Archive for April 9, 2019

Hashemite rule in Jordan on collision course with Trump and Israel

April 9, 2019

By —— Bio and ArchivesApril 7, 2019

King Abdullah seems increasingly hell bent on ending 99 years of Hashemite-dynasty rule in Jordan.

This possibility is emerging as Abdullah is:

  • Seemingly refusing to commit to negotiating with Israel on President Trump’s soon-to-be-released deal of the century to end the Jewish-Arab conflict and
  • Taking active steps to place the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty in jeopardy.


Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1950) has always been the key to resolving competing territorial claims by both Arabs and Jews in former Palestine.

Transjordan comprised 78% of the territory placed under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine after being wrested from 400 years of Ottoman Empire sovereignty during World War 1. Mandatory Palestine was designated in April 1920 by the Principal Allied Powers at the San Remo Conference and in August 1920 by article 95 of the Treaty of Sevres as the location for reconstitution of the ancient and biblical homeland of the Jewish people.

Transjordan’s first Hashemite ruler—Abdullah I—arrived there in November 1920

Abdullah was en route by train from Hijaz to Syria with armed forces to assist his brother Feisal in his struggle with France to retain power in Syria. Winston Churchill—at France’s request – offered Abdullah an Emirate in Transjordan—which Abdullah gratefully accepted on 11 April 1921.

Feisal was removed from Syria by the French and installed as ruler of Iraq under the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty dated 10 October 1922.  France became the Mandatory for the territory comprised in the Mandate for Syria and Lebanon.

These British-Franco machinations cost the Jewish people dearly—when the Mandate for Palestine – adopted unanimously by all 51 members of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 – denied the Jewish people the right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in any part of Transjordan (Eastern Palestine) and restricted that right to the remaining 22% (Western Palestine).

The Jews reluctantly accepted this decision. The Arabs didn’t.

In 1946 Transjordan was granted independence by Great Britain.

In 1948—immediately after the Mandate ended and Jews declared the State of Israel—Transjordan invaded Western Palestine conquering Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem (comprising 4% of Mandatory Palestine)—and unified these areas with Transjordan to form a new territorial entity—Jordan—encompassing 82% of Mandatory Palestine completely devoid of Jews.

The founding Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Charter in 1964 specifically excluded any PLO claim to sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

In the 1967 Six Day War Israel captured Judea and Samaria from Jordan. The PLO – claiming Jordan and Israel to be one indivisible territorial unit – removed its non-claim to sovereignty from the revised 1968 Charter.

In September 1970 the PLO unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Jordan’s Hashemite ruler King Hussein. Israel helped save Hussein.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994 (Peace Treaty)—which has withstood many events that could have seen its termination.

That Treaty is again under threat—as Jordan has:

  • indicated it is not prepared to renew an expired 25 year lease of Jordanian sovereign territory farmed by Israelis and
  • given the PLO 40% representation on the body charged with administering the Moslem Holy Sites in Jerusalem—breaching the Washington Declaration and the Peace Treaty.

Jordan’s resistance to negotiating with Israel on Trump’s plan could see Trump shelving it and abruptly ending the 2018 five year $1.275 billion America‚ÄìJordan Memorandum of Understanding underpinning Jordan’s security and stability.

The PLO—as in 1970—is waiting in the wings as current ongoing unrest in Jordan is destabilizing continuing Hashemite rule there.

Abdullah might find that spurning Trump and Israel could see him facing the PLO on his own.


Pompeo elaborates on decision to list IRGC as terrorist organization 

April 9, 2019

Source: Pompeo elaborates on decision to list IRGC as terrorist organization – World News – Jerusalem Post

In a Monday night interview, Pompeo was questioned about the timing of the announcement being just one day before the Israeli elections.

 APRIL 9, 2019 05:12
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo listens during the news conference in Reykjavik

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the US’s decision on Monday to designate The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC], a branch of  Iran’s military, as a terrorist organization.

In an interview on Fox News, conducted shortly after he held a White House press conference, Pompeo said, “We are just calling it the reality of what it is.

