Al-Jaafari: Economic siege imposed on many states
Flashback: Syria & Western backed Jihadists|
All sanctions on Iran lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal will be back in force on November 5, the US administration has announced.
The sweeping sanctions will see 700 people blacklisted, the US Treasury has announced. These include persons that were granted relief under the 2015 deal, as well as over 300 new names, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters.
Sanctions will also target payments through the special mechanism that the EU has been creating specifically to avoid Washington’s penalties and to keep buying Iranian oil.
Mnuchin has also threatened sanctions against the transaction service SWIFT:
“SWIFT is no different than any other entity,” Mnuchin told reporters. “We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed earlier reports that eight nations will receive exemptions from the reimposed penalties, but refused to name them and said the EU as a singular entity was not among them. Earlier reports suggested that the list of exemptions would include Japan, India and South Korea.
Pompeo has released a list of 12 demands for Iran to comply with if it wants the sanctions lifted. These include halting all nuclear and ballistic missile development, as well as ending what Washington calls Tehran’s “support for terrorism,” and withdrawing from the Syrian conflict.
Tehran is dismissing the sanctions, saying it is fully capable of managing its economy despite the resultant pressure.
“The new US sanctions will mostly have psychological effects,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on state TV. The US will not attain its political goals through such sanctions, he added.
This is the second batch of sanctions to be re-imposed after US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark deal, which was signed by Iran and six world powers in 2015. They cover Iran’s shipping, finance and energy sectors; and penalize other countries that don’t stop dealing with Tehran.
Since its withdrawal, the US has been pursuing the policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, much to the chagrin of the European signatories, who have long praised the Obama-era agreement and attested to its effectiveness. The EU has been working on creating special payment channels to continue importing Iranian oil legally.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has outlined what he calls the chronology of a Mossad program to kill the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
4/30: Netanyahu claims MOSSAD “Iran nuke file discovery”;
5/08: Trump withdraws from the JCPOA.
6/03: President Rouhani begins state visits to Switzerland and Austria;
6/03: MOSSAD assists in “foiling Iranian bomb plot” in France.
9/26: Trump chairs disastrous anti-Iran show at UN Security Council.
9/27: Netanyahu claims MOSSAD “Iran nuclear site discovery.”
10/29: Planned EU announcement on Special Purpose Vehicle;
10/29: MOSSAD assists in “foiling Iranian assassination plot” in Denmark,” the Iranian foreign minister posted his chronology on Twitter on Thursday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Zarif referred in another tweet to Mossad’s role in a diplomatic standoff between Tehran and Copenhagen over claims that Iran had tried to carry out an assassination plot on Danish soil, an allegation Tehran has sharply rejected.
“Mossad’s perverse & stubborn planting of false flags (more on this later) only strengthens our resolve to engage constructively with the world.
Denmark recalled its ambassador from Tehran and said that it was consulting with other European countries about how to respond. Tehran also summoned the Danish ambassador to Tehran to voice its protest.
Israeli media later revealed that Mossad had provided Denmark with “intelligence” concerning the alleged plot by Tehran.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also quick to “congratulate” the Danish government on the arrest.
Tehran has dismissed Denmark’s claims as “rash, politicized,” with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi saying Wednesday that “invisible hands” were at work to damage Iran’s ties with Europe at the time when the two sides are closely cooperating to save the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal following the US’s pullout.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has said Moscow will support Iran to counter US oil sanctions.
Washington on Friday restored sanctions on Tehran, which had previously been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.
In an interview with the British Financial Times newspaper, Novak said that Russia is looking to continue trading Iranian crude oil beyond the Monday cut-off.
"We believe we should look for mechanisms that would allow us to continue developing cooperation with our partners, with Iran," Novak told the FT.
Under a 2014 oil-for-goods deal, Moscow sells Iranian oil to third parties while Tehran uses the revenues from those sales to pay for Russian goods and services.
The Russian energy ministry told the FT that the trade would continue next week, while Novak said that Moscow considered the US sanctions to be "illegal".
"We already live in the condition of sanctions," he said. "We do not recognise the sanctions introduced unilaterally without the United Nations, we consider those methods illegal per se." [..]
Britain, Germany, France and the EU have announced plans to establish a "special purpose" financial vehicle that would allow trade between Europe and Iran to continue, although it will not be ready by Monday.
The Europeans said on Friday they "deeply regret" the re-imposition of sanctions and would work to ensure legitimate trade with Iran could continue. "Our collective resolve to complete this work is unwavering," they said in a joint statement.
With his seemingly infinite capacity for tone deafness, Trump tweeted on Friday an HBO-style movie poster of himself with the phrase “Sanctions are coming,” referring to the Game of Thrones tagline that “winter is coming,” and thereby menacing Iran.
HBO issued a formal complaint against use of its material for political purposes. It also sent out a lighter tweet,
For anyone who doesn’t watch “Game of Thrones,” it depicts an epic struggle among seven kingdoms for power, which is kaleidoscopic over time since different ruling houses get the upper hand.
But hanging over them all is a cyclical deep winter during which zombies (“white walkers”) who live in the far north pierce the wall and come south, threatening human civilization.
Aside from copyright infringement, there are many, many things wrong with Trump’s message.
1. It casts the United States as a menacing white walker coming for a country in the global South. That’s completely the wrong message. The US is supposed to represent itself as the good guys, not relentless zombies.
2. It underlines that the United States is the aggressor here. Trump pulled out of the UN Security Council-negotiated treaty with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even though Iran had done everything the treaty asked it to do.
3. The tweet makes light of a very serious issue. Trump is now imposing severe sanctions on Iran despite the latter’s compliance. Those sanctions have the prospect of driving more people into poverty...
4. The tweet allows the Iranian regime to portray itself as Jon Snow, standing up to an irrational and bloodthirsty horde...
[Iranian spiritual leader] Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei said Saturday that the United States has always been on the losing side of the 40-year-long war it has waged against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
He made the remarks in a meeting with a number of university and high school students on Saturday ahead of the National Day of Fight against Global Arrogance.
The 13th day of the Iranian calendar month of Aban, which falls on November 4 this year, also known as the Student Day in Iran, marks the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy by Iranian students in Tehran.
Speaking at the meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei noted the forty years of conflict between the US and Iran, which encompasses all types of aggression launched from the enemy side, from military and economic war to a media war.
He said the US objective was to regain its control over Iran, which it lost after the Islamic Revolution and never managed to get it back.
“The important fact here is that in this 40-year-old conflict, the US has been on the losing side and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the winning side. The reason for the US defeat is that it was them who started the attack, but they failed to achieve their objectives,” the Leader said.
Historical experience in international politics confirms that economic sanctions rarely produce the specific policy outcomes intended by the imposing actors.
The new set of economic sanctions to be imposed by the Donald Trump administration against Iran as of Nov. 4 will probably not constitute an exception to this general rule; however, there is a serious possibility they might produce totally unintended outcomes by triggering the formation of a new international banking architecture, thanks to the initiatives of the EU, Britain, Russia and China, searching for innovative ways of averting the sanctions via a prospective system called the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
It seems likely that the SPV model will reflect an updated and more sophisticated version of the Soviet barter system, which was extensively used during the Cold War to avert U.S. trade sanctions.
