A tectonic shift in the relations between Israel and Arab world
Over the past decade or so I have reported from around 100 countries. I have been in the White House during the good moments (with US President Donald Trump) and during the bad moments (with then-President Barack Obama).
I have witnessed the return of the remains of an Israeli MIA through Moscow, and traveled with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Uganda, Brazil Ethiopia and Beijing for his diplomatic visits. But the flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi was something completely different.
It underscores the major breakthrough between the UAE and Israel. The fact that El Al’s Star of David flew over Saudi Arabia symbolizes the tectonic shift underway in relations between Israel and the Arab world. Israel made a giant leap forward on Monday in its effort to integrate in the region and be like any other normal country. The hostility and the boycotts are now a thing of the past, a new era of cooperation and friendship has begun.
The enormity of these developments was palpable among all those who were on board, not just the Israeli and US officials but also the flight crew and reporters. Everyone talked about how it was such a great privilege to be taking part in this historic event. Special face masks decorated with the flags of the US, the UAE and Israel were handed out; the boarding passes also had a special design.
It’s also worth noting that throughout the three-hour flight, Israeli and US officials sat next to each other as if they were family or citizens of the same nation. Such closeness among the senior members of both governments is unprecedented. This intimacy in and of itself is an accomplishment that stands out.
The new dawn that is the UAE-Israel relationship is not just built on practical issues such as economics and security. It is already being built on human relationships. Whether it is stories about kosher deli service for the Expo in the Emirates, or the small but thriving Jewish community, we can see that there is a very real human warmth that is emerging in Abu Dhabi and Dubai towards Israel.
This warmth goes both ways. Israelis have lit up their buildings with the UAE flag, and opened their hearts to the possibilities of peace. This is welcome news during the COVID-19 crisis and the way that the world’s nations and citizens have become isolated and cut off from one another.
The symbolic visit to the Western Wall by Kushner prior to the historic flight and the morning prayers in the UAE bookend this phenomenal trip.
However, we must not glory only in success and fanfare. Too often our presumptions, and sometimes arrogance, have clouded reality. There is a long road ahead in the UAE, just as there have been hurdles in the Jordanian and Egyptian peace agreements.
There are questions about US F-35 sales to the Emirates. Israel is divided on whether the sales would erode its qualitative military advantage. It will take years for F-35 sales to materialize, even if approved in the US. By that time, Israel will have several squadrons of the advanced aircraft.
There may be other hurdles as well, such as the UAE wanting to see some progress on issues in the West Bank, or Iran and Turkey seeking to throw a spanner into the process. Israel and the UAE have dangerous enemies, from Tehran to the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is a part. Navigating the US election and Washington’s increasingly partisan foreign policy will be difficult.
We can face the future together with the UAE. This week began what should be a beautiful friendship.
Israel’s then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Israel’s readiness to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority “based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”
No mention was made of the API forming part of those renewed negotiations – nor could it be – since its total territorial withdrawal demands had been undercut by the Bush Congress-endorsed letter.
Those Arab nations and entities – indeed all parties present at the Conference – failed to object or demur to the new territorial reality of partial Israeli withdrawal which the Bush letter had engendered.
Saudi Arabia’s insistence on Israel’s total territorial withdrawal stipulated by the API as the price to be paid for Saudi Arabia signing a peace treaty with Israel has been seemingly backed by Sudan,Bahrain and Oman to prolong the 100 years-old Arab-Jewish conflict.
The Trump vision for peace is a plan that can end that conflict. It needs to be embraced by all who attended the Annapolis Conference – especially by Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Bahrain and Oman now joining the UAE as real trailblazers for peace.
Trump did not present his meticulously detailed deal of the century to see it rejected before its implementation was even attempted.
Pressure by top Trump aides in the region this week to get Saudi Arabia to endorse Trump’s plan is certain.
Failure to do so could see Trump administering his proven shockwave therapy to jolt Sudan,Bahrain and Oman from backing Saudi Arabia’s continuing rejection of Trump’s plan.
