Archive for the ‘Arab nations’ category

UN Watch Fires Back at Countries Accusing Israel of Abuses, ‘Where are your Jews?

March 24, 2017

UN Watch Fires Back at Countries Accusing Israel of Abuses, ‘Where are your Jews? Washington Free Beacon, March 24, 2017

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer shot back at countries accusing Israel of apartheid and violence against Palestinians, asking them where the Jewish populations in their countries have gone.

During a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, several Middle Eastern countries took turns bashing Israel, saying that it has imposed apartheid and violence against Palestinians. A Palestinian representative was joined by Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in criticizing Israel.

Neuer was then recognized to respond to the accusations from the representatives, as well as those from a UN report.

“Everything we just heard, from the world’s worst abusers of human rights, of women’s rights, of freedom of religion, of the press, of assembly, of speech, is absolutely false and indeed Orwellian,” Neuer said.

As Neuer went to defend Israel, the Palestinian representative attempted to make a point of order as he tried to silence Neuer’s rebuttal. Egypt and Pakistan joined the protest by the Palestinians. Neuer was allowed to continue.

“Israel’s 1.5 million Arabs, whatever challenges they face, enjoy full rights to vote and to be elected in the Knesset, they work as doctors and lawyers, they serve on the Supreme Court,” Neuer said.

Neuer then went directly after Israel’s accusers.

“How many Jews live in your countries? How many Jews lived in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco?” Neuer pointed out. “Once upon a time, the Middle East was full of Jews.”

Neuer went through a list of those countries asking, “Where are your Jews?” after stating how many Jews used to live there.

“Where is the apartheid, Mr. President?” Neuer asked.

“Why are we meeting today on an agenda item singling out only one state, the Jewish state, for targeting? Where is the apartheid, Mr. President?” Neuer said.

For a substantial amount of time following Neuer’s remarks, the council was silent.

Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies

March 20, 2017

Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies, MEMRIA. Savyon and Yigal Carmon* March 20, 2017

Introduction

Since the establishment of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which is known to be against Iran’s revolutionary regime, Iran has faced a new reality. On the one hand, the U.S. is acting to organize the Gulf countries and Arab countries into an arrangement that Arab media have dubbed an “Arab NATO” which is aimed against Iran. On the other hand, Iran senses that despite the Iran-Russia cooperation in recent years and in various areas, Russia is abandoning it for its other vital interests, such as an understanding with the U.S. in order to advance the lifting of the sanctions against it, and an understanding with Turkey as its top regional partner.[1]

These developments have given rise in Tehran to a sense that it is besieged and under an emerging existential threat, in light of the crystallization of a comprehensive U.S.-Russia-Arab (including Israel) front against the Iranian revolutionary regime.

This report will review the overall Iranian reaction to this new situation:

The Iranian Response To The New Developments

Iran’s response to these new developments is characterized by fear of U.S. activity against its regime, as can be seen in several areas:

1. Considerable military restraint and a halt to long-range missile tests, in response to the warning by President Trump: Following Iran’s failed January 29, 2017 launch of its long-range Khorramshahr missile, the Trump administration announced that Iran was being “put on notice.” At that time, Iran had been making preparations to launch yet another long-range missile, and had made the practical arrangements for doing so; the launch was cancelled following the U.S. warning. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh complained, on March 9, that Iran had been so firmly deterred that it is even refraining from using a missile to launch a satellite into orbit: “We have a missile for non-military purposes for launching satellites. But it is being put into storage because of America’s angry tone?! … How much longer will we be blackmailed and forced to compromise? If we do not change our strategy, and continue to operate according to orders from officials who are stuck in the mud, our situation will deteriorate daily.”[2]

The satellite images below, taken by ImageSat International (ISI),[3] show the launch site in Semnan. The first image, taken January 17, shows the launch site and launch pedestal as inactive; it also shows, on the ground, the emblem of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) and the emblem of the Simorgh (“Phoenix”) orbital carrier rocket that is used to launch satellites. The second image, taken February 3, shows the launch pedestal ready for launch and many vehicles at the launch site.

Left to right: Image 1: Launch site in Semnan showing inactive launch pedestal, with emblems, taken January 17, 2017; Image 2: Launch site showing pedestal ready for launch and vehicles surrounding the site, taken February 3, 2017.

Images 3 and 4 below, also taken February 3, show the integration facility during a visit by a VIP in advance of the launch. The VIP’s vehicle, and many others, including jeeps from the VIP’s motorcade, can be seen.

Left to right: Images 3 and 4, showing integration facility during the VIP’s visit; taken February 3, 2017.

Image 5, taken two days later, on February 5, shows that the launch site is again inactive.

Image 5 – launch site again inactive, taken February 3, 2017.

