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The Importance of Germany’s Anti-BDS Resolution

Last week, Germany’s Bundestag – or legislature – passeda non-binding resolution condemning the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as anti-Semitic. While the resolution may not have the force of law, it is an important recognition that BDS has little to do with Palestinian rights, and everything to do with isolating Israel, and, more generally, Jews. 

Poignantly, the motion described the BDS campaign as “reminiscent of the most terrible chapter in Germany history” recalling the Nazi slogan, “Don’t buy from Jews.”

The singular focus of the BDS campaign on Israel betrays its intent. As legal scholar, Eugene Kontorovich hasobserved, of the numerous ongoing territorial disputes in the world, only the one between Israel and the Palestinians is deemed serious enough to spark calls for a boycott.

The BDS campaign is not only anti-Semitic in its intent, it is also anti-Semitic in its effect. For example a 2015 Amcha Initiative studyshowed that there exists a “strong correlation between anti-Zionist student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and antisemitism.”

What Germany has learned through its painful history, and what America has yet to learn, is that words matter,

In recent years there have been numerous examples of how anti-Israel activism morphs into anti-Semitic actions. Many students across the country report feeling intimidated, bullied and threatened because of their Jewish identity or pro-Israel feelings.

A recently settledsuit against San Francisco State University (SFSU) was precipitatedby the exclusion of the school’s Hillel chapter from a “Know Your Rights” fair. According to one of the organizers, Professor Rahab Abdulhadi of the General Union of Palestine Studies of SFSU,  explained that Hillel -was disinvited from the event because Hillel was deemed to be “a privileged white group.” (This is exceedingly ironic, because in the 1930-s there were quotas against the admitting “ Jews and other inferior races” into the United States.)

In April, Rebecca Thau, a student at Harvard and president of the Hillel’s Undergraduate Steering Committee – releaseda statement saying that the campus’s Israel Apartheid Week was “vilifying students for their commitments and even their heritages, turning students away from — rather than toward — one another, and preventing meaningful conversation.”

Jewish students at Emory University in Atlanta were targetedwith “eviction notices,” posted on their dorm rooms as a means of protesting Israeli policy by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is one of the most prominent campus groups promoting BDS.

Golda Daphna, a student a Columbia University wrotethat the marginalization of Jews on campus through events like Israel Apartheid Week have the effect of making her and others conclude that they “do not feel at home in America because of our anti-Semitic college experience.”

Many university administrators claim that they do not know where free speech ends, and harassment, intimidations and threatening language begins. Our constitutionally inscribed first amendment rights are extremely precious to us all.  However, educational settings have a very fine line to walk.  While ensuring freedom of speech, they also have an obligation to protect students from psychological and emotional harassment so that the environment is conducive to learning.  

There are many protections for many minority groups within the educational setting. However, the one group that has been more singled out for abuse than any other, (according to national data), Jews, and most particularly Jewish students, have absolutely no legal protections.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that university administrators say they have no definition of anti-Semitism, so they cannot recognize it when they see it.  In order to answer this need  Sen. Tim Scott (R – S.C.) introduced the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019in March. 

The goal of the bill is to extend  the same Title VI protections  to Jewish students as most other  minority groups have on college campuses.  The definition that the bill provides is the very same definition that our State Department uses when instruction our diplomats as to how to recognize and call out anti-Semitism.

The bill uses the  definitionpublished in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as the relevant one for the legislation. Imortant to note is that within this definition is “denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming the the state of Israel is a racist endeavor. “

Given the growing problem of anti-Semitism on campus, it’s time for the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and introduce a companion measure to the Senate bill. Such legislation would protect Jewish students who are threatened by BDS-inspired intimidation and discrimination on U.S. college campuses.

If the House can follow the Senate’s lead and get this legislation passed, it would be because it took a lesson from Germany on how to define and fight anti-Semitism.

It is about time we follow Germany’s lead on this long overdue legislation, before we are forced to learn their lessons of history.

Photo: AFP

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Designating Iran’s IRGC a Terror Organization Was a Smart Move

Recently, the United States designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. decision was predicated on the fact that the IRGC “actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”

Although it is unusual for the U.S. to designate the arm of a nation as a terrorist organization, this action was not unprecedented. The U.S. had already designated part of the IRGC, the Quds Force, for its sponsorship of terrorism.

Needless to say, the Iranian regime was not happy with this decision. Prior to the decision, Iranian officials warned of a “crushing” response should the United States go ahead with the designation.

