PMW: Fatah: Munich Olympic massacre was “excellent operation”
Fatah: “The Munich operation… will continue to be remembered and recorded in history”
45 years after the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Abbas’ Fatah Movement still sees the attack as “the excellent operation” and the attackers as “the heroes of the Munich operation”
45 years after the massacre at the Munich Olympics, Abbas’ Fatah Movement is still honoring the planners of the murders of the 11 Israeli athletes and celebrating the terror attack.
During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, the Palestinian terror organization Black September, a branch of Fatah, took the members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage and murdered 11 of them.
On the anniversary of the murders this month, two branches of the Fatah Movement posted photos of the terrorist murderers and comments glorifying the attack on Facebook.
Fatah’s Bethlehem branch wrote a short post about “the excellent operation in Munich,” posting photos of some of the terrorists:
Posted text: “Sept. 5, 1972 – Sept. 5, 2017 – the 45th anniversary of the excellent operation in Munich. On this date the Black September organization, one of the Fatah Movement’s military bodies, kidnapped the Zionist Olympic delegation and took its members hostage in order to release Palestinian prisoners in the Zionist prisons.”
[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement – Bethlehem Branch, Sept. 5, 2017]
Israel is clearly committed to upholding its red lines in Syria, which includes prevention of the establishment of a permanent Iranian military presence in the Golan, which would allow Tehran and its proxies to open up another front against the Jewish state during future hostilities. Israel has repeatedly conducted missile strikes in Syria to prevent the transfer of “game-changing” weaponry to Hizbullah as it arrives by air and then travels overland to the Lebanon-based terrorists.
Speaking to The Media Line, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, said he was unaware of any such coordination with Syrian rebel groups and stressed that “those operating in the Syrian Golan [which at intervals has included offshoots of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda] are not supportive of Israel.”
As such, he views Moualem’s comments foremost as a justification for Syrian and Iranian-backed military operations near the border.
By contrast, Eiland explained that Israeli military intervention in Syria is prompted by three intersecting circumstances; first, a response to errant fire that enters its territory by targeting Assad regime assets; second, when Hizbullah offensives are identified along the border; and third, if there is an attempt to transfer advanced weapons—precision missiles, in particular—to Iran’s Lebanese Shiite underling.
In this respect, the IDF last week reportedly for a second time this year attacked an arms depot next to Damascus International Airport; this, following a purported Israeli strike on the Scientific Studies and Researchers Center in the central Syrian city of Masyaf, where chemical arms were allegedly being manufactured in contravention to a previous U.S.-Russia-brokered deal to completely rid the Syrian regime of WMDs.
According to Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, who commanded IDF troops along the Syrian border, while Israel’s direct involvement on the ground is restricted, its overriding goal is to ensure “stability and security along the frontier, [thereby avoiding] the creation of another area from which a war of attrition [can be initiated].
“Israel may not be able to stop this,” he acknowledged to The Media Line, “but can nevertheless influence the process. Jerusalem must emphasize that it is part of the game and that it is willing to take risks to achieve its objectives. Moreover, the Israelis need to make clear that any solution in Syria must take into account its considerations.”
A Hamas member turned humanitarian addressed the U.N. human rights council today and called the Palestinian Authority the “greatest enemy of the Palestinian people.” See full speech below.
“If Israel did not exist, you would have no one to blame; take responsibility for the outcome of your own actions,” said Mosab Hassan Yousef, whose father was a founding member of Hamas.
As recounted in the film The Green Prince, Yousef emerged as one of Israel’s prized informants, who disrupted lethal attacks and uncovered terror cells.
Yousef spoke today on behalf of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights organization, taking the floor in a meeting on alleged Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. By contrast, the council has no special agenda item on Syria, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, or any other region.
“For good reason, Western democracies once again boycotted today’s debate,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
“In the dystopian universe of George Orwell’s 1984, everyone was forced to undergo a daily ‘Two Minute of Hate’. In the dystopian universe of the UN Human Rights Council—where Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Cuba and Venezuela are members—the built-in schedule of every session includes one day dedicated solely to spewing hate against the Jewish state.”
