US congresspeople got quite the workout on the morning of 3 March 2015. ‘Twas on this fateful day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, addressed US Congress, in what one might refer to as an historic occasion—the lector himself saw no problem in proclaiming it to be.
Such an occasion did not occur without much hullaballoo in the US press, primarily because the foreign head of state was invited directly by Capitol Hill. The White House was not consulted.
If there is one word to describe Congress’ response to the affair, it would be “ecstatic.” In the drug-addled sense. A bit too ecstatic—verging on the delirious. Maniacal, almost.
To say it was just well received would be to commit the callous crime of understatement. In Netanyahu’s pep rally, rather speech before the US legislative branch, Congress interrupted to applaud 39 times. 23 of these were standing ovations. 10:55 of the 40:30 of Netanyahu’s exhortation consisted of applause. In other words, 27% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
I repeat: Over one-fourth of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
Our representatives doubtless did not have to worry about going to the gym this lazy Monday morning; they worked up enough of a sweat standing up and sitting back down every minute or so in the legislative equivalent of calisthenics.
Through three painful hours of careful counting, I compiled statistics on the incidence of applause. These figures use time frames from the 40:30 New York Times video of the disquisition.
Applause Statistics for Netanyahu’s
Pep Rally Speech before Congress
- Congress interrupted to applaud 39 times. 23 of these were standing ovations.
- 10:55 of the 40:30 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 27% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
0:50-1:10 applause, standing ovation
1:17-1:40 applause, standing ovation
2:27-2:42 applause, standing ovation
3:58-4:16 applause, standing ovation
4:48-5:04 applause, standing ovation
- In the first 6:26 of the Netanyahu speech, Congress interrupted to applaud 11 times. 5 of these were standing ovations.
- 2:14 of the first 6:26 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 35% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
11:39-12:00 applause, standing ovation
14:14-14:32 applause, standing ovation
15:05-15:25 applause, standing ovation
25:37-25:56 applause, standing ovation
26:07-26:25 applause, standing ovation
26:28-26:42 applause, standing ovation
26:47-27:13 applause, standing ovation
27:54-28:12 applause, standing ovation
30:11-30:31 applause, standing ovation
30:44-31:03 applause, standing ovation
32:54-33:13 applause, standing ovation
33:33-34:19 applause, standing ovation
34:26-34:46 applause, standing ovation
35:27-35:54 applause, standing ovation
36:14-36:32 applause, standing ovation
36:44-36:59 applause, standing ovation
37:03-37:28 applause, standing ovation
38:53-40:30 applause, standing ovation
* In the last 14:53 of the Netanyahu speech, Congress interrupted to applaud 24 times. 15 of these were standing ovations.
* 7:35 of the last 14:53 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 51% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
A Saccharine Sermon for Sycophants
Netanyahu broke with many a shibboleth in his screed—primarily that which dictates that one provide extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims—instead preferring to rail against the “death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad” of the “dark and brutal” Iranian regime and rehash wholly unsubstantiated myths about the supposed impending second Shoah. (The fact that a slow-moving holocaust of Palestinians—what Israeli historian Ilan Pappé calls an “incremental genocide“—continues under his very watch eludes this jingoist harbinger of hate.)
The self-appointed “representative of the entire Jewish people” reached back 2.5 millennia, to the Persian viceroy Haman the Agagite, likening him to the contemporary Iranian regime.
Apparently Netanyahu is not familiar with the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Netanyahu may no longer be a boy—he has long renounced his youth for a life as a hardened war criminal—but he certainly has no problem fabricating exaggerated lupine threats, whether they be Iraq yesterday or Iran, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The inane US political system, nonetheless, simply blindfolds itself—much like Lady Liberty, yet for antithetical reasons—plugs its ears, and lets Bibi cry wolf until the cows come home.
While engaging in every cliché imaginable, he managed to invent a few of his own, coining some admittedly creative phrases such as
* “three tentacles of terror,”
* “you can Google it,”
* “deadly game of thrones,”
* “nuclear tinderbox,”
* “Persian bazaar,”
* “gobbling up,”
* “He tweets!,” and
* “hide and cheat”
among others. Such lexical ingenuity inspired some to speak of the new Netanyahu in Congress Drinking Game (trademark pending).
The Israeli commander-in-chief even went so far in the hallowed quest of prosaisms as to quote Robert Frost’s 1916 opus “The Road Not Taken” (apparently the only poem the literary legend every penned, considering the frequency with which it is cited). And there was clearly no dearth of alliteration in the three-quarter-hour invective; it is as if he and his speechwriters purchased a Speechwriting 101 manual and employed every worn-out tool in the cheap toolbox they could find.
In the ultimate bromide, Bibi concluded his philippic by drawing upon the memory on Moses, to stir the hearts of the 92% Christian Congress before him. “May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America,” rang the dénouement of his odious ode.
Were someone to have asked me what I was up to on my Monday night, I would have had no choice but to have answered, “Oh, nothing much, you know, just counting the number of times our obsequious Congress applauded during Netanyahu’s speech.”
For the entire duration of the political pep rally, I was frankly expecting a sports team to be mere seconds from spiritedly bursting through the august doors, accompanied by cheerleaders somersaulting, fanfare blasting, and torrents of confetti dropping from the ceiling.
Were I not a stodgy teetotaler, I would have considered a potable palliative to facilitate the enumerative and observational process. Alas, pain adds character, and sometimes sobriety is the best—if not the only—way to appreciate the violent inebriation in which the contemporary political order ingratiates itself.
Besides, no amount of libational sedative could have shielded mine own eyes from the burning effulgence, nor saved me from drowning in the sea, of pasty bourgeois WASPs. This is what an 80% white male Congress, with a 94% white Senate, looks like. (I searched quite laboriously and could not find a single person of color in the lengthy video).
If one were forced to classify the event, one would be compelled to call it—one avoids the phrase in professional settings, yet one must choose it out of linguistic necessity and articulative accuracy—a giant circle jerk.
