September 26, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

India Cutting Iran Oil Imports to Zero in November - Debjit Chakraborty (Bloomberg)
    India, the second-largest buyer of Iranian oil, isn't planning to buy any in November, joining South Korea and Japan, as U.S. sanctions hit.
    When Trump in May announced plans to re-impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, the market estimated a cut of about 300,000 to 700,000 barrels a day, Trafigura's co-head of oil trading Ben Luckock said this week.
    However, the cut may be as much as 1.5 million barrels as the U.S. is "incredibly serious" about its measures, he said.

UK Labour Party Conference Hall Filled with Palestinian Flags (BBC News)
    Hundreds of British Labour members unfurled Palestinian flags and chanted slogans on Tuesday at the party's annual conference in Liverpool.
    A call for an end to arms sales to Israel was greeted with chants of "Free! Free! Palestine," as leader Jeremy Corbyn looked on from a seat on the stage.
    See also Labour Backs Freeze on Arms Sales to Israel and Probe of Gaza Border Deaths (Jewish News-UK)

The True Threat of S-300s Is Not that They're Powerful, But that They're Russian - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    A Russia-supplied S-300 air defense system to Syria is not only an operational challenge to Israel - it is a geopolitical one.
    If the batteries are staffed by Russian military personnel, this would make an Israeli decision to destroy them far more complicated.
    While the Israel Air Force may be capable of getting around Russian radar jamming and would be well within its rights to destroy a Russia-supplied S-300 battery that fires on its planes, such acts would run the risk of further alienating Moscow.

Video: U.S. Ambassador Friedman Joins Priestly Blessing at Western Wall in Jerusalem (Jerusalem Post)
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman joined thousands of Jews for the priestly blessing at the Western Wall on Wednesday.
    "It's a great privilege for me as a kohen to be able to bless the people of Israel, the nation of Israel," he said.
    The priestly blessing is recited during the Sukkot and Passover holidays by those who are believed to be direct patrilineal descendants of the first high priest, Aaron, the brother of Moses.

Israel Ranks 6th for Health Care Efficiency - Hila Weissberg (Globes)
    Israel is among the world's six leading countries in health efficiency, according to Bloomberg's latest Health Care Efficiency Index.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump to UN: We Cannot Allow a Regime that Chants "Death to America" and that Threatens Israel with Annihilation to Possess Nuclear Weapons
    President Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday: "Iran's leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran's leaders plunder the nation's resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond....Iran's neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the regime's agenda of aggression and expansion."
        "The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran's leaders. In the years since the deal was reached, Iran's military budget grew nearly 40%. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen."
        "We cannot allow the world's leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet's most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants "Death to America," and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth....We ask all nations to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues."  (Politico)
  • Pompeo: Iran Is Truly an Outlaw Regime
    Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told the United Against Nuclear Iran summit in New York on Tuesday: "The Iranian regime's track record over the past 40 years has revealed it as among the worst violators of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions - perhaps, indeed, the worst violator. It is truly an outlaw regime."
        "The outlaw Iranian regime has sabotaged the ability of the people on every continent to live in peace and dignity, including its own country. The United States asks every nation to come to terms with these facts and hold Iran accountable in ways that it has not been held accountable to date."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also below Observations - Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran's Destructive Activities - Iran Action Group (U.S. State Department)
  • Bolton Warns Iran that U.S. "Will Come After You" - Nicole Gaouette
    U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told the United Against Nuclear Iran summit in New York on Tuesday: "The days of impunity for Tehran and its enablers are over. The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behavior. Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you....We will not stop pressuring Iran to stop its destabilizing behavior."  (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Crisis over the Downed Russian Plane - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin
    Israel and Russia are not enemies and there's no reason for a confrontation between them. Russia knows perfectly well that Israel strikes in Syria only because of the Iranian activity. The S-300 delivery to Syria doesn't change the strategic balance. No air defense system is impregnable or indestructible. Israel has F-35s which were designed with exactly such systems in mind.
        A Russian-operated S-400 system has been in Syria for years, never launching against Israel or U.S. aircraft. If Syrian crews operate the S-300, Israel will know how to hit it. Russian air defense systems' reputation will take a hit.
        Bottom line: Israel may well be more cautious in some marginal cases. Faced with a dilemma whether to let an Iranian threat grow next door and taking a higher tactical risk and some inconvenience with Russia, its leaders will not sit on their hands watching. The writer, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Twitter)
  • Downing of Russian Aircraft by Syria Showed Carelessness and Lack of Professionalism - Moshe Arens
    The downing by a Syrian missile of the Russian surveillance aircraft near Latakia last week was an accident waiting to happen. Whoever pulled the trigger did not bother to ascertain the identity of the target. A look at the radar screen should have made it obvious that this slow-moving, propeller-driven aircraft was not a fighter aircraft. This kind of carelessness or lack of professionalism may be typical of the operation of the Syrian air defense system, even under Russian tutelage.
        It was not unexpected that the Russian spokesmen would blame Israel and leave the Syrians who shot down the Russian aircraft blameless. Nevertheless, it is to be expected that the Russians will now take a close look at how the Syrian air defense system works and attempt to make improvements. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel-Russia Crisis Artificial - Zvi Magen interviewed by Ariel Kahana
    The crisis between Israel and Russia resulting from a Russian military aircraft being shot down over Syria last week is "calculated and artificial, unrelated to reality or the facts," said former Israeli Ambassador to Russia Zvi Magen. "It doesn't matter what Israel does. From the moment the other side wants a crisis, there's no way of preventing one."
        Magen said there are two opposing voices in Russia when it comes to Iran. "One sees it [Iran] as a threat, and is somehow pleased that Israel did the work for Russia in dealing with Iran in Syria. The Russian defense establishment, on the other hand, as usual, sees the Iranians as a kind of ally against the U.S. and the West. So it doesn't like Israel's actions against Iran in Syria. In addition, three years after entering Syria, Russia wants to finish things and leave....Israel's activity - which is destabilizing to Syria - is a hindrance."  (Israel Hayom)

Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran's Destructive Activities - Iran Action Group (U.S. State Department)
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran is not a normal state. Normal states do not:
    • attack embassies and military installations in peacetime;
    • fuel terrorist proxies and militias;
    • serve as a sanctuary for terrorists;
    • call for the destruction of Israel and threaten other countries;
    • aid brutal dictators such as Syria's Bashar al-Assad;
    • proliferate missile technology to dangerous proxies;
    • conduct covert assassinations in other countries;
    • and hold hostage citizens of foreign nations.
  • Normal states do not support terrorism within their armed forces, as Iran has done with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Qods Force.
  • Normal states do not violently suppress legitimate protests, jail their own citizens or those of other countries on specious crimes, engage in torture, and impose severe restrictions on basic freedoms.
  • Today, the United States is publishing a full record of the Islamic Republic's hostile behavior abroad and its repression at home beyond the continued threat of its nuclear program.