With a two-sentence statement supporting the Iraqi Kurds’ plan to hold a referendum on independence this Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Israel at odds with nearly every other major player in the Middle East.
Mr. Netanyahu, who endorsed not only the referendum but also the establishment of a Kurdish state, had ample strategic reason: A breakaway Kurdistan could prove valuable to Israel against Iran, which has oppressed its own Kurdish population.
But given the interwoven history and shared emotion underlying his statement, present-day geopolitics can seem almost beside the point.
The Kurds and the Jews, it turns out, go way back.
Back past the Babylonian Captivity, in fact: The first Jews in Kurdistan, tradition holds, were among the last tribes of Israel, taken from their land in the eighth century B.C. They liked it there so much that when Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Babylonians and let the Jews go back home, many chose instead to stick around.
Sixteen centuries later, Saladin, a Kurd, treated the Jews humanely after he conquered Jerusalem, and notably hired a Jewish doctor, Maimonides, as his physician.
In the modern era, Kurdish Jews departed en masse for Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, leaving Kurdish civil society so bereft that some recall its leaders still lamenting the Jewish exodus decades later.
Ties between the two have only grown warmer and more vital since the 1960s, as Israel and the Kurds — both minorities in an inhospitable region and ever in need of international allies — have repeatedly come to each other’s aid. The Kurds have long patterned their lobbying efforts in Washington on those of Israel’s supporters.
And while Kurdish leaders have not publicly embraced Israel in the run-up to the referendum, for fear of antagonizing the Arab world, the Israeli flag can routinely be seen at Kurdish rallies in Erbil and across Europe.
Tibon’s book pays special attention to the crucial years of change with the Palestinian movement from 2005 to 2014.
Specifically, it asks three fundamental questions. How did Abbas lose control of half of his governing territory and the support of more than half of his people? Why was Abbas the most prominent leader in Fatah to denounce terrorism? And why did Abbas twice walk away from peace offers from Israel and the US in 2008 and 2014?
What may seem like a trivial point at first is, Tibon believes, crucial: A distinct lack of charisma from the Palestinian leader is one of the major issues that has always “haunted” his political career.
“Abbas is just not like Yasser Arafat,” says Tibon. “When Arafat spoke, people listened and cheered. But Abbas is not a very charismatic figure, and he tends to be pedantic, focusing on international legal issues. When you have to create support for hard political choices, it’s difficult when you lack the basic political ability to render hearts and minds.”
Tibon spends an entire chapter to analyzing the historical significance of Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004 — both in how it affected the Palestinian movement as well as Abbas’s political career.
Abbas may be the leader of the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). However, he simply lacks the political and cultural standing that Arafat had, Tibon believes.
“Arafat’s death was an opportunity for Abbas to take Arafat’s place,” says the Israeli journalist. “But for the Palestinian national movement, Arafat’s death left a vacuum that I’m not sure has been filled yet. At least not by Abbas. Because Abbas is technically a president.”
NGO Monitor: Another UN Agency Issues “50 Year” Campaign Report
On September 12, 2017, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released “UNCTAD Assistance to the Palestinian People: Developments in the Economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” This report, while published by a UN body that is supposed to focus on trade, investment, and development, instead is part of a Palestinian and UN-initiated propaganda campaign to demonize Israel. As with the other publications issued as part of this political war (see for example UN Women, ESCWA), UNCTAD spurns its mandate, relies on non-credible source material, and ignores material economic factors, resulting in a publication that fails to issue any conclusions that would actually lead to development and peace in the region.
UNCTAD’s singular conclusion regarding problems it finds in the Palestinian economy – is that the “fifty years” of Israel’s “occupation” is solely to blame for economic problems in the Palestinian Authority.
