Caroline Glick: General Mattis and the Fatah tautology
On Friday, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis will visit Israel as part of a tour of the region that will bring him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Djibouti. The declared purpose of Mattis’s trip is to “reaffirm key US military alliances, engage with strategic partners in the Middle East and Africa, and discuss cooperative efforts to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations.”
Ahead of his visit, Mattis should spend some time considering the hunger strike being carried out by the Palestinian terrorists imprisoned by Israel. A serious consideration of the strike will tell him more about the nature of the Palestinian conflict with Israel than a hundred “expert” briefings.
There are several important things for Mattis to consider in relation to the strike.
The first thing he needs to note is that all of the terrorists on strike are members of the Fatah terrorist group.
This fact should signal to General Mattis that Fatah is not a normal political party. In fact, it is a terrorist organization that has a political party.
The second thing Mattis needs to consider about the strike is that it is supported by the international Left.
To understand why, Mattis needs to recognize the Fatah tautology.
In line with the Palestinian Authority’s policy of teaching children to see terrorists as heroes and all violence as internationally accepted means to confront Israel, the PA Ministry of Education decided that a letter by imprisoned terrorist Marwan Barghouti should be read to all “students of Palestine.”
Marwan Barghouti is serving 5 life sentences for orchestrating three shooting attacks that killed 5 people in 2001-2002.
Barghouti’s dominant messages in the letter are that the imprisoned terrorists are the students’ heroes and role models and that studies and terror go together.
Referring to himself as “the great prisoner and the free man,” Barghouti addressed “all the young people of Palestine” presenting himself and his fellow imprisoned terrorists and murderers who “have already chosen the path of resistance” as examples to follow.
While he emphasized that studying and acquiring knowledge is a way of “resisting,” even while in prison, Barghouti focused on his personal experiences as a prisoner: “I was arrested for the first time when I was in high school… Imprisoned for more than 23 years, expelled for seven years, and subjected to pursuit and assassination…” He then concluded: “I say this to you in order to emphasize to you that the path of studies and the national path go side by side” – the national path being his euphemism for violence, terror, and murder. Barghouti underlined how he himself has been able to study while imprisoned:
JPost Editorial: No Barghouti option
Those in Israel who support Barghouti remember him from before the second intifada. It was a period in the late 1990s when Barghouti opposed violent struggle and led the fight against corruption within the Palestinian political leadership.
But Barghouti was radicalized as a result of the collapse of the peace talks in 2000 between then-prime minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. He turned to terrorism and became involved in the Tanzim, the military arm of Fatah which was responsible for some the most deadly terrorist attacks ever carried out against Israeli civilians.
Barghouti is a savvy political manipulator who has managed to remain relevant despite his incarceration a decade and a half ago. He is using the Palestinian prisoners as his latest ploy for self-advancement.
It is depressing that a man like Barghouti, with the blood of so many victims on his hands, has consistently been the most popular candidate to lead the Palestinian people. And it is not despite his murderously violent past, but precisely because of it, that Barghouti is able to beat a Hamas candidate for the Palestinian vote. This is the sad state of radicalized Palestinian politics that is the real obstacle to peace.
The idea that people can change is central to Judaism.
It forms the basis for Teshuva – roughly translated as repentance or contrition, but more properly expressed as a return to one’s true moral nature. If Barghouti were popular for a brave call to stop violent terrorism and embrace peace that would be laudable. If, however, he enjoys the support of the Palestinian street due to his track record as a murderer who inflicted pain and suffering on Israelis, that is intolerable.
The New York Times’s public editor Liz Spayd on Tuesday criticized the paper’s op-ed department for its failure to list the terror crimes that earned Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti five life sentences in prison, saying such skimping on opinion writers’ biographical information is a repeated fault that discredits the paper.
Barghouti wrote a New York Times piece Sunday in defense of the mass hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners he initiated on Monday. The op-ed’s tag line described Barghouti as a “parliamentarian and leader” but did not mention the terror attacks for which he was convicted.
“I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages,” Spayd wrote in a piece titled “An Op-Ed Author Omits His Crimes, and The Times Does Too.”
Spayd noted that she had spoken personally with Jim Dao, editor of the Op-Ed pages, about the omission of Barghouti’s past.
