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October 6, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Ayatollah Khamenei Tells Turkey: Kurdistan Referendum Is a Zionist Plot (Tasnim-Iran)
    Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei told visiting Turkish President Erdogan on Wednesday that the Kurdistan referendum was a plot hatched by Zionists and foreign powers to establish a new Israel in the region.
    Khamenei said, "Iran and Turkey should take every possible step in confronting this (referendum), and the Iraqi government must also seriously decide on it and act."

ISIS Launches Counter-Offensive in Syria - Shawn Snow (Military Times)
    Russian and Syrian forces are reeling from a major counter-offensive launched by ISIS fighters in and around Deir el-Zour province.
    ISIS claimed that in one attack its forces killed 65 Russian and Syrian regime troops while kidnapping two Russian soldiers.
    The ISIS propaganda outlet Amaq posted video of the soldiers, but the Russian Ministry of Defense has denied any Russian troops have been captured.
    Russian Gen. Valery Asapov was killed in a mortar attack on Sept. 24, while on Oct. 1, Russian Col. Valery Fedyanin succumbed to wounds he received when his vehicle struck a landmine on Sept. 22, TASS reported.

Saudi Arabia to Buy Russian S-400 Air Defense Systems (Reuters)
    Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television reported on Thursday.
    Saudi King Salman is currently visiting Moscow.

Chemical Weapons Watchdog Found Sarin Used in March Syria Attack - Anthony Deutsch and Michelle Nichols (Reuters)
    Sarin gas was used in a March 30 air strike in the northern Syrian town of Latamneh, injuring 70 people who suffered nausea, foaming at the mouth and muscle spasms, according to the findings of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
    The OPCW reported in June that sarin was used in an April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people and prompted the U.S. to launch missiles on a Syrian air base.
    UN war crimes investigators said last month that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons more than two dozen times.

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U.S. Amphibious Assault Ship Docks in Eilat - Itay Blumenthal (Ynet News)
    The U.S. amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard docked at Eilat on Thursday after two months at sea.

