September 19, 2020

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08/01 Links Pt1: NYPost: Corruption on top of failure at the UN’s Palestine agency; Reasons Why Peaceful Resolutions for the Arab-Israeli Conflict Always Fail

From Ian:

NYPost Editorial: Corruption on top of failure at the UN’s Palestine agency
President Trump cut off US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees last September because UNRWA is “irredeemably flawed.” In fact, it’s worse than he thought.

An internal ethics report leaked to the press this week exposed a corrupt UNRWA “inner circle.”

Hah! Other nations, mostly in Europe, had been stepping up to replace the $360 million hole that Trump blew in UNRWA’s $1.2 billion budget. Switzerland was the first to announce it would suspend future payments until the scandal’s resolved.

All this, on top of the larger issues that prompted Trump’s move: UNRWA workers have been caught with bomb-making materials and even throwing firebombs at an Israeli bus; its buildings have stored Hamas weapons.

It’s really no surprise to find that so politicized an agency is also thoroughly corrupt. As Trump’s former UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, put it: “This is exactly why we stopped their funding.”

Why is the UN so biased against Israel?

Last week, the United Nations against singled out Israel for condemnation and accusations of human rights violations, while regimes with lengthy histories of abuse and well-documented violations of human rights – like Iran – were ignored.

The UN’s Economic and Social Council voted last week to condemn Israel – and Israel alone – as the only country in the world that violates women’s rights. The resolution passed with 40 out of 54 member-countries backing the move, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, the most notorious violators of women’s rights.

Nothing was said about the fact that millions of Arab women endure corporal and even punishment for the way they dress or behave; genital mutilation, honor murder, even in European countries.

By contrast, Arab women in Israel enjoy access to education, jobs, and political freedoms like any woman in any developed liberal democracy has come to expect.

Not many people around the world are aware of this, because the media conceals it from them, pushing the anti-Israel line instead.

The fact that this UN resolution is anti-Semitic goes without saying, but it is also an assault against oppressed women in Arab countries who continue to suffer away from the world’s attention because everyone in the civilized world is busy condemning Israel.

MYTH – Palestine was heavily populated with Arabs before the Zionists arrived.

For many centuries, Palestine was a sparsely populated, poorly cultivated, and widely neglected expanse of eroded hills, sandy deserts, and malarial marshes. This was Mark Twain’s description when he visited in 1867:

A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent mournful expanse.

A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action.

We never saw a human being on the whole route.

There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (London, 1881).

As late as 1880, the American consul in Jerusalem reported the area was continuing its historic decline. “The population and wealth of Palestine has not increased during the last forty years,” he said (Melvin Urofsky, American Zionism from Herzl to the Holocaust (Bison Books: 1995 p. 29).

Take a look at some of the photos from the late 19th and early 20th century to see the desolation Twain talked about.

Reasons Why Peaceful Resolutions for the Arab-Israeli Conflict Always Fail

The cause of the problem is NOT the land. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, several Arab nations were created by fiat. The Arab world accepted this without any problem, as these were Muslim-majority countries. Rejecting the state of Israel was related to the fact that it is a Jewish rather than a Muslim country.

In this manner, despite the clear discrimination against non-Muslim minorities in most of the Arab and Muslim world (denying equal rights in church construction, for example), many in the Arab world point the finger only at Israel when they talk about discrimination.

The European Union is currently funding a study into Palestinians textbooks, brought about by the findings of the non-governmental organization IMPACT-se, which found in May that “the new Palestinian school [material] for the 2018–19 academic year… was ‘more radical than those previously published.'” … Meanwhile, no one is being educated for peace.

When we add onto all that the sad reality that Palestinian politicians are using the conflict to get billions of dollars in donations, we can understand why this conflict has so far not been solved.

The Tikvah Podcast: Jeremy Rabkin on Israel and International Law

Those of us who care about the success and security of the Jewish state are sensitive to the many military threats Israel faces, from Syria in the north, Iran to the East, and Gaza to the South. But in recent years, some have also drawn our attention to the threat of what is often called “lawfare,” the use of the system of international law in order to damage and delegitimize Israel.