The day after the cancellation of the missile launch, on February 4, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said: “America is looking for excuses surrounding our missile tests, because the enemy has set its sights on [harming] our security. The enemy deals with issues such as [our] nuclear capabilities and science, the might of [our] missiles, and so on. These are all merely excuses [to justify] their hostility towards the Islamic regime and the Iranian nation.”[4]

Also indicating Iran’s military self-restraint were February 9, 2017 statements by Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan. On the eve of Iran’s Revolution Day, he spoke about “the new claim by American elements and media outlets regarding an additional missile test by Iran. These false claims,” he added, “are a type of creating an enemy and Iranophobia. This is planned by the Zionist regime, which incites while spreading lies.

“First, this is a false claim, and nothing like [such a missile launch] happened; second, even if such a test was conducted, it had nothing to do with them at all; and third, Iran’s missile program is a standard program, and missile tests are part of these plans, which are made in advance; these tests are conducted in order to maintain our country’s defensive readiness.”[5]

  1. A halt to provocations against U.S. Navy vessels, and even an official IRGC statement that responsibility for handling the crews of foreign vessel apprehended penetrating Iranian territorial waters was being transferred from the IRGC to the civilian Ports & Maritime Organization (PMO): This is due to fear of a harsh response by the Trump administration to humiliation of American captives – as happened in January 2016, even though there had been no real response to this from the Obama administration.[6]
  2. A halt to public threats to burn and sink U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf,[7] and a near-total moratorium on hostile anti-U.S. statements: The slogan “death to America” has disappeared almost entirely from the official discourse of regime spokesmen, including Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself,[8] as have public burnings of the American flag.[9]

In a March 16, 2017 article, the ideological camp mouthpiece Kayhan attacked the government of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, stating that the government is claiming that “when Trump was elected, [Rohani government officials] said that Trump was unpredictable and makes unconsidered decisions – and that is why it is better for us to refrain from saying anything to offend him…”[10]

  1. Boosting morale and persuading Iranians of the might of their country and of the need for faith in God and in the armed forces’ ability to face down the U.S.: One example of this was a television interview with Defense Minister Dehghan on February 7, 2017, on the eve of Revolution Day. In it, Dehghan said that today, that is, after Trump took office, Iran is on the defensive against the American threat: “We consider defense to be necessary for our country, for other Muslim countries, and for Muslims [in general]… It is certain that the enemies are lying in wait for our regime. It is our duty to equip ourselves to the point that no one dares threaten us, blackmail us, or attack our country. All defensive elements, together with the nation as a whole, stand against the enemy to prevent an attack by it, and if the enemy attacks, we will punish it…

“The countries around us are no threat to us. The threat to us is an extra-regional threat known as the regime of arrogance [i.e. the U.S.], which is why we must acquire anything that gives us the upper hand – that is, asymmetric warfare. We must operate so that on the designated day [when war breaks out], not only will we not be caught off guard strategically, but we will surprise the enemy and inflict the maximum damage on it…”[11]

One example of efforts to boost national morale was a speech by IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami, who had often issued threats to the U.S. and had said that Iran would destroy its forces in the Gulf. On February 2, 2017, Salami highlighted Iran’s defensive capabilities in light of the uniting of ranks by its enemies: “Today, the enemies have joined forces against our great revolution, but their plans have been defeated. The entire world wants to wipe us off the geographical map… but the martyrs have shown that any superpower can be confronted with reliance on faith, with Islam, and with obedience to the leader. By relying on jihad and martyrdom, we can confront any power and defend the honor of Muslims.

“Our glorious history is full of victories over the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.]… The Islamic regime of Iran has succeeded in gaining major influence in the Islamic world… Our nation is so mighty… We are involved in a great jihad, and as long as the Muslims [meaning the Shi’ites] dream of martyrdom and rely on the directives of the Koran, which light our way, we will never be defeated, but we will defeat the enemy…

“Iran’s mighty missile force is included in the list of unprecedented global deterrents. If the enemy fears our nuclear might, it can flee to the bomb shelters.

“The Iranian nation has learned to create might by reliance on internal faith… Every day, the number of defensive missiles, warships, and launchers increases. The air, land, and sea are under the control of this nation… here, in the land of heroes and martyrs.”[12]

Also in his February 4 speech, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh highlighted Iran’s ability to withstand an American attack: “The threats to Iran made by certain American elements are merely boasts. Due to my knowledge of the capabilities of our armed forces, I confidently say that a foreign threat will not influence our Islamic regime. We rely on the infinite might of God, while America relies on earthly equipment and might. We will emerge victorious from the arena in any possible scenario. We will not hesitate for a single moment in creating and strengthening our defensive capabilities… 24 hours a day, we work to defend the security of the nation, and if the enemy makes the smallest error, our missiles will land on its head like a thunderclap.”[13]

  1. Strengthening the resistance front and delegating the fight against Iran’s enemies – the West, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states – to Iran’s proxies: These proxies include the Shi’ite militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen, as well as Syria, Hizbullah, and the Palestinian organizations, which are operated by Iran, to revive the battlefront against Israel (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6811, Iran Prepares Militarily And Politically Vis-à-vis Trump Administration: Strategic Alliance With Russia, Dragging Israel Into War With Hizbullah, Palestinians, March 3, 2017).