Unlike its other country and regional reports, this report does not undertake a rigorous economic analysis or examine the many factors, both cultural and political impacting the Palestinian economy. For instance, while UNCTAD blames the “occupation” for differences in real GDP per capita overtime, many other reasons exist. For example, when looking at the graph provided for real GDP per capita in 1995-2016, there has been steady growth in the Palestinian economy with the exception of dips during points of significant Palestinian-initiated violence – for instance the surge of terror attacks in the early 2000s, the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2006, and the 2014 Gaza war (see graph on page 1 of report).
The report also fails to include the myriad of Palestinian domestic factors influencing the economy–intra-Palestinian conflict, endemic corruption, mass diversion of resources to terror infrastructure, refusal to implement new technologies in the water sector, the promotion of boycotts against the Israeli economy, the largely agricultural nature of the Palestinian economy, minimal commitment to research and innovation, and traditional cultural norms limiting women in the workforce.
JPost Editorial: Sad Realities
Unfortunately, Abbas has done nothing during his extended stint as president to prepare the Palestinians for compromises. What he has done is glorify terrorists responsible for the murder of Israelis; encourage official PA media and ministries to reject Jewish ties to the land; and incite against Israel.
Ahead of his speech before the UN General Assembly last week, Abbas told Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a Palestinian newspaper printed in London, that the Trump administration asked him for more time to formulate ideas how to jump start the peace process. During this period, Abbas promised to avoid unilateral moves in international forums pending a new American initiative.
But now Abbas is once again pursuing international recognition for a “Palestinian State” without taking the requisite steps of building the foundations. In doing so, he is not only undermining American trust and hurting the chances of success for the Trump administration’s attempts to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, he is also diverting attention away from the real issues at hand.
A Palestinian state emerging from the present reality on the West Bank and in Gaza would be a corrupt regime that is hostile to democratic freedoms at home and unreconciled to Israel’s existence. That Palestinian leadership is split between the West Bank and Gaza further complicates matters.
Seeking membership in Interpol might give the impression that all the Palestinians lack is official recognition for a de facto Palestinian state. But this is only an impression that has little to do with reality.
Palestinians still lack the unity and good governance needed to ensure that Palestine does not become yet another failed Arab state. All the international declarations in the world won’t change this painful fact.
The Israel effort to prevent the Palestinian Authority (PA) from joining Interpol, the International Police Organization, has been unsuccessful so far.
This afternoon it became clear that the attempt to have the Interpol Executive Committee reject the PA’s application had failed. Israel will therefore have to direct its efforts towards Interpol’s General Assembly, which will convene for its annual meeting in China tomorrow (Tuesday) and vote on new members.
The General Assembly is expected to approve the PA’s bid to join the international law enforcement body.
Israel has waged a wide-spread diplomatic battle over the last several days to prevent the PA’s imitative from succeeding. Israel seeks to strengthen the standards required to join Interpol.
The US has stood alongside Israel in seeking to convince the organization to deny the PA’s request. The US believes that allowing the PA to join international bodies without negotiating with Israel gives the PA incentive to avoid peace negotiations altogether and undermines US efforts to broker a peace deal.
Unilaterally erasing the identity of Israel’s negotiating partner under the Oslo Accords and renaming it “the State of Palestine” is part of the semantic warfare engaged in by the PLO as it continues to create a false narrative of the Jewish-Arab conflict. The Palestinian Authority’s demise has enabled PLO Chief Negotiator – Saeb Erekat – to assert:
“Palestine is a country under occupation. What was Norway, Finland, Holland, France, Korea, Philippines between 1939 and 1945 – nation states under occupation. Today, the state of Palestine is officially a state under occupation. It has 192 member countries that recognise this and a nation state, Israel, which is the occupying power; these are the new realities.”
The farce continues – as President Trump gives his apparent imprimatur to meeting with the phantom head of a phantom non-existent Palestinian Authority.
President Trump is sorely mistaken if he believes that maintaining this facade will advance his efforts to end the Arab-Jewish conflict.
Abbas needs to be called out by Trump for abandoning the Oslo Accords and pursuing a policy that will not lead to resolving the long-running conflict – but rather exacerbate it and make it more difficult to resolve.