How does lawfare work? Is the threat to Israel as serious as some claim? And what can its use teach us about how friends of Israel ought to relate to the very idea of international law?

These are some of the questions George Mason University’s Jeremy Rabkin tackles in this podcast. Rabkin, author of the recent book Law Without Nations: Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereign States, makes the case that the threat of lawfare—while real—may not be as serious as some friends of Israel worry. And that while the Jewish state must be vigilant against those who abuse the international legal system for nefarious ends, it can be confident that the real-world practice of war and diplomacy matter far more than the efforts of activists seeking to delegitimize Israel’s existence.

Former Shin Bet head warns of ‘bloodshed’ that West Bank annexation would cause

The former head of the Shin Bet security service warned the government on Thursday against West Bank annexation, days after the security cabinet approved a construction plan beyond the Green Line that ministers say will bring Israel closer to enacting sovereignty in the territory.

According to Yoram Cohen, who led the Shin Bet from 2011 to 2016, annexing even parts of the West Bank would lead to “unnecessary bloodshed.”

“Steps must be taken toward reducing the occupation or the visibility of the occupation in Judea and Samaria by improving transportation, improving work [opportunities]… by converting Area B to Area A,” he told Army Radio, referring to two sections that make up 40 percent of the West Bank. Area B is under Israeli military control but Palestinian Authority civil control, and Area A is under full PA control.

On Tuesday, the security cabinet unanimously approved a plan proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that will grant some 700 building permits to Palestinians and 6,000 building permits to settlers in Area C, the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control.

Kelly Craft Confirmed as Haley’s Replacement as UN Ambassador

US Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft was confirmed on Wednesday by the US Senate as the next US Ambassador to the United Nations.

The final tally was 56-34.

Craft, 57, will replace Nikki Haley, who was highly acclaimed by many, especially those in the pro-Israel community.

At her confirmation hearing last month, Craft, who served as an alternate delegate to the United Nations under US President George W. Bush, vowed to fight the international body’s anti-Israel bias, in addition to calling out antisemitism.

“Without US leadership, our partners and allies would be vulnerable to bad actors at the UN. This is particularly true in the case of Israel, which is the subject of unrelenting bias and hostility in UN venues,” she said in her opening testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The United States will never accept such bias. If confirmed, I commit to seizing every opportunity to shine a light on this conduct, call it what it is, and demand that these outrageous practices finally come to an end.”

Craft also said that “it is not acceptable” for the Security Council to be biased against Israel.

Veteran US Pollster Frank Luntz Recalls New British PM Boris Johnson’s Passionate Defense of Israel at Oxford Debate

New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson once passionately defended Israel at an Oxford Union debate, a top American pollster has revealed.

In a lengthy piece in The Financial Times in praise of Johnson, Frank Luntz said of the prime minister, “He says what he thinks, often to a fault, and that is infuriating to those members of the elite who were raised from birth to mask their feelings.”

“I will give you an example from our Oxford Union days,” wrote Luntz. “There was a motion condemning Israel for being responsible for the conflict in the Middle East. Every debater, on both sides, used facts and historic evidence to make their case.”

“Not Mr. Johnson,” recounted Luntz. “He talked about what it was like to be bullied in the playground — making an unusually sympathetic case for Israel as the victim in the conflict. ‘Shouldn’t we blame the bullies, not the bullied?’ The place was mesmerized.”

Johnson appoints controversial ‘pro-Iran’ defense secretary, raises concern

Questions are being raised on whether Boris Johnson is the true friend to Israel that he said he was, especially after appointing Ben Wallace as the new Defense Secretary, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday.

Johnson was harshly criticized by Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), which described him as someone who “likes to present himself as a friend of Israel, but has appointed a Defense Secretary who appears anything but.” They added that Wallace’s previous conduct was “utterly shocking.”

Wallace is known to have aligned himself with Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, with whom he visited Iran with in 2015. He described Corbyn as “an honest left-winger who genuinely likes people,” and someone from whom others competing in the then-Labour leadership contest “should look and learn from.”