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have recently been firing missiles at Saudi Arabia: On March 17, the Houthis fired a medium-range ballistic missile at an Aramco facility in Jazan, Saudi Arabia.[14] Also on March 17, the Houthis fired three missiles at a mosque in an army base in Ma’rib Governorate during Friday prayers. The attack killed and wounded dozens of officers and soldiers.[15] Additionally, a locally made Yemeni Borkan-2 missile was fired at the King Salman airbase in Riyadh.[16]

Further, the Syrian regime has been escalating its responses to Israeli attacks on convoys transferring strategic missiles from Iran to Hizbullah. Unlike in the past, this week the Syrian regime fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli aircraft. MEMRI assesses that this was the result of Iranian pressure on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and on Hizbullah to respond in accordance with Iranian policy in order to spark a military confrontation with Israel.

Furthermore, it should be mentioned that as part of the Iranian regime’s efforts to revive the Palestinian front against Israel, on February 21, 2017, Tehran held the Sixth Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada. In his opening remarks at the conference, Supreme Leader Khamenei stressed the need to assist resistance movements in their military struggle against Israel, and said that Iran’s aid to these movements is directly tied to the level of these movements’ commitment to the principles of “resistance” (i.e. the struggle against Israel). He especially highlighted the need to continue aiding the resistance in the West bank, saying: “The main pivot of the Resistance is the steadfastness and endurance of the Palestinian people who have raised courageous and resistant children. Meeting the needs of the Palestinian people and Palestinian resistance is an important and vital responsibility which should be carried out by all of us. In doing so, we should not ignore the basic needs of the Resistance in the West Bank because the West Bank shoulders the main burden of the suppressed intifada.” (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6795, Khamenei In Speech At Iran’s Sixth International Conference In Support Of Palestinian Intifada: ‘We [Stand] With Every Group That Is Steadfast On This Path [Of Resistance]’; ‘Cancerous Tumor’ Israel Must Be Cured In Several Phases, February 21, 2017).

It should also be mentioned that as part of Iranian efforts against Israel, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has recently made aggressive statements about Israel in interviews with Iranian and Lebanese media.

  1. Attempting to connect Russia to Iran in a strategic alliance (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6795, Iran Prepares Militarily And Politically Vis-à-vis Trump Administration: Strategic Alliance With Russia, Dragging Israel Into War With Hizbullah, Palestinians, March 3, 2017).
  2. Clinging insistently to the JCPOA, even in light of actions by the U.S. that Iranian representatives had once stated would lead Iran to revert to a pre-JCPOA situation.

Moreover, in this context, MEMRI assesses that Iran will under no circumstances withdraw from the JCPOA, even if the Trump administration increases the sanctions against it, and even if the U.S. takes military action against Iranian interests in the region. This is because the JCPOA is an historic achievement for Iran, since it grants it the status of a nuclear state. Furthermore, according to the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan, the Rohani government had presented the JCPOA as a tool to prevent a war against the Iranian regime.[17]

 

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iranian Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1303, ‘Iran Diplomacy’ Following Tripartite U.S.-Russia-Turkey Military Chiefs of Staff Meeting: ‘If You Aren’t Sitting At The Table, You Are Being Eaten At The Table,‘ March 15, 2017.

[2] Tasnim (Iran), March 9, 2017.

[3] ISI – ImageSat International – is a privately owned company which provides confidential earth imagery acquisition under prioritized tasking management with very high resolution image quality.

[4] Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2017.

[5] Asr-e-Iran (Iran), February 9, 2017.

[6] According to IRGC Navy commander Ali Fadavi, the IRGC signed an agreement with the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran (PMO) under which the crews of all foreign naval vessels penetrating Iranian territorial waters and captured by the IRGC would be handed over to the PMO. Defapress.ir February 27, 2017.

[7] An isolated incident on March 4, 2017 saw IRGC boats approach an American destroyer, forcing it to change course. The Iranians later argued that the incident came about because the destroyer had deviated from its regular path. Tasnim (Iran), March 8, 2017.