Trump needs to replace the deceased Palestinian Authority with living Arab negotiating partners.
Last month, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2373, renewing the mandate of UNIFIL for another year. In a statement following the vote, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley rightly commented that “the status quo for UNIFIL was not acceptable, and we did not accept it.” However, nobody else at the Security Council is interested in altering this status quo. Unfortunately, the new resolution doesn’t change it either.
In the lead-up to the vote, the United States sharply criticized UNIFIL’s failure to prevent Hezbollah’s arms build-up and its nonchalance toward the Iranian-backed group’s other violations of UNSCR 1701. Ambassador Haley rightly said the force was “not doing its job effectively.” She didn’t mince words, describing UNIFIL’s head of mission, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, as “blind” and lacking “understanding of what’s going on around him” for saying there were no Hezbollah weapons in south Lebanon.
Based on this assessment, Ambassador Haley had announced the US would seek “significant improvements” to UNIFIL’s mandate. “We share the secretary-general’s strong desire to enhance UNIFIL’s efforts to prevent the spread of illegal arms in southern Lebanon,” Haley said in a statement.
For Hezbollah, changing the current mandate was out of the question. Specifically, the group drew a red line around the requirement for UNIFIL to act solely “in support of a request from the Government of Lebanon,” and to “assist it to exercise its authority,” as stated in UNSCR 1701. Hezbollah rejected any move beyond this formula, which would allow UNIFIL to bypass the required prior coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
To drive its point home, Hezbollah put out a clear threat through one of its preferred conduits, Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the Al-Akhbar daily, a mouthpiece for the group. In an editorial two days after Haley’s statement, al-Amin recalled the previous assaults on UNIFIL and issued an unmistakable warning: “As for the international forces themselves… it would be best for their countries to start conducting drills on how to counter ‘the wrath of the local residents.’”
The European Union’s Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret plans to boycott Israel’s formal national ceremony celebrating 50 years since “the Liberation of Judea [and] Samaria” that will be held this Wednesday in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
The event titled “the Jubilee Celebration of the Liberation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights” will feature Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ministers and Knesset members.
All Ambassadors stationed in Israel have also been invited, including Giaufret.
Mark Gallagher, who heads the EU’s political and press section said, “We declined the invitation in line with long-standing EU policy not to attend official events in occupied territory.”
Settler leaders immediately lashed out at the EU.
“We see ourselves as an integral and inseparable part of the State of Israel and are not interested in being part of the European Union. I welcome the EU to invest their energies in repairing their long-standing legacy of hatred and causing harm to others,” Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Neeman said.
Israel presumes that Gush Etzion would be part of its final borders in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians for a two-state solution.
Turkey’s descent into Islamist despotism distorts the NATO alliance: how can Turkey combat a external threat from without, Daniel Pipes asked, when a member state poses the same threat from within?
No one tells us what we can say. We are a free people, and we will act in complete freedom. – Daniel Pipes, President, Middle East Forum (MEF)
The purging of 120,000 government employees following last year’s failed coup means that “more police counter-terrorism experts are in prison than ISIS members.” A democratic Turkey is a must for NATO, both for the alliance’s success and for Turkey itself. – Emre Celik, Turkish dissident, at Middle East Forum-NATO conference in Philadelphia, September 2017
When Celik he began to speak, the Turks — and the NATO bureaucrats who support them — marched out in lockstep, thereby allowing a distant despot to control their actions in the birthplace of liberty. NATO’s willingness to ignore the principles it was founded to defend reveals the moral corruption at its heart….
Human rights activists and Catholic groups are questioning why the State Department still appears reluctant to direct money Congress appropriated to assist Christians, Yazidis, and other persecuted religious minorities in Iraq but this week quickly dispatched $32 million to help a majority Muslim group fleeing violence in Burma.
