U.S. Frees Friends of Iran's Military - David Locke Hall (Wall Street Journal)
In exchange for four Americans held by Iran, the U.S. freed seven Iranian men charged with smuggling goods and technology, including those with military applications, to Iran.
One was convicted of hacking an American defense contractor to steal software.
A second man was convicted of conspiring to enable Iran to launch its first satellite in 2005.
Another was convicted of conspiring to buy and export marine navigation components and military electronic components.
Three were awaiting trial for supplying Iran with microelectronics used in surface-to-air and cruise missiles.
The seventh was convicted of smuggling advanced industrial components to Iran.
These men's crimes posed a direct threat to U.S. national security.
Most troubling is the equating of law-abiding Americans - guilty of reporting for a newspaper, advocating better Iranian-American relations, and preaching the Christian faith - with Iranians arrested for sending technology to a country preparing for war with the U.S.
The writer served as an assistant U.S. attorney for 23 years, investigating and prosecuting unlawful arms procurement by Iran.
West Ignoring Grave Islamic State Threat in Libya - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
The West is neglecting the spread of the Islamic State terrorist group in Libya, said Reuven Erlich, a former senior military intelligence officer and currently the head of Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Libya "is a country where IS rules over territory - the only place besides Iraq and Syria where it actually rules over parts of land - and therefore the U.S. and Europe would be well advised to pay more attention to this issue....Otherwise, the problem will soon find itself in their backyard."
See also ISIS in Libya: A Major Regional and International Threat (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Islamic State's Double Standards Sow Growing Disillusion - Hamza Hendawi (AP-Military.com)
Syrians who have recently escaped Islamic State rule say public disillusionment is growing as IS has failed to live up to its promises to install a utopian "Islamic" rule of justice, equality and good governance.
Instead, the group has come to resemble the dictatorial rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad, with a reliance on informers who have silenced a fearful populace.
Rather than equality, society has seen the rise of a new elite class - the jihadi fighters - who enjoy special perks and favor in the courts.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- U.S.: Russian Strikes in Syria Have Stabilized Assad - Helene Cooper
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that Russian airstrikes have stabilized the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He also said
the American-led coalition battling the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq had made significant gains, retaking a large stretch of territory north of the IS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria. (New York Times)
See also U.S. Bombs Nine ISIS Cash Depots - Matthew Rosenberg
American warplanes have struck nine depots where the group is believed to have stashed tens of millions of dollars in cash, Col. Steven H. Warren, a spokesman for the American-led coalition, said Wednesday.
(New York Times)
- Iran's Revolutionary Guards to Gain Regional, Economic Power in Post-Sanctions Era - Parisa Hafezi
Iran's Revolutionary Guards did well under international sanctions, and they are destined to become still richer now that the sanctions been lifted. One senior Iranian security official signaled financing would grow for the Guards and its overseas arm, the Qods force. Another senior official said, "It is very clear that our leaders will not hesitate to allocate more funds to the IRGC when needed."
One Western diplomat estimated last year that business activities controlled by the Guards had an annual turnover of $10-12 billion. The Guards are involved in a wide range of industries, including energy, tourism, auto production, telecommunications and construction. The Guards were also rewarded with major contracts after suppressing pro-reform protests in 2009. The Guards' construction branch, Khatam Al-Anbia, won a $1.2 billion contract to build a line on the Tehran metro.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Warns UN of Hizbullah's Role in Syria - Amb. David Roet
Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN David Roet told the UN Security Council on Tuesday: "We have all witnessed the struggle of the people of the Syrian town of Madaya, where 42,000 people have been taken hostage by Assad and his Hizbullah allies. The town and its people are under siege, surrounded by barbed wire, land mines and snipers. Left without basic access to food, men, women and children have been dying on a daily basis due to starvation and the harsh winter weather. They find themselves resorting to eating household pets and making soup out of grass....The use of starvation as a weapon of war is deplorable, and is a war crime."
"Hizbullah, the enforcer of Iranian and Syrian orders...is the prime organization terrorizing the people of Madaya....Terrorizing civilian populations is part of Hizbullah's modus operandi. This is what they do. Israel has warned time and time again that letting Hizbullah's actions go unchecked will only result in more death, pain and suffering. Over the course of years, Hizbullah has been indiscriminately firing rockets towards heavily populated areas in Israel, while using the people of Southern Lebanon as human shields." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Hamas Leader Calls for Holy War Against Israel - Daniel Siryoti
Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh declared Tuesday that the motive driving the recent wave of Palestinian terrorism was the desire to wage an all-out war against Israel.
