Iran: We Laugh When the U.S. Threatens to Attack (Fars-Iran)
Revolutionary Guards Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Asoudi said Wednesday that Washington officials' boastful remarks about their ability to attack Iran has become a joke among Iranian commanders.
"We should thank Obama for refreshing us by referring to his 'options on the table,' including the military one; we just relax and laugh at such ridiculous words."
In May, the Guards' top commander, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said, "Islamic Iran's pride and might has made the world's biggest materialistic and military powers kneel down before the Islamic Republic's might."
"The military option that the Westerners speak of constantly is ridiculous and they know that if the military option could have produced any result, they would have already used it many times."
U.S. Complains to Russia about Iranian General's Visit - Felicia Schwartz (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. has complained to senior Russian officials about the recent trip to Moscow of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran's Qods Force, in violation of a UN travel ban, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday.
U.S. officials view Gen. Soleimani as Iran's top intelligence official who oversees Tehran's support of militias and terrorist organizations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
He has been subject to the travel ban and an asset freeze since 2007, and the U.S. sanctioned him in 2005 for his role in supporting international terrorism.
Poll: Palestinians Support Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad - David Pollock and Ghaith al-Omari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy-Fikra Forum)
A Palestinian public opinion poll commissioned by The Washington Institute in July found 69% approval for Hizbullah among West Bankers, and 57% approval among Gazans.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a 71% favorable rating in the West Bank and 84% in Gaza.
Remarkably, 3/4 of both West Bankers and Gazans say it would be "a good idea" to "reform or interpret Islam in a more moderate, tolerant, and modern way."
Western Countries Hold Israel to a Double Standard - Judith Bergman (Israel Hayom)
On Aug. 3, The Guardian reported on 459 non-combatant deaths, including those of 100 children, in U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State.
The West also has killed thousands of civilians by way of collateral damage in various military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.
It has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians in the "drone wars" that the U.S. (primarily under President Obama) has been, and still is, conducting in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.
The point here is not to castigate the West for the civilian casualties that are inevitable in warfare.
But the West expects Israel to live up to impossible moral standards that it does not set for itself.
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- U.S. Concerns Grow about Turkish Bombardment of Kurds - Dion Nissenbaum and Ayla Albayrak
Three weeks ago, Turkey announced a breakthrough agreement to allow the U.S. to use bases in that country to launch airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria, and the Ankara government said it would join in the bombings. Since then, Turkey has launched a series of aggressive airstrikes against Kurdish militants but has yet to turn its firepower on Islamic State. Some U.S. officials suspect Turkey is using the recent agreement as cover for an offensive against the Kurdish PKK.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Turkey Attacks the Kurds and the Islamic State - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
Out of the 1,302 people arrested in Turkey, in what officials have described as a "full-fledged battle against terrorist groups," 847 were accused of links to the PKK and just 137 to Islamic State.
Moreover, Turkey's agreement with the U.S. on a "safe zone" in northern Syria is meant to ensure that the territory remains out of the hands of the Kurds.
One cannot escape the conclusion that Turkey's sudden change of policy is linked to the political situation. In the June 7 general elections, the Turkish-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP), which is seen as close to the PKK, won 13% of the seats, depriving Erdogan's AKP party its majority in Parliament for the first time since 2002. By reviving the confrontation with the PKK (and the HDP), Erdogan hopes to undermine support for the HDP in view of possible repeat elections.
The writer, an analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Leaked Documents Raise Anger over Palestinian Corruption - Mohammed Daraghmeh
Documents leaked online detailing two attempts by Palestinian officials to misuse public funds have highlighted the corruption and mismanagement critics say remains rampant in the Palestinian government. One document, signed by Majdi al-Khaldi, a diplomatic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, asked Bahrain's foreign minister for $4 million to fund a private neighborhood complex for Palestinian officials in an upscale area of Ramallah in the West Bank.
The other document by Nazmi Muhanna, general director of the Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority, requested the government pay $15,000 for his daughter's schooling as well as medical treatment for his family in Jordan. Azmi Shoabi, the head of Aman, a branch of the corruption watchdog Transparency International, said various public departments have become "private kingdoms" for some officials.
