David Singer: Trump, Netanyahu and Gantz Can End in 2020 What Began in 1920
Designating the territory for reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in Palestine – begun with the San Remo Convention and Treaty of Sevres in April and August 1920 respectively – could finally be completed 100 years later in 2020.
Achieving this long-overdue outcome will require Israel to forma Government of National Unity by 11 December 2019 – headed initially by Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister for a minimum term of six months – enabling the new Parliament to ratify those areas of Judea and Samaria to which Israeli sovereignty will be extended as delineated by the Government.
This Unity Government should ideally hold at least 80 of the 120 seats in the Knesset so that there is an overwhelming majority of Israel’s elected politicians supporting any determinative decisions made by the Knesset in relation to Judea and Samaria.
Israel has been presented with this amazing opportunity following President Trump’s Secretary for State – Mike Pompeo – issuing this declaration on 19 November 2019:
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
Pompeo’s statement followed US Ambassador to Israel – David Friedman – stating on 8 June 2019:
“Under certain circumstances I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”
Friedman had then cautioned:
“We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves.These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”
Likud leadership candidate Gideon Sa’ar symbolically began his campaign on Tuesday by touring sites in the Jordan Valley that are seen as a symbol of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s broken promises
Netanyahu promised ahead of the September election to annex the Jordan Valley. Ahead of past elections, he has visited the E-1 site between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim and promised to build there. He vowed in an October 2018 cabinet building to remove the Bedouin outpost Khan al-Ahmar.
Sa’ar pointed out on the tour that Netanyahu has not kept any of those promises. He also reacted to hints from Netanyahu in a speech on Sunday that Sa’ar would not be as loyal to Judea and Samaria.
“I support the views that the prime minister expressed here during past election campaigns,” Sa’ar said mockingly at E-1. “It is possible to carry out these views better.”
Sa’ar said there was a window of opportunity to take action while Israel enjoys an administration in Washington that gives Israel a relatively free hand, because there is no guarantee that the next American administration will be better. He said the time had come to take steps to ensure contiguity from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley.
“The struggle for E-1 is a struggle for the heart of Israel,” Sa’ar said. “Netanyahu out of all people, who build the Har Homa neighborhood [in Jerusalem] despite international pressure, should be building here. The rule for Har Homa should be the rule for E-1 and the Givat Hamatos [hilltop in Jerusalem].”
Israeli politics remained stuck in a logjam on Monday, with Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman appearing to rebuff a call to join a right-wing coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White party number two Yair Lapid saying he would forgo a rotating arrangement with party chairman Benny Gantz.
Following a second round of elections in September after a vote in April failed to produce a clear winner, both Netanyahu and Gantz have failed to form a workable governing coalition. If one was not established by Wednesday, a third round of elections would be triggered automatically.
On Monday, a tentative date for those potential elections was announced — March 2.
Netanyahu called earlier Monday for Lieberman to renege on his pledge to only support a unity government and instead join a narrow right-wing coalition.
The Israeli news site Walla reported that Lieberman seemed to reject any such possibility, telling a group of officials from Netanyahu’s Likud party on Monday evening that “a narrow government will be sorrow for the State of Israel,” a play on the Hebrew word “tzara,” which means both “narrow” and “sorrow.”
“Israel faces a dual challenge — security and economic — and cannot function within the reduced framework of a narrow government, which would be a great sorrow for Israel,” Lieberman added.
The European Union seems deliberately to fail to recognize that Israel, a sovereign state, is regularly under threat — even extreme continuous rocket fire from Gaza and Syria — and, for that reason alone deserves its full support.
The statement [by the European Union]… fails to mention that Israel had killed a terrorist belonging to an extremist group about to launch another attack. The statement also fails to mention the number of rockets fired on the country, or the right of Israel to defend itself.
Four hundred and fifty rockets in under 48 hours is not a skirmish or a minor attack; it is a large-scale military attack. Any similar attack on France or Germany — if they received even a single missile — would have sparked a major crisis.