Ben Dror-Yemini: Hurray for the new Middle East
The proponents of normalization have raised their heads, not because of their love for Israel, but due to their own interests.
This is wonderful. I wish the Palestinian could also join the party and act in their own interests, but they much prefer to act against themselves. It has become second nature to them – and while it hurts us, but it hurts them much more.
“What’s all this ruckus about? After all, the UAE is a dictatorship,” some critics shrieked.
I find their claim funny since they were the same ones to disparage and belittle former U.S. president George Bush as he tried to spread the good gospel of democracy and pondered who had put him in charge.
Now, the eternally discontent are asking the same question of Israel.
So what do they suggest we do? Break ties with Egypt and Jordan as well? They’re also not democracies, after all.
These are the same people who roll in the Palestinian mud and preach to us about the need to reconcile with Hamas, because this is important, and claims about their lack of democracy are just a poor excuse to avoid compromise and peace.
They actually do make a good point about the Palestinians. We shouldn’t trouble ourselves too much with the Palestinian entity’s ranking on the democracy scale. So they should do us all a favor and quit whining over other Arab regimes.
Is this trend within the Arab world real, or is it simply an agreement between leaders that has nothing to do with Arab public opinion?
There is still no polling to back this assumption but scouring through Arab media clearly shows that something is going on over there and it didn’t begin with the Israel-UAE deal.
Those who followed the Middle East Media Research Institution (MEMRI) down the years know it is a process.
Articles we would not have dreamed of reading two or three decades ago are published today not only on sites operating in the West but in leading newspapers in Arab countries.
Prominent Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi wrote that the UAE reached an “historic achievement.”
Yemeni economist Manahel Thabet published an article praising Israel’s scientific achievements and called on Arab countries to cooperate with
In another breakthrough for Israel’s rapprochement with the Arab Gulf, and a major boon for Israeli air travel, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced that it will henceforth allow flights from “all countries” to cross over its airspace on flights to or from the United Arab Emirates.
Israeli leaders indicated they understood this to mean that Israeli flights can head to and from the Far East via Saudi Arabia and UAE, drastically reducing travel time.
The dramatic Saudi announcement, which followed Monday’s first-ever Israeli nonstop flight to Abu Dhabi — which for the first time crossed through Saudi airspace — was announced by the state-owned Saudi Press Agency, or SPA. The El Al flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on Tuesday was also allowed to overfly Saudi Arabia, although, unlike Monday’s flight, no American delegation was on board.
“An official source at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has stated that the Authority approved the request received from the General Civil Aviation Authority in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the desire to allow flights coming to and departing from the United Arab Emirates to all countries to pass through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s airspace,” the SPA said.
The statement made no mention of the kingdom’s rival, Iran, nor Qatar, which Saudi Arabia is currently boycotting. Flights between those countries to the UAE would, in theory, not need to use the kingdom’s airspace.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the announcement as a “huge breakthrough” that will help the Israeli economy and reduce airfares.
“For years, I have been working to open the skies between Israel and the East. It was spectacular news two-and-a-half years ago when Air India received approval to fly directly to Israel,” he said in a filmed statement, standing near a huge map.
“Now there is another tremendous breakthrough: Israeli planes and those from all countries will be able to fly directly from Israel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and back. Flights will be cheaper and shorter, and it will lead to robust tourism and develop our economy.”
Banks in Israel and the UAE will connect to each other through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed their first agreement in the normalization talks – a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on banking and finance. This is also the most important economic agreement because it will allow businesses and businesspeople to carry out deals.
As part of the agreement banks in Israel and the UAE will connect to each other through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network – the mechanism that allows direct international payments between banks. Until today, Israeli companies wanting to do business covertly in the UAE had to set up offshore companies in Europe, Singapore or elsewhere.
The agreement was reached as part of talks currently underway in Abu Dhabi between senior Israeli and UAE officials. At the request of the UAE, seven working groups have been set up in the fields of diplomacy, finance, science and technology, tourism, culture, agriculture, and cybersecurity-intelligence. In this initial stage, the aims of the meetings are for the Israelis to talk with their UAE counterparts on the content of agreements which will be drawn up. The agreements will be signed in Washington in three weeks.
