February 23, 2020

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01/23 Links Pt1: Caroline Glick: Sovereign or beggar – It is Israel’s choice to make; Richard Grenell: Why EU should ban Hezbollah; The time the CIA took a terrorist to Disneyland

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2020/01/0123-links-pt1-caroline-glick-sovereign.html

From Ian:


Caroline B. Glick: Sovereign or beggar – It is Israel’s choice to make
And after the damage he caused, in 2011, Barack had the gall to accuse Netanyahu of causing a “diplomatic tsunami” against Israel due to his refusal to make even more expansive concessions to the PLO.

The Lapid/Barak/Peres model of statesmanship is the Beggar in Jerusalem paradigm. The beggar paradigm begins with an assertion that Israel’s default status is that of a pariah state. Its very existence depends on the goodwill – and pity – of America and Europe.

Lapid’s Beggar in Jerusalem paradigm requires Israel to dance to the US-EU fiddle. To this end, the paradigm requires that Israel surrender Judea and Samaria and half of Jerusalem to the PLO while sucking up to Arafat’s PLO heirs. It is only by pleasing them, the beggars claim, that Israel will make Europe – and the American Left happy.

The beggar paradigm was the basis for Israel’s foreign policymaking from 1992 until it was exchanged in 2009 for another one. That alternative paradigm should rightly be called the Sovereignty paradigm.

The Sovereignty paradigm is the model championed by Netanyahu. At its core is the assumption that Israel’s strength is the key to its success. The Sovereignty paradigm asserts that Israeli strength is what attracts foreign partners to work with it in ways that advance its economic, diplomatic and military interests. The advancement of those interests makes Israel even stronger, which in turn, attracts still more foreign partners.

The motorcades of the dozens of foreign leaders who ascended the Judea Hills to Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem this week are like a thousand bells proclaiming the victory of the Netanyahu’s Sovereignty model of foreign policy over the Beggar in Jerusalem paradigm of his predecessors and would-be successors.

The fact that these leaders have come to Jerusalem at the same time that Israel’s elected leaders are openly working to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea only underscores the wisdom and success of the sovereignty model.

Clifford D. May: Iranian regime’s ‘gray-zone’ war tactics are the new norm

In his recently published book, “Call Sign Chaos,” former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recalls that when he led U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, he understood that “we faced two principal adversaries: stateless Sunni Islamist terrorists and the revolutionary Shiite regime of Iran, the most destabilizing country in the region.” He adds: “Iran was by far the more deadly of the two threats.”

Gen. Mattis was disappointed when President Obama treated the foiled 2011 Iranian plot to bomb a restaurant in Washington — yet another “act of war” — as merely “a law enforcement violation, jailing the low-level courier” and making no attempt to hold the regime accountable.

Mr. Obama went on to conclude a deal that gave Iran’s rulers a $150 billion windfall. If they were appeased, they didn’t show it.

Mr. Trump exited the deal. France, Britain and Germany remained. Nevertheless, in June 2018, French authorities foiled a plot by Tehran to bomb a gathering of Iranian dissidents in Paris.

In response, the French froze the assets of two suspected regime intelligence operatives. You think that caused Soleimani and Ayatollah Khomenei to shiver in their shoes?

Here’s what we should know by now: Gray-zone war is the new normal, the new black, if you will. After four decades, we ought to have settled on a strategy to counter this threat.

But when a distinguished scholar on the left and a popular television host on the right don’t even grasp the reality — insisting instead that striking back at those attacking us could put us on “the brink” of war — it becomes apparent why we have made so little progress in this conflict.

Richard A. Grenell: Why EU should ban Hezbollah

In one of its last acts of 2019, the German parliament called on the government to ban Hezbollah. Recent developments show the government is ready to act, using available legal tools to deny the Iranian terror proxy the ability to plan, recruit and raise funds on German soil. The European Union should follow the German parliament’s lead and recognize Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.

Berlin’s action comes in the wake of continued paralysis in Brussels, where some member countries still argue for Hezbollah’s legitimacy due to its political role in Lebanon. The EU thus maintains an artificial distinction between Hezbollah’s “political wing” and “military wing,” a division the terror group itself does not recognize. The EU’s stated intent for creating this false distinction is to preserve an open channel with Hezbollah and its representatives in the Lebanese government.

The facts belie the EU’s stance. Hezbollah works for the Iranian regime, not the Lebanese people, who have protested against Iran’s influence in their country since October. It contributes to the 400,000-plus death toll in Syria, and remains dedicated to the extermination of Israel. It has planned and executed terrorist attacks on European soil. And it flouts the rule of law, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in financing per year through criminal networks and transnational money laundering schemes originating in or transiting Europe. An EU-wide designation of Hezbollah is necessary to deny it the vast European recruiting and fundraising networks it needs to survive.