“This isn’t a new issue for the Opinion section,” she wrote. “I have written before on the need to more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading. Do the authors of the pieces have any conflicts of interest that could challenge their credibility? Are they who they say they are, and can editors vouch for their fidelity?”
For several years, Western media have regularly painted Marwan Barghouti—the Fatah official, imprisoned by Israel, who masterminded the second intifada—as a Palestinian peacemaker on the model of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. Just this past weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy op-ed piece by Barghouti touting a planned prisoners’ hunger strike, vilifying Israel, and presenting himself as a victim of arbitrary arrest and brutal confinement as a mere political activist; obligingly, the Times identified its guest author, who in fact is serving four life sentences for multiple murders of Israeli civilians, only as a “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” Dexter van Zile writes about the travesty of equating the blood-soaked master terrorist with Mandela:
Mandela . . . had the foresight and courage to demand that the African National Congress abandon its view of the white South Africans as European colonialists who had no right to live in Africa. . . . In the Palestinian context, a would-be Mandela would have to confront and contend with religious, not racial issues. Many so-called peace-and-justice activists would have us believe that the primary obstacles to peace are Jewish claims to the West Bank, but the real challenge is Muslim supremacism. The Palestinian elite wields power because of its willingness to, at the very least, pay lip service to this supremacism. This is how Yasir Arafat achieved and stayed in power, and how Mahmoud Abbas has remained president of the Palestinian Authority. By way of comparison, the African National Congress under Mandela’s leadership did not promote an ideology of black supremacism, and Mandela himself repudiated such ideas time and again.
Efforts to portray Barghouti as a Palestinian Mandela obfuscate the issue of his beliefs, which are antithetical to those of Mandela. For example, in a March 2014 Guardian article . . . Martin Linton declared that Barghouti “always opposed actions targeting Israeli civilians, even while defending the right of Palestinians to resist.” This claim appears to be based on an op-ed Barghouti wrote for the Washington Post in 2002, in which he asserted, “While I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel [i.e., within the pre-1967 borders], our future neighbor, I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country, and to fight for my freedom.”
JCPA: Who is Marwan Barghouti?
Marwan Barghouti is “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian,” said the New York Times at the end of Barghouti’s op-ed on April 17th. Following the uproar that this description caused, the NYT editor added a note: “This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.”
The truth, of course, is quite different from what the NYT editor added. In fact, Barghouti was the leader and commander of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the key terror component of Fatah that carried out many terror attacks throughout the Second Intifada. He was also the leader of the umbrella organization of the Islamic and national forces, which oversaw the entire range of terror activity during those years, and served as coordinator between the different organizations. Barghouti was also responsible for inciting violence and terror before the Second Intifada (for example, during the eight days of violence and terror throughout the West Bank in mid-May 2000).
According to the court at his trial, Barghouti operated under the direct command of Yasser Arafat and was beyond any doubt directly responsible for murderous activity. He was convicted of terror attacks that were performed following his direct orders, in which 5 people were murdered:
Marwan Barghouti, the convicted Palestinian terror chief who recently published a controversial op-ed denouncing Israel in The New York Times, does not have a place “among free people” and should not be given a platform to whitewash his murderous crimes, the brother of one of Barghouti’s victims said Tuesday.
Jamal Barakat, brother of Sgt.-Maj. Salim Barakat, a Druze Israeli police officer who was killed in a Tel Aviv terrorist attack approved by Barghouti, called him “a man who plans, who assists, who sends terrorists to hurt those who are innocent.”
Sgt.-Maj. Salim Barakat, a Druze Israeli police officer who was killed in a Tel Aviv terrorist attack approved by Marwan Barghouti. Photo: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“He is not worthy of being called a human, and maybe not even an animal because even animals don’t do those kinds of things,” Barakat said.
“I think that all the grieving families are with me–whoever has committed the crime of killing innocents, and it doesn’t matter who, even a Jew, his place is not among the freed and not among free people, but behind a lock and bars,” Barakat emphasized. “Anybody who tries to soften it, tries to turn or spin it some way as some kind of goal or other, it is not acceptable at all.”
“A Palestinian state that every other day people are talking about–we are not against it, the opposite,” Barakat continued. “But that is not the way–by killing innocent people.”
