Saturday, October 21, 2017

Iranian Aggression Intensifies - Joseph Klein




by Joseph Klein


UN ambassador Nikki Haley takes the "outlaw" regime to task.




Last July, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) military commander and chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, warned that “putting the Revolutionary Guard in the terrorist lists with terrorist groups can be very costly to the United States and its military bases and forces in the region.” IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said on October 8th that "if the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world." The next day the Iranian regime warned of a "crushing" response if the United States were to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.  President Trump has called the Iranian regime’s bluff with his announcement last week that he would do just that.
Designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization and imposing new sanctions for its aggressive actions in the region is not a restoration of the sanctions lifted by the Obama administration as part of its disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. If Iran insists it can do what it wants militarily in terms of missile launches, support of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and arms transfers without violating the nuclear deal, then the United States can certainly act to curb such activities through financial pressure. The U.S. can impose sanctions against the Iranian regime’s principal instrument for projecting aggressive, destabilizing force outside of its borders without violating the nuclear deal. The Iranian regime does not see it that way, however.

With the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions making available billions of dollars to Iran’s leaders to further finance the IRGC’s exploits in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, the regime is furious that the Trump administration is tightening the financial screws again, even if for reasons not directly related to Iran’s compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal. Thus, it is threatening U.S. forces and bases in the region. A couple of seemingly unrelated events this past week point to Iran’s positioning itself for more aggressive military actions that could place U.S. forces in harm’s way.

On Tuesday, Major General Bagheri landed in Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad and senior Syrian officials, including the defense minister and the chief of staff of the Syrian armed forces. Bagheri is quoted as saying that his visit’s purpose was to “put a joint strategy on continuing co-ordination and co-operation at the military level.” Some experts on Iran believe that Bagheri’s visit to Damascus at this time is intended to reinforce a message that Iran will continue to supply weaponry to Syria and to reinforce the presence of its terrorist proxy Hezbollah in Syria. This will not only serve to bolster the Assad regime, but it also will strengthen Iran's ability to follow through on its threats to the U.S. and its allies, principally Israel.

Meanwhile, following the departure of the Kurds from Kirkuk, Iraq earlier this week, the IRGC’s operational Al Qods arm reportedly established a command center and five bases there. According to Debkafile, this constitutes “the first military facility Iran has ever established openly in Iraq.”  The Kirkuk region holds 45 percent of Iraqi’s oil. The Iraqi branch of Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah has vowed that once ISIS is defeated it will start killing Americans, as it has done before.

It is against this backdrop that U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley used her entire speech to the UN Security Council on Wednesday to denounce the Iranian regime on multiple grounds. The session was supposed to be devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Ambassador Haley departed from the monthly ritual during which Israel is normally singled out for criticism by other Council members. She went after Iran instead. She explained why the Trump administration decided to take “a comprehensive approach to confronting the Iranian regime,” which does not give the regime a get out of jail free card even if it is in technical compliance with the loophole-ridden nuclear deal agreed to by the Obama administration.

“We can’t talk about stability in the Middle East without talking about Iran,” Ambassador Haley said. “That’s because nearly every threat to peace and security in the Middle East is connected to Iran’s outlaw behavior. The United States has now embarked on a course that attempts to address all aspects of Iran’s destructive conduct, not just one aspect. It’s critical that the international community do the same. Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat. Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing, and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish.”

Ambassador Haley accused the Iranian regime of continuing to “play” the Security Council. “Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits on its behavior. And we have allowed them to get away with it. This must stop.”

Ambassador Haley proceeded to list various violations by the Iranian regime of Security Council resolutions pertaining to the transfer of conventional weapons from Iran and the arming of terrorist groups, including the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah. She also pointed to what she called the Iranian regime’s “most threatening act” – its launch of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. “When a rogue regime starts down the path of ballistic missiles, it tells us that we will soon have another North Korea on our hands,” Ambassador Haley said. “If it is wrong for North Korea to do this, why doesn’t that same mentality apply to Iran? “

As for the Iran’s supposed technical compliance with its commitments under the nuclear deal itself, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the UN’s international inspectors are not able to visit Iran’s military sites. Past work on nuclear explosive trigger devices appears to have taken place at one or more such sites in the past. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano admitted last month that when it comes to the IAEA’s capacity to check whether Iran was conducting work on a nuclear explosive device, his agency’s “tools are limited.” The Iranian regime has also attempted to skirt the restrictions in the JCPOA on its procurement of materials, equipment, goods and technology related to Iran’s nuclear activities. The Heritage Foundation noted in its recent report on the JCPOA, for example, that Iran was “caught red-handed trying to purchase nuclear technology and restricted ballistic missile technology from German companies.”

U.S. intelligence had discovered North Korea’s transfer of missile parts to Iran at the very same time that Iran was negotiating the nuclear deal, in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions then in effect. The Obama administration chose to look the other way. Does anybody with a modicum of sense really believe that such collaboration between the two rogue nations is not going on today? Iran is flush with cash, thanks to the JCPOA. It wants to build out its missile and nuclear enrichment capabilities. In addition to covert transfers of materials and technology to Iran in violation of the nuclear deal, the JCPOA may provide a loophole for Iran to exploit in outsourcing some of the development work to North Korea for hard currency, which North Korea desperately needs. They are a perfect match for each other.

