Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)
"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries. What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."
Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002
"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003
A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.
"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon
“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
Israel needs to stop being an ideology and start being a nation. A nation of all of its citizens, all with equal national, civil and religious rights.
After 70 years, only partial justice and restoration is possible for the Palestinian people. Whatever constitutional arrangements are arrived at, equality should be the guiding principle at work.
As for Zionism let’s ditch it and move on. 'It’s time to place it in a glass cabinet and put it in a museum in a room marked: ‘Dead Ends & False Messiahs’.
There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”
"The practices under which Jesus was raised in Galilee were anathema to Judaic orthodoxy. One might discern the seedbed of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus within “Galilee of the Gentiles” and why his teachings were regarded with outrage by the Pharisaic priesthood. One can also discern why there has been such a hatred of Christianity and Jesus in the rabbinical teachings of the Talmud and elsewhere.
The phenomenon of such an oddity as “Christian Zionism” is for Zionists and the Orthodox rabbinate (which should not be confounded with Reform Judaism) nothing more than the equivalent of a “shabbez goy,” a Gentile hired by Orthodox Jews to undertake menial tasks on the Sabbath. “Judaeo-Christianity” only exists in the minds of craven Gentiles who embrace delusional creeds, or who wish to further their careers by making the correct noises to the right people.
(Kerry R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, May 29, 2018)
"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...." "For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."
About political holism
Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.
Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance. At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)
Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu
"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)
“Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based international order.” The Economist’s headline last summer summarized a common refrain within America’s foreign policy establishment...
Trump is certainly hostile to what he sometimes refers to as “globalism”: multilateralism, free trade agreements, international institutions, and any international legal regime that could impose constraints on U.S. power. He is antagonistic toward allies and treaties, withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UN Human Rights Council.
But those excoriating Trump for his disregard for rules and norms rarely mention similar, routine violations of this rules-based order by his predecessors.
The pundits, practitioners, and politicians that make up the foreign policy establishment have rarely respected the non-interventionist principles at the core of the United Nations, an institution exemplifying the liberal rules-based international order that the United States helped establish following World War II.
Article 2(4) of the UN Charter says “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state…”
According to the Charter, which American post-war planners helped write, the use of force is illegal and illegitimate unless at least one of two prerequisites are met: first, that force is used in self-defense; second, that the UN Security Council authorizes it.
This prohibition against war is not some trivial aspiration. Non-intervention is the centerpiece of international law and the United Nations has repeatedly sought to underline its significance.
In 1965, the General Assembly declared “No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any state.”
Again in 1970, it unanimously reaffirmedthe illegality of “armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats.”
In 1981, the General Assembly further specified that the Charter’s “principle of non-intervention and non-interference” prohibited “any … form of intervention and interference, overt or covert, directed at another State or group of States, or any act of military, political or economic interference in the internal affairs of another State.”
The United States is currently engaged in active military hostilities in at least seven countries, namely Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger.
That tally doesn’t include drone strikes in Pakistan, combat operations in Kenya, Cameroon, and Central African Republic, or other interventions of unknown magnitude. The true number might be closer to 14 countries. The White House is also explicitly threatening U.S. military action to change the regime in Venezuela and against Iran for a host of spurious reasons. Not one of these cases meets the prerequisites for legal military intervention (a plausible self-defense case can be made for the war in Afghanistan, but it expired a long time ago).
No other state in the international system uses force more than the U.S. has.
Throughout the Cold War, the United States used military means to interfere in other countries about twice as often as did the Soviet Union. This doesn’t include interventions below the threshold of military action: from 1946 to 2000, Washington meddled in foreign elections more than 80 times (compared to 36 by the Soviet Union or Russia over the same period).
Covert operations to overthrow democratically elected governments, as in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile, were a stapleof U.S. conduct in this period, and according to the Rand Corporation, “the number and scale of U.S. military interventions rose rapidly in the aftermath of the Cold War.” The Congressional Research Service lists more than 200 individual U.S. military interventions from 1989 to 2018, a rate that no other country even comes close to matching.
Washington often appeals to international law to justify military action against despots who commit atrocities, as it did when it secured UN Security Council approval in 2011 to bomb Libya. But even there, when the initial use of force was authorized, the Obama administration rapidly exceeded the mandate of the resolution by pursuing what amounted to a regime-change strategy.
And such appeals to humanitarianism are highly selective: U.S. military power has also been used to assist Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most regressive authoritarian regimes, commit war crimes and keep an impoverished and largely defenseless population in Yemen under siege.
The political establishment in Washington has always accepted this unique role for the United States. We’re the policeman of the world. We enforce the rules and therefore assert the right to violate them, even as we (often violently) deny others that same prerogative.
Saving the liberal order means adhering to the UN Charter’s prohibition on the use of force except in self-defense or unless authorized by the Security Council.
It means rolling back our global military footprint and adopting a more restrained foreign policy that at least approximates the manner in which we expect other nations to behave.
It means recognizing that the United States is not exempt from the rules and norms it often punishes others for transgressing, and it means acknowledging that the foreign policy establishment has done at least as much damage to the rules-based order as has President Trump.
"vital national security intererests"
John Glaser is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. His research interests include grand strategy, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the rise of China, and the role of status and prestige motivations in international politics.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has written a letter to the United States, Iran’s legal representative to the Court said, noting that May 15 is Washington’s deadline to provide ICJ with the information and details of its measures in regard to lifting unilateral sanctions on Tehran.
Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency on Friday, Mohsen Mohebi said that Washington is required to report to the Court by May 15 about its measures to fulfill ICJ’s orders on provisional measures addressed to the United States.
Based on the ICJ provisional ruling, the US, in accordance with its obligations under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, shall remove any impediments arising from the measures announced on May 8, 2018 to the free exportation of medicine, foodstuffs and spare parts, equipment and associated services necessary for the safety of civil aviation to the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The US shall also ensure that licenses and necessary authorizations are granted and that payments and other transfers of funds are not subject to any restriction in so far as they relate to the mentioned goods and services.
Zariff: Iranians never submit to pressure
"The more they exert pressure on us,
the more we will rely on the nation" Press TV, Sun Mar 31, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says US President Donald Trump is grasping "at every straw" to portray his failed policies on Tehran as a success, stressing that Iranians will never bow to pressure.
"Only thing proven is that he rejoices over the misery that he thinks he has imposed on ordinary Iranians.
Like his predecessors, he will learn that Iranians never submit to pressure," Zarif said in a post on his Twitter account on Sunday. The Iranian FM says all US plots against Iran have failed over the past 40 years thanks to the nation’s steadfastness in the face of Washington’s pressure tactics.
“It is necessary for all those friends who are pursuing Iran’s foreign policy to realize that we owe everything to these people. Our attitude towards security is based on domestic development and progress, and the more they exert pressure on us, the more we will rely on the nation,” Zarif said in an address to a meeting in Tehran about Iran's 40-year foreign policy.
Trump withdrew his country in May 2018 from the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.