[8] Assembly of Experts head and Guardian Council secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was the one official who did use the “death to America” slogan during a Revolution Day parade on February 10, 2017. He said: “Today, we all chant the slogan ‘death to America’ and trample its flag. This means we will not compromise nor back down to evil. We are not alone in the world, and throughout the world there are many nations that trample the American flag. Hostility towards America is the slogan of all those who are oppressed and desire freedom. We will never end our hostility towards evil, and we will always chant the slogan ‘no to humiliation.'” Fars (Iran), February 10, 2017.

[9] It should be noted that some attempted to justify this by calling it a sign of respect for the American people who voted against Trump.

[10] Kayhan (Iran), March 16, 2017. It should be mentioned that while the ideological camp’s hawks, such as the IRGC and Kayhan, accuse the pragmatic camp and President Rohani of responsibility for this policy of self-restraint, Supreme Leader Khamenei consents to this policy, and even leads it himself.

[11] Tasnim (Iran), February 8, 2017.

[12] Tasnim (Iran), February 2, 2017.

[13] Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2017.

[14] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 18, 2017.

[15] ‘Okaz (Saudi Arabia), March 18, 2017.

[16] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 18, 2017.

[17] Kayhan (Iran), March 16, 2017.

IRGC-controlled Iraqi militia forms ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’

March 13, 2017

IRGC-controlled Iraqi militia forms ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’, Long War Journal, , March 12, 2017

(Please see also, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards now opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights — DM)

Photo 1: Harakat al Nujaba Golan Liberation Brigade, as portrayed in propaganda video.

The IRGC’s goals in southern Syria are to crush Syrian opposition forces, and build the capability to open another front against Israel. The IRGC hopes a viable Golan foothold would serve as deterrence against Israel and US, and that it could activate in a future conflict, such as another Israel-Hezbollah war. For now, the IDF’s fortified posture in the Golan remains a difficult, if not futile, target for the Guard and its allies. The IRGC nevertheless intends to project steadfast commitment to ideological principles and defiance of adversaries.

*****************************

The Iranian-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba this week announced the formation of its “Golan Liberation Brigade.” While it is not uncommon for entities to name themselves after areas they aim to “liberate,” the militia’s spokesman has said that the unit could assist the Syrian regime in taking the Golan Heights, a region in the Levant that has been controlled by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

If true, the unit would likely participate in a future offensive to capture territory from Syrian opposition in the part of the Golan Heights still controlled by Syria, before moving on to the much taller order of dislodging the Israelis across the border. This week’s announcement reflects Tehran’s priorities in southern Syria since finally taking the fiercely contested city of Aleppo late last year: crush Syrian opposition, and pose military threat to Israel from the Golan Heights. While the Islamic Republic is incapable of credibly challenging the Jewish state’s fortress in the Golan, reaffirming ideological commitment to fighting Israel signals defiance to a global audience amid a reportedly converging American-Arab-Israeli military alliance against Tehran.

Harakat al Nujaba, or Movement of the Noble, has sustained operations in the Syrian and Iraqi combat zones. An offshoot of the Iranian-backed militias Asaib Ahl al Haq and the Hezbollah Brigades, Harakat al Nujaba was formed in 2013 to fight in the Syrian Civil War as part of Iranian-led Iraqi expeditionary forces. The militia joined the Popular Mobilization Forces, the umbrella organization of Iraqi militia, the following year, after the Islamic State incursion into Iraq. Operating as one of the largest Iraqi-Shiite militia contingents in Syria, the militia has claimed to field 10,000 forces. Harakat al Nujaba played an important role in assisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and pro-Syrian regime forces conquer Aleppo late last year.

The Iraqi militia functions as an extension of the Islamic Republic. Having sworn full allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the militia promotes velayat-e faqih (guardianship of jurisprudence), the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology. Harakat al Nujaba takes direct orders from Major General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the IRGC extraterritorial branch the Qods Force. Last year, the Iraqi militia, which is also known as Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, proclaimed that it and Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran’s most powerful foreign militia, were “the twins of resistance.”

The militia leader Akram al Kabi is close to the top Iranian leadership, including the supreme leader. A co-founder of the Asaib Ahl al Haq – itself an offshoot of the Mahdi Army – Kabi was designated in September 2008 by the US Treasury as a terrorist for aiding Iraqi insurgents. In 2015, he openly said he would depose the Iraqi government if Khamenei issued the order. Last year, top Iranian officials close to Khamenei gave Kabi a highly publicized reception in Tehran, unprecedented in scope and scale for a militia leader. This past December, Harakat al Nujaba publicized Kabi’s meeting with Khamenei on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran.