Proponents of the JCPOA argue that exiting the nuclear deal unless it is changed to the Trump administration’s satisfaction would undermine U.S. credibility with North Korea and thereby kill any chance of negotiations to resolve the crisis caused by North Korea's continued testing of sophisticated nuclear arms and ballistic missiles. "If we want to talk to North Korea now, the possible end for the nuclear deal with Iran would jeopardize the credibility of such treaties," Reuters quoted German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel as saying. Germany is one of the parties to the JCPOA. Other European allies have voiced similar concerns. So have Obama’s former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

This argument is absurd on its face. The whole point is to prevent Iran from becoming the next North Korea, not to kick the can down the road as usual. North Korea’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and of intercontinental ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads proves that weak agreements full of front-loaded goodies rewarding rogue regimes for elusive promises are worthless.


Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/268174/iranian-aggression-intensifies-%C2%A0-joseph-klein

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Israeli, Russian & Iranian Interests Collide In Syria - Ari Lieberman




by Ari Lieberman

Russia takes on key role in de-escalating tensions between Israel and the Mullahs.




On October 16, Syrian anti-aircraft units fired a SAM-5 anti-aircraft missile at Israeli planes conducting a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon. Israel frequently conducts these types of intelligence gathering operations over Lebanon to keep tabs on Hezbollah. The missile missed and all Israeli planes returned safely back to base. Shortly thereafter, Israel retaliated transforming the missile battery, located approximately 50 kilometers east of Damascus, into an expensive heap of scrap metal. Following the Israeli strike, an Israel Defense Force spokesman stated that Israel “hold[s] the Syrian regime responsible for the anti-aircraft fire and any attack originating from Syria.”

This isn’t the first time that the Syrians launched anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli fighter planes. In March, Israel intercepted and destroyed a Syrian SAM-5 missile with an Arrow anti-missile system. The Syrians had fired the missile during an Israeli air raid on a Syrian airbase known as T4 near the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which was believed to be housing Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah. While the missile missed, Israeli radar operators who were tracking its flight path feared that the missile, with its 478lb warhead would land in Israeli territory prompting the commander on the scene to order a launch.

These clashes underscore the volatile nature of the existing situation in Syria. With an airbase at Khmeimim, and a naval base in Tartus, and other forces scattered about the country, Russia maintains a formidable military presence in Syria. Israel and Russia maintain cordial relations but a miscalculation by a jittery Russian technician sitting behind a computer screen could trigger a clash between Israeli and Russian forces. 

Precisely because of this possible scenario, in 2015 Israel and Russia worked out a de-conflict mechanism designed to prevent accidental mishaps. The two sides routinely conduct high-level political meetings and phone calls to further enhance communication. This week Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, met his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman for high-level consultations. No doubt the two discussed the recent clash. According to the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, the Russian defense minister termed the Israeli operation a “dangerous hostile operation that almost caused a severe crisis.” That characterization is somewhat one-sided given that it was the Syrians who opened fire first.

Israel and Russia had tangled before. In July 1970, following a series of cat and mouse engagements, Israeli Phantom and Mirage aircraft shot down five Soviet MiG-21 fighter planes over the Suez Canal. Of course back then, Israel and the Soviet Union were bitter enemies and both sides were sporting for a fight. The fear today however, centers on accidental mishaps between two formidable powers and how best to avoid them.

The two defense ministers also discussed Iran and its Shia proxy Hezbollah. These two malevolent forces have increasingly played a dominant role in Syria and assisted Russia its campaign to prop up Assad and defeat the anti-Assad insurgent groups. Israel is concerned that Iran and Hezbollah will attempt to open a second front against Israel near the Israeli-held Golan Heights, and has aggressively acted to thwart this effort. 

In January 2015, the Israeli Air Force struck a combined Iranian-Hezbollah cell operating near the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, which resulted in the deaths of 12 senior Hezbollah and Iranian operatives. In December 2015, an Israeli strike in Damascus killed Samir Kuntar, a convicted child murderer and Hezbollah operative who was attempting to foment anti-Israel activities along the border. And in March 2017, an Israeli drone liquidated Yasser al-Sayed, a pro-Assad militia commander who was coordinating planned attacks against Israel with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Israel has asked Russia to ensure that neither Iranian nor Hezbollah forces would operate within 40 kilometers of the Israeli border. The Russian defense minister reportedly rejected the Israeli demand but yielded to a request to expand the existing buffer beyond the 10-15 kilometer zone already agreed upon. 

While Russia and Iran (and by extension Hezbollah) are allies, their interests are not necessarily congruent in all respects. Russia wants to continue to exert its influence over Syria and maintain its military bases. The Iranians wish to expand their Shia hegemony and confront Israel. It is not in Russia’s interests and serves no Russian purpose to see a clash between Israel and its enemies – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

As such, Russia’s presence in Syria represents a double-edged sword for Israel. On the one hand, it somewhat constrains Israeli military action given the close proximity of Russian forces to Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian forces. An Israeli strike could conceivably cause Russian casualties which in-turn could spark a political crisis. Moreover, Russia’s powerful military intervention in Syria’s civil war likely saved Assad and enabled Iran to maintain a dominant position in Syria. 