In November, the Trump administration announced the re-imposition of the “toughest” sanctions ever against Iran's banking and energy sectors with the aim of cutting off the country's oil sales and crucial exports.
A first round of American sanctions took effect in August, targeting Iran's access to the US dollar, metals trading, coal, industrial software, and auto sector.
The New York Times reports on Venezuela’s imploding economy and the role of U.S. sanctions in worsening conditions:
"The sanctions have accelerated Venezuela’s vicious economic cycle, where declining oil exports leave Mr. Maduro with less money to invest in basic services. That, in turn, further degrades oil production...This multiplier feedback effect is very powerful and affects almost everyone” in Venezuela.. The impact is going to be horrific."
When it is our government’s policy to starve another country of resources, it is only a matter of time before the population experiences the horrific impact of sanctions.
Economic warfare against Venezuela probably won’t produce the regime change that the administration wants, and in the meantime the effort to oust Maduro comes at the expense of increasing the population’s already terrible suffering. As bad as Venezuela’s economic and humanitarian crises were before, the Trump administration is deliberately making them worse in a bid to force a change in government.
Deepening the misery of an entire country that has already been made miserable by the failures of its own government is cruel and wrong, and it makes our government partly responsible for depriving the population of basic necessities. The U.S. has supported the Saudis and Emiratis as they have blockaded and starved Yemen for years, and now our government is helping to drive Venezuela towards famine as well...
Right now the U.S. is contributing to the further devastation of a country that was being driven into a ditch. The administration didn’t have to do this, but it chose to take sides in an internal crisis and intentionally made things worse in the hopes of achieving its political goals...
The ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) has lost mayoral elections in the country's three largest cities - Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir - in a stunning election setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan according to unofficial results published by state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday.
The official results will be released after the country's election board looks into objections by political parties, who have three days to file their complaints.
Anadolu's unofficial data shows Republican People's Party's (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won the heated mayoral race in Istanbul, the country's largest city and economic centre, with 48.8 percent of the vote, while the AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim got 48.5 percent.
In the capital, Ankara, unofficial results showed that CHP candidate Mansur Yavas had garnered 50.9 percent, with the AK Party nominee Mehmet Ozhaseki trailing on 47.2 percent.
In the third-largest city, Izmir, the CHP candidate, Mustafa Tunc Soyer, was leading with 58 percent votes while AK Party's Nihat Zeybekci stood at 38.5 percent.
According to Galip Dalay, a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford, the results are not a mathematical loss for the AK Party, but they still would not be taken lightly by Erdogan's bloc.
"However, it is a psychological loss as it lost several major cities including the biggest three," Dalay, who is also a non-resident fellow at Brookings Institution in Doha, told Al Jazeera.
"Early elections are out of the picture due to the fact that it did not suffer major losses in terms of vote numbers, but the result might set a context for wider discussions within the party and the conservative camp in Turkey about policy choices."
Iraqi and Saudi ministers are expected to meet in Baghdad on Wednesday to boost economic ties as Riyadh tries to fend off Tehran's influence in the region.
A high ministerial delegation led by Saudi Trade Minister Dr Majid Al Kassabi arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday for the second meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council.
In October 2017, two months before Iraq declared victory over ISIS, the countries established the Council, to help rebuild devastated areas retaken from the militants in Iraq.
The delegation is made up of 100 officials and several ministers that include the Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah, Minister of Environment Abdul Rahman Al Fadhil and the Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Thamer Al Subhan, the Saudi press agency reported.
They are expected to meet Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
"The Iraqi-Saudi Coordination Council will hold a series of meetings and discussions related to the border crossings, investments opportunities, pilgrimage, customs and other strategic topics," the premier said on Tuesday during his weekly press conference. He also announced that he will visit the Kingdom, but did not specify a date.
"Our foreign policy is built on dialogue and engagement, we want to build co-operation and work on mutually beneficial policies with our regional partners and allies," Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi said.
Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. The two states have several projects that includes the reopening of the Arar border crossing for trade in October. The development comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Iraq last month in efforts to shore up Tehran's influence in the country.
The Iranian foreign minister has hit out at the three European powers for failing to counter the US “economic terrorism” against Tehran, saying they are instead turning the spotlight on the Islamic Republic’s missile program to appease Washington.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and lamented the EU trio’s failure to show a political will against Washington’s pressures.
“A year after US' unlawful abrogation of JCPOA, Europe can't muster political will to defy US' economic terrorism. Not even by setting up a single banking channel for humanitarian aid,” said the tweet. Zarif said the UK, France and Germany would rather seek to appease Trump by pressuring the UN to provide a report on Iran’s missile activities than defy Washington’s measures.
Britain, France and Germany are calling for a full UN report on Iran’s missile program, claiming the country’s missile activities violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that supports the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The European trio said in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Iran's launch of a space vehicle and the unveiling of two new missiles in February were “inconsistent" with the resolution.
Iran says neither its space program nor its missile launches are banned under Resolution 2231. The resolution, adopted in July 2015, merely calls on Iran “to refrain from any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” The US asked for the inclusion of Iran’s missile program in any deal over Tehran’s nuclear program both during the course of negotiations that culminated in the JCPOA and after its conclusion.
However, Iran has stressed that its missile program is non-negotiable as it is part of the country’s deterrence.
Israel was behind the 2013 coup in Egypt that toppled Mohamed Morsi, the African country’s first ever democratically-elected president, an Israeli general has revealed.
Morsi, amember of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood party, entered office after the 2011 Egyptian uprising against the regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Brigadier General Aryeh Eldad wrote in an article in Maariv newspaper that Israeli intelligence officials had reason to believe that Morsi “intended to cancel the peace agreement with Israel and send more Egyptian military forces to the Sinai Peninsula.”
In 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David peace agreement that, among other things, required Israel to withdraw all forces from the Sinai Peninsula while limiting the number of forces Cairo could deploy to the region. The peace agreement also called for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to Eldad, when Israeli officials found out about Morsi’s alleged plans, they made it a priority to overthrow the Egyptian president and replace him with the current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who served as Morsi’s defense minister before the coup.
“At that stage, Israel was quick and willing to activate its diplomatic tools, and perhaps even greater means, to bring Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to power in Egypt, and convince the then US administration under President Barack Obama not to oppose this move,” wrote the Israeli general.
Morsi, june 2013: Cairo will coordinate aiding the rebels in Syria
monetarily through Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as other countries.
Sisi came to power in 2014, a year after leading the successful military coup against Morsi.
Today he enjoys overwhelming support in the Egyptian parliament, which voted earlier this year in favor of constitutional changes that could potentially extend his presidency until 2034.
Morsi, 68, has been serving a 20-year prison term on charges of ordering the arrest and torture of protesters, a 25-year jail term on charges of passing intelligence to Qatar and a three-year term for insulting the judiciary.
Today, Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states to have full diplomatic ties with Israel, but the relations remain limited and taboo among the general populations.
A November report by the UK-based Arabic newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sisi had been working together to persuade other Arab leaders to establish close trade ties with Israel while working to resolve political differences with the Tel Aviv regime as well.