By comparison, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted: “Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Islamist terrorist org backed by Iran, is again attacking Israel with 100’s of missiles aimed at civilians. We stand w our friend & ally Israel at this critical moment & support Israel’s right to defend itself & bring an end to these barbaric attacks.”
The contrast speaks for itself. The United States is a friend of Israel. The European Union is not.
In other words, the EU, which is officially committed to fighting terrorism, supports the Palestinian Authority (PA), which supports terrorists and their families. Just try making sense of that.
The European Union, for its part, is proud to be “the biggest donor of external assistance to the Palestinians”. Since February 2008, more than €2.5 billion ($2.8 billion) have been disbursed. The EU provides core financial support to the Palestinian Authority, even though part of the PA budget is earmarked for terrorists and terrorists’ families, thereby actually incentivizing terrorism.
ECFR reports have called comparisons between the West Bank and Western Sahara or Northern Cyprus “what-aboutism” by “defenders of Israel’s settlement enterprise” who claim a double standard against Israel. It has also cited differences in their legal status in past reports, such as that the EU does not have an official policy as to whether or not it considers law of occupation applicable to Western Sahara, and that the EU has agreements with the PLO and not with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in Western Sahara.
Despite its dismissing this comparison as “what-aboutism,” the ECFR itself has done the same. A 2017 report said the way the think tank believes Israel should be treated under international law “may be applied to other ongoing situations of prolonged occupation that resemble annexation or otherwise permanently transform the occupied territory, including northern Cyprus [sic], Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Western Sahara, and, most recently, Crimea.” In another report, the ECFR called to “develop a consistent EU position on how to tackle situations of occupation,” saying “the under-examined consequences of Morocco’s activities in the Western Sahara on its relations with the EU and its member states is one example case in point.”
While recommending the EU be consistent, there continue to be discrepancies in the policy recommendations by the ECFR when it comes to those
territories, with special opprobrium reserved for eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights, and in their actions, since the ECFR apparently does not differentiate contributions funded by activities in occupied territories.
Eugene Kontorovich, a director of the Kohelet Policy Forum and a constitutional and international law professor at George Mason University, pointed out that the ECFR does not put warning labels on their brochures that some of their donors do business in occupied territory.
“That the ECFR is funded by occupation businesses fundamentally discredits – and explains – their obsessive push for ‘differentiation’ against Israel and only Israel,” he said.
“The ECFR is not wrong to accept this money,” Kontorovich added. “International law does not restrict companies from doing business in occupied territories. They are wrong to publish policy analysis recommended punitive measures against Israel that they clearly do not believe are legally required when it comes to themselves. Indeed, we now see they have a conflict of interest.”
The ECFR responded that it “does not take corporate or collective positions on differentiation policy or on any other issue…Recommendations represent only the views of their authors.”
In addition, the think tank said that it will “explore these issues with our existing donors to double check that they are following all applicable laws and guidelines.”
This is a huge story anyone who talks about international law and settlements must grapple with. https://t.co/Bqf2oENJ9g
— Eugene Kontorovich (@EVKontorovich) December 10, 2019
Possible next Israeli PM @gidonsaar threw down gauntlet to EU at @IsraelAllies Conference, calling EU labelling rules (just) for Israeli products a violation of international trade law. https://t.co/uWu5J1gAoG pic.twitter.com/Is55lUFRM8
— Eugene Kontorovich (@EVKontorovich) December 10, 2019
Tzipi Hotovely slams British Jewish group for advocating Palestinian state, which they know the Israeli government opposes.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely criticized the British Board of Deputies on Friday for including support for a Palestinian state in the manifesto they would like politicians to commit to in order to gain Jewish support in the U.K. elections this week.
“There was no prior consultation regarding this document [by the Board] with the government of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor with our ambassador, nor with any other political authority,” Hotovely told Israeli weekly Olam Katan, which picked up the story WIN broke on Monday.
Although emphasizing that Jewish Diaspora groups do not have to consult with the government before they speak, Hotovely did not mince words in criticizing the Board’s move.