In the epitome of this exercise in gratuitous self-pleasure, the legislature broke out in sizzling, hand-clapping approbation in response to the very first line of the opprobrious homily, in which Netanyahu declared he was “humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the US Congress.”
One cannot help but wonder why our congresspeople even bothered sitting down—or, better yet, why they even bothered letting Netanyahu say anything at all. They might as well have just applauded for 11 minutes and left. Such a decision would have garnered the same effect as this public relations stunt, and would have proved to be just as substantive (that is to say, completely vacuous) of a message.
Even the most assiduous of bootlickers have the decency to give those whom they admire a chance to speak. Yet Congress “gobbled up,” to use the prime minister’s words, a quarter of Bibi’s time, taking every opportunity and then some to not just scratch his back, but to lewdly pat its own.
Progressive political comedian John Stewart stood in accord. Republicans gave Netanyahu “the longest blowjob” a politician ever received in Congress, he quipped. Such a characterization may lack in poetry, but it is not hyperbolic.
Netanyahu’s congressional pep rally eroticized the morbid, turning war into peace and delusion into prospective policy.
Ben Norton is a freelance writer and journalist. His website can be found at http://BenNorton.com/.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington this week to prepare the American people for war against Iran. Backed by American neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, and assorted other war hawks, Netanyahu insists that Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon and thus is an “existential threat” to Israel. He has no confidence that President Obama will negotiate an agreement that once and for all will end Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions.
Thus the prime minister’s objective is nothing less than to wreck the current negotiations and push America into a regime-changing war against Iran.
Netanyahu’s narrative is a fabric of lies and omissions.
To begin, Iran has not sought a nuclear weapon, and the country’s leader declares such weapons contrary to Islam. (For details, see Gareth Porter’s well-documented Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.) For a quarter century, Netanyahu has warned that an Iranian bomb is imminent. But U.S. and Israeli intel say he’s wrong.
Iran nevertheless wants to reassure the world so that crushing economic sanctions will be lifted. Hence, the current negotiations. (Iran made similar overtures before.)
Iran’s government is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), subjecting it to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which can account for every atom of uranium.
Members of the NPT are free to have a civilian nuclear-power program, including the ability to enrich uranium, and Iran insists that it be treated as other members are. Nevertheless, for decades the U.S. government has exerted pressure to stop Iran from having a civilian nuclear industry. When Iran a few years ago agreed to forgo enrichment and obtain enriched uranium from abroad, the U.S. government blocked the deal. Netanyahu and his American allies oppose Iran’s having any enrichment capability.
Moreover — and this ignored fact seems rather important — Israel is the nuclear monopolist of the Mideast. That hardly anyone talks about this is at once remarkable and unsurprising. But think about it: Israel has hundreds of nuclear warheads — some of them on invulnerable submarines capable of surviving a first strike. Even if Iran built one warhead, it would be useless — except as a deterrent against Israel — and the country’s rulers know it. Israel has not signed the NPT and does not submit to IAEA inspections. It is a nuclear rogue state.
As Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine (published by the establishment Council on Foreign Relations), said on CNN recently, Israel could “destroy Iran this afternoon.” If there is an existential threat, Israel is the source and Iran is the target.
How does Netanyahu’s alarmist narrative look now?
It is erroneously believed that Iran has threatened to attack Israel. In fact, Israel and the United States have been waging war — economic, covert, proxy, and cyber — against Iran for decades. Since the repressive U.S.-backed Iranian regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a close friend of Israel, was overthrown in 1979, Israel’s leaders have openly rattled sabers at the Islamic Republic. American presidents have repeatedly declared that “all military options are on the table” — which would include nuclear weapons. The United States helped Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein fight a war of aggression against Iran in the 1980s, providing him with components for chemical weapons and satellite intelligence. Why wouldn’t Iran feel threatened by the United States and its close ally Israel? Even so, Iran has not threatened to attack Israel or America.
Netanyahu would have us believe the Iranian regime wants to exterminate all Jews. But that’s hard to square with the continuous presence of a Jewish community in Iran — today the largest in the Muslim Middle East — for two thousand years. Iran’s steadfast opposition to Israel’s institutionalized injustice against the Palestinians is not anti-Semitism.
So why is Netanyahu pushing war? Among several reasons, demonizing Iran reduces pressure on Israel to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians. Many Israelis prefer building Jewish settlements on Palestinians’ land instead. Moreover, Israel’s rulers oppose any development — such as an Iranian-U.S. detente — that could diminish Israel’s U.S.-financed hegemony in the region.
War with Iran would be a catastrophe all around. Netanyahu and his hawkish American allies — the same people who gave us the disastrous Iraq war and ISIS — must be repudiated.
Addressing Congress in the style of a State of the Union speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won 41 rounds of applause as U.S. lawmakers eagerly enlisted in the Israeli-Saudi conflict against Iran and its allies – an enthusiasm that may well entangle the U.S. military in more wars in the Middle East.
Speaking to a joint session of Congress for the third time – tying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for the record – Netanyahu went far beyond excoriating President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran to restrict but not eliminate its nuclear program. He portrayed Iran as a dangerous enemy whose regional influence must be stopped and reversed, a position shared by Israel’s new ally, Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu declared: “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”
Netanyahu’s reference to “Iran’s aggression” was curious since Iran has not invaded another country for centuries. In 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – at the urging of Saudi Arabia – invaded Iran. During that bloody eight-year war, Israel – far from being an enemy of Iran – became Iran’s principal arms supplier. Israel drew in the Reagan administration, which approved some of the Israeli-brokered arms deals, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal in 1986.
In other words, Israel was aiding Iran after the Islamic revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979 and during the time when Netanyahu blamed Iran for the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and various acts of terrorism allegedly committed by Hezbollah, a Shiite militia in Lebanon. Israel only shifted toward hostility against Shiite-ruled Iran in the 1990s as Israel gradually developed a de facto alliance with Sunni-ruled and oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which views Iran as its chief regional rival.