Aryeh Eldad, a professor of medicine, was born in Tel Aviv in 1950. His father, Israel Eldad, was a well-known Israeli public thinker, and formerly one of the leaders of the militant underground group Lehi. Eldad is a resident of the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim (a mixed religious-secular Israeli settlement in the West Bank), and he is a Brigadier-General (reserves) in the Israel Defense Forces.
Flashback: "There is no God but Allah, and Bashar is his enemy."
Thousands of Egypt Islamists rally for Syria jihad Global Post 15-6-2013
"Devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs, is undoubtedly an honor for the believer." Sheikh Areifi, 11-3-2011
Thousands of Islamists rallied in the Egyptian capital in support of calls by Sunni Muslim clerics for a holy war against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The demonstration took place outside a Cairo mosque where Saudi preacher Mohammed al-Oreifi called in a sermon for a "jihad in the cause of Allah in Syria." Oreifi urged worshippers to "unite against their enemy."
Four Arab countries – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain – said in a statement on Thursday that they have officially informed the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union that they object to the 140th round of its general assembly meetings being held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, between 6 and 10 April.
"When the 139th round was held in 2018, the four countries had objected that the next 140th round will be held in Qatar," said the statement, adding that if things go as planned, “the four countries will boycott the meetings of the 140th round.” The statement urged the state of Qatar to stop funding terrorism and terrorist movements and interfering with the internal affairs of countries in the region.
The statement of the four countries, which have decided to boycott Qatar since June 2017, said that the Qatari regime has not stopped funding terrorist movements and causing unrest and troubles throughout the region.
"As long as the policies of the Qatari regime continue to support terrorist and extremist movements with money, and show no response to the just demands of the four countries on funding terrorists and meddling with the internal affairs of the countries of the region, they have decided to boycott the 140th round of the meetings of the general assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva," said the statement.
flashback 2012-2013: mediator between nato and 'moderate' jihadists
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi is in Tehran for a two-day visit accompanied by a number of cabinet members, security officials, and business leaders. Abdul-Mahdi will meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and discuss trade ties. Iraqi oil, finance, foreign, planning, trade, electricity, and water resources ministers are among the accompanying delegation, as are the national security advisor and chief of staff of the army, according to Iranian media. Baghdad’s foreign policy is one of friendly relations with everyone, using Iraq’s geographical position to make the country a bridge between regional rivals. After decades of conflict and hostility, the government wants Iraq to leave behind the historic disputes and focus on what it has in common with its neighbours.
To this end, Abdul-Mahdi’s government has cemented its close ties with Iran and is building relations with Saudi Arabia, where the prime minister is expected to pay a visit in the near future. The Iraqi leader’s trip comes as the United States is, yet again, increasing the pressure on Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Washington is considering designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization.
US President Donald Trump’s administration could make the announcement on Monday, despite objections from the Pentagon and the CIA who fear the move would endanger US troops abroad without doing any harm to Iran’s economy, the newspaper reported.
The elite Revolutionary Guards were formed in 1979 and have amassed enormous political and economic clout in the country. They are also backing groups within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, as well as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Washington has repeatedly urged Baghdad to cut its ties with Iran – especially in the energy sector, but the Iraqi government has said such a severance from its neighbour would be impossible.
The Trump administration is reportedly going ahead with its terrible idea of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist group.
Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group is a bad idea that has been kicking around for more than a decade, and previous administrations correctly chose not to do this because it is a very dangerous move that will achieve very little.
Pentagon officials have been against it because they are understandably worried that this could expose U.S. forces to retribution. It is possible that it could encourage some governments to designate our soldiers as terrorists as well. Labeling part of another state’s military terrorists is what you do if you are looking to provoke an attack or launch an attack on that state.
At the very least, the designation will ratchet up tensions and put U.S. forces in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan at greater risk. At worst, it will serve as the pretext for military action against Iran and its proxies.
The Trump administration’s Iran policy is about to escalate significantly without any debate here at home, and the hard-liners pushing for this decision are doing everything they can to spark conflict with Iran and the armed groups that it supports.
The administration’s Iran obsession is becoming even more dangerous, and the malign influence of Bolton and Pompeo on our foreign policy keeps making things worse.
Wikipedia info: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a branch of Iran's Armed Forces founded after 1979 Revolution on 22 April 1979 by order of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Whereas the regular military (or Artesh) defends Iran's borders and maintains internal order, according to the Iranian constitution, the Revolutionary Guard (pasdaran) is intended to protect the country's Islamic Republic system. The Revolutionary Guards state that their role in protecting the Islamic system is preventing foreign interference as well as coups by the military or "deviant movements".
The Revolutionary Guards have roughly 125,000 military personnel including ground, aerospace and naval forces. Its naval forces are now the primary forces tasked with operational control of the Persian Gulf. The group has been labelled as a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had made clear to President Donald Trump that he is not prepared to evacuate “a single person” from any West Bank settlements.
When asked if he knew the details of Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” Netanyahu told Channel 13 in an interview broadcast Friday that he knew what he had told Trump to include in the agreement. “I know what I said: I said there can’t be the removal of even one settlement, and [that Israel insists on] our continued control of all the territory to the west of the Jordan,” Netanyahu said.
Asked in the interview, which was recorded on Wednesday, whether he had specified this to Trump personally, Netanyahu said he had set out the same positions to Trump and former US President Barack Obama. He elaborated that he had specified to Trump that he would not evacuate “a single person” from the settlements.
“You said that to Trump?” he was asked. “Like that,” he said, adding that it had been recorded.
Were the US plan to contradict those positions, he indicated, it would not be viable. “As far as I am concerned, [the evacuation of settlements] won’t be there [in the plan], and if it is [in the plan], it won’t [happen].”
“All the settlements, without exception, those that are in blocs and those that aren’t, need to remain under Israeli sovereignty,” Netanyahu told interviewers Rani Rahav and Sharon Gal, adding that this would “eventually” happen. Over 400,000 Jews live in West Bank settlements. Another 200,000-plus live in East Jerusalem neighborhoods annexed by Israel after the 1967 war.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to annex occupied West Bank settlements violates United Nations Security Council resolutions and disregards international law, the spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ömer Çelik said Sunday.
"This pledge not only transgresses the law, but it also attempts to completely destroy it," Çelik said in a Twitter post.
"It is about time that the international community says stop to Netanyahu's madness," Çelik said, adding that the Israeli PM's stance is an open attack against the definition of the values that make up the international community.
Çelik noted that Netanyahu was encouraged by U.S. President Donald Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the decision to recognize the Israeli occupation of Golan Heights.
He continued by saying that the Israeli prime minister is blatantly risking peace and stability in the Middle East and provokes Palestinians. Çelik also urged all world powers to condemn the discourse of hatred used by Netanyahu.
"There is not a single value or legal provision that he [Netanyahu] did not attack," Çelik said and added: "Those who support the occupation of others need to carefully think about the repercussions as it poses the most fundamental threat to international law and security."
