Eugene Kontorovich: Symposium on Occupation Law: The Necessary Non-Normativity and Temporal Indeterminacy of Occupation Law
Certainly some prolonged occupations are the result of colonialist or annexationist aims. But this is not inevitably the case. The Allied occupation of West Berlin lasted forty-five years, and had the then-dominant views about the duration of the Soviet empire been correct, it could have lasted forever. This was not an occupation of choice but of expedience. Similarly, with Israel’s capture of the West Bank, the situation was even more contingent. Jordan only entered the Six Day War half-way through, and the West Bank was entirely outside of Israel’s original war aims.
Israel retained the territory because immediate attempts at a settlement with the Arab states were rejected, as were numerous internationally-backed good-faith offers of statehood to the Palestinians after the end of the Cold War. Indeed, it is these repeated and rejected offers of statehood that prominently distinguish Israel’s situation from any of the others discussed in the book.
This leads us back to the question of temporariness. Maintaining a status quo over many decades is an impossible task, as nothing in the world stands still. Demographics and migrant flows, as Europe’s recent experience has shown, is one of those things. No one can stop the clock at 1967. Of course, Gross’s position is more nuanced, as it would forbid only changes that benefit the occupier. But this itself is a monumental task, as it effectively burdens the occupier.
Limiting one’s trade and movement with an adjacent territory is a high cost. That which burdens the occupier reduces the other side’s incentives to accept an amicable deal. And indeed, one reason the Geneva Convention may not have anticipated prolonged occupations is that its drafters did not conceive of situations where occupation would not promptly lead to annexation, or a peace deal on terms acceptable to both parties.
Thus an alternative normative occupation regime might, for example, terminate all restrictions on the occupier upon the failure of the other side to accept a good faith diplomatic arrangement that would leave them better off than they were before.
Many Palestinian children participated this summer in camps that promoted hate, terror, Martyrdom-death and denial of the existence of Israel. The camps were organized by the PLO Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs and the PA’s National Committee for Summer Camps, both of which are funded by the PA Budget. On its Facebook page, the National Committee for Summer Camps has listed itself as a “governmental organization.” In Arabic it defines itself as “a governmental institution for children aged 6-12 years with recreational activities aimed to develop the Palestinian child in various fields.”
Among the “partners and supporters,” listed on the website of the PA’s National Committee for Summer Camps, are UNICEF and UNDP (accessed Aug. 30, 2017).
Glorifying terror, terrorists, Martyrdom-death for kids, and non-recognition of Israel’s existence
The PA’s summer camp messages to children included glorifying terror, venerating Martyrdom-death, and picturing a world without Israel in which all Israel has become “Palestine.” Camp activities included children performing plays in which the children depicted Palestinian stabbers carrying out terror attacks and being shot and killed by “Israelis,” and dying as honored “Martyrs.” Children created sculptures and drawings of the map of “Palestine,” which includes all of Israel in addition to the PA areas, encouraging children to disregard the existence of Israel and foresee a world without it. Children were taught that Palestine’s border to the north is Lebanon and to the south is the Gulf of Aqaba, again depicting a world in which “Palestine” has replaced Israel.
This report documents how the PA and the PLO transmitted these hate messages to Palestinian children through its summer camps.
Glorifying terror and Martyrdom-death through enactments of terror attacks
At a camp organized by the PA-funded National Committee for Summer Camps, children performed a mock stabbing terror attack at the closing ceremony of the camp.
According to a recently published report by a scholar at the Marine Corps University, Islamic State (IS) and perhaps even al-Qaeda, having been driven from their territorial strongholds, are likely to take up campaigns of maritime terror. IS successfully carried out an attack on an Egyptian navy frigate, using anti-ship missiles, in the summer of 2015. Michael Rubin explains what could be next:
[T]he Arabs and the Islamic world more broadly have a long and rich maritime legacy, one in which the symbolism-conscious Islamic State can find inspiration. . . .
[The] al-Qaeda military strategist Abu Ubayd al-Qurayshi first sought to integrate maritime operations into a broader jihadist strategy. Al-Qurayshi argued that doing so was especially important to achieve the goal of undermining the U.S. economy, given the importance of trade and the freedom of navigation. . . .