While Monday was dominated by headlines about the historic first-ever Israeli nonstop flight from Tel Aviv to an Arab Gulf country, the second and final day of the Israeli delegation’s trip to Abu Dhabi was less dramatic — but no less busy and colorful.
Our Emirati hosts put on a hectic program, again clearly geared at showing us their country’s best side, with a particular focus on history and religion. It was a fascinating, perfectly normal day of tourism, made surreal by the fact that we were Israelis in the capital of a Gulf state with whom normal relations were not conducted until this trip.
Before the formal part of the itinerary, at around 7.30 a.m., I joined the head of the Israeli delegation, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, as well as other Israeli officials and a group of local Jews, for a quickly arranged morning prayer service in a hall at the ritzy St. Regis hotel where we were staying.
Members of the two rival Orthodox congregations in Dubai were there, and had brought two Torah scrolls to Abu Dhabi (there is no Jewish community in the capital) although the Torah is not usually read on Tuesday mornings.
Israel’s Foreign Affairs Min: Israel & the UAE’s New Chapter of Peace
Israel and the United Arab Emirates are building peace which will bring stability, security & prosperity to the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi now has it’s first official kosher restaurant, as Elli’s Kitchen has become the first in the city to be granted a kashrut certification from rabbinical authorities. The award follows the recent historic normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Tweeting a copy of the certificate, the official Twitter account for the State of Israel in Arabic commented: “A small step, but with big implications after the historic peace agreement between #UAE-Israel, on the eve of the reception of tourists and businessmen from Israel. Visits are just around the corner.”
لأول مرة في دولة #الامارات :مطعم يهودي حلال قريبا في #ابوظبي بعد حصوله على ترخيص رسمي من الجهات الحاخامية المختصة بالشأن. خطوة صغيرة لكن مدلولات كبيرة بعد اتفاق السلام التاريخي #الامارات_اسرائيل عشية استقبال السياح ورجال الاعمال من #اسرائيل. تبالد الزيارات قاب قوسين او ادنى🇦🇪🇦🇪 pic.twitter.com/l58ZDZs4jk
— إسرائيل بالعربية (@IsraelArabic) September 2, 2020
The tweet indicates the warm relations anticipated by both countries. Leaders have made it clear that they want not merely peace between the two nations, but cooperation across the board, from tourism to banking to collaborating in the fight against the coronavirus.
The certificate was awarded to Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, a restaurant launched by a Jewish ex-pat after she moved to the city with her family in 2013 and realized there was a gap in provision for kosher Jews in the area.
— 🔥 yehuda yisrael 🔥 (@erliche_yid) September 1, 2020
Welcomes UAE-Israel peace:
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
Condemns UAE-Israel peace:
🏁 Ken Roth
🇵🇸 Palestinian Authority
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) September 1, 2020
The executive director of the notoriously anti-Israel NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) was mercilessly skewered on Twitter after he expressed sneering distaste for the recently‐announced normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Late Monday, over a photograph of a US-Israeli delegation on a historic visit to Abu Dhabi via the first Israeli commercial flight to the UAE, HRW head Kenneth Roth tweeted, “All the kvelling about the Israeli-UAE flight does nothing to change the oppressive, discriminatory ‘one-state reality’ for occupied Palestinians. Only equal rights will do that.”
Reaction to Roth’s anti-peace rant was swift in coming.
Hillel Neuer, head of the UN Watch, noted, “Ken reveals he loves peace like the harlot revealed her love for the baby she asked King Solomon to cut in 2.”
“He uses a Yiddish word to mock Jews celebrating the Israel-UAE peace accord,” Neuer pointed out.
“Ken never makes positive Jewish references,” he added. “He’s uncomfortable with his identity.”
1. Ken reveals he loves peace like the harlot revealed her love for the baby she asked King Solomon to cut in 2.
2. He uses a Yiddish word to mock Jews celebrating the Israel-UAE peace accord.
3. Ken never makes positive Jewish references. He’s uncomfortable with his identity. https://t.co/4z9GAmrp6b
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) August 31, 2020
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said Wednesday that the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization accord represents a step toward regional peace by preserving Palestinian rights and Israeli security.