“In every meeting between Jewish organizations around the world and politicians – the prime minister, foreign minister or myself – we emphasize that the idea of a Palestinian state is one that the State of Israel completely opposes.
“We have a rule regarding international election campaigns, and it that we do not take a stand on the domestic affairs of the Jewish community. But an organization that supports the establishment of a Palestinian state is clearly working against Israeli interests.
“It is important to say explicitly: A Palestinian state is a danger to the State of Israel,” Hotovely said. “Its establishment contradicts the official policy of the State of Israel in general and the Foreign ministry in particular. On the contrary, we are doing everything possible to advance the legal status of the settlements – the opposite of the idea of dividing the land.”
The most high-level US ambassador in Europe, Richard Grenell, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Germany’s government should join the United States and work to stop Iranian regime support for terrorism in response to a German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce event in Berlin.
“The economy is strained because the Iranian regime is funneling its resources to terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Syria. We will continue to explain to our partners that we should work together to end Iranian support for terrorism not find ways to give the regime more resources,” said Grenell.
According to the website of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce (AHK), a 10-member delegation led by the group’s president, Abbasali Ghassaei, traveled to Berlin on November 26 to promote trade with the federal republic.
And so begins the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, celebrated every year on Dec. 10, as the International Human Rights Day.
The Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, in the aftermath of World War II and in the wake of the Holocaust.
Yet, 71 years later, only one member of this human family of nations is systematically denied their inalienable rights and equality before the United Nations. That member, of course, happens to be also the sole Jewish state, Israel.
This institutionalized, disproportionate and systematic bias is evident no more so than at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The UNHRC was formed in 2006 specifically in order to create a new body to tackle human rights abuses in light of the failures of its discredited predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission.
The Commission was largely criticized for its one-sided obsession with Israel and the makeup of its members, which included some of the most abusive regimes like, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Cuba. Libya even chaired the Commission during 2003, when it was ruled by Muammar Gaddafi.
Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who passed away recently, said in 2005 that, this contributed to the Commission’s “declining credibility,” which had “cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.”
The Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, has announced that the municipality has given the green light to the project of building a permanent headquarters for the US embassy in Israel’s capital.
Lion and deputy mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum discussed the project’s details in a meeting with embassy personnel and US State Department representatives Addison Ted Davis and Thomas J. Quanzo on Monday.
At the moment, two different locations are being considered as sites for the future embassy. A final decision is expected to be made in the coming months.
“The American embassy today received the green light from the Jerusalem Municipality,” Lion said. “Within six months, we will move to the advanced stages of the project and with the help of God, in a few years we will be able to inaugurate the permanent American embassy in the capital of Israel.”
Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar on Monday concluded a rare visit to Bahrain, where he met the Arab kingdom’s king, as well as religious leaders from Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, the United States, Italy, India, and Thailand.
“Middle East nations want peace with Israel, the leadership should promote that without fear,” Amar, the former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, said during his stay, expressing hope that in the future, such visits would not require special preparation.
“The people of the Middle East want peace with Israel, and good relations,” he said.
Amar sent to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa “a blessing from Jerusalem that will lead to a solid relationship with the State of Israel.”
He was invited by the king to attend an interfaith event. Diplomatic officials and the Foreign Ministry were involved in organizing the visit, the schedule and security arrangements.
Though Israel has ties with only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, there has been an opening with Bahrain and other Gulf states in recent years amid their shared antipathy toward Iran.
Socialist ex-President Evo Morales accused the current interim government of Bolivia — in power because Morales chose to resign — on Sunday of “not respect[ing] liberty, dignity, and identity” for establishing friendly relations with and asking help from the “Zionist” government of Israel.
Morales cut ties with Israel in 2009 and has accused its government of “genocide,” siding with much of the world’s Muslim leadership and cementing alliances with dictators like Iran. He stepped down on November 10 after the Organization of American States (OAS) published a report revealing significant fraud in the October 20 presidential election, which Morales appeared to be competing in a dead heat for until the election commission redirected the tally to a mystery private server outside of the government’s purview. Morales then won the election by a landslide.