How might al-Qaeda and Islamic State act in the future? In short, they hope to entice the U.S. Navy into narrow waterways off the coast of hostile regions, such as the waters off Yemen and Somalia [as well as] Libya, Egypt, and Syria, and in the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea. While ships have grown accustomed to treading carefully off the Horn of Africa, Yemen is more difficult to avoid: the Mandeb Strait between Yemen and Djibouti is a chokepoint that shipping transiting the Suez Canal cannot avoid. The same holds true with the Straits of Malacca, especially if extremists succeed in their efforts to gain footholds in Indonesia.
Israel has won a significant legal victory: A U.S. federal court dismissed on Tuesday a billion-dollar lawsuit for damages filed against some 50 people and organizations (including the U.S. government) for their support of or activity in Israel.
The lawsuit, filed by a group of Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans, including Bassem al-Tamimi from the village of Nabi Salah, claimed that organizations that supported Israel and donors to Israeli organizations were committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and even working to expel all non-Jewish residents of east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The original version lawsuit sought $35 billion in damages.
The court dismissed the lawsuit in its preliminary stages and even attacked the would-be plaintiffs, saying that their suit was replete with major legal difficulties. First and foremost, the court said, it was an attempt to drag the court into political or procedural issues, including the matter of Jerusalem’s future borders and Israeli sovereignty in general.
“This issue, both close to the heart of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and central to the United States’ foreign policy decision-making in the region, is simply inappropriate for this court to resolve. Instead, these issues must be decided by the political branches,” ruled District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, thus granting both motions to dismiss the suit.
Two top foreign dignitaries visited the region this week, representing contrasting views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both are good news for Israel, relatively speaking.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres advanced the traditional positions of the international community by pushing for a “two-state solution that will end the occupation.” US President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, on the other hand, focused on exploring grassroots efforts to bring the two sides closer together on the ground.
The two men visited many of the same stations: the Prime Minister’s Office, the presidential compound in Ramallah, the Erez Crossing and the homes of Israelis living close to the Gaza Strip. But despite the similar itineraries, the two men, who on Monday briefly met in Jerusalem, came with different goals and different strategies.
Guterres urged immediate steps to bring about peace, while Greenblatt seemed eager to explore ways to bring the two societies closer together to prepare the ground for a reconciliation that would precede peace.
Greenblatt’s approach to the peace process is certainly more to the liking of Israel’s right-wing government, but it can also feel satisfied with Guterres, who went as far as he could given his position in expressing sympathy for the Jewish state.
To be sure, he said some things Israeli officials could have done without. He reiterated that settlement activity is “illegal under international law,” expressed support for a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation and called for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, describing the Strip’s state as a “dramatic humanitarian crisis.”
The Palestinian Authority’s unease over growing international frustration with its stance on terrorism lay behind its botched attempt to portray visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres as having shown empathy for imprisoned terrorists, one of Israel’s leading analysts of Palestinian affairs said on Thursday.
“In all likelihood, the current PA presentation of Guterres as sympathetic to Palestinian prisoners is intended to break the uniform international condemnation of PA terror support, by making it seem the UN Secretary-General supports their claims,” Itamar Marcus of research institute Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) stated in a report detailing the PA’s effort to manipulate Guterres.
On Tuesday, following his meeting in Ramallah with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Guterres was doorstepped by a group of relatives of Palestinian terrorists serving life sentences in Israeli prisons. According to a UN spokesperson, PA officials presented the group to Guterres as “Palestinian mothers of detained children” who wanted to present him with a petition.
“Confronted with the situation, [Guterres] received the group which presented him a petition,” the UN spokesperson said.
The spokesperson flatly denied PA reports that Guterres had expressed support for the prisoners. “Any quotes attributed to the Secretary-General in this regard are fabricated,” the spokesperson said.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan Wednesday threatened to cut all Israeli funding of the United Nations if the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) publishes a “blacklist” of international companies with business ties to settlements
“This is the time to make it clear to the UN that if a blacklist is published of companies operating in Judea and Samaria, Israel will completely cease its financing to the UN and significantly reduce the entry of its representatives to Israel,” Erdan tweeted in Hebrew.
“Any body that participates in promoting a boycott against Israeli citizens must understand that there is a price,” he wrote.
Erdan’s tweets came soon after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stated on Wednesday, “If you (the UNHRC) publish the list against settlements we will harm your funding.”
Last week, Haley had called the list “shameful,” and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon described it as “an expression of modern antisemitism.”