The State Department on Thursday announced it would provide a humanitarian aid package worth nearly $32 million to the Rohingya, a persecuted minority group in Burma, most of whom are Muslim. More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled Burma, a majority Buddhist nation, for Bangladesh over the past month to escape wide-scale violence that the United Nations’ top human rights official has labeled ethnic cleansing.
The aid package came the day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Burma, and urged the Burmese government and military to “address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations.”
Tillerson’s quick efforts to help the Rohingya demonstrated the State Department’s ability to quickly direct humanitarian aid to a threatened minority group. However, critics say the swift action stands in sharp contrast to State’s foot-dragging when it comes to directing funds to Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities facing genocide in Iraq.
Earlier this year, Congress allocated more than $1.4 billion in funds for refugee assistance and included specific language to ensure that part of the money would be used to assist Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims—all groups the State Department deemed victims of genocide in 2016. Over the summer, Tillerson affirmed his belief that these religious minority groups in Iraq are the victims of Islamic-State genocide.
Sudan vowed Monday to step up efforts to normalize relations with the United States after Washington dropped the country from a list of countries facing a US travel ban.
US President Donald Trump decided to remove Sudan from the list just days ahead of an October 12 decision when he is to determine whether to permanently lift decades-old US sanctions on Khartoum.
The decision was “a positive development in the two countries’ bilateral relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It was a result of a “clear and long dialogue” and growing cooperation between the two countries on regional and international issues, the ministry said.
“The government of Sudan will carry out more efforts to remove all obstacles to a full normalization of relations with the American administration,” it said.
If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was handed the public opinion polls that ran in the weekend newspapers when he arrived home from the United Nations General Assembly, he probably had a relatively relaxing holiday.
The polls were taken for Yediot Aharonot – which has a reputation of being against the prime minister – and Ma’ariv columnist Ben Caspit, who constantly writes against Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.
Both Yediot and Caspit regularly portray Netanyahu as corrupt.
The polls confirm that the public sees him that way, too.
But the public appears to be quite forgiving of that corruption.
The Panels Research poll was taken for Ma’ariv among 521 people, representing a statistical sample of the Israeli adult population. It found that 54% of respondents believe Netanyahu’s behavior is tainted by corruption, while 34% disagree and 12% do not know.
Palestinian ‘Reconciliation’: Jihad is Calling!
Leaders of Hamas maintain that under no circumstances will they agree to lay down their weapons. Hamas is, in fact, continuing full-speed-ahead digging tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Hamas is planning to use the tunnels to smuggle armed terrorists into Israel.
The accord with Hamas requires Mahmoud Abbas to lift the sanctions he recently imposed on the Gaza Strip, such as refusing to pay Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza. It also requires Abbas to resume payment of salaries to thousands of Palestinians who served time in Israeli prison for terror-related offenses.
Above all, Hamas wants to use the agreement to be removed from the U.S. State Department List of Foreign Terror Organizations.
The Russians are closing their ears to what Hamas itself declares day after day: that its true goal is to eliminate Israel and that it has no intention of abandoning its murderous, genocidal agenda.
JCPA: Iran and Hamas Reconnect
Today, amid Hamas’ ongoing distress, the changes in its leadership both within and outside of Gaza, and the decline in its funding and political support, the movement is seeking to warm its ties with Tehran.
The relations between Iran and Hamas, which had already known ups and downs in the past, turned frosty when Hamas refused to support the efforts of Tehran and Hizbullah to ensure the survival of Bashar Assad’s regime.
The election of Yahya al-Sinwar – a key figure in Hamas’ military wing – to head Hamas’ political bureau in Gaza marked a turning point in the movement’s relations with Tehran.
Tehran hastened to welcome the appointment, assuming that it would bolster the hawkish elements in Hamas who want to keep fighting Israel militarily. Thus, Iran’s influence and involvement in Gaza will grow, both in preparing for and conducting a further round of escalation with Israel.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will travel to the Gaza Strip on October 2 as part of renewed reconciliation efforts with the Hamas terror group, which runs the enclave, the PA said Monday.
