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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Moscow: US-backed SDF faces “destruction.” Pro-Iranian Iraqi force crosses into Syria

Israel’s strategic situation took several steps back in the first week of the New Year, chiefly: The US pulled back from E. Syria under Russian threat, allowing Iran to move in.
In just one week, the dire perils, which many military and political experts warned against for years, are suddenly looming on Israel’s northern border.
  1. From Sept.15-17, Syrian and Hizballah forces crossed the Euphrates to the eastern bank on pontoon bridges provided by Russia.
  2. Last Saturday, Sept. 16, Russian jets bombed the US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) in the Deir ez-Zour region, as a warning against their obstructing the eastward impetus of those Syrian and Hizballah units.
  3. On Monday, Sept. 18, US Marines began blowing up buildings at the Zaqaf military base in eastern Syria and then retreating to the Jordanian border. The US set up Zaqaf early this year in the Syrian Desert as a barrier against this very Syrian/Hizballah crossing to impede their advance to the Syrian-Iraqi border.
  4. The following day, on the heels of the US withdrawal, Hizballah troops took charge of the Zaqaf base.
  5. On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Iraqi Hashd Al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Units – PMU) crossed into Syria and linked up with the Syrian-Hizballah force. The PMU is under the direct command of Gen. Qassam Soleimani, head of Iranian military operations in Syria and Iraq.
  6. Iran, through its Iraqi, Lebanese and other foreign Shiite pawns, is now in control of 230km of the Syrian border, from Abu Kamal (still held by ISIS) in the north, to Al Tanf in the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle in the south – where, too, US and coalition special forces have begun packing up ready to exit.
    Iran in recent years imported some 20,000 Afghan and Pakistani Shiite fighters to reinforce the Syrian army and Hizballah in their battles for Bashar Assad. The new Iraq arrivals boost that figure by tens of thousands and more are coming in all the time.
  7. On Thursday, Sept. 21, the growing disconnect between Moscow and Washington over Syria suddenly erupted into an open breach with a crude threat from the Kremlin: “Russia has officially informed the United States via a special communications channel that Russian forces will strike immediately US-backed forces if they attack or shell Syrian or Russian task forces operating near the Deir Ez-Zour city. Any attempts at shelling from the areas where the militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces are based will be immediately curbed. Russian forces will suppress firing points in these areas using all means of destruction.” READ MORE

Rouhani: 'Rogue Zionist regime' shouldn't preach

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday blasted the United States and Israel in his speech to the UN General Assembly, warning that his country will respond “decisively” to any violation of the nuclear deal it signed with the West in 2015.
“Centuries ago, Iran gave shelter to the Jews suffering the crack-downs of Babylonians, and the same nation is today supporting the oppressed people of Palestine,” Rouhani charged.
He attacked Israel for criticizing the nuclear deal, saying “It is reprehensible that the rogue Zionist regime, that threatens regional and global security with its nuclear arsenal and is not committed to any international instrument or safeguard, has the audacity to preach peaceful nations.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party,” warned Rouhani.
“It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by ‘rogue’ newcomers to the world of politics: the world will have lost a great opportunity,” he continued, in a reference to President Donald Trump’s comments against the deal.
“By violating its international commitments, the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it, or accepting its word or promise,” said Rouhani.
“We in Iran,” he claimed, “strive to build peace and promote the human rights of peoples and nations. We never condone tyranny and we always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone, but we do not tolerate threats from anyone. Our discourse is one of dignity and respect, and we are unmoved by threats and intimidation. We believe in dialogue and negotiation based on equal footing and mutual respect.” READ MORE

