Friday, April 30, 2021

'There's no such thing as occupied Palestinian land,' legalist says - Amnon Lord

 

by Amnon Lord

Renowned international law expert Dr. Jacques Gauthier thinks Israelis are not as aware of their historical rights to the land as they should be.

 Our Practice

Dr. Jacques Gauthier is a Canadian lawyer and international law expert who is currently the greatest expert on the San Remo Conference, during which the legal infrastructure for the Jewish state was laid in 1920.

Gauthier, whose life's work has been devoted to proving the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria under international law, says the question of the legitimacy of the settlement enterprise – and the legal basis of Israel's very existence – is one of crucial importance.

He believes that for Israel and the Jewish people, it is imperative not to lose sight of what was theirs in the past.

Over the past two decades, the legal arena has become rife with propaganda by left-wing organizations and by the Palestinians, giving way to the rise of a new term: Lawfare- the misuse of legal systems and principles against with aim to delegitimizing the adversary, wasting their time and money, or winning a public relations victory.

In this reality, the question is simple, Gauthier says: Are Jews living east Jerusalem, or as settlers in Judea and Samaria, or in Hebron, or even within the Green Line legal residents? Do they own land and property that are not actually theirs?

Israel's critics, he explained, claim that Jews should be barred from living in certain areas in the country, so the question of justice and sovereignty is crucial because if the right granted over the entire territory exists within the framework of international law – then the Jews are not in breach of the law.

According to Gautier, Israel lacks sufficient understanding and recognition of the historical rights of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.

"If you do not know your rights, you also do not know how they are working against you," he said, adding that while the concept of "occupation" is not necessarily wrong, "the fact that your sovereignty is subject to conditions of occupation doesn't mean that you have lost your rights."

Gautier said, "I oppose the phrase 'occupied Palestinian territory,'" he concludes.

 

Amnon Lord

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/04/29/theres-no-such-thing-as-occupied-palestinian-land-legalist-says/

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Report: Biden considering wholesale rollback of sanctions on Iran - Arutz Sheva Staff

 

by Arutz Sheva Staff

US officials say Biden administration is considering a near wholesale rollback of some sanctions imposed on Iran in a bid to get it to return to compliance with 2015 nuclear deal.

The Biden administration is considering a near wholesale rollback of some of the most stringent Trump-era sanctions imposed on Iran in a bid to get the Islamic Republic to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing current and former US officials and others familiar with the matter.

American officials have refused to discuss which sanctions are being considered for removal, but have stressed that they are open to lifting non-nuclear sanctions, such as those tied to terrorism, missile development and human rights, in addition to those related to the nuclear program.

Biden administration officials say this is necessary because of what they describe as a “deliberate attempt” by the Trump administration to stymie any return to the deal. Under the 2015 agreement, the United States was required to lift sanctions tied to Iran’s nuclear program, but not the non-nuclear sanctions.

When former President Donald Trump re-imposed sanctions after withdrawing from the deal in 2018, he not only put the nuclear sanctions back in but also added sanctions related to terrorism and other sanctions on many of the same entities.

A senior State Department official involved in the negotiations told AP that US officials now “have to go through every sanction to look at whether they were legitimately or not legitimately imposed.”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the US would be prepared to lift sanctions that would otherwise deny Iran the benefits it’s entitled to under the deal, not just those specifically related to nuclear activity.

Those sanctions could include restrictions on Iran’s ability to access the international financial system, including dealing in dollar-based transactions.

The report follows recent talks in Vienna aimed at bringing back the US to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The talks in Vienna involved diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia who met the Iranian representatives, while US diplomats participated indirectly in the talks from a nearby hotel.

The US and European Union both said last week that more work was needed to revive the 2015 deal, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the "negotiations have achieved 60-70 percent progress."

A senior State Department official told reporters last week that the US provided Iran with an outline of the sanctions it is prepared to remove as part of a mutual return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

 

Arutz Sheva Staff

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/305230

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Biden’s Feckless Foreign Policy in a Nutshell - Joseph Klein

 

by Joseph Klein

Negotiating with adversaries from a position of weakness.

 


Biden’s foreign policy doctrine in dealing with America’s adversaries is simple: Appease or concede first and then try to negotiate.

Take Iran, for example. Former President Donald Trump had the Iranian regime on the ropes with his maximum pressure policy of increasing economic sanctions until the regime blinked. But when Biden came into office, he blinked first.

Biden is extremely anxious to reenter the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Biden administration sent signals that it was willing to negotiate the lifting of some economic sanctions in concert with Iran’s steps to reverse course and reduce its uranium enrichment to levels in compliance with the JCPOA. Biden all but begged for the U.S. to be indirectly involved in negotiations between Iran and the other remaining JCPOA participants - China, Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Iran's delegation was meeting with representatives from these five countries in the same room, while messages were sent back and forth with U.S. representatives sitting separately at a different location.

Iran’s thugs thumbed their noses at the Biden administration after the talks had begun by announcing that the regime was going to increase its uranium enrichment level to its highest ever, at 60 percent. That is a stone’s throw from the 90 percent purity level needed to produce a nuclear bomb. The Iranian regime dramatically changed the dynamics of the negotiation process in its favor by giving itself more leverage. As one Israeli official put it, “The Iranians smell that the Americans want an agreement at any price.”

Biden should have pulled the U.S. out of these phony talks immediately. He also should have responded forcefully to Iran’s provocative move by slapping the Iranian regime and its leaders with more burdensome sanctions. Instead, Biden pathetically expressed displeasure with Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 60 percent purity while saying that he was pleased with the JCPOA talks.

"We do not support and do not think it's at all helpful that Iran is saying it's going to move to enrich to 60 percent," Biden said during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. "We are, though, nonetheless pleased that Iran has continued to agree to engage in discussions - indirect discussions - with us and with our partners on how we move forward and what is needed to allow us to move back into the (nuclear deal) ... without us making concessions that we are just not willing to make."

Biden has already made a major concession by allowing the Iranian regime to increase its negotiating leverage dramatically by leaping ahead  to the 60 percent purity level without suffering any consequences. This means that just to get Iran to return to the level of uranium enrichment purity prior to its increase to 60 percent, Biden would have to agree to roll back sanctions already in place. And to make things worse, the Biden administration had already rescinded Trump’s declaration that the United States was re-imposing UN sanctions on Iran under the JCPOA’s sanctions snapback provisions. The Trump administration took this action after Iran’s previous violations of the JCPOA’s uranium enrichment restrictions. The Biden administration took that bit of negotiating leverage for the U.S. away without receiving any concession in return.

Moving on to China, Biden once again got played – this time on climate change. On his first day in office, Biden declared that the United States would rejoin the Paris Agreement to combat global climate change, from which Trump had withdrawn the U.S.

Biden said that he was pleased with China’s stated willingness to cooperate with the United States on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Biden is even more gullible than his former boss, Barack Obama. China’s original commitment under the Paris Agreement was to just start leveling off its emission of greenhouse gases by 2030. That has not changed. China today is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases - nearly double the rate of the United States and growing.

