Revolutionary Guards Commander: Iran Helping Syria, Iraq, Hizbullah, and Palestine (Press TV-Iran)
The commander of the Aerospace Division of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Brig.-Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, said on Monday:
"By exporting the technology of manufacturing missiles and other equipment, Iran helped countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Palestine as well as Lebanon's Hizbullah to stand up to and ground the Zionist regime, the ISIL and other Takfiri groups."
French Soldiers Stabbed While Guarding Jewish Center - Levi Winchester (Daily Express-UK)
Three soldiers guarding a Jewish community center in Nice, France, were stabbed Tuesday by Moussa Coulibaly, 30, who was arrested.
He shares the same surname as Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist behind the kosher supermarket siege on Jan. 9.
Iran's Militias Are Taking Over Iraq's Army - Eli Lake (Bloomberg)
Hadi al-Amiri, the founder and leader of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia, the Badr Brigade, told me that U.S. ambassador Stuart Jones recently offered air strikes to support the Iraqi army and militia ground forces under his command.
This has placed the U.S. in the strange position of deepening an alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran for its war against Islamic extremists.
While official U.S. policy is to support the integration of Iraq's sectarian militias into the Iraqi Security Forces, in Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad, the Iraqi army is integrating into the Shiite militias.
Amiri said he meets with the commander of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, whenever he is in Baghdad. "He advises us. He offers us information, we respect him very much," he said.
He added that Lebanon's Hizbullah has also provided the Badr Brigade with important lessons learned from fighting Israel.
Michael Flynn, a retired special operations general who until last year was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said,
"Members of the Badr Corps are responsible for killing many American soldiers and they will likely do it again if given the chance."
Iraq's Christians Take Up Arms to Fight Islamic State - Nour Malas (Wall Street Journal)
Hundreds of Christian men are training at a former U.S. military facility in northeast Iraq to reclaim their towns from Islamic State militants.
Recruits to the new Iraqi Christian militia seek to create a force that will keep their towns and villages safe even after Islamic State is defeated.
Across Iraq, more than 150,000 Christians have been displaced since Islamic State began its rampage, according to Iraqi Christian community leaders.
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- U.S., Iran Discussing Nuclear Compromise - George Jahn
With time for negotiations running short, the U.S and Iran are discussing a compromise that would let Iran keep much of its uranium-enriching technology but reduce its potential to make nuclear weapons, two diplomats tell AP.
Such a compromise could break the decade-long deadlock on attempts to limit Iranian activities that could be used to make such arms: Tehran refuses to meet U.S.-led demands for deep cuts in the number of centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium.
The proposal could leave running most of the nearly 10,000 centrifuges Iran is operating but reconfigure them to reduce the amount of enriched uranium they produce.
Experts warn that any reduction in centrifuge efficiency is reversible more quickly than a straight decrease in the number of machines, an argument that could be seized upon by powerful critics of the talks in the U.S. Congress.
Washington demanded a year ago that Tehran reduce the number of operating centrifuges from nearly 10,000 to fewer than 2,000. That would increase the time it would need to make enough weapons-grade uranium from a few months to a year or more.
By November, when the talks were extended, diplomats said the U.S. and its partners were ready to accept as many as 4,500, but Iran had not significantly budged.
- Jordan Executes Two Al-Qaeda Prisoners after Pilot Burned Alive - Greg Botelho and Dana Ford
Jordan executed two al-Qaeda prisoners before dawn Wednesday in response to the ISIS killing of pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh, a government spokesman said. Sajida al-Rishawi, the Iraqi would-be suicide bomber whose release ISIS had previously requested, and Ziad Karbouli, a former top aide to the deceased leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, were put to death. The executions come a day after video appeared showing the Jordanian military pilot being burned alive while confined in a cage. Jordanian military spokesman Mamdouh Al Amri said al-Kasasbeh was "assassinated" on Jan. 3.
In Amman and in the pilot's hometown, crowds hit the streets calling for revenge. Tom Fuentes, a CNN law enforcement analyst, noted:
"When was the last time you had a mob in the street of one of these Muslim countries that was not screaming 'death to America,' but in fact screaming, 'get revenge on ISIS.'" (CNN)
- U.S. Judge McGowan Davis to Replace Schabas as Head of UN Gaza Inquiry - Nick Cumming-Bruce
The UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday picked
Mary McGowan Davis, a former justice of the New York State Supreme Court and one of the two remaining panel members, to take over as chairwoman after the resignation of William Schabas, a Canadian law professor.
Schabas resigned after Israel accused him of a "blatant conflict of interest" for serving as a paid consultant to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
(New York Times)
See also New Head of UN Inquiry into Gaza War Expected to Be More Balanced toward Israel - Barak Ravid
Mary McGowan Davis was head of the HRC's committee that implemented the findings of the Goldstone fact-finding mission into Israel's operation in Gaza in 2009. Israel cooperated with her and provided substantial documentation regarding Israel's own inquiries into the operation. In her report, she found that "Israel devoted substantial resources to investigating more than 400 complaints of improper behavior in Gaza" and that the Israeli investigations were conducted appropriately. Her report was one of the influences that caused Goldstone to later recant some of the conclusions of his investigation.