Netanyahu’s choice of Arab cities supposedly conquered by Iran was strange, too. Baghdad is the capital of Iraq where the U.S. military invaded in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated government — on Netanyahu’s recommendation. After the invasion, President George W. Bush installed a Shiite-dominated government. So, whatever influence Iran has in Baghdad is the result of a U.S. invasion that Netanyahu personally encouraged.
More recently, Iran has supported the embattled Iraqi government in its struggle against the murderous Islamic State militants who seized large swaths of Iraqi territory last summer. Indeed, Iraqi officials have credited Iran with playing a crucial role in blunting the Islamic State, the terrorists whom President Obama has identified as one of the top security threats facing the United States.
Netanyahu cited Damascus, too, where Iran has helped the Syrian government in its struggle against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. In other words, Iran is assisting the internationally recognized government of Syria hold off two major terrorist organizations. But Netanyahu portrays that as Iran “gobbling up” a nation.
The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Beirut, Lebanon, and Sanaa, Yemen, but those were rather bizarre references, too, since Lebanon is governed by a multi-ethnic arrangement that includes a number of religious and political factions. Hezbollah is one and it has close ties to Iran, but it is stretching the truth to say that Iran “dominates” Beirut or Lebanon.
Similarly, in Sanaa, the Houthis, a Shiite-related sect, have taken control of Yemen’s capital and have reportedly received some help from Iran, but the Houthis deny those reports and are clearly far from under Iranian control. The Houthis also have vowed to work with the Americans to carry on the fight against Yemen’s Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Leading the Battle
Indeed, Iran and these various Shiite-linked movements have been among the most effective in battling Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Israel’s Saudi friends have been repeatedly linked to funding and supporting these Sunni terrorist organizations. In effect, what Netanyahu asked the Congress to do – and apparently successfully – was to join Saudi Arabia and Israel in identifying Iran, not Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, as America’s chief enemy in the Middle East.
That would put the U.S.-Iranian cooperation in combating Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in jeopardy. It could lead to victories by these Sunni terrorists in Syria and possibly even Iraq, a situation that almost surely would force the U.S. military to return in force to the region. No U.S. president could politically accept Damascus or Baghdad in the hands of openly terrorist organizations vowing to carry the fight to Europe and the United States.
Yet, that was the logic — or lack thereof — in Netanyahu’s appeal to Congress. As he put it, “when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” He also argued that Iran was a greater threat than the Islamic State, a position that Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has expressed, too.
“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime [in Syria] as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in a 2013 interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran” – even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
In June 2014, then speaking as a former ambassador at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren expanded on his position, saying Israel would even prefer a victory by the brutal Islamic State over continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.
Netanyahu made a similar point: “The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.”
Of course, Iran has disavowed any interest in developing a nuclear bomb — and both the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities agree that Iran has not been working on a bomb. Further, the negotiated agreement between Iran and leading world powers would impose strict oversight on Iran’s civilian nuclear program, leaving little opportunity to cheat.
Instead, Netanyahu wants the United States to lead an aggressive campaign to further strangle Iran’s economy with the goal of forcing some future “regime change.” […]
Shared Israeli Interests
The Israelis also have found themselves on the side of these Sunni militants in Syria because the Israelis share the Saudi view that Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” – reaching from Tehran to Beirut – is the greatest threat to their interests.
That attitude of favoring Sunni militants over Assad has taken a tactical form with Israeli forces launching attacks inside Syria that benefit Nusra Front. For instance, on Jan. 18, 2015, Israel attacked Lebanese-Iranian advisers assisting Assad’s government in Syria, killing several members of Hezbollah and an Iranian general. These military advisers were engaged in operations against Nusra Front.
Meanwhile, Israel has refrained from attacking Nusra militants who have seized Syrian territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. One source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria told me that Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with Nusra forces, who have even received medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have found themselves on the same side in other regional struggles, including support for the military’s ouster of the elected Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, but most importantly they have joined forces in their hostility toward Shiite-ruled Iran.
I first reported on the growing relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia in August 2013 in an article entitled “The Saudi-Israeli Superpower,” noting that the complementary strengths of the two countries made their alliance a potentially powerful influence in the world. Israel wields enormous political and media clout — and possesses nuclear weapons — while the Saudis use their oil, money and investments. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Saudis Said to Aid Israeli Plan to Bomb Iran.”]
What the world saw in Netanyahu’s bravura performance on Tuesday before the wildly applauding members of the U.S. Congress was him proving his value to his Saudi cohorts, demonstrating how he can make some of America’s most powerful politicians behave like trained seals, bouncing up and down to cheer him even when he openly seeks to undermine the sitting U.S. President.
Some of the loudest applause came when Netanyahu told the Congress, “My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”
Netanyahu’s enthusiastic reception signaled to President Obama that he has little political support for a negotiated agreement with Iran and signaled to Iran that all their concessions are unlikely to lead to any meaningful easing of sanctions from the U.S. Congress.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The New York Times is reporting that most Republican voters as well as quite a few Democrats are leaning in favor of American soldiers intervening directly in Syria and Iraq. Republican politicians are paying attention, sounding more bellicose than ever, demanding “boots on the ground” and even suggesting that a John Bolton presidential run is a real possibility.
Apparently the widely noted war fatigue resulting from all the unsuccessful military engagements after 9/11 has worn off. ISIS and Russia are, of course the enemies du jour, but there is also a frequently expressed hankering to go after the Mullahs in Iran if they don’t completely cede their sovereignty tout suite. And there is always the “Red Menace” from China if all else fails. So many enemies, so little time to defeat them all.