On the other hand, Russia’s interests in maintaining stability in Syria and good relations with Israel serve to prevent Iran from acting recklessly. The Russians will exert their heavy-handed influence over the Iranians to rein them in and keep them from moving close to the Israeli border. 

Meanwhile, while Shoigu was meeting with Liberman, Iran’s top military chief, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, met in Damascus with his Syrian counterpart, Lt.-Gen. Ali Ayoub. The Iranian stated that his nation would not sit idly by while Syria was attacked by the “Zionist regime.” The Iranians are notorious dissemblers and much of what they spew amounts to hot air but their recent assertiveness – a product of political success through the calamitous Iran deal and military successes in Iraq and Syria – is deeply alarming.

Regardless, as it has demonstrated on countless occasions, Israel will continue to act to safeguard its citizens from malign external threats and preserve its security interests.



Ari Lieberman

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/268178/israeli-russian-iranian-interests-collide-syria-ari-lieberman

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Fall of Kirkuk: Made in Iran - Jonathan Spyer




by Jonathan Spyer

Another illegal operation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards



The capture of Kirkuk by Iranian-backed Iraqi forces has dramatically changed the balance of power in Iraq.

Iraqi forces took Kirkuk city from the Kurds this week with hardly a shot fired. Twenty-two Kurdish fighters were killed in the sporadic and disorganized resistance, while seven Iraqi soldiers also lost their lives. It is a remarkable setback for the Kurds, who just a few weeks ago held an independence referendum. The loss of Kirkuk especially, given the city's vast oil resources, lessens the likelihood that an independent state will emerge from the Kurdish Regional Government area in northern Iraq.

Now the Iraqi forces are rolling into other areas conquered by the Kurdish Regional Government in the course of the war against ISIS, including Sinjar city, close to the border with Syria. Meanwhile, an exodus of Kurdish civilians is streaming in the direction of Erbil and Suleymaniya cities. Kurdish forces are withdrawing from the areas of Makhmur and Khanaqin as well. Yezidi civilians, who bore the brunt of the ISIS assault in the summer of 2014, are again uncertain of their fates as they wait for the arrival of Iraqi forces.

The capture of Kirkuk recalls other swift and decisive assertions of control that the Middle East has witnessed in recent years. Perhaps the closest parallel might be the Hezbollah takeover of west Beirut in May-June 2008. Then, too, a pro-Western element (the March 14 movement) sought to assert its sovereignty and independent decision-making capabilities. It had many friends in the West who overestimated its strength and capacity to resist pressure. And in the Lebanese case as well, a sudden, forceful move by an Iranian client swiftly (and, it seems, permanently) reset the balance of power, demonstrating to the pro-Western element that it was subordinate and that further resistance would be fruitless.

As in Lebanon in 2008, a sudden, forceful move by an Iranian client has swiftly reset the balance of power.

There is, of course, a further reason to note the similarity between Kirkuk in October 2017 and Beirut in 2008. Namely that in both cases, the faction that drove its point home through the judicious use of political maneuvering and the sudden application of force was a client of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. In Lebanon, the client was Hezbollah, the prototype of the IRGC-sponsored political-military organizations that Iran is now using to exert its influence across a huge swathe of the Middle East. In Iraq, the equivalent force is the PMU (Popular Mobilization Units) or Hashd al-Shaabi. These fighters spearheaded the entry into Kirkuk, working in close coordination with the Iraqi army's 9th Armored Division, the Emergency Response Unit of the Federal Police, and the U.S.-trained counterterrorism service.

The Shi'a militias of the PMU were raised in June 2014, following a fatwa from renowned Iraqi Shi'a cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. At that time, ISIS was heading for Baghdad, hence the need for the rapid mobilization of auxiliary fighters. The PMU's forces now consist of about120,000 fighters in total. And while dozens of militias are associated with it, a handful of larger formations form its central pillars.


Ktaeb Hizballah commander Abu Mahdi al-­Muhandis (right) with Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani (center) and Imam Ali Brigade leader Shebl al Zaydi (left).

The three most important groups are all pro-Iranian and directly connected to the Revolutionary Guards. These are Ktaeb Hizballah, headed by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis; Asaib Ahl al-Haq, headed by Qais al-Khazali; and the Badr Organization, commanded by Hadi al-Ameri. All three of these leaders are closely linked to Qods Force Commander General Qassem Suleimani. They are, as one region-based diplomat put it, "Iran's proconsuls" in Iraq.

Al-Ameri, al-Muhandis, and Suleimani himself were all present in Kirkuk on October 15 and16, laying the groundwork for the takeover of the city. Badr and Ahl al-Haq fighters also played a prominent role in the incursion into the city. However, they were not the only Iran-linked element in Kirkuk. The Kurdish retreat appears to have been the product of a deal between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish party that dominates in Kirkuk, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. According to eyewitness reports, the PUK's peshmerga forces abandoned their positions, rendering a coherent defense of the city impossible.