After the designation was made, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei labeled it “a vicious move,” and the Iranian Armed Forces’ general staff, which oversees the IRGC, said it would “use all its means to fight” against the U.S.’ CENTCOM, which Iranian lawmakers promptly voted to declare was a terrorist organization. An IRGC commander also warned “Mr. Trump, tell your warships not to pass near the Revolutionary Guards boats.”

These threats produced the desired result among the foreign policy experts. Dennis Ross, who has worked for every American President from George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama, warned that “(the designation of the IRGC) is likely to produce an Iranian response. Most likely in Iraq, where the Iranians will push on the vulnerability of our presence both politically and militarily. The former, by pushing in the parliament legislation forcing the US to leave; the latter, by potentially having its Shia militia proxies attack American forces and by building their rocket presence in western Iraq.”

The only problem with this argument is that the Iranian’s and their terror allies already have a long history of making threats against the U.S., and, oftentimes, following through on those threats.

Starting in 1979, the Iranian regime began to sponsor demonstrations in Iran where crowds chanted “Death to America.” At least two times each year this occurs — every November, to commemorate the taking of the American hostages in 1979, and every February, to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the current Iranian regime to power.

And the Iranian regime was not making idle threats.

In the 1980’s, the IRGC created Hezbollah in Lebanon. Prior to 9/11, Hezbollah had the distinction of having killed more U.S. citizens than any other terror organization. Most significantly, in 1983, Hezbollah’s bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut murdered 241 American Marines and others.

In 1996, IRGC-sponsored terrorists detonated a load of 15 tons of explosives, killing 19 U.S. military personnel at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

In 2001, the IRGC played a role in the 9/11 attack. In 2004, a U.S. court held that the IRGC was liable for the deaths of 1,008 people whose families sued, because Iran provided assistance, including training, to the 9/11 hijackers.

From 2003 to 2011, the IRGC provided Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), including the more deadly Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs), and other equipment and training to Iraqi militias, which resulted in the deaths of at least 608 American soldiers. Many of these Iraqi militiamen are now part of the Popular Mobilization Forces that Iran is using to build its influence in Iraq.

Since 2011, there have been fewer Iranian sponsored attacks in Iraq against the U.S., although they have not ceased. In 2018, one of the Iraqi militias, trained and funded by Tehran, fired mortars into an area in Baghdad close to the U.S. embassy.

Also during this time period, but continuing through today, Iran, which had previously opposed the Sunni Muslim Taliban in Afghanistan, reversed course to support and train them. This assistance, which again includes IEDs and EFPs, has resulted in many U.S. deaths. Most disturbingly, Iran has put an actual bounty on the head of U.S. soldiers, paying Taliban fighters $1,000 for each one they kill. Thousands of Americans, both soldiers and contractors, have been killed in Afghanistan, although there is no estimate of the number of deaths caused by Iran.

Even when the Iranians were negotiating the Iran deal with the U.S. under President Obama, they did not cease their threats or aggression towards the U.S. A few weeks after the Iran deal, the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, tweeted a graphic of President Obama with a gun to his head. A few months later, Khamenei declared that the “U.S. is the embodiment of the enemy of the Islamic peoples and of Iran. It must be fought with military, cultural, economic, and political jihad, he said, adding that Islamic Iran is not interested in reconciling with it.”

And once again, during those immediate post-deal years, the Iranian navy was increasingly aggressive against the U.S. Navy. U.S. forces operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz were often approached by Iranian warships and aircraft in an “unsafe or unprofessional manner.” According to the Navy, this happened 22 times in 2015, 36 times in 2016, and 14 times in 2017, before stopping in 2018. At one point, the Iranians even violated international law by grabbing two U.S. Navy ships and ten sailors until releasing them the next day. While in custody the sailors were, intimidatedhumiliated and made to “apologize.”

Since 1979, the Iranian regime has been the leading state sponsor of terror, which hates and targets the United States and its interests. The Iranian regime created the IRGC to sponsor and fund this terror. By designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, the Trump administration is just recognizing that reality. This is a smart decision; it would have been ludicrous for the U.S. to refrain from designating the IRGC because it feared threats of terror and violence coming from a nation and its organ that is already threatening and attacking the U.S.

