Trump Administration Okay with Israel Keeping Aid Boost from Congress (JTA)
The Trump administration will not block defense assistance to Israel added by Congress and won't require Israel to return such funds.
"The administration is committed to ensuring Israel receive the assistance that has been appropriated by Congress," State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond told Fox News on Monday.
Congress had appropriated an additional $75 million for Israel, but a memorandum of understanding negotiated by the Obama administration required Israel to return any additional funds.
Hammond was responding to reports that the State Department was demanding that Israel return the money.
UN Panel: North Korea Suspected of Chemical, Missile Cooperation with Syria (Yonhap-Korea Herald)
North Korea is suspected of working with Syria on its chemical weapons and ballistic missile programs in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, a UN panel monitoring sanctions implementation against North Korea reported Saturday.
ISIS Militants Attack Convoy in Egypt's Sinai, Kill 18 Police - Ashraf Sweilam and Hamza Hendawi (AP)
Islamic State militants ambushed a police convoy in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday, killing 18 police and wounding seven others 30 km. west of el-Arish.
Police said roadside bombs destroyed and set ablaze four armored vehicles and a fifth carrying signal-jamming equipment. The gunmen later opened fire with machine guns.
U.S. Charges Former Turkish Minister with Violating Iran Sanctions - Benjamin Weiser (New York Times)
Federal prosecutors in New York announced a new indictment on Wednesday that charges former Turkish economy minister Mehmet Zafer Caglayan, 59, and three other Turks with participating in a broad conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.
They were charged with conspiring to facilitate millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Iran and other sanctioned entities through the use of front companies and false documentation.
Those charged are not in U.S. custody.
Documentary Exposes Iranian Involvement in 9/11 (Al-Arabiya)
Al Arabiya aired a documentary on Friday unraveling Iran's involvement in the September 11 attacks in the U.S.
The documentary includes never before seen interviews revealing the Iranian regime's relationship with al-Qaeda and the training it provided to its members to conduct major operations.
In one interview, Abolghasem Mesbahi, a former senior European-based operative in Iran's security service, Vevak, details Iran's support to al-Qaeda.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Trump Weighing More Aggressive U.S. Strategy on Iran - Jonathan Landay
A proposal for more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran's forces, its proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups - prepared by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster - was presented to President Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday. "I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen," said a senior administration official.
The proposal includes more aggressive U.S. interceptions of Iranian arms shipments and includes more forceful reaction by U.S. naval forces when harassed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy. (Reuters)
- Israel: Iran Seeks Deal for Long-Term Syria Garrison
Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Monday that President Bashar al-Assad was ready to permit Iran to set up military bases in Syria that would pose a long-term threat to Israel. "In these very days, Assad and Iran are nearing the signing of a long-term agreement that would anchor Iran's military presence in Syria, resembling the agreement that was signed between Assad and the Russians."
Katz said the plan was for an Iranian naval port, bases for Iran's air and ground forces, and "tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen being brought in from various countries" to fight alongside their Iranian and Hizbullah co-religionists in Syria.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu in Argentina: Iran Remains Source of World Terror - Herb Keinon
Speaking at the site of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that was destroyed by a terror blast in 1992 and never rebuilt, and at the reconstructed AMIA Jewish community building nearby that was attacked in 1994, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Iran, which was responsible for the two attacks, remains the world's leading sponsor of terror. Netanyahu praised Argentine President Mauricio Macri for reopening the investigation into Iran's involvement in the attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Netanyahu to Receive Huge Archive Documenting Argentina's Nazi Ties - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
See also Argentina-Israel Relations: Nazi Trials and Terrorist Tribulations - Avraham Spraragen (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- IDF: Iran Is Israel's Most Pressing Threat - Michael Wilner
The threat of Iran remains Israel's preoccupying concern, former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last week. For Israel, Iran is "much more threatening compared to the ISIS threat because the Iranians are sophisticated, they are a higher form of civilization, they have a nice academic infrastructure, nice industry, good scientists, many talented young people. They are very similar to us, and because they are similar to us, they are much, much more dangerous." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Video: New Thinking about Israeli National Security in a Changing Regional Environment - Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Three Palestinians Convicted of Throwing Rocks at Israeli Car and Causing Driver's Death - Yael Freidson
The Jerusalem District Court convicted Muhammad Abu Kaf, Walid Atrash and an unnamed minor of manslaughter for the killing of Alexander Levlovitz on Rosh Hashanah eve two years ago. After the holiday meal, Levlovitz drove two guests home, and was later killed when Palestinians pelted his car with rocks, causing him to swerve into a ditch. The main defendant in the terror attack, Abed Dawiat, was convicted previously and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
- The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So - James Jeffrey
Given the extraordinary threat that Iran poses with its expansionism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, the Iran nuclear deal cannot be sacrosanct. Iran's behavior is now too dangerous to ignore. Tehran has facilitated Assad's scorched-earth policy, encouraged Russia to intervene in Syria, and abetted the rise of the Islamic State by allowing Assad and its clients in Iraq to oppress Sunni Arabs to the point of embracing the jihadist organization. The writer, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq.