The European Union, Iran, China and Russia will be the initial stakeholders to allow the trade of Iranian oil in exchange for goods without any financial transactions with Iranian banks or conventional banking institutions. Emerging powers such as India and Turkey have also expressed their willingness to join the pact in future stages.
To this end, a multinational European state-funded financial institution would be set up for intermediate deals with private companies interested in handling transactions with Iran and related counter-parties.
There is no doubt that the SPV initiative represents an extraordinary collective response to the aggressive unilateralism and unambiguous adoption of trade wars by the Trump administration.
While Washington has called for a policy of all-out financial war against Iran and threatened to sanction even European central banks and the Brussels-based SWIFT interbank payments network if they maintained transactions with Tehran, the EU responded by asserting its policy autonomy and triggered the formation of an alternative banking architecture.
How far the EU is willing to go to defy Washington's restrictions on trade with Iran remains to be seen....
Washington's hasty decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose comprehensive sanctions on companies trading Iranian crude as of Nov. 4 seems to have created new venues for international cooperation among the rest of the global and emerging powers.
The EU's latest SPV and similar initiatives designed to legally avoid the use of U.S. dollars in the oil trade and avert unilateral U.S. sanctions might just spell the beginning of a new era in the dollar-dominated global economic system.
Photos: Hassan Ammar | AP
In a Damascus hospital, Haidar Hussein lifts himself up, his hands holding on to a set of bars as he cautiously steps forward, showing off his new skills walking on artificial legs as his therapists cheer him on.
The 30-year-old soldier is inching toward the end of his 10-week physical therapy stint. With two weeks to go, he is looking forward to returning to his previous life as a grocery store owner.
Four years ago, at the height of the Syrian civil war, he was on a military mission in the central Hama province when his group was hit by two roadside bombs made from gas cylinders, known as “hell cannons.” Twenty-three of his comrades died. Hussein, whose legs were blown off, survived.
Now, after an arduous journey during which he went from hospital to hospital, battling infections and complications from the injuries, he is learning to walk with prosthetic legs. Wearing a sleeveless khaki T-shirt imprinted with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face and the words “Expendables,” he takes small steps in the large exercise hall, sometimes stumbling but picking himself up again.
“My injury gave me strength,” he said. “I realized how strong I am. I had no idea I could be this strong.”
Hussein is one of Syria’s many soldiers who, after years of intense fighting, now face a new reality of living with disabilities.
Many are being treated at the Ahmad Hamish Martyr Hospital in Damascus, which has a center for prosthetics and orthotics and offers physical therapy for members of the armed forces disabled as a result of war injuries. The center uses advanced technology to manufacture around 60 prosthetic limbs a day, reflecting the high demand in a nation wracked by conflict for the past seven years.
The government provides no official statistics for the number of Syrian soldiers who have been killed or wounded in the war, although the number of casualties is believed to be in the tens of thousands.
The Ahmad Hamish Hospital is one of the largest facilities in Syria offering support for members of the military, which has been exhausted by the conflict. Troops have fought armed opposition groups on multiple fronts, as well as Islamic State and al-Qaida extremists.
Hospital officials say patients at the military hospital receive rehabilitation services and free prosthetics, along with support to help them adjust to living with a disability. Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma, have visited the hospital on numerous occasions over the past few years, offering support, according to staff.
Roa Taleb, a social assistant, said many patients have difficulties dealing with inactivity, and some get depressed. The hospital staff tries to foster a sense of community among the patients, many of whom live there for round-the-clock treatment.
A common thread among the patients is pride in their country’s military and its leader, Assad. The Syrian army has made a series of gains over the past year, possibly bringing the war closer to an end...
Hussein, like others, says he would return to the front line tomorrow if he could.
“My country is very important to me. A person without a country isn’t worth anything,” he says. “The country is the mother, it’s my mother, before even my real mother.”
The Trump Administration reinstatement and expansion of sanctions against Iran is an “historic” moment for Israel and the world, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
He spoke as the US restored and strengthened sanctions it had lifted under a 2015 international agreement on Iran's nuclear program from which Washington withdrew in May at US President Donald Trump's behest.
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, said in an interview with Fox Business Network that more sanctions would be coming, but he gave no details.
“This is a great day for the State of Israel. This is a great day for the people of Israel. This is a great day for the future of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction in the Knesset.
“You know that for many years I have devoted my time and energy to the war against the Iranian threat. In this matter I went almost against the whole world. Today we see the results of this long and continuous struggle,” Netanyahu said. “I would like to thank President Donald Trump again for a courageous, determined and important decision. I think that this contributes to stability, security and peace...” Netanyahu said.
The sanctions target Iran's oil, banking and industrial sectors. They are designed, in part, to force Iran's major customers to stop buying its oil.
The sanctions also cover 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, more than 200 persons and vessels in its shipping sector, Tehran's national airline, Iran Air, and more than 65 of its aircraft, the Treasury said.
In Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the results of initial US sanctions were already evident and the ones imposed Monday would be even more effective.
“The second wave of sanctions, especially the sanctions imposed on the SWIFT, the banking clearing system used by the Iranian regime, will add a very severe blow to Iran's terrorist regime.
“I believed that sanctions must include this element of credit clearance. I raised this several times, even during my last meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and I am pleased that the US has decided to include this component, the credit component,” Netanyahu said.
The US government has told SWIFT that it is expected to comply with US sanctions and it could face US sanctions if it fails to do so.
Swift, the international financial messaging system, has said it will comply with restored US sanctions on Iran, in a blow to EU efforts to defy Washington’s action.
The Belgian-based company said Monday it would suspend “certain Iranian banks’” access to its cross border-payment network — a signal that it will fall into line with a US list of targeted financial institutions due to be published imminently.
Swift’s decision undermines EU efforts to maintain trade with Iran and save a landmark international deal with Tehran, after President Donald Trump pulled out in May.
Swift now faces the threat of punitive action under new EU rules that forbid companies from complying with the US Iran sanctions.
Swift said: “In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, Swift is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system. This step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”
Wikipedia info: SWIFT is a cooperative society under Belgian law owned by its member financial institutions with offices around the world. SWIFT headquarters, designed by Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura are in La Hulpe, Belgium, near Brussels. The chairman of SWIFT is Yawar Shah, originally from Pakistan, and its CEO is Gottfried Leibbrandt, originally from the Netherlands. SWIFT hosts an annual conference, called Sibos, specifically aimed at the financial services industry.
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's president has said his country's 2011 Arab Spring revolt was an ill-advised attempt at change whose chaotic aftermath posed an existential threat to the nation.
Addressing an international youth conference late Sunday, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said those behind the revolt had good intentions but had inadvertently "opened the gates of hell."