Deputy Secretary General of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Fayez Abou Aita told Breitbart Jerusalem that the New York Times’ publication of an oped written by Palestinian prisoner and convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti was a “very positive step” for the Palestinians.
Aita added that “anyone who treats Barghouti as a Palestinian leader and warrior for the freedom of his homeland – that means he supports the struggle for the national liberation of the Palestinians.”
The senior Fatah official said he had great appreciation for the New York Times’ position “that expressed support for Barghouti as a Palestinian prisoner suffering from the depression of prison and the oppressive measures of the occupation against the prisoners.”
Following public outcry about the lack of proper identification of Barghouti’s deadly background, the Times later added the following editor’s note to the oped:
This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.
Regarding the clarification published by the New York Times, Abou Aita said, “This was the result of pressure, threats and incitement from Israel and its people and this is the continuation of a campaign of incitement against Barghouti and the Palestinian prisoners that’s occurring in the Israeli media because of Barghouti’s leadership of the prisoners’ hunger strike.”
Jamil Tamimi, 57, knew that if he committed an act of terror, he would be lionized by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and — perhaps more importantly — that, if he were killed or sent to prison, his family would be taken care of financially.
“The PLO Commission was new only in name. The PLO body would have the same responsibilities and pay the exact same amounts of salaries to prisoners… PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas retained overall supervision of the PLO Commission.” — Palestinian Media Watch.
In 2016 Bashar Masalha, who murdered U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force and wounded several others, was hailed on official PA media outlets as a “martyr.” A few months later, Abbas said on PA TV, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem…. With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.”
The U.S. government should let the PLO and PA know that we are onto their game. Disincentivizing terrorism by closing the PLO office in Washington would be a good first step.
The Arab newspaper Al-Quds reported Wednesday that the administration in Washington is expected to propose to the Palestinian Arabs an unconditional return to the negotiating table, to withdraw the demand for a complete construction freeze provided that no new Judea Samaria communities are built, and to agree to the participation of some moderate Arab states in the process.
According to the report based on senior Ramallah officials who did not identify themselves, the proposal, which was approved and supported by US President Donald Trump, will be presented to members of the PA delegation who will arrive in Washington in the coming days to coordinate PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to the White House early next month on the 3rd of May.
According to the sources cited in the Al-Quds newspaper, the American negotiating team headed by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his emissary to the region Jason Greenblatt, will demand that the PA immediately cease paying salaries to the families of prisoners and terrorists killed during attacks and stop transferring budgets to the Gaza Strip as long as it is under control of the Hamas administration.
Michael Lumish: UCLA Professor Buries Obama’s Middle East Policy Failures
“How will history judge Barack Obama in terms of his policies and actions toward the Middle East?” asked UCLA Professor of Middle Eastern History James Gelvin at UC Berkeley.
A crowd of around 100 students and faculty, some in Muslim attire, crammed into a small conference room in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Stephens Hall to hear Gelvin’s lecture. The venue was tight and some students squatted just outside the door near a cameraman filming the lecture for online distribution. He spoke with a map of the Middle East projected onto a wall behind him and near a series of posters reading in Arabic and English, “In Accordance with Sharia Law” and “Have a bit of commitment – Inshallah.”
Gelvin’s answer to his opening question—that Obama’s policies were in line with his predecessors’ during the Cold War—strained credulity and mirrored the Middle East studies establishment’s strategy to defend Obama’s record regardless of the chaos it sparked.
The Trump administration’s airstrikes against a Syrian military airfield following a chemical attack in the six-year civil war that has left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead and millions displaced is only the most recent evidence of this chaos. Iran’s march toward the production of nuclear weaponry encourages a regional nuclear arms race, while the rise of ISIS and the subsequent slaughter of the Yazidis, Middle Eastern Christians, and thousands of Muslims further reveals Obama’s true legacy.
From the man who brought us such classics like “Hitler was ‘daring, not morally corrupt’”, and “a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders..is just a phase” comes his latest masterpiece:
Fatah’s Tawfik Tirawi: The Arab Spring was an Israeli conspiracy so that the Palestinian issue would be last thing on the minds of Arabs
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) April 18, 2017
Because clearly the entire world revolves around the palestinians.