Netanyahu told an interview on Saturday that he plans to annex settlements in the West Bank if he is re-elected, diminishing any hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian deal on the terms of a Palestinian state on lands Israel captured in 1967.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he made the controversial decision to recognize Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights after getting a quick history lesson...
Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Las Vegas, Trump said he made the snap decision during a discussion with his top Middle East peace advisers, including the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
"I said, 'Fellows, do me a favor. Give me a little history, quick. Want to go fast. I got a lot of things I'm working on: China, North Korea. Give me a quickie," Trump said to laughter from the Las Vegas crowd.
"'How do you like the idea of me recognizing exactly what we're discussing?'" said Trump, recounting the conversation.
Trump, who typically demands short sharp briefings and is known for his colorful retelling of stories, said Friedman was shocked, "like a wonderful, beautiful baby," and asked the President if he would actually do it...
"I went - 'BING!' - it was done," Trump said on Saturday, describing the swiftness of his decision. "We make fast decisions. And we make good decisions."
In a special interview with Arutz Sheva, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that his declaration regarding the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria does not come suddenly ahead of the elections, but rather is the continuation of a trend he has been promoting for several months.
"I prefer to do it with American support. I spoke about it with the relevant authorities and it takes time to coordinate. I am not talking about the entire area, but first of all about the settlements. Not just the blocs, but the blocs and the isolated settlements, I do not abandon them or transfer them to Palestinian rule, which would destroy them."
When asked whether he is committed to the non-establishment of a Palestinian state, the prime minister says, "There will be no Palestinian state, not as people talk about it. It will not be because I am making sure of it.
I am not uprooting settlements, rather applying sovereignty to them. I am maintaining a united Jerusalem and I am maintaining our control on the entire area west of the Jordan River to prevent another Gaza. This is my policy.
I told that to the Americans, President Trump and President Obama. Vice President Biden told me that this is not a state. I told him to call it whatever he wanted. He said it was not sovereignty. I said that that’s what I'm willing to do, that's all. "
"No one has fought for Judea and Samaria as I fought. Who could have stood against a government of more than eight years of Obama's administration that came and pressed you all the time? I stood up and pushed off those pressures.
On the evacuations carried out under his leadership in Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu says that these were three evictions forced upon him by the court...
"We destroyed a little and built a lot, and now we have approved 18,000 housing units. There was no such construction before. In the next term, I intend to gradually apply Israeli law to the settlements in Judea and Samaria."
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Jordan that the authority “cannot be sustained” if Netanyahu wins.
“The Palestinian Authority may have to (make) a disappearing act — it cannot be sustained,” he said.
“Netanyahu … wants a Palestinian Authority but without any authorities. Secondly, he wants a cost-free occupation, whereby today if you say something about settlements, or human-rights violations, or war crimes, or apartheid, you become anti-semite.
“Anti-occupation is noble. And the mere fact that there are forces trying to say to anyone who criticises settlements that you’re anti-semitic, that’s very dangerous.”
Erekat said that the Trump administration, which is drawing up a peace plan for the Israel-Palestine conflict, was not seen as a partner by the Palestinian side. The administration has “disqualified themselves from any role in the peace process whatsoever,” he said.
Erekat said earlier that Netanyahu’s statement on annexation was “not surprising.”
“Israel will continue to brazenly violate international law for as long as the international community will continue to reward Israel with impunity...,” he wrote on Twitter.
US officials announced Monday that Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) and its extraterritorial Quds Force are to be designated as foreign terrorist organizations, piling further US pressure the Islamic Republic.
Unveiling the new US policy in Washington on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the designation comes as a “direct response to an outlaw regime and should surprise no one.”
The move, which will take effect on April 15, is designed to deprive Iran of the power to “spread misery and death” around the world, he said, accusing the IRGC of “actively engaging in terrorism” while it “masquerades as a legitimate military organization.”
IRGC assets will be frozen in areas under US jurisdiction and Americans are banned from doing business with the organization.
Minutes before Pompeo spoke, US President Donald Trump released a White House statement setting out the new policy...
“This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences. We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior,” Trump added.
The IRGC is deeply enmeshed in the Iranian economy, its national politics, and foreign affairs. Its engineering wing Khatam al-Anbiya, which is already blacklisted by the US Treasury Department, is heavily engaged in Iran’s construction, infrastructure, oil and gas, and agricultural sectors, and even its missile defense systems.
Responding to the US move, Iran’s state news agency IRNA says the Supreme National Security Council has officially designated CENTCOM a terrorist organization...
“The council condemns in the strongest terms the illegal and dangerous decision of the regime of the United States..", IRNA quotes from a council statement.
“This baseless action is a substantial threat to peace and security in the region and in internationally and a clear violation of international law and the charter of the United Nations.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on the eve of Israel's general election thanking Trump for the decision.
“Thank you, my dear friend, for having decided to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization..” “Thank you for responding to another important request of mine, which serves the interests of our countries and countries of the region.”
Saudi Arabia welcomes US decision
Saudi Arabia welcomed Tuesday Washington’s blacklisting of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, state media reported.
“The US decision (follows) the kingdom’s repeated demands to the international community to address the issue of Iranian-backed terrorism,” the official Saudi Press Agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying.
The source welcomed the US move as a “practical and serious step” in curbing what the kingdom describes as Iranian meddling in the region.
In January 2009, about a month before the Israeli election, Benjamin Netanyahu was looking forward to the prospect of working with then President-elect Barack Obama.
We’re both men of the world, he said. We are both graduates of prestigious universities near Boston — Netanyahu from MIT and Obama from Harvard. We will find common ground, confound the so-called experts and get along famously, Netanyahu projected. It didn’t quite work out that way. Netanyahu’s predictions about Obama turned out to be about as accurate as his 2002 assurances to Congress that Saddam Hussein was pursuing nuclear weapons and that going to war against Iraq was way smarter than fighting Iran or Al-Qaida and would do wonders for the United States and the war on terror.
Netanyahu may have been putting on airs before the election, out of concern that voters would frown on potential tensions with the U.S. president, but the die was already cast. Eight years of mutual enmity were in the works...
Obama’s surprise demand for a total settlement freeze upended Netanyahu’s benign expectations of their smooth ties.
Obama’s preference for disarming Iran through negotiations rather than war struck Netanyahu as naive and unrealistic: Events were once again to prove him wrong...
Things came to a head, of course, in March 2015, in the flare-up over the Iran nuclear deal and Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. Six years after predicting that everything would be hunky-dory with Obama, Netanyahu was brazenly thumbing his nose at the president, with the entire GOP rooting for him as if the Israeli leader was their presidential candidate at the very least.
Trump’s shock election in 2016 was vindication for Netanyahu as well as redemption. He extracted from Trump American concessions that were considered unthinkable. Trump, it turned out, was a gift that kept on giving, beyond Netanyahu’s wildest dreams.