The PUK-Iran relationship dates back 25 years, to the days when both were engaged against the Saddam Hussein regime in Baghdad. Due to this alliance, the PUK only reluctantly supported the Kurdish independence referendum of September 25. Indeed, the fractured nature of Kurdish politics, the absence of a single, united military force, and the differing international alliances and orientations of the two main parties in the KRG—namely the Kurdish Democratic Party of President Masoud Barzani and the PUK—have long constituted a central vulnerability of the Kurdish system in northern Iraq. We appear to have witnessed a masterful exploitation of this vulnerability, a sudden and decisive turning of the screw.


Bafel Talabani, son of former PUK leader and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, is said to have cut a deal with Iranian-backed Shi'a militias.

Details have emerged in the Kurdish media of a supposed agreement reached between Bafel Talabani, eldest son of former PUK leader and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Hadi al-Ameri of the PMU. (Some sources claim that it was al-Muhandis, not al-Ameri, who represented the PMU.) The deal would establish a new authority in the Halabja-Sulaymaniyah-Kirkuk area, to be jointly administered by the Iraqi government and the "Kurds" (or rather, the PUK) for an undefined period. The federal government would manage the oil wells of Kirkuk and other strategic locations in the city, while also overseeing the public-sector payroll.

The establishment of such a client or puppet authority would put paid to any hopes for Kurdish self-determination in the near future. The deal was intended to split Iraqi Kurdish politics in two, and make impossible any further moves toward secession. The latter cause is vehemently opposed by Iran, which wants to control Iraq from Baghdad and maintain its unfettered access to the Levant and the Mediterranean Sea.

This deal was only feasible because of smart investments that Iran made in the politics of both Iraqi Shi'a Arabs and Iraqi Kurds during previous decades, plus the judicious mixing of political and military force, an art in which the Iranians excel. Indeed, Iran's influence in Iraq, both political and military, goes beyond the PMU and the PUK. The Federal Police, another of the forces involved in the march on Kirkuk, is controlled by the Interior Ministry. The Interior Minister, meanwhile, is one Qasim al-Araji—a representative of the Badr Organization, Hadi-Al Ameri's group, which sits in the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. And of course, Abadi's own party, Dawa, is a Shi'a Islamist outfit with strong ties to Iran.

So the long-developed, mostly unseen influence that Iran exerts on both Iraqi and Kurdish political and military life is powerful indeed. All we are seeing this week is its abrupt activation.

The Trump administration has effectively acceded to Iranian ascendancy in Iraq.

As Andrew Bernard noted in a TAI article earlier this week, President Trump's response on the clashes was to assert that the United States was "not taking sides, but we don't like the fact that they're clashing." This is in effect to accede to the Iranian ascendancy in Iraq, given the discrepancy in power between the sides and the deep Iranian and IRGC involvement with Baghdad. Such a stance does not, to put it mildly, tally with the President's condemnation in his speech this past week of Iran's "continuing aggression in the Middle East." It remains to be seen if anything of real consequence in policy terms will emerge from the President's stated views. For the moment, at least, the gap between word and deed seems glaring.

Meanwhile, the advance of the Shi'a militias and their Iraqi allies is continuing. The demoralized KRG has abandoned positions further west. In Sinjar, Khanaqin, Makhmur, Gwer and other sites on the Ninawah Plain, the Iraqis are pushing forward. The intention appears to be to take back the entirety of the Plain, where the peshmerga of the ruling KDP, not the PUK, were dominant. Yet they too have so far retreated without resistance. It is not clear at present how far the PMU and the Iraqis intend to go, or at what point the peshmerga will make a stand.

It is a black day for the Kurds, from every point of view. The fall of Kirkuk confirms the extent to which Iraq today is an Iranian-controlled satrapy. And it vividly demonstrates the currently unrivaled efficacy of the Iranian methods of revolutionary and political warfare, as practiced by IRGC throughout the Arab world.


Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs and author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2011).

Source: http://www.meforum.org/6971/the-fall-of-kirkuk-made-in-iran

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Germany: Full Censorship Now Official - Judith Bergman




by Judith Bergman

Courts Rewrite History

  • Germany has made no secret of its desire to see its new law copied by the rest of the EU.
  • When employees of social media companies are appointed as the state's private thought police and given the power to shape the form of current political and cultural discourse by deciding who shall be allowed to speak and what to say, and who shall be shut down, free speech becomes nothing more than a fairy tale. Or is that perhaps the point?
  • Perhaps fighting "Islamophobia" is now a higher priority than fighting terrorism?
A new German law introducing state censorship on social media platforms came into effect on October 1, 2017. The new law requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online "criminal offenses" such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint -- regardless of whether or the content is accurate or not. Social media companies receive seven days for more complicated cases. If they fail to do so, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.

This state censorship makes free speech subject to the arbitrary decisions of corporate entities that are likely to censor more than absolutely necessary, rather than risk a crushing fine. When employees of social media companies are appointed as the state's private thought police and given the power to shape the form of current political and cultural discourse by deciding who shall be allowed to speak and what to say, and who shall be shut down, free speech becomes nothing more than a fairy tale. Or is that perhaps the point?