P.S Tawfik, you might want to speak to your boss to ensure you spread a consistent message. Because he recently said that during the Arab Spring, terrorists actually focused on the so-called palestinian cause.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday issued a clear call for action from the U.N. Security Council on human rights abuses in North Korea and Syria.
Haley’s comments came as she chaired a meeting of the Security Council focused on “maintenance of international peace and security.”
Haley argued that human rights, international peace, and security cannot be disentangled. She used both North Korea and Syria as examples, while simultaneously critiquing the U.N.’s inaction in both hotspots of international instability.
On North Korea, Haley explained that human rights failures lay at the heart of the regime’s military threat to international peace.
“Systematic human rights violations help underwrite the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” she said. “The government forces many of its citizens, including political prisoners, to work in life threatening conditions in coal mines and other dangerous industries to finance the regime’s military.”
“This Security Council must devote considerable efforts to addressing North Korea’s increasing threats to international peace,” Haley asserted.
On April 9, 2017, UN Watch, an independent NGO which monitors the United Nations, submitted a formal letter to Prime Minister Trudeau together with a new report which exposes 60 new cases of teachers, principals and other employees of Hamas-tied United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) publicly endorsing radical Islamic terrorism, praising Hitler and calling for the murder of Jews.
In the letter, executive director Hillel Neuer writes that UN Watch is “extremely troubled” that Canada would fund schools that “knowingly employ exponents of racism and terrorism”, calls on Canada to stand by its commitment to exercise stringent oversight of Canadian taxpayer dollars which fund the organization and requests that Canada demand the immediate termination of all UNRWA personnel who are found to be preaching anti-Semitism or incitement to murder and genocide.
On November 16, 2016, the Liberals announced that Canada is restoring $25 million in annual funding to UNRWA, which was halted by the previous Conservative government in part over its documented ties to Hamas, an Islamic jihadist group designated as a terrorist organization by Public Safety Canada since 2002.
The announcement that the Trudeau government has decided to resume funding to a Hamas-linked organization was harshly criticized by Conservatives MPs as well as Canadian Jewish leaders, who demanded that before releasing any Canadian taxpayers’ funds, the Canadian government should provide evidence that the funds will not be used by UNRWA to promote incitement to terrorism and that the organization will abide by Canadian values and expectations as it relates to human rights.
Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is concerned about the well-being of Canadian citizens… His concern for Islam is well known…
But where is his concern for others in our country? From Hindus to Jews? When it comes to hate speech regarding the Jews our Prime Minister is AWOL. Not a peep nor a tweet.
Perhaps he could take the time to explain how hateful speech toward Jews that takes place in mosques around the country adds to respect for others…
Yet, all I hear is the Sound of Silence from our Prime Minister.
Russia’s Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein is expected to meet in the coming days with senior Foreign Ministry officials to discuss the significance of its surprise announcement earlier this month to recognize west Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
Shein is expected to tell his interlocutors that Moscow now recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that it expects that east Jerusalem will be the capital of a Palestinian state in any future agreement.
Though Russia is the first country in the world to recognize west Jerusalem as the capital, its decision does not mean that it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv.
Moscow’s position is that even with this recognition, it remains committed to UN Security Council Resolution 478 from 1980 that slammed Israel for adopting the Jerusalem Law declaring united Jerusalem as its capital, and that called on all countries to move their embassies out of the city.
In an effort to recruit field doctors to join its peacekeeping forces and missions around the world, the United Nations is taking a closer look at Israel.
Next month, a group of UN officials, led by UN Medical Director Jillann Farmer, will be visiting Israel to meet potential candidates for the positions.
The candidates need to have a medical degree, more than five years of experience and knowledge of English or French. Preferred medical specialties include emergency medicine, trauma specialists, pediatricians and psychiatrists.
According to Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who is organizing the trip, Israel’s security forces and medical first responders, who have experience working in disaster zones, provide a source of desirable human capital for such positions.
The 2014 Gaza war was unavoidable and the humanitarian situation could not be improved because of Hamas’ constant exploitation of foreign aid, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset State Control Committee in his fullest explanation yet to criticism of his conduct of the war.
“We wanted to do more to help, but Hamas makes these greater humanitarian aid options impossible with exploiting them. Hamas takes 70% of money that comes into Gaza and reinvests into its military threat on Israel,” said Netanyahu.