The United Arab Emirates and Israel agreed to normalize ties in a watershed US-brokered deal under which the Jewish state has suspended plans to annex parts of the West Bank
Palestinians, however, have condemned it as a “betrayal” of their cause.
In a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sissi voiced his support for “any steps that would bring peace” to the volatile Middle East, according to a statement from the Egyptian President’s office.
He welcomed measures that “preserve the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, allow for the establishment of their independent state and provide security for Israel.”
The UAE-Israeli agreement announced on August 13 was a “step in that direction,” he said.
Sissi, however, warned against any unilateral decisions that “would undermine the chances for peace” and called for talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The leaders of Palestinian factions are scheduled to hold a meeting on Thursday via video conference to discuss ways of thwarting Israeli and US “conspiracies” against the Palestinians and the recent normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
The meeting will be held under the chairmanship of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his capacity as chairman of the ruling Fatah faction.
Leaders of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other factions based in Lebanon are expected to participate in the meeting, the first of its kind since 2013, when the faction leaders met in Egypt.
Leaders of the Palestinian factions in the West Bank have been invited to Abbas’s office in Ramallah to join the video conference. The leaders of Palestinian factions abroad will join the meeting from the PA embassy in Beirut.
“The main purpose of the meeting is to launch important steps towards achieving [Palestinian] national unity and foiling the annexation conspiracy, apartheid, settlement and the Judaization of Jerusalem,” said Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesperson for the PA presidency. “The meeting itself constitutes a clear message to all that the Palestinian people and their holy sites are bigger than all the conspiracies.”
Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani told White House adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday that Doha supports a two-state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, to end the conflict with Israel, his cabinet said.
Kushner, the son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, is in Qatar after a US-brokered accord last month for the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize ties.
The UAE is the third Arab country to reach such an agreement with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.
Kushner hopes another Arab country will normalize ties within months. He visited the UAE this week with an Israeli delegation for normalization talks before also traveling to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Sheik Tamim told Kushner Qatar remains committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which Arab nations offered Israel normalized ties in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Iranian Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Akhtari: UAE-Israel Deal Is an Attempt to Save Israel from Its Inevitable End and to Save Trump’s Reelection Campaign pic.twitter.com/zqSYgPd4Gw
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) September 2, 2020
The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and one of her top aides for continuing to investigate war crimes allegations against Americans.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the moves as part of the administration’s pushback against the tribunal, based in The Hague, for investigations into the United States and its allies such as Israel. The sanctions include a freeze on assets held in the US or subject to US law, and target prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Phakiso Mochochoko.
Pompeo had previously imposed a travel ban on Bensouda and other tribunal employees because of its investigation into allegations of torture and other crimes by Americans in Afghanistan.
“The United States has never ratified the Rome Statute that created the court and we will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction,” Pompeo said during a press conference at the State Department.
Human rights groups and others have condemned the administration’s moves against the court and Wednesday’s announcement was immediately met with withering criticism from them.
Richard Dicker, the international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called it “a stunning perversion of US sanctions, devised to penalize rights abusers and kleptocrats, to persecute those tasked with prosecuting international crimes.”
An Israeli soldier and police officer were lightly wounded in a suspected car-ramming attack in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, Israeli officials said.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the suspect hot the police officer and soldier with his car, and then exited the vehicle and ran at them with a knife before he was shot by the injured police officer at the scene.
Security camera footage (above) from the scene showed the silver sedan used in the attack cutting across a lane of traffic, weaving between two parked cars and striking the troops at a bus stop near the junction.
The servicemembers were stationed at the Tapuah Junction, south of Nablus, and were handing out a traffic ticket when “a car that was traveling in their direction ran them over,” police said.
“He then stopped the car, got out of the vehicle and ran at them with a knife drawn,” police said. Due to the quality of the footage, that could not be confirmed from the video. A pocket knife was recovered at the scene.
