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May 26, 2015 / 8 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Obama’s Deal with Iran Ushers in New Age of Middle East Insecurity

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Back in 2010, I interviewed Gerard Araud, who is now the French ambassador in Washington, while he was still serving as France’s envoy to the United Nations in New York. We talked at length about Iran, and this was the first thing he told me:

The Iranian nuclear program has no civilian explanation whatsoever. You don’t start a civilian nuclear program by enriching uranium. It’s like if you buy the gas before the car.

Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany) world powers last week announced that a framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program has been reached.

In the days prior, as I watched the Iran nuclear negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne slide past an agreed deadline of midnight on March 31 into, appropriately, April Fools’ Day, it struck me that nothing had changed since Araud—who remains a trenchant critic of American concessions to Iran—uttered those words five years ago.

The Iranian nuclear program was never about the civilian use of nuclear energy. It was, and remains, geared towards the production of a nuclear weapon—hence all the lies and deceit practiced by the Iranian regime over more than a decade, and hence the succession of U.N. Security Council resolutions and anxious International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports underlining how Iran’s nuclear activities do not comport with those associated with a civilian program.

In fact, the glaring unresolved issues that held up the negotiations in Lausanne reflect this fundamental state of affairs, reinforcing the perception that the Obama administration will concede on almost anything in order to secure a deal. Iran hasn’t disclosed the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its program, and will have even less incentive to do so if sanctions relief is offered regardless.

At the same time, Iran has been told that it can continue operating centrifuges at its underground Fordow facility, thus enabling it to further master the enrichment process. And as for their stockpile of enriched uranium, which the Iranians were supposed to be shipping to their Russian allies for safeguarding, well, apparently they won’t be doing that either.

At best, then, what we have here is a weak deal. The main goal is to carry on talking, as it has been since the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) was agreed between Iran and the five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany—the P5+1—in Geneva in November 2013. As the former George W. Bush administration official Michael Doran, arguably the most insightful Iran analyst in the United States, told me last year:

The interim deal is for six months and can be rolled over by mutual consent for another six months and another six months, interminably. The Iranians are very good negotiators, so they will work to string this along for as long as possible.

Because it’s a weak deal, there will inevitably be contradictory interpretations of what has been agreed. The overriding point, though, is that the Iranian regime will enjoy a great deal of leeway, thereby gravely hampering any attempts at verification by outside agencies like the IAEA.

Speaking on a conference call organized this week by The Israel Project, Olli Heinonen, a former IAEA deputy director-general, observed, “You need to know how far [the Iranians] got, which are the important institutions and capabilities so that you pick the right things for the monitoring…By far the best starting point is to have a complete disclosure.”

If the pressure of biting sanctions and the threat of military action didn’t persuade the Iranians of the need for transparency, then a deal that allows them to maintain their nuclear infrastructure with little international oversight will be regarded in Tehran as a strategic victory.

Obama and Netanyahu’s Different Versions of Same Phone Call on Iran

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The White House and the office of the Prime Minister issued two statements on a phone call between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the “key parameters” of a deal with Iran were announced, and it is difficult to believe they were referring to the same conversation.

President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu after the fuzzy agreement, as reported here, was announced, and according to the White House, Obama said:

The President emphasized that, while nothing is agreed until everything is, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.

He underscored that progress on the nuclear issue in no way diminishes our concerns with respect to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel and emphasized that the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel.

The readout of the call also referred to Netanyahu’s re-election, saying that Obama told the Prime Minister “that he has directed his national security team to increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran’s threats.”

The White House did not refer at all to what the Netanyahu had to say, a clear message that he cares about what Israel thinks about the deal as much as he cares what Congress thinks.

The difference is that he has to deal with Congress, which can ditch the agreement, if it wants.

Obama did not want to tell anyone what Netanyahu said in the conversation because it would work against public opinion that the president wants to beat back Congressional opposition.

The office of the Prime Minister said of the phone call:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US President Barack Obama this evening and expressed Israel’s strong opposition to the framework agreement with Iran which poses a grave danger to Israel, the region and the world.