The prime minister was confronting public questioning from a wide range of opposition MKs, fallen victims’ families and the State Comptroller’s Office.
Knesset hearing on 2014 Gaza War (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)Knesset hearing on 2014 Gaza War (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Published in February, the bombshell comptroller report accused Netanyahu and the security establishment of allowing Israel to be unnecessarily dragged into the war, that the 50-day war lasted for too long and that he did not prepare the cabinet or the country for Hamas’ tunnel threat.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced harsh criticism from bereaved parents Wednesday over his management of the 2014 Gaza war during an emotional three-and-a-half-hour-long hearing, including a series of heated back and forths between politicians and families of those killed in battle.
Earlier, grilled by opposition lawmakers at the Knesset State Control Committee hearing — which was punctuated by heckling from Likud MKs backing the prime minister — Netanyahu painted the conflict as a victory for Israel, contending that the Hamas terror group had “begged” for the war to end.
“Operation Protective Edge isn’t over. Hamas wanted to kidnap soldiers and it still has two of them,” said a visibly emotional Leah Goldin, whose son Lt. Hadar Goldin’s body is being held by Hamas, along with the body of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul.
Her voice rising, she accused Netanyahu of turning their families into the “enemy of the people,” pitting their desire to retrieve their sons’ remains against the country’s security needs.
As Likud MK Micky Zohar tried to cut in, she told him to be quiet, tossing a cup of water in his direction as the two yelled at each other.
An Israeli man was lightly wounded in a car-ramming attack near the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank on Wednesday, the army said.
The driver of the vehicle was shot and fatally wounded by IDF troops who were on the scene, a military spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said the Palestinian assailant was brought to the hospital in critical condition after receiving treatment on the scene by military medics.
He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving to the hospital, an army spokesperson said.
The assailant was later identified as Sahib Mousa Mashahrah, 21, from nearby al-Sawahreh, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency.
A Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge extended the remand of the Arab terrorist who murdered Hannah Bladon, a 20-year-old British exchange student, on the Jerusalem Light Rail on Friday, and ordered a psychiatric evaluation.
Bladon was repeatedly stabbed by Jamil Tamimi, 57, of east Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood, while the tram was traveling past the Old City. She was a student at Birmingham University, and in Jerusalem as an exchange student at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School.
At his hearing, Tamimi, who has a history of mental illness, confessed that he stabbed Bladon to death, although he contended that he “didn’t mean it,” and went on to apologize to the victim’s family. The judge extended his remand for 10 days.
According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), several weeks ago Tamimi attempted suicide by swallowing a razor at Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center in Jerusalem, and showed signs of aggression and hostility.
During questioning, Tamimi told officers that he carried out the stabbing in an effort to be shot dead by a soldier.
Days after the only functioning power station in the Gaza Strip stopped working after running out of fuel, the United Nations envoy to the region called on Palestinian leaders to put aside their internal squabbles and solve the energy crisis in the coastal enclave.
In a statement Wednesday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov also urged Israel to allow into Gaza material and equipment needed to repair and maintain the Strip’s electricity infrastructure, and pleaded for the international community to help rehabilitate power supplies.
“The social, economic and political consequences of this impending energy crisis should not be underestimated,” Mladenov said. “Palestinians in Gaza, who live in a protracted humanitarian crisis, can no longer be held hostage by disagreements, divisions and closures.”
On Sunday Samir Metir, the head of the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave’s electricity provider, said that all the plant’s fuel, purchased with funding from Qatar and Turkey, had been used up.
A senior Hamas official said Thursday that the Gaza-based terror group is not looking to start another round of conflict with Israel.
“We are not seeking a war and are committed to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire as long as Israel is,” said Khalil al-Hayya, who was elected the deputy leader of the group’s executive committee in Gaza in February.
Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to end the 50-day summer 2014 war known as Operation Protective Edge.
His comments came at the end of an hour-long speech that generally addressed problems in Gaza caused by disputes among Palestinian factions.
The remarks come after several weeks of raised tensions between Hamas and Israel, particularly over the assassination of a senior Hamas leader that the group blamed on Israel. There have also been several rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and IDF retaliatory strikes.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on a police checkpoint just outside St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s southern Sinai, the group’s Amaq news agency said Tuesday.