"This intifada is not the result of despair. This intifada is a jihad, a holy war fought by the Palestinian people against the Zionist occupation," Haniyeh said. (Israel Hayom)
- U.S., Israel Debate If All Options Still Available to Counter Iran - Herb Keinon
The lead U.S. negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal, Wendy Sherman, told the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv that she believes that the deal "prevents Iran from having a nuclear weapon...forever." Sherman, who is Jewish, said that if Iran cheated, "all options that the United States has, that we all have, remain completely available."
However, former Israel National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror said: "There are some areas in which our interests and the interests of the United States are not the same. We might face this situation in the future, and because of that we cannot trust that all the options that everyone is speaking about - and that no one really believes are there - will be taken by the Americans if there is a need." (Jerusalem Post)
- Are There Double Standards in Israel's Application of the Rule of Law in the Territories? - Amb. Alan Baker
U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro asserted on Jan. 18 that "at times there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law - one for Israelis and another for Palestinians."
Indeed, according to the legal situation prevalent in the West Bank, there are two legal frameworks.
The one applied by Israel's Civil Administration vis-a-vis the Palestinian residents is based on the international norms regarding the administration of territory administered following armed conflict and pending a peace agreement.
The second legal framework covers the Israeli residents within the territory who are subject on an ad-personam basis to Israeli law.
Unlike the insinuations in Amb. Shapiro's statement, this dual set of legal frameworks is not based on any double standards, but on a clear division of legal authorities dictated by both international humanitarian law and Israeli law. Both these legal systems require strict adherence to the rule of law and the concomitant rules of natural justice.
The writer served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel's ambassador to Canada.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- U.S. Should Help Argentina Solve Terrorism Case - Toby Dershowitz and Joseph Humire
Will the presidential victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina finally bring justice to the victims of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires? Will it solve the murder of the AMIA investigation's special prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, one year ago? Macri has revoked Argentina's Memorandum of Understanding with Iran, appointed a new cabinet-level official and bureau to oversee the AMIA investigation, and re-opened the probe into Nisman's suspicious death.
It is imperative that the U.S. and other friendly governments help the new Argentine president as he seeks to right his country's judicial integrity, an effort for which Alberto Nisman gave his life to protect, and to thwart Iran from exporting its revolution to Argentina and other parts of Latin America.
Dershowitz is vice president for government relations and strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Humire is executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society.
See also Video: One Year after the Assassination of Alberto Nisman - Gustavo Perednik
Dr. Gustavo Perednik is the author of To Kill without a Trace on Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman's legal struggle against Iranian terrorism. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Deterring Iran: Time for a New Mindset - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog (Fathom-BICOM)
- The IAEA's announcement to close the file on Iran's past military-related nuclear activities was a political decision primarily motivated by international will to quickly move towards implementing the deal while focusing on the future rather than the past. Indeed, Iranian threats to suspend the deal's implementation should the file remain open probably played an important role in the IAEA ruling.
- Thus, in the first post-deal test of Western resolve, the West blinked first. The message to Iran is that brinkmanship works and that the West is deterred by Iranian threats more than the other way round - because Western desire to see the deal proceed far outweighs its political will to strictly enforce its terms.
- Since the deal was finalized, Iran has invested more in its regional hegemonic ambitions - without any real push-back from the West. Having already increased its current annual defense budget by over 30% compared to the previous year, Iran recently announced its intention to further increase this budget in its coming five-year development plan and to embark on an arms procurement spree, especially in Russia.
- During the nuclear negotiations the West primarily avoided robust action to counteract Iran's aggressive meddling in regional conflicts for fear of undermining the deal. Yet as the deal goes into effect, it is time the West adopts a different mindset and realizes that the most critical element for fortifying the deal and imposing Iranian compliance is deterrence.
- As implementation of the agreement begins, the West will have to invest more, not less, attention, resources and most of all resolve in deterring Iran.
The writer is a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense.
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