But the hubris went to Netanyahu’s head. He began to see in Trump not just a valuable ally and powerful protector, but a soul mate and role model as well. Trump not only saw Israel and the Middle East through Netanyahu’s eyes; the two leaders shared the same authoritarian allies abroad, the same kind of domestic enemies at home, the same sense of eternal victimhood, the same fear that liberal Europeans along with global cosmopolitan elites were conspiring against them.
Netanyahu didn’t need any lessons from Trump on populism, personal insults or incitement against minorities: He excelled in all of these before the White House was even a gleam in Trump’s eyes.
But Trump nonetheless inspired Netanyahu: He showed him how to buck tradition, ignore norms, shed restraint, lose inhibitions and go for the jugular. Trump taught him there is no value — truth, decency, democracy or respect for the rule of law — holier than the quest for power and the lust to retain it.
Throughout most of the past two years, Netanyahu has been in lockstep with Trump, following him wherever he may go:
Trump emboldened Netanyahu to spurn the sentiments of most American Jews and to put all his chips on evangelicals and the hard Jewish right.
Netanyahu wasn’t just making a calculated political decision to invest his all in groups that held sway in the White House. He was externalizing his long-held contempt for the liberal values that American Jews cherish. He embraced Trump’s most basic yardstick: If you aren’t with me — as American Jews aren’t — you are surely against me.. Thus, anyone who dared challenge him — such as Benny Gantz — was by definition an enemy of the state, whose destruction justifies any means, fair, foul or totally abhorrent...
Vindicated by yet another unexpected victory, Netanyahu will return as a turbo-Trump on steroids, unmoored, unhinged and undeterred by the poison he has injected and will continue to inject, with even greater gusto, into the now-defenseless arteries of what was once Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won Tuesday's election. Although his Likud Party and Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party each won 35 seats, Netanyahu is the one who will be able to form a governing coalition, according to the results after 98% of the votes have been counted.
Likud won 35 seats, Shas and UTJ [Haredi parties] eight each and URP and Yisrael Beytenu five. Kulanu, whose leader Moshe Kahlon said he would join a Netanyahu-led government but leave following a final indictment, won four seats.
Blue and White won 35 seats, Labor and Hadash-Ta'al six each and Meretz and the United Arab List-Balad four each. The New Right [Naftali Bennett], Zehut and Gesher did not cross the 3.25% electoral threshold.
After an exit poll that earlier showed a Blue and White victory by four seats changed to a narrow win for Likud, Netanyahu declared victory at a Likud rally at around 2:00 AM.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday night during his victory speech that he has initiated discussions with the heads of right-wing parties, "our natural partners," in his words.
“The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won, thank Israeli citizens for their trust. I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners already tonight.”
"Almost everyone has publicly stated that they would support me. I intend to finish the job [of forming a coalition] quickly and establish a strong national government. It will be a right-wing government."
Shas, UTJ and URP announced late Tuesday that they would recommend Netanyahu to form the government. Kahlon and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said they would wait for the final results. Centre-left and left-wing parties Labor and Meretz (10 seats) said they would recommend Gantz (centre-right: 35 seats).
Haredi parties score massive electoral success, garner 16 seats. Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2019
The haredi political parties Shas and United Torah Judaism have recorded a spectacular electoral success, having both gained eight seats with 98% of the votes counted.
This represents a 23% increase in their electoral representation in the Knesset and will surely give them even greater political clout in the new government in which they will almost certainly be huge actors. Shas and UTJ are now tied as the third largest parties in the Knesset after Likud and Blue and White.
Far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman says his party will only be a part of the coalition in the next Knesset if Tel Aviv's policy will go even harder on the besieged Gaza.
Avigdor Lieberman, a former Israeli defence minister has called on prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to end the truce with Hamas and radically change policy towards the Gaza based group as a condition to join any right-wing coalition.
Sources within Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party said Lieberman made it clear to Netanyahu that he would not join the next coalition unless the already brutal policy on the besieged Gaza Strip becomes amplified.
This comes after Netanyahu approached Lieberman on Wednesday evening to negotiate a right-wing coalition group, according to state-owned TV station Kan.
In November, the former war chief resigned from his post after a ceasefire with Hamas. "What happened is capitulating to terror. It has no other meaning," Lieberman told journalists in explaining his reasons for resigning.
Meanwhile, Gaza based group Hamas said the result of the elections make no difference because all Israeli parties are “faces of one coin.”
"There is no difference between this party or the other parties, all are faces of one coin; the coin of occupation, and our position is clear, that we are dealing with all of the results of the Zionist society, which is an occupying society” said senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya.
“We seek with all our strength to end this occupation and achieve our national goals and the principles of the Palestinian people," he added.
New Right will not be in the Knesset
Arutz Sheva, 11-4-2019
The Central Elections Committee released on Thursday evening the final results of the 2019 elections to the Knesset that were held on Tuesday, after the calculation of the results of the surplus agreements.
According to the final results, the Likud is the largest party with 36 seats, followed by Blue and White with 35 seats.
They are followed by: Shas – 8, United Torah Judaism – 7, Labor – 6, Hadash-Ta'al – 6, Kulanu – 5, Yisrael Beytenu – 5,
United Right – 4, Meretz – 4, Ra'am-Balad – 4
According to these results, the right-wing bloc stands at 65 seats...
The New Right party said in response, "The results that were published are not final, and we continue to fight. We expect the media to show some more seriousness in its reports.”
Libya's Western-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has accused his rival General Khalifa Haftar of betraying him by initiating a military push against the capital, that risks plunging the nation into civil war.
The head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said in a televised speech on Saturday that Haftar had “stabbed us in the back" by launching "a coup."
Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) said its forces had advanced into the capital's southern outskirts and taken its former international airport, prompting Sarraj to warn in a televised address of a "war without a winner."
"We have extended our hands towards peace but after the aggression that has taken place on the part of forces belonging to Haftar... he will find nothing but strength and firmness," Sarraj said. Haftar's troops, which are backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, have been slowed in their advance amid "intensive" airstrikes by forces backing the GNA.
Armed groups allied to Sarraj moved machinegun-mounted vehicles from Misrata towards the Libyan capital to defend the city.
A senior Libyan general said on Saturday that Haftar's forces were using Emirati and Egyptian weapons in their push to capture the capital. Saudi Arabia has also given Haftar the green light for the offensive and supplied him with money, he added.
“The three Arab countries support Haftar’s militias in order to create a new Sisi in Libya,” said Mohammad al-Qunidi, who is chief of the military intelligence loyal to Sarraj, referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar say they have advanced into the southern outskirts of the country’s capital city and seized the former Tripoli International Airport.
Apart from the three Arab countries backing Haftar, some European governments that once contributed to the NATO military operation to oust Gaddafi have also offered the Libyan strongman some diplomatic support.
The Libyan National Army’s (LNA) operation against Tripoli entered its fifth day on Monday with Khalifa Haftar’s forces raiding the capital’s Mitiga airport.
The development took place only hours after forces loyal to Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed to have seized control of the facility in southern Tripoli...
LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari confirmed later on Monday that his forces were still controlling the airport, revealing that minor skirmishes had taken place in areas south, southeast and west of Tripoli, thereby refuting GNA claims that its forces had made advances on the LNA.
Meanwhile, parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh said that the LNA’s march on Tripoli is in line with the constitutional declaration and parliament decision to rid the capital of militias.
“We assure you that the LNA will be embraced by the residents of Tripoli. It will protect them, their properties and freedom,” he said after meeting with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit in Cairo.
In Tripoli, Higher Council of State chief Khaled al-Mishri announced his rejection of the LNA’s operation, calling on the GNA to issue a warrant for Haftar’s arrest.
The election in 2014 resulted in two competing governments – House of Representatives (HoR - anti-Islamist) based in eastern city Tobruk and General National Congress (GNC - included Islamists) based in Tripoli. The GNC had been in power since 2012 and denied accepting the 2014 election loss, hence the power struggle between Tobruk and Tripoli.
The UN-led talks eventually led to reconciliation in December 2015, establishing the Government of National Accord (GNA) in January 2016. The agreement never led to a unification of GNC and HoR, rather, tensions increased and HoR withdrew their initial recognition of GNA.
Flashback 14-5-2016: The United States Treasury Department sanctioned Aguila Saleh, the President and speaker of the (democratic elected) Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) for his repeated efforts at obstructing the formation of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
The US Treasury said in a statement that the US government will not tolerate actions by individuals who undermine the political transition in Libya.”
Eastern Libyan forces were set to move in on Libya's capital Tripoli on Sunday after the head of the eastern parliament said they would press an offensive launched a week ago under military commander Khalifa Haftar.
"We need to get rid of militias and terrorist groups," Aguila Saleh, head of the House of Representatives allied to Haftar, said on Saturday, using a reference eastern officials often make to describe forces allied to the Tripoli government.
"We assure the residents of Tripoli that the campaign to liberate Tripoli will be limited and not violate any freedoms but restore security and fight terrorism," Saleh told lawmakers in a session in the main eastern city of Benghazi.
His comments came as an air raid by Haftar's forces hit the yard of a school on the southern outskirts of Tripoli, where eastern forces have been confronted by forces allied to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj's internationally recognised government.
In a possible new front, the eastern Libya National Army (LNA) was readying a unit to move to the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil ports, Libya's biggest, on the eastern coast, anticipating an attack from an armed group allied to al-Serraj, eastern military officials said.. Saleh also said the United Nations mission to Libya and al-Serraj's government had been controlled by armed groups and had failed to expel them from the capital, and promised Libya would hold long-delayed elections after the Tripoli operation ends.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi discussed on Sunday with Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter, commander of the Libyan Armed Forces, the latest developments in Libya and Egypt's keenness to see unity, stability and security in its neighbouring country, presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady said.
During the meeting, El-Sisi affirmed Egypt's support for the efforts to combat terrorism and extremist groups and militias in order to achieve security and stability for the Libyan citizen in all the country’s territory to establish the foundations of a stable and sovereign civil state.
The meeting was attended by Egypt's intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.
During the past week, Eastern-based Libyan forces led by Haftar have been advancing in a push to seize the capital, Tripoli, but troops loyal to Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj's government have so far kept them at bay.
Military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s intended lightning seizure of Libya’s capital has stalled, but he is unlikely to face real pressure from abroad to pull back as the arrival of hardline opponents bolsters his war cry against “terrorism”.
Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli almost two weeks ago, predicting defections, victory within two days and joyful women ululating in the streets.
However, the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has managed to bog them down in southern suburbs, thanks largely to armed groups who have rushed to aid them from various western Libyan factions.
Their case is aided by the arrival of militants in recent days to help Serraj’s forces.
One of them is Salah Badi, a commander from nearby Misrata port who has Islamist ties and possible ambitions himself to take Tripoli..
Some hardcore Islamists, previously affiliated to Ansar Sharia, have also popped up in the fighting. That group was blamed by Washington for the 2012 storming of a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
France, which has oil assets in Libya has called for a ceasefire.
“There is an oversimplification. It is not just Haftar the baddy against the goodies in Tripoli and Misrata. There are groups that are at the end of the day allied to al Qaeda on the other side,” said a French diplomatic source.
For Paris, Haftar, or a perceived stable army in Tripoli, is key to its wider policy against militants in the Sahel. France has some 4,500 troops in the deserts to the south and west of Libya, and wants to ensure the porous borders are locked as tightly as possible.
The UN Security Council has sanctioned the commander of Al-Sumood Brigade, Salah Badi, citing his “role in undermining stability and security in Libya.”
“The UK – along with our US & French partners – has secured United Nations Security Council agreement to sanction Salah Badi under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 2213 (2015).”
The UK Foreign Ministry said on Friday. “We will continue to hold to account those seeking to undermine stability and security in Libya.” It added.
The UK’s resolution says that “In August and September 2018, Salah Badi played a leading role in heavy clashes in Tripoli in which at least 120 people were killed, most of whom were civilians.”
Salah Badi is one of the leaders of Misurata militias. He led many wars and sent several military convoys to attack Cyrenaica and its oil ports.
Badi, who is also a member of the military council of Misurata, was one of the strongest supporters of the extremist Shura Council of Benghazi, composed of Islamist and jihadist militias, including Ansar al-Sharia, the Libya branch of the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
UNITED NATIONS - A British bid at the UN Security Council to demand a ceasefire in Libya faced opposition Thursday from Russia and the United States, raising doubts about prospects for a draft resolution to halt the bloodshed in Tripoli, diplomats said.
Britain put forward the measure after forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on April 4 to seize Tripoli, a move that threatened to plunge the north African country into deep turmoil.
During a closed-door council meeting on Thursday, Russia again insisted that there be no references in the draft resolution criticizing Haftar while the United States appealed for more time to weigh its options, diplomats said.
The divisions among world powers deepened as fighting escalated in Tripoli, with the death toll now reaching over 200, while more than 25,000 people have been driven from their homes.
"We want to have this resolution," German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen told reporters after the meeting. "We want to have a strong resolution... with a united council - everybody behind it - that says who is responsible and what needs to be done." "Not having this now is something that is frustrating," he added. British Ambassador Karen Pierce said efforts would continue to reach a consensus next week.
UN diplomats however raised doubts over whether the council would be able to agree a text, with the US reluctance to take action throwing a new spanner in the works... Haftar, seen by his allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as a bulwark against Islamists, has declared he wants to seize the capital, now controlled by a UN-recognized government and an array of militias.
The military commander backs a rival administration based in eastern Libya that is refusing to recognize the authority of the Tripoli government.
Iran’s second largest airline, Mahan Air, has launched direct flights to the Venezuelan capital Caracas, marking a further strengthening of bilateral ties as the US tightens sanctions screws on both countries.
The plane carried foreign ministry officials as well as delegates from Mahan Air, who are visiting Caracas to discuss maintaining regular flights between the two countries, spokesman of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization Reza Jafarzadeh said.