The UNHRC voted to approve the database of businesses last year, defying objections from the US and Israel.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres met Wednesday with residents of Kibbuz Nahal Oz, a mere 5 miles from the Gaza Strip, on the tail end of a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Yael Raz, a resident of the kibbutz, told him that “our dream is for terrorism to end. Even though we are ready for terrorism, we hope every day for peace with our neighbors.”
Oshrit Sabag, another resident, said, “We see a great number of money go to the Gaza Strip, but Hamas uses it to build terror tunnels and rockets instead of rebuilding Gaza. We believe that the people on the other side suffer from Hamas’ terrorism just like we do.”
Nahal Oz and other neighboring communities along the volatile border have suffered from over a decade of rocket barrages and infiltrations by terrorists from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Guterres told the residents that he was “touched to hear from you messages of peace and reconciliation instead of natural feelings of rage and vengeance. I was asked to help Gaza, which is in a difficult humanitarian situation.”
Guterres, who toured the border along with Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon, was briefed on Israel’s security challenges as well as on the situation in Gaza under Hamas rule.
The United Nations extended the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon Wednesday night, and gave its forces widened powers to address Hezbollah’s weapons buildup in the area.
As a result of the changes, which were approved by the UN Security Council, UNIFIL will increase its oversight activities in southern Lebanon, including by entering villages where the Hezbollah terror group operates.
The resolution highlights that UNIFIL has the authority to “take all necessary actions” in areas where its forces are deployed and must ensure that its area of operations is “not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed the decision, saying in a statement that “the resolution requires UNIFIL to open its eyes, and forces it to act against Hezbollah’s terror buildup in the area.”
He described the resolution as “a victory for Israel.”
US President Donald Trump’s peace envoy toured the area around the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, and called on Hamas to release the bodies of two IDF soldiers and a number of Israeli citizens the terror group is holding.
“I again call upon Hamas to return the IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were taken by Hamas, and I call on Hamas to release the Israeli civilians they are holding — Avraham Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima,” Jason Greenblatt said.
He was accompanied on his tour by the IDF general responsible for coordinating civilian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, who said Israel will not “enable significant development” in the coastal enclave until Hamas, which controls Gaza, releases the bodies of the soldiers.
“The mission of returning the missing IDF soldiers has yet to be completed and we will not enable significant development in the Strip without a solution,” Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj-Gen Yoav Mordechai said.
The US and Israel are “of the same mind” when it comes to opposition to any Iranian military presence in Syria, US Ambassador David Friedman told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview this week.
Friedman, in his first wide-ranging interview with the Israeli media since taking up his position in mid- May, said the US was “extraordinarily receptive” to Israel’s concerns about Iranian penetration into Syria when a high-level security delegation led by Mossad head Yossi Cohen went to Washington to discuss the issue two weeks ago.
“They’re obviously unanimously of the view that the vacuum created by the defeat of ISIS cannot result in the presence of Iranian military bases,” Friedman said, adding that the issue of how to get ”the right result” was still a work in progress that involves a number of other players, including the Russians, Jordanians and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“I think that the Americans fully support the Israeli objectives,” he said, unwilling to discuss, however, how this objective of keeping Iran out of a post-civil war Syria can be reached. “But at least from a macro perspective, the Americans and Israelis are of the same mind.” Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, Friedman said that the Trump administration was “trying very hard not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Rather, Friedman said that the Trump administration was trying to approach the issue “from a forward- looking perspective, and we’re just trying to create something that would be a win-win for Israel and the Palestinians.
U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt toured the Gaza-vicinity area Wednesday, visiting the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as one of the terror tunnels the military discovered running under Israel’s shared border with the enclave.
Greenblatt was briefed on security concerns in the area by Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.
The envoy also visited Kibbutz Nahal Oz, 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Israel-Gaza Strip border and the Iron Dome defense system battery deployed in the area.
He met with Shaar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Shuster and spoke to local residents, who shared the experience of living under the constant threat of terrorist rocket fire.
Briefing Greenblatt, Mordechai explained that digging one mile of a terror tunnel costs Hamas $200,000.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and appealed for an end to Palestinian political divisions that have deepened an energy crisis in the isolated enclave of 2 million people.
Guterres, on his first visit to the Hamas-ruled territory since taking office in January, did not meet leaders of the Islamist movement, designated by the West as a terrorist group.
“Yesterday, I was in [the West Bank city of] Ramallah. Today, I am in Gaza. They are both parts of the same Palestine. So, I appeal for the unity. … The division only undermines the cause of the Palestinian people,” he said in a speech at a U.N.-run school in the coastal territory.
Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction have been locked in a dire dispute over power-sharing for a decade.
In early June, a Bronx man named Ali Kourani was arrested and charged with casing John F. Kennedy airport in New York City for a potential Hezbollah attack. Around this same time, Samer El Debek of Dearborn, Michigan, was arrested and charged with traveling to Panama to conduct surveillance against Israeli targets and the Panama Canal. And in February, a third man, Fadi Yassine, was arrested and charged with arranging to send weapons to a Hezbollah member in Lebanon.
Americans reacted to the arrests with shock, since many were completely unaware that Hezbollah members were operating on U.S. soil.
But Kourani’s arrest should not have come as a surprise—Hezbollah has been active inside the United States for decades, engaging in a range of activities that include fundraising and money laundering. But the arrest at JFK of Kourani, who admitted to being a member of Hezbollah’s external operations wing, suggests something far more sinister.
Hezbollah-run charities such as the Mahdi Scouts, the Shia schools and the Martyrs Foundation are entities that supply charitable funds to the families of Hezbollah fighters and are an extension of Hezbollah into the community. The Martyrs Foundation operates in different countries under different auspices, and in the United States its satellite was called the Goodwill Charitable Organization, based in Dearborn and responsible for funneling contributions from members and supporters directly to Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon.
Israel’s war with Hizballah in 2006 seems unrelated to today’s internecine strife in Syria. But in the view of Eyal Zisser, the two conflicts are connected by a thread that runs through the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the Iraq war, Syria’s own withdrawal from Lebanon, and Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East:
Both [the Lebanon war and the Syrian civil war] are manifestations of the inherent weakness of state players in the region, i.e., the Arab states of the Middle East. These states have been weakened and in some cases have all but disappeared, leaving in their wake a vacuum filled by quasi-state organizations like Hizballah and Hamas. . . .
More importantly, these two events are a blatant demonstration of Iran’s penetration into the Levant as part of its drive to attain regional hegemony. . . . In fact, the Second Lebanon War and the Syrian civil war have strengthened Iran’s presence in the region, even if the wars have taken a steep toll on [Hizballah’s leader] Hassan Nasrallah and on Bashar al-Assad, Tehran’s local clients. The situation presents Israel with a dilemma as to the right response to the challenge generated by Iran. . . .
Until [Assad succeeded his father, Hafez] in June 2000, Syria had been the entity that set the tone in everything having to do with Lebanon, including Iran’s presence there. Syria had a military presence in Lebanon and controlled the country with an iron fist, while more than once exerting a moderating influence on Hizballah. Moreover, all the political powers in Lebanon subordinated themselves to Damascus and even conducted their communications with Hizballah through Syria. . . .
Five weeks after the evacuation of the Israeli embassy in Jordan following the attack incident in which an Israeli security guard shot and killed two Jordanians in apparent self defense, Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Einat Shlain and the embassy staff have yet to return to Jordan, and the diplomatic crisis is far from being resolved.
During said incident, Israeli guard Ziv Moyal was allegedly stabbed by a teenaged Jordanian Muhammad al-Jawawdeh. Moyal then opened fire, killing al-Jawawdeh and Jordanian landlord Bassem al-Hamarna, who was apparently present but not part of the attack.
Jordan is currently refusing to accept Shlain’s return to the embassy, after she and Moyal were photographed being received by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who celebrated the guard’s actions upon his return.
Sources estimated that in light of Jordan’s outright refusal, Israel will have no choice but to appoint a new ambassador, if it intends to restore normal relations with Jordan.
Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian wedding singer overnight Tuesday after he performed a song glorifying the terrorist who fatally stabbed three members of the same family in the Halamish settlement last month.
The IDF confirmed that Mohammed al-Barghouti was detained in his village of Beit Rima, near Ramallah, along with two other members of the band, Naji Rimawi and Nazzal Barghouthi.
The military said it also confiscated the equipment used by the band to record the song.
A video of Barghouti’s band performing the song, which praises Oma al-Abed who carried out the July 21 attack that killed Yosef, Chaya, and Elad Salomon, had been posted on social media.
A fourth man who helped spread the song on the internet was also arrested, the army said.
“I heard the sound of the machine-gun in the Arab village Kobar… It’s Omar who crossed the woods and carried out the operation,” the lyrics say, referring to Abed’s hometown.