El-Sissi had until recently only hinted at his disapproval of the uprising that ended the 29-year rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. In his first outright criticism of the uprising, he said last month it was the "wrong remedy that followed a wrong diagnosis."
The 2011 uprising was led by young, pro-democracy activists, and paved the way for Egypt's first free and fair elections, which were won by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group whose stalwart Mohammed Morsi was elected president in 2012. His rule proved divisive, and in 2013 el-Sissi, as defense minister, led the military overthrow of Morsi amid mass protests.
Since then, the government has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of Islamists along with some of the most prominent activists behind the 2011 uprising....
yusuf qaradawi 2012, 'arab spring' leader
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday criticized the U.S. resumption of sanctions on Iran as unilateral, not wise and dangerous, calling for a dialogue and engagement instead.
Çavuşoğlu, in Tokyo for talks with Japanese leaders, told reporters that Turkey opposes sanctions because they don't achieve results.
"As a principle Turkey is against sanctions and we don't believe that any result can be achieved through sanctions," he said. "Cornering is not wise, isolating Iran is dangerous and punishing the Iranian people is not fair."
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration's resumption of sanctions on Iran took effect Monday. Turkey is one of eight major importers of Iranian oil spared temporarily from immediate penalties.
Still, Turkey has to be frank with its ally the U.S. about its opposition. The U.S. "unilateral" measure affects the world, including Turkey, one-third of whose gas imports come from Iran, Çavuşoğlu said, and urged Washington to find other reasonable solutions.
"I think instead of sanctions, meaningful dialogue and engagement is much useful and this is our principle," he said.
Çavuşoğlu also urged Saudi Arabia to fully cooperate in the investigation of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month, demanding the country locate his missing body and hand over suspected collaborators.
Turkey is determined to get to the bottom of the case and Saudi Arabia hasn't answered the key questions, he said. "We have to find out how it happened, who did it and who gave the instructions, and we also have to find the body of the journalist Khashoggi."
The Most Disheartening Survey of Voters
Former US President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will receive the Liberty Medal on Sunday in Philadelphia. With the award typically going to leaders "who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe,” more than a few people are baffled at the National Constitution Center’s choice. The Bushes will receive the award on November 11, Veterans Day, which in Europe is known as Armistice Day. This year's Armistice Day is a very special anniversary, because it will have been exactly 100 years since the armistice that ended the First World War on the Western Front on November 11, 1918.
It's especially ironic, then, that Bush should be given a medal that typically goes to people who end conflicts or who fight for peace, such as Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, or overcome prejudice, such as Sandra Day O'Connor, John Lewis and Thurgood Marshall, on a day commemorating the end of what was once called "The War to End All Wars," when Bush's most notorious legacies are two colossal wars in the Middle East and the enormous expansion of the surveillance state in the US.
Lest it be forgotten, Bush presided over the creation of the US Department of Homeland Security following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as well as the massive expansion of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to house suspected terrorists indefinitely under conditions of torture.
It was Bush who started the US War in Afghanistan, which just entered its 18th year last month, and who started the US War in Iraq, each of which is estimated to have killed half a million people. Those wars also paved the way for the catastrophic wars in Syria and Libya, the former of which is now in its eighth year.
In perhaps one of the strangest ironies, former Vice President Joe Biden, who served under Democratic President Barack Obama — who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize only months after taking office basically as a reward for not being Bush — will be delivering to the Bushes their medals on Sunday.
Video offering panoramic and aerial views of Aleppo has been released by the Syrian Ministry of Tourism in an apparent attempt to say that the country’s historic pearl is finally ready to receive visitors.
The pitch comes almost two years after the Syrian army defeated jihadist rebel groups besieging the city in a series of fierce battles. The fighting damaged many of Aleppo’s historical buildings and much of its industrial infrastructure.
Militants seeking to overthrow the Syrian government seized parts of Aleppo in 2012.
Syrian government forces held on to the old city despite the blockade. The fortunes of war changed in late 2015, when Russia sent an expeditionary force into Syria at the request of Damascus. Syrian government forces and allied militias finally ousted the rebels from Aleppo in December 2016.
Libya's key political players are set to meet global leaders in Italy next week, in the latest bid by major powers to kickstart a long-stalled political process and trigger elections.
A summit in Paris in May had seen the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and eastern Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar agree to hold national polls on December 10. But acknowledging the chaotic political situation since Moamer Kadhafi was deposed in 2011, the UN on Thursday conceded elections will not be viable before at least the spring of 2019.
Analysts say next week's summit in the Sicilian city of Palermo risks being compromised not only by tensions between Libyan factions, but also the competing agendas of foreign powers.
According to diplomats and analysts, Russia, France, Egypt and the UAE support Mr Haftar, while Turkey and Qatar have thrown their weight behind rivals to the eastern strongman, especially Islamist groups.
Just as in May, the key Libyan invitees are Mr Haftar, the eastern parliament's speaker Aguila Salah, GNA head Fayez Al Sarraj and Khaled Al Mechri, speaker of a Tripoli-based upper chamber.
Mr Al Sarraj, in an interview with AFP, urged the international community on Thursday to find a "common vision" for the future of his chaos-hit North African nation.
The GNA says it will use the Palermo talks to lobby for security reforms that unify the army, a constitutionally-rooted electoral process, economic reform and an end to "parallel institutions".
The US, Arab countries and European nations will all send representatives to the talks set to take place on Monday and Tuesday.
Hundreds of Iranian women attended a crunch football match in Tehran, in a rare step seen Sunday as a "victory" by local newspapers and hailed by FIFA as an "historic and festive day" for the sport.
About a thousand women were allowed into Azadi Stadium late Saturday to watch Iranian giant Persepolis FC battle it out in the Asian Champions League with Japan's Kashima Antlers, an AFP reporter said.
The Japanese side triumphed 2-0 on aggregate, after a goalless draw in Tehran, but for the reformist Etemad newspaper the clear winners were Iranian women.
"Women were the winners of Azadi ("Freedom" in Farsi) match," it said in a bold headline on its front page. A picture on the front page of another reformist daily, Sazandegi, showed women cheering at the stadium with a headline reading: "Iranian women's victory in Asian finals."
The Asian Football Confederation and FIFA presidents praised the attendance of women at the match, in a joint statement.
"I thank the authorities in Iran for making it possible for a diverse and socially representative crowd to witness an extraordinary occasion," said AFC president Salman al-Khalifa. "Tonight, was historic in so many ways," he said.
Women were barred from attending matches after the 1979 Islamic revolution, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men. They have also worried about the crush of men and women when leaving stadiums.
After months of preparation the second World Youth Forum took place this week...
The event brought together 5,000 young people from 165 countries. The Sharm El-Sheikh Conference Hall was a beehive of positive energy as the young delegates moved between sessions discussing topics that ranged from terrorism to cinema and social media.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi seized the event to comment on a roster of controversial and pressing issues, including the fall-out from the Arab Spring, rotation of power in Egypt, the terrorist attacks against Copts and religious reform.
