets alike so often take the form — by sheer happenstance, we are assured! — of Obama administration alumni, that have parroted ludicrous Iranian regime talking points in a depraved attempt to deny the dreaded orange man of anything that might be viewed as a political “victory.”

Cold War-era Sen. Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI) may have once said that “politics stops at the water’s edge,” but for today’s debased media and political Left (I repeat myself), the mantra might as well be “shilling for a uniquely evil jihadist regime to own the cons.”

Thankfully, the Iranian people — who, above all else, are the victims of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 — need not care about the American media’s temper tantrums and self-immolations; Trump’s Twitter allows him to easily speak directly to the American people. The Iranian people need not care about the armchair quarterbacking of those who would question the wisdom of the Soleimani strike. The Iranian people need not care about those who would haphazardly yell “warmonger!” at a president who has arguably been the most militarily restrained commander-in-chief since Jimmy Carter. And the Iranian people need not care about an idolatrous political Left that, along with abortion and global warming, has found an additional pagan sacrament in the thuggish Iranian regime.

What the Iranian people quite clearly do care for is Donald Trump’s Iran policy. The Iranian people, unlike Obama’s “echo chamber” and the leftist/media alliance that has fought so diligently to defend its rotten legacy, know what it means for an American statesman to be on the “right side of history” when it comes to their country. Barack Obama and his henchmen will never apologize for their sins, but the history books they seem to care so much about will note how it was his successor who righted his own wrongs on Iran.

Donald Trump authorized the killing of Soleimani seven months ago

US President Donald Trump authorized the killing of IRGC chief Qasem Soleimani seven months ago, according to a report released by NBC news.
The report also indicated that the presidential directive was issued in June, on the condition that he would sign off on any specific operation to kill Soleimani. On this basis, it explains why Soleimani was given as a option for Trump following the attacks on the American embassy in Iraq and the death of an American contractor, according to NBC.

The alleged prior knowledge Trump had may undermine the official claim that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on Americans. “There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” according to a senior administration official said, who noted it was “some time ago” that the president’s aides discussed assassinating Soleimani on a list of potential retaliatory responses to Iranian aggression.

The report also noted that US intelligence have been tracking Soleimani for many years, and with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s urging, discussed the possibility of retaliating against Soleimani after Pompeo revealed intelligence that showed the existence of “very serious threats that didn’t come to fruition.”

Moreover, talks of killing Soleimani were also brought up in 2017 between Trump and then national security adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, later becoming more serious upon John Bolton taking over the position, the latter of whom resigned following policy disagreements between him and the Trump administration.

Details Behind the Targeted Killing of Soleimani with NYTimes’ Ronen Bergman

Renowned Israeli NYTimes journalist and author Ronen Bergman discusses the Trump administration’s assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani

Taking out Soleimeini should never have been a question

Apparently, the most unlearned lesson from 9/11 is that when the head of a terror network tries to blow up an iconic American skyscraper in 1993, then succeeds in bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, and then again with a Naval destroyer ship in 2000 – all of which resulting in the death of hundreds of Americans – it is the job of the US commander in chief to find the person responsible for these acts and have him killed.

Failing to do so leads directly to Sept. 11, 2001 – a day unlike no other, but also an atrocity that could have been avoided had the United States taken Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda more seriously. After all, he had demonstrated that he knew how to deal a blow to the United States through increasingly more devastating acts of terror.

What part of that lesson did so many Democratic members of Congress, numerous political pundits and an assortment of news organizations fail to understand when it came to the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani? The commander of Iran’s Quds Force was neither a foreign dignitary nor a military general operating under the laws of war. Killing him was not a violation of some time-honored protocol. Nor was it a startling international incident. With bin Laden and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead, Soleimani was next in line on the “most wanted” terrorist list, and he got what he deserved.

No time should be wasted second-guessing this decision. America’s national conscience should be clear.

