Iran's Revolutionary Guards: Destruction of Israel Is Islamic World's Top Priority (Tasnim-Iran)
The issue of Palestine and pursuing the strategy of the destruction of Israel are the Muslim world's overriding priorities, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said in a statement Wednesday.
Millions of people in Iran will attend rallies on Friday to show their solidarity with the cause of Palestine.
The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, officially declared the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as International Quds Day back in 1979.
Islamic State Offshoot Entrenches in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula - Tamer El-Ghobashy (Wall Street Journal)
Before Islamist militants attacked the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid last week, they smothered it with largess.
They handed out flour to help relieve food shortages, distributed cash, and offered U.S. dollar salaries to lure young men to their ranks, according to residents.
The handouts, coupled with long-standing grievances of government neglect, have helped Islamic State embed itself in the area.
Alberto Nisman's Secret Recordings, Revealed - Eamonn MacDonagh
Before he was murdered, the Argentine prosecutor investigating the massive 1994 Buenos Aires bombing wiretapped over 40,000 phone calls to investigate if the Argentine government conspired to cover up Iran's involvement in the attack.
The importance of the recordings can be gleaned from a February 2013 conversation between Argentine government intelligence operative Ramon Hector "Allan" Bogado and Jorge Alejandro "Yusuf" Khalil, an Argentine citizen now seen as Tehran's main back-channel interlocutor with the Argentine government.
In that call, Bogado told Khalil, "We have a video of the [AMIA] attack," leading Khalil to reprimand him for not being more careful when speaking on the phone.
The World Does Not Understand Israel's Conflict with Hamas - Janet Svirzenski (International Business Times-UK)
I live in Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, four miles from the Gaza border. When I first moved here, we used to have 25 Palestinians from Gaza working in the kibbutz.
When the Gaza war broke out a year ago we had already had two weeks of rocket attacks. Hamas started the war.
When I saw the protests against the Gaza war in the UK and other countries last year, I felt there was little understanding of the conflict.
People do not understand that it is Hamas who is the enemy of the Palestinian people. Hamas is taking the civilian population and putting it in front of bombs. It is not helping people to rebuild their homes, school and hospitals.
We see the trucks passing into Gaza with construction materials and we don't see it being used to rebuild. Hamas is rebuilding the tunnels.
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- New Tensions Emerge in Iran Nuclear Talks - John Follain, Indira Lakshmanan and Kambiz Foroohar
As the Iran nuclear talks grind on in Vienna, frustrations have boiled over into decidedly undiplomatic confrontations. In one incident on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif could be heard shouting in nearby rooms.
In another meeting on the weapons embargo, Zarif erupted again when Western powers talked of Iran's role in roiling the Middle East.
"If we are talking about regional security, I should take every one of you to international courts for supporting Saddam [Hussein]," Zarif said.
Another clash on Monday involved Zarif telling Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, to lay off the "threats." An account provided by Russia's RIA Novosti said a senior official (later identified as Mogherini) told Zarif that if he didn't want to reach a deal, they could end the talks right then and there. According to RIA, Zarif snapped back: "Never try to threaten the Iranians." (Bloomberg)
- Iran's Hard-Liners Sharpen Attacks on U.S. - Thomas Erdbrink
Anti-Americanism in Iran is getting even more strident. In the buildup to the annual anti-Israel extravaganza coming this Friday, Ayatollah Ali Jannati told the Fars news agency: "We march not only against Israel....We also march against the arrogant powers," Europe and, particularly, the U.S.
"What will be left of our revolution, of our position in the Islamic world, if we start relations with a country devoted to oppressing us and many others?" asked Alireza Mataji, an organizer of anti-American rallies. "We will not let America destroy us." State television still reminds viewers day in and day out of all the evil acts and "crimes" committed by the U.S. Every public event provides another opportunity to pound away at the official message of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, that "America needs to be punched in the mouth." (New York Times)
- Russia Seeks End to Iran Arms Embargo - Jonathan Tirone and Henry Meyer
Russia is poised to reap $7 billion from arms sales to Iran over the next decade in the event of a nuclear deal, according to Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Moscow-based Center of Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. The Islamic Republic needs a "huge upgrade" of its fighter jets, navy and air defense systems, he said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, "It is essential to reach an agreement on lifting the arms embargo as soon as possible."
With or without a deal, Iran's military is close to producing armor-piercing weapons made from either natural or depleted uranium, said Karl Dewey, a London-based IHS Janes analyst. Their high heat and density can melt through thick alloys to deposit their explosives.
Iran's ability to turn the leftovers from its uranium enrichment program into armor-busting munitions has been a subject of the current nuclear talks, according to a U.S. administration official. (Bloomberg)
- U.S. Fears Iran Deal Will Release Billions for Terror Attacks - Tim Mak
A nuclear agreement with Iran could give Tehran a $100 billion financial windfall - a sum that even the Obama administration is concerned could be used to finance terrorism against American interests. "We are of course aware and concerned that, despite the massive domestic spending needs facing Iran, some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions," a State Department official told the Daily Beast. "The U.S. sees Iran clearly for what it is: the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism; a supporter of terrorist groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas; a backer of the Assad regime's brutality in Syria; and a force for instability in Yemen." (Daily Beast)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Year after Gaza War, Hamas Remains Defiant to Continue Fight Against Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
On the first anniversary of the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas leaders remain defiant, insisting that they would continue to pursue the fight against Israel. Saleh Arouri, a senior Hamas operative based in Turkey, referred to the "victory of the Palestinian people" in the war.