See also Abbas' Son Highlighted in Palestinian Corruption Claims (Times of Israel)
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- Israel Foiled 17 Suicide Attacks So Far This Year - Avi Issacharoff
Israeli security forces have prevented 17 suicide attacks in the first seven months of this year, the Israel Security Agency reported. This figure does not include attacks prevented by the Palestinian Authority, which has dismantled several cells that planned such attacks. Israel has also prevented eight kidnappings. (Times of Israel)
- IDF Prepared to Counter Gaza Tunnel Threat - Noam Amir
One day after the Israel Security Agency made public that it arrested a Hamas activist who revealed the group's new tunnel building towards Israel, a senior source in the IDF's Gaza Division said the IDF is ready for any scenario to protect the Gaza border communities. "There is a lot being done on the issue of tunnels. Many units are engaged that I won't talk about," he said. "We are ready for any action from the other side that may happen via the tunnels." (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
See also Hamas War Plans Funded by Iran - Ron Ben-Yishai
The arrest of Hamas fighter Ibrahim Shaer provided a detailed intelligence picture of the preparations being made by Hamas ahead of the next round of fighting with Israel. The funds, weapons and training reaching Hamas from Iran underline that at least some of the funds Iran will receive after the sanctions against it are lifted will be used to wreak havoc in Israel. (Ynet News)
- Congress Can Rewrite the Iran Deal - Orde Kittrie
Congress has flatly rejected international agreements signed by the executive branch at least 130 times in U.S. history. Twenty-two treaties were voted down, and the Senate permanently blocked at least 108 other treaties by refusing to vote on them. Moreover, more than 200 treaties agreed by the executive branch were subsequently modified with Senate-required changes before receiving Senate consent and finally entering into force. In the case of the Iran nuclear agreement, a resolution of disapproval or separate legislation could specify what changes would be needed to meet congressional requirements.
The Senate required that several treaties with the Soviet Union be modified before ratification. Since the Iran deal is not a treaty and is not legally binding, such nonbinding political agreements receive less deference and are considered more flexible than treaties. Congress should be comfortable sending one back for renegotiation.
The writer, a law professor at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former lead State Department attorney for nuclear affairs.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Netanyahu Emulates Churchill in Trying to Influence U.S. Policy to Protect Israel - Alan Dershowitz
President Obama accused Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of interfering in American foreign policy in lobbying against the Iran deal. But many foreign leaders have tried to influence U.S. foreign policy when their national interests are involved. Winston Churchill appeared in front of Congress and lobbied heavily to have America change its isolationist policy during the run-up to the Second World War.
President Obama himself sent UK Prime Minister Cameron to lobby Congress in favor of the Iran deal.
Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Abe lobbied the U.S. with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's nation has a far greater stake in the Iran deal than most of the countries that negotiated it, but Israel was excluded from the negotiations. Recall that former Iranian Prime Minister Rafsanjani described Israel as a "one-bomb state" that could be destroyed instantaneously. The U.S. would surely not accept a deal negotiated by other nations that put its citizens at risk. Israel has every right to express its concern about a deal that has crossed not only its own red lines but the red lines originally proposed by President Obama.
- Time to Reassess Sinai Peacekeeping Force - Editorial
Shortly after Washington brokered a landmark peace treaty with Egypt and Israel in 1979, the U.S. and allied countries deployed peacekeepers to Sinai.
More than three decades after the establishment of the Multinational Force and Observers, which includes two American Army battalions, groups of Islamist extremists are clashing with Egyptian security forces in the peninsula. The violence, which has endangered and significantly restricted the mobility of the peacekeepers, is good reason to consider pulling them out of Sinai. Wilayat Sinai, a militant group that calls itself a local affiliate of the Islamic State, has referred to the peacekeepers as "crusader forces" that are backing Israel.
The mission of the peacekeepers has become increasingly obsolete in recent years as Egypt, with Israel's consent, has deployed its own troops and heavy weaponry in Sinai to fight the militants. The peacekeepers are not currently playing a role that is instrumental enough to justify the perils they face.
(New York Times)
What Next for Islamic State? - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Jerusalem Report)
- The militant jihadist Islamic State now controls a huge expanse stretching in Iraq from Ramadi, a stone's throw from Baghdad, across the Syrian border to archeologically rich Tadmur (Palmyra). At the same time, it has been consolidating its hold on the entire northeastern region of the disintegrating Syrian state. It is now deeply ensconced as well in the Bedouin tribes in northern Sinai in Egypt.
- IS will need some time to "digest" all the territory it has taken in Syria and Iraq. But as soon as it does, what next? It has four broad options: a concerted push for Baghdad; a drive into Kurdistan; a move on Aleppo or Homs in northern Syria; penetration into Jordan. Resistance in northern Syria would likely be far weaker than in Shi'ite-controlled Baghdad or against resolute Kurdish fighters. Jordan will not be easy prey. The Jordanian army is very professional and the king enjoys both popular legitimacy and wide popularity.
- In Syria, Sunni fighters from the opposition rebel army might join up with IS, which could trigger a dramatic deterioration in the position of Assad's minority Alawite regime. The struggle for Syria has become fiercer. The IS Sunnis are conducting a global war of annihilation.
- Until the recent fighting in Sinai, IS had never encountered a real, well-organized and well-equipped army. As soon as the Egyptians recovered from their initial surprise, they destroyed or repulsed the terrorist forces. True, the Egyptian army suffered heavy losses, but the overriding perception is that at the end of the day IS failed in their ambitious operation.
- IS is the Sunni response to the radical Shi'ite dynamic that has been driving the Middle East ever since the Iranian revolution 36 years ago. The nuclear agreement with Iran may well reinforce the Sunni sense of persecution and, as an unintended consequence, actually increase IS' power.
The writer served as National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, head of the National Security Council, and head of the research division of IDF Intelligence.
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