September 23, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

"Iran Is No Longer Limited to Its Borders" (Radio Farda)
    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's representative to Khorassan Province, firebrand cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda, said in a Friday sermon:
    "Iran is no longer limited to its borders. Iraqi Hashd al-Sha'bi, Lebanese Hizbullah, Yemeni [Houthi] Ansarallah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Palestine and the Syrian Homeland Front are all part of Iran."
    Alamolhoda warned: "In case of any aggression against Iran, Israel will be totally demolished within half a day....Iran is located to your north and south. Isn't Southern Lebanon the same as Iran?... Wherever in the region there is a resistance fighter, that is Iran."

UK Says Iran Responsible for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities - Jill Lawless (AP)
    Britain has concluded that Iran was responsible for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday.
    He said "the UK is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran."
    A UK official said remnants of Iran-made cruise missiles were found at the attack site, and "the sophistication points very, very firmly to Iranian involvement."
    See also Saudi Arabia to Wait for Investigation before Responding to Attacks - Stephen Kalin (Reuters)
    Saudi Arabia will wait for the results of an investigation before responding to the attack on its oil facilities, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Saturday.
    "It was done with Iranian weapons, therefore we hold Iran accountable for this attack."

Washington Denies Visa Entry to Hizbullah's Minister (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Washington refused to grant a travel visa to Lebanon's Health Minister Jamil Jabak, a representative of Hizbullah in the government, ahead of a visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly as part of the official delegation accompanying President Michel Aoun.
    The U.S. has been tightening economic sanctions on individuals and entities directly or indirectly involved with Hizbullah.
    Earlier reports said that Jabak was the personal doctor of Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.

IDF: Armed Drone Downed by Syria Is Iranian, Not Israeli - Shlomi Diaz (Israel Hayom)
    An armed drone forced down by Syrian government forces near Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights on Saturday belongs to Iran and not to Israel, the IDF said.