“In Egypt the state does not discriminate. The killing of any Egyptian citizen in a terrorist attack hurts us all and all Egyptians condemn any attempt to target a place of worship, whether it is a mosque or a church,” said Al-Sisi.
He noted that parliament has recently passed a long-awaited law regulating the building of churches.
“This law came after 150 years to finally settle the critical issue of building churches. Before the law the state was involved only in the building of mosques but now it is responsible for building both churches and mosques, particularly in new cities and communities,” said Al-Sisi.
“Every citizen has the right to worship or not to worship what he or she likes. Religious beliefs are a personal matter and every citizen is free. The state should not interfere in this.”
Al-Sisi highlighted the importance of “reforming religious discourse”, arguing that “it is one of the most essential tasks facing Egypt, the region and the Islamic world.”
“It is no longer viable for people to adhere to interpretations and thoughts that were correct 1,000 years ago.”
Al-Sisi argued that religious reform is central to achieving social peace. “This is an essential issue in Egypt because it will save society from internal conflicts,” he said.
Al-Sisi defended Egypt’s position on the crisis in Yemen, saying that the conflict in the war-ravaged country is much more complex than a struggle between the government and the Houthis.
“Egypt chose not to interfere in the Yemeni crisis because the war in Yemen is a proxy war in which other countries are involved. Egypt is very much aware of its limits and its strengths and its position towards Yemen is based on the knowledge that it cannot influence some of the parties involved in the conflict.”
The same applies to other regional hotspots, including Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, where the conflicts threaten to spill beyond borders and form a fertile breeding ground for terror.
“I hope that there will be an end to all these conflicts so that the people of these countries are able to live in security and peace,” he said.
The forum afforded an opportunity for Al-Sisi to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time in almost a year and attempt to push forward talks on Palestinian reconciliation, agreement over a ceasefire with Israel and the possible commencement of comprehensive peace talks.
Al-Sisi stated that the Egyptian position remained constant — a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital alongside an Israeli state in a framework that preserves the security of the two countries — and insisted Arab states were in no position to impose any solution on the Palestinians.
The White House on Saturday announced upcoming recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded in the US, and among the recipients is Miriam Adelson, wife of business magnate and Trump backer Sheldon Adelson.
With her husband, Sheldon, she established the Adelson Medical Research Foundation, which supports research to prevent, reduce, or eliminate disabling and life-threatening illness.”
In addition, “As a committed member of the American Jewish community, she has supported Jewish schools, Holocaust memorial organizations, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and Birthright Israel, among other causes.”
The Adelsons have made numerous and significant contributions to Trump and to Republicans.
CNN noted that in the recent midterm elections the couple donated at least $112 million to Republican candidates. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is given to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Officials close to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, discussed plans in 2017 with businessmen to potentially use private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Three sources familiar with the talks told the newspaper that aides to Saudi Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri brought up possibly assassinating Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Soleimani is one of several Iranian officials targeted by a 2007 United Nations travel ban because of their links to Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, but the sanctions against him were due to be lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The talks reportedly came in March 2017, more than a year before journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a killing that the Crown Prince is suspected of ordering.
Khashoggi’s has strained relations between Saudi Arabia and the West. US President Donald Trump derided the killing as "one of the worst cover-ups" in history, and Washington has revoked the visas of 21 Saudi nationals implicated in the crime.
Saudi Arabia admitted several weeks ago that Khashoggi was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul, but claimed he was killed in a “rogue operation” and denied that Saudi officials were involved.
According to the Times, Assiri's aides also asked the businessmen whether they "conducted kinetics," and said they were looking to kill top officials in Iran.
The report also claimed that the businessmen at the meeting included Lebanese-American businessman George Nader and Israeli businessman Joel Zamel.
The proposal from the aides to Assiri came during a series of meetings between Saudi Arabia and the businessmen, according to the Times. A spokesman for Saudi Arabia and lawyers for Nader and Zamel declined to comment.
Soleimani: Iran’s interests in Iraq, Syria not materialistic
Palestinians on Sunday marked 14 years since the death of iconic leader Yasser Arafat, with their campaign for statehood still deadlocked and beset by internal divisions. Arafat, who for decades embodied the struggle for independence, died aged 75 in a French hospital on Nov. 11, 2004...
Arafat's successor, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, laid a wreath at his tomb in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday, flanked by senior officials of his Palestinian Authority.
After paying tribute to "the leader of the nation and the leader of the martyrs," Abbas went on to accuse Israel and the United States of seeking to sabotage Palestinian statehood through a nascent peace plan that President Donald Trump calls "the ultimate deal."
"There is an American conspiracy through the ultimate agreement and the Israelis are conspiring to implement it," he said.
Abbas suspended diplomatic contact with Washington following Trump's 2017 recognition of the disputed city of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Palestinians claim the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.
Abbas added that the Hamas movement, his bitter rival which rules the Gaza Strip, was also hindering the cause.
"Another plot, by Hamas, aims to disrupt the establishment of an independent Palestinian state," he said.
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas's Palestinian Authority in a 2007 near-civil war. Multiple reconciliation attempts aimed at restoring the PA to power in Gaza have failed.
The Israeli military bombed the studios of Hamas's television station in the Gaza Strip on Monday after launching at least five non-exploding missiles nearby as warnings to evacuate, Palestinian officials and witnesses said.
There was no immediate word of any casualties in the air strike on Al-Aqsa Television, which followed a surge in cross-border fighting between members of Hamas, the Palestinian resistance group, and Israel.
Seven Palestinians were killed Sunday night, including a senior Hamas commander, when an Israeli military force staged an incursion into the southern Gaza Strip.
One Israeli soldier was reportedly killed and another injured in the raid. Hamas said the Israeli actions dealt a blow to Egyptian, Qatari and U.N. efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire and ease an Israeli blockade that has deepened economic hardship in Gaza.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars, the latest in 2014, since the group seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.
Violence has flared regularly along the Israel-Gaza border since Palestinians began protests on March 30 to demand rights to land lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its creation.
Israeli gunfire has killed more than 220 Palestinians since the start of the demonstrations, which have included breaches of Israel's border fence.
The Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas – has condemned Israel’s destruction of Al Aqsa TV station in the Gaza Strip. A spokesman for the movement, Fawzi Barhoum, described the targeting of the TV Channel and demolishing of its headquarters as a blatant act of aggression against journalism and all free voices dedicated to communicating the truth.
Hamas says it will fire rockets at Israeli towns of Beersheba, Ashdod if raids on civilian buildings in Gaza don't stop.
Hamas' warning that it would extend the range of its rocket fire was issued on Tuesday, hours after a rocket from Gaza killed an Israeli man in a direct hit on a residential building in the coastal town of Ashkelon.
The spokesperson for the Hamas military wing said in a statement that Ashkelon "has entered the range of fire as a response to the bombing of civilian buildings in Gaza".