Even Biden's climate czar John Kerry admitted back when Biden announced the U.S. would be rejoining the Paris Agreement that reducing U.S. emissions to zero would make little difference in combating climate change. “Not when almost 90 percent of all of the planet’s global emissions come from outside of US borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved,” Kerry said.

China’s President Xi Jinping participated in the virtual summit of world leaders that Biden hosted beginning on Earth Day (April 22nd).  Xi made a meaningless gesture of cooperation in the fight against climate change, while offering no new ambitious commitments to begin cutting greenhouse gas emissions immediately, let alone to stop increasing them. Not only will China’s emission of greenhouse gases continue to increase during this decade. Its consumption of coal – the dirtiest of fossil fuels – will continue to increase at least through 2025.

Biden, on the other hand, put the United States out on a limb with an outlandish pledge, while not receiving anything remotely comparable in return. On top of the cuts in emissions that the United States has already made during the last several years, Biden pledged that the United States would cut greenhouse gas emissions further by 52 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2035.

Biden’s embrace of the Green New Deal will place tremendous burdens on the U.S. economy and on the average American with little to show for it. Meanwhile, China will keep laughing all the way to the bank as it continues to increase its greenhouse gas emissions for the next several years, generate more than half the world’s coal-fired power with the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, and open even more coal plants.

While Kerry admitted that China was not doing enough in the battle against climate change, he appeared willing to let them off the hook for now. "They have a massive coal dependency,” Kerry said on Friday. “We have to try to get them to move further and we have to also ask China not to be funding the building of new coal-fired power plants in other parts of the world." These are not the words of a hard-nosed negotiator. These are the words of a pitiful supplicant.

To add insult to injury, China has conditioned its cooperation in dealing with the climate change problem on how the Biden administration addresses other issues of importance to China such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that “[I]f the United States no longer interferes in China’s internal affairs, then we can have even smoother cooperation that can bring more benefits to both countries and the rest of the world.”

Like the Iranian regime, the Chinese Communist government is showing increased contempt for the United States as the Biden administration continues to knuckle under.

 

Joseph Klein

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/04/bidens-feckless-foreign-policy-nutshell-joseph-klein/

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EU Parliament condemns UNRWA for 'teaching hate, violence' in PA schools - Daniel Siryoti and i24NEWS

 

by Daniel Siryoti and i24NEWS

Resolution insists aid be conditioned on the removal of hateful content, compliance with UN values.

 The European Parliament on Wednesday adopted a resolution condemning the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for teaching hate and violence in Palestinian Authority schools.

The resolution expresses concern "about the hate speech and violence taught in Palestinian school textbooks and used in schools by UNRWA" and insists that financial aid be conditioned on the removal of educational materials that promote hatred and incitement to violence.

 

"This is a really important step in the fight to prevent UNRWA from inciting many thousands of children every school-day to violence, extremism and antisemitism," Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, a non-profit organization that monitors the content of school textbooks, said in reaction to the resolution being adopted.

The legislation passed despite lobbying efforts against it by UNRWA and the PA, including Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh appearing in front of the parliament's Committee of Foreign Affairs a week before the vote.

Last year, the EU passed three similar resolutions calling out the PA for not removing hateful materials from its textbooks used by UNRWA in the Palestinian education system.

Norwegian lawmakers in December 2020 voted to cut the financial assistance to the PA over antisemitic outbursts and incitement to violence in its educational materials.

i24NEWS contributed to this report.

 

Daniel Siryoti and i24NEWS 

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/04/29/eu-parliament-condemns-unrwa-for-teaching-hate-violence-in-pa-schools/

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Macron’s Folly - Bruce Bawer

 

by Bruce Bawer

Is he serious about fixing France’s Islam problem?

 


Last October, I reported here that French president Emmanuel Macron had just “delivered what, on the face of it, seemed to be a remarkable speech on Islam.” Having previously been wishy-washy on the topic, he now promised a new program “intended to defend French laïcité, or official secularism, from ‘Islamist separatism,’” which he explicitly characterized as an existential threat to the Republic. Acknowledging that “one reason why ‘Islamist separatism’ had been allowed to fester was the ‘cowardice’ of French authorities,” Macron proclaimed that a new day had dawned. In public services, in cultural and athletic associations, in schools and universities, and in other sectors of society, Islamic indoctrination would be officially, firmly, and comprehensively resisted, and Islam itself modernized into an “Islam of the Enlightenment.”

My comment at the time was that a great deal of Macron’s scheme, on close examination, “starts to look not like a program for the secularizing of Islam but, rather, like a blueprint for propping up public laïcité while actively promoting private Islamic observance – a blueprint born, one imagines, of pie-in-the-sky hopes that, when the Muslims take over, they won’t replace the Napoleonic Code with sharia law.” In any event, given the decades of French government inaction on the Islam issue, it was hard to take Macron’s vows any more seriously than a boeuf bourguignon prepared with a Beaujolais. 

Two weeks after Macron’s speech, a Muslim named Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch Anzorov beheaded a history teacher named Samuel Paty, who’d shown his students some cartoons of Muhammed as part of a lesson on freedom of expression. The French took to the streets in outrage (which soon subsided). The government expelled a couple of hundred immigrants who’d been identified as potential terrorists (leaving heaven knows how many hundreds of thousands of others). A mosque was closed (and has since been reopened). Macron praised Paty while also making the usual nice, empty noises about Islam, but admitted that he hadn’t done enough about the problem so far and again promised action. Again I was dubious. “What guarantee is there,” I wrote, “that Macron will keep his eye on the ball after the furor over Paty’s murder dies down – let alone that he will take action that is sweeping enough to make a real difference in this long-term civilizational war?”

Alas, if you’re consistently cynical about the promises of French leaders, you’ll rarely be disappointed. In October, as noted here by Hugh Fitzgerald, France’s ambassador to Sweden, Étienne de Gonneville, had declared on Swedish television that “France is a Muslim country.” As Fitzgerald noted, the veracity of such a statement is dependent not just on the sheer number of Muslims in France but on the question of whether they “see themselves as part of a wider society, contributors to its culture, inheritors of its history.” To ponder Muslim attitudes toward the victory of Charles Martel at Tours in 732 or the central French role in the Enlightenment is to realize that the overwhelming majority of Muslims don’t identify with these achievements.

When an op-ed in the Financial Times described Macron as fighting “Islamic separatism,” he considered the word choice consequential enough to write a reply, insisting in a November 4 letter that he was fighting “Islamist separatism.” France, he explained, has for the past several years been under attack “by terrorists [acting] in the name of an Islam that they have distorted” (yes, that old line) and is at war against “designs of hatred and death that threaten its children – never against Islam. We oppose deception, fanaticism, violent extremism. Not a religion.” A few days later, Macron’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, met with the Grand Imam at Cairo’s al-Azhar University. Now, you might have thought that, if anything, he’d have been on the offensive, reading the Grand Imam the riot act about jihadism in the wake of Paty’s murder. Instead, because of the recent reprinting of some Muhammed cartoons by Charlie Hebdo (a publication much of whose staff had been slaughtered in a previous act of jihad), Le Drian contritely assured his host that the French government has a “deep respect” for Islam. It hardly sounded as if the leaders of La Belle République had any serious intention of fighting Islamization.