False Claims and Advocacy Journalism by Britain's Independent - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)
    A headline in the Independent on Sep. 27 claims that Palestinian student Mohammed Awad was denied an exit visa from Gaza and may have to forfeit his place at the University of London.
    A spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told us that Awad's application was approved for travel on Nov. 14, the exact date requested.
    The article further alleges that "permission to leave Gaza is notoriously difficult to obtain," a process characterized as "Kafkaesque."
    However, according to COGAT, since 2014, more than 300,000 crossings from Gaza to Israel have been recorded by Palestinians who have managed to navigate this "Kafkaesque" process.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump to Declare that Iran Nuclear Deal Is Not in the National Interest - Anne Gearan and Karoun Demirjian
    President Trump is expected to announce next week that he will "decertify" the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the U.S., people briefed on the White House strategy said Thursday. But Trump would hold off on recommending that Congress reimpose sanctions. Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to report to Congress on whether Iran is complying with the agreement and whether he judges the deal to be in the U.S. national security interest.
        On Thursday, Trump said at a White House dinner, "The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East. That is why we must put an end to Iran's continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement."  (Washington Post)
  • Trump Takes New Aim at Hizbullah, Part of Tougher Iran Stance - Bryan Bender
    The Trump administration on Friday plans to roll out a new public campaign aimed at cracking down more forcefully on Hizbullah in Lebanon, part of a broader effort to counter its chief backer, Iran. The new push will include cash rewards for its "most wanted" operatives, stepping up U.S. intelligence and law enforcement efforts, and enlisting allies to do more to undermine the group's global network, administration officials said Thursday.
        The officials noted charges in June against Samer El Debek and Ali Kourani. El Debek "allegedly conducted missions in Panama to locate the U.S. and Israeli embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the canal." Meanwhile, "Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City," according to the U.S. Justice Department. "It is not just an Israeli problem," an official said. (Politico)
  • Canadian Holocaust Memorial Neglects to Mention Jews - Dan Bilefsky
    The plaque outside Canada's new National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, inaugurated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, paid tribute to the "millions of men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust," but failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism. After the omission drew furious criticism, the plaque was removed. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Appoints Ex-Prisoner Who Orchestrated West Bank Attacks to Top Political Role - Jack Khoury
    Saleh al-Arouri, a senior member of Hamas responsible for militant activities in the West Bank, was appointed deputy head of Hamas' political bureau on Thursday, replacing Musa Abu Marzook. Arouri was imprisoned in Israel for 16 years until his release in 2007. He was then deported to Turkey, where he sent instructions to Hamas' military wing to carry out attacks. As part of the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, Arouri was expelled and is now in Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
  • 4,500-Year-Old Bronze Age Settlement Flattened by Hamas Bulldozers
    Palestinian and French archaeologists in Gaza unearthed a rare 4,500-year-old Bronze Age settlement 20 years ago. Now Hamas bulldozers are flattening the last remnants of the excavation - Tel Es-Sakan - the largest Canaanite city between Palestine and Egypt.
        Jean-Baptiste Humbert, a Jerusalem-based archaeologist at the Ecole Biblique, reported, "Today the complete southern facade of the Tel is erased." In previous years, faces and ramparts on other sides were also destroyed. "Now it is destroyed all around," he said. Humbert shared an aerial photo from 2000 showing patterns of walls from atop the mound. The area "was the first city of Palestine to have a city wall," he said. Now, "the field work you see in the photo is totally destroyed."
        In 2013, Hamas seized the 3,000-year-old Anthedon Harbor to build a military training camp, parts of which were bulldozed. In 2016, the remains of a Byzantine church were discovered in Gaza, but authorities are believed to have destroyed them. (AP-The National-Abu Dhabi)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Decertifying the Iran Deal Wouldn't Have to Kill It - Dennis Ross
    Certification of the Iran nuclear deal is not part of the JCPOA, the agreement between Iran and the P5+1. Instead, it is a requirement of a U.S. law, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. The administration needs to explain that it is not pulling out of the JCPOA and is not asking Congress to restore the sanctions that were waived under the deal.
        But it should say that the U.S. is not going to acquiesce in Iran's dangerous behavior and is, therefore, decertifying to put the world on notice that at some point the U.S. will walk away from the deal if the JCPOA's sunset provisions, Iran's testing of ballistic missiles, and its regional misbehavior are not addressed. The writer has held senior national security positions in several presidential administrations and is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How to Contain and Roll Back Iranian-Backed Militias - Michael Knights
    Iran has found an economical and sustainable means of resourcing its expansion of military and political influence across the Middle East through the so-called Iranian Foreign Legion, comprised of Iran-backed militias. Iran can draw upon a deep well of volunteers and wage-seekers in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf States to "fight to the last Arab" or "the last Afghan" in its regional wars because these casualties bear no political repercussions in Iran.
        To contain and roll back Iranian-backed militias, the U.S. must compete in any and all spaces where Iran could seek to expand. The U.S. needs to intensify its direct and indirect support to allied forces or even neutral forces who may not love the U.S. but also don't like Iran either. From testimony submitted to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism on Oct. 4. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel Bets Against Palestinian Unity - Ben Caspit
    A former Israel Security Agency head told me that not long after the signing of the Oslo Accord (1993), Israel agreed to a trial period for a "safe passageway" for Gaza residents to travel to the West Bank. "After less than a week, the Ramallah governor turned to us and begged us to close the passageway. The Ramallah people simply didn't want the Gaza people mingling with them. We are talking about two populations that are different and incompatible. There is no great love between Gaza and the West Bank, no real identification."
        More than 20 years later, Israeli intelligence continues to maintain that any reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is a temporary meeting of interests and will not last long. Hamas' strategic goal continues to be ruling the Palestinian people, thus requiring that it push Fatah from its position of leadership.
        The American administration backs the attempt at Palestinian unity because it views reconciliation as a significant tailwind behind Trump's efforts to exhaust diplomatic negotiations. Egyptian President al-Sisi is investing everything in the unification effort. Sisi loathes Hamas, viewing the Muslim Brotherhood as Egypt's first and foremost strategic enemy. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority's return to controlling Gaza would be a significant achievement for him. (Al-Monitor)