Border Police early Thursday morning raided a makeshift arms factory in the West Bank village of Beit Arush, arresting one man and seizing a cache of illegal rifles, improvised automatic weapons, IDF uniforms, binoculars and ammunition.
According to police, the operation took place overnight after intelligence was received of illegal activity in the warehouse, which was primarily used to manufacture Carl Gustav and Kalashnikov rifles.
“We knew the structure was being used as a weapons factory, and units arrived in the area overnight and shut it down,” said Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, noting that the unidentified Palestinian suspect, who is in his 40s, had a permit to travel into Israel.
“Police and border operations continue to prevent terror attacks from Judea and Samaria by Palestinian suspects,” he added.
This is not the first time that Border Police have shut down illegal arms warehouses in the West Bank.
“It was one of the many operations taking place in Judea and Samaria to seize weapons being used in Israel by terrorist cells who are planning attacks,” said Rosenfeld.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Hebron Hittites First Try To Sell Abraham Timeshare In Burial Cave (satire)
Negotiations over Abraham’s purchase of a burial site for his wife concluded this morning, but witnesses reported this afternoon that at first, sellers attempted to convince the Hebrew patriarch to acquire a time share on the property instead of buying it outright.
Abraham, 137, completed the purchase of the Machpelah complex, a field with a cave in the Hebron area, following complex talks with Hittite landowners. Ephron, the titleholder who sold Abraham the parcel, initially attempted to convince him that a time-sharing arrangement would suit his needs better than total acquisition of the property, warning Abraham that the maintenance costs of perpetual care for the site made purchasing it a move of questionable financial wisdom. Abraham nevertheless insisted on buying he field and cave, and the two settled on a price of four hundred shekels of silver.
“Ephron was really giving him the hard sell on a time share,” recalled a witness by the name of Aner. “It started out low-key enough. First Abraham came in and expressed interest in a deal for the parcel, and the tone was polite, if formal. I mean, the man did just lose his wife of who knows how many years. But when things weren’t concluded right off the bat, Ephron came in and put on the sales pressure.”
“The whole thing was orchestrated in a very specific way,” added Eshkol, another onlooker. “I hear Ephron had a bunch of ringers there, too, pretending to agree to that same kind of time share he was trying to peddle, just to up the peer pressure on Abraham. In the end, though, Abraham decided he wanted to buy the whole thing, and that was that.”
A lawyer said more than 300 Palestinian Christians and associations have filed a complaint in a Palestinian court against the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate for allegedly selling property to Israelis.
The church is a major property owner in the Holy Land. The Greek clergy has rejected demands by the Palestinian flock to open the books on property deals.
Nabil Mushahwar said Thursday that a complaint over “selling land to the enemy” — potentially a capital offense on the Palestinian Authority — was filed with the Palestinian attorney general.
The church declined to comment Thursday.
Last month, an Israeli court upheld the sale of prime church property to companies representing Jewish groups that seek an expanded presence in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The church had challenged the deal as an illegal transaction by the previous patriarch.
Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz has for the ninth year in a row allocated funds to five hundred families of Palestinian “martyrs” – someone viewed to have died on behalf of the Palestinian national cause – to perform the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that is a pillar of faith in Islamic doctrine.
Mecca is considered the holiest site in Islam, and visiting it is an obligatory religious duty that must be practiced at least once in a Muslim’s lifetime, so long as he or she is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.
The Saudi Minister of Islamic affairs, Saleh bin Abdul-Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh, stated in a press release at the beginning of this year that the move “comes from the king out of Muslim and Arab support for ‘Palestine’ and its people.”
Speaking to The Media Line, Mahmoud Al-Habash, the Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs, explained that the families of “martyrs” have been receiving free trips to Mecca, including all travel expenses and the procurement of related documents, since 2009.
“For the first three years, the Saudi Kingdom hosted two thousand members from one thousand families, but then they reduced the number to one thousand spots for five hundred families.”
Decades of U.S. diplomacy with Iran, including the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear accord, may leave Israeli military action as the only option to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, according to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
“I don’t make any disguise of the idea that ultimately it may take an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program to stop it,” Bolton told the Washington Free Beacon. “I wish we weren’t at that point, but this is what 25 years of negotiations with Iran gets you.”
