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May 27, 2016 / 19 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

Bill Letting 9/11 Victims Sue Saudi Arabia Passes Senate

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The Senate on Tuesday approved by a voice vote the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act allowing families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the Saudi government—disregarding a veto threat by the White House. In his recent visit to the Kingdom, President Obama suffered unprecedented humiliation from Saudi officials, presumably hinting at what would come next should he expose them to a torrent of 9/11 litigation. The Saudis have also threatened to move billions of dollars out of the US economy, so there won’t be any assets to freeze when they lose in court.

Sponsored by Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the bill recognizes the right of victims’ families to sue in US court for the role that Saudi government personnel played in the 2001 attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. Cornyn said that the United States “will combat terrorism with every tool we have available, and that the victims of terrorist attacks in our country should have every means at their disposal to seek justice.”

The Obama administration is yet to declassify and release US intelligence on Saudi involvement in the attacks, despite repeated pleas from victims’ families.

Irish investigative journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan were contacted by an unnamed counter-terrorism official in 2011 and told there are 80,000 9/11-related documents being kept secret by the FBI, which may not all concern the Saudi family, but many suspect that reclassifying them would expose the truth about the conspiracy, namely that it was driven by elements in the Saudi royal family.

Senate Democrats went against the wishes of the Obama administration, which warned the bill could expose Americans overseas to legal risks.

Schumer had no doubt the Senate had the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto. “We don’t think their arguments stand up,” he told reporters at a news conference after the vote.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, warned that the legislation, if passed, would alienate Saudi Arabia and undermine the US’ longstanding relationship with a critical ally in the Middle East. Of course, once said ally starts attacking your civilian population, you may need to re-think the relationship.

New Jersey resident Terry Strada, whose husband, Tom, died in the attacks, was in Washington with her daughter Caitlin to await the vote’s results. She told CNN, “We’ve waited long enough. We’ve waited 15 years. We shouldn’t have to wait any longer. It’s good policy to hold accountable any nation that aids in a terror attack on U.S. soil and that aids in the death of US citizens.”

David Israel

US State Dept ‘Concerned’ Iran Contest is ‘Platform for Holocaust Denial, Anti-Semitic Speech’

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry used his finest diplospeak Sunday to strongly urge Iran to cancel its Holocaust cartoon contest, even though it was highly unlikely Iran would cooperate.

The “suggestion” came in what appeared to be a prompt response to a personal request from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend to demand Iran cancel the Holocaust cartoon contest.

Netanyahu told reporters he had personally asked Kerry in a phone conversation Saturday night to condemn the Holocaust cartoon contest held over the weekend in Iran, the prime minister said Sunday.

“I think that every country in the world must stand up and fully condemn this,” Netanyahu said. “This is what I told US Secretary of State John Kerry last night in my conversation with him.”

Netanyahu posted photos of the contest registration being held in Tehran on Twitter with the tweet: Iran hosts Holocaust-denial cartoon contest while preparing another Holocaust. Shameful. Don’t stay quiet about it.”

Kerry was in Saudi Arabia on Sunday meeting with King Salman in talks on the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen. He also met with the Saudi crown prince, deputy crown prince and foreign minister.

But Kerry was apparently also listening closely to the Israeli government’s outrage over Iran’s anti-Semitic Holocaust cartoon contest. He was also likely to have been considering the effect Iran’s actions – and America’s response – might have on the U.S. presidential election campaign, and/or the effect it could have on Israel’s increasingly close ties with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Netanyahu is slated to fly to Moscow next month on an official state visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties with Russia.

Shortly after Netanyahu called on Kerry to denounce Iran’s actions, the State Department released a statement expressing “concern” over the effect the contest might have, and denouncing Holocaust denial in general.

“We are concerned that this contest in Iran could be used as a platform for Holocaust denial and revisionism and egregiously anti-Semitic speech, as it has in the past,” said the statement, tweeted by AP journalist Matt Lee.

“Such offensive speech should be condemned by the authorities and civil society leaders rather than encouraged. We denounce any Holocaust denial and trivialization as inflammatory and abhorrent. It is insulting to the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust,” the statement said.

Hana Levi Julian

US Supreme Court Upholds $1.75 b Claim Against Iranian Terror Attacks

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a $1.75 billion dollar claim Wednesday against Iran by more than 1,300 relatives of U.S. military personnel who died in the 1983 bombing attack on their barracks in Beirut, and victims of other terror attacks linked to Iran by the courts.