Abbas: Israeli 'occupation' can't continue

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday used his speech at the UN General Assembly to attack Israel, as he has done in past speeches as well.
In his remarks, Abbas claimed that Israel is evading its responsibility to end its “occupation of Palestine”.
"While we call to end the occupation, Israel incites and pretends there's no Palestinian partner for peace," Abbas charged, ignoring the fact that he has continuously rejected invitations from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to sit down for direct talks.
The UN bears a legal, political, moral and humanitarian obligation to end Israeli “occupation”, he continued, adding that Israeli “occupation” breeds incitement and violence.
"'Draining the swamp' of Israeli occupation would greatly affect the fight on terror," he said.
"We called on Israel's Prime Minister to sit with us to negotiate. He rejected this offer," Abbas claimed, adding, "Israeli policies stir religious animosity and may lead to a violent religious conflict."
Abbas has imposed endless preconditions on talks, most recently demanding that talks be on the basis of the two-state solution, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the determination that “settlements” on all Palestinian land are illegal.
Abbas also told the UN that Jerusalem is an occupied city and that Israel's decisions there are null and void and illegal. READ MORE

France’s Macron Positions Himself as Globalist ‘Anti-Trump’ at UN Meeting

French President Emmanuel Macron presented himself as the globalist “anti-Trump” in his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, speaking in direct opposition to the U.S. president’s pro-sovereignty theme.
Point by point, the French president advanced positions contrary to those of Mr. Trump, countering Trump’s “America first” nationalism with the slogan “independence today lies in interdependence.” According to members of his entourage, Mr. Macron modified his address at the last moment to respond directly to Mr. Trump’s words.
During the course of his speech, Trump mentioned sovereignty 21 times, while Macron employed the word only twice, peppering his address instead with talking points like multilateralism, climate change, and immigration.
“Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world,” Trump said in his address.
“We are irremediably linked to one another in a community of destinies for today and tomorrow,” Macron countered. “The world balance has profoundly changed in recent years and the world has become once again multipolar, which means we must relearn the complexity of dialogue, as well as its fruitfulness.”
For both Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, the 72nd General Assembly of the UN in New York represented their first opportunity to address the international body as leaders of their respective countries. Taking advantage of the absence of German chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron staked his claim as the de facto leader of the liberal, globalist world. READ MORE

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Netanyahu slams Iran deal in fiery UN speech, urges world to ‘fix it or nix it’

NEW YORK — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly condemned the Iran nuclear deal in a speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, warning that the accord will pave the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons if it is not scrapped or altered.  After praising Donald Trump’s address earlier in the day from the same podium, in which the US president called the Islamic Republic a “murderous” regime and the nuclear deal an “embarrassment,” Netanyahu said the 2015 accord strengthened Iran’s nuclear program and posed a grave threat to the entire world.

“Imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian Islamist empire, with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth,” he said.

Netanyahu singled out for criticism the deal’s so-called sunset clause, which will lift limitations on Iran’s nuclear program when the accord expires in over a decade.

“When that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world, because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons,” he said, adding that the failure of past agreements meant to limit North Korea’s nuclear program showed that the Iran pact “will turn out exactly the same way.”

In light of the deal’s flaws, the prime minister said, the nuclear accord must be ripped up or radically amended.

“Change it or cancel it,” he said. “Fix it or nix it.” READ MORE

Iran blasts 'ignorant' Trump

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Tuesday blasted U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks in his speech before the UN General Assembly, calling them “shameless and ignorant”, Reuters reported.
Zarif also said Trump’s remarks showed his lack of knowledge about Tehran’s fight against terrorism.
“Trump’s shameless and ignorant remarks, in which he ignored Iran’s fight against terrorism, displays his lack of knowledge and unawareness,” said the Iranian Foreign Minister, in comments carried by the semiofficial Fars news agency.
In his speech, Trump levelled harsh criticism at the Iranian regime, saying, "It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of democracy.”
He said that the Iranian regime had changed the country's chief exports to "violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
Trump also criticized the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, calling it "an embarrassment" to the U.S. and "one of worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."
Trump has been a longtime vocal critic of the nuclear deal. On October 15, he is due to decide whether Iran has breached the 2015 nuclear agreement. While Trump recently confirmed that Iran is adhering to the nuclear agreement, he and other officials in the administration stressed that the President still has reservations about the deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned that the United States will pay a "high cost" if President Donald Trump scraps the Iran nuclear deal.
Such an action by the Trump administration "will yield no results for the United States but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust placed in the Unites States of America," he said.
Zarif also criticized Trump last month, accusing the U.S. President of showing “bad faith” after Trump said Iran had failed to live up to the spirit of the deal.