MEMRI: Making a President

A few months ago, due to the repeated haplessness of President Trump in the face of major Iranian provocations, I wrote a scathing article titled “No Principles, No Dignity, No Power, No Deterrence”,[1] in which I argued that apparently the comprehension that principles, dignity and power translate into deterrence, and prevent escalation into a more costly war, was beyond Trump’s understanding as a great hotelier. Today, I must salute him; he has clearly undergone a major change. Today, he seems to understand that leadership is not deal making and particularly not deals with evil. Finally, he understands that the art of the deal belongs to the commercial world, and as a leader of the one superpower responsible for the free world’s security, he must stand on principles, yes even on dignity and the readiness to apply power when absolutely necessary.

In the operation to take out Qassem Soleimani he reversed all the elements of weakness that characterized his prior conduct. This time the national security team he commanded showed intelligence, technological and political superiority and politically surprised the Iranian adversary and all this combined into deterrence. The scared and deterred Iranian regime was extremely careful not to take American lives in their response, that merits a global innovation prize for waging war without casualties (except for smashed plastic crockery).[2] Just as the Iranians did not dare to make good their threats, so the Pyongyang Rocketman did not dare play Santa with his promised Christmas present– he too feared a “disproportionate response” by Trump.

Those guided by Trump’s previous track record view his dramatic strike on Soleimani as yet another sign of capricious behavior. They scoff: he simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed; he needed to kick start his election campaign and so on. They refuse to credit him with undergoing a profound change.

Only Trump’s response to future crises will tell whether the Soleimani operation, was a one-off based on an instinctive response rather than an assumption of presidential responsibility and leadership. However, Trump’s follow up moves after the crisis, attest to a genuine change. For example the policy of combining a halt to further escalation, with standing tough to every Iranian demand and threat. Yesterday, (January 12, 2020) he tweeted: “Actually, I couldn’t care less if they negotiate,”[3] showing his deep comprehension that negotiating with evil is both futile and self-defeating.

The U.S. Has Won Its Latest Battle with Iran. But the War Isn’t Over

With the death of Qassem Suleimani, commander of the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Efraim Inbar considers what will come next:

Tehran realizes that the disappearance of Suleimani from the stage is a great loss and setback. He was a creative officer who understood the usefulness of proxies and a good organizer able to build a motley of proxy militias ready to fight for promoting Iranian interests. His charismatic leadership instilled motivation and esprit de corps. It will not be easy to replace quickly his skills, experience, and honed instincts.

But Iran’s most significant response [is its] declaration that it is lifting all limitations on uranium enrichment. . . . If Washington maintains economic pressure on Iran and makes additional demonstrations of limited use of force, Iran may change course and come to the negotiating table. This is what President Trump wants.

Renewed U.S.-Iran nuclear talks would be very problematic, because the Iranians are skilled and experienced at using negotiations to shield their nuclear program. Their patient negotiating skills are much better than those of the Europeans and the Americans, as evidenced by the nuclear agreement of 2015. The bitter truth is that the Iranian regime will not give up its quest for the bomb, which is its ultimate insurance policy. Only the physical destruction of Iranian nuclear installations will prevent an Iranian bomb.

UK’s Johnson calls for ‘Trump deal’ to replace Iran nuclear agreement

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called for US President Donald Trump to put forward a new agreement, in lieu of the existing Iran nuclear deal, that would guarantee Tehran cannot acquire nuclear weapons.

“If we’re going to get rid of it let’s replace it and let’s replace it with the Trump deal,” Johnson told the BBC.

Trump pulled the US out of the international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program in 2018, saying the deal did not do enough to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring atomic arms.

Iran has since reduced its commitments to the 2015 accord in response to reimposed US sanctions, faulting the deal’s remaining European signatories for not providing relief amid growing economic pressure.

Noting the Trump administration’s criticism of the current deal, Johnson said a new agreement was necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms.

“My point to my American friends is somehow or other we’ve got to stop the Iranians acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Johnson said.

“President Trump is a great dealmaker, by his own account and many others, let’s work together to replace the JCPOA,” he added, using the initials of the deal’s formal name.