Wallace is known to have been a frequent visitor to Iran, and even bragged to his constituents that he had visited Iran more than any other MP.

Wallace claimed in December 2015 that he is “often accused by some of being too pro-Iran, as it is my view that any solution to Syria and Afghanistan needs to include Iran. As an MP I have visited Iran more than any other parliamentarian, and the last time I went I did so with Jeremy Corbyn. Only now the UK and US seem to be following my position on Iran and I welcome that.”

In January 2014, Wallace was part of a four-man delegation to Tehran, including Corbyn, which met with President Hassan Rouhani.

Middle Eastern Terrorism Coming to the US through Its Mexican Border

In May, Abu Henricki, a Canadian citizen of Trinidadian origin, told researchers with the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism that ISIS sought to recruit him and others to penetrate the US-Mexican border through routes originating in various Central American locations…. Other Trinidadians, he said, were also being approached to “do the same thing.”

The idea that Islamic terror groups are operating in Mexico and eyeing—and exploiting—the porous US-Mexico border is not a hypothetical; unfortunately, it appears to be a fact. At least 15—though likely many more—suspected terrorists have already been apprehended crossing the border since 2001. One suspected terrorist who crossed the border, an ISIS supporter, already launched a terrorist attack in Canada that nearly killed five people.

The only question left is how much more evidence, and how many more attacks—and with what greater severity—are needed before this problem is addressed?

Syrian state media: Israel launches missile at Quneitra, causing damage

Official Syrian media on Thursday said Israel fired a missile at the Quneitra region in a rare daytime raid, causing damage but no injuries.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces on the purported raid on the Syrian Golan Heights, which was reported by the SANA Syrian state news agency.

The Al Arabiya network said the alleged Israeli missile strike in Syria followed movement by members of the Hezbollah terror group in the area.

The Al Arabiya network said the alleged Israeli strike followed Hezbollah movement in the area.

Hebrew-language reports said residents of the Golan Heights heard explosions.

Israel commonly conducts strikes in Syrian territory, targeting Iranian missile shipments meant for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to use against the Jewish state.

According to a report on Tuesday, Israel has expanded its operations against Iranian targets to Iraq, where Air Force jets struck twice in ten days. Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper published in London, cited Western diplomatic sources as saying an Israeli F-35 plane was behind a July 19 strike on a rocket depot in a Shiite militia base north of Baghdad.

The IDF has not commented on the report.

IDF Reportedly Strikes Targets in Syria’s Quneitra Province

Israel has been reportedly striking Syrian targets belonging to Iran for a year now, vowing to prevent any Iranian entrenchment in its northern neighbor. Our Daniel Tsemach reports. Former IDF intelligence commander Jacques Neriah analyzes.

Three troops injured by Gazan gunman in border clash; attacker killed

Three Israeli soldiers were injured by Palestinian gunfire near the Gaza border early Thursday, sparking the heaviest cross-border fighting in weeks.

An officer and two soldiers were hit by fire by a Palestinian gunman who crossed the border into Israel, according to the Israeli military.

The gunman was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, the army said, adding that it also hit a Hamas post in the area with tank fire.

The attacker was armed with a rifle and grenades and wearing a Hamas uniform, according to the IDF. However, an army spokesperson said the military believes the attacker was acting alone and not on orders from Hamas.

Last month the IDF said a misunderstanding led its troops to kill a member of the Hamas terror group as he was trying to prevent Palestinian youths from breaching the security fence. That highly irregular acknowledgment of such a mistake appeared to be an effort by the Israel Defense Forces to calm tensions with Hamas and prevent another round of violence.

Wednesday’s gunman was named by Gaza media as Hani Abu Salah, a member of the military wing of Hamas whose brother was killed in a clash with the IDF last May.

IDF and Hamas Forces Clash on Israel-Gaza Border

Israeli soldiers clashed with protesters and Hamas security personnel on the Israel-Gaza border, resulting in a Hamas security officer’s death and three IDF soldiers being wounded. Our Daniel Tsemach reports.