Harakat al Nujaba has divulged some details about the Golan Liberation Brigade. The commander of the militia’s forces in Syria released a statement declaring the unit to be a synthesis of combat experiences gained in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The militia’s official spokesman confirmed the event as a press conference March 8 in Tehran at the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, saying the unit was formed following “recent victories” (an implicit reference to Aleppo). He claimed the Golan unit is comprised of “special” forces.

“Should the Syrian government make the request, we are ready to participate in the liberation of occupied Golan with our allies,” the spokesman said. “We will not permit the soil of Arab countries to remain in the grasps of occupiers.”

Harakat al Nujaba also released a video promoting the Golan unit that showed fighters marching in columns and carrying a banner reading, “Israel will be destroyed.”

(The video is at the link. — DM)

Tehran’s goal of establishing a foothold in the Golan Heights is not a secret. Last year, the head of the Israeli foreign and defense legislative committee revealed without divulging details that Israel had repelled several Iran-directed attempts to move forces into Syrian Golan Heights.

Senior Iranian military commanders are known to operate in Syrian Golan. Last July, the then-commander of the IRGC Basij paramilitary publicized an inspection of Quneitra by the Israel border. In January 2015, an Israeli strike in the area killed several high-value targets including IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi and multiple Hezbollah operatives.

A chasm remains between the capabilities and ambitions of Harakat al Nujaba and the IRGC to retake the Golan from Israel. The combined forces of the Syrian regime and IRGC-led militias are no match for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and this disparity is expected to hold for the foreseeable future. Israel could also adopt a more proactive approach in Syria to foil IRGC encroachment by the Golan, for example coordinating with Syrian rebels positioned in the area. Syrian Golan’s flat geography furthermore denies the IRGC suitable terrain to replicate the southern Lebanon model of concealing rocket launch sites dispersed across a widespread area, making it easier for the IDF to search and destroy weapons systems. For years, the IDF has been fortifying positions in the rocky plateau of Golan to face greater capabilities than the IRGC and its allies can muster.

Yet the claim to retake Israeli Golan underscores Harakat al Nujaba’s ideological commitment to the IRGC’s and Khamenei’s declared goal of destroying Israel. Khamenei and his top Guard generals have frequently spoken that that the divine hand would aid the faithful who take steps towards “divine-inspired” ideological principles.

Brandishing the formation of the Golan unit also challenges Arab countries on the Palestinian issue, as the Tehran has accused them of abandoning the cause in service of Israel. The Islamic Republic has slammed reported Arab-Israeli rapprochement and talks to form a US-brokered military coalition with the goal of countering Tehran, as covered in The Wall Street Journal. Last month, top Iranian government officials hosted another round of the Support of Palestinian Intifada Conference in a show of unity and defiance. This past week, Tehran’s interim Friday prayer leader this week excoriated “some leaders in Islamic countries who are with Zionists,” calling them “not human.” Suffering from loss of legitimacy over support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad against a Sunni-Arab uprising and nervous over a converging Israeli-Arab alliance, the Islamic Republic is projecting to the globe and “sell-out”Arab leaders a defiant commitment to fighting Israel.

The Iraqi militia’s Golan unit and IRGC-led expeditionary forces could help pro-Syrian regime forces take opposition-held areas in the south. In February 2015, IRGC-led forces launched a failed campaign in the Daraa and Quneitra in the south. Since conquering Aleppo last year, the IRGC-led expeditionary forces and other pro-Syrian regime forces have been able to redirect their dwindling assets to several fronts in north, central, and south Syria. Pro-regime forces backed by Russian air power have been pounding Daraa in the south for more than a month to slow an opposition offensive, and have recently launched a new bid to capture it. An IRGC colonel was also killed last month in the area. A pro-Syrian regime propaganda outlet late last month reaffirmed the government’s intention to retake all of Daraa and open a major border crossing with Jordan. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces have made progress in the northern pocket of Quneitra Governorate, located in the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan.

Map 1: southern Syria front, March 2017. Red: pro-Syrian regime forces. Green: rebel forces including Free Syrian Army and al Qaeda-affiliate Jabhat Fath al Sham. Black: Islamic State affiliates. Credit: Liveuamap.

The IRGC’s goals in southern Syria are to crush Syrian opposition forces, and build the capability to open another front against Israel. The IRGC hopes a viable Golan foothold would serve as deterrence against Israel and US, and that it could activate in a future conflict, such as another Israel-Hezbollah war. For now, the IDF’s fortified posture in the Golan remains a difficult, if not futile, target for the Guard and its allies. The IRGC nevertheless intends to  project steadfast commitment to ideological principles and defiance of adversaries.

Photo 2.
Photo 3: Harakat al Nujaba Golan Liberation Brigade flag at front, and “Israel will burn” banner in the back.

Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Arab Foreign Ministers Discuss Blocking U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem

March 6, 2017

Arab Foreign Ministers Discuss Blocking U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem, BreitbartDeborah Danan, March 6, 2017

(There have been credible reports that, when PM Netanyahu met with President Trump, he asked Trump to delay his largely symbolic move of the American embassy to Jerusalem because an otherwise likely and more important agreement with the Arab nations on combatting Iran’s involvement in their spheres of influence could well be jeopardized. — DM)

JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

TEL AVIV – Ahead of the Arab League Summit later this month, foreign ministers of member states gathered in Cairo on Sunday and Monday to discuss how to prevent President Donald Trump from going through with his promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.

The “Palestinian issue,” along with the embassy move to “occupied Jerusalem,” were among 28 items on the agenda, according to a press release from the Arab League’s Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Bin Hali.

In January, the League’s Assistant Secretary-General for Palestinian Affairs Said Abu Ali urged Trump to “reconsider” the embassy move or else the U.S. will be in danger of losing its status “as an objective sponsor of the peace process.”

Bin Hali said that another item to be discussed by representatives of member states is the “Arab League’s plan to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.” He added that ahead of the summit in Jordan on March 23, the representatives will discuss the terrorism spreading in the Arab world, and the role of Turkey and Iran in regional conflicts.

Bin Hali also told reporters that Iran’s meddling in other states’ affairs must be stopped and that the member states of the Arab League must view this, as well as Tehran’s nuclear aspirations, as a shared interest. According to Bin Hali, the lack of a “unified stance” on the part of Arab world was its biggest problem.

He said that despite efforts to that end, “there are still Arab officials who remain divisive and who seek to provoke tension in relations between Arab states.”

“We are all in the same boat. We are all affected by the regional security issues and therefore we must work towards resolving our internal strife,” he added.

‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed: We Must Form ‘Arab NATO’ To Confront Iran

February 22, 2017

‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed: We Must Form ‘Arab NATO’ To Confront Iran, MEMRI, February 22, 2017

In February 2017, prominent Saudi journalist ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and former director of Alarabiya TV, published two articles calling to take a firm position vis-à-vis Iran and even form an “Arab NATO” to confront the alliance Iran has formed with Iraq and Syria.

The following are excerpts from the articles, as published in English by Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and Alarabiya, respectively:

alrashed‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (image: alarabiya.net)

In one article,[1] Al-Rashed criticized the claim that U.S. President Donald Trump’s declarations against the Iran agreement strengthen the radicals there. He argued that Iran’s belligerence since the signing of the agreement proves that openness and flexibility towards it, like the policy pursued by Obama, only encourage it to escalate its aggression. He added that the radical camp in Iran has controlled the country since the Islamic Revolution, while the moderate camp is merely a front used to encourage the West to be lenient with Iran. Hence, policy towards Iran should be firm:

“Nothing happened during three decades to prove that there’s real competition between radicals and moderates inside the [Iranian] ruling command. Major events rather confirmed that the authority was in fact under the control of the radicals, while moderates were just front men. President Hassan Rouhani and his FM Zarif both represented the moderates and they succeeded [in] winning over the administration of former president Barack Obama. They also managed to convince the administration that lifting sanctions and encouraging Iran’s openness were [in] the interest of moderate figures, the region and the whole world.

“Once again, evidence suggested this assumption was wrong. [The] Iranian leadership became more aggressive than ever and for the first time since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the regime dared to expand its military activity outside its borders. It is currently participating in and funding four wars outside of Iran. All of this was possible due to the nuclear deal that paved the way for better relations, trade and activity and kept silent over Iran’s threats to the region.

“Trump’s extremist rhetoric is a natural outcome of the disappointment [that] prevailed [in] Washington due to Iran’s behavior after signing the deal. Things will keep on getting worse unless a strict international position against Iran’s adventures is taken and unless Iran is forced to end the chaos it is funding in the region and the world.

“Those familiar with the Iranian regime’s [actions] cannot believe the excuses being made by Iran’s allies which stipulate that being lenient with Iran [may cause it to have a] positive [attitude to] the rest of the world. The nature of the regime in Tehran is religious with a revolutionary ideology. It has a political agenda that has not changed much since it attacked the American embassy in Tehran and held diplomats hostage [in 1979]. The same logic leads us to conclude that Iran will dominate [by] using power via its proxies and militias across the region and [by] encouraging and supporting the rebellious behavior of certain local parties in neighboring countries.

“Iran has not changed much since it announced it plans to export revolutions to the world. The only change that happened is that its financial and military situations improved a lot thanks to the nuclear deal it signed with the West.”