This designation would not deprive Brussels of its open channel to the Lebanese government. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and others each recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and each maintains a robust relationship with Lebanon. In fact, Lebanon receives more foreign assistance from the U.S. than from any other country in the world. Designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization does no harm to U.S.-Lebanese relations, but it does empower the U.S. to disrupt the international criminal networks that help fund Hezbollah’s support for the Assad regime and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

On January 10, U.S President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting revenue used by the Iranian regime to fund and support its terrorist proxy networks. The U.S. imposed additional sanctions against broad sectors of the Iranian economy, including construction, manufacturing, and mining, to further deny funding to terrorist groups that threaten the U.S., Europe and our partners in the Middle East.

The time the CIA took a terrorist to Disneyland

Forty-one years ago this month, on January 22, 1979, a man named Ali Hassan Salameh finished eating his lunch in his Beirut home, said goodbye to his wife – a former Miss Universe – and got into his Chevrolet. Salameh had driven less than 60 feet when his car drew level with a parked Volkswagen, which promptly exploded, killing him. Israel’s Mossad had targeted Salameh, a charismatic Palestinian terrorist known as “the Red Prince,” for assassination.

But Ali Hassan Salameh was more than a terrorist. He was also a CIA asset. Indeed, the CIA even took Salameh and his wife to Disneyland for their honeymoon.

Understanding the CIA’s relationship with Salameh is important. It has become common to hear that the US government has always had an unwavering “pro-Israel bias.” Indeed, anti-Israel professors and pundits take it as a given. Some, such as Rashid Khalidi, have even exaggerated the relationship between the US and the Jewish state, with the Columbia University professor inaccurately claiming in a January 8, 2020 op-ed that the two countries “fought alongside” each other in Israel’s First Lebanon War.

The US and Israel did not, in any sense of the term, “fight alongside” each other in that conflict, launched in 1982 against Palestinian terrorists who were using Lebanon as a base to attack the Jewish state. In fact, in the decade before that war, also known as Operation Peace for Galilee, the CIA worked assiduously to cultivate the PLO.

In 1969, the CIA opened up a back channel with the PLO, which was then considered by the US and others to be a terrorist group. At the time, the PLO was pioneering plane hijackings and targeting and murdering Israelis, both in the Middle East and abroad. But it wasn’t only Israelis who were being attacked by the PLO.

On March 1, 1973, the PLO took hostages at the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum. The next day they murdered the US ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel, along with another American Foreign Service officer, George Curtis Moore, and a Belgian diplomat named Guy Eid. PLO head Yasser Arafat would later deny foreknowledge of the attack, attempting to pin it on Black September, a supposedly rogue PLO faction. But the US knew this to be a lie: On February 28, 1973, a secret US Navy listening post in Cyprus had intercepted transmissions between Arafat and his operations chief Khalil Al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, discussing the forthcoming operation.

White House to publish peace plan as early as Friday – report

The White House is expected to publish an announcement in the coming days on its peace plan, known as the “Deal of the Century,” according to Israeli Channel 13. The station has speculated that the plan could come as early as tomorrow.

Speculation had already been high that the White House had planned to publish details of its peace plan prior to the March 2 Israeli election.

The US peace team, headed by special advisor Jared Kushner and special envoy Avi Berkowitz, had been expected to visit Israel on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the plan with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, head of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz. At the last minute, however, the team cancelled the trip.

The Hebrew website Walla reported that Netanyahu and Gantz had been invited to Washington next week to discuss the plan.

News of the possible imminent publication of the plan comes as Netanyahu is under pressure from the right-wing party Yamina to take steps as early as next week to annex the Jordan Valley and the Megilot region of the Dead Sea. However, the White House, according to sources, asked him to hold off until after publication of their plan.

UN calls for strengthening support for the Palestinians

The UN issued a call to the international community, asking them to “ensure continued commitment, consistent and sustained funding to help alleviate the challenges faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” according to a statement on its website.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, visited Israel and the Palestinian territories for six days and came to the conclusion that the Palestinians are in need of stronger international support.

“My visit leaves me concerned,” Mueller declared. “The challenges here are immense, but recent positive steps, along with the extraordinary people I met, give me hope that there are opportunities for improvement. We must seize them.”

Muller was in Israel to speak at a conference in Tel-Aviv dealing with preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters. While in Israel, she met with both Israeli and Palestinian officials “to better understand the challenges of the crisis.” The UN did not specify which Israeli officials Muller met with, but they did say she met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh.