Two Palestinians aged 11, 15 crossed Gaza border fence carrying knives

Two Palestinian youths crossed the Gaza border fence on Thursda carrying knives, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

The Palestinians, aged 11 and 15, crossed the Gaza border fence in southern Gaza and were apprehended by IDF forces who took them for further investigations.

IDF vehicle comes under fire in West Bank, no injuries

Guns were fired at an Israel Defense Forces vehicle adjacent to the Burqa Junction, northeast of Ramallah, the army said on Thursday.

No injuries were reported in the West Bank shooting.

“IDF troops are searching the area,” the military said.

The incident came at a time of relative calm in the West Bank.

No BBC reporting on serious Gaza border incident

As we saw once again just earlier this week, most BBC reporting on events along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip over the past 16 months has promoted very specific framing which:
  • Erases the fact that around 80% of those killed during the violent rioting at the border have been shown to be affiliated with various terror organisations – primarily Hamas.
  • Erases or downplays the violent nature of the events by failing to provide audiences with a representative view of the number of attacks using firebombs, airborne incendiary devices, IEDs, grenades and guns, the number of border infiltrations and the number of rockets and mortars launched.
  • Erases or downplays the violent nature of the events by uniformly describing them as ‘protests’, ‘demonstrations’ or ‘rallies’.
  • Fails to provide adequate context concerning the stated aims of the events including ‘right of return’ and lifting of counter-terrorism measures.
  • Erases or downplays Hamas’ role in initiating, facilitating, organising, financing, executing and controlling the events and portrays terrorists as ‘militants’.
  • Cites casualty figures provided by “health officials” without clarifying that they are part of the same terror group that organises the violent rioting.

Border infiltrations have barely been mentioned in BBC reporting even though they are a fairly regular occurrence.

MEMRI: Palestinian Writer Reacts To Violent Incident Against Christian Residents of Village In Palestinian Authority: It’s Not Unusual – And It’s An Indicator Of The ISIS Demon In Us All

On April 26, 2019, an urgent appeal by the largely Christian residents of the Palestinian village of Jifna, in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh district, was circulated on social media. Addressed to Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister and Interior Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, it followed a violent incident that had taken place in the village the previous night. The villagers stated in the appeal that armed “rabble” headed by “an influential individual in Ramallah district” had burst into the village, and that gunmen had fired their weapons and thrown rocks and firebombs at their homes, shouting “racist and sectarian” ISIS-like slogans, including demands that they pay jizya – the poll tax levied on Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule as a protected and subjugate class. The residents called on Shtayyeh to bring the attackers to justice in order to deter others from similar actions against them. The message also stressed that the villagers were PA citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens, and protested against the attackers’ use of the term “immigrant community” against them.[1]

The PA government and other senior Palestinian officials hastened to calm things down, stressing the Muslim-Christian brotherhood that exists in the PA and promising that the perpetrators would be punished. Prime Minister Shtayyeh condemned the term “immigrant community” and added, “The Christians are a major element of the Palestinian people and we will not allow such expressions to be used.”[2] Laila Ghanam, governor of the Ramallah and Al-Bireh district, visited Jifna, condemned the incident, and emphasized that it had been carried out by a handful of individuals. She added: “The public order is a red line and the rule of law applies to all of us… The Muslims and Christians in Palestine are a single unit, partners in the struggle and the national path…” She too promised that the perpetrators would be dealt with in accordance with the law.[3] Similar statements were made by PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani, who said, “The Christian members of our people are one of our major and authentic elements” and also promised that the perpetrators would be dealt with lawfully.[4]