Indeed, even as Macron and his chief diplomat were trading in defiance for deference, legislators were watering down his “Law against Separatism.” The references to “Islamic separatism” and the word “secular” disappeared. A ban on home schooling – which targets Christians, not Muslims – was added, and the Islam-specific language was generalized in such a way that Jewish and Christian leaders opposed the law as an attack on their own freedom of worship. Some leftists even tried to include an amendment named for outspoken (and frequently fined) Islam critic Éric Zemmour, which would have instituted new punishments for “inciting hatred.” While politicians on the left opposed the bill for failing to address the alleged “root causes” of Islamic mischief, such as “poverty, exclusion, racism, discrimination,” Marine Le Pen, the critic of mass Muslim immigration who is expected to challenge Macron in next spring’s elections, dismissed the law as toothless. In February it passed the National Assembly; in April, a purportedly somewhat tougher version passed the Senate.

In addition to his new law, Macron cooked up a so-called “Charter of Principles for Islam in France” and asked religious leaders belonging to the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) to sign on – the idea presumably being that these new “principles” would then trickle down into the hearts and minds of France’s Muslims (whose numbers de Gonneville vaguely put at somewhere between 4 and 8 million). Of course, this is pure magical thinking. We’re talking here about people who, among much else, accept the legitimacy of forced marriage and honor killing, who consider women inferior and homosexuality a capital offense, and who are convinced that everything they confess and profess and practice was confided in their prophet by Allah himself. How can any sane government official imagine that some charter signed by a few imams is going to alter any of that?

In any event, three of the CFCM members refused to okay Macron’s charter. Among the items they objected to, apparently, was a promise to decriminalize apostasy. Under Islam, of course, apostasy is punishable by death. In at least ten Muslim countries, the death penalty for apostates is the law of the land. This is not, as Macron would have it, “Islamism” – an instance of the misunderstanding of the faith by a handful of radicals. It’s mainstream Islam, pure and simple, straight out of the Koran, and the leaders of French Muslims plainly want to keep it that way. One article suggested that Macron might try to get around this roadblock by doing the Gallic equivalent of packing the Supreme Court – that is, finding “liberal” imams and putting them on the CFCM. But to think that such a move would affect the behavior or beliefs of the devout multitudes is, of course, sheer self-delusion.

It’s hard not to feel that this whole half-hearted project is doomed to failure. Because talking about “Islamism” and “Islamists” is an exercise in diversionary euphemism. Because whatever pretty things Macron may say about it, Islam the selfsame Islam that sends hordes of Muslims out into the streets of Paris and Nice and Nantes with their prayer mats to get on their knees and block traffic, a daily practice that the gendarmes don’t dare to address – is a problem. The minds and hearts of these people are consecrated to a set of beliefs and practices that represent an existential menace to Western civilization. To pretend that these believers can be reined in by any lame law or charter or pact is sheer folly. As one General Roland Dubois asked rhetorically in a recent commentary: when faced with a choice between “a sacred text, dictated by Allah himself, and therefore untouchable to the end of time” and some newly concocted document, “more or less imposed by the unbelievers,” which text can you expect to win out? Muslims have felt a sense of indomitability in France for some time now; can anyone honestly expect them to turn meek? The bottom line, then, is this: if Islam were harmless in the first place, there would be no need for any laws or charters to control its adherents; but since Islam is not harmless, such documents are useless – except perhaps as part of an effort by Macron to make it look to voters, in the run-up to the next election, as if he’s actually doing something about the issue.  

On April 25, an article at the Norwegian site document.no drew my attention to an open letter to the President and government of France in the conservative magazine Valeurs Actuelles. Signed by over a thousand members of the French military, including twenty generals, it declared, in strong and solemn language, that France is “in peril” owing to “fanatical and hateful” people who “despise our country, its traditions, its culture, and who want to see it dissolve by removing its past and its history.” That the Muslim banlieus have become “territories subject to dogmas contrary to our constitution” is intolerable, they wrote, for “there cannot and must not exist any city or neighborhood where the laws of the Republic do not apply.” Hence, they maintained, it is “imperative that those who run our country find the courage to eradicate these dangers. To do this, it is often sufficient to apply existing laws without weakness.” Cautioning against “prudence” and cowardice, emphasizing that the job ahead is “colossal,” and warning that time is growing short, they declared their readiness to take action to “safeguard the nation” and forestall an otherwise inevitable civil war in which the deaths “will number in the thousands.”

So far, alas, nobody is mounting the barricades. While the French, alas, routinely respond to trivial provocations by pouring into the streets to protest, they take longer to volunteer for meaningful – and potentially life-threatening – action than it takes to make a proper cassoulet. Indeed, even as Macron and other French leaders pretend to be turning the page when it comes to the official approach to the Religion of Peace, outspoken Islam critics like Zemmour continue to be tried and fined for articulating objective truths. How seriously can we take any law that promises to curb the excesses of Islam in a country that still bows to the Muslim mob by prosecuting its small number of genuine heroes?

 

Bruce Bawer

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/04/macrons-folly-bruce-bawer/

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Biden's Border - Chris Farrell

 

by Chris Farrell

The Biden administration's "caged children" in the facility in Donna, Texas rightly get a lot of publicity -- but those are not the conditions along the entire southern border with Mexico.

  • The surge of unaccompanied children and families to the southern border -- as well as the surge of non-marijuana drug trafficking across the border -- is a humanitarian crisis, a health crisis and a national security crisis.

  • The Biden administration has ordered the termination of all work. Construction sites and crews are, essentially, idle -- at the reported cost of more than $1 million dollars per day in Cochise County, Arizona alone. It is costing $1 million taxpayer dollars per day -- meaning more than $100 million so far for just one site -- to figure out how, exactly, to unwind the half-completed construction project .....

  • While you are considering the human and dollar costs of Biden's "children in cages," consider the construction sites and equipment staged in remote areas, or the drug loads packed into Chevy Suburbans, stripped of everything in the interior but the driver's seat, and painted matte black for their 2AM runs north through the dry arroyo beds into the United States.

  • Some of that equipment was looking for people other than illegal aliens -- other people (terrorists) bearing ill-will towards the United States. The radiological detection devices? Gone. The license plate readers and recorders? Gone.

  • Mexico is an utterly corrupt, failed narco-state. The "best" thing Mexico has going for it is the "efficiency" of the drug cartels.... Perhaps Biden's border legacy will be another type of 9/11 attack, launched across his now virtually non-existent border with Mexico?