The UN also stated that she visited the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Muller “met with vulnerable communities,” and in Gaza she visited a number of sites, including a hospital.

Greenblatt hints US could support Israeli annexation of Jordan Valley

Former US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, one of the architects of the Trump administration’s so-called “deal of the century,” hinted on Wednesday that the White House could possibly alter policy course on the issue of Israel annexing the Jordan Valley.

His comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday renewed his vow to “impose Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.” Netanyahu’s pledge was later echoed by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

Greenblatt took to Twitter and said there was a need to change some of the basic assumptions about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The former US envoy was responding to a previous tweet by United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who said such an annexation “of some or all of Area C in the West Bank, if implemented, would deal a devastating blow to the potential of reviving negotiations, advancing regional peace, and the essence of the two-state solution.”

“Nickolay, I respect you,” Greenblatt wrote, acknowledging the two don’t “see eye to eye” on the issue. “For any peace [agreement] to actually happen, there must be a reality check about Judea and Samaria/West Bank.”

It should be noted that Greenblatt no longer holds any official position within the Trump administration, but remains intricately familiar with its policies on the Middle East in general and Israel in particular.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s coalition allies expressed their support for his annexation pledge.

Israeli control of the Jordan Valley is non-negotiable

Most of the people familiar with these matters are in agreement that under the present circumstances the Jordan Valley is vital to Israel as an isolated space controlled by the IDF. The question pertains to the width of the territory.

According to the IDF’s war doctrine, for the purpose of its defense, Israel needs to control the entire area from the actual border on the Jordan River to the Samarian hills to the west. This doctrine cites two primary lines of defense. The first line is the hills immediately overlooking Route 90, which runs north-south along the Jordanian border. Israel must control this line in order to safeguard freedom of movement along the critical route. The second line pertains to the hills to the west of the Allon Road (Routes 458, 508 and 578 in Judea and Samaria).

Those who argue for ending the Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, among them former premiers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, do not reject this military assessment. Barak, who agreed at Camp David in 2000 to give up the entire Jordan Valley, was certainly aware that he, as IDF chief of staff, determined himself that Israel’s eastern defensive line needs to stretch from the Jordan River to the western Samarian ridges of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.

Many changes have occurred in the region since Barak and Olmert’s concessions, including the strategic threat that has emerged from Gaza and the Iranian threat in the form of the Islamic regime’s proxy militias in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Through these changes, we are again reminded of the limitations of relying on international forces, who struggle to impose an effective presence in hostile areas over time.

The Right’s answer to these three questions is clear: The Jordan Valley in its entirety is critical to Israel’s security and is not subject to negotiations.

Bennett looks to demolish illegal Palestinian businesses at Ariel Junction

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has instructed his office to look into what can be done to demolish illegal Palestinian businesses at the Ariel Junction, on the pretense that these companies were a party to the murder of Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, who died in a terror attack there last year.

Journalist Haggai Huberman reported in Matzav HaRuah that Bennett gave the order following a meeting on Tuesday with Tamar Ettinger, widow of Rabbi Ettinger, who was killed at the junction last year.

On March 17 of last year, Palestinian terrorist Omar Abu Lila stabbed IDF soldier Gal Keidan, who was on guard duty at the junction. Lila then stole Keidan’s weapon and shot and killed him. He then shot at three vehicles, including one that belonged to Ettinger, sending three bullets through the windshield.

Ettinger was the father of 12 and was head of the Oz and Emunah Yeshiva in south Tel Aviv.

Bennett met with his widow during a tour of the Binyamin Regional Council and said to her, “Part of the work that I am trying to do is to prevent the next attack, to harm the terrorists [ability to carry out attacks]. I will make sure that terrorists don’t earn money to harm us.”

Why the World Zionist Congress elections matter

Today, the World Zionist Congress elections open, and Diaspora Jewry will have almost two months to elect those who will hold seats in the World Zionist Congress (WZC), the legislative body that determines the policies of the world’s leading Jewish organizations – the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency of Israel (JAFI), the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Keren Hayesod.

The WZC is the body that makes major policy decisions concerning the future of Zionism, Aliyah and absorption, Israeli advocacy worldwide, Jewish education and the war against antisemitism, settlement in Israel and other vital issues for Israel and the Jewish people’s future.

Policies will be decided, and resources are allocated.

The stakes are extremely high and that is why more and more organizations and activists have entered the fray for this year’s election.