Meanwhile, the district court in Munich recently sentenced a German journalist, Michael Stürzenberger, to six months in jail for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking the hand of a senior Nazi official in Berlin in 1941. The prosecution accused Stürzenberger of "inciting hatred towards Islam" and "denigrating Islam" by publishing the photograph. The court found Stürzenberger guilty of "disseminating the propaganda of anti-constitutional organizations". While the mutual admiration that once existed between al-Husseini and German Nazis is an undisputed historical fact, now evidently history is being rewritten by German courts. Stürzenberger has appealed the verdict.


A German court recently sentenced journalist Michael Stürzenberger (pictured) to six months in jail for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking the hand of a Nazi official in Berlin, in 1941. The prosecution accused Stürzenberger of "inciting hatred towards Islam" and "denigrating Islam" by publishing the photograph. (Image Source: PI News video screenshot)
Germany has made no secret of its desire to see its new law copied by the rest of the EU, which already has a similar code of conduct for social media giants. The EU Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourova, recently said she might be willing to legislate in the future if the voluntary code of conduct does not produce the desired results. She said, however, that the voluntary code was working "relatively" well, with Facebook removing 66.5% of the material they had been notified was "hateful" between December and May this year. Twitter removed 37.4%, and YouTube took action on 66% of the notifications from users.

While purportedly concerned about online "hate speech," one EU organization, the EU Parliament, had no qualms about letting its premises be used to host a convicted Arab terrorist, Leila Khaled, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at a conference about "The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Struggle" in September. (The EU, the US, Canada, and Australia, have all designated the PFLP a terrorist organization). The conference was organized by, among others, the Spanish delegation of Izquierda Unida (United Left) as part of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left bloc in the European Parliament.

In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May also said that she will tell internet firms to tackle extremist content:
"Industry needs to go further and faster in automating the detection and removal of terrorist content online... ultimately it is not just the terrorists themselves who we need to defeat. It is the extremist ideologies that fuel them. It is the ideologies that preach hatred, sow division and undermine our common humanity. We must be far more robust in identifying these ideologies and defeating them -- across all parts of our societies."
Prime Minister May keeps insisting that "these ideologies" are spread "across all parts of our societies" when in reality, virtually all terrorism is Islamic. Meanwhile, her own Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has refused to ban the political wing of Hezbollah. Hezbollah's hate speech, apparently, is perfectly acceptable to the British authorities. So is that of South African Muslim cleric and hate preacher Ebrahim Bham, who was once an interpreter to the Taliban's head legal advisor. He was allowed to enter the UK to speak in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, a government building, at the "Palestine Expo" a large Jew-hate event in London in July. Bham is known for quoting Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels and saying that all Jews and Christians are "agents of Satan". Meanwhile, a scholar such as Robert Spencer is banned from entering the UK, supposedly on the grounds that what he reports -- accurately -- is "Islamophobic".

The British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also recently stated that online "hate crimes" will be prosecuted "with the same robust and proactive approach used with offline offending". The decision to treat online offenses in the same way as offline offenses is expected to increase hate crime prosecutions, already at the highest recorded level ever. Prosecutors completed 15,442 hate crime cases in 2015-16.

Jews in Britain, who have experienced a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism over the past three years, are frequently on the receiving end of hate crimes. Nevertheless, their cases constitute less than a fraction of the statistics. In 2016/17, the CPS prosecuted 14,480 hate crimes. According to the Campaign Against Antisemitism:
"we have yet to see a single year in which more than a couple of dozen anti-Semitic hate crimes were prosecuted. So far in 2017, we are aware of... 21 prosecutions, in 2016 there were 20, and in 2015 there were just 12. So serious are the failures by the CPS to take action that we have had to privately prosecute alleged anti-Semites ourselves and challenge the CPS through judicial review, the first of which we won in March. Last year only 1.9% of hate crime against Jews was prosecuted, signaling to police forces that their effort in investigating hate crimes against Jews might be wasted, and sending the strong message to anti-Semites that they need not fear the law... Each year since 2014 has been a record-breaking year for anti-Semitic crime: between 2014 and 2016, anti-Semitic crime surged by 45%".
Almost one in three British Jews have apparently considered leaving Britain due to anti-Semitism in the past two years.

British authorities seem far more concerned with "Islamophobia" than with the increase in hate crimes against Jews. In fact, the police has teamed up with Transport for London authorities to encourage people to report hate crimes during "National Hate Crime Awareness Week", which runs from October 14-21. Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police will hold more than 200 community events to "reassure communities that London's public transport system is safe for everyone". The events are specifically targeted at Muslims; officers have visited the East London Mosque to encourage reporting hate crimes.

Last year, London mayor Sadiq Khan's Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac) announced it was spending £1,730,726 of taxpayer money policing speech online after applying for a grant from the Home Office. Meanwhile, Khan said that he does not have the funds to monitor the 200 jihadists estimated to be in London, out of the 400 jihadists who have so far returned to the capital from Syria and Iraq. (He also implicitly admitted that he does not know the whereabouts of the jihadists who have returned). When asked by the journalist Piers Morgan why the mayor could not have them monitored, Khan answered:

"Because the Met Police budget, roughly speaking, 15 percent, 20 percent is funded by me, the mayor. The rest comes from central government. If the Met Police is being shrunk and reduced, they've got to prioritize and use their resources in a sensible, savvy way."

