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September 7, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Iraqis Join Flow of Refugees to Europe from Turkey - Liz Sly (Washington Post)
    The influx of refugees and migrants overwhelming Europe seems destined to intensify.
    Iraqis formed the largest number of people descending from buses in the Turkish seaside town of Bodrum on Sunday to attempt the sea crossing to Greece.
    Iraqis said they were spurred to embark now by the widely broadcast scenes of Syrian refugees being welcomed in Austria and Germany.
    There were also Afghans, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis among those planning to travel to Greece.
    See also At Borders to Enter Europe, Suddenly Everyone Is Syrian - Dusan Stojanovic (AP)
    The surest route to asylum is to be a refugee from war and not an economic migrant fleeing poverty. That fact has led to a huge influx of people claiming to be Syrian.

Report: Iran Working with North Korea to Thwart UN Nuclear Inspections - Kellan Howell (Washington Times)
    Iran has been working with North Korean experts to conceal the military dimensions of its nuclear projects from UN nuclear inspectors visiting suspect sites in Iran, according to a report released Friday by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
    The NCRI exposed the existence of Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy-water plutonium facility in the early 2000s.
    According to the report, a number of North Korean officials have set up shop in Tehran and "have expertise in ballistic missile and nuclear work areas, particularly in the field of warheads and missile guidance."
    "Over the past two years the North Korean teams have been sharing their experiences and tactics necessary for preventing access to military nuclear sites," NCRI added.

Report: Iran Spending Billions to Pay Terrorist Salaries - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    Iran has been spending billions of dollars to fund the salaries of terrorists across the Middle East, according to a Congressional Research Service report conducted at the request of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
    The report discloses funding of millions of dollars in monthly payments to pro-government forces in Syria, more than $1 billion in military aid to fighters in Iraq, and around $20 million annually to Hamas terrorists.
    See also Text: Iranian Assistance to Groups in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and the Palestinian Territories (Congressional Research Service)

Report: 12 UNRWA-Linked Facebook Accounts Incite Anti-Semitism and Violence (UN Watch)
    Twelve Facebook accounts operated by UNRWA officials have been found to openly incite to anti-Semitism and terrorism.
    "The pattern and practice of UNRWA school principals, teachers and staff members posting anti-Semitic and terror-inciting images suggests a pathology of racism and violence within UNRWA that must be rooted out," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, who urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to terminate the officials responsible.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Concerned over Russian Moves in Syria
    Secretary of State John Kerry expressed U.S. concern over reports of Russia's enhanced military build-up in Syria in a telephone call on Saturday with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. A U.S. security source said there are signs of a Russian move to intervene beyond its robust support of the last few years. The New York Times reported Russia has dispatched a military advance team to Syria and has sent prefabricated housing units to a Syrian airfield near Latakia. U.S. officials said Russia could deploy up to 1,000 advisers or other military personnel to the airfield. (Reuters)
        See also Russia's Military Build-Up in Syria Could Be a Game-Changer for Israel - Amos Harel
    According to foreign media reports, every few months the Israel Air Force attacks arms convoys carrying Syrian war materiel to Hizbullah in Lebanon, to prevent the terror group from acquiring advanced weapons systems. The attacks rarely provoke a response, given the weakness of Syria's air force and the relatively limited capabilities of its air defense systems. However, if Russia is dispatching jet fighters and establishing a new military base in Syria, this may change the rules of this game. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iranian Regime Celebrates Its Victory in the Nuclear Agreement
    Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said on Aug. 30: "Today, Iran has attained such status that the superpowers have surrendered to it." On Aug. 24, the website of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei published a poster titled "The Iron Fist," featuring a fist made of missiles, jets, ships, and tanks. The text on the poster states: "Those who levelled sanctions against us yesterday are dying today, because Iran has become the region's foremost military power....The entire nation unites as a solid fist."
        On July 15, the Javan website, affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), claimed that Iran has become a superpower with standing equal to that of the U.S.  Yadollah Javani, senior advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei in the IRGC, wrote on July 27: "The truth is that the time of this superpower has passed, and America must accept the facts of the new world....[This new world order] includes the acknowledgment of a nuclear-fuel-cycle-Iran with decisive deterrent capabilities in the region."  (MEMRI)
  • Senate Democrat Seeks to "Strengthen" Iran Policy - Jordain Carney
    Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Friday that regardless of Congress' vote on the Iran deal, he is planning to introduce legislation that would "strengthen" the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. That legislation is expected to codify the administration's policy that Iran can't be allowed to get a nuclear weapon, as well as clarifying that the nuclear deal doesn't stop Congress from passing sanctions legislation related to terrorism, human rights or ballistic missiles.
        "We must agree to counter Iranian support for terrorism and confront Iranian violations of ballistic missile protocols and international human rights obligations," Cardin added. "Congress and the administration cannot dwell on past disagreements; together we must find a functional, bipartisan approach to Iran."  (The Hill)
        See also below Commentary: I Will Vote Against the Iran Deal - Sen. Ben Cardin (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Was the First Country to Extend Humanitarian Assistance to Victims of War in Syria
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday: "Israel is not indifferent to the human tragedy of the refugees from Syria and Africa. We have already devotedly cared for approximately 1,000 wounded people from the fighting in Syria and we have helped them to rehabilitate their lives."
        "We are speaking with African heads of state, and with the Italian Prime Minister recently and with other European leaders, about multilateral aid packages for the countries of origin in Africa - in agriculture, economics and security - in order to deal with the problem at its source."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel: Palestinians Have No Desire to Conduct Serious Negotiations - Herb Keinon
    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told EU foreign ministers on Friday that Jordanian, Saudi and Egyptian representatives would take part in an expanded meeting of the Middle East Quartet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month in the hopes of jump-starting the Israel-Palestinian diplomatic process. One Israeli official responded to the move on Sunday: "From our perspective, the problem is that the Palestinians have no desire to conduct serious negotiations, and no amount of bureaucratic creativity can help that."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • I Will Vote Against the Iran Deal - Sen. Ben Cardin
    Is the Iran nuclear deal more or less likely to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state? Would rejection increase or decrease the likelihood of the nightmare scenario of a nuclear-armed Iran? The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) legitimizes Iran's nuclear program, providing a legal path to a country that remains a rogue state and has violated its international nonproliferation obligations for years. It would provide Iran with international endorsement of an industrial-scale nuclear program.
        Worse, Iran would be economically strengthened by frighteningly quick relief from sanctions and international economic engagement. If Iran violates the agreement, building international support for new sanctions would take too long to be effective. A military response in this scenario would be more likely.
        The agreement states that the parties shall "implement this JCPOA in good faith...based on mutual respect." But there cannot be respect for a country that actively foments regional instability, advocates for Israel's destruction, kills the innocent and shouts "Death to America." And I cannot support lifting the UN arms embargo and ballistic missile sanctions. (Washington Post)
  • Was Netanyahu Right to Fight the Iran Deal? - Elliott Abrams
    Netanyahu has always seen the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program as existential for Israel. In that case, how could he not try to win the argument? Actually, Netanyahu has won the argument: most Americans are highly skeptical of the Iran deal and don't like it, and it will be disapproved in both houses of Congress. In the last months opinion has shifted against the deal, and he can take some credit for that.
        In fact, Netanyahu's fight against the agreement with Iran may well help Israel now, because there is a broad sense in Washington that Israel must be further assisted to counter the advantages Iran has gained. Aid may increase; more sophisticated weapons may be sold to Israel; in Congress, non-nuclear sanctions against Iran may be increased and extended in time; demands for tougher IAEA inspections may grow.
        Americans well know that Iran and the murderous jihadists of ISIS and al-Qaeda constitute threats to both our country and Israel. Americans don't appear to blame an Israeli prime minister who argues about his country's security. On the contrary, Americans can distinguish between narrow personal or political feuds, and battles over matters of principle and national security. The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor. (Weekly Standard)