Netanyahu said, ‘A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel. Just two days ago, Iran said that the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable, and in these fateful days Iran is accelerating the arming of its terror proxies to attack Israel.

This deal would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb.  It would pave it.’

Egyptian Culture Rife in Israel ‘For Years’ After Exodus

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Israeli archaeologists proved Wednesday there was a good reason for God sending the Jews on that 40-year stroll around the desert after all.

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Amir Ganor told journalists at a briefing in Jerusalem Wednesday, “The Israelites left Egypt; however, it seems that even years after their return, Egypt did not leave the Israelites and their descendants.”

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture which were discovered in the southern Israel excavation.

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture which were discovered in the southern Israel excavation.

The briefing was held just two days before the start of the week-long holiday of Passover that commemorates the Exodus. Ganor used the opportunity to reveal unique archaeological finds attesting to the existence of an Egyptian administrative center in the region 3,400 years ago.

The archaeologist has spent the past year directing an excavation in a cave near Kibbutz Lahav in southern Israel, in the Tel Halif region.

While in the area, the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery identified an underground cave in which there were signs of plundering. Inspectors discovered that antiquities thieves had broken into the cave and stolen 3,000-year-old pottery vessels, disturbing ancient archaeological strata in the process.

The IAA officials thwarted further damage to the cave and carried out a salvage operation to save the remaining artifacts and other extremely valuable archaeological information.

The excavation revealed evidence dating back to the late Bronze Age (1500 BCE) and the Iron Age (1000 BCE), including more than 300 pottery vessels of different types – some of which were still intact.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave.

Also found were dozens of pieces of jewelry made of bronze, shells and faience, unique vessels fashioned from yellowish alabaster, seals, seal impressions and cosmetic vessels – all of which had been placed in the cave and accumulated there for decades.

A ring that was discovered in the excavation which is inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian warrior holding a shield and sword.

A ring that was discovered in the excavation which is inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian
warrior holding a shield and sword.

“Among the many artifacts that were discovered, most of which are characteristic of the Judahite culture in the south of the country, we found dozens of stone seals, some of which are shaped in the form of a winged beetle (scarabs) and bear carved symbols and images typical of the Egyptian culture which prevailed in the country in the Late Bronze Age. Some of the seals were fashioned on semi-precious stones that come from Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula,” said Ganor, who heads the IAA’s unit for the prevention of antiquities robbery.

“It is true the Israelites left Egypt, but the evidence from the excavation in the cave shows the Egyptians did not leave the Israelites and their descendants. This has been attested to in archaeological excavations where we uncovered evidence from many years after the “Exodus” which reflects the influence of Egyptian culture on the Judahite residents of the country,” Ganor said.

Some of the objects were produced in Egypt itself, and were brought to Canaan by the Israelites or merchants. Others were made in the country using methods imitating Egyptian production techniques and copying Egyptian cultural motifs, while using indigenous raw materials, according to the IAA.

The Park Hotel Passover Massacre, America’s Mideast Retreat, and Teaching the Nakba Narrative

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

The Passover massacre was a suicide bombing carried out by a Hamas terrorist at the Park Hotel in Netanya, on March 27, 2002. Thirty civilians, in the midst of a seder, were killed in the attack and 140 others were wounded. David Bedein, director of the Israel Resource News Agency, joins Yishai to reminisce about that awful night; the connected story of the Saudi Peace Initiative; the fraudulent “massacre” in Jenin; the documents that came out of PLO chief Yasser Arafat’s computer; and the link to today’s American empowerment of Iran.

Then, Mati Wagner, Editorial Page Editor of The Jerusalem Post, and Dr. Seth Frandzman, Op-ed Editor of The Jerusalem Post, join Yishai in-studio to talk about the new power vacuum, and anarchy, that is forming in the Middle East due to the retreat of America, and the State Department’s new Persianist spirit which results in the administration’s emboldening of Iran.

Finally, Mati and Seth debate the issue of whether the Arab “nakba” narrative — according to which the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 was a catastrophe — should be taught in Israeli schools.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Rami Levi Discount Supermarkets New Branches Increased Sales But Reduced Profits

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Published by Jewish Business News by Ilan Shavit

Opening five new stores helped Israeli Rami Levi supermarket chain deal with the decline in the local food market over the past year, Calcalist reported.