In another article,[2] Al-Rashed wrote that Iran has exploited the political vacuum that formed in the region in recent years, as well as the Obama administration’s policy, including the nuclear agreement with it, to expand its influence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. In light of this, he advised: “Military cooperation, under any umbrella, is a good idea and a necessary step, especially if expanded beyond [military cooperation]. Establishing an alliance to confront Iran is an essential balance to respond to its military alliance that includes Iraq and Syria.

“Iran also cooperates with Russia and the latter has a military base in Iran. The Russians strongly participate in the war in Syria alongside this Iranian alliance. Tehran has strengthened its alliance by bringing armed militias from Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and other countries into Syria and they are fighting there under its banner. Iranian forces, in the guise of ‘experts,’ are fighting in Iraq and to some extent manage the conflict there. Therefore, establishing an Arab NATO… remains a natural reaction to Iran’s ‘Warsaw Pact.'”

 

 

[1] For the Arabic version of this article see: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 12, 2017; for the English version see: english.aawsat.com, February 13, 2017. The English text has been lightly edited for clarity.

[2] For the Arabic version of the article see: -Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 20, 2017; for the English version see: alarabiya.net, February 21, 2017. The English text has been lightly edited for clarity.

An empty condemnation

February 9, 2017

An empty condemnation, Israel Hayom, Dr. Ephraim Herrera, February 9, 2017

It appears that the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law is not of paramount interest to the Muslim world. But make no mistake, that has nothing to do with any great love for Israel there. The Sunni Arab world, currently embroiled in a bloody war with the Shiite world led by Iran and its proxies — Syria, under President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah — is well aware of the unofficial alliance with Israel.

Israel has been providing Jordan and Egypt with intelligence to aid their fight against the Islamic State group, and according to unofficial sources, the Israeli military is also helping Cairo battle the Islamic State’s affiliate in Sinai. Reuters recently reported that Jordan, too, was receiving Israeli help in its fight against the Islamic State and other Islamist insurgents on its borders.

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Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and the Arab League as a whole condemned the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law passed by the Knesset on Monday. Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit described the law as cover for stealing Palestinian land. A Jordanian minister warned it would cause an escalation in violence and undermine any chance of a two-state solution. Turkey lambasted the law, claiming it gave “approval to the construction of settlements on the private property of the Palestinians.” It would appear that the law poses a threat to regional stability, but is that really the case?

Turkish Tourism Minister Nabi Avci voiced his country’s opposition to the legislation during a visit to Israel, but as expected, he was not recalled to Turkey. Nor was the Israeli ambassador to Turkey summoned for clarification nor did the Turkish denunciation make headlines in Turkish news outlets.

The same thing took place in other Arab countries. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry slammed the law, but there was no mention of it on the home page of the website of the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper or on the home page of the popular Egyptian website Al-Youm al-Sabia.

The London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, which is funded by the Saudi royal family, focused on the response from Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who said that though the Palestinians were losing their lands, they would not petition international courts out of fear of reprisals from the U.S. and Israel. Even the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera, one of the largest Arabic news organizations, did not cover the new law on the home page of its website.

It appears that the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law is not of paramount interest to the Muslim world. But make no mistake, that has nothing to do with any great love for Israel there. The Sunni Arab world, currently embroiled in a bloody war with the Shiite world led by Iran and its proxies — Syria, under President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah — is well aware of the unofficial alliance with Israel.

Israel has been providing Jordan and Egypt with intelligence to aid their fight against the Islamic State group, and according to unofficial sources, the Israeli military is also helping Cairo battle the Islamic State’s affiliate in Sinai. Reuters recently reported that Jordan, too, was receiving Israeli help in its fight against the Islamic State and other Islamist insurgents on its borders.

Furthermore, news of economic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel have recently begun to surface. The Saudi kingdom fears the growing power of its Persian neighbor and is well aware that Israel could potentially become play an important role in its defense. So it’s no wonder that there have been no reports of protests in Muslim countries against the settlement regulation law.

Productive cooperation between Israel and Muslim nations, open or clandestine, is the best remedy for the 1,000-year-old Islamic hatred of Jews, which has depicted them as pigs, monkeys, and the lowest and most evil of creatures after the devil himself. That same radical Islam has become a threat to the Muslim countries, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, as it views borders between Muslim countries as heresy against Islamic law.

Yes, it is radical Islam that has been raging in Syria, Iraq and Libya, inciting the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions more. It has brought devastation, famine, poverty, torture and the exile of millions of Muslims who are attempting to escape the Islamic inferno.

The European countries who were quick to condemn the Israeli law have turned a blind eye to the Syrian genocide and the only apartheid regime in the region — which is perpetrated by the Palestinians, who forbid Jews from living in areas under their control. These days it is no wonder that the European countries are paying the price for their ineffectuality in dealing with Islamist movements in the form of the swarms of the Muslim refugees amassing in their streets.