The visit follows concessions by Hamas after discussions with Egypt, which has urged it to take steps toward reconciliation with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which is based in the West Bank.
Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since Hamas violently took control of the Strip in 2007, with the two groups operating separate administrations.
“Prime minister Rami Hamdallah has decided after consulting with President Mahmoud Abbas that the government will hold its weekly meeting in Gaza next week,” government spokesman Yusuf Al Mahmoud said.
“Hamdallah and members of the government will arrive in Gaza next Monday to start taking over government responsibilities after Hamas announced its agreement to dissolve the administrative committee and enable the government to assume its full responsibilities,” he said in a statement published on the official Palestinian news agency WAFA
Hamas on Sunday criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for not canceling punitive measures against the group including budget cuts for essential services in Gaza.
“PA President Mahmoud Abbas needs to make positive and responsible decisions to end all the measures,” Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement on the Islamist group’s official website.
“There are no longer any justifications for stalling or procrastination.”
The statement came a week after Hamas announced the dissolution of its governing body in the Gaza Strip, also known as the administrative committee, and invited the West Bank-based PA to take its place.
Over the past five months, Abbas has ordered a series of cuts to budgets allocated to Gaza for electricity, medical services, salaries of government employees and other purposes to pressure Hamas to dissolve its administrative committee and permit the PA to operate in its place.
Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007 when it ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from the territory.
Former Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Sunday he is awaiting a lung transplant in the United States, after several years of battling pulmonary fibrosis.
Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and a prominent Palestinian official for decades, issued a video message on his health via social media.
He is being treated in Virginia in the Washington area.
“After reading a few baseless rumours, I have completed my medical tests,” the 62-year-old said.
“Now I am on the priority waiting list to get a lung transplant any day, depending on finding a matching donor.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinians To Build Nuclear Overreactor (satire)
Officials of the Palestinian Authority have launched an investment campaign to construct a nuclear overreactor, sources within President Mahmoud Abbas’s government announced today.
Minister of Energy Hai Wattadj and head of the President’s Research Council Awfwi Thizzehd told reporters today during a press conference at the Muqat’a, Presidential Palace, that an effort is now underway to secure international funding for the construction of a device that would allow Palestinian overreactions to take place at a much more advanced level, and in a more sustainable way than at present.
Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Abbas, the officials highlighted the importance of Palestinian independence in the realm of overreaction to perceived crimes or slights, and the crucial nature of bringing those overreactions into line with ecological and economic sensibilities.
“Current Palestinian overreaction – to Israeli policies, activities, and existence – has often been haphazard and wasteful,” stated Wattadj. “It is one thing to deprive millions of our brethren in Gaza of electricity by refusing to pay for it, as a measure to pressure Hamas there. That, at least, involves a lack of expenditure, and a possible loss of life, but not a waste of anything valuable. It is something else entirely to actively encourage and fund violence against Jews, which involves the use of real resources such as money, explosives and ammunition, in response to Jews being Jews and doing Jewy things we like to call ‘Talmudic rituals’ to make them sound sinister. We could be a lot more efficient about it, and a nuclear overreactor will allow us to mount a coherent, consistent, and much, much bigger overreaction than we can now when we feel our honor has been insulted.”
“I would like to thank President Abbas for approving this project,” added Thizzehd. “With the right international backing, we can make our customary bombast, Days of Rage, terrorism, and other out-of-proportion responses to so-called offenses by Israel a less wasteful, polluting process, while at the same time making it more powerful.”
In the recent weeks, there have been clear signs of further rapprochement between Egypt and the Syrian regime, headed by Bashar Al-Assad, although Egyptian officials repeatedly stress that Egypt is not taking sides in the Syrian crisis. Since Egyptian President ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi came to power in 2014, Egypt has adopted a policy supportive of the Syrian regime, as reflected in statements by Al-Sisi himself, in visits by senior Syrian defense officials to Egypt, and in articles in the government press. There have also been unconfirmed reports that Egypt is extending military aid to the Syrian army.