However, despite the assertions by PA officials and their assurances that the guilty parties would be held accountable, the Palestinian security apparatuses have moved to quietly affect a reconciliation using traditional methods, and refrained from punishing those responsible. Also notable is an obvious attempt to claim that the event was not in fact sectarian, even as manifested in statements by Jifna village officials. Village council chairman Amjad ‘Awad called the incident a “brawl” and insisted that during it there was no demand for the paying of the jizya, but that “someone not representing any side” might possibly have mentioned it. ‘Awad condemned what he referred to as rumors about the incident that were circulating on social media, as well as “the attempt to turn a personal [matter] into a ‘sectarian’ matter.”[5] Furthermore, in a series of posts on the village council’s Facebook page, ‘Awad called for rescinding the villagers’ appeal to Prime Minister Shtayyeh, stating that the incident had nothing to do with sectarianism, and added that once PA police and security personnel became involved, it was decided to hold an atwa, a traditional reconciliation ceremony, in the courtyard of the Jifna village church.[6] The ceremony was held April 29, 2019, with the participation of Christian and Muslim religious leaders, dignitaries, representatives of various political bodies in Palestinian society, and PA government representatives.[7]

Egyptian Analyst Dr. Wassim Al-Sissy: The Jews Toppled Germany, This Is Why Hitler Hated Them

Egyptian urologist and Egyptologist Dr. Wassim Al-Sissy said in a June 30, 2019 interview on Alhadath Alyoum TV (Egypt) that in the Balfour Declaration, Britain promised to facilitate the establishment of the State of Israel if the Jews toppled Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Tsarist Russia. Al-Sissy said that the Jews toppled Germany by withholding money from it, and that this is why Adolf Hitler hated the Jews. He added that Egyptians should be very aware of the influence of the Jews in America, in Hollywood, and in the world.

Iraqi TV Host Reads Syrian Text: For 1400 Years We Cursed Jews, Christians But We Have No Unity

In a July 21, 2019 show on ANB TV (Iraq), Iraqi TV host Mahdi Jassem read a text from the late Syrian poet Muhammad Al-Maghut. The text was highly critical of Islam and Islamic scholars, and it questioned why Muslims are still expected to behave in the exact same way the progenitors of Islam behaved 1,400 years ago. Jassem read: “After 1,400 years of cursing the Jews and the Christians, [Muslims] are the ones left with no unity [and] it is only Muslim women who have been enslaved… Oh nation in slumber, the people you curse [have gone to] the Moon [and] split the atom… Meanwhile, for you, the only thing on the rise is your genitalia.” The text continued to criticize Muslims for studying outlandish things such as sexual Jihad, incest, breastfeeding of grown men, having “farewell sex” with one’s deceased wife, and how to properly have sex with animals. The text went on: “Don’t our minds have the right to be influenced by the knowledge, science, and technology that surround us? Must our minds be held captive after 1,400 years?”

MEMRI: Lebanese Columnist: The U.S. Sanctions On Hizbullah Officials Are A Message To Lebanese Government To Act Against Hizbullah Weapons

In his July 15, 2019 column in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahhar, Emile Khoury wrote that the sanctions recently imposed by the U.S. on two Hizbullah MPs, Amin Sherri and Muhammad Ra’e, and on Hizbullah security official Wafiq Safa, were directed more at the Lebanese government than at Hizbullah itself. The sanctions, he elaborated, are intended to pressure the Lebanese government to decide whether it means to disarm Hizbullah and thereby fulfill its promise to maintain a strong state with a single source of authority and a single armed force, or else to remain weak by allowing Hizbullah to keep its arms, which will prevent friendly countries from providing Lebanon with the economic aid that is so vital for its rehabilitation.

Khoury noted further that, in 2016, Lebanon’s allies agreed to the arrangement whereby Michelle ‘Aoun was appointed president and Sa’d Al-Hariri was appointed prime minister because they believed these figures would be able to subordinate Hizbullah’s weapons to the state. But considering that this goal has not been achieved, perhaps it is time to reassess this arrangement, he said.

The following are excerpts from Khoury’s column:
“The U.S. sanctions on two Hizbullah MPs and a Hizbullah security official are not a message to Hizbullah, since it has already received many such messages. They are a message to the Lebanese government that it must decide whether it supports [the principle of] a state in which no [element] has weapons except the state, as it once promised, or whether it supports [the principle of] a state that permits within it the existence of another [element] with weapons – which will make friendly and sister states take a [negative] position against it…

Sisi Warns Hezbollah Against Armed Conflict with Israel

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed during a Wednesday youth conference Q&A session about domestic and international issues the necessity of accomplishing stability in the region with the importance of finding solutions away from conflicts, Al Ahram reported.