How did all this come about as the United States has almost no actual interests compelling getting involved in the Middle East or Eastern Europe yet again? It is not as if a new foray into realms that we Yanks know little or nothing about is likely to be any more successful than the last couple of misadventures. To be sure, a series of sickening atrocities by ISIS has gotten the juices flowing, but the White House’s desire to obtain blanket authority to initiate and deepen an open ended conflict that presumably will go on forever is just about as poorly defined and prone to failure as was the Bushite global war on terror that it replaces.
Part of the problem is undoubtedly an ignorant public. Foreign news coverage is superficial and tends to follow a preordained groupthink that is set by the engaged punditry in Washington and New York City. Putin is always evil and the Iranians are always perfidious. Americans remain ignorant because they are fed a steady diet of untruths and are rarely allowed to hear or read alternative viewpoints. The journalists who write the lies for the leading newspapers and who interview Senator John McCain repeatedly on Sunday mornings are far worse than Brian Williams, who only embellished his stories. The Judy Millers of this world go far beyond that in selling a complete set of bogus goods carefully packaged into prefabricated arguments, which, in the case of Iraq, led to an unnecessary and ultimately disastrous war.
The media has a responsibility to challenge such dishonesty but it rarely does so. A recent puff piece in the Washington Post on Republican President wannabe Mike Huckabee’s acting as a tour guide to Israel was astonishing in terms of what it forgot to mention. Huckabee clearly thumped his belief that God and Israel and the United States are all joined at the hip, but along the way he also revealed that he believes that the Palestinian people do not actually exist, denying them any kind of historical claim to their own land. The article also quoted Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who was accompanying Huckabee, as saying “there’s really no such thing as the ‘Palestinians’.”
The author of the piece, the Post’s Israel correspondent William Booth, did not point out that the claim is ridiculous and un-historical, that Palestine has been settled for thousands of years with an indigenous population that was initially pagan and Jewish, then mostly Christian, and finally mostly Muslim. If roots define national legitimacy then the Palestinian Arabs have more claim to the land that now makes up Israel than do the recent Jewish settlers who came from Europe, America and elsewhere in the Middle East. But a casual reader knowing none of that would not be enlightened by Mr. Booth and might quite possibly leave the article with the impression that there are no Palestinians.
The Post’s editorial policy is relentlessly neocon under the tutelage of Fred Hiatt, whom, hopefully, Jeff Bezos will be firing when he finally gets around to shaking up the paper’s senior staff. There has been a steady drumbeat to take military action against Russia and Syria while sniping relentlessly against any possible agreement with Iran.
Gems that have appeared recently in connection with the upcoming visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu include Dennis Ross’s February 22 nd op-ed on “How to ease Israel’s concerns.” Ross, once described as “Israel’s lawyer,” is inevitably most concerned with making Israel comfortable and proposes legislation mandating a military strike by the U.S. if Iran were perceived to be moving towards weapons grade production of uranium. Of course Ross ignores the evidence that such a perception can be engineered through fake intelligence or by political interests seeking to start a war. The IAEA recently determined that much of the case for Iran having an alleged weapons program in the first place was derived from intelligence fabricated by the United States and also Israel. Ross’s advice would create a trip wire and place the decision whether the U.S. should go to war with Iran in Israel’s hands.
A day later there was a triple whammy. The Post printed a letter from one Robert Tropp claiming that Iran is “developing a nuclear weapon” and “wants to destroy Israel.” Neither assertion is true but the editorial staff apparently felt the letter made a significant contribution to the discussion. On the facing page appeared two articles, one by Hiatt himself, entitled “A credibility gap: Obama’s challenge in selling and Iran deal” and the second by former Senator Joe Lieberman entitled “Hear out Israel’s leader.”
Hiatt argues that President Barack Obama should have sought to “eradicate[e] Iran’s nuclear weapons potential” and points out that the president has backed off from previous foreign policy commitments, including what to do about Iraq, Syria, and Russia. One might note that Hiatt’s desire to “eradicate” a “potential” could be interpreted to mean almost anything that Iran does that the Washington Post does not like.
Because Iran is a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory whose facilities are open to inspection it has a perfect right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. All of which means that Hiatt is essentially saying that Iran’s rights under international law should be abrogated because they make Israel nervous, though he does not, of course, mention Israel. Nor for that matter does he bother to explain exactly how Iran threatens the United States.
Israel, of course, is central to Hiatt’s argument. It has an estimated secret arsenal that includes two hundred nuclear weapons and multiple delivery systems, which Hiatt does not find disturbing, presumably because Benjamin Netanyahu is such a solid individual. Hiatt concludes by expressing his desire to see Congress as a partner in any agreement with Iran. As the Republican majority in Congress is hostile to any deal he is basically calling for a solution that can only fail.
Lieberman on the other hand does not hide his deep regard for Israel and all its works. He encourages all Congressmen to attend the Netanyahu speech on March 3 rd. For Joe, the former “conscience of the Senate,” it is all about hearing Bibi explain how “best to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons” and also because everyone should be a “strong supporter of America’s alliance with Israel.” In addition Congressmen have to be informed by experts like Netanyahu because some day down the road they might have to raise armies and declare war as Iran is not just threatening Israel. Those mad Mullahs are developing nukes and long range missiles that can strike America. And nuclear proliferation by Iran is particularly bad because it might encourage Arab neighbors to do the same.
Joe then returns to his oft repeated meme that “Israel is one of our closest and most steadfast allies” before concluding that Iran “remains the greatest threat to the security of America and the world.” The op-ed is so bad that one suspects Joe wrote it himself, though possibly with a little help from AIPAC. Every single point made is wrong or misleading, most particularly the double assertion that Israel is a wonderful ally. It is not an ally at all and never has been. And if there is an out of control secret nuclear proliferator in the Middle East whose paranoid behavior might well produce a nuclear World War 3 it is Israel, which ex-Senator Lieberman fails to grasp.