The driver was shot and moderately injured by the officer, the military said.
The suspect was identified by the Gaza-based Prisoner Media Office as Muhammad Jabr Khdeir, from the village of Bita next to Nablus.
The Tapuah Junction, south of Nablus, has seen many attacks on Israeli troops over the years.
Magen David Adom said it was treating the two servicemembers — aged 23 and 20 — who were both fully conscious and sustained minor injuries. They were taken to Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Medical Center for further care.
An Israeli man seriously injured in a suspected terror attack last month said Wednesday he was stabbed 28 times by the Palestinian assailant.
Refael Levi, 31, was violently attacked in Rosh Ha’ayin on August 15 at a construction site in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin. Initial reports about the stabbing indicated it had occurred during a fight of some kind, but officials later said it was being investigated as a terror attack and that the suspected attacker was a Palestinian man who had entered Israel illegally.
Levi, a resident of Ashkelon, was hospitalized at Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Medical Center in serious condition.
“The terrorist, may he be damned, managed to stab me 28 times and injured me very, very badly. I nearly lost my life, but I won!” Levi wrote on Facebook.
He added: “Today three weeks later I’m standing on my feet… That’s my answer to terrorism and that’s my answer to the terrorist. They teach their children to murder and hate, we teach ours to live and love!”
The suspect in the attack, who initially fled the scene, was later arrested in his hometown of Jenin, the Shin Bet security service said last month.
Israel’s security cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal by Defense Minister Benny Gantz that the bodies of all Palestinian attackers be withheld and not returned to their families as a deterrent against terror attacks.
While Israel has not returned the bodies of attackers in recent months, the policy that Gantz wanted changed states that Israel can only hold on the bodies of attackers who belong to Hamas.
Gantz presented the demand to change the policy to the Security Cabinet so that the bodies of any Palestinian attacker, even those who don’t belong to a terror group, will remain in Israeli hands.
Welcoming the decision, Gantz said that he has been applying an extensive policy of deterrence since entering office, by preventing the return of terrorist bodies, seizing funds from terror organizations, and intensifying attacks in response to violence on all fronts.
“Refusal to return the bodies of terrorists is part of our commitment of maintaining the security of Israeli citizens, and of course to bring [the bodies of IDF soldiers killed in battle and Israeli MIAs] home. I hope our enemy understands and internalizes the message well,” he said.
The Almog Beach in Eilat was evacuated after a Jordanian swam across the border from Jordan on Wednesday. The incident ended without any injuries.
Israel Police announced that residents could return to routine after it had announced that it was deployed and on alert in Eilat due to a suspected security incident.
A Jordanian was spotted swimming toward the Almog Nature Reserve on Wednesday morning and was stopped by two guards working for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). The situation was handled by the IDF and Israel Police, and the nature reserve has been declared a closed security zone, including the adjacent sea area.
According to Channel 12, the Jordanian stated that he infiltrated into Israel because he wanted to escape the economic situation in Jordan. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced that an initial investigation found that the incident did not seem to be terrorism-related. The IDF is continuing its investigation.
“After we realized that it was a swimmer, we tried to contact him without success,” explained Mor Ohanona, an employee at INPA. “I approached him as soon as he got to the coast and I understood that he doesn’t speak any language except for Arabic. I looked him over to make sure he didn’t have any terrorist equipment on him. I took him to the offices of the reserve. I tried to speak with him with Google Translate. After I understood that he’s from Jordan, I immediately called the police, who arrived here within a few minutes and took control of the situation.”
After Palestinian Media Watch exposed the discrepancies between the Arabic language monthly budget performance reports and its English language translation, the Palestinian Authority rushed to change all five reports in which the distortions appeared.
Last week, PMW showed how the Arabic language version of the financial reports published by the PA Ministry of Finance, artificially included a reference to the “Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners,” thereby creating the impression that the PA is openly funding that body. In contrast, the English language version of the same reports expunged the reference to the commission.
Since PMW’s report obviously embarrassed the PA and could bring censure of the European donor countries who have demanded full financial transparency, the PA has retroactively altered all the reports in which the distortions appeared. Were one to now check the site of the PA Ministry of Finance, no such discrepancy would appear.