France, Britain, Germany trigger Iran nuclear deal dispute mechanism

France, Britain and Germany formally triggered the dispute mechanism in Iran’s nuclear deal on Tuesday, the strongest step the Europeans have taken so far to enforce an agreement that requires Iran to curb its nuclear program.

The European powers said they were acting to avoid a crisis over nuclear proliferation adding to an escalating confrontation in the Middle East.

In a statement, they said they still want the nuclear deal to succeed and were not joining a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran by the United States, which abandoned the deal in 2018 and has reimposed crippling economic sanctions.

Triggering the dispute mechanism amounts to formally accusing Iran of violating the terms of the agreement and could lead eventually to the reimposition of U.N. sanctions that were lifted under the deal.

Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the accord since the United States quit. Tehran argues that it has the right to do so because of Washington’s actions.

MEMRI: Gulf Cooperation Council Official: Persistent Military And Economic Pressure On Iran Is The Way To Bring it To The Negotiation Table

In an article in the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Hamad Al-Aluwaisheg, assistant secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for political and negotiation affairs, commended the bold military action recently taken by the U.S. against Iran. It is precisely this policy, he said, that can curb Iran’s aggression and bring it back to the negotiation table – unlike America’s previous policy of overlooking Iran’s provocations and avoiding significant military action against it, which failed to achieve these goals. Al-Aluwaisheg called on the U.S. to regard military action as an integral part of its overall strategy vis-à-vis Iran, not just as a temporary and limited measure, since combined military and economic pressure may yield results, while also showing America’s allies that it is now serious and consistent in its policy.

Decisive Military Action Will Deter Iran And Also Convince America’s Allies Of Its Serious Intentions

“The U.S. made two significant moves lately that can affect the developments in the region by deterring Iran and bringing it [back] to the negotiation table after it has long tried to avoid this. On December 29, [2019] the U.S. bombed five military facilities of the Hizbullah Brigades, an Iraqi organization close to Qassem Soleimani, in retaliation for this militia’s firing of 30 missiles on coalition bases in Kirkuk, which caused the death of an American contractor and the wounding of several soldiers. On January 3, 2020, a U.S. drone [strike] killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of the so-called Qods Force and the mastermind behind Iran’s actions in the region, as well as several of his aides, after his agents attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

“These two events were surprising, because they were conspicuous in their bold, daring and direct confrontation of Iran, and because they came after several months in which the U.S. avoided responding to Iran’s provocations. A decisive response of this kind is crucial in order to demonstrate America’s sincerity and convince Iran that there will be devastating consequences to its provocations and its stubborn [attempts] to determine the political future of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen against the will of their peoples and even if this requires the use of force.

Canadian Government Urged to Blacklist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as Terror Group

Leaders from Canada’s Iranian and Jewish communities demanded on Monday that the federal government in Ottawa officially blacklist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

In June 2018, the Canadian House of Commons passed a motion that called on the government to “immediately designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a listed terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada” and condemned Iran “for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world.”

Thus far, the government has not complied.

Since 2012, Canada has listed the Quds Force, the IRGC unit that runs Iran’s global terror operations, as a terror group. Activists have long advocated for designating the IRGC in its entirety as such, like the US did last April.

At a press conference on Monday, the Council of Iranian Canadians, the Justice 88 Campaign and B’nai Brith Canada urged the government finally implement the 2018 motion within 30 days.

Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said, “Unfathomably, more than a year and a half has elapsed since the motion passed. Why has this designation not yet occurred when it is the clearly expressed will of parliament?”

David Matas, national senior legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, stated, “There is no basis in law or in policy for banning the Quds Force while failing to do so for the entire IRGC.”

“Canada has rightly rejected that approach when it comes to other terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas,” he noted.

In New Ad, Army Vet Jason Church Says Soleimani Likely Funded Bomb That Took His Legs

A new campaign ad from U.S. Army veteran Jason Church says the now-eliminated Iranian terror leader Qassem Soleimani was likely behind the IED blast that nearly took his life in Afghanistan.

“Iranian general Soleimani killed Americans and he likely supplied the IED that nearly killed me,” Church, who is running in the special election to fill Wisconsin’s vacant Seventh Congressional District seat, says in the ad.