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-irgc-foreign-terrorist-organization/2019/05/06/id/914742/

Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

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Mohammad Zarif’s ‘B Team’ Delusions

During his recent appearance on Fox News last Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sounded a conciliatory tone towards U.S. President Donald Trump, blaming tensions between the United States and Iran on a so-called “B team.”

Zarif described this group, which is comprised of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, as seeking to “lure President Trump into a confrontation that he doesn’t want.”

While he bashed Trump in other parts of the interview and insisted that Iran would never negotiate with him, Zarif also characterized Trump as being manipulated by others into war—a seemingly transparent effort to portray the U.S. president as a reasonable partner for diplomacy.

There are very good reasons why Zarif would seek to portray negotiations with Trump as palatable for Iran. The maximum economic pressure being applied against Iran by the Trump administration, including the reimposition of nuclear sanctions and the recent designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, are hurting Iran’s economy.

Most importantly, Zarif knows that there is no way that Iran can possibly win a war in which the United States will be supporting our national security interests in the region, as well as those of our allies in the region. And he wants to avoid it at all costs.

But Zarif is wrong if he thinks that he is fooling anyone. Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal not just because it failed to dismantle Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, but also because it fueled Iran’s regional aggression. When he announced the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal last year, Trump observed that “since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen.”

The conflicts in the Middle East—in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen—have all intensified in the wake of the nuclear deal and been fueled by the money Iran received because of the deal. The “B team,” as Zarif derisively calls them, isn’t pulling the wool over Trump’s eyes and leading him blindly into war. Rather, these nations agree with Trump that Iran’s aggression and destabilization have worsened since the nuclear deal was concluded. Like Trump, Bolton, Netanyahu and the Gulf princes all agree that Iran is the source of the aggression, and that it must be rolled back.

By accusing others of seeking confrontation when it is Iran that has been fueling the violence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, Zarif whitewashed his country’s role in fomenting instability throughout the Middle East.

This wasn’t the foreign minister’s only lie.

Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged Zarif point blank, saying, “The IRGC has killed more than 600 American soldiers in Iraq.” Zarif denied the charge, replying that the “IRGC has never killed Americans. IRGC is there to fight terrorism.”

Of course, it was Iranian-made weapons that have killed at least 600 Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, of course, the newly sanctioned IRGC doesn’t fight terrorism; it is a major source of terrorism. Whether it’s Hezbollah threatening Israel from Lebanon and Syria; the Houthi rebels threatening Saudi Arabia, the UAE and international shipping; or Iraqi Shi’ite militias threatening Iraqi Sunnis, the IRGC is arming and otherwise supporting them.

When Wallace pressed Zarif on the IRGC’s role in killing U.S. service personnel, Zarif replied, “I mean, that’s a new charge that the United States—and it’s a very dangerous accusation.” That’s not exactly a denial. In any case, what’s new is the number; a report a few weeks ago put the number of U.S. soldiers killed with the assistance of the IRGC at more than 600.

Throughout the interview, Zarif portrayed Iran as the wounded party. He said that the United States was not trustworthy because it had withdrawn from the deal. What he did not say was that information contained in the nuclear archives that Israel recovered from Tehran last year raised doubts about any semblance of Iranian compliance with the deal.

In addition to his dissembling over Iran’s foreign adventures, the foreign minister pretended to speak for the Iranian people. Sanctions, according to Zarif, are intended to “put as much pressure as it can on the Iranian people.”

But the Iranian people were protesting prior to the reimposition of the nuclear sanctions. They saw that the windfall that the regime reaped from the nuclear deal go towards foreign military adventures rather than to build a crumbling civilian infrastructure.

That’s why last year, instead of chanting “death to America,” protesters against the regime were saying “death to Palestine,” registering their disapproval of the regime’s generosity in destabilizing the Middle East.

Zarif is quite skilled at evading questions and lying. His performance on Fox News Sunday this week will surely reinforce that reputation. However, nothing he presented is likely to convince Trump, who understands the threat that Tehran poses to the Middle East. That is precisely why the United States just deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/mohammad-zarifs-b-team-delusions/

Photo: AP Photo / Petr David Josek

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Erdogan Will Give Up the S-400 on One Condition

Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 defense system has long been a burden not only for the United States but for NATO, too, the security bloc in which Turkey is a member. 

NATO was created to counter Soviet threats. Today it aims to do the same as Russia extends its influence across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Its members are sovereign states with the right to have normal relations with any nation, even Russia. But its members also have the obligation to not undermine the interests of the alliance. Turkey’s purchase of the very military equipment the alliance was created to deter undermines the interests of NATO.