See also Options to Cease Implementing the Iran Nuclear Agreement - Kenneth Katzman, Paul K. Kerr and Valerie Heitshusen
Trump Administration statements indicate that it does not believe that the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran (JCPOA) addresses the full range of potential threats posed by Iran. This report analyzes some of the options the Administration might use to end or alter U.S. implementation of the JCPOA. (Congressional Research Service)
- For Iraq's Long-Suffering Kurds, Independence Beckons - Tim Arango
There is little doubt about how Kurds will vote in a referendum this month on independence from Iraq. Numbering 30 million people spread across Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, the Kurds are often described as the world's largest ethnic group without their own homeland. Iraqi Kurdistan, an oil-rich enclave in northern Iraq, may be their best hope.
But outside of Kurdistan, every major player in the neighborhood opposes the vote. Baghdad has indicated that it would not recognize the results. But the Kurdistan Regional Government says the vote will go forward as scheduled on Sept. 25 and will be binding, setting in motion a formal breakaway process from the Iraqi government.
The U.S. established a no-fly zone in northern Iraq in 1991 during the time of Saddam Hussein. That protection gave the Kurds breathing room to build an autonomous region and the bones of an independent state.
But after the price of oil collapsed, the regional government, which has not been able to export enough oil to achieve financial self-sufficiency, is close to $20 billion in debt.
(New York Times)
See also Israeli Minister: Independent Kurdistan Would Benefit Israel and the West
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told an international counter-terrorism conference on Monday that Israel supports Kurdish independence, "at least in the Iraqi part....Israel and countries of the West have a major interest in the establishment of the state of Kurdistan." She added, "I think that the time has come for the U.S. to support the process." U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has urged the Kurds to postpone the referendum.
See also Iraqi Kurds' Referendum Fever Spills over to Turkish Cousins - Mahmut Bozarslan
Kurds in Turkey are watching the coming independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan with excitement, hoping that a vote for independence will boost the standing of Kurds across the region.
After the Ebbing of Warfare in Syria, the Refugee Problem in Europe Will Only Get Worse - Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Misled by the smokescreen of the war against ISIS, the world failed to notice that Tehran was taking over considerable parts of Syria. The tide turned in Syria in 2015 when the Russians forced Turkey to stop supporting the rebels and ISIS.
- The Kurds in northeastern Syria will never again agree to be at the mercy of the Arabs, having lived as grade-D citizens until 2011. Hence, it can be assumed that the Kurds will keep their enclave autonomous to a large extent, or be forced to fight the regime for their rights.
- About half the citizens of Syria - ten million people - have become refugees; half are inside Syria and half outside. It is difficult to foresee a massive return of Syrian refugees from outside. During six years of savage war, large parts of Syrian cities have been reduced to rubble. In most of Syria's cities and towns, the electricity, water, sewage, and communications infrastructure has been partially or completely destroyed. Entire neighborhoods require leveling and rebuilding. Refugees will not agree to exchange their tent in Jordan for a ruin with no infrastructure in devastated Syria.
- There is another reason the refugees will not return: the Sunni refugees' fear of the country's new landlords, the Shiites. Iran has been transferring Shiite citizens from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan to Syria with the clear intention to change the country's demographic composition from a Sunni to a Shiite majority.
- The ruling Alawites want to prevent a future uprising, and the sure way to do so is to alter the population's makeup. Hence, they will not allow Sunnis to return to their homes.
- The new demographic situation in Syria will convince the Sunni refugees that they no longer have anything to return to. They will therefore do all they can to move from Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey to any country in the world that will agree to accept them, preferably in Europe or North America. Instead of a return of refugees after the Syrian "peace," there will likely be a mass flight of more refugees and Sunni citizens.
The writer, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence.
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