Church deployed to Afghanistan in May 2012 and just three months later lost both of his legs to an explosive blast. He retired from the military in 2014 as a captain.

In a video posted immediately after the military strike that killed Soleimani last week, Church said Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of service members, including many of his friends and colleagues.

He pledged to be an ally of President Donald Trump in the fight against “enemies abroad” and also went after “career politicians” for allowing Iran to build up the resources needed to fund its proxies in the Middle East.

MEMRI: Commanders Of Shi’ite Militias In Iraq Continue To Threaten U.S. Forces While Seeking To Mend Internal Rifts

On January 12, amidst escalating tensions between the U.S. and pro-Iran militias in Iraq, Balad Air Base in northern Iraq, which houses U.S. personnel, was attacked. The attack, which wounded four Iraqis, including two officers, was carried out by a group of fighters who fired eight Katyushas at Balad Air Base according to a statement by the Iraqi military media center.

Shortly after the attack, Bashar Al-Sa’adi, the media officer of the Al-Nujaba Movement, a group in the Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), tweeted[1] that the PMU was behind it. “Balad Air Base, where the soldiers of the U.S. occupation are based, was knocked out with several rockets, by the resistance it seems. Death to America.” He later deleted the tweet after the Iraqi military announced that the attack led to causalities among Iraqis.

On January 13, Al-Saadi tweeted[2] again, this time condemning the attack, saying that “the resistance” fighters would never target Iraqis.

“What happened in Balad base yesterday is similar to what had happened to the embassy [U.S. Embassy]. Those who target Iraqis and those who missed targeting the embassy are the same. No targeting for non-Americans in the dictionary of the resistance.”

In the tweet, he quotes Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, saying that the latter instructed them not to target American civilans, “so [that there would be] no way we would target Iraqis.”

On his side, Akram Al-Kaabi, Secretary-General of the Al-Nujaba Movement in Iraq, made a visit to the family of Qassem Soleimani in Iran, where he pledged, in a video released by his office, that Iraq “will not be safe for the Americans.”

Iran cleric says expelling UK envoy would be the best move

A prominent hardline Iranian cleric said expelling Britain’s ambassador would be “the best thing that can happen to him” as otherwise loyal supporters of a slain general could “chop him to small pieces,” the Eslahat news website reported on Tuesday.

Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, leader of Friday prayers in the eastern Muslim Shi’ite holy city of Mashhad, was referring to commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3.Britain’s envoy was briefly detained on Saturday, a move London said was a violation of diplomatic conventions. The ambassador said he was attending a vigil for victims of a plane disaster. Iran accused him of attending an illegal protest.

Tension reported between Rouhani, Guard Corps as prominent Iranians bash regime

There is increasing ill feeling between the Iranian government and the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps over last week’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet, with a government spokesman on Monday accusing the military of deceiving political leaders about what really happened to the plane, according to a report from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper.

Popular anger has swelled at the Iranian government’s attempt to conceal its role in the airliner tragedy, with days of protests and several prominent Iranians critiquing the regime.

Iran initially claimed the plane crashed last Wednesday, killing all 176 on board, due to engine failure, but over the weekend admitted that it had been shot down after being mistaken for a hostile aircraft.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei indicated the military had at first misled rulers over what actually happened to the airliner.

Karol Markowicz: It’s just insane to blame Trump for Iran’s downing of Ukrainian plane

Politics is a dirty business. Blaming opponents is standard. But there comes a time when such finger-pointing is downright unpatriotic. Liberals crossed that line by trying to pin the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet over Tehran on President Trump — a tragedy thousands of Iranian protesters blamed on the malicious ineptitude of their own leaders.

The blame-Trump talking point wasn’t limited to wacky corners of Twitter, mind you. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) serves on the House Armed Services Committee and chairs its Military Personnel Subcommittee. So theoretically, she shouldn’t be a crazy person. Yet she was all over cable TV blaming Trump for Iran’s shoot-down of a Ukrainian passenger jet.