  • Weekend Features

  • New Holocaust Documentary Tells of Jewish Refugees Who Fled to China - Amy Spiro
    "Above the Drowning Sea," narrated by Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) and Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), tells the story of "the courageous intervention of Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Consul in Vienna who defied his own government and braved the Gestapo to issue visas to the refugees." The 90-minute film includes interviews with refugees themselves and Chinese residents who aided the newcomers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Naujaneriai in Lithuania Is Important - Dr. Efraim Zuroff
    In Lithuania there are 227 documented Holocaust mass murder sites. Some 70,000 Jews were murdered in Ponar on the outskirts of Vilna, Lithuania's capital. The 1,767 Jewish men, women and children killed in Naujaneriai by Lithuanian Nazi collaborators on Sep. 24, 1941, are a minor statistic in a litany of Holocaust horror.
        This year, Naujaneriai was chosen as the site for the annual alternative Holocaust memorial ceremony held by an initiative called "Cia guli Musiskiai" (Here lie our people) initiated by popular Lithuanian author Ruta Vanagaite. (Full disclosure, we wrote a book together last year on Lithuanian complicity in Holocaust crimes.)
        At the official state ceremony at Ponar, there is no mention of the extensive role played by all strata of Lithuanian society in all stages of the mass murder. 96.4% of the Jews living in Lithuania under the Nazi occupation were annihilated. The writer is director of the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (Jerusalem Post)

Modern Islamic Warfare - Dr. Harold Rhode interviewed by Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • In the year 712, the Muslim general Tariq led the Muslims from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar and took over the Iberian Peninsula. Therefore, from an Islamic point of view, Spain belongs to the Muslims - forever. Professor Bernard Lewis wrote in his autobiography that in the early 1980s he was at a conference on Islamic affairs in Cordova, Spain, with a group of Turks. They assumed he was also a Turk because he was speaking in Turkish. He heard them say, "We're not just worrying about the preservation of Islamic culture here, we are preparing for the Islamic re-conquest of Spain, because we of course know it's ours."
  • Classic Islamic warfare is based on pre-Islamic Arabian warfare which involved raiding parties, which we call terrorism today. It's small groups that attack, terrorize, instill fear in the other side, and withdraw. Attack and withdraw. When they use daggers and they use swords, that's what their Prophet Muhammad and those around him used. they're just imitating what their prophet and his generals did.
  • A Sunni Muslim friend who is totally secular told me in Baghdad: "You're missing the point of ISIS. They're appealing to our Muslim soul. They say that the whole world must be Muslim, and eventually it will be. And it must be under a Caliph who will take the place of the Prophet Muhammad, and be under Muslim law. That is what we learned from the time that we were little children."
  • We're witnessing the islamification of Europe. The Russians understand this very well and Putin understands that he's in an internal battle against Islamic orthodoxy that wants to take over the world. The Chinese have the same problem in northwestern China in Xinjiang that was conquered by Islam in the 1100s, and so, just like Spain, is Islamic territory forever.
  • And it's the same story in Israel. The State Department is worried about settlements in the West Bank, but Islam conquered what is all of Israel and the West Bank in the year 637. So Tel Aviv is as much a settlement in the Muslim mind as any settlement in the West Bank - it's all the same. According to this view, all of this territory must be and will be eventually returned to Islamic rule.
  • According to Islamic holy law, there is no such thing as a permanent peace between Muslims and non-Muslims. Bygones are not bygones. You may have a temporary truce, but there is an eternal battle between the Islamic world and the non-Islamic world. Europe is considered part of the non-Islamic world which is in the process of becoming part of the Muslim world. An ISIS magazine had the Vatican on its cover. They see it as the center of the Christian world. So if they capture the Vatican, they've captured the Christian world.

    Dr. Harold Rhode, a Fellow at the Jerusalem Center, served for 28 years as an advisor on the Islamic world in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

        See also Modern Islamic Warfare: An Ancient Doctrine Marches On - Dr. Harold Rhode
    Islam is not just a religion. It is a civilization which certainly includes religion but also includes important political and military dimensions. In order to understand the true nature of Islam, therefore, it would be more useful to label it an ideology. Our problems with Islam are not religious. But we do have serious problems with the political and military nature of Islam. (Center for Security Policy)
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