When Morgan asked what could possibly be a bigger priority than, "people coming back from a Syrian battlefield with intent to harm British citizens", Khan did not answer. Perhaps because it is hard to admit in public that fighting "Islamophobia" is now a higher priority than fighting terrorism?

Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11205/germany-official-censorship

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

France: The New Collaborators - Giulio Meotti




by Giulio Meotti

How to Protect France, Europe, the West

  • "They are those who believe that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and love and do not want to hear about an Islam of war, intolerance and hatred". — Michel Onfray, Le Figaro.
  • Le Figaro just devoted an entire issue to Muslim women in France who are trying to fight radical Islam. They are journalists, activists and writers who want equality between men and women, freedom of expression and sexual freedom. These Muslims clearly care more about the French Enlightenment than many non-Muslims who advocate appeasing Islamists.
  • In short, France needs to start fostering its side of this cultural war. Even if it is too late to recover all of the lost ground, if France does not start immediately but just limits itself to "manage" this "state of emergency", the lights turned off will not be only those of the Eiffel Tower, as happens after every terror attack, but also the lights of one of the greatest civilizations that history ever gave us.
A few days ago Abdelkader Merah, the brother of the Islamic terrorist who gunned down four Jews in Toulouse in 2012, went on trial, charged with complicity in terrorism. "Beginning in 2012, we entered an age of terrorism, where before we believed ourselves protected; it was a turning point in French history", said Mathieu Guidere, a professor of Islamic studies in Paris.

Since then, France has faced severe challenges by Islamic fundamentalists in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is now trying to manage a terrible situation: some 350 Islamic terrorists currently sit in prisons; 5,800 are under police surveillance; an additional 17,000 have been classified as a "potential threat", while since 2015, more than 240 lives have been lost to jihadi terrorists.

It seems that France has decided to accept what it might see as unavoidable: the Islamic takeover of parts of the country. This view is reflected in the very idea of a "state of emergency". France's lower house of parliament just passed a new anti-terrorism law, taking measures which have been in place for two years under a previous "state of emergency" and enshrining them into law.

After the murderous January of 2015 attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Macron's predecessor, President François Hollande, officially declared that "France is at war". Until now, however, the war has been fought only on one side, by the Islamic fundamentalists.

Although some scholars, such as Gilles Kepel, estimate that a "civil war" could break out in the future, there is a more realistic scenario: a country split along demographic and religious lines -- the secular French republic vs. the Islamic enclaves, the "French 100 Molenbeeks", from the name of Brussels' jihadist nest.

France used to be regarded as a jewel of civilization. One of France's great intellectuals, Alain Finkielkraut, recently said: "France has become for me a physical country, since its disappearance has entered into the order of the possibilities". Finkielkraut, a member of French civilization's holiest shrine, the Académie Française, was not thinking about the physical disappearance of French bakeries, boutiques or boulevards; he seemed rather to mean the disappearance of France as the capital of Western culture.

Under the assault of radical Islam, French civilization is eroding from within. And there are now large parts of French culture which are openly adding water to the mill of Islam. These have been just called by Le Figaro, "agents of influence of Islam". Intellectuals, journalists, politicians, those who consider the Muslims "the new oppressed".

The French essayist Michel Onfray recently called them "the new collaborators", like the French who stood with the Nazis:
"They are those who believe that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and love and do not want to hear about an Islam of war, intolerance and hatred... The collaborator wants to see only the first [type of] Islam by believing that the second has nothing to do with Islam. These collaborators are the Islamo-leftists".
And they are winning the cultural war.

How can France prevent an Islamic takeover of parts of the country with fatal metastases for the entire European continent? "In order to disarm terrorists, we must disarm consciences", Damien Le Guay just wrote in a new book, entitled La guerre civile qui vient est déjà là ("The Coming Civil War Is Here Already").

France needs to stop talking with "non-violent Islamists", such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and instead to speak with the true liberal reformers, the internal dissidents of Islam. The daily newspaper Le Figaro recently devoted an entire issue to Muslim women in France who are trying to fight radical Islam. They are journalists, activists and writers who want equality between men and women, freedom of expression and sexual freedom. These Muslims clearly care more about the French Enlightenment than many non-Muslims who advocate appeasing Islamists.

France also needs to close its borders to mass immigration and select new arrivals on the basis of their willingness to retain the present culture of France, and to abandon multiculturalism in favor of respect for a plurality of faiths in the public space. That means rethinking the phony French secularism, which is aggressive against Catholicism but weak and passive with Islam.

France needs to close the Salafist mosques and ban the preaching of radical imams who incite Muslim communities against the "infidels" and urge Muslims to separate from the rest of the population.

France needs to prevent the arrival of propaganda from the dictatorial regimes of the Middle East: their mosques, satellite channels, pamphlets, libraries and books.

France needs ban polygamy; Islamic law, sharia; female genital mutilation (FGM); Islamic supremacism and forced marriages.

France needs to tighten its alliance with Israel, the one outpost of Western culture in a region that has rejected it. Israel is the West's only true ally in an area that is collapsing under the weight of radical Islam.

France needs to protect and renovate its Christian treasures. A few weeks ago, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris promoted a fundraising project to save the building from decaying. The French authorities need to play their part and not forsake France's Christian heritage. France needs to send Islamists the message that France is a secular country, but not a de-Christianized one.