The non-stop 16-hour flight deals a blow to US efforts to isolate Iran and Venezuela which have cultivated close bonds over recent years in their shared opposition to “the American hegemony”.
It is also a boost to Mahan Air’s bid to break free from a net of US sanctions on the airline which Washington accuses of providing financial and other support to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Back in May, the United States imposed new sanctions against nine Iranian and Turkish individuals and companies as well as a number of entities providing goods and services to four Iranian airlines. The sanctions announced by the US Treasury Department, targeted the entities cooperating with Iran's Mahan Air, Caspian Air, Meraj Air, and Pouya Air. In recent weeks, the US has tightened sanctions on Venezuela which is mired in a political crisis amid a push by the Western-backed opposition to topple the democratically-elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Washington on Friday imposed sanctions on vessels and companies owned or operated by state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, aiming to choke off a crucial supply of crude to the South American island. Iran faces even more stringent American sanctions, imposed to cripple the country’s economy. The country supports President Maduro along with China, Russia, Turkey, Cuba and other countries against US-backed putschist Juan Guaido.
Iraq tried to persuade the US not to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said Tuesday.
“I won’t hide it from you. We tried to stop the American decision,” Abdul-Mahdi told his weekly press briefing in Baghdad on Tuesday night.
“We called all the friends. I spoke with [Jordan’s] King Abdullah. We spoke with the Egyptian leadership, all the friends. We spoke to the American administration. We called and spoke with all these parties.” “We and the governmental team [said] that such a decision might have negative ramifications for Iraq and the region. [But] they went ahead with their decision,” he added.
“Iraq wants to distance itself from any rivalry. We will continue to make use of our good relations with the two sides and everyone,” Adbul-Mahdi said. “We have good relations with both, with Americans and with Iranians. And we are going to deploy all our efforts to ease and calm down the situation. It is not in the interest of any of the parties engaged.”
The PM denied Iraq would play the role of the mediator between the two sides, but said it would use its “good will” and good relations to ease tensions.
Abdul-Mahdi’s desire to balance Iraq’s relationship might not wash with Washington, however.
In a telephone press briefing on Tuesday night alongside US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, US Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said countries continuing to engage with Iran will face the consequences, while those who follow the US will reap the benefits.
“We think countries have a choice to make. They can engage with Iran and take the consequences that follow, or they can engage with the United States and our allies and take the beneficial consequences that follow,” Ambassador Sales said.
Turkey’s beleaguered opposition won a rare victory in last week’s local elections, taking many of the country’s largest cities, which represent a big chunk of the country’s GDP and hold huge symbolic value.
The secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s oldest party and the largest opposition party, ended a quarter-century of religious conservative rule in the capital Ankara and megalopolis Istanbul, the latter of which is still being contested by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Faced with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s polarising invectives labelling them as terrorists, the CHP tried a new strategy: being nice.
The basis for the new strategy is a publication produced by Ates Ilyas Bassoy, the head of campaigning for the CHP, called the Radical Love Book.
Bassoy’s communications strategy is to avoid being reactionary and rising to the AKP’s bait. Instead of attacking their opponents, he instructed CHP’s politicians to let go of “the language of rage”, eschew cynicism and vanity, and speak the “language of love”. “I worked with all the mayors who were elected. I told them they need to update their language,” he said.
He wrote the Radical Love Book after a four-month tour of Turkey and distributed it within the party shortly before the elections. 'The book, illustrated with colourful flowers and funny cartoons, is written in an almost hippy tone, insisting that it’s not a campaign strategy but a philosophy.
It opens: “In the endless emptiness of space, there’s life on a tiny little planet. But there’s always fighting on this planet.
"When did the world become this loveless?”
It goes on to urge canvassing politicians to spend more time listening than speaking. When they do speak, they should use language that’s concrete, inclusionary, down-to-earth and calm, and should often employ humour.
“I think the CHP has been doing politics wrong for ages, and that always worked in the AKP’s favour,” Bassoy said.
“Turkey has been making the same mistake for years, belittling and swearing at Erdogan, telling him how ignorant he is, but this only bolsters his support, much like Donald Trump in the United States." Aykan Erdemir, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies and former CHP parliamentarian, says the philosophy of “radical love” is aimed to counter kibir – a Turkish word conveying elements of arrogance, vanity and hubris. “I would argue that this is a perfect antidote to a regime that is built on hate and scapegoating.”
At an annual address to Moscow's diplomatic academy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hailed on Friday a new geopolitical era marked by "multipolarity," stating that "the emergence of new centers of power to maintain stability in the world requires the search for a balance of interests and compromises."
He said there was a shift in the center of global economic power to East from West, where a "liberal order" marked by globalization was "losing its attractiveness and is no more viewed as a perfect model for all."
"Unfortunately, our Western partners led by the United States do not want to agree on common approaches to solving problems," Lavrov continued, accusing Washington and its allies of trying to "preserve their centuries-old domination in world affairs despite objective trends in forming a polycentric world order."
He argued that these efforts were "contrary to the fact that now, purely economically and financially, the United States can no longer—singlehandedly or with its closest allies—resolve all issues in the global economy and world affairs.
"In order to artificially retain their dominance, to regain indisputable positions, they employ various methods of pressure and blackmail to coerce economically and through the use of information," said Lavrov.
Despite President Donald Trump's promises of détente, the U.S. has doubled down on sanctions and other measures designed to push back against the Kremlin since the Republican leader entered the White House.
Trump and Putin, once seen as potential political allies, have continued to feud over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and at times have both found themselves largely isolated internationally.
The Trump administration has repeatedly threatened sanctions against several nations, including allies, for not adhering to its policies targeting stated foes such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela. While Moscow has complained about what it saw as Washington's hegemony around the world, the Trump administration has named Russia an adversary in critical strategy documents, most recently in the 2019 Missile Defense Review.
A new government for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority was sworn in Saturday, led by a veteran peace negotiator and harsh critic of Gaza's Hamas rulers.
President Mahmoud Abbas picked Mohammed Ishtayeh as prime minister, a move that deepens the internal Palestinian divide at a time when prospects for a peace deal with Israel are possibly at their lowest point ever.
A longtime adviser to Abbas and a senior member of his Fatah party, Ishtayeh and his 24-member cabinet took the oath of office at Abbas' headquarters in Ramallah.
Ishtayeh faces tremendous challenges, with the PA in a deep financial crisis following U.S. sanctions and Israel's withholding of $138 million in key tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians. The new cabinet replaces a technocratic government formed by Rami Hamdallah in 2014 after an agreement between Fatah and Hamas, the group that has run the Gaza Strip after ousting Fatah and evicting the PA in 2007. Despite enormous Egyptian efforts, the attempted unity government failed to reconcile the two groups.
