Murderers of Teens Heard Singing in Celebration - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
The terrorists who murdered three Israeli teens after abducting them on June 12 broke into celebratory singing after gunning them down, according to an extended version of the emergency dispatch call recorded on the night of the killings.
Iraq Receives New Su-25s Warplanes from Iran - Joseph Dempsey (International Institute for Strategic Studies)
Following an initial delivery of Su-25 ground attack aircraft from Russia, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced a further delivery had been received on July 1.
The newest aircraft are from Iran, where they were operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Why Turkey Now Wants Iraq to Break Up - Marc Champion (Bloomberg)
Officials in Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's government have indicated at least twice in recent weeks that they are willing to end Turkey's historical opposition to the creation of an independent Kurdish state.
The most urgent reason is the electoral arithmetic Erdogan faces in next month's vote for president. The Aug. 10 vote is the first time the Turkish president will be elected directly rather than by parliament.
The even split between Erdogan and the main opposition means that Turkey's Kurds will be the kingmakers. For them, any concern over Erdogan's authoritarian bent pales next to securing an independent Kurdish state in Iraq and a better deal for themselves in Turkey. Erdogan is letting them know he is the man to deliver both.
As the Council on Foreign Relations' Stephen Cook, just back from Iraqi Kurdistan, told me: "[Kurdish leader] Barzani can make Erdogan king of Turkey and Erdogan can make Barzani king of Kurdistan."
Iran's Water Crisis the Product of Decades of Bad Planning - Jason Rezaian (Washington Post)
Iran is headed for a water shortage of epic proportions. "Our water usage is twice the world standard," said Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of Iran's Department of Environment.
With Iran's annual precipitation only a third of the global average, heavy overconsumption has ravaged the country's available water resources.
"In less than 50 years, we've used all but 30% of our groundwater supply, which took a million years to gather, and it's getting worse and worse due to unsustainable development," said Nasser Karami, an Iranian physical climatologist.
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- Amid Push for Iran Nuclear Deal, Two Sides Maneuver to Shift Blame - Paul Richter
Six world powers and Iran began a three-week push Wednesday to complete a deal aimed at stopping Tehran from building a nuclear bomb, but they also started positioning themselves to deflect blame if negotiations collapse. With the talks in Vienna gridlocked since mid-May, senior Iranian and U.S. officials have stepped up claims that they made every effort to reach a compromise while the other side pressed unrealistic demands that made an agreement impossible.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif put out a YouTube video Wednesday in which he said the West pursued "a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last-minute concessions."
Previous Western pressure "didn't bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission, and it will not now."
The negotiators have been unable to close three major gaps: the number of centrifuges Iran will be permitted to operate to enrich uranium; the duration of the agreement; and the schedule for lifting the sanctions. Iranian officials insist they will not disable key parts of their $100-billion nuclear infrastructure.
(Los Angeles Times)
- American Jews Expelled from African Union Summit
Last Thursday a Jewish delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations left this year's African Union Summit in Equatorial Guinea after several delegations refused to enter the summit's venue in its presence.
"We were invited as official guests," Conference of Presidents Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said.
The Egyptian delegation would not enter the hall on Thursday while the Jewish group, which the Egyptians called "Israelis," remained inside. A delegation from Iran had also complained of the presence of anyone deemed Israeli.
"Clearly the Egyptians were in the lead," Hoenlein said.
He told an African Union organizer that it would be "outrageous" to object to the presence of an Israeli delegation, but that the group was actually American.
(JNS-San Diego Jewish World)
See also Did Anyone Protest the Expulsion of American Jews from the African Union Summit? - Rafael L. Bardají
A delegation of American Jews was expelled last week from the African Union Summit, to which it had been invited. This happened because the delegates from Egypt, Iran and South Africa could not stand seeing the American Jews wearing the traditional Jewish skullcap. Did any of our leaders make the slightest venture of disgust or disapproval? No.
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- Family of Murdered Israeli Teen Condemns Murder of Arab Teen - Daniel K. Eisenbud
Hundreds of Arabs rioted on Wednesday after Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 17, from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, was found murdered in the Jerusalem Forest. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying the killing was a "reprehensible murder," and asked Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to ensure that law-enforcement works as quickly as possible to investigate the boy's death.