Israeli Opposition to Iranian Aggression Will Continue - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

  • President Obama on Wednesday secured the 34th vote in the Senate to sustain a presidential veto if Congress votes down the Iran deal as expected. The real shock would have been if a sitting president would not have been able to muster the support of one-third plus one of the 100-member Senate - a chamber in which there are 44 members of his own party - for something being defined as his signature foreign policy achievement.
  • But the Israeli opposition to the agreement will continue. One Israeli government official said the accord "remains a dangerous deal, and it remains important to continue to point that out."
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who was in Israel last week, said after meeting with the prime minister that Netanyahu, like himself, "knows that this is not the end of the story with Iran, just the end of one chapter. Whatever happens with this deal, we will still have to confront Iranian aggression for years to come, as long as it remains in the grips of the radical ayatollahs."
  • Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold told the Jerusalem Post that there is "no shred of evidence" that "Iran is on the cusp of becoming a more moderate country, that it is ready to join the community of nations and jettison its revolutionary past."
  • Iran, Gold said, is trying to set up a new Hizbullah front against Israel on the Golan Heights, and is trying to transfer some of its most advanced weaponry to Hizbullah, including "kits that have been supplied to Hizbullah to take their large force of ballistic missiles and rockets and dramatically increase their accuracy with GPS units." And all that, he said, was happening during the year when the nuclear deal was being signed.
  • Israel's rhetoric, therefore, will keep the focus on Iran as an unrepentant, pernicious regime whose ultimate anti-Israel, anti-American goals have not changed.

        See also After the Iran Debate - Lenny Ben-David
    In a webcast to American Jews on Aug. 28, President Obama promised to continue the close security relationship with Israel. His Iran deal depends on extensive intelligence sharing.
        Israel's opposition was not aimed at torpedoing President Obama's grand Iran plan, but to expose the nature of Iran's regime, its threats against Israel and the West, and the folly of embracing Iran as an ally. Iranian activity will now be under greater scrutiny than ever before. New congressional sanctions because of Iranian human rights violations or support for terrorism are not out of the question. The writer, a former senior Israeli diplomat in Washington, is Director of Publications at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Times of Israel)

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