Just west of Naco, Arizona, former President Trump's 30-foot border wall runs through the desert and begins to ascend through the Coronado National Memorial and into the Huachuca Mountains – until it doesn't. Work was not completed. The Biden administration has ordered the termination of all work. Construction sites and crews are, essentially, idle – at the reported cost of over $1 million dollars per day in Cochise County, Arizona alone. Pictured: Idle equipment at a wall construction base in Cochise County. (Image source: Chris Farrell)

The surge of unaccompanied children and families to the southern border -- as well as the surge of non-marijuana drug trafficking across the border -- is a humanitarian crisis, a health crisis and a national security crisis. It all belongs -- 100% -- to President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

The illegal alien surge has been promoted and advertised for since June 28, 2019, when every single one of the Democratic presidential primary candidates raised their hands and said they would support free health care to all illegal immigrants in the United States. That was the first step in a cynical political ploy to permanently replace a segment of the American electorate with "more obedient voters from the Third World" -- while masquerading as compassion and care.

The Biden administration's "caged children" in the facility in Donna, Texas rightly get a lot of publicity -- but those are not the conditions along the entire southern border with Mexico. The facts and circumstances should not be lumped together or conflated. Naco, Arizona is not the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Naco has different circumstances and challenges.

Just west of Naco, former President Trump's 30-foot wall runs through the desert and begins to ascend through the Coronado National Memorial and into the Huachuca Mountains -- until it doesn't. Work was not completed. The Biden administration has ordered the termination of all work. Construction sites and crews are, essentially, idle -- at the reported cost of over $1 million dollars per day in Cochise County, Arizona alone. It is costing $1 million taxpayer dollars per day -- meaning more than $100 million so far for just one site -- to figure out how, exactly, to unwind the half-completed construction project, what to do with the supplies, equipment, debris, access roads, staging areas, water wells and pumps, electrical conduits and sensor assemblies – the list goes on and on. Reportedly, the Biden administration even likes some of the proposed improvements -- but there is no way in hell they will ever agree to building that damn "wall." Trump simply cannot be given that victory, no matter how practical and effective it may be. No wall. No way.

In places where the wall was constructed, the Biden administration has ordered floodgates to be left open along the San Pedro River valley in Cochise County, Arizona. There is no reason to leave the floodgates open. Border Patrol representatives will tell you very earnestly that the floodgates are essential for our maintenance of the wall and to be in compliance with our treaty obligations. Those facts are true, but they have absolutely nothing to do with why the gates are open now. This is the driest year in living memory in Cochise County. The San Pedro is bone dry. Grazing lands are dead brown and Martian red. Local cattle ranchers are trucking-in hay and feed to keep their cattle from starving. The only things moving along the San Pedro are illegal aliens and drug smugglers. Sure, leave the gate open. It is the Biden administration now.

The point of this essay is to get across to you that the state of what little is left of the US-Mexican border is complex. Different sectors have different geography, different illegal alien populations seeking to cross, different drug loads moving through the ports of entry or the vast stretches of "nothing" in-between.

While you are considering the human and dollar costs of Biden's "children in cages," consider the construction sites and equipment staged in remote areas, or the drug loads packed into Chevy Suburbans, stripped of everything in the interior but the driver's seat, and painted matte black for their 2AM runs north through the dry arroyo beds into the United States.

On Biden's border, enforcement is a thing of the past. Border Patrol checkpoints in places such as Arizona Highway 90 between Sierra Vista and Interstate-10 are literally a shell of their former selves, stripped of all staff and equipment. Some of that equipment was looking for people other than illegal aliens -- other people (terrorists) bearing ill-will towards the United States. The radiological detection devices? Gone. The license plate readers and recorders? Gone.

You see, border security is about more than Biden's caged children. It is more sophisticated and complicated than that. Mexico is an utterly corrupt, failed narco-state. The "best" thing Mexico has going for it is the "efficiency" of the drug cartels. How utterly pathetic and dangerous is that? Perhaps Biden's border legacy will be another type of 9/11 attack, launched across his now virtually non-existent border with Mexico?

 

Chris Farrell is a former counterintelligence case officer. For the past 20 years, he has served as the Director of Investigations & Research for Judicial Watch. The views expressed are the author's alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17319/biden-border

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The raid on Rudy - Doris O'Brien

 

by Doris O'Brien

This unexpected maneuver was undertaken despite the fact that it came in the midst of cooperative ongoing conversations with Giuliani's attorney.

At some point in the 1980's, when Rudy Giuliani was a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, my mother went with a friend to hear him talk at a local meeting.  She came home enormously impressed.  The speaker, she reported, was not all that good-looking, but he was a real "comer."

As always, Mother was right.  After an unsuccessful run for New York City's mayor in 1989, Giuliani was finally elected to that office in 1994 — and then re-elected in 1998.  At the end of his second term, he found himself fortuitously in the right place at a terribly wrong time, effectively able to aid and bolster the stunned, bewildered people of his city after the 9/11 attack.

There was no braver man in the Big Apple at that time.  Just as he had "taken on" the New York City Mafia and won, so the mayor confronted the challenges of the horrific attack on the World Trade Center.  Risking his life, Giuliani reported to Ground Zero and heroically led suffering New Yorkers to safety through the white rubble of wilderness.

For some, he was the 20th-century equivalent of Moses.  Time magazine named him the 2001 Person of the Year.  (Well, okay, they had given the same distinction to the Ayatollah Khomeini twenty-two years earlier!)  But the point is that Rudy Giuliani was for a while not just the head honcho of the Big Apple.  He was the Mayor of America.

It wasn't just for his 9/11 heroics that he earned that accolade.  During his two-term administration, he cleaned up New York City as it hadn't been before and hasn't been since.  Every year that I visited my family in New York, I could see the miraculous changes.  The bums were gone from the theater district's skid row.  The homeless were relocated to facilities up the Hudson.  Tall, beefy cops patrolled every subway in New York's vast underground system.  Anyone comparing the city then and now would give high marks to His Honor.

But in the intervening years, it has become political sport to turn the tables of affection on Rudy Giuliani.  Originally a Democrat, he had over the years become a highly regarded Republican, at one time aspiring to the presidency.  But now, solely by dint of his affiliation with Donald J. Trump, he is regarded by Democrats as a "traitor" to the nation.  That is a serious charge, but "words matter" to Democrats only when it suits their purposes.

To emphasize the danger the Biden administration associates with this septuagenarian, this week, his apartment in New York City was forcibly entered by FBI agents, who seized whatever electronic devices they could get their hands on.  This unexpected maneuver was undertaken despite the fact that it came in the midst of cooperative ongoing conversations with Giuliani's attorney concerning the charges against him.


Media gathered outside Giuliani's apartment (YouTube screen grab).

Not surprisingly, these had to do with the Trump administration's concerns about Joe Biden's pressuring the Ukrainian government to dismiss any investigation into corruption by the firm Burisma, which handsomely compensated Biden's son Hunter for his "service" on its Board of Directors.  Never mind that Biden was, himself, guilty of quid pro quo, having said openly that he would withhold money from the Ukrainian government unless the investigation of Burisma was halted.

So, though complaints against Giuliani and company had been lodged by Democrats many months ago, it took a Biden presidency to see to it that Rudy was humiliated by an FBI "home invasion" reminiscent of the harrowing one launched against another elderly Trump associate, Roger Stone.  In that early-morning raid covered by tipped off CNN, Roger and his frail wife feared for their safety.