"Occupied al-Majdal (Ashkelon) is now in our cross hairs in response to the shelling that targeted civilian buildings in Gaza … Ashdod and Beersheba are the next targets if the enemy continues to bombard civilian buildings," Abu Ubaidah said on Twitter. Of the three cities, Ashkelon is closest to Gaza.
gaza november 2018
Renewed violence in Gaza left four Palestinians and one Israeli dead on Monday in what was the worst trading of fire between Israel and fighters in the enclave since the 2014 war, threatening to put an end to Egyptian and United Nations truce efforts.
Israeli strikes pummelled Gaza, striking more than 100 sites linked to the territory’s rulers Hamas, the military said. They came in response to up to 370 rockets which were fired into Israeli territory in less than 24 hours.
On Tuesday, Hamas said it would fire rockets at the Israeli towns of Beersheba and Ashdod if Israeli strikes continued, a significant threat from the group that has tried to disavow rocket launches emanating from the Strip this year.
The fierce clashes came after a botched undercover Israeli raid that left one Hamas commander, six fellow fighters and an Israeli officer dead, after the group’s fighters discovered Israeli special forces in a civilian car near the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis. Israel said it was an intelligence-gathering mission but Hamas vowed revenge for the operation.
A Hamas leader, Ismael Radwan, said the Israeli operation “let the mediators know that the real murder is the Israeli occupation who keep attacking our people". He added that Israel “does not care about the Egyptian efforts”.
The UN and Egypt raced on Tuesday to halt the escalation between the two sides.
UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov called the escalation "extremely dangerous" and said on Twitter that "restraint must be shown by all". He said the UN was working with Egypt to broker an end to the renewed fighting.
The EU’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, called for a halt in “indiscriminate” rocket fire toward civilians. “Everyone must step back from the brink,” he said.
Palestinian groups in the besieged Gaza Strip say they have agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel to end the worst violence between the two sides in years.
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from Nahal-Oz near the Gaza-Israel fence, said Hamas-led factions on Tuesday accepted the truce "to restart the situation that prevailed up until this latest military escalation".
Fawcett added: "The Israelis do not confirm or deny such things, but Israeli media are reporting, citing an unnamed official, that Palestinian factions tried through four separate mediators to request a ceasefire."
A statement by Palestinian groups in Gaza said: "Egypt's efforts have been able to achieve a ceasefire between the resistance and the Zionist enemy. "The resistance will respect this declaration as long as the Zionist enemy respects it."
'Israel provoked the Palestinians'
The latest escalation erupted late on Sunday when Israel launched a botched raid in Gaza that killed seven other Palestinians and one of its commanders.
Hamas and other armed factions on Monday fired over 400 rockets or mortar bombs at Israel, with Israel responding with dozens of air raids.
Turkey criticised Israel's response to the rocket fire, with Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling the strikes "brutal" and illegal, state news agency Anadolu said.
The German Foreign Office also condemned Israel's air strikes, saying: "There can be no justification for this violence against innocent civilians."
Meanwhile, the Palestine Liberation Organisation said Israel was solely responsible for the surge in fighting. In a statement, it called on the international community to protect citizens in Gaza.
Mohammad Oweis, a Palestinian-American political analyst, told Al Jazeera that the ceasefire would only hold "as long as the Israelis do not provoke the Palestinians".
"The Israelis provoked the Palestinians into this latest round of fighting. They are the ones who need to stop.
"They seem to have learnt from Donald Trump that by provoking people, attacking them verbally and physically, [they can] change facts and the reality on the ground."
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Wednesday that he was resigning from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in protest against a Gaza truce.
Announcing his decision, which takes effect 48 hours after he puts it in writing, Lieberman deemed Tuesday's Egyptian-mediated deal with the Hamas movement in Gaza "a capitulation to terror".
"Despite the difference in opinion, I tried to stay a faithful member of the government for as long as possible … but it has failed," Lieberman said.
"From my point of view there were critical points that made it impossible for me to carry," he added, referring to $15m that Qatar send to the Gaza Strip to pay out salaries to Palestinians, many of whom had not been paid for months.
"The $15m dollar that went into the Gaza Strip taken in suitcases from Qatar … what would happen with the money after it has gone across the border, it's not clear at all. ... It went to the families of the terrorists who fought on the border with Israeli soldiers throwing grenades.
"These families are the first who are going to receive part of this $15m – in other words we are … giving terrorists money," Lieberman said.
Avigdor Lieberman, born Evet Lvovich Liberman, 5 July 1958, is a Soviet-born Israeli politician.
He is the founder and leader of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose electoral base are overwhelmingly Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
The party describes itself as "a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the bold path of Zev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism (Wikipedia info)
The Trump administration hopes that the US-backed fight against ISIS in its last foothold in northeastern Syria will end within months but American forces will remain to ensure the “enduring defeat” of the militant group, a top US diplomat said on Wednesday.
Ambassador James Jeffrey, the US special representative for Syria engagement, said the United States believes the way forward in Syria includes defeating ISIS, reinvigorating the political process and winding down the long-running war.
Toward that end, he said, the United States hopes to see the formation of a committee before the end of the year to work on a new constitution for Syria as agreed by the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey during their meeting in Istanbul in October.
He said US forces would remain in place after the coalition forces prevail over ISIS military units to ensure the group does not “regenerate itself.”...
Washington also wants the withdrawal of Iranian military forces from Syria once the underlying causes of the conflict have been resolved, he said, noting that Iran's continued military presence would represent a threat to US partners in the region.
Jeffrey said getting Iranian forces out of Syria, where they back Assad's rule, was not a US military goal but should be an outcome of the process to end the civil war and the only way to achieve lasting peace.
He said newly reinstated US sanctions against Iran would encourage Tehran to scale back its presence in Syria.
According to US Deputy Treasury Secretary Sigal Mandelker, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has cut off Iranian financial institutions targeted by US sanctions.
The US Treasury official also said that Washington would be strictly enforcing its sanctions regime against Tehran and announced that there would be "a lot more from the US on Iran."
Sputnik discussed this with UK-based economics professor Steve Keen.
-Sputnik: What's your take on the latest measures taken by the US against Iran?
-Steve Keen: I think they're quite extreme, because one thing that we expect is a financial system that works for everyone in the system; even criminals use the financial system.
To remove the access of an entire country to international payments is something that no single country should have the power to do.
And the fact that the US is bullying the SWIFT system to have them do this is a sign of how dysfunctional an international financial system is.
-Sputnik: What kind of impact is it going to have on Iran?
-Steve Keen: Quite severe, because Iran's exports are roughly $45 billion per year which is about 10% of their GDP; and 60% of that is actually oil-based exports. Of course, they got to use the SWIFT system to sell that oil if they're going to get paid back in American dollars. That could potentially knock out something on the order of 60% or more of their exports, which would be a drastic hit to the economy and push it deeper into recession.
-Sputnik: But it was anticipated, wasn't it?
-Steve Keen: It was. And that's one of the reasons that Iran has been dealing with a number of other countries that are basically getting fed up with 60 or 70 years of a generally dysfunctional system anyway.
The US dollar should never have been used as a reserve currency, there should have been, as Keynes intended, a supranational currency he called the bankor.