If I could I would like to send a message to the mainstream media. It might go something like this: “Please tell your readers the truth for a change. The only thing exceptional about America at the present time is our hubris. We helped create al-Qaeda by attacking the Soviets in Afghanistan. Iraq is a basket case because we invaded it without cause. Syria is in chaos because we have never seriously sought a peaceful solution with Bashar al-Assad. What we have done in Iraq and Syria taken together has produced ISIS. Libya is a toxic mess because we overthrew its government on phony humanitarian grounds. Afghanistan is about to copy Iraq because we have occupied it for thirteen years without a clue how to get out. We started the troubles in Ukraine and with Russia when we broke our promise by expanding NATO and then worked to overthrow an elected government. And finally there is Israel. Israel is not an ally and is the source of many of the problems in the Middle East. American and Israeli interests do not coincide, frequently quite the contrary.”
What’s really terrifying about this threat
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | March 1, 2015
ISIS certainly is not what a great many people think that it is, if you judge what they think by what our corporate press proclaims incessantly.
Judging by what ISIS actually does and whom its acts benefit, its clandestine associates, and the testimony of some witnesses, ISIS is a complex intelligence operation. Its complexity reflects at least in part the fact that it serves the interests of several countries and that it has more than one objective. Its complexity reflects also the large effort to reinforce a false image with disinformation and staged events such as a video of a beheading which could not have been a beheading unless they’ve discovered a bloodless method until now unknown to science.
The subject of ISIS is not without brief glimmers of humor. The image of bands of men, swathed in Arabic robes and bumping their way around the desert in Japanese pick-up trucks with Kalashnikovs raised in the air for every picture has elements of Monty Python. The idea of modern, trained and well-armed military units turning and running from them resembles a war scene in a Laurel and Hardy comedy such as the one with Hardy stuck upside down in a WWI tank turret kicking his legs the whole time Laurel drives towards the German positions managing accidentally to round-up a whole trench-full of prisoners with some wire fencing that becomes snagged on the tank.
Despite the tiresome stupidities we see and hear about it, ISIS unquestionably does kill people and destroy things, that being its purpose, and there is no humor in that.
ISIS appears to have served several tasks so far. First, it frightened Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, out of office in Iraq, a man America and Israel grew very much to dislike owing simply to his good relations with Iran, one of the unintended consequences of America’s invasion of Iraq being expanded Iranian influence in the region. No doubt al-Maliki was terrified not so much by ISIS approaching in their pick-up trucks as he was by his own military’s tendency, as if on cue, to turn and run from ISIS, often leaving weapons behind. The message was clear: you won’t be protected.
Second, America’s highly selective “air war” against ISIS somehow manages to attack infrastructure targets inside Syria with the feeble excuse that they are facilities helping ISIS. We’ve seen what American bombing can do when it’s undertaken seriously, and somehow I have a hard time imaging the men in Japanese pick-ups lasting long when faced with what hit the Taleban in Afghanistan or Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. The air strikes are partly a show for the world – after all, how can America be seen not to be fighting such extremely well-advertised, super-violent terrorists, guys putting out videos regularly from a studio trailer they must haul around with one of their pick-up trucks? The air strikes’ main purpose appears to be a way of hurting Assad and assisting those fighting Syria’s army without coming into conflict with Russia, as they would with a large, direct campaign. They likely also punish elements of ISIS which have exceeded their brief and serve as a reminder to the rest of what could happen to them if they stray too far from their subsidized purpose once the war comes to an end.
Three, in some of the ground fighting in Iraq where we’ve read of Iraqi units fighting ISIS, the units are often Kurdish, and sometimes the press uses expressions like “Iraqi and Kurdish troops.” But the Kurdish region is still part of Iraq legally, although it has been given a good deal of autonomy by the central government. The Kurdish region of Iraq is the country’s prime oil-producing area, and in the estimation of many observers, an area both the United States and Israel would very much like to see severed from Iraq in the way Kosovo was severed from Serbia after America’s devastating air war there. This would not only permanently assure Iraq’s weakness, it would create a rather grateful and more willing oil supplier.
Where does ISIS get its technical equipment and the know-how to produce videos and run Internet sites? These are not qualities commonly found among fanatical fundamentalists anywhere; indeed most true radical fundamentalists tend to eschew technology. A supply of advice, technical assistance, and equipment comes from somewhere. Where does ISIS get the money for food, gasoline, clothes, ammunition, and Japanese pick-up trucks? And I wonder, did one of those wild-looking jihadi types just show up one day at an Iraqi car dealership and order a fleet of Japanese pick-ups? Were they delivered out on the desert or did a gang of jihadists march in, waving their Kalashnikovs, to drive them away?
The effort to destroy the Syrian government, whether by means of ISIS or anyone else, is warmly and generously supported by Saudi Arabia and its buddy Qatar – another oil-rich, absolute monarchy where political parties are banned – both these countries’ primary interest being the defence of their immensely privileged situations against creeping threats of all progressive developments such as equal human rights or democracy or indeed against revolt led by external forces. The payments we now know the Saudi royal family long made to Osama bin Laden before 9/11 were simply bribes to keep him and his anti-establishment work out of the country. They really didn’t care a lot about what the money bought elsewhere, but since 9/11 and its many Saudi connections – 15 of the perpetrators plus the past financing plus the many members of the royal family and bin Laden family secretly flown out by American officials at the time – the Saudi authorities were genuinely fearful of how America might respond and have become far more responsive to what America wants in the Middle East and now apply their money to such projects. What America wants in the Middle East is, invariably, what Israel wants, so there is now extensive, secret cooperation where once there was complete official hostility.
We have reports from plane-spotters in the region of daily flights of mysterious planes from Israel to Qatar. We have several eye-witness reports and photographs of supply bundles dropped from unknown planes into ISIS territory. Maybe ISIS has its own air force now? We know Turkey has served both as an entry point for countless terrorists into Syria and as a place of retreat and refuge when fighting with the Syrian army becomes too hot for them, the volumes of such activity having been too great to keep secret. We have reports of Turkish supply flights. A Jordanian official recently told a reporter that ISIS members were trained in 2012 by American instructors working at a secret base in Jordan.