It would seem that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is capable of thwarting — or willing to thwart — only old conservative men.  They haven't bothered to breach the walls of the sprawling Clinton compound in Chappaqua for incriminating evidence in the matter of the faux dossier by Christopher Steele, financed by the DNC with funds from Hillary's campaign.

Nor have they bothered to bust into the fashionable Los Angeles digs of Hunter Biden, perhaps rummaging through his steel straws and various "extraneous" laptops to find evidence of his sweetheart deals with the wife of a Moscow mayor and a lending institution in China. 

If Democrats cannot parse issue along racist lines, they handle it through sheer politics.  The ruling objective of even the thinnest Democrat majority is to discount, dismay, and destroy the opposition.  Hence, a credible servant of the people like Rudy Giuliani has his apartment invaded by a swarm of government agents.

Even before this recent ordeal for Giuliani's family, he had routinely become the object of scorn by leftist publications, who minimized his successes as New York's mayor and suggested he had become a bug-eyed madman.  These are the same journalists — if that's the word — who would rise in resentment at any reference to Joe Biden's cognitive lapses — or his vacant, squinty eyes.

The sudden sea change in attitude toward Republican politicians is in lockstep with the woke's "cancel culture" campaign.  Once revered as an American icon, someone on the right of the political spectrum can be just as quickly sabotaged — as was the case with 60 Minutes' inaccurate reporting on Florida governor Ron DeSantis — or even relabeled as a traitor to America.  This scary scenario is nevertheless strategically preferred by the left, whose intent is to reconstruct — or more accurately, destruct — America in its own image.  Incidentally, apologies for lapses in truth-telling are rarely forthcoming.

To accomplish this form of tyranny, it is necessary to confuse and humble Americans.  Ransacking Giuliani's apartment and trashing the reputation of its occupant is not at all different from tearing down a statue of a Confederate leader.  In the eyes of a power-hungry Democrat party, any rearrangement of historical truths is permissible as long as it advances their political goals.

There is a move afoot to defund or redefine the police in America.  But rest assured: the FBI agents who break into the homes of Trump-supporters will not be dismissed as unessential or threatening.  In fact, they appear to have become a willing strong arm of the party in power.

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

 

Doris O'Brien

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/04/the_raid_on_rudy.html

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Turkey: How Erdogan's Pledge for Reform Collapsed in Five Months - Burak Bekdil

 

by Burak Bekdil

But who cares about the Constitution in a country where the governing bloc is proposing to close down even the Constitutional Court, in addition to banning opposition parties?

  • "We don't see ourselves elsewhere but in Europe," Erdoğan said on November 21. "We envisage building our future together with Europe."

  • According to Turkish news site Gazete Duvar, a total of 128,872 people have been indicted in the past six years for insulting Erdoğan. Of those, 27,824 had to stand trial and 9,556 were convicted.

  • Apparently, Erdoğan wants a democratic system without opposition.

  • But who cares about the Constitution in a country where the governing bloc is proposing to close down even the Constitutional Court, in addition to banning opposition parties? All these autocratic measures occurred in the less than half-year since Erdoğan pledged democratic reforms.

  • A few years ago, then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had vehemently refuted claims that Turkey was a second-class democracy. He was right. Turkey has since remained a third-class democracy.

71-year-old journalist and author Ahmet Altan was released from prison in Turkey this month. He had been unlawfully imprisoned for nearly five years, since he was detained in 2016 over allegations that, during a TV program, he disseminated "subliminal messages" related to a coup attempt, as well as for articles he had written criticizing the government. Pictured: Altan arrives at his home in Istanbul following his release from prison on April 14, 2021. (Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)

His critics often joke that when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledges democratic reforms, one should run away immediately. His latest charm offensive in November, aimed at repairing Turkey's badly-strained ties with the West and Western institutions, has proven that the joke still holds value.

"We don't see ourselves elsewhere but in Europe," Erdoğan said on November 21. "We envisage building our future together with Europe." Two days later, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar described NATO as the "cornerstone of our defense and security policy" and said that Turkey was looking forward to cooperating with the incoming administration under Joe Biden in the United States. Erdoğan also promised a bold package of democratic reforms.

Less than five months later, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi had to call Erdoğan a "dictator." That was not because an experienced European politician wanted to insult a Muslim head of state.

According to Turkish news site Gazete Duvar, a total of 128,872 people have been indicted in the past six years for insulting Erdoğan. Of those, 27,824 had to stand trial and 9,556 were convicted. By comparison, only 11 Turks had been convicted for insulting Ahmet Necdet Sezer, president between 2000 and 2007.

After Erdoğan's latest reform pledge, on March 21, Turkish authorities arrested a pro-Kurdish opposition MP who had refused to leave parliament for several days after his seat was revoked. Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu "was brought out by force while he was in pyjamas and slippers" by "nearly 100 police officers," the leftist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement.

On March 17, the Supreme Court Chief Public Prosecutor's Office filed a lawsuit against HDP for its closure on the grounds that it has links with "terror acts." On April 14, state prosecutors asked for the removal of the parliamentary immunity of main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and nine MPs from his Republican People's Party (CHP). Apparently, Erdoğan wants a democratic system without opposition.

This month, Europe's top human rights court ruled that the right to liberty and freedom of expression of Turkish journalist and author Ahmet Altan had been violated due to his detention and imprisonment on charges related to a 2016 coup attempt. Altan, 71, has been in prison since September 2016, when he was detained over allegations that, during a TV program, he disseminated "subliminal messages" related to the coup attempt, as well as for articles he had written criticizing the government. Shortly after that ruling, the Turkish Court of Appeals released Altan. In other words, Altan had been unlawfully imprisoned for 55 months, nearly five years.

That was "normal" in a country where an army of pro-government judges has the habit of announcing rulings in defiance of rulings from superior Turkish courts, including the Constitutional Court, and from the European Court of Human Rights. Those judges who dare make "undesirable verdicts" are probed and often get disciplinary punishments. Erdoğan's coalition partner and staunchest political ally, ultra-nationalist leader Devlet Bahçeli, has called for the closure of the country's top judicial institution, the Constitutional Court.

On April 5, Turkish prosecutors detained 10 retired admirals over their public criticism of Erdoğan's multi billion-dollar Istanbul canal project, which will create a new artificial waterway from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, to complement the Bosporus Strait. The arrest warrants came a day after a group of 104 former senior navy officials signed an open letter warning that the proposed canal could harm Turkish security by invalidating an 85-year-old international treaty (the Montreux Convention) designed to prevent militarization of the Black Sea. Pro-Erdoğan officials and prosecutors interpreted the statement as a direct challenge from the military to the civilian government, "echoing coup times."

The prosecutors' move is in direct breach of the Article 26 of the Turkish Constitution:

"Everyone has the right to express and disseminate his/her thoughts and opinions by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively. This freedom includes the liberty of receiving or imparting information or ideas without interference by official authorities. This provision shall not preclude subjecting transmission by radio, television, cinema, or similar means to a system of licensing."

But who cares about the Constitution in a country where the governing bloc is proposing to close down even the Constitutional Court, in addition to banning opposition parties?