Bolton, a critic of the nuclear agreement implemented two years ago, first pushed the idea in 2009 after Iran’s hardline mullahs and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps quashed a pro-democracy opposition movement that erupted in response to nationwide accusations that the presidential election was rigged.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Bolton wrote at the time that given the narrowed window for regime change, a targeted Israeli strike was the only time-sensitive option to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Bolton has since relaxed calls for a preemptive strike and now says the highest priority must be the abolition of the nuclear accord, which limited Tehran’s ability to produce nuclear material in exchange for sanctions relief. Still, Bolton said an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities may be an inevitable deterrent option.
Iranian sleeper cells are nothing new.
In 1992, as German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel relaxed German sanctions on Iran, the Iranian leadership activated a Berlin-based cell and assassinated several Iranian Kurdish dissidents at Berlin’s Mykonos Café.
The 1994 Iranian attack on the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires relied, in part, on Hezbollah operatives living in the triple border area where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet.
The 1996 Khobar Towers attack, which killed 19 U.S. Airmen in Saudi Arabia, was conducted by Saudi Hezbollah operatives who had been recruited and trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In effect, they were a sleeper cell for Iran in Saudi Arabia, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operationalized to kill Americans and embarrass the Kingdom.
More recently, Arab states have complained about a resurgence of Iranian sleeper cells. In 2008, several Gulf Cooperation Council states accused Iran of establishing sleeper cells in their territories and, in 2010, Kuwait repeated the charges. After stating that it was monitoring Iranian cells in its territory, it subsequently rolled up an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps cell. In 2015, Kuwait said that they had interrupted a terror cell directed by the Iranian embassy in Kuwait City.
With Iran fully resourced by the lifting of many sanctions, new Asian and European investment and the cash provided by the Obama administration as ransom for American hostages, it seems Iranian efforts to sponsor cells in Africa and across the Middle East are increasing. Earlier this summer, Kuwait arrested alleged Iran and Hezbollah terror cell members.
The Iran Deal’s Inspection Test
What’s more important to European leaders and American proponents of the Iran deal? Preserving the accord or preventing an Iranian nuclear fait accompli?
As recertification looms in October, debate the United States has revolved around whether President Trump will certify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or find Iran non-compliant. Just as in the aftermath of the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea, many of those whose legacies are most tied up with the nuclear diplomacy are bending over backward to defend the agreement’s effectiveness to the point where they effectively become defense counsel. For them, Iran’s surpluses of heavy water beyond the limits set by the JCPOA are not deal-breakers and the fact that Iranian officials acknowledged the surplus is evidence that Iran is trustworthy.
Defenders of the deal are also likely to embrace Iran’s interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 to argue that Iran’s ballistic missile work is not a violation because, even if the missiles can carry nuclear warheads they are not exclusively designed to do so. As for Iranian transfers of weaponry into Syria—that’s a direct violation of UNSCR 2231. Then again, even though UNSCR 2231 was supposed to enshrine the JCPOA in international law, those seeking to cut Iran slack argue that it’s the JCPOA that matters, not UNSCR 2231. When Trump talks about the spirit of the law, they point out that only its letter matters (no matter that when Iran exceeds its heavy water limits, the same proponents argue that it’s the spirit that’s important).
All of these points, however, pale before Iran’s refusal to allow full inspections of its military sites where suspect nuclear work might be ongoing. This, of course, is nothing new. Preventing inspection of Fordow was among the Supreme Leader’s make-or-break red lines, and numerous Iranian officials, including Ayatollah Khamenei, subsequently put other military sites off-limits to inspectors.
The Obama administration likely hid information about Iran illicitly ferrying militants into Syria on commercial aircraft in order to promote the landmark nuclear deal and foster multi-billion dollar business deals with Tehran’s state-controlled airline sector, according to lawmakers and other sources familiar with the matter.
The Washington Free Beacon first disclosed last week that congressional leaders are calling for an investigation into Iran for using its state-controlled air carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militant fighters into Syria, where they are taking up arms in defense of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
Photographs provided to Congress show Iran using Iran Air to ferry these soldiers between 2016 and 2017, in part when the Obama administration removed sanctions on Iran Air and promoted multi-billion dollars sales between the carrier and aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which is seeking to provide Iran Air with a fleet of new planes that many suspect will be used to carry terrorist fighters and weapons into regional hotspots.
This behavior violates international laws governing the nuclear deal and has now led lawmakers and others to accuse the Obama administration of downplaying Iran’s illicit activity in order to promote the nuclear deal and ensure Tehran receives a new commercial fleet.