Morales was constitutionally banned from running for his fourth presidential term this year, but in 2017 he forced the nation’s supreme court to declare he had a “human right” to be on any ballot in the nation indefinitely.
Following his resignation, Morales fled to Mexico and claimed to have been the victim of a “coup,” despite the fact that the Bolivian military has not taken any undue power since he fled the country and the interim president, Jeanine Áñez, made clear she would not run in the special election she was appointed to organize.
Morales is currently in Cuba, from which he is managing the campaign of the leftist Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party candidate, yet to be chosen, in the special election. The interim government is allowing MAS to participate even though their candidate won the last election through confirmed irregular vote-counting activity.
My wife and I are parents of Malki, killed in a pizzeria bombing claimed by Jordanian #AhlamTamimi. She lives openly there, harbored by @KingAbdullahII. Being @HRW‘s new activist in Amman, can you help us get her extradited under the treaty to face US justice? pic.twitter.com/NoeMXTtr5a
— Arnold Roth (@arnoldroth) December 9, 2019
Waqf guard to @YehudahGlick:
“This place [the Temple Mount] is only for Moslems…you’re a dog the son of a dog, son of a thousand whores…get out of here”@arnonsegal1 @arik3000 @ErelSegal @YinonMagal @giladerdan1 pic.twitter.com/BnQvNMWMs4
— ymedad (@ymedad) December 10, 2019
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan issued an order banning the Palestinian Authority’s Governor of Jerusalem Adnan Gheith from operating in Jerusalem on Monday. The order was issued to Gheith after he was arrested by Jerusalem police on Monday evening.
This is the first time such an order has been issued against Gheith on a personal level. Former orders placed restrictions or bans on specific events. This marks a precedent that focuses on a specific person because of his position and actions in the name of the PA within Israeli territory and bans him from conducting activities for or funded by the PA.
Gheith is an Israeli citizen who was assigned as the Governor of Jerusalem by PA President Mahmoud Abbas in 2018. He has held multiple events and funded different projects. Some of these have been banned by Erdan, while others are being investigated.
The Palestinian Authority has submitted an official request to Israel to allow residents of east Jerusalem to participate in new Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections, when and if they take place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The request came as PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday night that several Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have positively responded to his initiative to hold long overdue elections. The last elections for the presidency took place in 2005. A year later, Palestinians voted for a new Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
Abbas announced his initiative during a speech he delivered at the United Nations General Assembly in late September. He initially talked about holding “general elections.” Later, however, Abbas and some PA officials said that the elections would be held separately for the PA presidency and the PLC. They have also reportedly agreed to hold elections for the PLO’s legislative body – the Palestine National Council (PNC).
Since his announcement, Abbas has been working to gain the backing of as many Palestinian factions as possible for the proposed elections.
The heads of the PA’s Central Elections Commission met in recent weeks with leaders of all the Palestinian factions in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of an effort to reach agreement on holding new elections for the three bodies – the PA, PLC and PNC. Egypt has also played a role in convincing the Palestinian factions not to boycott the vote.
“To Trump and every hate-ridden Zionist claiming a right to Palestine: Jerusalem is ours… We won’t agree to our Jerusalem being defiled”
Abbas’ Fatah Movement published this young girl’s message to US President Trump not to “defile” Jerusalem because it’s “ours.” The young girl has clearly absorbed the constant messaging by the Palestinian Authority, which rejects Jews/Israelis any rights to Jerusalem and denies that Jews had a history in Jerusalem. In the girl’s words, Jerusalem “was, is, and will remain our capital over the years, and we will not agree to our Jerusalem being defiled”:
Ru’a Tamimi: “My message to cursed Trump: O Trump, how do you belittle our people’s rights? Have you forgotten that we are ‘the people of giants’? Have you forgotten that we are the children of Yasser [Arafat] and [Ahmed] Yassin? But to Trump and every hate-ridden Zionist claiming he has a right to Palestine, I say: Jerusalem is ours – it was, is, and will remain our capital over the years, and we will not agree to our Jerusalem being defiled. Allah willing, it will return to us, even if it takes time.”