The situation is not complicated. No NATO member can purchase defense systems that are incompatible with NATO defense systems, especially if the missiles were created to shoot down fighter jets like the American F-35.

Turkey’s list of bad decisions against US national security interests is never-ending: from evading Iranian sanctions, standing against designating the IRGC a terrorist organization, condemning the US recognition of US Embassy to Jerusalem and its recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, supporting Venezuela’s Maduro regime, threating America’s Kurdish partners in Syria and more. 

One must ask itself: Why does America need enemies when it has an “ally” like Turkey? Why is Erdogan so adamant on purchasing our adversaries’ weapons, even as the US gave Ankara an option to purchase the Patriot missile system, a much more sophisticated choice? 

The answer may not seem obvious, but as Kurds, we understand Erdogan’s devious tactics. 

Erdogan wants American’s to move out of the way in Syria so he can have his way with the Kurds, with an intent to slaughter them. 

Erdogan is dragging his feet. This is not about America or his country’s defense needs. The United States has gone out of its way to appease his Islamist government, even after multiple warnings. For Erdogan is threatening a shift toward the East, as he has already done and will continue to do, unless America lets go of the Kurds.

But the reality is that Turkey, with or without Erdogan, needs America, Europe and NATO. And if America wishes so, it can shut down the Turkish economy with a blink of an eye, as it nearly did with very basic sanctions in 2018. In addition, Turkey is already in a recession, so threatening the US is not very smart on Erdogan’s part.

Turkey’s policy toward the same Kurds who defeated the Islamic State caliphate, the same Kurds that sacrificed over 11,000 fighters and had nearly 8,000 wounded, should be condemned.

The biggest loser of the defeat of the caliphate is not ISIS itself, but Erdogan. He counted on the radical group to wipe out the Kurds, as we witnessed in 2014 in Kobani. With the threat of Erdogan from the North, ISIS and the Assad regime, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) composed of majority Kurds shattered Erdogan’s dream.

Erdogan’s biggest fear is another autonomous Kurdish region similar to that of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, created by the US in 1991 after it imposed a no-fly zone. There are more than 20 million Kurds in Turkey; the fear that they will demand the same is unfathomable to any Turkish government. 

The Russian S-400 is set to be delivered in July, though Erdogan has threatened to move the delivery date sooner. He has also declared that the purchase is complete and that he will not go back on the deal. 

Due to the reality on the ground, and in the interest of US national security, those in Washington must see Turkey for what it is: an unreliable burden on NATO and America. Erdogan is unlikely to change any time soon and may never. Therefore we must approach his government with realistic expectations and stop going out of our way to attempt to change it. 

America must continue to protect the Kurds in Syria. They are not up for bartering. Set up a no-fly zone for northeast Syria and recognize the Syrian Democratic Council as the best and proven alternative to the Assad regime. And finally, call Erdogan’s bluff so that he cannot use the Kurdish card in America as he has done in Turkey to gain political points. 

Originally published: https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Erdogan-will-give-up-the-S-400-on-one-condition-588098

Photo: Reuters

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Defending Israel in the Era of “Apartheid Walls”

When my father was a little boy growing up in Poland, there were signs that read, “Jews: Get out of Europe. Go back to Palestine.” On today’s college campuses there are shouts of “Jews: Out of Palestine. Go back to Europe.”

These past two weeks have been difficult ones for American Jewish college students. It  has been Israel Apartheid Week, and across many American college campuses, most of our Jewish students are confronted with “mock die ins”, with student actors dressed as menacing Israel soldiers “brutalizing” other student actors dressed as hapless, “innocent” Palestinian civilians, and  “apartheid walls”.  Jewish students at Emory University have had “mock eviction notices” placed in residence halls, that say “Palestinian homes are destroyed as part of the state’s ongoing attempt to ethnically cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitants”. At Columbia University, Students for Justice in Palestine created a poster of an IDF soldier with horns. At Harvard University, one of the speakers for Israel Apartheid Week, Omar Barghouti, supports the “euthanasia of Zionism.”

Many Jewish students do not have the knowledge to be able to respond to these horrific distortions. The few who have both the knowledge and the backbone to fight back, do. However, most put their heads down in shame. It is no wonder that Natan Sharansky has called American Jewish college students, “The new Jews of silence”.