If ISIS is what our corporate news pretends that it is – a fanatical Muslim extremist group that sprang suddenly from the desert sands much like Jack’s bean stalk – one blindingly obvious question is, why does it not attack Israel or Israeli interest? Isn’t that what one would expect from such a cast of characters? But it has not done so, undoubtedly because Israel is an important covert benefactor and supplier.
We might equally ask why ISIS has not attacked Saudi Arabia or its interests, for although the Saudi royal family officially professes a strict and conservative form of Islam, Wahhabism, in fact many of them are very worldly people who spend a good deal of time and money at the world’s great pleasure palaces. Perhaps even more damning for a genuine fanatical fundamentalist, the Saudis now often secretly cooperate and make plans with Israel where mutual interests exist.
No, there is something highly suspicious about Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who avoid such interests while managing to brutally kill poor Syrian soldiers just doing their jobs along with the odd foreign journalist or aid worker who may just have seen something they shouldn’t have seen. Of course, we have Edward Snowden himself having described ISIS as an operation intended to protect Israel. Despite the fact that some news sources have said the interview in which this was revealed never took place, my instincts tell me it likely did. Snowden has never refuted it, and the news sources saying it did not are highly suspect on such a subject.
The way ISIS serves Israeli and American interests is by providing a focus point for extremists, attracting them from various parts of the world so that they can be recorded and kept track of. Also the tracks back to the various countries from which they come provide security services with leads to places where there might be some festering problems. In the meantime, ISIS serves the interest of helping to bring down President Assad, a goal dear to the hearts of Israelis. Please remember that black operations, even the ones about which we know, show little consideration for lives or property. Just think of Israel’s attack on an American spy ship in the Mediterranean during the Six Day War, its pilots knowingly shooting up and bombing for two hours the well-marked ship of its ally and benefactor, no explanation worth hearing ever having been offered.
Just read conservative mainline sources (pretty much a redundant pair of adjectives) about the harm Snowden has done: claims of everything from his revelations about American intelligence having served to help ISIS avoid detection (!) to his revelations having set up the United States for another 9/11! You might think intelligent people would be ashamed of making such asinine public statements, but, no, there are almost no limits to trying to discredit those revealing murderous, dark operations.
We’ve had many reports of officials in various countries, including Canada as I write, concerned about the odd individual or small group running off to join ISIS. Now why should that be a concern? A few flaky people going abroad just removes them from your country, something I should have thought was a complete gain from a security point of view. Even if they were ever to return in future, you would know exactly who they are. Where is the basis for serious concern? But the psychological advantages of noise and hype to scare people about obscure dangers and “lone wolves” and “home-grown terrorists” outweigh completely good sense and intelligence.
Finally, there are numerous reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (a nom de guerre, not his real name), the leader of ISIS, is a Western intelligence asset. What little we can learn about him makes that entirely plausible. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has said that the man is a Mossad agent, a claim supported supposedly by documents revealed by Edward Snowden. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is by all accounts a secretive man who speaks directly with few people, and even his birth place, given as Samarra, Iraq, is not sure. Records of his past, as those from his period of American captivity (always a great opportunity to “turn” someone to serving two interests), are not available. He was once reported killed but is still alive. He is said to have received intensive training from Mossad and the CIA, and some sources give his real name as Simon Elliot (or, Elliot Shimon), but few details can ever be certain in such dark operations.
The truly terrifying aspect of ISIS and other forces fighting with it in Syria is that the United States and Israel have approved and supported such wanton destruction in so beautiful and formerly-peaceful a place as Syria. Millions of lives destroyed and countless historic places damaged as though they were all nothing more than a few pieces moved on a geopolitical chessboard. I think it fair to describe that as the work of psychopaths.
Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri
Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday denounced as “shocking” an Egyptian court decision to designate the movement a “terrorist organisation”.”Labeling Hamas as a terrorist organisation is a dangerous decision that represents a shift in Egyptian-Palestinian relations,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Anadolu Agency.
“Unfortunately, the situation has been turned upside down: Israel the enemy has become a friend of Egypt while Hamas – which is an integral part of the Palestinian people – has become a terrorist,” Abu Zuhri said.
The spokesman, however, said that Hamas will not be affected by the Egyptian court verdict as it came to “export Egypt’s domestic problems.”
Earlier Saturday, an Egyptian court designated Hamas as a “terrorist” group over claims that the group had carried out terrorist attacks in Egypt through tunnels linking the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.
In March 2014, the same court outlawed Hamas’ activities in Egypt and confiscated its offices.
The court had said that the ban would be temporary until another court – which is trying ousted President Mohamed Morsi for alleged “collaboration” with Hamas to carry out “hostile” acts in Egypt – delivers its final verdict.
Last month, the same court declared the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, a terrorist organisation.
A number of Hamas members have been among the defendants in two trials that Morsi – a Muslim Brotherhood leader – currently faces for alleged espionage and jailbreak.
Egypt’s media has blamed Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood, for a series of deadly attacks on security forces since Morsi’s ouster. Hamas has consistently denied the allegations.
Solving 9-11: The Deception That Changed the World
By Christopher Bollyn, 2012, paperback, 325 pp.
As terrified workers jumped from the burning towers on 9/11, five Mossad agents celebrated the event across the river in New Jersey. They high-fived each other, danced and took photos of themselves in obvious delight. Notified, the police apprehended them. They had Palestinian clothing in their truck. They failed lie detector tests, but were released. Back home they admitted on Israeli television they had come to New York “to record the event.”
Two hours before the first plane struck the World Trade Center, the Mossad-owned Odigo messaging system advised its members “to the precise minute” the time of the attack.
These events in particular caused Christopher Bollyn, an independent journalist, to suspect that Israel was a key player behind 9/11.