All these autocratic measures occurred in the less than half-year since Erdoğan pledged democratic reforms. But no story would be completely Turkish without an element of black humor: Where is the $128 billion?

That sum refers to the US dollars sold by state banks to support the Turkish lira in foreign exchange markets. The policy began around the time of the March 2019 municipal elections and was ramped up in 2020, when the pandemic laid bare the lira's vulnerability and Turkey's reliance on external funding. Bankers have calculated that the sales totaled $128.3 billion in 2019-20.

As government officials remain mute on the question, the main opposition CHP recently launched a campaign to embarrass Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) by hanging huge posters on CHP party buildings across the country with the simple question: Where is the $128 billion? Not one more word. Not one single comment or insult. Just a question, though annoying especially at a time of economic crisis.

Turkish police started to rip down those posters without court orders. As one prosecutor confessed in a letter to a governor, "We cannot find a legal pretext to declare the posters illegal. You must rip them down citing administrative reasons."

In protest, a CHP MP hung the same poster outside his office office window in the parliament building. Parliament's administrative directors had to send a fire truck to rip down the poster. The MP said he would hang it again.

Erdoğan's effort to hang onto power is taking uglier shapes every new day. A few years ago, then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had vehemently denied claims that Turkey was a second-class democracy. He was right. Turkey has since remained a third-class democracy.

 

Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17301/erdogan-reform-collapse

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Presbyterian Church USA and Anti-Israel Actions - Joseph Puder

 

by Joseph Puder

When 'Presbyterian' becomes synonymous with Jew-hate.

 


The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) has been gradually moving to the radical left spectrum. Moderates have been leaving the church in droves in recent decades. As of 2019, the PCUSA membership numbered 1.3 million, down from 3.1 million in 1993. Its radical social justice agenda has come at the expense of traditional values. Chased away by the radicalization of the church, many have found the evangelical (Protestant) churches far more appealing. The issues that the PCUSA officialdom has gotten involved with go beyond domestic issues, such as taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The church officialdom has supported Palestinian Muslim terrorists, seeking to undermine the Jewish state by condemning Israel’s efforts to protect its citizenry from Arab-Palestinian killers. The “woke” PCUSA is enamored with radical Palestinians whom the PCUSA has designated as “victims.”

At its latest 2020 General Assembly (GA) in Baltimore, the PCUSA has adopted the radical left terminology, using the term “White Supremacy.” This is clearly in accord with the Marxist, racist, and the anti-Semitic Black Lives Matter (BLM). Pandering to the BLM’s agenda means that only Black Lives Matter, while Jewish lives and property do not matter. In last summer’s riots and looting by the BLM and Antifa groups, Jewish places of worship in LA were desecrated, shops were burned, and white people beaten. The Times of Israel reported (June 3, 2020) that, “Graffiti on the walls of synagogues read ‘free Palestine’ and ‘f*** Israel.’ A statue of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis, was smeared with anti-Semitic slogans. Along with synagogues, Jewish owned buildings, and stores were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti. Businesses were looted, too.” The Times of Israel also pointed out that the Jewish owned Canter Deli was spared destruction because it posted a sign expressing solidarity with the BLM movement, out of fear and intimidation.

The same PCUSA officials who rush to condemn Israel and “White Supremacy” said nothing of the BLM’s riots, looting, and anti-Semitic slogans they smeared on defaced synagogues. The same anti-Semitic and radical elements that dominate the political left today, now controls the resolutions issued and passed by the PCUSA. While alleging to be serving the cause of social justice, the PCUSA radicals engage in supporting the likes of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel only) anti-Semitic attacks against the Jewish state, and by extension, on supporters of Israel in general.

If the biennial GA in 2020 was marked by limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, no such limitations occurred in the 2018 General Assembly in St. Louis, Missouri. The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) once again championed support for the anti-Israel BDS movement by passing a number of resolutions condemning Israel. Bassem Eid, a Palestinian Muslim civil-rights activist who attended the GA in order to bring balance and fairness on issues pertaining to Israel/Palestine, was verbally attacked for condemning the one-sided resolutions offered by the PCUSA against the Jewish state.

The PCUSA GA News reported (June 19, 2018) that, “Eleven out of 13 resolutions considered by the (Middle East) Committee addressed issues surrounding Israel/Palestine. The committee rejected one resolution condemning the militarization of Palestinian children to be used in attacks against Israeli civilians. The committee also disapproved a resolution that would no longer classify Israel as a “colonial Project.”

The sheer chutzpah and shamelessness, not to mention the ignorance and malice of the PCUSA Middle East committee, is simply astounding. They have obviously ignored the Bible and G-d’s promise to the Children of Israel. Clearly, for the radical leftists in the PCUSA, the Bible no longer matters. However, aside from the biblical confirmation of the Jewish rights to the land and two Jewish commonwealths that even the Quran affirms (Jews/Israelites were the only people that created a national life in the land, all others were conquerors. While the Romans exiled the Jews, and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, Jews always clung to the land of Israel), there is the November 1947 United Nations Partition resolution (#181) passed by a two third majority and adopted. It called for the creation of both a Jewish, and Arab sovereign state in Palestine, which ended the colonial British Mandate. While the Jewish-Palestinians accepted the partition, and on May 14, 1948 declared the establishment of the State of Israel, the Arab-Palestinians rejected the partition and statehood, and together with seven neighboring Arab states, set out to destroy the nascent Jewish state of Israel. There would be no Arab-Palestinian refugee problem today had they accepted partition. A peaceful relationship with their Jewish neighbors was never an option considered by the Palestinian-Arabs. They were led by an arch anti-Semite and racist, Haj Amin el-Husseini, who was Hitler’s ally, and urged the German Nazis to liquidate the Jews of Palestine in the same way they had dealt with European Jewry. The Arab-Palestinians gambled on the destruction of the Jews of Israel even in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

The anti-Israel sentiments within the PCUSA establishment is clearly evident in the rejection of the above two resolutions, while adopting all the anti-Israel resolutions. Apparently the PCUSA wants to score points against Israel by sacrificing Palestinian-Arab children in order to adopt further anti-Israel resolutions. Of course, killing Israeli civilians by terrorist Palestinian children is encouraged by the PCUSA. The GA had, in addition, urged the real estate company RE/MAX, LLC, “to do everything within its legal and moral power to stop facilitating the sale of property in Israeli settlement colonies.” They also condemned “Violence against Palestinians during the Great March of Return protests along the Gaza Strip.”

As a witness to the so-called “March of Return protests,” it must be said first, that it was a violent march, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad snipers targeting Israeli soldiers. Second, bombs attached to kites torched Israeli agricultural fields in the Israeli Negev. Of course, one would not expect the PCUSA radicals to acknowledge such Palestinian terror. Moreover, unprovoked, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza have regularly, and intentionally, fired rockets at Israeli civilians and children. The edict by the PCUSA of not selling homes to Jews in Judea and Samaria is reminiscent of the Nazi boycotts. Judea and Samaria Jewish settlements are legal as pointed out by former US secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The territories are disputed territories under the UNSC resolution 242. And since there has never been a Palestinian state, they are hardly “Palestinian territories,” and Israelis have as much right to settle there as Palestinian-Arabs do.