The problem is that many university professors have used their desks for one-sided political propaganda rather than giving them a solid education about the region. A tenured professor at Columbia, Hamid Dabishi, for example has tweeted that “Every dirty, treacherous, ugly and pernicious act happening in the world just wait a few days and the ugly name Israel will pup.” (sic). Marc Lamont Hill, a tenured professor at Temple University in Philadelphia called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”  Unfortunately, these statements are no longer the outliers, but have become very much the norm in many classrooms that study the Middle East.

I long to equip our students with some basic facts, if I could only teach them for one semester. I would teach them about how the Palestinian Liberation Organization, whose membership is the same as the Palestinian Authority,(PA) was established in 1964, 3 full years before the 1967 War, and before there was any “occupation” to resist. I would teach them about the Oslo Accords, and how Yitzchak Rabin had reluctantly agreed to negotiate with Yassir Arafat on the one condition that he give up terrorism. I would tell them that after the Accords were signed there was a sharp rise in Israeli civilian victims of Palestinian terrorism, which is now over 1,000 fatalities.

I would tell them how Israel withdrew from all the major Palestinian population centers, putting 90% of the Palestinian population under the PA’s control. I would tell them about the enormous offer Prime Minister Ehud Barak had made to Chairman Arafat in July of 2000, which would eventually have given the Palestinians 91% of the West Bank, Gaza and shared sovereignty of Jerusalem, yet Arafat walked away from the offer and launched an intifada. I would tell them that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, an even more generous offer in November 2008, including making all of Jerusalem an internationally controlled city. And yet again, this Palestinian interlocutor walked away from the negotiating table, launching a renewed intifada.

I would tell them about the Gaza withdrawal in 2005, and how the Israelis trained their soldiers not to feel pain as they uprooted Jewish residents from their homes. And about how Israelis had left the greenhouses to give the nascent Palestinian state some sort of economic infrastructure, and the synagogues to be turned into mosques. And how these greenhouses and synagogues, along with every remnant of a Jewish life had been destroyed in a frenzied atmosphere of chaos and hatred. I would tell them how now Gaza has become a simmering sea of hatred which is unleashed every Friday when mobs try to penetrate the fence and kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. 

I would tell them about the innocent looking balloon bouquets and kites, meant to attract young Israeli children, launched with incendiary devices attached to them, that have destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli agricultural land near Gaza and have created an ecological disaster. I would tell them that over 1,000 missiles have been launched from Gaza, giving neighboring Israeli men women and children just 15 seconds to run for shelter.

Before anyone casts blame on the democratically elected government of Israel, I would ask them to walk a mile in their shoes. 

I know they will not, however. Because anti-Zionism is just the 21stcentury form of ant-Semitism. And as Jean Paul Sartre had said, “The anti-Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith.” Anti-Semitism is hatred, and hatred is an emotion, and one, unfortunately cannot reason with an emotion.

A version of this recently appeared in the Washington Jewish Week.

Photo: Uriel Heilman

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The IAEA’S Blind Spots on Iran’s Nuclear Program

On April 9, Iranian President Rouhani boasted that “today and throughout the past year, we have launched 114 new technologies via the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. This is the message to the world: You have not succeeded, and you will not succeed in preventing the progress and development of the Iranian people and their nuclear program. If yesterday you feared our IR-1 centrifuges, well, here you go!”

He has reason to boast. The 2015 Iranian nuclear deal brokered by former President Barack Obama was extremely weak, but yet, given its weaknesses, the agency that was established to monitor Iran’s compliance has been exceedingly lax.

On April 4, The Wall Street Journal reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspected a warehouse in Tehran that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year said housed nuclear equipment and materials. When negotiating the Iranian nuclear deal, we had been assured constantly by President Obama of “anytime, anywhere inspections.”

Six months elapsed from the speech until the inspection. The question is what took the IAEA so long?

David Albright and Andrea Stricker of the Institute of Science and International Security noted in a paper published earlier this month that the IAEA inspection took place only after the Islamic Republic had the opportunity to empty the site and clean it up. “In short,” they wrote, “the IAEA visits in March 2019 are like looking for a horse when the barn door has been left open for many months.”

But this is far from the only failure of the IAEA to ensure that Iran was complying with the deal.

In his statement announcing the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, President Obama said, “On January 16, 2016, the IAEA verified that Iran has completed the necessary steps under the Iran deal that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is and remains exclusively peaceful.”