El-Sisi mentioned several countries that are currently facing distress, including Syria and Yemen, and pointed out the importance of considering the “response” by Israel if, for example, Hezbollah fighters or “other militias” were to launch an attack against Israel.

If Hezbollah launched tens of thousands of missiles at Israelis, the president said, “this would have a significant impact on the Middle East, and the region will find itself in a major conflict.”

In response to a question on the effect of the Gulf crisis on fuel price hikes globally, El-Sisi stated: “We should find solutions away from military action.” He reminded his audience that the region had been facing turmoil since 2011, and stressed the need to move away from military action.

Turkey Threatens to Reignite European Migrant Crisis

“We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience.” — Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

“Turkey is fully committed to the objective of EU membership… The finalization of the Visa Liberalization Dialogue process which will allow our citizens to travel to the Schengen area without a visa, is our first priority.” — Statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, May 9, 2019.

“This doesn’t mean that I have anything against the Turks…. But if we begin to explain it — that Turkey is in Europe — European school students will have to be told that the European border lies in Syria. Where’s common sense? … Can Turkey be regarded a European country culturally, historically, and economically speaking? If we say that, we want the European Union’s death.” — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

If the EU approves the visa waiver, tens of millions of Turks will gain immediate and unimpeded access to Europe’s passport-free zone. Critics of visa liberalization fear that millions of Turkish nationals may end up migrating to Europe. The Austrian newsmagazine, Wochenblick, reported that 11 million Turks are living in poverty and “many of them are dreaming of moving to central Europe.”

Iran’s Land Bridge: A Threat to Israel and the Middle East?

The Threat to Israel

For Israel, a complete Iranian land bridge means road access to the country’s northern borders.

Considering Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has referred to Israel as a “cancerous tumor” that should be wiped off the map and would not exist in 25 years, Iran’s regional presence is causing intense concern.

In 2018, Khatt-e Hezbollah, a pro-Khamenei newsletter, wrote that Iranian-backed forces had “reopened a land corridor of resistance between Tehran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and now, they have provided the necessary infrastructure in the Golan to create the upper hand of resistance against the Zionists.”

The IRGC Quds Force already backs the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and supplies Hamas in Gaza with weapons and other forms of support. On top of that, a land bridge to Hezbollah and other Syrian proxies only exacerbates the threat to Israel. This facilitated access will allow Iran to construct more local bases and camps, train Hezbollah and other proxies, and, ultimately, challenge Israel from the north.

It is estimated that Hezbollah has around 100,000 rockets and missiles, a dangerous quantity that could severely test or even overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system should a large-scale attack occur.

Trump Admin Sanctions Iranian FM Zarif as Terrorist Enabler

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued sanctions against Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, formally labeling him a terrorist enabler and blacklisting all of his property, assets, and investments, according to senior administration officials.

Zarif has emerged as the face of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear intransigence and its threats to U.S. assets and allies in the region. He played a key role in negotiating the landmark nuclear deal with the Obama administration and has been a centerpiece in Iran’s bombastic anti-American rhetoric.

The designation had been rumored for some time following the Trump administration’s decision to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, as a foreign terrorist entity.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin provided a statement on the sanctions.

“Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader, and is the regime’s primary spokesperson around the world. The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable,” Mnuchin said. “At the same time the Iranian regime denies Iranian citizens’ access to social media, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spreads the regime’s propaganda and disinformation around the world through these mediums.” (h/t IsaacStorm)

Seth J Frantzman: Sanctioning Zarif: Iran’s smiling chief explainer – analysis

The sanctions against Zarif were anticipated and some thought they would come in June. But the US was waiting to see and also wanted to keep more card in its deck. Ostensibly sanctioning Zarif means the US demand for a new Iran deal will be more difficult. How can you get a new deal if you sanction the dealmaker? But the current US administration thinks that Zarif is pernicious because he is the smiling face and chief explainer of Iran. This is clear from the course he charts in Europe and even the desire by the US to restrict his movements to a small radius around the UN in New York in a July visit. In the past he has used trips to the US as an opportunity to appeal directly to the American people and high level Democrats. He is seen as a threat therefore, cultivating his own lobbying apparatus.