Unfortunately, while the Left has been largely out of power in Israel for a number of decades, they have significant control of the WZC due the liberal Diaspora Jewish establishment’s resources and power. In these elections, some extreme-Left figures like Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the far-Left group J Street, have entered the fray to move the balance of power even further Left.

This means that every single vote counts in an election open to all Jews above the age of 18.

Gantz sends a message to American liberals, but are they listening?

Heading into Israel’s third election campaign in a year, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz seems to be in an even stronger position than in his previous two tries to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The polls show him maintaining the small lead his party has over the Likud. More importantly, the bloc of left-wing and Arab parties that are likely to support Gantz’s bid to become prime minister looks to be running even with or ahead of Netanyahu’s bloc of right-wing and religious parties.

But if he has any hope of breaking the stalemate that has left Israel without a governing coalition for more than a year, Gantz is going to have to convince more centrist voters that he can be trusted with the nation’s security. That’s why he made a campaign pledge this week designed to win over voters who have supported Netanyahu, but might shock the majority of American Jews who hold negative views of the prime minister. Rather than promising to work for a two-state solution, Gantz proposed something that the Palestinians say would make such a deal impossible: annexation of the Jordan Valley.

The Jordan Valley contains a number of Jewish communities, as well as Palestinian villages, and makes up about 20% of the land area of the West Bank. Gantz had issued statements prior to the September election about the need for Israel to hold on to the region, which separates portions of the West Bank that have a large Arab population from the Jordan River and the Kingdom of Jordan on its east bank. But this week, he explicitly promised annexation of the region.

It’s true that, as Netanyahu’s supporters quickly pointed out, the former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces did include a condition that renders his promise meaningless. Gantz said that annexation of the area he called “Israel’s eastern protective wall” would remain part of the Jewish state in any future peace agreement, and that the promises made by the governments led by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert – who were prepared to give it up – were mistaken. He did temper his words, saying annexation would be carried out “in coordination with the international community” after he took the reins of power following the March 2 election.

As Gantz knows, the “international community” will never accept Israeli annexation of a single meter of the West Bank or even the reunited city of Jerusalem. Other than the administration of US President Donald Trump, it’s not likely that any foreign government will be willing to coordinate such an endeavor.

White House gives credentials to anti-Semitic broadcaster, outlet covering Davos

Anti-Semitic and conspiracy broadcaster Rick Wiles and his outlet TruNews received a media credential from the White House to cover the World Economic Forum this week in Davos, Switzerland.

Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, which monitors far-right activities and content, tweeted the development on Wednesday.

The website also posted on Wednesday a story about the outlet’s appearance and cited Wiles’s remarks in November, calling the effort to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump a “Jew coup.”

“Virulent anti-Semite Rick Wiles, who recently declared that impeachment was a ‘Jew coup,’ broadcast his program last night from the World Economic Forum after once again receiving press credentials from the White House,” posted Right Wing Watch on Twitter.

The White House declined to comment on the record.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper posted on Twitter that the White House Correspondents’ Association, which consists of and represents reporters covering 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, confirmed that TruNews was credentialed by the White House to cover the World Economic Forum.

Abbas to Macron: We look forward to France recognizing Palestinian state

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called on France to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas made the appeal during a meeting in his Ramallah office with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“We are looking forward to recognition [of the Palestinian state] by European countries that believe in the two-state solution,” Abbas told Macron.

“We are looking forward to France’s recognition of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as the only way to salvage the European-backed two-state solution. That will give hope to our people about the prospects of achieving peace and stability,” Abbas said.

Abbas also told the French president that he was serious about holding new presidential and parliamentary elections. Abbas urged France and European Union countries to put pressure on Israel to allow residents of east Jerusalem to participate in the vote. He expressed hope that the elections would take place as soon as possible.

Israel Electric Corporation ends West Bank power cuts after Palestinian payment

Israel’s state-owned electric company said Wednesday it was ending power cuts to the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority paid over half of its outstanding debt.

In September, the Israel Electric Corporation began cutting power in parts of the West Bank over the NIS 1.7 billion ($500 million) debt owed by the main Palestinian power distributor for the West Bank.

On Wednesday, the IEC said it had received NIS 920 million ($267 million) from the Palestinians.

“The electric company will cease the power cuts over the debts,” a statement from the IEC said, adding it would hold further negotiations with the power distributor and the Palestinian Authority on the repayment of the remainder of the outstanding funds.

The IEC called the payment a “breakthrough” and “the basis to a comprehensive solution the sides strive to reach.”