The problem is that we have learned subsequently that the IAEA did not, then, have full knowledge of Iran’s past nuclear-weapons work. In January of 2018, Israeli intelligence recovered a half-ton of material documenting the advances Iran made in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Subsequent examination of the archives by weapons’ experts at the Institute of Science and International Security, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), found that Iran’s nuclear-weapons program was more advanced than previously thought.

In a paper published in February, Albright, Stricker and Olli Heinonen of FDD, wrote that “this new information in the archive indicates that Iran might still be in breach of its nuclear nonproliferation undertakings.”

Yet the IAEA still has not acted upon the information contained in the nuclear archive that was obtained by Israeli intelligence, even though it would give them greater insight into the full scope of Iran’s nuclear-weapons research.

The IAEA didn’t just fail to pursue the information in the archives. Even before Israel recovered the documents, the nuclear watchdog failed to verify other elements of Iran’s compliance.

An IAEA official told Reuters in August 2017 that the agency saw no need to demand access to Iran’s military sites. Following talks with then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, the IAEA official said, “We’re not going to visit a military site like Parchin just to send a political signal.”

By refusing to inspect military sites like Parchin, the IAEA is sending a much different political signal than what the official thinks. It signals a policy of appeasement.

These failures of the IAEA—the failure to follow up on the nuclear archive, the refusal to demand access to military sites and others—show that the agency that is supposed to verify Iran’s compliance with the deal has given too much leeway to the Islamic Republic.

It would appear that the IAEA’s role in the nuclear deal is to validate it—ensure that nothing, not even Iranian violations, undermines it—not to verify it.

In announcing the implementation of the deal, President Obama guaranteed that Iran would be “subjected to the most comprehensive, intrusive inspection regime.”

The record over the past three years is that the IAEA, the agency charged with the inspections, has been anything but “comprehensive” and “intrusive.” It has refused to investigate certain suspicions and, in the case of the warehouse, taken its time allowing Iran plenty of time to clean up illicit nuclear sites.

With all of these lapses, how can the IAEA be an effective force in preventing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons?

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-iaeas-blind-spots-on-irans-nuclear-program/

Photo: Getty Images

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The Caliphate Is Dead, but the Threat Remains

The U.S.-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces just finished off the last remaining territory held by the Islamic State in Baghouz, Syria, bordering Iraq. This is a significant achievement, especially as the U.S. presence in Syria will eventually shrink down to 400 troops from 2,000. Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF Press Office, conveyed on Twitter, “as the SDF continue the final push against whatever remains of so-called caliphate, jihadists are surrendering en masse…Between 1,500 to 2,000 fighters and their families surrendered to our forces within 24 hours.”

While the SDF will continue to battle what remains of ISIS, they certainly do not have the tools or capabilities to make sure that those who surrendered don’t rise again. The shrinking of U.S. forces continues to be ill-timed. Former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, also tweeted, “Given this serious situation in Syria and the SDF now holding thousands of ISIS fighters and families, the last thing we should do is plan to withdraw 90 percent of the American force. Makes no sense. The SDF needs more support right now, not less.” U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, testified before Congress, “What we are seeing now is not the surrender of ISIS as an organization — but a calculated decision to preserve the safety of their families and preservation of their capabilities by taking their chances in camps for internally displaced persons and going to ground in remote areas and waiting for the right time to resurge.”

In other words, ISIS is not defeated, and ISIS will likely reemerge.

I believe that it is in the interest of national security in the United States to preserve northeast Syria, secured by the SDF, through a no-fly zone. This would be realistic given the organized, disciplined, and representative force of the SDF, — which is willing to defend its territory from Iran, the Assad regime, Russia, and Turkey — and which has successfully done so against ISIS. A no-fly zone, along with some U.S. troops, would allow the U.S. to strategically place itself where our adversaries don’t want us, keep away vital natural resources from Iran and the Assad regime, prepare to respond to any threats coming from Shiite militias, and gradually diminish the need to rely on our problematic partner, Turkey, and its Incirlik Airbase.

I also believe that the U.S. must take the next step to recognize the Syrian Democratic Council as the legitimate governing body of an autonomous region in the northeast of Syria. Just as the SDF is composed of local forces, including Kurds, Arabs, Muslims, and Christians, the SDC is similarly pluralistic. The core idea behind the SDC is the ability to be inclusive of genders, nationality, and religion, without attempting to alter Syria’s sovereign borders. A stable region within Syria, largely free from President Bashar Assad, is crucial for the betterment of those that have survived the near decade-long civil war. Recognizing the SDC will allow Syrians to eventually choose for themselves whether they want to continue to live under Assad or stay with the decentralized and autonomous local government system east of the Euphrates. Additionally, recognizing the SDC will allow them to openly conduct trade relations with neighbors and regional partners.