Syrian Protestors Demand Withdrawal of Iran-Backed Militias - Wladimir van Wilgenburg (Kurdistan 24)
    Syrian government forces wounded multiple protesters outside the city of Deir al-Zor when they stormed a security checkpoint on Friday demanding the withdrawal of regime troops and Iran-backed militias from their areas.
    At least two civilians were killed and 10 others injured.
    One of the protest banners read, "The people of Hatlah village ask the Coalition and the SDF [U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces] to liberate our village from the Iranian militias."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pompeo: Iran's Attacks on Saudi Oil "a State-on-State Act of War" - Zack Budryk
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that the attacks on Saudi oil production facilities "could not have come from the Houthis. It's crazy for anyone to assert that they did. This was an act of war....This was a state-on-state act of war." While Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif has denied Tehran's responsibility for the attacks, Pompeo countered that "there's already ample evidence" Zarif is lying. "I don't know why anyone listens to the Iranian foreign minister. It's beneath the dignity of anyone to listen to him."
        Pompeo maintained that he and President Trump are "looking for a diplomatic resolution" but added that "we're prepared to do the things we need to do."
        Pompeo later told "Fox News Sunday": "We're consistently concerned that Iran will continue to behave in a way that it has for 40 years. The whole world understands that Iran is the bad actor. They are the evil force in the region."  (The Hill)
  • U.S. to Send Troops, Air Defense Equipment to Saudi Arabia, UAE
    The U.S. is sending additional military forces and air defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said Friday. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. was responding to requests from those nations after the Sep. 14 assault in Saudi Arabia exposed their vulnerability to drone and cruise missile attacks.
        President Trump on Friday announced new sanctions against Iran's national bank. "I think the sanctions work," he said. "The military would work, but that is a very severe form of winning." Trump said he was not planning a military response to the attacks, but warned, however, that "Iran knows if they misbehave, they're on borrowed time."  (VOA News)
  • Iran Finds Evaporating Sympathy at the UN - David E. Sanger and Farnaz Fassihi
    When Iran's president and foreign minister arrived in New York a year ago for the opening of the UN General Assembly, they were riding high and European leaders largely sided with them. This year President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are on the defensive. Even former Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the nuclear accord four years ago and has become its biggest defender, said Iran was behind the attack on the Saudi oil facilities "one way or the other."
        Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, called the oil facility attacks a "game changer." European officials privately concede that the Saudi attacks most likely undermined their last hope for an agreement that would restore oil revenues to Tehran. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Call to Destroy Israel at Islamist Conference in Turkey - Benjamin Weinthal
    Ankara hosted a "Congress on the Future of the Islamic World and Palestine" last week that featured radical Islamists who urged the obliteration of the Jewish state and advocated the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign targeting Israel. "Israel must be dissolved and destroyed," said one speaker, the German daily Die Welt reported. Kadir Arakas, chairman of the Turkish-Shi'ite association, urged that no Islamic country reach agreements with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll: 65 Percent of Arab Israelis Are Proud of Their Citizenship
    According to a survey of Israelis published by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) on Sunday, 65% of Arab Israelis are proud to be Israeli - the highest since 2003. At the same time, 77% deny Israel's right to define itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people. 58% believe that their political leadership does not do a good job in representing the Arab community (up from 41% in 2017).
        70% of Jews and 75% of Arabs work or have worked in places in which Jews and Arabs work together. 93% of Jewish Israelis and 98% of Arab Israelis defined working relationships as either "good" or "very good." 58% of Jewish Israelis reported that they try to avoid entering Arab localities - while only 8% of Arab Israelis reported that they avoid entering Jewish localities. (Israel Democracy Institute)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Mideast Envoy Greenblatt Says Goodbye - Jason D. Greenblatt
    I have spent nearly three years working with colleagues on the U.S.-Israel relationship, Israel's relationship with its Arab neighbors, and a vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I am proud of the work we have done.
        I was surprised at how much misinformation exists about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some pernicious, some innocent. Surprised at how many people with views different from ours were unwilling to engage in rational, respectful dialogue and seemed so certain that no one else's view mattered. Surprised that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are willing to destroy the lives of 2 million Palestinians in their quest to destroy the State of Israel, and even more surprised at their belief that one day they will prevail.
        I was sad for the many Palestinians I was so fortunate to meet who seek a better life, who are hopeful that we can provide a path to such a life, but who understand the many obstacles. Sad at how 2 million Palestinians could be subjugated by Hamas and its partner in terror, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
        Sad at the lives lost and despair caused to so many families by the conflict, especially Israelis murdered in cold blood by terrorist attacks, as well as from rockets launched from Gaza. Sad that some actually believe that a moral equivalence exists between those murdered in cold blood by terrorists and those accidentally killed in Israel's ever-challenging need to defend itself from such attacks. (CNN)
  • Realigning U.S. Policy to Support Iran Is Illogical - Lee Smith
    Minimizing the U.S. footprint in the Middle East was seen to require partnership with a power that could bear the load after America's exit. Supporters of the Iran deal realigned American interests with those of the Islamic Republic, overturning the traditional American alliance system. But this realignment was a geopolitical protection racket.
        The thinking behind it was also wrong, since Iran can't carry the load in the Middle East. It is the theocratic state of a regional minority twice over, Persian and Shiite, whose exterminationist campaigns against Sunnis have rendered it incapable of projecting influence in a Sunni-majority Middle East.
        Iran wages asymmetrical war through proxies because it has very limited military capabilities of its own. Even with the hundreds of billions that came to Iran after the JCPOA, Iran needed Russian support to put down Syrian rebel forces.
         Even the most elementary premise of realignment is illogical. It means overturning the existing U.S. alliance system of pro-American states in the Middle East in favor of embracing a genocidal regime that at its core is virulently anti-American.  The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. (Tablet)

Behind the French Enthusiasm for Iran - Amb. Freddy Eytan (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • From the day Emmanuel Macron entered the French Presidential Palace in May 2017, he has tried to improve France's image in the international arena and play a central role in resolving conflicts. Macron is essentially the only leader on the Continent who is capable of "restoring the former glory" of the European community, maintaining friendly relations with all sides, and negotiating directly and equally with the leaders of the great powers.
  • Macron seeks to return to the doctrine of Gen. Charles de Gaulle, which entails following an independent foreign policy that will conform to that of the U.S. and the West only when it is in the interests of France. He has proposed giving Iran a credit line of $15 billion.
  • Despite their closeness to Iran, the French have always preferred the Sunni camp to the Shiites. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, France wholeheartedly supported Saddam Hussein. It supplied him with weapons and even a nuclear reactor (that was destroyed by Israel in 1981).
  • Macron's primary motivation is economic. Since the imposition of new U.S. sanctions, the export of French products to Iran has fallen by 42%. France is the third-largest exporter to Iran in Europe after Germany and Italy. Total Energy and Renault built factories in Iran, employing thousands of locals. However, today both factories are almost idle.
  • The French president's diplomatic moves are dangerous because Iran would receive the removal of the sanctions on a silver platter and financial credit even before talks began.
  • Israel's recent discoveries of clandestine Iranian nuclear sites and Iran's continued subversive operations in Syria, Iraq, and especially in Lebanon with the construction of accurate missiles for Hizbullah obligate the international community to consider the dangers that could threaten the Jewish state rather than looking only at economic gain.

    The writer is a former Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel's embassies in Paris and Brussels and was Israel's first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.