The attack, which killed one police officer and injured four others, took place at a police checkpoint about 800 meters (2,600 feet) from the entrance to the monastery, one of the world’s most important Christian sites.
The attack came just over a week after two church bombings in Egypt that killed 45 people and were also claimed by Islamic State, and some 10 days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt.
St. Catherine’s, founded in the sixth century C.E. and located at the foot of Mount Sinai, is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is part of the Eastern Orthodox church.
Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about 10% of the country’s 92 million people, has been increasingly targeted by Islamist militants, with three deadly church attacks in the span of four months.
At an annual military parade in Tehran on Tuesday, Iran showed off its new S-300 air defense missile system and other weapons, many displayed under banners calling for Israel’s demise.
The military parade showcased the Iranian-made Sayyad-3 anti-aircraft missile for the first time, its Russian-made S-300 system and a slew of other military equipment.
Some of the trucks carrying weapons were adorned with banners showing a fist punching through a blue Star of David and the slogan “Death to Israel” in Persian.
Attending the ceremony was President Hassan Rouhani, who said that while the Iranian military was “avoiding tensions and encounters” it had to “remain vigilant in the face of plots hatched by the others and increase deterrent power.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified that Iran is complying with the multinational deal to curb its nuclear program but announced a review that could result in scuttling the accord.
Tillerson, in report to Congress required every 90 days, said Iran is compliant through April 18th with its commitments in the accord signed in 2015 that provided relief from economic sanctions that crimped Iran’s oil exports and hobbled its economy. Still, President Donald Trump ordered his National Security Council to review whether to reimpose the sanctions because of Iran’s continued support for terrorism.
“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson wrote in the letter to Congress. He said the review will evaluate whether the suspension of sanctions “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”
Trump has panned the agreement, saying it still would allow Iran to eventually build nuclear weapons. During last year’s presidential campaign Trump called for dismantling or renegotiating the deal. Republicans in Congress also have been critics and have advocated imposing new sanctions on Iran for supporting terrorism and for its ballistic missile programs. Such a move would face opposition from European allies and cause Tehran to walk away from the accord.
The Trump administration said on Tuesday it was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States’ national security interests, while acknowledging that Tehran was complying with a deal to rein in its nuclear program.
In a letter to US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, on Tuesday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran remained compliant with the 2015 deal, but said there were concerns about its role as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Under the deal, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days on Iran’s compliance under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is the first such notification under US President Donald Trump.
“The US Department of State certified to US House Speaker Paul Ryan today that Iran is compliant through April 18 with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Tillerson said in a statement.
“President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States,” Tillerson added.
A former director of Venezuela’s Office of Identification, Migration and Foreigners said that during his 17 months in the post, the socialist government gave at least 10,000 Venezuelan passports and other documents to citizens of Syria, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.
In an interview with El Nuevo Herald, Colonel Vladimir Medrano Rengifo said the operation was headed by current Vice President Tareck El Aissami.
He said most passports and visas were granted in the Venezuelan Consulate in Damascus, Syria’s capital.
“Today we don’t know where these people are, nor what they are doing,” said Medrano, who currently resides in the United States.
“They can be anywhere in the world, traveling with Venezuelan documentation,” adding that the number of Middle Eastern individuals with irregular Venezuelan documentation could be much larger.
As tensions continue to escalate over North Korea’s pursuit of more sophisticated nuclear weapons and missile technology, Obama National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes took to Twitter to pat himself and President Obama on the back for their ill-conceived and massively dangerous Iran deal:
Every day, the situation in North Korea makes clear just how preferable it is to have the Iran Deal in place
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) April 18, 2017
Never mind the fact that Rhodes bragged about lying to members of the media for years about the origins and development of the Iran deal, telling the world that Iran had moderated when in fact they had done no such thing. Focus in on the tremendous, obvious ignorance of Team Obama on foreign policy. Here’s the reality: what led to the current North Korean situation was precisely the same foreign policy Rhodes pushes regarding Iran. For two decades, the United States attempted to pay off North Korea to prevent them from going nuclear.
The Clinton administration signed off on a framework in 1994 that ended up replacing North Korea’s nuclear power plant with light water reactor power plants – supposedly in an attempt to help North Korea develop nuclear energy without the capacity for nuclear weapons. Here’s what Bill Clinton had to say at the time:
This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.
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