Today, Egypt is acting openly to tighten political, economic and cultural ties with the Syrian regime, as reflected in its sending a large delegation to the Damascus International Fair that took place on August 17-26, 2017. Egypt is also cooperating with Assad’s ally Russia in efforts to establish de-escalation zones in Syria, and in efforts to expand the Syrian opposition delegation to the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, so that it will include, in addition to figures close to Saudi Arabia, also oppositionists close to Cairo and Moscow. The latter espouse more “moderate” views on the solution to the Syrian crisis and on Assad’s future role, compared to the oppositionists supported by Saudi Arabia.
The rapprochement between the Egyptian and Syrian regimes has been welcomed by Egyptian politicians who have called for normalization of the relations between the two countries and for restoring Egypt’s membership in the Arab League. It was also supported in many articles in the Egyptian government press, which claimed that Egypt is ideal to serve as mediator in the Syrian crisis, since it is acceptable to all the regional and international parties involved. Some articles expressed direct and explicit support for the Syrian army and for Bashar Al-Assad himself.
This warming of the relations between the Egyptian and Syrian regimes has not taken place in a vacuum. In recent months a significant change has occurred in the West’s position on the Assad regime, manifested mainly in receptiveness to the possibility of his remaining in power and in a focus on fighting the Islamic State (ISIS). Egypt’s support lends an Arab seal of approval to the Syrian regime, which this regime crucially needs and which can pave the way to its return to the Arab fold, from which it was excluded in 2011.
Iraq’s foreign minister asked nuclear countries for help building a nuclear reactor Saturday, over 35 years after Israeli jets destroyed the country’s first attempt to build a nuclear program.
Ibrahim al-Jaafari made the request in his speech Saturday to the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting of presidents, prime ministers and monarchs. He called for assistance “to build a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes in Iraq, to acquire this nuclear technology.”
Former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s previous efforts to build a nuclear reactor were met with an Israeli airstrike on the Osirak nuclear facility in 1981 and years of suspicion about his nuclear intentions.
While the international community initially condemned Israel for the airstrike, US Vice President Dock Cheney later thanked Israel for the raid, according to David Ivry, who was the head of Israel’s air force at the time.
The US cited concerns that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction as the basis for invading Iraq in 2003, but none were ever found.
Al-Jaafari cited the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s provisions allowing countries to pursue peaceful nuclear energy projects. Iraq ratified the treaty in 1969.
Non-nuclear nations that signed it agreed to not pursue atomic weapons. In exchange, the five original nuclear powers — the US, Russia, Britain, France and China — promised to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing power.
Why does Iran need a heavy, one-stage, inaccurate missile, with a liquid fuel engine and a huge 1.5-meter warhead that can carry more than 1 ton to a range of 2,000 kilometers? The only logical answer is that the Khorramshahr missiles, which are being developed along with the Shahab missiles, are designed to carry a nuclear warhead. Provided that is the case, accuracy plays a marginal role.
The most advanced models of the Shahab-3 missile, on the other hand, can already reach a range of 1,950 kilometers, according to the Iranians, basically covering every spot in Israel. Their warhead, however, weighs half the Khorramshahr warhead, which explains why the Iranians are developing another family of missiles that would be able to carry nuclear warheads.
The Khorramshahr missile test, which was conducted in Iran in recent months and reported Saturday, is the rotten fruit of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers. To be more exact, it’s one of the prices Israel is paying for its failed conduct throughout the negotiations between the world powers and Iran, which led to its exclusion from talks and the loss of any ability it might’ve had to influence both the open agreement and its concealed and informal clauses.
In 2013, when Iran and the world powers signed the interim agreement, Israeli officials were already aware of the secret side agreement being devised between then-US President Barack Obama’s representatives and the Iranian representatives, and there were already reports the Iranians had received the Americans’ permission to keep developing missiles up to a range of 2,000 kilometers. At the same time, the Iranians were already busy developing missiles with longer ranges of 2,500 to 5,000 kilometers, which could reach Europe and the United States. In the secret talks, the Americans restricted them to 2,000 kilometers—the exact effective range to Iran’s main enemy, Israel. And, if one insists, to Saudi Arabia as well.