The fiery rhetoric stands in sharp contrast to assessments that Hamas, which emerged badly bruised from the military conflict, is not too keen on engaging in another war with Israel in the foreseeable future.
See also At Gaza Rally, Hamas Boasts about New Missiles
At a rally Wednesday marking one year since last summer's war in Gaza, Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said two new locally-made missiles represented a "qualitative leap" forward. Israeli officials say Hamas has carried out repeated test-firings of rockets in recent weeks.
(AFP-Times of Israel)
See also Hamas Rally Spotlights Mock ID of Slain Soldier
At a rally Wednesday, Hamas displayed a mock-up of a dog tag belonging to slain IDF soldier Oron Shaul. In an elaborate display, a massive copper fist extending out of a tank holds up three identity badges.
(AFP-Times of Israel)
- IAF Pilot: We Did Our Best to Avoid Harming Gaza Civilians - Lilach Shoval
"During Operation Protective Edge, we returned to base on more than half our sorties with full weapon loads, due to the fact there were civilians at the targets we had intended to strike," Lt. Col. Matan, the commander of the Israeli Air Force's Valley Squadron, told Israel Hayom. "There were instances in which we saw rockets launched from the heart of populated areas and we did not receive approval to strike [the launch sites] because of the presence of civilians."
"The intelligence effort we made regarding every target we struck was beyond belief," he said. "All of this was done to ensure innocent people were not harmed. Our planes waited hours in the air to avoid hitting innocent bystanders." (Israel Hayom)
- What the UN Report on Gaza Left Out - Laurie R. Blank
The UN Human Rights Council's report on the 2014 Gaza conflict is replete with faulty legal analysis, unjustified presumptions and an astounding willingness to take Hamas' claims at face value coupled with an unrelenting skepticism about Israeli efforts to comply with the law of war. The law of war prohibits perfidy (disguising oneself as a civilian in order to benefit from the law's protections while launching an attack); using protected objects, such as hospitals or religious buildings, for military purposes; and using civilians as human shields.
Yet the commission made no recommendations at all with regard to the use of civilians as human shields, comingling with the civilian population and using civilian objects and infrastructure for military purposes (such as launching rockets from hospitals, mosques or UN schools), or fighting while disguised as civilians. Thus the report hands Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups a free pass to continue their modus operandi.
The report's glaring omissions of foundational legal principles emasculate the law, weakening the essential tools for the protection of civilians and emboldening those who use civilians as pawns for their own strategic gain.
The writer is clinical professor of law and director of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law.
- How to Persuade Iran's Rulers to Dismantle a Nuclear Weapons Program They Claim They Don't Have - Clifford D. May
When the current round of negotiations began, the goal was to persuade Iran's rulers to dismantle a nuclear weapons program they claimed they didn't have, didn't need and didn't want. Little by little, Iran's skilled negotiators turned the talks upside down: The agreement currently under discussion would legitimize their industrial-size, advanced-centrifuge-powered nuclear program with unlimited enrichment capacity.
If Iran's rulers are patient and abide by the terms of the agreement, they will be welcomed into the nuclear club in little more than a decade. If they are impatient and violate the terms of the agreement - as they have consistently violated past obligations - they could have nukes much sooner. Meanwhile, Iran's development of intercontinental ballistic missiles - a program whose only purpose is to provide a means to deliver thermonuclear warheads to targets overseas - will continue unimpeded.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Nuclear Agreement Makes U.S.-Iran Confrontation More Likely - Reuel Marc Gerecht and
Mark Dubowitz (Wall Street Journal)
- To imagine the Iran nuclear deal working is to imagine the Islamic Republic without its revolutionary faith. So Mr. Obama's deal-making is in effect establishing the necessary conditions for military action after January 2017, when a new president takes office.
- No American president would destroy Iranian nuclear sites without first exhausting diplomacy. The efforts by Mr. Obama to compromise with Tehran are comprehensive, if nothing else. If the next president chose to strike after the Iranians stonewalled or repeatedly violated Mr. Obama's agreement, the newcomer would be on much firmer political ground, at home and abroad, than if he tried without this failed accord.
- The president wants to believe that the Iranian regime will give priority to economics over religious ideology and that Ayatollah Khamenei can be weaned from the bomb through commerce. The problem is that the Islamic Republic remains a revolutionary Islamic movement that would never bend to America's economic coercion and never gut the nuclear centerpiece of its military planning for 30 years.
- Iranian adventurism will eventually provoke a more muscular U.S. response. The odds of Tehran respecting any nuclear deal while it pushes to increase its regional influence aren't good.
Mr. Dubowitz is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Mr. Gerecht, a former Iranian-targets officer in the CIA's clandestine service, is a senior fellow.
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