Abbas' firing of Hamdallah and assigning Ishtayeh, a British-educated economist, to lead the next government reflects his frustration over the narrowing chances of an inter-Palestinian unity accord... Hamas accused Abbas of acting unilaterally, saying in a statement Saturday that swearing in a "separatist" government "boosts the division between Gaza and the West Bank as a practical step to implement the 'deal of the century,'" the name the Palestinians use to refer to the undisclosed U.S. peace plan... Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. Middle East envoy, said he hoped the new government would receive support "to overcome internal divisions."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised statement, on Friday, that “Palestinian people rise from the rubble of disasters and conspiracies, in order to restore their existence, identity and rights.”
Abbas made the statement during the launch of the activities of the Jerusalem as Capital of Islamic Culture 2019.
He said the "Jerusalem as Capital of Islamic Culture" activities confirm that “Jerusalem will not be alone, and that the steadfast Palestinian people will not remain alone in the face of colonialism and occupation.”
He continued, “The people of Palestine, and millions of Arabs and Muslims and the free of the universe, are standing in the face of the shame ‘Deal of the Century’ that aims to take away Jerusalem from our hearts and minds and our reality.”
Abbas called on the friendly and brotherly nations to visit Jerusalem as a token of support for its people and the entire Palestinian people facing prolonged Israeli occupation.
In January 2019, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) announced Jerusalem as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019,
"By lending limited support to the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, the U.S. became complicit in a man-made humanitarian disaster. Washington sought to protect its own regional interests, shape coalition tactics and broker peace – but it overestimated its influence, underestimated the conflict’s devastation and became mired when its strategy failed."
The International Crisis Group
Saudi Arabia is looking to find a way out of its devastating war in Yemen and the United States, the kingdom's stalwart ally, can play a critical role, the International Crisis Group said Sunday.
The group, which researches ways to end conflicts, said the United States should appoint a special envoy and suspend most arms shipments to the Saudis with a promise to resume them once the kingdom ends its four-year offensive against Huthi rebels who control much of their southern neighbor. The Saudi-led coalition "needs to stop thinking about how to eke out some notional victory and instead commit itself wholly to finding a political exit, regardless of whether that means empowering the Huthis more than it is comfortable with in the short term," the group said in a study based on interviews with current and former officials in the United States and elsewhere. "The US should lead the way by finding its own exit," it said.
The report comes after Congress voted to cut off US support to the war effort.
President Donald Trump, who has closely allied himself with Saudi Arabia, has threatened to veto the bill but has not yet done so.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a leading critic of the Yemen war, said that even if Trump goes ahead with his veto, Congress can serve as a "bad cop" to pressure Saudi Arabia to change course.
"This is not a question of whether or not the coalition is going to defeat the Huthis; that question has been answered," Murphy told a briefing on the report.
"The Huthis are going to play a substantial and significant role in the future governance of Yemen, so it is a matter of deciding how the Saudis will live with that in a way that doesn't threaten their long-term security interests."
The Saudis keep thinking "a little more military power and the Huthis will crack and then we'll be able to end the war and Iran will be on its backfoot," Robert Malley, the group's president, said. "But we have four years of evidence to disprove that."
Former US President Jimmy Carter says President Donald Trump has spoken with him about China because the current US leader was worried that Beijing is outpacing the US economically, saying America’s endless wars was helping China get ahead of the US.
Carter, 94, said Trump called him on Saturday while speaking at his regular Sunday School lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. He told the congregation that Trump feared China's growing economic strength and suggested the president was right to be concerned. The former Democratic president said China was getting ahead of the US because Washington has been at war with other countries for most of its history, while Beijing was taking advantage of peace to invest in its economy and industries.
“Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody?” Carter asked. “None. And we have stayed at war.”
He said the US has only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history, making the country “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” Carter said. This is, he said, because of Washington’s tendency to force other nations to “adopt our American principles.”
Carter said that China, in contrast to the US, had made massive economic progress for maintaining peace. “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked. The US has “wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending. “It’s more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.”
“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong,” Carter told the congregation.
Carter served as the 39th US president from 1977 to 1981. The former president has been particularly critical of the nation's direction under Trump’s leadership.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit commended Russia's stand vis-a-vis the Palestinian file as well as rejection of the US' decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan.
Addressing the opening of the fifth session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum in Moscow on Tuesday, Abul Gheit said the US decision jeopardizes the Middle East peace process.
He noted that Arab countries urge Moscow to continue to support Palestinian and Arab stands, especially at the United Nations Security Council.
He hailed the great development in Arab-Russian ties since 2009.
Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov inaugurated the forum in the presence of Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit and 14 Arab foreign ministers.
SANA News: In a press conference held in the conclusion of the fifth Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum in Moscow Tuesday, Sergey Lavrov stressed the need for a political solution to the crisis in Syria in accordance to the UN Resolution No. 2254 and the outcomes of the Intra-Syrian Dialogue Conference in Sochi.
He pointed out that the Forum’s attendees agree on rejecting foreign meddling in crises of the region and on the need for respecting sovereignty of its states and intensifying efforts for eliminating terrorism.
In a different context, Lavrov said that the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, was invited to attend the special talks on Astana Process, which is scheduled to be held in the current month in the Kazakh Capital of Nur-Sultan.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has called for restoring Syria’s membership in the Arab League, amid growing Arab overtures towards the Damascus government now that the country seems to be on the verge of full victory against foreign-backed terrorists. “Every time we meet, there is a vacant chair. ... It is not permissible for Syria to remain outside the Arab fold,” Bassil said during a speech at the fifth Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum in the Russian capital city of Moscow on Tuesday.
He added, “Our Arab people are counting on us and are waiting for the Arab League to play an essential role in bringing together Arabs and solving our many problems.”
The top Lebanese diplomat then described the Middle East region’s list of issues as “long and difficult,” but emphasized that addressing the Syrian crisis should take priority.
The new Palestinian prime minister has said that the peace deal to be released by US President Donald Trump will be “born dead”, reiterating Ramallah’s rejection of any plan before it is announced.
The United States congratulated Mohammed Shtayyeh and the new Palestinian government that was sworn in over the weekend, but it has not changed matters in Ramallah, where officials are still refusing to engage with American officials.
“There are no partners in Palestine for Trump,” Mr Shtayyeh said in an interview with the Associated Press, his first with the international media.
“There are no Arab partners for Trump and there are no European partners for Trump.”
He also railed against the financial measures being imposed on the Palestinian Authority, with the US cutting millions in funding for the Palestinians and Israel refusing to hand over millions in collected tax funds. "Israel is part of the financial war that has been declared upon us by the United States. The whole system is to try to push us to surrender" and agree to an unacceptable peace proposal, Mr Shtayyeh said. "This a financial blackmail, which we reject."
Without its key sources of revenue, the Palestinian Authority has begun paying only half salaries to tens of thousands of civil servants, reduced services and increased borrowing. In a new report being released Wednesday, the World Bank said the Palestinian deficit will grow from $400 million last year to over $1 billion this year.
Mr Shtayyeh laid out a number of proposals for weathering the storm. He said he has imposed spending cuts by reducing perks for his Cabinet ministers.
He said he would seek to develop the Palestinian agricultural, economic and education sectors and seek ways to reduce the Palestinian economy's dependence on Israel.
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