Egypt Said Involved in “Intensive Efforts” to Rein in Hamas, End Balloon Bomb Attacks

Egypt is in involved in “intense efforts” to get the Hamas terror group to end a recent uptick in arson balloon attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip amid fears of a return to violence, Israeli TV reported Wednesday.

Terror groups in the Strip have continued launch incendiary devices attached to balloons into Israel in recent days, undeterred by Israel’s threats to respond forcefully to Palestinian attempts to disrupt a major event in Jerusalem attended by many world leaders.

Egypt, which has been the primary mediator in recent efforts to achieve a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, was again involved and had persuaded Hamas to stop the balloon attacks, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported, citing unspecified Palestinian sources.

There was no official confirmation of the report from Egypt or Hamas.

There were at least two attacks by balloon-borne incendiary devices earlier Wednesday.

Gaza families to receive more Qatari cash despite balloon attacks

Despite the continued launching of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, Qatar said it will deliver another cash grant to needy families in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave next week.

The money will be distributed to 70,000 Palestinian families on Sunday, announced Mohammed Al-Emadi, chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Each family will receive $100 through post office branches in several parts of the Gaza Strip, he said, adding that the distribution of cash will take place in accordance with the mechanism that has been in place the past year.

“The families have been chosen according to the criteria and conditions agreed upon in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development in the Gaza Strip,” Emadi said.

Last month, Qatar delivered a cash grant to 75,000 families in the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan’s Bold Plan for a New Muslim Brotherhood Regime in Libya

The LIFG has been linked to the May 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack that killed 23 people during a concert given by the American singer Ariana Grande.

Belhaj has also been named on the list of Islamist terrorists drawn up by Saudi Arabia at the start of Riyadh’s diplomatic dispute with Qatar in 2017.

The concern now is that Mr Erdogan will use the failure of international mediators to end the fighting to intensify his support for the GNA, thereby strengthening the position of the numerous Islamist militias that are backing the UN-backed body.

Mr Erdogan was an ardent supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood when it held power in Cairo, and there is mounting concern, especially in Europe, that the Turkish leader has now set his sights on establishing a similar regime in Libya.

It can certainly be no surprise that the region’s most prominent supporters of the GNA are Turkey and the Gulf state of Qatar, both of which also happen to be committed backers of the Muslim Brotherhood. The only other country that is openly supporting the GNA is Italy, but that is only because its significant oil interests in Libya are located in GNA-controlled territory. France, by contrast, is backing Gen Haftar to prevent Islamist groups based in Tripoli from plotting terror attacks on the French mainland.

Turkey’s deepening involvement in the Libyan conflict is, therefore, a development that needs to be viewed with deep concern. In the absence of any serious international initiative to end the fighting, the most likely outcome of Turkey’s intervention could be the creation of another extremist Islamist regime on the shores of the Mediterranean.

MEMRI: Journalists In Lebanese ‘Al-Nahar’ Daily In Pointed Criticism Of Country’s Leaders: Your Corruption Has Turned Lebanon Into Hell And Is Driving Its Citizens To Suicide

On January 21, 2020, a new government, headed by Hassan Diab, was announced in Lebanon. Although it is a government of experts, its members are not independent, since they were selected and are supported by political elements from the March 8 Forces, including Hizbullah, Amal and their allies in the Christian sector (President Michel ‘Aoun and Foreign Minister Gebral Bassil), in the Druze sector (Talal Arslan) and in the Sunni sector (opponents of Sa’d Al-Hariri). The new government was established after the former prime minister, Sa’d Al-Hariri, resigned in response to the Lebanese protests against government corruption and the severe economic crisis in Lebanon. Diab’s new government, which, as stated, represents the camp of Hizbullah and its allies, will have to contend with this crisis, which is manifested, inter alia, in a shortage of medicines and withdrawal limits for bank accounts denominated in foreign currency, and has triggered calls for a tax revolt. The crisis has also led to a spate of suicides by Lebanese citizens.

Since the outbreak of the mass protests in mid-October, Lebanon’s Al-Nahar daily has consistently taken a stance in support of the protesters and their demands. Recently, following the series of suicides triggered by the economic crisis, and in light of the political impasse in the country and the difficulties encountered during the efforts to form the new government, Al-Nahar has adopted an even more radical stance. Its columnists directed harsh criticism at Lebanon’s politicians, including President Michel ‘Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, outgoing PM Al-Hariri and others, accusing them of theft and corruption, of enriching themselves at the expense of the public, and of starving the people while displaying indifference to their suffering.