“We are always doing everything we can to protect American soldiers everywhere,” he continued. “But the fact is the IRGC has already killed over 600 American soldiers. So you can’t have peace. You can’t have stability; you can’t have security in the Middle East without weakening the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

He said the situation on the ground was complicated long before Monday’s announcement.

“What we are trying to do is reduce that complexity,” he said. “Take down this malign activity. These kleptocrats in Iran that are engaged in, to change their behavior is such a fundamental way that we can be safe all across the world. And certainly in Iraq and in the Middle East.”

Pompeo was also questioned about the timing of the announcement, just one day before the Israeli elections. Time and time again, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Iran Israel’s biggest existential threat. Netanyahu will be fighting to hold his premiership after 13 years in office.

“It happened today, because today was the day we were ready to make the announcement,” Pompeo said, denying that there could be a connection. “It took a lot of work to make sure we had all the facts right, we had everyone in the United States government in the right place so we could announce.”

When Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Pompeo if Qasem Soleimani was as bad as the head of ISIS Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Pompeo simply said, “Ya, he’s a terrorist.”

“Qasem Soleimani has the blood of Americans on his hands,” Pompeo continued We want to “reduce the risk that any American will be killed by Qasem Soleimani and his merry band of brothers, ever again.”


Israelis head out into the sunshine in celebration of democracy 

April 9, 2019

Source: Israelis head out into the sunshine in celebration of democracy – comment – Israel Elections – Jerusalem Post

Election Day is also a reminder of the maturing nation that Israel has become and of the responsibility that weighs heavy on each of us to shape the kind of country we want to live in.

 APRIL 9, 2019 15:45
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Tel Aviv, April 9, 2019

After the seamy campaign we just witnessed, it would be understandable to expect most of the eligible voters in Israel to stay in bed, hide under the covers and wait for Election Day to pass.
And nobody would throw blame for that. To say that the 40-odd parties running for the Knesset ran underwhelming campaigns – which avoided the issues as much as possible in favor of personal attacks, alarmist rhetoric and a distortion of reality – would be an understatement.
It is no wonder that so many voters appeared to be undecided heading into Election Day. Aside from some enthusiasm emanating from the “Anybody But Bibi” flank (and the stoners-for-Feiglin sect), this campaign has been not only devoid of issues, but of passion. Does it really matter if Netanyahu stays in power until his indictment, or if Gantz – who failed to distinguish Blue and White’s policies as being much different from the Likud – takes over?
For those thinking that their vote wouldn’t matter because things are going to stay the same anyway, staying in bed was surely a viable option. But as it turned out, the day was just too damn nice. The sun shining with unseasonable warm temperatures, blooming spring flowers radiating messages of renewal, hope and another chance… it would take an ogre to resist getting up and getting out.
Election Day in Israel is that rare commodity of being a national shabbaton (day off) that isn’t a Jewish holiday with the usual travel/shopping constraints for the observant public. With schools and workplaces closed, the country was on vacation. The atmosphere is light and relaxed – two adjectives that are rarely used to describe life in Israel.
Beaches and national parks (not to mention malls) are filled to capacity. Those many options out there – generally not available on a weekday – only make it that much harder to make time for the ballot box.
But despite the dismal campaign and the enticing distractions of a picnic or a bike ride, Israelis are indeed exercising their democratic right to vote. By midday at least, voter turnout was more or less on par with previous elections. Because while we love to bitch and moan, when it comes down to it Israelis take their right to vote seriously. Maybe because, whether Jewish or Muslim, it’s not something we can take for granted.
For Jewish Israelis, going to the polls is a celebration of the privilege of being able to vote in the Jewish homeland. For Muslim citizens, voting for parties that will represent their interests in the Knesset is a phenomenon that is not widespread in the region. Together, for whatever disparate reasons, Israelis are coming together in an act that lets their voices be heard.
The adage that “if you don’t vote, then don’t complain” doesn’t really hold water in Israel. Everyone will continue to complain anyway, whether they voted for Likud, Meretz or the beach.
It’s part of our DNA, which makes Election Day even more remarkable. We can’t form a line at the supermarket, but here you have an unruly people courteously queuing up, having their identity cards checked and verified, and going behind a screen to vote from a choice of parties larger than the list of Ben & Jerry’s flavors.
It’s an ordinary scene – but it’s also extraordinary, given who we are and what we’ve gone through to get here – Israelis of Russian, Ethiopian, Yemenite and so many other descents huddled under the blue and white flag of the country that made and keeps the promise of insuring their safety and freedom.
Sure, it’s easy to stick your head in the sand – or under the covers – and plead apathy or exhaustion. There’s plenty enough here to fill one with despair. But Election Day is also a reminder of the maturing nation that Israel has become, and of the responsibility that weighs heavy on each of us to shape the kind of country we want to live in.
And what if, after making the effort and getting to the polls, the results don’t turn out exactly as you had hoped? Not to worry: Chances are we’ll be back in the voting booth in less than four years.