Much of the anti-Israel action by the PCUSA has been driven by the IPMN. In the 2014 GA, the PCUSA approved an anti-Israel divestment measure. The anti-Israel measures continued in the 2016 GA with several resolutions aimed to pressure Israel to leave the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.

Dexter Van Zile, a research fellow at the Committee for Accuracy in the Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), and a Christian believer, pointed out in his Times of Israel blog (May 9, 2018) that a relatively small number of anti-Israel activists in the PCUSA have effectively hijacked the denomination’s polity and used it to affirm a dishonest narrative that portrays Israel as a singular enemy of human rights in the Middle East. Van Zile suggested that, “Over the past decade or so, the word ‘Presbyterian’ has become synonymous with Jew-hatred and unreasonable hostility toward Israel.”

 

Joseph Puder

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/04/pcusa-anti-israel-actions-joseph-puder/

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's Leaked Tape: Revolutionary Guards and Soleimani Sought to Control Iranian Diplomacy - Jerusalem Center-Iran Desk and Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

 

by Jerusalem Center-Iran Desk and Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

The IRGC keeps pursuing nuclear activity under its own aegis, while the Foreign Ministry serves as a fig leaf to provide Iran with room for maneuver vis-à-vis the West.

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s Leaked Tape: Revolutionary Guards and Soleimani Sought to Control Iranian Diplomacy

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

Vol. 21, No. 6

  • In a leaked interview, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lamented the depth of the involvement of Gen. Qassem Soleimani ­– ­the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force commander who was assassinated by the U.S. in January 2020 – in Iran’s foreign policy, and the MFA’s subordination to the military imperatives of the IRGC.
  • Zarif discloses that the Obama administration’s secretary of state, John Kerry, informed him in June 2016, after the nuclear deal, of “at least 200 cases of Israeli attacks on IRGC targets in Syria. I as foreign minister was amazed since I did not know anything about this.”
  • The interview unambiguously illustrates Iran’s regional order of priorities and the limited role of diplomacy in determining it. The Iranian Foreign Ministry is charged with whitewashing the effects of Iran’s subversion, terror, and human rights violations and with moderating the West’s response to Iran’s malignant activity throughout the world and its nuclear activities.
  • The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Russia opposed the nuclear deal and attempted to sink it. The IRGC keeps pursuing nuclear activity under its own aegis, while the Foreign Ministry serves as a fig leaf to provide Iran with room for maneuver vis-à-vis the West. The Foreign Ministry’s role is to create a mirage of political activity that affords time and facilitates the nuclear activity.
  • Zarif’s interview, leaked from within Iran, was most probably aimed at destroying his professional career and preventing him from running in the June 18 presidential elections.

Zarif Reveals the Central Role of the Revolutionary Guards ­– “The Battlefield Rules the Country”

In a personal and revealing interview with Saeed Laylaz, a senior journalist-economist and advisor to former President Mohammad Khatami, who supports the reform camp, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif explains, in anguish, the depth of the involvement of Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander who was assassinated, in Iran’s foreign policy. He stresses that as a result of this involvement and the pressure that Soleimani constantly exerted, Iran’s foreign policy (including toward Russia) always had to be “sacrificed” for the good of the “battlefield” (hinting at the IRGC), that is, the export of the revolution and Iran’s regional subversion.

The interview, which was recorded a few months ago, was leaked to Persian-language broadcast networks outside of Iran and has also set off a storm at home and abroad. It unambiguously illustrates Iran’s regional order of priorities and the limited role of diplomacy in determining it. It also highlights Soleimani’s central role in all the key decision-making processes in Iran, including those that take place in the Office of the Leader (Khamenei) and those that lead to policy decisions on Iran’s core concerns – the nuclear issue, the ballistic missile industry, political subversion, and exporting the revolution – that is, the pillars of the Islamic Republic’s hegemonic strategy. The interview also accurately reflects the longstanding rivalry in Iran’s domestic arena between, on the one hand, the IRGC and the Office of the Leader, and, on the other, the various government ministries, particularly the Foreign Ministry and the Intelligence Ministry, as well as the tense relationship between the conservative camp and the fading reform camp.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry is charged with whitewashing the effects of Iran’s subversion, terror, and human rights violations and with moderating the West’s response to Iran’s malignant activity in the region in particular and in the world in general. It also turns out that the IRGC – which in fact dominates Iran’s security and economic issues – opposes the nuclear deal and keeps pursuing nuclear activity under its own aegis, while the Foreign Ministry serves as a fig leaf vis-à-vis the West and provides room for maneuver to that end. Thus, as part of the strategy of developing Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s role is to create a mirage of political activity that affords time and facilitates the nuclear activity. Sometimes, as Zarif acknowledges, the Foreign Ministry had to accept dictates from Soleimani.

Why Was the Interview Leaked Now?

Zarif’s more-than-three-hour interview1 was leaked from within Iran to the BBC Persian channel in London and to Iran International, which broadcasts in Persian from London to Iran (and is identified with Saudi Arabia). This deliberate leak was carried out several days before the beginning of the appointed time for the registration of candidates for the Iranian presidential elections to be held on June 18. In recent weeks, a flurry of news items have claimed that Zarif is considering a run for president. Given his great popularity, the leak was most probably aimed at destroying his professional career and preventing him from running.

Anti-Zarif cartoon: He serves as a convenient prop for the American hunter targeting Iranian industry
Anti-Zarif cartoon: He serves as a convenient prop for the American hunter targeting Iranian industry.2

At the same time, the conservative press has been waging a defamation campaign against Zarif and portraying him as the one responsible for the failed nuclear deal, because of which the Iranian economy has been very hard hit and the situation of the Iranian people has worsened. In one of his responses regarding the upcoming elections, Zarif said the conservatives and the IRGC believe they will win the presidency and then “everything will be OK and they will solve all the problems.”

The main Iranian TV channel, IRTV2, says the leaking of the interview raises “disturbing questions,” both about its timing and its aims, and claims it may have originated with foreign intelligence services that seek to undermine the regime’s stability. An IRTV2 reporter on security affairs, Ameneh Sadat Zabihpoor, called for a thorough investigation of the timing of the public airing of the dispute between Zarif and Soleimani. She said the leak could be related to attempts to create a rift as the June elections approach and thus distract the population from difficult problems and make them think – in a kind of psychological warfare – that Iran is in fact controlled by the IRGC and not by the government, thereby sowing discord.3

Sadat Zabihpoor
Sadat Zabihpoor: Launch an investigation of the leak

In response, the Foreign Ministry emphasized that the interview was recorded in March 2021 to document the history of Zarif’s eight years as foreign minister and was not supposed to be made public until the end of President Rouhani’s tenure. Although the Foreign Ministry did not explicitly accuse anyone of a deliberate leak, between the lines it hinted at elements in the conservative camp.

