Archive for February 5, 2020

Khamenei calls for Palestinian jihad on Israel after Trump peace plan 

February 5, 2020

Source: Khamenei calls for Palestinian jihad on Israel after Trump peace plan – The Jerusalem Post

The Iranian leader called on all other Muslims to support the Palestinian war on Israel.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gestures as he delivers a Friday prayer sermon in Tehran on January 17 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gestures as he delivers a Friday prayer sermon in Tehran on January 17
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians start a war against Israel, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in response to the Trump administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians in a tweet on Wednesday.

The “remedy” for the plan is “bold resistance by the Palestinian nation and groups in order to force out the Zionist enemy and the US through jihad,” Khamenei tweeted.

The Iranian leader called on all other Muslims to support the Palestinian war on Israel.

Khamenei called Arab states willing to consider the plan in a positive light – such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others – traitorous and incompetent.

The ayatollah of Iran slammed the US plan, writing: “The so-called plan of the ‘Deal of the Century’ is #foolish, because it will definitely NOT have any result.”

Khamenei added that it was foolish for the US to “sit, spend money, invite, create and uproar and unveil a plan that is doomed to failure.”

The US will “try to further their plot with bribes, weapons and enticements,” he stated.The Iranian leader also said “Palestine belongs to the Palestinians” and questioned how US could try to make decisions on the matter.

He also saw a positive side in the matter, that the US plan called attention to “Palestine and the rights of its oppressed people.”

 

Israeli, UAE officials reportedly met in secret in US to discuss countering Iran

February 5, 2020

Source: Israeli, UAE officials reportedly met in secret in US to discuss countering Iran | The Times of Israel

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Emirati envoy to DC said to have held talks at White House in December on Tehran, non-aggression pact between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem

Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba at an event with then-US House Speaker Paul Ryan, at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba at an event with then-US House Speaker Paul Ryan, at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

The White House in December hosted a secret meeting last December with officials from Israel, the US and the United Arab Emirates to discuss countering Iranian influence in the Middle East.

The officials discussed better coordinating their positions against Iran, and the possibility of advancing a non-aggression pact between Israel and the UAE, which could mark a possible step toward normalizing relations between the countries.

Attending the December 17 meeting were Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and the Emirati ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba, who is considered close to the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahayan.

The US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, and Deputy National Security Adviser Victoria Coates also attended.

Israel’s Channel 13 and the US news site Axios first reported the meeting on Tuesday, citing senior Israeli and American officials as sources.

Meir Ben-Shabbat, the head of the National Security Council, speaks at a trilateral meeting in Jerusalem of the Israeli, US and Russian national security advisers on June 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The reports said that the meeting spurred a tweet several days later by the Emirati foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan apparently in support of warming Israel-UAE ties.

Al Nahyan, the UAE’s top diplomat, tweeted a link to an article titled “Islam’s reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded, writing “I welcome the closer relations between Israel and many Arab states. The time has come for normalization and peace.”

Jerusalem is said to have developed clandestine ties with numerous Arab countries in recent years over the countries’ shared antipathy toward Iran and the need to counter jihadism.

Israeli officials have also openly visited several such countries recently. In October 2018, Netanyahu was welcomed to Oman by the country’s then-ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said. That same month Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev traveled to Abu Dhabi for the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament, where Israel’s national anthem was played for the first time in the Arabian peninsula following Israeli judoka Sagi Muki’s first place win.

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Israel has also been invited to participate at the Expo 2020 in the UAE city of Dubai.

In June, Bahrain’s foreign minister told the Times of Israel his country wished for peace with the Jewish state.

In October, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he was advancing non-aggression treaties with several Arab nations in the Gulf, a “historic” démarche he said that could end the conflict between Jerusalem and those states.

Arab leaders, however, have also indicated that true normalization can not take place so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved.

The UAE ambassador to Washington, along with envoys from Bahrain and Oman, attended the January 28 unveiling of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal in a tacit sign of support for the US initiative.

The UAE issued the most complimentary statement on the plan of any Arab state, calling it “a serious initiative” and stating that it “offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”

The UAE also signed on to an Arab League rejection of the plan, however.

Arab countries in the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, view Iran as a major regional foe and strongly oppose its support for armed groups throughout the Middle East.

 

Pro-Hizballah prime minister’s appointment in Iraq brings top US general to Baghdad – DEBKAfile

February 5, 2020

Source: Pro-Hizballah prime minister’s appointment in Iraq brings top US general to Baghdad – DEBKAfile

US Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, US Mid-East commander, paid a quiet visit to Baghdad on Tuesday, Feb. 4, after Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi was named by the Iraqi president to form a new Iraqi government. This was the first visit to Baghdad by a high-ranking American commander since the killing of Iran’s Al Qods chief Qassem Soleimani in a US air strike last month.

Allawi is known to be close to the Lebanese Hizballah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah, whom Tehran has entrusted with consolidating its influence in Baghdad in the wake of the assassination. There is therefore a high risk that the incoming Iraqi prime minister will push harder than his short-lived predecessors to evict US forces from the country. The Iraqi parliament had previously made this demand, but it was not binding on the government. Allawi, egged on by Nasrallah, is expected to rephrase the resolution in a way that forces government action, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report.

Gen. McKenzie’s mission in meetings with top Iraqi generals was to caution them against the prime minister going through with this step. He then traveled to the big US air base of Ain Al-Asad near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The consequences of Gen. McKenzie’s meetings in Baghdad are tensely awaited before determining whether Washington will respond to a fresh Iraqi demand to withdraw US forces (more than 5,000 military personnel) or continue to ignore it.

Iraq has been in uproar for the past four months over violent Shiite anti-government demonstrations – mostly in the Shiite south and Baghdad. An estimated 556 have been killed and thousands injured in brutal crackdowns by pro-Iranian militia thugs. The demonstrators are also protesting excessive Iranian influence in Baghdad. Incoming PM Allawi said publicly that the protesters were right and promised to meet their demands. However, the Hizballah chief is now running the show in Baghdad. He is armed by Tehran with the authority both to intensify the crackdown on the demonstrators and continue to deploy the powerful armed pro-Iraqi militias against  American military and other interests in Iraq, as well as US allies, such as Israel, by their Syria-based contingents.