On Friday, Speier appeared on CNN claiming that the death of the plane’s 176 passengers “emanates from the death of Soleimani. … This all started from the time the president of the United States ­reneged on the nuclear deal that we had with Iran.”

As the song goes, Speier don’t know much about history — specifically, the Islamic Republic’s decades of ­aggression against America and the West, dating back to when “Trump” was just the name of a playboy property developer.

“Crossfire” was the Word of the Day among the American left to ­describe what had happened — even though there literally was no fire from the US side. In fact, the night the Ukrainian jet was downed, Iran had fired on bases housing US forces in Iraq.

Leading 2020 Dems Ignore Iranian Protests Condemning Regime

Leading Democratic presidential candidates have largely ignored ongoing anti-government protests in Iran, despite having championed other pro-democracy demonstrations abroad.

As thousands of Iranians risk death to protest the regime shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane, many Democrats have focused on criticizing the Trump administration. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, and businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer have failed to acknowledge the protests.

The widespread silence comes after all the Democratic presidential candidates criticized President Donald Trump’s killing of Iranian terror leader Qassem Soleimani. Warren accused Trump of “taking us to the edge of war for his own political benefit,” and Buttigieg blamed Trump in part for Iran shooting down the passenger plane.

“Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat,” he said.

While Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also blamed the tragedy on Trump, citing the “corruptive presence of the US and its cohorts,” Iranian demonstrators quickly sided against their government. After Tehran admitted to shooting down the plane, protests broke out with chants of “Death to the dictator,” and “They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here.”

Harvard law prof: ‘Summary execution’ of Iran general another ‘abuse of power’ by Trump

A Harvard law professor recently said that the death of murderous Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is “increasingly looking like summary execution without trial” by the United States.

On Friday, just days after a U.S. strike ordered by President Donald Trump killed Soleimani, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe tweeted, “In the fog of war, it’s easy to lose track of what counts. Whether Soleimani posed an ‘imminent’ threat that killing him would assuredly end isn’t just a debate over labels. It’s the difference btw [between] self-defense to protect Americans and murder to stave off Trump’s impeachment.”
“it’s increasingly looking like summary execution without trial just to keep this president in office”

Tribe followed up with another tweet, doubting the president’s word, saying, “So Donald Trump just told [Laura Ingraham] that four embassies were being imminently targeted by Soleimani– not three or five, but four. Isn’t it horrible that we have NO REASON AT ALL to believe the American president about this? None at all.”

On Sunday, Tribe followed up further, stating, “with the Sec Def’s concession that he didn’t see any specific evidence of an imminent threat that made killing Soleimani an act of self-defense, it’s increasingly looking like summary execution without trial just to keep this president in office. Another gross abuse of power.”

The latter part appears to be a reference to the “abuse of power” impeachment article against Trump that passed in December in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

Sanders Refused to Condemn Farrakhan Official’s Anti-Semitic Screed

As the Nation of Islam faced public and private pressure to moderate its rhetoric in the mid-1990s, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders voted against a congressional measure condemning a series of virulent anti-Semitic statements by a leading member of the group.

In 1994, Sanders was one of a small minority of congressmen who declined to back a resolution condemning the remarks by Khalid Abdul Muhammad, a black nationalist and New Black Panther Party member, who became a lightning rod for criticism in the 1990s due to his repeated public displays of anti-Semitism. The remarks, delivered at New Jersey’s Kean College in 1993, drew the condemnation of African-American leader Jesse Jackson, who called them “racist, anti-Semitic, divisive, untrue, and chilling,” and ultimately forced Farrakhan to expel Muhammad from the Nation of Islam.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to censure Muhammad for the speech, in which he referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers” and the pope as a “cracker.” Sanders was one of just 31 lawmakers who opposed the measure condemning Muhammad. Sanders, who then represented Vermont’s at-large congressional district, argued that the resolution would do little to combat anti-Semitism among black nationalist leaders like Farrakhan and Muhammad and, in fact, might help to feed it.