The revised Arabic language reports now reflect the English version of the reports.
Samer Arbid served as an accountant at the Union of Agricultural Works Committees (UAWC) until his arrest and indictment for commanding a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror cell and murdering 17-year old Rina Shnerb and injuring her father and brother in an August 2019 bombing. A number of UAWC supporters have attempted to cast doubt on Arbid’s membership in the PFLP terror group and involvement in the attack.
However, on August 30, 2020, the PFLP issued a condolence note in memory of Arbid’s mother. In it, PFLP calls Arbid a “prisoner and commander,” and “one of the heroes of the Bubeen operation” — referring to the August 2019 bombing.
Below is a translation by NGO Monitor of the PFLP statement.
“The PFLP mourns the [death of] fighter Alice Razzouq, the mother of the prisoner and commander, Samer Arbid – one of the heroes of the Bubeen operation [the August 2019 terror attack in which Rena Shnerb was murdered and her father and brother wounded].”
Hamas Leader Haniyah in Lebanon After 27 Years
Hamas proxy Humat al Aqsa published a video documenting their front group ‘Al-Aqsa Units’ operating before the establishment of the current Hamas-led ceasefire. One couldn’t rubber stamp the participation of militant groups than an official video from one. #Gaza pic.twitter.com/O7vreihhrf
— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) September 1, 2020
The Egyptian Army announced that its forces have killed 77 radical Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula since July 22.
The military said that the operations it has been conducting in the Sinai for the past few weeks are part of an ongoing effort to fight terrorism along the country’s borders, according to a report by the Egypt Independent on Monday.
According to the report, the operations uncovered 317 hideouts containing explosives and the Egyptian military destroyed 10 four-wheel-drive vehicles, in addition to seizing automatic weapons, ammunition and explosive belts. It also destroyed a number of food-supply shelters.
The Egyptian Air Force and Naval Force also took part in the operations, the military said, adding that three officers and four recruits were killed in action.
The Egyptian Army announced in July that it had foiled a terrorist attack on a military base in the northern Sinai village of Rabi’a that killed 18 of the attacking fighters, according to a report shared exclusively with JNS by the Middle East Media Research Institute’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor.
On August 24, 2020, in honor of the 949th anniversary on August 26 of the 1071 Battle of Manzikert, Turkey’s Ministry of Communication released a music video titled the “Red Apple March.” Seeking to present the modern Turkish military as the heir to the militaries of Turkish states stretching back 1,000 years, including the Ottoman empire and the Seljuks, the clip cuts between images of the Turkish military, including special forces, tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, rockets, naval vessels, and images of men in Ottoman and Seljuk military garb. The video also shows the Turkish drill ships Fatih and Oruç Reis, which have recently been drilling and searching for natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
One section of the video features footage of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan walking past a row of soldiers, cut with footage of an actor portraying an Ottoman sultan doing the same. As an Ottoman military band plays outside, the actor, along with others portraying Sultan Alparslan, who led the Seljuk army to victory at the Battle of Manzikert, Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, and a child soldier from the Battle of Gallipoli, enter the Hagia Sophia Mosque and pray as audio of President Erdoğan reciting the opening verses of Surah Al-Fath (“Conquest”) plays in the background. The video shows Islamic structures including the Kaaba in Mecca, and closes showing the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
The music features the zurna, a wind instrument central in the traditional Ottoman military band, giving the music a distinctly “Ottoman” sound. The lyrics mix religious and nationalistic imagery and refer to the Kızıl Elma (“Red Apple”), a concept from Turkish mythology that has sometimes has been used to refer to world domination and at other times has referred to a particular military goal by a Turkish state and, once that goal has been achieved, some other goal becomes the “Red Apple,” making it ever-elusive.