Conspicuous among these articles were a column by Rajeh Al-Khouri and an opinion piece by Al-Nahar deputy general manager Michelle Tueini. The latter is a member of the family that owns the daily and the daughter of journalist Jubran Tueini, who opposed the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and was assassinated in 2005.[1] Tueini and Al-Khouri both blamed the heads of the Lebanese state for the economic crisis in the country and for the frustration and despair felt by its people. Tueini also slammed ‘Aoun, Berri and Al-Hariri for ignoring the brutality of the security forces towards the protesters, and called on all three leaders to resign. Al-Khouri contrasted the desperate plight of the citizens who had taken their own lives with the leaders’ arrogance, indifference and disconnect from the people, and held the leaders responsible for the suicides.

JCPA: Iran Tries to Fill Gen. Soleimani’s Boots

In an official ceremony marking the beginning of Esmail Qaani’s term as Commander of the IRGC-QF on January 20, 2020, the Commander of the Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hossein Salami appointed Sayyed Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi to the post of IRGC-QF Deputy Commander.1
A Rich Past Serving the Revolutionary Guard

Hejazi (63), a native of Isfahan, joined the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) from its beginning in 1979 and fought on various fronts during the Iraq-Iran War. He served in senior posts in the Revolutionary Guard: as Basij Commander – the volunteer arm of the Revolutionary Guard (1997-2008); Chairman of the Joint Staff of IRGC; in 2008, he was appointed as Deputy IRGC Commander. It was probably in this capacity that he also served as Commander of the Sarallah Base of IRGC in Greater Tehran, where he was responsible for the implementation of the security program in Tehran, including putting down popular protests. Serving in that position, Hejazi was involved in suppressing the Green Movement after the elections in 2009 (see below).

On October 2007, the U.S. Government designated IRGC and the IRGC-Quds Force officials, including Mohammad Hejazi, as targets for its ongoing effort to counter Iran’s bid for nuclear capabilities and support for terrorism by providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations2 Hejazi is also sanctioned by the European Union (April 20, 2007) for links to Iran’s military and missile programs, including entities connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC). On March 25, 2012, he was also sanctioned by the EU for human rights violations against Iranians. He was described as “Deputy Chief of the Supreme Leader’s Office and Head of Security and part of the Supreme Leader’s inner circle, responsible for planning the suppression of protests which has been implemented since 2009.”3
memo from Mohammad Hejazi

From 2009 – 2014, Hejazi served as Deputy Chief of General Staff for Armed Forces Logistics and Industrial Research (Project AMAD). In his post, he expressed great pride in the Iranian weapons industry, including in Iran’s air defense system (“Iran developed a more advanced system than the [Russian] S-300”).

The US Must Facilitate Regime Change in Iran

The goal of US policy on Iran, really to exert “maximum pressure,” should be the change of the mullah-led regime in Tehran before it is armed with nuclear weapons, becomes the hegemon of the Persian Gulf and commands much of the world’s oil and gas. Iran is already seeking to take over Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest crude oil producer, with the fifth-largest oil reserves, in the world.

But helping to spur the end of the Iranian empire — or, at least, keeping its power in check — cannot be accomplished without a clear knowledge and understanding of the nature of the regime.

As much of the mainstream the media and members of the political class revealed in their comments about the January 3 targeted killing of the mass murderer, Qasem Soleimani — commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — there is a grave misunderstanding, particularly among Democrats, about the ideology and terrorist threat that the regime poses to the United States and the rest of the world.

Take Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Or), for example. The 22-year veteran of the US Congress recently seemed to justify Iranian aggression against the US. In a newsletter on his website on January 7 — in which he criticized the killing of Soleimani, Blumenauer wrote, in part:
“…Most Iranians have an affinity for the United States, dating back to the constitutional revolution of 1905. America was respected, revered, and appreciated. But it was the United States that chose to side with the British in overthrowing a popularly elected government in Iran in 1953 in order to restore British control over Iranian oil. We were partners in restoring the Shah to the throne, replacing their democracy and ushering in an era of repression. The United States helped foster the Iranian revolution where we were perceived as being their enemy. There was a reason Iranian crowds chanted ‘death to America.”

To set the record straight: The so-called “coup” in Iran in 1953 was more complicated than is reported. The Iranian Constitution at the time — prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and replaced him with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — gave the Shah the power, which he exercised, to dismiss then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. The reason the Shah dismissed his prime minister was that Mosaddegh was turning over Iran’s British-managed oil fields to the Soviet Union and negotiating with the Kremlin to establish a military base in the Persian Gulf — both of which the Shah’s British and American allies viewed with alarm.