This, I think, is probably motivating a number of countries to think that 'It's about time we stop complaining about it; it's about time we produced an alternative.'
-Sputnik: What kind of event could actually serve as a trigger to, perhaps, hurry the process on?
-Steve Keen: I think it's already happened. The fact that Trump has bullied SWIFT into not letting Iran use the system, it is enough of a signal to the rest of the world that "if this could be done to Iran by America, it can be done to us by America, and we have to get an alternative."
-Sputnik: Do you have any forecast for the immediate future? What else can we anticipate happening regarding this whole situation?
-Steve Keen: I think that we're already seeing a lot of volatility in the oil price, which is hitting international trade quite dramatically; and trying to cut Iran out has initially driven prices up, which is one of the reasons that Trump allowed eight countries not to have to live up to the ban on trading with Iran.
That in itself is one of the short-term effects. At the same time, of course, the oil price is affected by the capacity of the shale oil miners in America to export once the price exceeds $50 a barrel; that is now driving the price down.
I think that things will get worse rather than better because if Trump realizes the prices aren't going to rise because of the embargo on Iran, then he's going to push the embargo even more..
Iraq’s President Barham Salih has arrived in Tehran for a two-day visit during which he is expected to discuss issues of mutual interest as well as important regional issues with Iranian officials.
This is Salih’s fourth regional trip and the first one to Iran since taking office on October 2. He has so far visited Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan in his capacity as president.
Tehran and Baghdad have shared a unique alliance since the end of the reign of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The alliance has featured joint regional counter-terrorism efforts, including intelligence sharing and presence of Iranian military advisors on Iraq's soil in support of the Arab country’s operations against terrorist outfits.
Iraq heavily depends on imports of natural gas from Iran to produce electricity.
Most recently, Iraq rejected a US deadline to stop importing natural gas from Iran, warning that any halt to the supplies would create a real power crisis. Iraq has rejected a US deadline to stop importing Iranian gas, warning that any halt to the supplies would create a real power crisis.
Earlier in the year, Baghdad also successfully requested and earned a waiver from Washington’s sanctions targeting Iran’s oil imports.
Netanyahu & The Survival of the Fittest
Extensively documented, relying mostly on Zionist, British, and Israeli sources, 'Might over Right' makes a crucial contribution to the growing effort to challenge the simplistic and reductive accounts in media and scholarship in the West, one of the principal causes of the perpetuation of the conflict.
Netanyahu is basically mainstreaming a fascistic rhetoric, the maintenance of a supposed ‘necessary evil’ against the supposed ultimate evil, Iran.
But it is important to note that this kind of fascist thinking is actually quite compatible with Zionism to begin with. And this pertains not only to Netanyahu, or Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, it comes also from the left when it is being honest about its intentions.
Thus the self-declared ‘leftist’ Israeli historian Benny Morris, who says that “there are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing”, also celebrates the American genocide (which supposedly made America great): “Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians.” [..]
All of this is a kind of Darwinist-racist “survival of the fittest”, which is more precisely “survival of the fascists”.
Opposition to such ideologies is always discouraged and dismissed by these people; they see themselves as “respected” because they are “strong”, as Netanyahu says; and anyone who opposes their chauvinism is destined to “crumble, [be] slaughtered and [be] erased from history.” Because the “strong” are the only ones worthy of survival...
"What remains for me, is to go on being a-Zionist or post-Zionist while doing what I can to help rescue the place I live in from an ever-intensifying racism, due, among other reasons, to the teaching of a false historical past, fear of assimilation with the Other, revulsion of the indigenous culture and so on.
For, as the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet wrote, “If I don’t burn / if you don’t burn / ... if we don’t burn / how will the light / ... vanquish the darkness?” "
Palestinian efforts to join international bodies are “premature” and “counterproductive,” a US State Department official said over the weekend, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas moved to join a UN agency and several international conventions.
On Thursday, Abbas signed documents to join the Universal Postal Union, a UN agency that coordinates international postage, and 10 international protocols and conventions.
The Palestinians are currently members of dozens of international organizations, protocols and conventions, part of a campaign to gain unilateral recognition of their nascent state as peace talks with Israel have grown moribund.
In addition to the Universal Postal Union, Abbas signed forms to join the Convention on the Nationality of Married Woman; Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; Basel Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal; the Vienna Convention of Road Traffic; Protocol concerning countries or territories at present occupied; the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages; Agreement Establishing the Common Fund for Commodities; and the International Convention on the Arrest of Ships.
The Palestinians maintain that their moves to join international organizations advance their goal of achieving statehood and strengthen their international standing.
However, Israel holds that Palestinian efforts to gain membership in international bodies constitute one-sided measures aimed at achieving statehood while bypassing peace negotiations and undermining the Jewish state’s status in the international community.
Abbas has said recently that a Palestinian agreement with the US not to join international bodies was conditioned on the US embassy not moving to Jerusalem, not changing the status of the PLO mission in Washington, DC, and not cutting aid payments.
In the past year, Trump’s administration has moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, closed the PLO representative office in the American capital and ended almost all of its aid payments for Palestinians.
The PA president has said if the US does not uphold its end of the the agreement, the Palestinians will not maintain their part of it.
The Palestinian Authority says Israel seeks to ignite a religious war after an Israeli minister forced his way into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem al-Quds with a group of extremists Sunday.
“The aggression on al-Aqsa Mosque by storming it is a hellish crime perpetrated by and initiated by an extremist terror ideology,” Palestinian Authority spokesman Yusef al-Mahmoud said.
His remarks came after Uri Ariel, Israel’s minister of agriculture and rural development, and dozens of extremist settlers barged into the highly sensitive site in a provocative act.
Mahmoud said the move was carried out on instructions from the Israeli regime to “storm the Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis”. He said anyone who participates in storming mosques and churches in Jerusalem al-Quds “represents this bloody ideology”. [..]
The number of Israeli lawmakers who storm the sacred compound has increased in the past few months.
The rise comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided in July to allow Israeli lawmakers to visit the compound once every three months after lifting a restriction of access that had been in place since October 2015.
Most of the Knesset members are right-wing extremists, who support the demolition of the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple instead.
The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary arrived in Tehran Monday morning on a visit to discuss the nuclear deal.
“The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearized Iran,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement before he left London.
“It needs 100 percent compliance though to survive. We will stick to our side of the bargain as long as Iran does. “But we also need to see an end to destabilising activity by Iran in the rest of the region if we are going to tackle the root causes of the challenges the region faces,” he said.
This is his first trip to Iran and the first visit by any European foreign minister since the United States opted out of the nuclear deal.
The UK is part of European efforts to keep the nuclear deal alive. The European Union is trying to devise a mechanism, called the Special Purpose Vehicle, to allow continued economic relations with Iran, bypassing US sanctions. The mechanism has so far failed to get off the ground, however.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi told reporters on Monday morning that Iran expects European nations to get the mechanism operational “as soon as possible.”