IRGC Commanders Turn Every Issue into a “Security Issue” 

Zarif emphasizes throughout the interview that a “minority group” (meaning the IRGC commanders and their supporters in the Office of the Leader) act for their own interests, while turning every issue into a “security issue.” This group, he says, in addition to its power to disrupt diplomatic processes, also has the potential “to create huge waves of support for itself.” All through the interview, sounding angry and aggrieved, Zarif complains that the military people (clearly referring to the IRGC commanders and not to Iran’s standing army) “assume the role of diplomacy” and he asserts that they, in fact, have been the regime’s “diplomats” even when “there was a need to leave matters in the diplomats’ hands [i.e., the Foreign Ministry].”

Soleimani, Zarif
Zarif ­– “forced ‘to coordinate with Soleimani’” (Didban-Iran)

Zarif remarks that he “did not necessarily agree with Soleimani about everything,” but was forced “to coordinate with him” so as to prevent him from causing greater damage on foreign policy issues. In a clear tone of helplessness, Zarif said: “Almost throughout my [eight-year] tenure as foreign minister, I was unable to tell the field commander [Soleimani] to do one thing or another because diplomacy required it.” Instead, the opposite was the case: “Almost every time I entered negotiations [with the West or other actors], it was Soleimani who would intervene and tell me to make use of one point or another.”

Zarif illustrates the problem in the context of a meeting he held with the Russian foreign minister: “He came and told me to say that I want [Russia] to do one, two, three, four. That is, the real diplomatic activity I was supposed to engage in was sacrificed to promote one or another objective in Aleppo or Idlib.” For example, in a tone of supplication almost to the point of tears, Zarif says it was demanded of Soleimani and the Quds Force not to use the flights of Iran’s national airline, Iran Air, for operational purposes in the war in Syria, but Soleimani refused. 

“To My Great Surprise, John Kerry Informed Me of Israeli Attacks in Syria”

Zarif said that then-Secretary of State John Kerry (whom he met with Khamenei’s prior approval) told him in June 2016, after the nuclear deal, that “we [the U.S.] have canceled the embargo on Iranian flights, but do you know that the number of your flights from Iran to Syria has grown six times?” Zarif went on to say: “Of course I did not know about that, but I asked Soleimani and he did not agree [to reduce the flights and did not agree to stop using the flights to support the war in Syria].”

According to Zarif, even the president and the minister of civilian aviation were unaware of Soleimani’s and the Quds Force’s use of the Iranian airline for operational purposes in Syria. The Iranian foreign minister also revealed that, “to our great surprise,” Kerry informed him of “at least 200 cases of Israeli attacks on IRGC targets in Syria. I as foreign minister did not know anything about this.”

Zarif, Kerry
Zarif ­– Surprised by Kerry’s revelations (Source)

The IRGC Acted Against the Implementation of the Nuclear Deal

Zarif says that from the time the nuclear deal was reached in June 2015 until the beginning of its implementation in December that year, the IRGC commanders did all they could to derail this achievement. He refers, among other things, to the attacks (“betrayal”) by the IRGC’s Basij force on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which prompted a cutoff of ties between Tehran and Riyadh, and to Soleimani’s visit to Moscow for a meeting with Putin, as two major steps taken by the conservatives to undermine the deal.

Zarif discloses that the IRGC tried to thwart the 2015 nuclear deal and that Russia tried its best to prevent the signing of the JCPOA and didn’t believe the agreement would be signed. In this regard, he added that Russia could strike Syria from the Mediterranean Sea…but they chose to use Iranian airspace? All of this was because they intended to  foil the JCPOA.”

Zarif notes that Soleimani’s trip to Moscow was carried out without supervision or coordination with the Foreign Ministry. Instead, it was done in accordance with “Russia’s desire” in order to “destroy the achievement of the Iranian Foreign Ministry.” He says that “Mr. Putin entered the meeting with me having decided in advance to intervene in the war in Syria…and dragged Iranian forces into the arena.” The IRGC has claimed that it was Soleimani who convinced Putin, in a meeting that lasted two and a half hours, that Russia should intervene militarily in Syria.

Fars News, affiliated with the IRGC, accused Zarif, under the headline: “The Desk Jockeys’ False Narrative regarding the Man of Jihad and Resistance,” of downplaying Soleimani’s “achievement” in bringing Russia into the Syrian civil war, and maintained  he was jealous of Soleimani’s popularity among the people. Fars also said that Soleimani even was able to convince Hashemi Rafsanjani (Zarif’s spiritual father) and Rouhani’s government that Iran’s support for the regime in Syria  would best serve the interests of the region and Iran.4

Denying Iran’s Involvement in Downing the Ukrainian Airliner

In a different part of the interview, the Iranian foreign minister refers extensively to the scandalous issue of the downing of the Ukrainian plane over Tehran – on the same day (June 8, 2020) on which, in response to Soleimani’s assassination, the IRGC launched a missile attack on the headquarters of U.S. forces in Iraq. “At a time when the whole world already knew that the plane with its 176 passengers was hit by a missile [of the IRGC], I went and asked the Supreme National Security Council if it was really a missile of ours that hit the plane,” requesting that they “tell me the truth so we could ‘heal’ the wounds in some way.” But “they answered me: ‘No’ [we did not down the plane] and added, ‘Go ahead, deny [Iran’s involvement] in a tweet,’ while they themselves had already known at least the day after the event, or, in my opinion, already several hours after the downing of the plane, that the missile was fired by an air-defense battery.” When the interviewer insistently asks the foreign minister who was present at the meeting of the Supreme National Security Council, Zarif responds: “No more than four or five people, including the secretary-general of the Supreme National Security Council [General Ali Shamkhani], the chief of staff [Mohammad Hossein Bakri], and another two or three.”

Zarif further commented that “the U.S. received the information on the missile attack against the Ein al-Asad base in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani earlier than I did. That night, two Quds Force members went to the office of the Iraqi prime minister, about 45 minutes before the attack began, and told him that soon there would be a strike on an American base in Iraq, but I found out about it in the news.”

Tense Relations with President Ahmadinejad

The Iranian foreign minister also recounted that when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office as president, he was Iran’s ambassador to the UN and received an order from the new president’s office to resign from the post. Khamenei, however, prevented that from happening, and he remained two more years in the position until he had had enough and demanded not to serve under the Ahmadinejad government.

Regarding Ahmadinejad’s first trip as president for a speech to the UN General Assembly, Zarif says that immediately after he received Ahmadinejad at the airport, he informed the president of his timetable in New York. Ahmadinejad then said he “wanted to be present at a meeting I was to hold with American senators, but I told him that as president he could not do so until he requested the agreement of the Leader, Khamenei, in advance.”

Zarif claims that Ahmadinejad merely made use of the slogan “Death to America” on behalf of his own interests, whereas he wants very much to forge ties with the Americans. In another part of the interview, Zarif notes that when, as a result of Ahmadinejad’s policy, the first UN resolution on sanctions on the sale of Iranian oil was passed, “the world reached the conclusion that it did not really need Iranian oil,” and that situation has continued to the present.

* * *

Notes

 

Jerusalem Center-Iran Desk and Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

Source: https://jcpa.org/article/iranian-foreign-minister-zarifs-leaked-tape-revolutionary-guards-and-soleimani-sought-to-control-iranian-diplomacy/

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