Less than 24 hours after burying their son Naftali, the Fraenkel family issued a statement to the media:
"We do not know exactly what happened overnight in east Jerusalem. The police are investigating the matter. But if it turns out that an Arab youngster was killed for nationalistic reasons, then that is terrifying and shocking. There is no difference between blood and blood. Murder is murder, no matter what the age or nationality is. There is no justification, forgiveness or atonement for such a murder." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Two Palestinians Mistaken for Undercover Israeli Police by Mob and Beaten - Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinian protesters in the Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem on Wednesday attacked two Palestinians whom they mistook for undercover Israeli policemen.
Yousef Badriyyeh, 40, who works in a lawyer's office, was rescued by border policemen and was later taken to hospital for treatment. A Palestinian journalist who was covering the events was also attacked.
- Gaza Rocket Salvo Hits Israeli City of Sderot - Ilana Curiel and Matan Tzuri
Over ten rockets slammed into Israel overnight Wednesday and Thursday morning, with four of them hitting homes in Sderot. The Israel Air Force struck rocket-launching terrorist cells in Gaza on Wednesday.
- The New Middle East War: A Single Conflict from Baghdad to Beirut - Michael Doran
The rise of ISIS is a subset of a new conflict that stretches from Baghdad to Beirut. The conflict has three sides: Shiite Iran and its proxies; ISIS and likeminded Sunni extremists; and the traditional allies of the United States: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.
Since the departure of American troops from Iraq in 2011, the Shiite regime of Nouri al-Maliki has become a satellite of Iran, whose Revolutionary Guards have thoroughly penetrated Iraqi security services. Any intelligence the U.S. shares with Maliki's security services will inevitably land on the desk in Tehran of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force.
The Iranian leadership probably also calculates that, by pretending to be partners in counterterrorism with the West, it has magnified its leverage in the nuclear negotiations, which is Iran's number one foreign-policy priority.
The writer, a senior fellow of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. (Mosaic)
- Sunnis Who Battled Al-Qaeda in Iraq Now Being Slaughtered by ISIS - Col. Philip Dermer
A slick YouTube video shows ISIS thugs attacking captured Iraqis. Many of the men being taunted, tortured and killed were leaders of the Sahwa, the Sunni militants who once fought against the American military before they realized that their bigger enemy was al-Qaeda and joined us in the fight.
The Sahwa's decision to ally with us was the primary contributor to the calming of central Iraq from 2007-09. Without the Sahwa, I suspect the outcome of the vaunted military "surge" would have been vastly different. In 2007-08, I worked with representatives of Prime Minister al-Maliki on how to reconcile with the Sahwa and integrate them into Iraq's post-surge environment.
We, the United States of America, had made the Sahwa and their Sunni popular base a promise, a moral commitment, when they took up the fight beside us beginning in 2007. We told them we would work out the operational mechanisms with the Iraqi government and not leave them twisting in the wind. America's promises and moral commitments must stand for something. If not, no one will believe anything we say. Col. Philip Dermer, a retired U.S. Army officer, served two tours in Iraq.
(Wall Street Journal)
How Abbas Fooled the Americans - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
- PA President Mahmoud Abbas fooled the Americans into thinking he would be able to sign a peace agreement with Israel that included concessions unacceptable to most Palestinians.
- He persuaded the Americans that the release of Palestinian prisoners imprisoned by Israel before the Oslo Accords would enhance his standing and boost his chances of signing a peace agreement with Israel.
- Secretary of State John
Kerry and U.S. envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk were quick to buy Abbas' argument, and they exerted heavy pressure on the Israeli government to approved the release of 104 prisoners, including many with "blood on their hands."
- In the end, the release of the prisoners brought about neither a peace agreement with Israel, nor bolstered Abbas' standing among Palestinians, or increased the number of Palestinians who support the peace process with Israel. Over the past few weeks, the PA president has been denounced as a "traitor" for merely opposing the abduction of three Israeli teenagers.
- Abbas appears to be the only player who benefited from the U.S.-sponsored peace process. Not only did he get 78 prisoners released, but it also paved the way for Abbas to embark on unilateral moves and wage a diplomatic war against Israel in the international arena.
- The U.S. failed to understand that no Palestinian leader has a mandate to make real concessions to Israel as part of a peace agreement.
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