Netanyahu: Trump Gave Boldest, Most Courageous Speech at UN that I Ever Heard

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that in his vast experience with the United Nations, he never heard a “bolder” or “more courageous” address than President Trump’s speech to the international body earlier today.
“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech. President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity,” Netanyahu said in a statement released following the speech.
“President Trump spoke the truth about the dangers lurking in the world, and called to forcefully confront them themselves to ensure the future of mankind,” the prime minister added.
Later, Netanyahu addressed Israelis telling them the people of Iran would not quickly forget Trump’s words.
In his first address to the General Assembly, Trump warned North Korea that the U.S. would “destroy” it.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said.
Trump slammed the nuclear deal with Iran as “an embarrassment” and “one of worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s own address, due to take place around 8:30pm Israel time, was delayed with four other speakers still scheduled to talk before him.
Netanyahu took to social media to urge Israelis to stick around to watch it, promising it would be a speech they would not want to miss.
“In around two hours, make sure to tune in and watch,” he said in Hebrew.
“Today, I will say things that I believe the ruler of Iran and also the people in Iran will remember forever,” he added. “I think they will also remember what President Trump said here.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Oregon Gov. Celebrates Law Making Abortions Free for ALL – Including Illegals

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown held a signing ceremony Monday to commemorate a new law making abortion free for everyone in the state, including illegal immigrants.
The event was attended by members of the state legislature and pro-choice advocates, who regularly broke into rousing cheers and applause to celebrate the enactment of the Reproductive Health Equity Act.
“To lead productive and thriving lives, Oregonians must have the ability to control their bodies and make informed decisions about their health care,” Ms. Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement. “I am proud to sign legislation that expands access to basic reproductive health services for all Oregonians regardless of where they live, where they come from, or how they identify as a person.”
Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for the Oregon Senate Republicans, said celebrating abortion may be macabre, but it’s not surprising given that Ms. Brown was an abortion rights lobbyist before entering public life.
“Gov. Brown celebrating abortion and averting moderation is nothing new,” Mr. Lockwood said.
Ms. Brown officially signed HB 3391 on Aug. 15. The $10.2 million legislation allocates $500,000 to pay for abortions for women who would otherwise be eligible for the state’s Medicaid program, if it weren’t for their immigration status. READ MORE

First US military base in Israel

Israel on Monday inaugurated with its US ally a joint missile defense base on Israeli soil, the first ever, a senior Israeli air force officer said.
The new facility, at an undisclosed location in southern Israel, was announced as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to meet US President Donald Trump in New York on the fringes of the UN General Assembly.
"We inaugurated, with our partners from the United States Army, an American base, for the first time in Israel," Brigadier General Tzvika Heimowitz, head of Israeli missile defenses, told journalists.
"An American flag is flying permanently over a US army base situated inside one of our bases."
Heimowitz said the move was not a direct response to any specific incident or immediate threat, but was a combination of "lessons learned" in the 2014 war in Gaza and intelligence analysis of future dangers.
"We have many enemies around us, near and far," he said.
The outgoing Israel air force chief in June warned neighbours of the "unimaginable" military power at the country's disposal.
On September 7 Syria's army accused Israeli warplanes of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons.
Israel, without confirming it was behind the attack, indirectly warned Syria and Iran that it would not tolerate any "Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus".
Israel accuses Iran of building sites to produce "precision-guided missiles" in both Syria and Lebanon and Netanyahu is expected to reiterate the point in his talks with Trump.
The country has bought 50 F-35 stealth fighters from the United States.
Israel has a sophisticated anti-missile defense system, including the Iron Dome short-range interceptor which has successfully brought down rockets fired from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt's lawless Sinai region and the Gaza Strip.
It also has the medium-range David's Sling and the Arrow missile defense system, designed to counter more distant threats.
Heimowitz did not comment on the specific role of the new joint base, but said the "few dozen" US personnel there would be under Israeli command.
"This is not part of an exercise or maneuver," he said. "It is a presence as part of the joint effort of Israel and the US to improve defense."