“Due to different reasons, the process is slow. We expect the three European signatories of the deal that are committed to it, to accelerate the process,” he said, referring to the UK, France, and Germany.
Hunt is also expected to discuss conflicts in Syria and Yemen and raise the issue of British-Iranian nationals jailed in Iran.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday attended the completion ceremony of the sea section work for the TurkStream natural gas project in Istanbul.
Speaking in the ceremony, Erdoğan underlined the strengthening ties between Turkey and Russia. "We increased our trade volume with Russia by 30 percent last year and we aim to reach a volume of $100 billion," Erdoğan said.
Turkey is becoming an important international energy hub as the TurkStream pipeline project becomes a reality and this will strengthen Turkey's geopolitical position, Putin said.
Construction of the TurkStream will have a positive impact on the development of the whole Black Sea region and will be an important safeguard for European energy security, he added.
"I am sure that the TurkStream, as well as our other joint project -- the Akkuyu nuclear power plant -- will become a bright symbol of the development of a multifaceted Russian-Turkish partnership, and a symbol of friendship between our peoples," he said.
TurkStream is a transit-free gas export pipeline that will stretch across the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and further extend to Turkey's borders with neighboring European countries.
The first line is intended for gas supplies to Turkish consumers, while the second will supply gas to south and southeastern Europe. Russian energy giant Gazprom is planning to start the construction of the overland section of the TurkStream's second gas pipeline in 2019.
Natural gas transmission will take around 52 hours from Russia's Anapa to the destination in Turkey, at Kıyıköy located in the Kırklareli province in northwestern Turkey, according to the officials.
The control room where natural gas transmission will be monitored will be located at the headquarters of the TurkStream project company in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Al-Mayadeen, near the Iraqi border in Deir al Zor province, had become a major base for Islamic State militants as they were being driven out of their de facto Syrian capital in Raqqa city by a U.S.-backed offensive. On 14 october 2017 it was taken from Islamic State by the Syrian government and allied forces.
The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces announced that the entire southern region is now free of terrorism following the elimination of the last terrorist gatherings of ISIS terrorist organization in Tuloul al-Safa area deep inside Sweida eastern Badiya (Desert).
“Following a string of accurate and focused military operations, our valiant armed forces have established complete control over Tuloul al-Safa area which is of a complex volcanic nature, eliminating ISIS terrorists positioned there, and confiscated large amounts of light and medium weapons,” the Command said in a statement of which SANA received a copy on Monday.
The Command hailed the liberation as an achievement which is particularly significant given that an area of 380 square kilometers in the Syrian Badiya has been cleared of terrorism, which served as the last stronghold for ISIS in the southern region.
President Donald Trump has said Washington intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure interests of the United States, Israel and regional partners.
Trump said that “King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.
Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the US president insisted. "They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran."
“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!” he added.
He mentioned that Saudi Arabia had “agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.”
“Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!” he pointed out.
He acknowledged that the “crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone,” but implied that due to the murder of a journalist Washington cannot cancel such lucrative business deals with the kingdom.
Read also: Saddam's Death, Page 129
US President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that Israel would face major regional difficulties in the Middle East if it were not for the stabilizing presence of Saudi Arabia.
The US president was asked to comment on reports that the CIA had concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the brutal murder of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
"If you look at Israel, Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “So what does that mean, Israel is going to leave? You want Israel to leave? We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia.”
“The fact is that Saudi Arabia is tremendously helpful in the Middle East, if we didn’t have Saudi Arabia we wouldn’t have a big base, we wouldn’t have any reason probably…” Trump said, without finishing the sentence.
Citing vehement denials by the Saudi crown prince and king that they were involved in Khashoggi’s killing, which he termed “an atrocity,” Trump said, “maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place.”
The Knesset will hold a special convention of leftist Knesset Members and organization operatives under the title "Hevron First", the purpose of which is to call to evacuate the Jewish community from the city...
"For 50 years now, a handful of settlers in the very heart of the Palestinian population in Hevron have been leading the government to impose a cruel, physical, and legal separation regime on the Palestinian population," Yediot Ahronot quoted the invitation to the conference.
"Hundreds of soldiers are sent by the government to carry out the separation. In fact, huge budgets are invested in favor of the same handful at the expense of the public, and the friction between the populations leads to a destructive reality of violence, extreme incidents such as the Baruch Goldstein massacre, the Elor Azaria affair, and the loss of human life - among both Jews and Palestinians."
The conference is being held at the initiative of MKs Ayman Odeh and Dov Khenin from the 'Joint Arab List' and MK Michal Rozin ('Meretz').
Members of Breaking the Silence, Peace Now, Yesh Din, and B'Tselem were invited to the event, led by the organization's director.
According to the three organizers, "the settlement in Hevron is an expression of an extreme government policy that pours huge budgets and endangers human life in order to strengthen and preserve a handful of extremist settlers."
To prevent the possibility of the Knesset Speaker canceling the conference, its definition was changed from a "conference" to a "meeting", as while a conference must be approved by the Chairman, a meeting does not and can be held without approval.
The United States’ attempts to accuse Russia of facilitating oil supplies to Syria show a desire to prevent the reconstruction of Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, commenting on Washington’s move to expand sanctions on Russia.
"At the same time, the main reasons for sanctions are rooted in the domestic political struggle in the United States, where each of the parties seeks to score points by whatever means, particularly by taking steps at the international level. As a result, these steps turn out to be clumsy," the statement reads.
"Accusations concerning oil supplies to Syria - a country whose armed forces have been fighting terrorist aggression for over seven years - look like a statement of support for terrorists and also show a desire to prevent the reconstruction of the war-torn country, where many people live without electricity and heating. Is it what the United States really wants?" the Russian ministry added.
"US politicians should start getting rid of illusions about the United States’ omnipotence that they convinced themselves of. Self-deception is a dangerous thing," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.
On Tuesday, the United States sanctioned two Russian companies - Global Vision Group and Promsyrioimport - on suspicion of supplying Iranian oil to Syria. Promsyrioimport Director General Andrei Dogayev was blacklisted.
According to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the move is aimed "against a complex scheme Iran and Russia have used to bolster the Assad regime and generate funds for Iranian malign activity."
In addition, the United States also blacklisted two Iranian nationals, one Lebanese citizen, one Syrian and one Iraqi, as well as the Iran-based Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Company.
With overt enthusiasm, Libyans openly celebrated Prophet Mohamed’s birthday (the Mawlid al-Nabawi or Miloud) this year, reinvigorating life into an old traditional practice recently prosecuted, silenced and perceived as un-Islamic by some Islamic interpretations.
The Sufi turuqs (orders) have been an integral part and in the forefront of mainstream Islamic traditions in Libya for centuries. Indeed, long before they were labled as Sufis or traditional Malikies, the Islamic Sufi school has taken pride in overtly celebrating the Prophet’s birthday.