In Iran meanwhile the goal is to pressure the Europeans to do more for Iran by walking away from key parts of the Iran deal. Iran wants sanctions relief and it wants to continue its policies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It also wants to show it means business in the Gulf. That is why it sent fast boats and a helicopter to grab a British ship almost under the nose of t he Royal Navy.

Sanctioning Zarif is an important next step by Trump’s team, but with each step they appear to make it more difficult to come back. You can’t just magically un-sanction someone or undesignated an entity that you labelled a terrorist group. So what comes next with Zarif. The concept is to reduce his ability to influence the US, that means reducing his media presence and the way Iran tends to play the “good cop, bad cop” game of moderates and hardliners when speaking to foreign media and officials. It also means Iran has less of an ability to exploit the democratic nature of other regimes by cultivating think tanks and policy allies from opposition politicians in the US or the West and simply waiting until they come to power. Iran had become an expert at this in recent years, while denying western diplomats the ability to do the same in Iran, even reducing western media presence in Iran.

Rouhani says ‘childish’ of U.S. to sanction Iran foreign minister Zarif

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Washington has previously proposed unconditional talks with Tehran.

“They (Americans) are resorting to childish behavior… They were claiming every day ‘We want to talk, with no preconditions’ …and then they sanction the foreign minister,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on state television. “This means they have lost the power of rational thought.”

Zarif, a critical figure in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, dismissed the action and said it would not affect him as he had no property or other interests in America.


“A country which believes it’s powerful and a world superpower is afraid of our foreign minister’s interviews,” Rouhani said, alluding to numerous interviews that Zarif – a fluent English speaker – gave to American media when he visited New York for a United Nations conference in July.

“When Dr Zarif gives an interview in New York, … they (Americans) say Iran’s foreign minister is misleading our public opinion,” Rouhani said. “What happened to your claims of liberty, freedom of expression and democracy?”

Rouhani added: “The pillars of the White House are made to tremble by the words and the logic of a knowledgeable and self-sacrificing man and diplomat.”

EU to work with top Iran diplomat despite US sanctions

The European Union said Thursday it regrets the US decision to impose sanctions against Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and vowed to continue working with him.

The decision Wednesday was the latest blow by US President Donald Trump to the 2015 international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, which Brussels has been trying to salvage.

“We regret this decision,” said Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela, a spokesman for EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.

“From our side, we will continue to work with Mr Zarif as Iran’s most senior diplomat and in view of the importance of maintaining diplomatic channels,” Martin said.

The US government announced Wednesday it was freezing any of Zarif’s assets that are in the United States or are controlled by US entities, adding it also will curtail his international travel.

Broke Iran Follows Venezuela, Will Remove 4 Zeros from Currency

Iran’s Central Bank announced Wednesday that the nation would rename the national currency, the rial, as the “toman” and “delete four zeros” from its value.

The move follows months of intense American sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and mimics a similar move to bolster the bolívar currency in Venezuela.

“The council of ministers, at a meeting presided by President Hassan Rouhani this morning, approved the central bank’s proposed bill to change the national currency from the rial to the toman and delete four zeros,” the Iranian Islamic regime said in a media statement, according to the government news outlet PressTV. As the reevaluation of the currency must pass through the dictatorship’s rubber-stamp legislature, it will not be confirmed until a final vote in the Iranian parliament.

PressTV admitted the plan to remove the zeros, an attempt to strengthen the currency’s value, “found traction after the national currency lost more than 60 percent of its value in 2018,” after the United States withdrew from the international nuclear deal with Tehran. The outlet blamed Washington for sending the rial into a “tailspin” and prices of basic goods in the country “through the roof.”

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