Host: “Well done, my darling! Ru’a, you are not an ordinary girl, you know? You are a miracle! It is an honor for me, and for Ajyal [radio], that you are with us today.” [Official Fatah Facebook page, Nov. 22, 2019]
The girl repeated the PA hate speech that Jews/Israelis (and now apparently also Americans) “defile” Jerusalem and its holy sites, which Palestinian Media Watch had documented numerous times.
She also implied to Trump that she and other young Palestinians are uncompromising and do not shy away from using violence as they “are the children” of former PA Chairman Arafat – who directed many years of PLO, Fatah and PA terror, and of Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the terror organization Hamas. The girl repeated another PA message that has often been stressed to children – that it is only a matter of time before Jerusalem – and the entire State of Israel – “return” to Palestinians.
In addition, the girl also recited a poem that includes yet another PA message – one which is clear child abuse – as it teaches that Palestinian children are destined to die as “Martyrs” for “Palestine” – a message that even the mother of the boy in the poem condones.
Abbas’ Fatah Movement published this young Palestinian girl’s message to @realDonaldTrump not to “defile” Jerusalem because it’s “ours.”
— Pal Media Watch (@palwatch) December 10, 2019
Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, is currently conducting a round of visits to Muslim countries after receiving special permission Egypt – which for a year and a half had banned him from leaving the Gaza Strip – to do so. On Tuesday, he was in Turkey, and he is expected to continue on to Qatar and other nations, including Malaysia.
Palestinian researcher Majid Abu Diq thinks that Egypt allowed Haniyeh to travel because of the flexibility Hamas showed in recent Egypt-brokered attempts to negotiate an intra-Palestinian reconciliation. (Egypt sees Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the stumbling block to reconciliation talks.) The researcher also argues that Hamas demonstrated a willingness to help Egypt fight terrorist cells and keep Gaza-based terrorists from crossing the Egyptian border, which helped convince Egypt to authorize Haniyeh’s tour.
According to reports, a Hamas delegation met with senior officials in Egypt’s security apparatus to discuss “understandings” with Israel and ways to implement them, thereby easing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. However, reports say that Haniyeh has yet to respond to the proposed understandings and is expected to do so only after he returns to Cairo after his present round of visits is over.
Abu Diq believes that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi wants to highlight his role as an international mediator, hoping to play down accusations of violations of human rights and oppression of a recent wave of popular protests in Egypt.
What’s more, Russia was in favor of Egypt allowing Haniyeh to travel, having invited a Hamas delegation to visit in order to discuss reconciliation between it and Abbas’ Fatah, and Egypt wanted to please the Kremlin.
The last reason why Egypt allowed Haniyeh to take his trip lay in the realization that Hamas would never be able to make any breakthroughs in the region in light of Arab nations’ increasing willingness toward normalizing relations with Israel, even if that happens behind the scenes. So Egypt thought that Hamas would opt not to visit Iran so as not to arouse the ire of the Arab countries. Hamas appeared to have realized the extent to which it depends on Egypt.
This cartoon is about Abbas’s rejection of the hospital. He tells a woman: “Go back and die in Gaza.” pic.twitter.com/BIZo2AaDEs
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) December 9, 2019
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of “openly executing” Palestinians in the streets, in the latest in a series of diatribes against the Jewish state.
Erdogan also claimed that Western countries, as well as some Arab states, are all but encouraging Israel, against whom he has frequently made angry accusations.
Erdogan said Israel is worsening the situation for Muslims across the region,
“Unfortunately, the situation in Palestine and in its inseparable part, Al-Quds, gets worse day by day,” Erdogan said, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem, according to an English translation of his remarks provided by the presidential website. “Israel’s attitude, which knows no rights, law, justice or humanity continuously deepens the crisis in the region to the detriment of Muslims.”