France needs to protect its Jewish community, which in ten years has lost 40,000 people who fled the country as a result of anti-Semitism met with indifference.

France needs to strengthen Western culture at schools, museums, universities and publishing houses: Enlightenment, as the foundation of freedom of conscience, expression and religion, separation of religion and state; and the Judeo-Christian tradition as the root of all the great achievements of European culture.

France needs to demand reciprocity. The right to build a mosque in France should be linked to the right of Christians in the Middle East to practice their faith: a mosque for a church. France has the political and diplomatic connections in North Africa and Middle East to impose this reciprocity. What is lacking is any political will.

In short, France needs to start fostering its side of this cultural war. Even if it is too late to recover all of the lost ground, if France does not start immediately but just limits itself to "manage" this "state of emergency", the lights turned off will not be only those of the Eiffel Tower, as happens after every terror attack, but also the lights of one of the greatest civilizations that history ever gave us.


(Image source: Falcon® Photography/Wikimedia Commons)

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11153/france-new-collaborators

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Iran’s very good week - Caroline Glick




by Caroline Glick

Just hours after President Donald Trump gave his speech outlining the contours of a new US policy toward Iran, senior Iranian officials were on the ground in Iraq and Syria, not only humiliating the US, but altering the strategic balance in Iran’s favor.

Kirkuk invasion

You have to hand it to the Iranians. They don’t play around. Just hours after President Donald Trump gave his speech outlining the contours of a new US policy toward Iran, senior Iranian officials were on the ground in Iraq and Syria not only humiliating the US, but altering the strategic balance in Iran’s favor.

Last Friday Trump said that from now on, the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama concluded with the Iranian regime would be viewed in the overall context of Iran’s many forms of aggression. Iran’s support and direction of terrorism, its subversion of neighboring regimes, regional aggression, weapons proliferation, development of ballistic missiles and harassment of maritime traffic will no longer be dealt with in isolation from Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump pledged that it will henceforth be US policy to ensure that Iran is made to pay a price for all its aggressive actions, including its breaches of the nuclear deal.

Among other things, Trump singled out Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps for its role in sponsoring and engaging terrorism. He came within a hair’s breadth of defining the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. But words to one side and actions to the other.

On Saturday morning, Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who commands the Qods Force, responsible for the IRGC’s international terrorist operations, landed in Iraq’s Kurdish city of Kirkuk.

The Kurds have been autonomous in Iraq since 1992 and have exercised de facto sovereignty over Iraqi Kurdistan since 2003. One of their chief disputes with the central government in Baghdad was control over the oil rich city of Kirkuk, adjacent to autonomous Kurdistan. Kurds make up a large majority of the population of the city.

That dispute seemed largely settled three years ago when in the summer of 2014, Kurdish Peshmerga forces took over the oil town and other areas south of their official territory. The Kurds moved in after government forces fled Kirkuk and other areas, in the face of Islamic State’s offensive.

The Kurds played a key role in the anti-ISIS campaign.

Both in Iraq and Syria, the Kurds have been the US’s only reliable ally. Iraqi regime forces, like the Shi’ite militia that fight alongside them, are controlled by Iran.

Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and the head of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), thought that ISIS’s defeat in Iraq and Syria was the right time to call in the US debt to the Kurds for the central role they have played in the fight to defeat ISIS.

And so on September 25, he held a referendum on Kurdish independence. Nearly 93% of Iraqi’s Kurds voted in favor.

Support for independence is so overwhelming that even the Talabani family supported the referendum.

For generations, the Barzanis and Talabanis have vied for control of Iraqi Kurdistan. And whereas the Barzanis have enjoyed longstanding warm ties with Israel and the US, for the past generation, the Talabanis have grown close to Iran.

Jalal Talabani, the head of the Talabani clan, served in the ceremonial position of Iraqi president from 2005 until 2014. He was the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK party.

Talabani, who died two weeks ago, opposed Kurdish independence.

On Saturday, flanked by the Iraqi Shi’ite militia commanders – two of whom are on the FBI wanted terrorists list – Soleimani told the Talabanis to support the restoration of Iraqi government control – that is, Iranian control – over Kirkuk.

Ala Talabani, Jalal’s niece, told an Arabic television station that Soleimani came to pay his respects to her late uncle. According to The Washington Post, Ala Talabani praised Iran’s role in Iraq and said, “Soleimani advised us that Kirkuk should return to the law and the constitution, so let us come to an understanding.”

In other words, he offered them a deal.

In an article in The American Interest, Jonathan Spyer, director of the Rubin Center at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, said the deal was concluded the next day between one of the Shi’ite militia leaders and Bafel Talabani, Jalal’s eldest son. Based on Kurdish media accounts, Spyer wrote that the deal involves establishing “a new authority in the Halabja-Sulaymaniyah-Kirkuk area to be jointly administered by the Iraqi government and the ‘Kurds’ (or rather the PUK) for an undefined period.”

Spyer summarized, “The federal government would manage the oil wells of Kirkuk and other strategic locations in the city, while also overseeing the public-sector payroll.”

So two days after Trump’s speech, the Iranians and the Talabani family agreed to split Iraq’s Kurds in two and set up an Iranian puppet in the new governing authority, killing any thought of an independent Kurdistan.