Upon the release of the video, Communications Minister Fahrettin Altun tweeted: “For us, the Red Apple is a great and powerful Turkey. It is the blessed march of our nation, which has written legends from Manzikert to July 15, [2016, i.e., the attempted coup in Turkey]. The Red Apple is the great sycamore tree in the shade of which many oppressed [peoples] cool themselves. It is what all people from Gibraltar to the Hijaz, from the Balkans to Asia, await wishfully.”
A court in the capital of the Austrian state of Carinthia last week convicted a Hezbollah commander and recruiter for the Lebanese terrorist organization.
The court in the city of Klagenfurt declared the 41-year-old Lebanese man guilty due to his membership in a terrorist organization, a criminal organization, and his role in training for terroristic purposes. The court sentenced the unnamed Lebanese man to a nine-year prison term, according to the Austria Press Agency.
The Jerusalem Post reported in March that the Hezbollah commander spent 13 years in the central European country while reportedly being involved in financing terrorism.
According to the indictment, the Hezbollah commander has been a member of the Shi’ite terrorist movement since 2006. He oversaw a 60-member unit on the border with Syria where combat took place. The convicted Hezbollah terrorist participated in battle in which people were murdered during the Syrian civil war.
The Austrian media report did not identify the victims. “On the part of Hezbollah alone, there were 12 dead during his time there. In the asylum procedure, he also stated that he had recruited 250 men and young people over the age of 14 to join Hezbollah. He also took part in ideological and military training, including in Iran, but also trained himself,” the indictment noted, according to the Austrian wire service article.
Lebanese MP Fouad Makhzoumi: Hizbullah Is Stronger than the Lebanese Government; Most Officials Are Hizbullah Collaborators; They Get Power, Hizbullah Gets to Keep Its Weapons pic.twitter.com/4InbsZv1vA
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) September 2, 2020
Former Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani: The Shiite Rulers of Iraq Will Have to Normalize Relations with Israel or They Will Lose Power to the Sunnis pic.twitter.com/oZgdNx4vCU
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) September 2, 2020
The next two months before the November election are critical to the fight against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its nuclear and regional ambitions. The Trump administration must continue its maximum pressure campaign, while building safeguards to prevent a return to the fatally flawed nuclear agreements of the past.
For starters, the administration should swiftly blacklist the Islamic Republic’s entire financial sector, thereby expelling the remaining 13 Iranian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system. A single bank should remain on the system to process humanitarian trade. This will cut off Tehran’s financial oxygen, continue to fuel protests and labor strikes against the regime, and build leverage for future negotiations.
The administration should also complete its “sanctions wall of political and market deterrence” by filling the gaps in the U.S. sanctions regime. This should include more sanctions targeting the regime’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program and its human rights abuses and corruption. Republicans should also make clear, through the passage of a congressional resolution, that the lifting of sanctions by a Biden administration would be temporary and that such a move does not change the market’s views of Tehran’s illicit conduct. International companies should expect to lose their investments in Iran if Republicans retake power in four years and reinstate all sanctions.
The sanctions wall also needs an international component. On August 20, the administration correctly invoked America’s right to trigger a unilateral snapback of Security Council sanctions. The snapback will prevent the expiration of both the UN’s conventional arms embargo on Iran this October and the missile embargo in 2023, as well as reinstate the prohibition against the production of nuclear fissile material on Iranian soil. Other Council members are working to counter Washington but, assuming the snapback proceeds, a Biden administration should pocket the resulting leverage. Either President Biden or President Trump can negotiate an improved Security Council resolution that extends the arms and missile embargos and eliminates Iran’s uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities as part of a better nuclear deal.
Niger, the UN Security Council president for September, said on Tuesday it stands by a declaration that no further action can be taken on a US bid to trigger a return of UN sanctions on Iran because there is no consensus in the 15-member body.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he triggered a 30-day process on Aug. 20 to reimpose all international sanctions on Iran ‐‐ known as snapback ‐‐ by lodging a complaint with the council accusing Iran of breaching a 2015 nuclear deal.
But Indonesia UN Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, the council president for August, said that he was “not in the position to take further action” because 13 council members had expressed their opposition.
“We’re staying with this decision… that was stated and announced by the president of the Security Council last month,” said Niger UN Ambassador Abdou Abarry, ruling out any move to put forward a draft resolution under the snapback process to extend sanctions relief for Iran.