He made the comments at a social development conference organized by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and held in Istanbul
Seth J. Frantzman: Erdogan Bashes Israel, Calls on Muslims to Unite Against the West
In a speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Israel and called for Islamic unity among the “brothers and sisters” to confront the West and conspiracies against Islamic countries. Turkey’s ruler insinuated that Turkey was a victim of “terrorist attacks” because of its “principled stance” against “oppression in Jerusalem.”
Ankara claimed it is the “lone voice” standing up for Palestinians today. Turkey has warm relations with Hamas. The Hamas member Saleh Arouri arrived in Turkey on Sunday. He has been accused of involvement in kidnapping, murder and other forms of terrorism in 2014. Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas also came to Turkey with Arouri and Moussa Abu Marzouk and others as part of a large delegation. Ankara has asked NATO to condemn terrorism but hosts Hamas.
Erdogan claimed that Israel was making the “situation in Jerusalem and Palestine” worse every day. He said that Israel doesn’t recognize justice, law, rights or humanity and that this “deepens the crisis in the region against Muslims.” Turkey is seeking to champion Islamic countries aganst Israel, Ankara claimed. “We will never stop defending the rights of the Palestinians and standing in solidarity with all the oppressed.” Turkey is involved in an expanding military campaign and occupation of northern Syria that has caused more than 150,000 people to flee Afrin in 2018, and 200,000 to flee areas near Tel Abyad in recent months. Turkey doesn’t see those people as oppressed, according to the speech.
In a December 5, 2019 article titled “A Call For Muslims To Impose Political, Economic Sanctions On The UAE” in Turkey’s Yeni Şafak daily, which is a mouthpiece of Turkey’s ruling AKP, Turkish theologian and writer Hayrettin Karaman called for a political and economic boycott of and sanctions against the UAE. In December 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan presented Karaman with a prize for his work on the hadiths and the study of the life of Muhammad. Karaman has been described as the “palace’s fatwa-giver” and is seen as close to President Erdoğan.
In his article, Karaman described a proposal in favor of sanctions against the UAE apparently supported by hundreds of academics, saying: “What I will share in this article is a proposal for a political and economic boycott, sanctions. This proposal concerning the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is made by a scholar, who is a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and signed by hundreds of other academics… The scholars who have signed this petition are calling on all Muslims, as states and people, to boycott the UAE, and the merchants and businessmen there to leave the country and its ports. Any support towards the UAE, as long as it is involved in these murders, will be endorsing oppression and the murders.”
In recent weeks, Syrians have taken a harsher tone towards the U.S. military presence in the country, after the Trump administration, which had started to withdraw its troops from Syria, declared that some of them would remain in eastern Syria to secure the oil and gas fields there. The increasingly aggressive tone became noticeable especially after President Bashar Al-Assad stated in interviews that the continued presence of U.S. troops would encounter popular military resistance that would ultimately compel them to leave. Articles published in the state and pro-regime press stressed that the Syrians are capable of waging such popular resistance against the American occupier and inflicting fatalities that would cause them to withdraw from Syria.
This is not the first time calls for popular resistance against the U.S. forces have appeared in the Syrian press. In the past it was even reported that popular militias had been established for this purpose, although their activity has been negligible.
This report reviews some of the recent statements and articles on this issue.
Assad: The U.S. Presence In Syria Will Encounter Regime-Backed Popular Resistance That Will Inflict Losses On The Americans
In an October 31, 2019 interview on Syrian TV, Assad said, in response to a question about his position on the U.S. military presence in Syria: “After we finish [liberating] the rest of the regions, according to the order of priorities, and come to liberate an area where the Americans are present – I will not boast and say we will send in the army to confront the U.S., which is a superpower, after all. But do we have any [other] options? I think the issue is clear to us Syrians. Will we proceed in the direction of resistance? If there is resistance, the Americans’ fate will be as it was in Iraq. But the notion of resistance requires a popular [support base]… a patriotic one, that will carry out the resistance by itself. The natural role of the state in this situation is to prepare the ground and provide all necessary backing to the popular resistance against the occupier.”