“As for the Sufi turuqs and Shaykhs, we are ready to celebrate the Mawlid. In addition to civil societies who insist on taking part in the event”, head of the Supreme Council of Sufi turuqs in Libya, Ezzideen Al-Shaikhi, told the Libya Herald earlier this week. “We have coordinated with the security authorities to protect the celebrators and the marching” adds Al-Shaikhi.
This comes on the back of an anti Maulid movement after the 2011 Libyan revolution by militias and religious movements.
Starting in early 2012 Sufi shrines, tombs and libraries were constantly attacked and demolished, and Shaykhs were assassinated and hounded.
On 8 November, the predominantly Salafists Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowment) and Islamic Affairs in the Beida-based government of Abdullah Thinni issued a statement urging mosque Imams to speak up against the Mawlid celebrations, projecting it as a sheer “Beda” or heresy.
However, this attracted much criticism and ridicule by Libyans on social media.
“We are sorry to hear these accusations of Shirk and heresy from the Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. We demand the Interim Government put a stop to them speaking of such dangerous accusations”, said Al-Shaikhi. It will be recalled that the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) Chief of Staff Abdulrazig Alnaduri gave his permission for the reopening of the Sufi Zawias and schools in April this year... The Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Authority opposed the decision... “They came with heavily armed vehicles to prevent the reopening and threatened to use violence." [..]
Yesterday, the internationally-recognized Libyan government put its official stamp on the Maulid celebrations when Faiez Serraj took part in the event.
Senior Hamas and Fatah sources, speaking from Gaza and Ramallah, say their latest meetings with the mediation team sent by Cairo have raised the possibility of a deal being signed before the end of the year.
The basis of the deal Hamas and Fatah have tentatively agreed is built on the reconciliation paper Cairo first proposed in October 2017. Delegations from both groups are expected to arrive soon in Cairo for follow-up talks with Egyptian officials.
Egypt’s effort to promote peace on the Palestinian-Israeli front is part of a wider diplomatic drive by Cairo that includes the promotion of a possible “basic deal” for Libya.
In the course of talks UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé held with Egyptian officials during his visit to Egypt two weeks ago Cairo promised to intensify its efforts to assemble a unified Libyan army, under the direct supervision of Khalifa Haftar, as Salamé attempts to set the stage for possible elections in Libya in May 2019.
On yet another parallel track, Egypt could soon play host to meetings of Syrian political figures as a precursor to forming a committee to draft a new constitution for the troubled country.
“It is still only an idea,” said an Egyptian source. “But we have hosted meetings before to bring together Syrian players who could work together and with the Syrian regime.”
Cairo is keen to help Syria return to the Arab League and is making no secret of its wish to consolidate Bashar Al-Assad’s regime as a possible ally.
Cairo’s objective is to ensure any new Syrian constitution does not open the door to a “sudden shift in the balance of political power in Syria” — a euphemism for keeping Islamists, especially groups allied with Qatar and Turkey, out.
“The issue has been thoroughly discussed with Russia,” the same Egyptian source said, and “it is also being discussed with our friends in the Gulf.”
Following Syria's military success against its enemies, Arab states which supported the war on Syria are again making nice with it.
President Bashar al-Assad received on Monday a Jordanian parliamentary delegation comprising a number of heads of committees at the Jordanian Parliament. (SANA, 19-11)
Disagreement between the World of Islam and the United States is on the issues of freedom and slavery, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday at an international Islamic conference in Tehran.
'They want the world to think American, respect American values, but we say all humans are free,' President Rouhani said, addressing the 32nd International Islamic Unity Conference underway in the Iranian capital.
Saying that today, the United States wants the countries in the region to be its slaves, he added, 'The dispute between us and the Western bullies, now the US, has been going on for centuries.'
'They say, their interests should always be met and we say, World bullies cannot determine our path,' President Rouhani added. 'Whoever has a more lethal weapon is the ruler and enjoys the veto right; that tends to be the base for charting the world since World War II,' he said.
The Iranian president went on to criticize the West, especially the US and Britain, for creating the veto right, then using it to create the 'Cancerous Gland' of the region, namely the fake regime of Israel.
He said that the Muslim nations do not accept the present situation in the region. 'The right path is that of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and standing firmly against oppression,' President Rouhani said.
'Islam is not just the religion respecting Muslims, it respects all mankind and all exalted human values.' Rouhani stressed.
Rouhani said that the Islamic World should unite and making reference to a certain regime in the region, he said, 'You gave a gift worth $450bn and bought $110bn of weapons to provide your security and the looter of your wealth said he was 'milking' a cow.'
'What for do you need the US that you are giving away your resources to them?' asked President Rouhani. 'Who is your enemy in the region? We are ready to defend Saudi Arabia against terrorism and the enemy of the region and superpowers as hard as we can, in the same way we helped Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.'
'We don't want a $450bn gift and won't insult you. We treat you as our brother, like other nations of the region.'
“We couldn’t hold the exhibition last year. This year, we held it successfully. It is a lot better than the exhibitions held in Iraqi cities,” head of Sulaimani business chamber Sirwan Mohammed told Rudaw.<
More than 180 companies are participating, including many from Iran. Iran’s consul in Sulaimani said this fair is even more important now because of US sanctions.
“Iran is under an illegal economic embargo and this will directly affect the Kurdistan Region and Iraq because of our relations. The US wants to elevate its sanctions gradually through Iraq and Turkey. But we will not give up on these relations. We will continue these economic relations, don’t worry,” said Consul General Saadullah Masudyan.
Companies participating in the event come from a range of sectors, including construction, industry, and agriculture.
The expo is being held in Tasluja. The six-day event is open to the public.
Syria: "Militants bombarded Aleppo with chlorine-filled shells"
Hariri & "The Evil Regime in Iran"
Nasr Al-Hariri, YouTube Vid, Paris, 1st July 2017
Flashback - Nasr al-Hariri: "The life of the Iranian regime is over"
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized Saudi Arabia’s “backsliding” on religious tolerance in a new report on middle and high school textbooks today, further undermining the embattled kingdom’s reformist credentials.
The independent federal government commission contracted a study of 22 textbooks focusing mostly on religious studies published by the Saudi government for the 2017-2018 academic year.
It notably found that the books “caution students to avoid friendship with members of other religions […] encourage both violent and non-violent jihad against non-believers [and] espouse the death penalty for women who have an affair, and for gay men.”
“This review revealed an apparent reversal in the previous trend toward tolerance in Saudi textbooks,” the commission concludes. “They reflect core Wahhabi doctrines and not other trends of Islamic scholarship that are more accepting.”
Mohammed al-Arifi (R) with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 11-12-2017
Flashback: Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Oraifi
Sheikh Mohamed al-Arifi (on podium), a leading Saudi cleric, calls for jihad in Syria (Daily News, 15-6-2013)
Saudi Sheikh banned from Kuwait, 21-1-2010
Kuwaiti authorities have banned the controversial Saudi Sheikh Mohammad Al Oraifi from entering the state. He caused outrage recently with comments describing the revered Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq’s and top religious leader, as “an atheist and a depraved man”.
".. dead bodies, or fleeing, or imprisoned..."