The case, Bank Markazi v. Peterson, 14-770, involved relatives of victims of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the 19 victims of the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and victims of other Iranian state-sponsored terror attacks. The lead plaintiff is Deborah Peterson, whose brother U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. James C. Knipple was killed in Beirut.

Iran’s Bank Markazi had appealed against the prior ruling, arguing the Congress, as the legislative branch could not intervene in the judicial branch when it passed a 2012 law ordering the banks’ assets in the U.S. be turned over to the families.

President Barack Obama had signed an executive order earlier in that year freezing the assets of the Iranian central bank in the United States, held by Citibank in New York.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion for the Court, rejecting the appeal by the Iranian central bank.

Ginsburg wrote that the law “does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, with Roberts writing the dissenting opinion. “The authority of the political branches is sufficient; they have no need to seize ours,” he wrote.

Although American law allows victims of state-sponsored terror to seek redress in U.S. courts for having been attacked, Iran does not comply with judgments. As a result, attorneys hunt for Iranian assets within the United States.

Hana Levi Julian

Hezbollah Sabotages French Effort to Advance Lebanese Presidential Elections, Unrest to Continue

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

French President Francois Hollande is wrapping up a two-day visit to Lebanon where he did his best to convince leaderless lawmakers to move ahead towards presidential elections, with little visible success. Hollande’s next stop on his Middle East tour is Egypt and Jordan.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group cancelled a meeting between Shi’ite representatives and visiting French President Francois Hollande in Beirut on Sunday. Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah quoted Lebanese ministerial sources as saying a minister from the terror group’s political wing, Lebanese MP Mohammed Ra’ad, was slated to meet Sunday with Hollande.

The French president was in Beirut Saturday and Sunday. Lebanon has been without a president since 2014. Internecine conflicts are rising in the country due to the raging civil war in Syria and the expanding threat of the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group flowing over their common border.

The unrest in both Syria and Lebanon has prompted Israeli defense officials to beef up its military troops along the border with both countries.

“I want to visit Beirut again when there is a president in Lebanon but the issue lies in the hand of Lebanese lawmakers … who should resolve the deadlock and elect a head of state,” Hollande said Saturday following talks with Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

The country has been without a leader nearly two years, in part because Hezbollah keeps boycotting the parliamentary process that leads to the presidential elections.

Hollande is expected to reiterate France’s support for the Lebanese army, according to Yalibnan. Saudi Arabia suspended a $3 billion military grant to Lebanon earlier this year. Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees, the equivalent of a quarter the country’s population of 4.5 million. There are also nearly 400,000 Arabs who migrated to the country when they fled their homes during wars with Israel. They are still held at arms’ length as refugees in 12 camps after moving to the country after more than half a century.

The French leader was also scheduled to travel Sunday to an informal Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon’s eastern Beka’a Valley to speak to families who will be resettled in France.

Hana Levi Julian

Saudi Arabia Pledges in Writing to Honor Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty on Islands

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Saudi Arabia has sent a letter to Jerusalem pledging in writing to honor the terms of Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel as part of its agreement to control two islands in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced Tuesday that he also has approved the signing of the transfer of control of the islands to the Saudis from Egypt.

Israel also had agreed to the arrangement between the two Arab nations, in which Egypt agreed to transfer control of the two islands, Sanafir and Tiran, to Saudi Arabia. Tiran historically was an island belonging to Saudi Arabia that was “leased” to Egypt in 1950.

The deal places both islands officially in the Straits of Tiran, which is in Saudi territory.

As for the Saudis, “The commitments that Egypt approved [in the peace treaty] we are also committed to, including the stationing of an international force on the islands. We looked into the matter and we know our legal position. We are committed to what Egypt committed to before the international community,” Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview.

The two islands are located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba as it opens to the Red Sea, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Eilat.

Israel’s Eilat seaport is located at the top of the Gulf and operates as the sole point of entry for goods from the Red Sea to the country.

Because the two islands are mentioned in the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Cairo is required to update Jerusalem on the matter.

The agreement effectively redraws the maritime boundaries of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, thereby creating new conditions for the relations of both countries with Israel.

In this case, Saudi Arabia has pledged – in writing – to honor the terms of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, albeit while stressing Riyadh will have no direct contact with Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia is still formally at war with Israel but as with numerous other Arab nations in the region, there are formalities and then there are practicalities. And there is Iran, an overwhelming threat to everyone in the neighborhood.