In a November 15 interview with Russian news agencies, Assad spoke in a similar vein, saying: “The U.S presence in Syria will generate military resistance that will inflict losses on the Americans and thus cause them to leave… The U.S. cannot expect to sit quietly in every area it occupies. Let us remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria is no exception in this context.”
Javanrud is a predominantly Kurdish border city of Kermanshah Province, Iran with a population of more than 50,000 residents.
The population’s main source of income is cross-border trade with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. However, their work, known to locals as kolbari ,was declared prohibited by the Iranian Council of Ministers on December 17, 2017 which has hit local residents hard.
Kolbars are porters who transport goods across the Kurdistan Region-Iran border either on their back or with horses. Some also smuggle banned goods, including alcohol, into Iran.
It is a risky profession, crossing dangerous mountain passes riddled with mines left over from the Iran-Iraq war. They also risk coming under fire from Iranian security forces.
In the past two years, Javanrud kolbars and their families have tried hard to dissuade the government from prohibiting the trade, to no avail.
Javanrud mayor Arash Lihony promised to discuss the issue with his superiors, but his efforts cost him his post and he was subsequently removed from office by the government.
The people of Javanrud have barely managed to make a living in the past two years, yet the government has tightened the noose around their neck amid the continued economic crisis worsened by US sanctions.
Their miserable living conditions prompted locals to pour into the streets of their marginalized city on November 16 as part of the nationwide demonstrations to protest skyrocketed fuel prices in mid-November. (h/t Zvi)
Hardly a week goes by without mention of the notorious commander of Iran’s overseas elite Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Most recently, he has been linked with the brutal and deadly repression of protests in Iraq – demonstrations that have threatened the stability of the pro-Iranian government in Baghdad.
Born in 1957 in a southeastern Iranian village to a poor family, Soleimani initially worked in construction to help his father pay off a debt, according to a profile released by the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. He became involved in revolutionary activities against the regime of the Iranian Shah in 1976. Soleimani joined Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in 1979, just as the Corps set up a regional command in the city of Kerman, where he had been living.
Despite lacking any military experience, his charismatic personality opened doors, and Soleimani quickly received command roles. His first duties included repressing Kurdish separatists in western Iran. After the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, he was sent to the southern front against Iraq in 1981, and rose through the ranks, becoming a division commander by the end of the war in 1988.
He returned to Kerman as a division commander to repress a local rebellion launched by Sunni Baloch separatists – a mission he accomplished successfully, though with many casualties. In 1998, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed him to lead the Quds Force, replacing Ahmad Vahidi, who played a key role in the 1994 attack on the Jewish community AMIA center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and injured more than 300. Vahidi was also linked to the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 American soldiers and injured some 500 people, according to the Meir Amit Center’s report.
In subsequent years, the Quds Force – a part of the IRGC – developed dramatically, as its scope of operations across the Middle East grew exponentially. Soleimani’s standing grew together with the power of his covert unit.
On December 6, 2019, at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a student naval flight officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command who had been at the base for two years, carried out a shooting attack in a classroom, killing three and wounding eight more before being killed in a shootout with sheriffs’ deputies.
On December 7, 2019, MEMRI published a Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) report on the apparent Twitter account of Alshamrani. The report presents tweets from the account prior to its suspension. Today, December 9, MEMRI published a JTTM report on jihadi reactions to the attack, praising Alshamrani for his “act of heroism.”
The following are both JTTM reports, complimentary offerings from the MEMRI JTTM.
A Twitter account with the handle @M7MD_SHAMRANI appeared to belong to 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The last tweet on it was on December 6, 2019, just hours before the attack; this tweet included what appeared to be a letter in English addressed to the American people expressing animosity towards the U.S. for “funding crimes against Muslims… and humanity.” Although it states that the author does not hate the American people, it reflects discontent with U.S foreign policy and refers to “invasion of Muslim countries” and support of Israel. It is not clear who wrote the letter.
The account’s Twitter bio included a saying by the Prophet Muhammad: “The believers, in their love, mercy, and kindness to one another are like a body: if any part of it is ill, the whole body shares its sleeplessness and fever.” This statement is commonly used to encourage unity among Muslims.
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