The SDF, SDC, and the 79-member Global Coalition has taken away Assad’s lifeline by holding on to northeast Syria. The Assad regime is cash-strapped; relieving the pressure now would be a grave mistake. Assad may have retaken large swaths of territory west of the Euphrates river, but most of Syria’s assets are east of the Euphrates. He needs to take them back, and the U.S. presence there blocks him from doing so. The U.S. should hold its ground.

Originally published: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/the-caliphate-is-dead-but-the-threat-remains

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US Must Acknowledge Lebanon, Turkey No Longer True Allies

Photo: (John Grummitt/Dreamstime.com

Recently, the Trump administration made news by breaking with fifty years of U.S. policy and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights, of course, is mountainous territory that Israel conquered in a defensive war from Syria back in 1967. Israel extended Israeli law to the area in 1980, thereby annexing it.

Periodically, those in the peace process camp would propose that Israel trade the Golan for peace with the Assad regime. Luckily, Israel never did so; otherwise, today the Islamic Republic of Iran would be stationing its men and missiles on the Heights, and threatening not just Israel, but Jordan as well. But even though the U.S. had a national interest in keeping the Israelis in the Golan, it took President Trump, with his willingness to go against the conventional wisdom, to recognize the reality of the situation, and stop being afraid of the (supposedly) explosive “Arab Street.”

Recognizing reality is a good thing. And we need a whole lot more of it, when it comes to the Middle East. All too often, foreign policy makers in the U.S. get stuck in the past, and refuse to reevaluate policies that have long since become moot or counterproductive.

Here is one example: in 2005, after the (likely) Hezbollah orchestrated assassination of Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri, the people of that nation — including most religious groups in Lebanon, with the possible exception of the Shia community — went to the streets to protest the continuing occupation of Lebanon by Syria, and to demand more democracy. As a result, Syrian troops were pulled out, and eventually, Saad Hariri, Rafik’s son, became Prime Minister. Hezbollah, the terrorist militia that Iran had established in Lebanon, which was aligned with the Syrians, was weakened considerably.

In 2006, to build on these positive developments, the U.S. began supplying military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

U.S. policy makers hoped that this aid, which over the years has included Hellfire missiles, A 29 Super Tocano aircraft, and M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, would help to make the LAF a powerful counterbalance to Hezbollah. This should not be surprising, as Hezbollah is a bitter enemy of the U.S., having more American blood on its hands than any other terror group excepting al-Qaeda.

In the end, however, the LAF proved to be no match for Hezbollah.

Today, Hezbollah basically controls the Lebanese nation, and the LAF has essentially become an “auxiliary” of the terror militia. The cooperation between Hezbollah and the LAF has become so close that the two sometimes patrol the same villages togethershare uniforms and equipment, and conduct joint military operations.

But the U.S. continues to provide military aid to the LAF, a total of $1.7 billion so far.

If Hezbollah goes to war against Israel, as Hezbollah often threatens to do, it is likely that U.S. military equipment will be used by that terror organization against our strongest democratic ally in the Middle East. Needless to say, this is not in line with the United States’ national interest.

Here is another example; prior to the 2000’s, Turkey was a strong NATO partner of the U.S. But beginning in 2003, when (now) President Recep Erdogan first gained power, that nation slowly began to turn against the U.S., and against the West and democracy itself.

In 2003, Turkey refused to allow the U.S. to use the Incirlik military in the invasion of Iraq.

Since then, Turkey has violated international oil sanctions on Iran, allowed men and supplies to flow through Turkey to reinforce the Islamic State, and now threatens to buy the S-400 missile system from Russia. Plus, Turkey continues to attack U.S. allies in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces, because the SDF started as a Kurdish militia, and Erdogan hates and fears the Kurds. Turkey also routinely threatens other U.S. allies, like Greece and Israel. Turkey has even grabbed American hostages.

Yet many in the U.S. government continue to pretend Turkey is still a trusted ally of the U.S. Both President Trump, and former President Obama, have relied on President Erdogan’s advice when formulating U.S. foreign policy. Reportedly, Erdogan was able to persuade President Trump to call for the removal of all the U.S. troops from Syria, which would have given Turkey the opportunity to invade and crush the SDF. Fortunately, President Trump reconsidered his decision.