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- Hamas Fast Rebuilding Forces in Gaza - Yaakov Lappin
Hamas and allied terrorist organizations in Gaza have spent recent months intensively rebuilding their capabilities, which sustained significant damage during last summer's Gaza war. "Their aim is to recover the military infrastructure that was damaged and return it to full capabilities and broaden it," according to a recent report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Tel Aviv, founded by leading members of the Israeli intelligence community.
To that end, Hamas has allocated the necessary funds, personnel, and equipment, despite the shortages suffered by the civilian sector. "We see that when it comes to military programs, resources flow without a problem," said Center head Dr. Reuven Erlich.
- Israeli, PA Security Forces Cooperate Against Islamic State - Avi Issacharoff
PA security forces have detained 15 Palestinians in the West Bank in recent months for links to Islamic State, senior Palestinian sources said Tuesday. They added that Shadi al-Menei, a leader of Islamic State-affiliate Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in Sinai, has been hiding out in Gaza and is in contact with senior Hamas officials there including Iman Nofel, one of the commanders of Hamas' armed wing.
PA officials said their security forces maintain close coordination with Israel on the subject of Islamic State in the West Bank. Israeli forces have also arrested several citizens in recent months for involvement with Islamic State.
(Times of Israel)
- Shelve the Schabas Report - Dore Gold
Prof. William Schabas accepted the offer to head the latest UN commission of inquiry while knowing that he was tainted since he had served as a PLO adviser. The whole process of UN fact-finding is deeply flawed. These commissions project an aura of legality, with statements about international humanitarian law, but they are really political bodies, which allows them to serve as a focal point for the current efforts underway to delegitimize the State of Israel. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
- Continued Diplomacy with Iran Means Its De Facto Nuclearization - Bret Stephens
On May 18, 2009, President Obama said of nuclear diplomacy with Iran: "We're not going to have talks forever. We're not going to create a situation in which talks become an excuse for inaction while Iran proceeds with developing a nuclear - and deploying a nuclear weapon."
Since then, diplomatic efforts have included the 2009 "fuel swap" proposal; the 2010 Brazil-Turkey-Iran declaration; the 2011 Russian "step-by-step proposal"; the 2012 diplomatic rounds in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow; and finally the 2013 "Joint Plan of Action," a six-month interim deal that is now in its 13th month.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Revolutionary Iran Cannot Be Appeased - Josef Joffe
Iran is not a "normal" would-be great power, amenable to a grand bargain where we both cooperate as we compete. Iran seeks to unseat the U.S. in the region, targeting Lebanon and Syria with proxies like Hizbullah, or directly with its expeditionary Guard forces. It reaches for nuclear weapons to cow the U.S., Israel and the rest. In addition, the regime in Tehran subverts its neighbors, seeking to impose Shiite supremacy from Beirut to Baghdad.
Revolutionary powers, driven by the consuming faith of being on the right side of history, cannot be appeased. How do you compromise with Allah? President Hassan Rouhani may be reasonable; his boss, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is not. For him, the "Great Satan" is indispensable as a cosmic enemy who legitimizes Islamic rule.
The writer is a fellow at the Institute of International Studies and the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University.
(Wall Street Journal)
Debating the U.S. Approach to Iran - Michael Doran (Mosaic)
- A large group of senators is currently supporting legislation that will make the re-imposition of sanctions mandatory and immediate if the Iranians fail to make a deal by the time the current term of the interim agreement lapses.
In an effort to bolster that initiative, Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington to address Congress on Iran.
- The White House reacted in a storm of indignation. Instead of trying to paper over the disagreement, Obama has done everything in his power to advertise it. In making his personal rift with Netanyahu the subject of intense public debate, the White House means to direct attention away from the strategic rift between them - and from the fact that the entire Israeli elite, regardless of political orientation, as well as much of the U.S. Congress, regards the president's conciliatory approach to Iran as profoundly misguided.
- The president is depicting his congressional critics as irresponsible warmongers. He would have us believe that there are only two options: his undeclared detente with Iran and yet another war in the Middle East. This is a false choice. It ignores the policy that every president since Jimmy Carter has pursued till now: vigorous containment on all fronts, not just in the nuclear arena.
- As a matter of ideology as much as strategy, Obama believes that integrating Iran into the international diplomatic and economic system is a much more effective method of moderating its aggressive behavior than applying more pressure. He appears also to believe that his method is working.
- In the meantime, the seasoned thugs in Tehran grow stronger and bolder: ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity, ever more confident in their hegemonic objectives. At minuscule and temporary inconvenience to themselves, they have not only reaped the economic and diplomatic rewards pursuant to participation in the interim agreement, but also fully preserved their nuclear ambitions and the means of achieving them.
- Having bested the most powerful country on earth in their drive for success on their terms, they have good reason to be confident.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council.
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