The EU Needs to Take Tougher Stance Towards Iran’s Mullahs

Many of the Iranian people are familiar with the regime’s careless or willful killing of innocent people. According to Amnesty International, hundreds of people were killed two months ago by the regime forces when people demonstrated against a hike in gas prices.

The Iranian government has also been implicated in a series of assassination and terrorist plots across Europe, some successful others not, but all have been traced back to Tehran. European officials also foiled a terrorist attack that targeted a large “Free Iran” convention in Paris, attended in June 2018 by many high-level speakers — including former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.

Iran’s attacks were also evident in 2018 in Denmark, where officials accused Tehran of attempting to assassinate one of its citizens. Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen emphasized the seriousness of the plot:
“An Iranian intelligence agency has planned an assassination on Danish soil. This is completely unacceptable. In fact, the gravity of the matter is difficult to describe. That has been made crystal clear to the Iranian ambassador in Copenhagen today.”

It is worth noting that, the EU did announce a positive step. In light of the revelations concerning Iran’s assassinations plots, minor sanctions were imposed on sectors of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, as well as on Saeid Hashemi Moghadan, the deputy intelligence minister.

However, these do not go nearly far enough, particularly if the EU is inclined to continue its support for the JCPOA.

It is incumbent upon the EU to stop softening its tone toward the Islamic Republic, and instead join the Trump administration in imposing maximum pressure on the ruling mullahs of Iran. The more the EU appeases the Iranian government, the more it empowers it to pursue aggressive and terrorist activities.

‘Soleimani successor faces same fate if he kills Americans’

The US special representative for Iran said the successor to Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike, would suffer the same fate if he followed a similar path of killing Americans, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Washington blamed Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias against US forces in the region. US President Donald Trump ordered the Jan. 3 drone strike in Iraq after a build-up of tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran responded to the killing of Soleimani, who was charged with expanding Tehran’s influence across the Middle East, by launching missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.

After Soleimani’s death, Tehran swiftly appointed Esmail Ghaani as the new head of the Quds Force, an elite unit in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps responsible for foreign operations. The new commander pledged to pursue Soleimani’s course.

“If Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat.

He said in the interview in Davos that US President Donald Trump had long made it clear “that any attack on Americans or American interests would be met with a decisive response.”

“This isn’t a new threat. The president has always said that he will always respond decisively to protect American interests,” Hook said. “I think the Iranian regime understands now that they cannot attack America and get away with it.”

Arms Embargo on Iran Set to Expire in Less Than a Year

This October, the UN arms embargo on Iran will sunset even though Tehran continues to attack its neighbors.

The 2015 nuclear deal became part of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which included a five-year international arms embargo.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency assesses that Tehran will likely import new conventional weaponry and military equipment from Russia and China.

International law will no longer prohibit Iran from exporting such weapons to other countries or its proxy militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.

There is also an impending sunset on UN missile restrictions against Iran, which expire in 2023. At that time, Iran will be free to import missile-related equipment and to buy and sell advanced systems.

Also in 2023, restrictions on Iran’s advanced centrifuge capabilities will begin to sunset.

MEMRI: Reports In Pan-Arab Media Say That Iraq Is Helping Iran Defy U.S. Sanctions

Following the rise in U.S.-Iran tensions in the aftermath of the Soleimani assassination, the Iraqi parliament passed a decision calling on the government to expel U.S. forces from Iraq. The U.S. responded by suggesting that should the Iraqi government follow through, the U.S. would respond with economic sanctions. Since the passing of this decision, Iraqi media[1] has become increasingly focused on the possibility of U.S. sanctions against Iraq. In the meantime, pan-Arab media outlets have released reports claiming that Tehran is exploiting the U.S. exemptions for Iraq in order to get around U.S. sanctions.

This report will examine some of these claims.

Leaked Documents
On January 21, 2020, Al-Arabiya[2] said that it had obtained “leaked documents” from an Iraqi MP that contain evidence of fraud on part of the Iraqi State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO). The documents appear to be letters of guarantee sent by the Iraqi Central Bank to several Iraqi private banks, asking them to open credit accounts in U.S. dollars for the purpose of importing oil derivatives to meet local needs such as gas, oil, gasoline, diesel, white oil, and liquid gas.

According to the report, the boards of these private banks includes Iranian businessmen and individuals who have ties to Iran, which the report underlines as an indication that Tehran is benefiting from these contracts and defying U.S. sanctions.

“It shows that Iran has been exporting its oil derivatives to Iraq, at a price backed by the Central Bank of Iraq, and is profiting from the bank’s daily auction of hard currency by employing middlemen to convert Iraqi dinars into dollars,” the report says, adding that the funds are later transferred out of Iraq using private exchange offices and banks.