Company sales grew 6% to $860 million from $810 million the year before. And while the rest of the Israeli food market experienced a decline of 1.7%, Rami Levi’s store sales increased by 0.5% compared with 2013.

But despite the increase in sales and gross profit — Rami Levi’s operating and net profit suffered from a 12% increase in the costs of selling, marketing, general and administrative expenses, which totaled $153 million.

The increase in expenses is primarily due to the opening of six new branches during 2014 and early 2015.

The company’s net profit in 2014 totaled $23.83 million, compared with $30.48 million in 2013 — a drop of 22%. Net income as a percentage of sales decreased from 3.78% in 2013 to 2.77% in 2014.

The company’s top 5 salaries for 2014 came to $840 thousand combined. Rami Levi himself took out of that $690 thousand.

Nasrallah is Angry As Iran’s Isolation Grows

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Iran’s puppet in Lebanon, Hezbollah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah, is angry.

He’s angry at Saudi Arabia for attacking the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, trying to prevent Iran from taking over Yemen.

He’s angry at Palestinian Authority chieftain Mahmoud Abbas, who openly expressed support for Saudi Arabia.

He hasn’t said anything yet about Hamas, but they also expressed support for Yemen and the Saudi coalition.

As Iran makes its way to becoming the North Korea of the Middle East, Nasrallah is angry that Iran isn’t receiving support from his fellow anti-Israel terrorist groups.

But it makes sense, the Middle East is breaking back down into its traditional battle lines.

The Iranian Shi’ites and the Hezbollah Shi’ites are fighting against the Syrian citizens, who are mostly Sunnis.

Hamas and Fatah (Palestinian Authority) are mostly Sunnis, and they probably aren’t thrilled their fellow Sunnis are being killed by Shi’ites.

And as much as all the Muslim groups hate Israel, they hate each other even more.

So now, when the expansionist Islamic Republic of Iran starts openly trying to create their Shi’ite hegemony in the Middle East, backed by nuclear weapons, alliances will naturally shift from the convenient enemy (Israel) to the real enemy (their fellow Muslims).

Nasrallah is angry. But he shouldn’t be.

He’s just been locked in his bomb shelter so long he’s forgotten what the real world really about.

Yemeni President Tells Arab League Houthis Must ‘Surrender or Else’ [video]

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Yemen’s president, who has fled the country, said Saturday that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels must “surrender” as Arab League powers indicate they might agree to a joint force to back the Saudi attack on the rebels.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi spoke at an Arab League meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, and called for the “continuation of Operation Decisive Storm until this gang [the Houthis] announces its surrender, exits all occupied territories in the provinces, leaves state institutions and military camps.”

Iran may have been caught by surprise by the fierce Saudi response to the attempted takeover by the Shi’ite Muslims, and the continuing Saudi air strikes are an indication of a dramatic change in the Sunni Muslim kingdom since King Salman succeeded King Abdullah after his death earlier this year.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian warned Saudi Arabia against the consequences of a Saudi-led land invasion of Yemen and described the military attacks as “a strategic mistake.”

“Resorting to military acts against Yemen which is entangled in an internal crisis and fighting terrorism will further complicate the situation, spread the range of crisis and destroy opportunities to settle the internal differences in Yemen peacefully,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said.

Saudi Arabia evacuated dozens of diplomats from Aden and the United Nations evacuated more than 200 personnel from Sanaa on Saturday as the Saudi aerial offensive continued in its third day.

The Houthis are well-armed, are in control of the capital of Sanaa and have opened a new front on the Arabian Sea coast, 60 miles from the key port of Aden.

Many, but not all, Arab League foreign ministers have said they support a joint force, with Egypt and the Gulf States the most anxious sponsors.

Syria, an ally of Iran whose Hezbollah forces are fighting alongside the regime’s army, is an obvious dissident. Iraq also is hesitant to join the Saudi-led campaign.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/yemeni-president-tell-arab-league-houthis-must-surrender-or-else-video/2015/03/28/

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