Russia has reportedly stationed its advanced S-400 anti-missile defense system near an Iranian arms factory in Syria, which allegedly manufactures long-range guided missiles for Hezbollah to use against Israel.
Hezbollah, which has already accumulated over 100,000 rockets, is now seeking to target specific sensitive sites in Israel. To that end, it has been trying to obtain long-range guided missiles by smuggling them from Iran through Syria.
However, according to foreign reports, Israel has been bombing these weapons convoys, essentially foiling Hezbollah’s smuggling efforts and leading the terror group to the conclusion its only option is to move the missile production closer to home.
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General António Guterres that the Iranians are building factories to that end in both Syria and Lebanon.
The U.S.-led coalition said that Wednesday it had mounted two airstrikes against an Islamic State group convoy coming from militant-held territory in Syria to meet Islamic State evacuees being transferred there under a controversial deal brokered by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group.
U.S. officials have criticized the transfer of hundreds of militants and civilians who are bound for an Islamic State-held area near the Iraqi border, saying the extremists should be killed on the battlefield.
Coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said Wednesday’s airstrike hit vehicles identified as belonging to Islamic State that were traveling from ISIS-held territory toward the convoy.
Coalition officials said they are not bound by the evacuation agreement and may strike the evacuees themselves.
There are about 300 militants and almost as many family members on buses being evacuated under the deal, which ended the Islamic State presence along the Lebanon-Syria border.
A first set of strikes hit the road leading from the Syrian town of Humaymah to the Islamic State-held town of Albukamal further east, Dillon said.
US troops in northern Syria came under direct attack last week by Turkish-backed rebels, a military official with the coalition fighting ISIS told CNN Tuesday. The official said that while US troops returned fire there were no casualties on either side.
The coalition believes the attackers are part of the Turkish-backed opposition forces, a loose grouping of Arab and Turkmen fighters that have helped the Turkish military clear ISIS from the Turkish-Syria border area.
“Recent incidents have occurred in territories primarily under the control of Turkish-backed fighters. We are engaged with Ankara and other parties to address this danger,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told CNN.
Many of these Turkey-supported forces originated as part of the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and they have also clashed with the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in a struggle for influence in the region.
While Turkey has in the past backed these fighters with tanks, airstrikes and special forces, the coalition official made it clear that Turkish soldiers were not involved in the recent attacks on US personnel.
Turkey’s foreign ministry is protesting what it calls the “biased” indictments of 19 of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards and supporters for their roles in an attack on a group of peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.
The Turkish government says it contests the indictments for the May 16 attacks “in the harshest way,” the Associated Press reports.
On Tuesday, the Superior Court in Washington, D.C. handed down grand jury indictments for 15 members of Erdogan’s security detail and four private citizens who attacked a group Kurdish protesters outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington. (RELATED: Erdogan Thugs Indicted For Role In Attack On Peaceful Protesters)
The attacks occurred as Erdogan was visiting the residence after meeting with President Trump. Erdogan was recorded on video overseeing the melee. The footage suggests that he passed commands to his bodyguards to attack the protesters. As the security detail launched the blitz, a group of private citizens who support Erdogan joined in on the assault.
Sixteen people were charged by the Washington, D.C. police department in June, though only two people — two Turkish-Americans who live in New Jersey and Virginia respectively — have been arrested.
In a recent interview, former adult movie star Mia Khalifa said that she had been receiving death threats from ISIS and has seen photo-shopped pictures online of herself being beheaded. Khalifa made headlines in the past for participating in an adult video wearing a Hijab and has angered some over several Lebanese nationalistic tattoos as well as a Lebanese Flag on her body.
An ISIS spokesman has expressed outrage over her actions saying: “I heard from a friend that these videos on Pornhub, whatever that is, are so un-Islamic, that they had to watch it several more times over the course of a week to be sure, “The ISIS leadership has also expressed concerns that Ms. Khalifa’s videos might ruin the appeal of a heaven full of virgins, especially after foot soldiers began asking if the Koran said anything about a virgin-porn star exchange rate.
Other terrorist groups have also taken an interest in the porn star in the past, including Hezbollah. An aide to the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said that sometimes the cleric was so deeply disturbed by the actions of the star he would lock himself in his living quarters for hours to research her. The aide continued, “I could tell that her actions affected him deeply, you could hear the moans of anguish coming from behind that door” and explained that afterward there would be mountains of tissues with his clotted tears.
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