Anti-Semitism among black leaders like Muhammad is the result of joblessness and homelessness in underprivileged communities, Sanders contended. “I think the most important point that I would make, however, is that if we are concerned, as we must be, as to why that type of movement is gaining a foothold in the United States, we should ask some questions as to why people respond to that type of garbage and what we might do about it,” Sanders said. “If we want to defeat the Nation of Islam and bigotry and racism and anti-Semitism, then most important, let us make the U.S. Congress begin to address the real problems facing the people in those communities.”

He continued, “My point is that in so many communities of America today, there is such hopelessness. There is such despair that people are responding to the worst kind of nonsense.” The Sanders campaign did not reply to a request for comment.

Why Does Iran Media Appear To Really Like Bernie Sanders?

Democratic 2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is a favorite of Iran’s state media mouthpieces.

Iran’s propaganda arms have hyped the Vermont senator and touted his criticisms of President Donald Trump’s order to kill Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani.

The Dec. 29 international print edition of the Tehran Times, which describes itself as the “voice of the Islamic Revolution,” described Sanders as “wiser than most” American politicians.

An article denigrating Israel said the Jewish state’s “umbrella of American support” is “NOT likely to go away significantly unless people wiser than most in the U.S. government now somehow manage to win in upcoming elections. People like, say, Bernie Sanders, a Jew no less.”

After Sanders launched his presidential campaign Feb. 2019, Iran’s PressTV ran an article playing up his chances of winning. The article cited a fringe anarchist writer to say that Sanders could beat Trump in the 2020 election.

Another PressTV article in May of this year accused the Democratic Party of seeking to sabotage Sanders’s candidacy by any means possible, including throwing the election to Trump.

Media Eager to Wrongly Say Iran ‘Unified’ After Soleimani’s Death

Members of the media were eager in the past week to erroneously say Iran’s people were “unified” in the wake of President Donald Trump’s killing of terrorist general Qassem Soleimani.

NBC News Tehran bureau chief Ali Arouzi said Trump’s drone strike had “backfired spectacularly” and that Iran was “unified” and even “extremely unified.”

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who reported on anti-regime protests Monday on New Day, said last week that Soleimani’s death “seems to have united” the Iranian people in favor of the regime. MSNBC’s Katy Tur led a broadcast last week by saying that “it seems President Trump did what the Iranian government has been unable to do: unite the country.”

“Iran is, instead of protesting against the regime, unified against America instead,” said MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell.

Analysts repeated the “unified” line throughout the week. Frank Figliuzzi, a frequent guest on the MSNBC program Deadline: White House, declared “we have lost the hearts and minds of the Iranian people.”

Supercut: Iranians Trying to Prove U.S. Media Wrong About Soleimani

PreOccupiedTerritory: Iran: UN Will Ignore Crackdown – No Jews Involved (satire)

Leaders of the Islamic republic voiced confidence today amid a continuing deadly repression of protests against the regime, according to regime sources in the capital, predicting that international bodies of governance will refrain from anything more than token acknowledgement of the violence, because those bodies could not care less when the victims are not Palestinians and the alleged perpetrators are not Jews.

Sources within elite circles of Ayatollah Khamenei’s ruling cadre disclosed Tuesday that the Supreme Leader expects little to no adverse action on the part of the United Nations, neither in the Human Rights Council nor in the Security Council, since Israel plays no direct role in the current disturbances, the latest in months of anti-government demonstrations. The recent wave of protests began after Iran air defense systems downed a civilian airliner carrying 178 passengers, believing it part of US retaliation for a missile attack in Iraq.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, revealed that Khamenei and his advisers believe they will need to expend no diplomatic or political capital to avoid organized international censure. “Many countries that face the prospect of negative UN attention will run to one of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council and beg them to exercise a veto,” explained one source. “If it were, hypothetically, to become necessary, Iran could in all likelihood count on both Russia and China to do exercise the veto, given the opposition that both of those regimes have expressed to what they consider a country’s internal affairs – Hong Kong and Xinjiang come to mind off the bat. But the leadership here thinks no one will even bother to raise the issue, despite the body count, because they’re not all that interested in making an international fuss over dead people if it’s not Israel.”



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