After Guard blacklisted, Iran president says US is ‘leader of world terrorism’ 

April 9, 2019

Source: After Guard blacklisted, Iran president says US is ‘leader of world terrorism’ | The Times of Israel

‘You have done everything imaginable,’ Rouhani says, accusing US of secretly protecting Islamic State leaders, intentionally downing Iranian passenger jet in 1988

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a ceremony commemorating “National Day of Nuclear Technology” in Tehran, Iran on, April 9, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the United States was the real “leader of world terrorism” after Washington blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

“Who are you to label revolutionary institutions as terrorists?” Rouhani asked in a speech broadcast live by state television.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark Iran’s national nuclear technology day in Tehran, Rouhani defended the Revolutionary Guards as a force that has fought terrorism ever since its creation in 1979.

In contrast, the Islamic Republic’s president accused US forces of having always been directly or indirectly involved with terrorist groups or acts of terrorism.

“You want to use terrorist groups as tools against the nations of the region… you are the leader of world terrorism.

Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, in the capital Tehran on September 22, 2018. (AFP/STR)

“Who is propagating and encouraging terrorism in today’s world? Who wanted to use ISIS (the Islamic State group) as a tool?” Rouhani asked, saying that the US is harboring the leaders of the jihadist organization.

“Even now America is hiding the heads of ISIS, even now they are not prepared to tell the regional governments where the heads of ISIS are hiding.”

Iran swiftly retaliated against the US move on Monday by calling US troops “terrorists.”

It is the first time that Washington has branded part of a foreign government a terrorist group, meaning that anyone who deals with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps could face prison in the United States.

To support his accusations, Rouhani cited the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 in July 1988 by missiles fired from the US naval ship the USS Vincennes.

“You have done everything imaginable. Which force was it that shot down our civil airliner in the waters of the Persian Gulf?” he said, adding that it was aimed at intimidating Iran.

In this photo released February 7, 2019, by the IRGC’s Sepahnews, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard’s aerospace division, left, explains the Dezful surface-to-surface ballistic missile to the Guard’s chief, Mohammad Ali Jafari during an inauguration ceremony, in an undisclosed location, Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)

“You wanted to tell the Iranian nation that we do not have any red lines, you wanted to say that we also kill children, you wanted to say that we also kill women,” Rouhani said, concluding that the US was transmitting “a message of terrorism in the whole world.”

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was formed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution with a mission to defend the clerical regime, and the force has amassed strong power both at home and abroad. The Guards’ prized unit is the Quds Force, which supports Iran-backed forces around the region, including Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

In Tehran on Tuesday, many Iranian lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted “Death to America” as they convened the open parliament session.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani denounced the US decision as the “climax of stupidity and ignorance.” The Supreme National Security Council’s spokesman, Keivan Khosravi, said that going forward, “any unusual move by American forces in the region will be perceived as the behavior by a terrorist group.” He did not elaborate.

Iranian newspapers on Tuesday carried reports of the US move along with bellicose commentary on their front pages.