So far, the deal has gone off without a hitch. The Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, which are loyal to the Talabani family, abandoned their posts on Monday when the Soleimani-controlled combined force of US-armed and -trained Iraqi government forces and Shi’ite militias took over Kirkuk and other areas.

Despite Trump’s stated position in favor of weakening Iranian power and influence, and despite the fact that the occupation of Kirkuk was directed by the IRGC, which Trump just sanctioned, the Americans to date seem fine with this outcome.

According to Kurdish and US commentators, Iran or no Iran, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wouldn’t have dared to order the strike on Kirkuk without US agreement.

It’s true that the US has never gone out on a limb for its Kurdish allies. Despite the fact that 1,700 Peshmerga fighters were killed fighting – and defeating ISIS – over the past three years, and despite the fact that an independent Kurdistan would constitute a severe blow to Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the region, the US vocally opposed last month’s referendum. Following the vote, US officials told reporters that since Barzani ignored their position, they feel they owe him no loyalty.

And indeed, the US couldn’t be more disloyal than it is today – siding with Iran against America’s only dependable ally in Iraq.

The implications of Iran’s successful strategic offensive against the Kurds are disastrous for the US. Iran’s establishment of a Kurdish satrapy in Iraq harms the US in three ways.

First, America’s only stable Iraqi ally is now destabilized. For the past several years, the Barzanis and Talabanis had managed to more or less bury the hatchet, each content with their own sphere of influence. Now, they are once again at each other’s throats. Even if the Americans never asked them to do it, Iraq’s Kurds protected America’s interests in Iraq. And their prosperity and stability were viewed as an American achievement.

Now that is a thing of the past.

Second, Iran’s successful neutralization of the Kurds clears away the only major obstacle to Iranian hegemony over Iraq. This development has major implications for the region. If there is no safe base for operations against Iran in Iraq, any plan to block Iran’s regional rise has become far more complicated.

And finally, the US’s reputation and its strategic credibility in the region and beyond have just taken a massive hit. Until Soleimani’s forces marched into Kirkuk, it was possible to believe that the US’s recent preference for Iran over its own allies was a function of Obama’s radical worldview.

Now that Trump is in office, the policy was effectively over.

In the face of the US’s betrayal of the Kurds to the benefit of Iran, that position is no longer credible. Trump can claim till he’s blue in the face that he has abandoned Obama’s Iran policy, but so long as Iraqi government forces control Kirkuk – for Iran – his claims only discredit him.

The consequences of the US’s acceptance of Iran’s Kurdish gambit are already being felt on the ground. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Syrian Kurds, who just this week led the forces that defeated ISIS forces in Raqqa, are now concerned that the US will abandon them as well. Syrian Kurds now exercise autonomy. But with ISIS now defeated, Syrian Kurds fear the US will withdraw its forces from Syria and allow them to be overrun by Assad regime forces controlled by Iran and Hezbollah.

Luckily, not everything is black. Israel isn’t the US. But it is more powerful than the Kurds. And Israel is doing what it can to both help them and curb Iran’s expanding power. This, even as Trump seems incapable of translating his positions into policies on the ground.

The same day Iranian-backed forces were taking control of Kirkuk, Israel both destroyed a Russian- made anti-aircraft battery in Syria in retaliation for Syria’s targeting of IAF jets, and welcomed Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Israel for his first visit in office.

Israel’s willingness to attack the Syrian battery the day Shoigu arrived made clear that Russian support for its Syrian client is not unconditional.

This was brought home yet again and more powerfully the next day. On Tuesday, Maj.-Gen.
Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian military, made an official visit to Damascus.

While he was there Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk to him about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its increased presence in Syria. Netanyahu also beseeched Putin to support Kurdish independence in Iraq.

Interestingly, it was Putin’s office, not Israel, which revealed the call had taken place.

Russia’s willingness to accept Israeli air strikes in Syria and to openly work with Israel indicates that Iran may have overstepped the boundaries. It is possible that Russia is not interested in having an empowered Iranian ally. Given past Russian practice, it is likely that Russia would like to see Iran weakened and therefore more dependent on Moscow.

Then there are the Germans and British. Whereas German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May came out strongly for maintaining the nuclear deal with Iran, both leaders indicated this week that they are willing to take a stronger stand against Iranian support for terrorism, missile development and regional expansion. Netanyahu reportedly has spoken at length to both leaders, and to a host of others, in recent days lobbying them to support the anti-Iranian Kurdish regional government.

By not abandoning the Kurds and by continuing to press for the West – including the Trump administration – to support Barzani and his government, and by pushing back against Iran’s empowerment in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, Netanyahu is trying to exploit and expand Iran’s weaknesses. He does this even as Iran’s strengths become more obvious and Iran’s power rises against an America that remains strategically adrift.

Netanyahu’s actions alone will not stop Iran.

But they do make it clear that Iran’s rise is not unstoppable. There are plenty of actors with plenty of reasons to oppose Iran’s empowerment. And once they see the danger Iran poses to them, working together and separately, they can help to cut it down to size.

At some point, the Americans may come to their senses and finish off the job.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 


Caroline Glick

Source: http://carolineglick.com/irans-very-good-week/

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.