Rouhani warns of 'high cost' if Trump cancels nuclear deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned that the United States will pay a "high cost" if President Donald Trump scraps the Iran nuclear deal.
"Exiting such an agreement would carry a high cost for the United States of America, and I do not believe Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that will be useless for them," Rouhani told CNN.
He added that such an action by the Trump administration "will yield no results for the United States but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust placed in the Unites States of America."
Trump has long been a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed during the term of the Obama administration, describing it as “the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated”.
Last week he again criticized the deal and said Iran was violating its spirit.
"The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I've ever seen, certainly at a minimum the spirit of the deal is atrociously kept," Trump said, adding, "The Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country. It's a deal that should not have ever been made.”
The U.S. last week extended sanctions relief for Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement, even as it slapped new measures against Iranian targets accused of cyber attacks or fomenting militancy.
On October 15, Trump is due to decide whether Iran has breached the 2015 nuclear agreement. He recently confirmed that Iran is adhering to the nuclear agreement, but he and other officials in the administration stressed that the President still has reservations about the deal. READ MORE

EXCLUSIVE – Former IAEA Deputy Director: Agency Has ‘Credibility’ Issue on Iran Nuclear Inspections

NEW YORK — A former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raised questions about the credibility of that agency’s inspection and verification system for Iran’s nuclear program as required under the U.S.-brokered international nuclear accord with Tehran.
Speaking in a radio interview with this reporter, Dr. Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards, questioned how the IAEA can credibly inspect Iran’s nuclear program without gaining access to Iranian military bases.
Heinonen made the comments last night on his talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia.
The IAEA, headquartered in Vienna, is an international body that reports to the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. It is the agency charged with ensuring Iran is complying with the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Heinonen said he was “concerned” about the lack of IAEA access to Iran’s military bases.
He continued:
Military bases should not be sanctuaries. There is a special provision in the deal which asks the IAEA to monitor certain activities, so-called dual-use activities which can also be used for nuclear weapons purposes. IAEA has assessed that it has now verified that undertaking from Iran.
So it is hard for me to understand how you can verify that undertaking without visiting a military site and this is the most puzzling thing. And it goes to the credibility of the verification system.
How can the IAEA conclude that there have been no undeclared activities highlighted in JCPOA in those locations? This needs to be clarified and explained by the IAEA. READ MORE

Netanyahu: Trump Willing to ‘Fix’ Nuclear Deal

The Times of Israel reports: NEW YORK — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented US President Donald Trump with a detailed plan on how to “fix” the nuclear agreement with Iran during a meeting Monday, he said.
“There is an American willingness to fix the deal, and I presented possible ways to do it,” he told reporters after his hour-long meeting with the president. “I presented a certain course of action how to do it,” he added, declining to provide more details.
The worst aspect of the 2015 nuclear pact that six world powers struck with Iran is the so-called sunset clause, which will allow Tehran to enrich unlimited amounts of uranium once the deal elapses in about a decade, he said. “But there are also other parts that need to be changed.” In a photo op before their meeting, Netanyahu, speaking after Trump, attacked the Iran deal, which the president had said earlier in the day the US may back out of next month. READ MORE


TOKYO (AP) -- Japan on Tuesday moved a mobile missile-defense system on the northern island of Hokkaido to a base near recent North Korean missile flyover routes.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor unit was deployed at the Hakodate base on southern Hokkaido "as a precaution" as part of government preparations for a possible emergency.
The relocation came after a North Korean missile was test-fired last week and flew over southern Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific off the island's east coast - the second flyover in less than a month.
The PAC-3 was brought from another base in Yakumo town on Hokkaido, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Hakodate. The system has a range of about 20 kilometers (12 miles).
Four more of Japan's 34 PAC-3 units, largely used to defend the capital region, were relocated to southwestern Japan recently after North Korea warned of sending missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.
Japan currently has a two-step missile defense system. First, Standard Missile-3 interceptors on Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan would attempt to shoot down missiles mid-flight. If that fails, surface-to-air PAC-3s would try to intercept them. READ MORE