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, March 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The Guard-affiliated Javan daily said any attack on Revolutionary Guard bases and facilities will be “recognized as a right” for Iran to respond. The hardline Kayhan newspaper said it gave Iranians “permission” to kill American military personnel.

State-owned IRAN daily went a step further, saying the US move was a “designation of the entire Iranian nation” as terrorist.

The pro-reform Shargh daily described it as “the last card” of President Donald Trump against Iran. Trump last year pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and re-imposed sanctions on the country, mainly targeting Iran’s vital oil sector.


Israelis take election holiday before waking up to changed Mid-East realities – DEBKAfile

April 9, 2019

Source: Israelis take election holiday before waking up to changed Mid-East realities – DEBKAfile

For a month, Israelis and their media were too steeped in ferocious electioneering, among bidders to lead the next government in the April 9 vote, to notice the critical realities unfolding in the region.

They were mesmerized by PM Binyamin Netanyahu fighting for his life and a record-breaking fifth term against former general Benny Gantz and his attractive offer of change. No Middle East issue figured in any of their campaigns. But by Wednesday morning, the winner who emerges from the furious race will come face to face with four pivotal changes overtaking Israel’s immediate neighborhood while every Israeli politician was preoccupied with his personal survival and knocking down his/her rivals.

  1. US President Donald Trump is still full of surprises. Four months after announcing the pullback of US troops from Syria, and two weeks after recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, he decided that US troops will stay in Syria after all. The second and third decisions seriously advance Israel to strategic center-stage in the region after a long period of stagnation.
  2. Tehran and its supreme Mid East commander Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani can’t be expected to stand by meekly after the Trump administration designated the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. After all, the Al Qods Brigades are the external arm of the IRGC. Anyone paying attention would have noticed changes in the IDF’s coastal and northern deployments and the US forces stationed in Israel.
  3. With the winding down of the Syrian conflict, aside from rebel pockets in Idlib and the north, the military contest between the US and Iran in Syria and western Iraq is just beginning. Russian President Vladimir Putin is still pondering where he stands in this contest, as Binyamin Netanyahu discovered when he traveled on Moscow on April 4 and attended a defense ministry ceremony in honor of the lost IDF soldier Zachary Baumel. Before long, he will have to make another trip to Moscow to discuss fresh arrangements in light of the new situation, even though the next Israeli prime minister may not assume the rein before weeks or months are consumed by bargaining with coalition partners.
  4. Although Libya’s capital Tripoli is more than 2,000km from Jerusalem, the new surge of warfare there certainly touches on Israel. The Arab rulers most friendly to the Jewish state, Saudi King Salman, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and the UAE leader Sheikh Muhammed bin Ziyad have joined President Putin in backing Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s National Libyan Army which is fighting to capture Tripoli from the UN-approved government. If Haftar with Russian-Arab backing seizes Libya’s Mediterranean coast, this will affect the disposition of the Gaza Strip’s shore. The Palestinian Hamas is alive to this interrealation. On April 9, its leaders condemned the US designation of Iran’s Guards as a terrorist organization, to demonstrate their solidarity with Tehran.


Turkey’s Erdogan to Discuss Possible Operation in Syria With Putin: RIA

April 9, 2019
April 8, 2019 3:59 pm

by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is greeted by his supporters as he leaves a mosque after the Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkey April 5, 2019. Photo: Cem Oksuz/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he planned to discuss a possible Turkish military operation in Syria when he visits Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

Erdogan has vowed to crush US-backed Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates in Syria and said last year that preparations were complete for an operation.

Turkey, Washington’s main Muslim ally within NATO, considers Syria’s YPG Kurdish militia an enemy and has already intervened to sweep the fighters from territory west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years.

“Our preparations on the border are finished, everything is ready for an operation. We can begin it at any moment. I will discuss this issue among others face-to-face (with Putin) on my visit to Russia,” Erdogan was cited as saying.


Qatar: ‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’

April 9, 2019

Bankrolling Islamism in Europe