Egypt and Israel have reportedly been in contact over the plan to redraw the maritime boundaries of the two countries, according to a Hebrew-language Ynet report Monday that quoted the Egyptian daily Al Ahram.

The plan also calls construction of a bridge over the Red Sea between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Saudis signed a string of agreements in Cairo over the weekend that will result in some $16 billion in cash flowing into the battered Egyptian economy. The Egyptian parliament must still vote on the agreement, however, and some in the country are accusing President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of “selling” the islands to the Saudis.

From the Israeli legal standpoint, since the Saudis are also committed to the terms of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israeli sources noted there may be no need to change the text, which would require a Knesset vote, Ynet reported.

Hana Levi Julian

Hezbollah More Isolated Among Arab Nations With Closer Ties to Iran

Friday, April 8th, 2016

While the Lebanon-based Iranian proxy Hezbollah terror organization is growing in its worldwide influence, it is slowly being squeezed into isolation in the Arab world.

Both the Beirut Arab satellite operator “Nilesat” and “Arabsat” have cut their transmissions of the Al-Manar television channel.

Al Manar is the official media outlet of Hezbollah.

For the time being, Hezbollah is carrying on its media activities via the Russian satellite, broadcasting on RT Arabic (Russia Today), according to telecommuncations expert Tony Hayek, who was quoted by A-Sharq Al-Awsat, owned by Saudi Arabia.

The group itself has also been squeezed out of Arab brotherhood organizations, largely through the efforts of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which withdrew a significant sum for military aid from Lebanon this year.

The Gulf Cooperation Council and then the Arab League as well both officially declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist entity. The declaration carries severe implications financially as well as socially for members of the group when they travel abroad and in terms of their banking affairs.

Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. However, the EU and UK make a distinction between the group’s military and “political” wings.

The terror group’s Lebanese parliamentarian, Nawwaf Moussawi accused Lebanese authorities of not taking effective measures against the A-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The Saudi-owned newspaper, which is based in London, carried a satiric cartoon about the Iranian proxy group earlier in the month. According to a report by the newspaper its Beirut offices were targeted by a gang of unnamed attackers.

The vandals broke into the offices of the newspaper in Lebanon, and wrecked the premises. Seven of the attackers are currently being held by authorities; an eighth is still at large. Trial of the detainees set to begin Monday, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

Even as its star may be fading in the Middle East, however, Hezbollah is growing new tentacles elsewhere in the world.

A Hezbollah terrorist cell in Europe was recently arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The terrorist organization has established business relationships with a number of drug cartels in South America, according to DEA acting deputy administrator Jack Riley.

Hezbollah has been known for years to be running operations through Mexico as well.

Hana Levi Julian

Arab League Declares Hezbollah a Terrorist Group

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Lebanon-based Hezbollah is paying an increasingly high price for its loyalty to Iran; on Friday, the Arab League joined other world leaders in a formal vote declaring the Iranian proxy a terrorist entity.

 

“We decided to label Hezbollah a terrorist group in accordance with a project submitted by the United Arab Emirates regarding Iranian interference in the Arab region,” Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmad Bin Hali said in a statement. Only Lebanon and Iraq abstained in the vote.

The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain, a member of the GCC and the Arab League, was the first Arab nation to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in March 2013.

The vote followed a similar move by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) earlier this month, prompted by Bahrain. The six-member Council was led by Saudi Arabia in blacklisting Hezbollah on March 2. Among the offenses listed by the GCC were attempts to recruit new terrorists and smuggling weapons and explosives. In particular, Hezbollah’s support for the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen is of great concern to the Saudis and its Gulf partners.

The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman had all joined Saudi Arabia in pulling their staff members from embassies in Beirut. They also issued warnings against travel to Lebanon.

Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. However, the EU and UK make a distinction between the group’s military and “political” wings.

Shortly after the GCC’s decision to label the Lebanese organization a terrorist group, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah slammed the Gulf Arab countries’ decision.

He accused the GCC of indifference or outright collaboration with the Israeli state, according to a report in the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

“The Lebanese resistance is the only one that regains Arab dignity and fights for the Palestinian people,” Nasrallah said.

“Arab regimes led by Saudi Arabia side with Israel against our struggle. They do so because the defense of Israel is the guarantee to their survival.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/arab-league-declares-hezbollah-a-terrorist-group/2016/03/13/

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