But Abarry noted: “Any other member state of the Security Council can do it. The United States themselves can do it.”
Washington would veto such a resolution, Pompeo posted on Twitter on Thursday, though he did not signal whether the United States would put forward such a text itself. He added that under the snapback process, “if no resolution is introduced, the sanctions on Iran will still return on September 20.”
A senior official with a Washington, D.C., think tank that has promoted anti-Semitic voices parroted pro-Iran talking points earlier this week, just minutes after a senior leader of the Islamic Republic blasted the Trump administration’s stance on violent protests across America.
Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, an isolationist think tank funded by billionaires George Soros and Charles Koch, copied criticisms of Trump’s response to Portland protests first spread by Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, an architect of the Iran nuclear deal.
“Another sign of America’s endless wars coming home. The phrase ‘all options on the table’ has been used for decades to hint at the use of force against other countries,” Parsi tweeted Sunday. “Now it’s used against the American people. This was inevitable.”
Parsi’s tweet echoed Zarif’s tweet stating: “’All options on the table’ has long been a staple of U.S. foreign policy. It simply means the law of the jungle: disregard for a fundamental principle of [international] law: Non-Use of Force. Now, the Trump regime is using the same threat against Americans. A wake-up call? God willing.”
Parsi’s apparent effort to boost Zarif’s message raises questions about the Quincy Institute’s relationship with Iran and its senior leaders. Quincy has been at the forefront of a push among isolationist foreign policy voices to lessen economic pressure on Iran and convince the Trump administration to back down from a confrontation with the globe’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. Parsi is a longtime supporter of these views and formerly headed the National Iranian American Council, which allegedly served as an unregistered lobbying shop for Tehran in D.C.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a September 1 tweet for making a deal with “Zionist agents,” prompting Twitter users to call for Twitter to take action.
The tweet reads in full: “The nation of Palestine is under various, severe pressures. Then, the UAE acts in agreement with the Israelis & filthy Zionist agents of the U.S. —such as the Jewish member of Trump’s family— with utmost cruelty against the interests of the World of Islam.”
Various Twitter users condemned Khamenei’s tweet as anti-Semitic and argued that the tweet violated Twitter’s terms of service. “This anti-Semitism from a world leader would seem to violate the twitter guidelines,” CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted.
International human rights attorney Arsen Ostrovsky also tweeted, “This is sickening and vile Antisemitism & incitement from Iran’s @khamenei_ir. @Twitter has no hesitation flagging @realDonaldTrump, but I must have missed them doing anything about this filth.”
Twitter did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
The world must reject and condemn @Khamenei_ir’s ideology of hatred. The children of Abraham – Muslims, Christians, and Jews – rejoice at the prospect of peace, while @Khamenei_ir calls for more violence. The U.S. stands with the UAE and all those seeking a brighter future. pic.twitter.com/smON82ruEF
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 2, 2020
— מיכל קוטלר-וונש | Michal Cotler-Wunsh (@CotlerWunsh) September 1, 2020
Hi @TwitterSupport in addition to this tweet almost certainly violating your TOS vs. incitement, just hosting this account likely puts you in criminal violation of IEEPA, pursuant to Khamenei getting SDN’d under EO 13876. Penalties: 20 yrs jail + $1 million fines (31 CFR 510.701) https://t.co/bg6fIKpcpX
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) September 1, 2020
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) September 1, 2020
A really unfortunate split screen this week: as #Iran‘s supreme leader makes anti-Semitic comments & as @Amnesty accuses Tehran of torturing, flogging, using electric shocks, & sexually abusing protesters, all Europe talks about is preserving the #JCPOA.https://t.co/PR3mJFKWBD
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) September 2, 2020
🇮🇷 The Islamic Republic of Iran just confirmed the death sentence of wrestling champion Navid Afkari for participating in 2018 protests against the regime.
🇮🇷 The Islamic Republic of Iran is an elected member of the U.N. Commission on Criminal Justice.
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) August 29, 2020
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