In his book Bollyn proposes that “9-11 was an elaborate false-flag deception carried out by Israeli military intelligence and Zionist agents” in the United States. He states that “Israeli nationals or dedicated Zionists [can be found] at every key point of the 9-11 matrix.”
The author begins with a short review of Israel’s successful false flag operations. He then traces the germ of the 9/11 project to Mossad head Isser Harel, who informed an American visitor in 1979 that “your tallest building will be the…symbol they [the terrorists] will hit.”
The next step was getting control of security for the World Trade Center, which the Mossad actually did—briefly—in 1987, under the name of Atwell Security. This company soon lost its contract due to the criminal past of one of its officers.
Thereafter, according to Bollyn, the Mossad worked through dual-allegiance Americans like Jeremy Kroll and Maurice Greenberg. Indeed, Kroll Associates was in charge of security at the World Trade Center from the early 1990s until after 9/11. The first plane hit the security rooms of a Greenberg company in the North Tower. This truly was, says Bollyn, “an amazing coincidence.”
At this crucial point, however, Bollyn’s storyline breaks down. He may infer, but does not even suggest, that Kroll Associates allowed Mossad agents into the buildings to rig them for demolition. He merely states that the residue of the detonating material thermite was scientifically proved to be in the dust. He does not speculate how it got there.
The author makes a very strong case in identifying numerous private companies in America dealing in information and technology with roots either directly to Mossad-founded companies or companies officered by committed partisans of Israel. These companies proved to be the “Achilles’ heel” of U.S. defense.
Companies, often small, such as Ptech, Mitre, and U.S. Aviation, provided or had access to highly important defense information. Such companies helped develop the software to control hijacking—and well before 9/11. Passenger planes, like drones, could, and can, be controlled by “ground pilots.” Obviously this software alone could have stopped the airplanes of 9/11.
Further, facility with this new software was used to foil “a military response to the emergency as it developed.”
The author concludes with the issues of the hasty clean-up of the crime scene and appointments to the Justice Department. Again committed Israelists turn up in these areas.
Hugo Neu-Schnitzer Corporation and one of Israeli Marc Rich’s companies took part in shipping off the crime scene evidence from Ground Zero. An interesting aspect of the clean-up was the dredging of the two-mile long Claremont Channel in August 2001—the month before the attacks—from shallows of only 10 feet deep to a depth of 35 feet so that ocean-going vessels could quickly haul the steel away.
The appointments of Michael Chertoff, Michael Mukasey and Alvin Hellerstein to the Justice Department were keys in preventing court cases of the 76 victim families who refused to take the government’s compensation money from proceeding to trial.
Bollyn is often meandering and difficult to follow; nonetheless, he opens a path that needs to be pursued. The author is to be complimented for pursuing an idea that many people have long suspected but have wished to avoid.
James G. Smart is professor emeritus, Keene State College, and a member of PEN (Palestine Education Network), a project of NH Peace Action.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has reminded American officials that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is against a nuclear deal with Iran, was also in the US in 2002 to push for the invasion of Iraq.
Netanyahu is set to use his next week’s address to a joint session of Congress to condemn a potential nuclear agreement with Iran.
During a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Wednesday, Kerry warned Congress about the controversial speech.
“The prime minister, as you will recall, was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush, and we all know what happened with that decision,” Kerry said.
The top US diplomat was referring to testimony on the Middle East that Netanyahu delivered to Congress on Sept. 12, 2002.
During his speech, Netanyahu expressed strong support for Washington to oust former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Six months later, the US military bombarded the country.
“I think the choice of Iraq is a good choice, it’s the right choice,” Netanyahu said in 2002. “If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”
Kerry also said on Wednesday that Netanyahu was wrong about Iran too because he had been “extremely outspoken about how bad the interim agreement was, calling it the ‘deal of the century for Iran.’”
The March 3 speech by Netanyahu has made the Obama administration furious as it comes ahead of crucial nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany that are working hard to reach a comprehensive nuclear accord.
Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the speech has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
Netanyahu, who is trying to put pressure on US officials to stop a final deal, once again defended his trip to Washington on Tuesday, saying he would do everything to prevent the agreement.
“It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement. Therefore, I will go to Washington… because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement,” he said.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and John Kerry would not meet with the Israeli leader during his trip.
A number of Democrats announced that they would skip the speech.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2012 statement at the UN, in which he warned the world of Iran being too close to making a nuclear bomb, allegedly contradicted his country’s intelligence assessments, according to leaked spy documents.
Netanyahu famously declared to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012 that Iran was 70 percent of the way to completing its “plans to build a nuclear weapon,” and drew another “red line” at 90 percent, claiming Tehran’s first bomb would be ready “by next spring, at most by next summer.”
However, leaked Mossad documents suggest the country was much further from such development.
According to Spy Cables – a cache of hundreds of leaked secret intelligence papers from all over the world, published by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit in collaboration with the Guardian newspaper – at the time of Netanyahu’s statement, Israel’s intelligence service concluded that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons,” estimating that Iran had 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to a level of 20 percent.
“Even though Iran has accumulated enough 5 percent enriched uranium for several bombs, and has enriched some of it to 20 percent, it does not appear to be ready to enrich it to higher levels. It is allocating some of it to produce nuclear fuel for the TRR [Tehran Research Reactor], and the amount of 20 percent enriched uranium is therefore not increasing,” said the secret report, which Mossad shared with South Africa’s State Security Agency a few weeks after the prime minister’s UN speech.
With world leaders worried by a possible nuclear threat, a series of political decisions led to Iran’s consent to neutralize or destroy its enriched uranium under an agreement with the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany – the so-called P5+1 group.
Talks between world leaders on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and uranium enrichment capacity have taken place since sanctions were imposed on Tehran in 2012.
Iran insists it has no nuclear weapons ambitions and seeks enrichment capabilities to develop reactor fuel, and for other peaceful purposes. However, the West believes Tehran has been using its civilian atomic energy program as a cover for developing a bomb.