Former Iraqi MP: Iraq Should Free Itself from Corrupt and Deviant Terrorist Group That Controls it

Former Iraqi MP Mithal Al-Alusi said in a January 9, 2020 interview on Zagros TV (Iraqi Kurdistan) that it is time for Iraq to free itself from the “corrupt, deviant, and criminal terrorist group” that controls it. He said that IRGC Quds Force commander General Qasem Soleimani had been a killer, a thief, a gangster, and a terrorist, and that the Iraqi government should forcibly take control of all the weapons in Iraq. Al-Alusi also said that Iraq is not an Islamic state like Iran is and that the Iraqi people want Iraq to be a real free state that is not influenced by Iran. When the interviewer suggested that this is the American viewpoint to the matter more than it is an Iraqi viewpoint, Al-Alusi responded that if the “American viewpoint” is for Iraq to be more like Dubai, Istanbul, Tehran, or Erbil, then he embraces this viewpoint.

Cmdr-in-Chief Spokesman of Iraqi Armed Forces Argues with TV Host on Number of Victims of Protesters

General Abdul Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces – PM Abdel Mahdi – was interviewed on Al-Dijlah TV (Iraq) on January 20, 2020. He said that in the recent clashes between protesters and Iraq’s security forces, the forces had been instructed to avoid violence at all costs, that conventional non-violent crowd control measures, such as tear gas and arrests, were used to prevent protesters from crossing barricades, and that no protesters had been killed by live fire from the security forces. General Khalaf also said that the number of people killed during the protests is a “complicated issue” that he cannot briefly clarify, and when the TV host said that according to Iraq’s Interior Minister, 482 Iraqis had been killed in the protests, 165 of whom had not been protesters, the interview degenerated into an argument in which both men accused each other of being uninformed. Jasim accused General Khalaf of being a mouthpiece for the government and for murderers, and General Khalaf called Jasim a cockroach. General Khalaf eventually removed his microphone, ending the interview, and Jasim apologized to the viewers, saying that General Khalaf had “crossed the line” when confronted with official statistics despite having been treated with respect.

IRGC-Affiliated Strategist Hassan Abbasi: The IRGC Should “Generate Income” by Capturing Americans

IRGC-affiliated strategist Hassan Abbasi said in a video that he uploaded to aparat.com on January 17, 2020 that the IRGC should “generate income” by capturing Americans and demanding a ransom for their return. Abbasi, who was speaking at the city of Noushahr, gave the example of the $1.7 billion that Iran received for the return of Jason Rezaian and the $3 billion that Iran, he claims, received from Qatar because the aircraft that killed Qasem Soleimani had taken off from Qatar. He said that the way to solve Iran’s economic problems is to capture one American per week and thus “raise” $50 billion per year. He also mocked the anti-regime protesters, saying that rallying 5,000 protesters isn’t nearly enough to topple Iran’s regime. The audience chanted: “Allah Akbar! Khamenei is the Leader! Greetings to the warriors of Islam! Peace upon the martyrs! Death to America! Death to England! Death to the hypocrites and infidels! Death to Israel!”

PreOccupiedTerritory: Gosh, Iran Just Can’t Remember Where It Put Black Box From Downed Airliner (satire)

Backtracking on an earlier refusal to supply the flight data recorder from a civilian passenger jet that the regime’s air defense batteries shot down two weeks ago, the Islamic Republic announced it would indeed hand the device over to investigators, but, wouldn’t you know it, the thing seems to have disappeared and they’re not sure where. Bummer!

A spokesman for President Hassan Rouhani told reporters Thursday that his administration and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had changed their minds on the matter for approximately the fourth time so far, and will in fact cooperate with teams of international experts on determining how and why Iran’s air defense system fired more than one surface-to-air missile at a Ukrainian Airlines aircraft, resulting in an explosion and crash that killed all 176 people aboard. The president rendered his latest decision in consultation with various other senior regime figures, disclosed his representative Dawaz Intmi, only to discover that, whoops, no one seems to know where they left the “black box” collected from the crash site the night of the incident. Huh.

“Iran will provide its full cooperation in the interest of transparency and prevention of future such incidents,” stated Mr. Intmi. “The investigators are welcome to pick up the instrument from our warehouses in Tehran at their leisure. Just, and here’s the thing, we appear to have misplaced it. I’m sure it’ll turn up; these things always do. You know how it is. It was right there a moment ago! Don’t you hate it when this happens? We swear, there must be goblins or gremlins or something that makes important things disappear into a different dimension the moment before you need them, haha.”



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