Had this troop removal taken place, it would have been a huge mistake by the U.S. The U.S. had gone to great trouble to persuade the SDF to be the ground forces against the Islamic State in Raqqa and elsewhere in Syria. If, after the completion of that war against the physical caliphate (but with ISIS still a threat), the U.S. then abandoned the SDF to the Turks, the word would have gone out that the U.S. was not a loyal ally. Further, unlike in Afghanistan or Iraq, there was little pressure on the administration to remove these troops, as there have been few casualties since they were sent to Syria in 2014. Finally, by keeping the U.S. troops there, other enemy nations like Iran, Russia, and the Assad forces are blocked from expanding their areas of control in Syria.

The U.S. needs to recognize the reality of Lebanon and Turkey. At this time, both nations are led by enemies of the United States. President Trump needs to act accordingly.

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/lebanon-turkey-golan-heights-trump/2019/04/03/id/910048/

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Roll Call Smears Jewish Groups That Called for Omar’s Removal From House Committee

Roll Call Smears Jewish Groups That Called for Omar’s Removal From House Committee

By: Adam Kredo
The Washington Free Beacon
March 6, 2019

Roll Call is facing backlash after one of its reporters attempted to discredit a recent effort by a group of leading Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to see Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee following a series of anti-Semitic statements that drew widespread condemnation.

To read the full article, click here: https://freebeacon.com/issues/roll-call-smears-jewish-groups-that-called-for-omars-removal-from-house-committee/ 

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EMET’s Statement on the Sense of Congress Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism

EMET’s Statement on the Sense of Congress Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism

The Sense of Congress Resolution condemning anti-Semitism is a hollow exercise and is far from sufficient. It is wholly insufficient because Representative Omar has demonstrated over and over again that she is comfortable issuing vile anti-Semitic attacks on a Jewish minority who once thought America was a safe place to live.

The time is gone for “feel good” resolutions that vaguely oppose anti-Semitism.  Who would oppose a resolution criticizing anti-Semitism or any other sort of racism?

House Democrats should do the right thing. They should censure Rep. Omar and immediately remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee where she sits. This would send an unmistakable message that Democratic leaders and its rank will not tolerate anti-Semitism in the House of Representatives and that Rep. Omar must be held accountable.

Speaker Pelosi, Holocaust survivors are still alive in the United States who remember the horror of that ugly time. Their children also lived their parent’s agony and persecution as they grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust.

They and all Jews who felt they were safe in America are now nervous again.  They are hearing the repetition of the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes from another loud political leader.

They are simply astonished that today there is an anti-Semite prospering in the halls of Congress who operates freely without any sanction.  And they are worried as they see others outside the Congress cheer on Rep. Omar for her despicable attacks on Jewish Americans.

Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic majority owe it to the Jewish community to take concrete action. We are depending on your good sense and your intolerance for the scourge of anti-Semitism to do the right thing.

Ms. Omar was appropriately rebuked by Speaker Pelosi on February 11 which prompted her to send out a perfunctory apology.  However, within weeks, she again invoked another ugly classic anti-Semitic canard, invoking the widely discredited position that Jewish Members of Congress demonstrate “dual loyalty” between the United States and Israel.

What is even more troubling is the fact that on February 23, Ms. Omar addressed a fundraising event for Islamic Relief USA.  Islamic Relief is a “charity” with documented operational ties to terrorist organizations. Years ago, UAE and Israel designated Islamic Relief as a terrorist organization.

Ms. Omar’s support for terrorists is nothing new.  In 2016, while a state representative from Minnesota, she wrote a letter to a judge asking for leniency for nine Minnesota men who made plans to join ISIS, including the purchase of fake passports to travel to Syria. This is ISIS, who considers the United States the ultimate enemy. This is ISIS, which engaged in the most barbaric acts of brutality, such as burning people alive in cages, chopping off their heads, and killing thousands of Christians, Yazidis and even other Muslims, not as extreme as themselves.

A person with these sorts of inclinations should never be allowed to sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This is a Committee where Ms. Omar will have access to highly classified and sensitive documents.

By allowing her to remain on this Committee, our national security interests and those of our one democratic ally in the region, Israel, might well be severely compromised.

Rep. Omar should be promptly censured and immediately removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Anything short of that simply rings hollow.

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