Indeed, we’d do well to listen to what the Iranians themselves say about the nuclear deal. The Iranian government routinely celebrates its achievement at the negotiating table. And though the arcane details of the agreement are rarely discussed by Western leaders, President Hassan Rouhani has not shied away from delving into minute technical matters. The issue he often focuses on is Iran’s right to develop advance centrifuge models. In December 2016, Rouhani insisted in a speech cited by Islamic Republic News Agency: “Before, only IR-1 centrifuges were active, now we are operating IR-8 centrifuges, the most modern and advanced ones Iran has obtained.” Rouhani appreciates the hard bargaining of his diplomats and the tactics of his bomb maker, Salehi.
How did the U.S. allow this? The cascade of American concessions began in Obama’s second term. Free from seeking another election, Obama and Kerry, his new secretary of state, went abroad looking for a legacy project. During its first term, the administration had insisted that Iran was entitled to only a small nuclear program relying on primitive centrifuges. This was a face-saving gesture whereby Iranians would proclaim that they had mastered enrichment, but the international community would be confident that their small-scale program offered little proliferation threat. In its second term, however, the administration conceded many of its own red lines as Iran was granted the right to eventually industrialize its program using the most advanced technologies. The Obamians may have justified such concessions to themselves by assuring one another that after the expiration of the sunset clauses, a different Iran would emerge, a moderate regime valuing international acceptability more than nuclear arms. In their conception, Iran would become another Japan. The Islamic Republic’s conduct since the advent of the JCPOA demonstrates the fallacy of such conceptions, as the regime continues to reject international norms, abuse its citizens and menace its neighbors. Not for the first-time they misunderstood the theocracy and how the hard men of Iran were imbued by an ideological animus toward the West that necessitated not just isolation but nuclear weapons.
Despite the howls of the Democratic Party Resistance, Trump is right that the Iran deal is “an embarrassment to the United States.” In fact, it’s the most deficient accord in the history of American arms control diplomacy. Many aspects of it require reconsideration, and none more essential than its research and development provisions. To realistically obstruct Iran’s path to nuclear arms, Washington must first deny it the technology most essential for production of such weapons. No renegotiation will be complete without first undoing Salehi’s ingenious achievement.
Iran is working to restore a lost link in its network of alliances in the Middle East, trying to bring Hamas fully back into the fold after the Palestinian militant group had a bitter fall-out with Iranian ally Syria over that country’s civil war.
Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah are quietly trying to mediate a reconciliation between Syria and Hamas. If they succeed, it would shore up a weak spot in the alliance at a time when Iran has strengthened ties with Syria and Iraq, building a bloc of support across the region to counter Israel and the United States’ Arab allies.
Hamas had long been based in Syria, receiving Damascus’ support in the militant group’s campaign against Israel. Hamas’ powerful leadership-in-exile remained in Syria even after the group took power in the Gaza Strip in 2007. Together with Iran and the Shiite guerrilla group Hezbollah, they touted themselves as the “Axis of Resistance” to oppose Israel.
But when Syria tipped into civil war, Hamas broke with President Bashar Assad and sided with the rebels fighting to oust him. The rebels are largely Sunni Muslims, like Hamas, and scenes of Sunni civilian deaths raised an outcry across the region against Assad, who belongs to the minority Alawite sect.
Iran, meanwhile, has been one of Assad’s strongest backers since the crisis in Syria began in 2011, pumping billions of dollars into the economy and sending advisers as well as Iranian-backed fighters to help him stay in power. Hezbollah sent thousands of fighters, helping tip the war in Assad’s favor against the rebels and now helping in the fight against the Islamic State group.
The reconciliation attempt comes after Hamas elected a new leadership and as its main backers, Qatar and Turkey — both strong supporters of the rebels in Syria — have sought to improve relations with Iran.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.