On Boycotting Radical Islamic Nations

January 31, 2017

On Boycotting Radical Islamic Nations, Gatestone InstitueNonie Darwish, January 31, 2017

The interviewer seemed shocked to hear that I do not have any Arab or Muslim friends who are protesting President Trump’s ban, and that many immigrants of Islamic origin support the ban and are fed up and embarrassed by what jihadists are doing.

The lesson America needs to know is that the West is not doing Muslims a favor by constantly treating them as children who should be shielded from reality. They hungry for the truth: that their educational system and mosque preaching are full of incitement, are abhorrent, hate-filled and the foundation upon which violent jihad is built.

Muslims need to know that the world does indeed have a justifiable and legitimate concern about Islam and actions done in the name of Islam by Muslims.

Muslims need to look at themselves in the mirror and see the world from the point of view of their victims. Instead, the West is sacrificing its culture, values, laws, pride and even self-respect.

It might compassion that leads the West to take in millions of Muslim refugees but it is reckless compassion. Do Westerners question the motivation of Islamic theocracies as to why ultra-rich Arab nations are sending us their refugees but taking in none?

Some “tough love” is urgently needed if Muslims are to be motivated to change and reform.

Early this morning an Arabic radio station in the Middle East called asking my opinion about President Trump’s ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim nations. The radio host, who sounded angry over the ban, was a Christian Arab. She was surprised to hear that I supported the ban and think that it should have taken place the day after 9/11.

She then asked me if I knew any Arab American activist who was against the ban because she wanted to interview someone against the ban. She seemed shocked to hear that I do not have any Arab or Muslim friends who are protesting the ban, and that many immigrants of Islamic and Middle East origin support the ban and are fed up and embarrassed by what jihadists are doing.

She said that all she sees on CNN and other channels are riots that portray almost all Americans supporting Muslims and against Trump. I am upset over the success of the leftist propaganda all over the Middle East. It brings back memories of the life of the hate indoctrination and misinformation I lived under for most of my life.

What would Muslim countries do to the West, I asked, if 19 American terrorists flew airplanes into Arab capitals and their government and military headquarters? What did she think Arabs would do if every week or so American terrorists would conduct synchronized killing sprees all over the Muslim world, gunning Muslims down, blowing them up with homemade pressure cookers, ramming into crowds with trucks? There was silence.

She then started calming down and said that of course she is against terrorism, “but”. I asked: “Do you see what jihad did to your Christian community in the Middle East?” She was silent for a minute, then it occurred to me that she might be afraid to continue the conversation because her bosses were probably Muslims.

I was sure she was going to hang up on me, but to my surprise she asked me to please hold. Then she was back, live from the studio, and started interviewing me and asked the same questions on air. I poured my heart out in Arabic to the Arab listeners.

The lesson here is that Arabs are hungry to hear the truth; this Arab station, instead of rejecting these ideas, ended up putting them on air. The lesson America needs to learn is that the West is not doing Muslims (especially the reformists) a favor by constantly treating them as children who should be shielded from reality.

Muslims need to know that the world does indeed have a justifiable and legitimate concern about Islam and actions done in the name of Islam by Muslims. Muslims need to look at themselves in the mirror and see the world from the point of view of their victims. Instead, the West is sacrificing its culture, values, laws, pride and even self-respect. Muslim culture needs a wake-up call telling them that, sooner or later, non-Muslim nations will close their doors to any kind of Muslim immigration if the jihad culture continues. That will also be a strong message to Muslims already in the West who still believe in jihad.

2256President Donald Trump signs an executive order restricting immigration, January 27, 2017. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

The Muslim people are hungry for the truth: that their educational system and mosque preaching are full of incitement, abhorrent, hate-filled and the foundation upon which violent jihad is built. The Islamic commandment to do jihad sacrifices Muslim men, women and children to kill and get killed.

As long as the West continues its appeasement of Islamic jihad, Islam will never reform and the West will lose. So far, the West has continued to extend a lifeline to the religion of Islam; a religion for which the number one enemy is the truth, and which struggles to suppress the truth.

It might be compassion that leads the West to take in millions of Muslim refugees, but it is reckless compassion. Why isn’t Saudi Arabia taking refugees temporarily until things settle down in Syria and Iraq? Do Westerners question the motivation of Islamic theocracies, as to why ultra-rich Arab nations are sending us their refugees but taking in none?

Who is really benefiting from the policy of appeasement, the acceptance of Sharia-stricken theocracies and their jihadist, hate-filled education? Some “tough love” is urgently needed if Muslims are to be motivated to change and reform.