Since the parties failed to reach a conclusion by the previous deadline of November last year, Iran’s nuclear talks with the six world powers carry on. Iran and P5+1 countries are expected to reach a basic framework agreement by the end of March, with a final accord due by June 30. Netanyahu plans to address the US Congress next month to once again warn against a nuclear compromise with Tehran.
The United States is set to arm Israel with more fighter jets in a three-billion-dollar agreement signed between Washington and Tel Aviv over the weekend.
The deal includes 14 F-35 stealth fighters made by the US company, Lockheed Martin, at a cost of about $110 million each, Israeli officials announced on Sunday.
Other technological and training elements were also included in the military package.
Israel is expected to receive the fighter jets by the end of next year.
The United States provides Israel with some $8.5 million in military aid per day, adding up to over $3 billion annually.
In November, the Department of Defense announced plans to arm Israel with 3,000 smart bombs as part of Washington’s military aid to Tel Aviv.
In December, American lawmakers passed a bill to deepen Washington’s bonds with Tel Aviv, making Israel a “major strategic partner” of the United States.
The US House of Representatives approved the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which reflects “the sense of Congress that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States,” and declares Washington’s “unwavering support” for Israel.
The US military aid to Israel has prompted several demonstrations across the country against such deals.
American protesters argue that the US taxpayer money is used for more Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s nuclear program contains much that is worth emphasizing. Iran is continuing to account for all its declared nuclear material (and the agency appears to have no reason to suspect the existence of undeclared nuclear material). Iran is also continuing to comply fully with the commitments it made to the United States and others on November 24, 2013 and which it has renewed since.
Much of the commentary on the report on Iran will inevitably highlight Iran’s continuing failure to resolve two concerns the IAEA raised in May 2014. I, however, am surprised, that the IAEA director general omits all mention of two Iranian attempts, since the last IAEA report in mid-November, to address those and some other allegations that the IAEA is investigating.
On December 2, Reuters reported that in a statement to the IAEA Iran had rejected accusations that it was stonewalling IAEA investigations. Instead, Iran had affirmed that it had given the IAEA “pieces of evidence” indicating that documents adduced by the IAEA as reasons for concern were “full of mistakes and contain fake names with specific pronunciations which only point towards a certain IAEA member as their forger.” (The member Iran probably had in mind was Israel).
Yet there is no mention whatsoever of this Iranian rebuttal in the latest report, still less any detailed IAEA rebuttal of the rebuttal. Instead, the director general resorts to an exceptionally bland (and in the circumstances misleading) phrase: “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the two outstanding practical measures [concerns].”
In effect Iran is being asked to prove its innocence. But when it tries to do so, the evidence it submits is rejected out of hand because it calls into question the evidence that is being used to justify the suspicion of guilt. Is that consistent with due process?
Also surprising is the omission of any mention of Iran’s offer of access to a suspected nuclear site at Marivan, reported by Reuters on December 11. A controversial annex to the IAEA’s November 2011 report referred to one member state having informed the agency that major high-explosives tests were conducted at Marivan in the first part of the last decade.
Since the IAEA has not taken Iran up on the offer, it presumably believes that a visit to Marivan would serve no useful purpose. If that is the case, do they not owe it to Iran to withdraw the November 2011 charge relating to Marivan? If the agency isn’t arranging a site visit, it should explain to IAEA member states that it considers the information provided by “a member state” to have been unreliable or irrelevant.
I raise these questions not to criticise the IAEA secretariat, which continues to do a first-class job in Iran, as professional and objective as ever. Rather, I want to offset the hue and cry that opponents of a nuclear deal will raise over the reference in the latest report to Iran’s failure to provide explanations. I’m suggesting that there is more to this than meets the eye.
Turning back to the positive, Iran is continuing to allow exceptional access to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops, and storage facilities. This access has enabled the IAEA to conclude that centrifuge rotor manufacturing and assembly are consistent with Iran’s replacement program for failed centrifuges. In other words, Iran is not manufacturing and diverting rotors to some clandestine enrichment facility.
This is highly significant. Amid the endless furor over the number of centrifuges that Iran should retain under a comprehensive agreement, the public could be forgiven for failing to appreciate that, theoretically, Iran is far more likely to “sneak out”—using a clandestine enrichment facility—than to “break out” under the eyes of IAEA inspectors, using the centrifuges it wants to retain.
I inserted “theoretically” to emphasize that at this point there is no evidence that Iran intends either to break out or to sneak out. And as long as the IAEA retains access to Iran’s rotor manufacturing, assembly, and storage facilities—which it will lose if the opponents of a deal have their way—we can all feel confident of a continuing absence of intention.
In essence, the latest IAEA report contains nothing that would justify the United States and its allies declining to close a deal with Iran in the course of the coming four weeks. I, for one, am rooting for their success.
Peter Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years, following studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He served in Vienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva. He specialized in global economic and security issues. His last assignment (2001-06) was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna).
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Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday denied reports of militants crossing into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip.
“There haven’t been any militants crossing [into Egypt from Gaza], especially after the destruction of all underground tunnels and the deployment of [Egyptian and Palestinian] security forces on border,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.
Abu Zuhri called on Arab parties to shoulder their responsibility in standing against any form of “slander and incitement” against the Palestinian people.
He also went on to appeal to scholars and intellectuals to organize a major media campaign to expose what he described as “pro-Israel media”.
On Friday, the United Arab Emirates-based Sky News Arabia reported that the Egyptian army raised the alert level in the country’s eastern Sinai Peninsula following reports that militants from self-styled “Army of Islam” group crossed into Egypt from Gaza.
The Egyptian army has not commented on the report.
Last month, an Egyptian court declared the military wing of Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, a “terrorist organisation.”
Abu Zuhri had described the court verdict as “politically-motivated”, and reiterated that his movement does not interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.