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Iran releases 4 hostages: ‘Money talks and people Walk’

This Los Angeles Times breaking news from Press TV in Tehran  about the release of four Iranian-Americans by Tehran, on the brink of alleged compliance with the JCPOA, is a reflection of an old adage.  “Money talks and people walk”.

The Islamic Republic is eager to have released the $100 billion in oil revenues sequestered in several non-US foreign banks. Those released funds will doubtless be used to crank up an estimated 500,000 barrels of oil production in 2016 to add to the existing glut in the world energy markets, clearly aimed at breaking US and OPEC competitive producers. This despite demonstrable violations of UN Resolution 1929 and the JCPOA provisions barring development of ballistic missiles given two tests in October and November 2015.

Add to that  restart of its hegemonic aspirations and support of terrorism via its proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthi, among others.  There are those of us who firmly believe that Iran already has nuclear capabilities, achieved via a long standing alliance with the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.  That will be one of the topics on Sunday’s Lisa Benson Show with guest Claudia Rosett, Forbes and Wall Street Journal columnist of note and resident journalist at the Washington, D.C. – based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

We’re sure that the families of ex-Marine Hekmati, Pastor Abedini, convicted Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and one of the two American-Iranian businessmen welcome this news of their release when confirmed. But there is another imprisoned American, whose whereabouts is still unknown, ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson.

Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, 2011

Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, 2011. Source: Levinson family.

On March 9, 2015 , we posted this question on the NER/Iconoclast:  “Where is Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson, President Rouhani?”  We noted:

FBI director James Comey announced today that the agency raised the reward for information to $5 million on the whereabouts of former FBI agent Robert Levinson of Coral Springs, Florida.  Levinson disappeared from the Kish Island resort in the Persian Gulf eight years ago. A proof of life video of him was last seen in 2011. His family and lawyer have endeavored to seek the assistance of the Administration to have him returned. Secretary of State John Kerry apparently asked Foreign Minister Zarif for assistance in locating him.  CBS News reported:

FBI Director James Comey said “it is long past time for Bob to come home.” Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Iranian government to “work cooperatively with us on the investigation.”

An Associated Press investigation published in 2013 revealed that Levinson vanished while working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission. In January 2014, Christine Levinson confirmed her husband was working for U.S. intelligence.

“He was working as a consultant for the CIA,” she told CBS News. “He was also a private investigator. He was able to do both at the same time in his travels.”

Tuesday is Levinson’s 67th birthday. He retired from the FBI in 1998.

Levinson has had no direct contact with his family since his capture in 2007. In 2010, documents detailing Levinson’s “arrest and detention in Iran” were anonymously emailed to his wife, who later received pictures and a short videotape.

[…]

“Leads were followed up, and investigations were made, but we have not gotten any new information about Bob,” Christine Levinson said last year.

We wrote about the shadowy circumstances behind his likely abduction on his way to meet an American convert to Islam David Belfield, a.k.a. Dawud Salahuddin, who assassinated a leading opponent of the Islamic republic, disguised as a postman delivering a package to him in suburban Washington, DC. See our December 13, 2013 Iconoclast post, Unanswered Questions Follow the Levinson CIA Rogue Mission Expose:

There were secret House and Senate Intelligence Hearings on the Levinson disappearance and CIA involvement.  A multi-million compensation deal for Levinson’s wife to keep her quiet was engineered in part by Florida US Senator, Bill Nelson. Meanwhile in 2011, proof of life videos and photos emerge showing a bushy haired grey bearded Levinson attired in an orange prisoner jumpsuit in chains pleading for his life. According to the WaPo report, the video audio background appears to favor the notion that he may have been moved to Afghanistan or Pakistan by Iranian intelligence.  The US secretly approached Iran about Levinson’s whereabouts. Meanwhile former Iranian President Ahmadinejad charged the US with using Levinson to perpetrate another CIA plot not unlike the 1950’s one that overthrew Iranian President Mohammed Mossadegh. Then in 2013 a new ‘reformist’ Iranian President emerges after the June election who engages in dialogue with the Obama Administration.  The State Department alleges that it made inquires during the recent P5+1 negotiation with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif concerning the whereabouts of another American prisoner, Pastor Abedini. However there is silence on the whereabouts of Levinson.  Concern rises about Levinson given that he is a diabetic and may have a heart condition. The inference is that he might have died in the course of interrogation. His case has gone dark. That is, until today’s expose. An expose that appears to have been embargoed for several years.

[…]

The assassin Salahuddin was recruited in 1980 by the late Muslim Brotherhood principal, Dr. Said Ramadan, father of Oxford/Notre Dame Professor Tariq, to do a hit for Ayatollah Khomeini.  Salahuddin, disguised as a US Postman, went to the door of a former Shah official in Washington, DC suburb, Ali Akbar Tabatabai’e,   shot and killed him and then fled to Tehran. We wrote about this Ramadan assassination mission ordered by Ayatollah Khomeini in our NER article How the CIA Helped the Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrate the West (August 2011).   Given Salahuddin’s background, that possibly means Levinson set up for a snatch by Iranian Intelligence. Given Levinson’s ‘contract’ work with the CIA Illicit Funds Office in Venezuela and Colombia, our hunch is that the IRGC Quds Force  got wind of this in Venezuela and started tracking him.

Now that Iran is getting its impounded $100 billion back and releasing four imprisoned Iranian Americans, it is  time for Secretary Kerry to fess up and press Iran for information on Levinson, and, if hopefully alive, obtain his release, now.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Who is Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari? The Story of the Fourth American Prisoner

ANALYSIS: Obama’s fantasy of a new Iran endangers us all

Iran Cashes In on Sanctions Relief and Hostages

Report: Iranian-American Hanged in Iran

Tehran Acknowledges 200 Thousand Armed Youth in Five Countries

As sanctions are lifted, PM pledges Israel will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

What’s behind the Arab Days of Rage in Israel?

October 13, 2015 witnessed  the worst attacks by enraged Palestinians in Jerusalem, Central  Israel and on the Gaza frontier.Three Israelis were murdered in bus shootings, car ramming  and knifing attacks that occurred in Jerusalem, northern Israel and Ra’anana near Tel Aviv. On Wednesday evening October 14, 2015, a 65 year old woman was attacked by an assailant receiving knife wounds at  the Jerusalem central bus station. The assailant was shot dead by Border police while attempting to board an Egged bus. Ynet news reported the terrorist background of the dead assailant:

The attacker was identified as Ahmad Shaaban, 23, a resident of East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood. He was imprisoned between 2012 and 2015 for terrorist activities.

The prior weekend scores of Palestinians in Gaza attempted to cross into Israel’s southern frontier only to be thwarted by IDF soldiers.  A crowd of 200 penetrated the fence near an Israeli kibbutz with resulting causalities, 11 deaths occurred from IDF gunfire when the mob refused to stop. Earlier, rockets had slammed into Southern Israel from Gaza prompting IAF retaliation.

Reuters reported “seven Israelis and 32 Palestinians, including 13 alleged attackers and eight children, have died in the surge of violence.” Reuters further noted what happened on October 13th, “the Day of Rage:”

Palestinian men armed with knives and a gun killed at least three people and wounded several others in a string of attacks in Jerusalem and near Tel Aviv, police said, in a “Day of Rage” declared by Palestinian groups.

With the worst unrest in years in Israel and the Palestinian territories showing no sign of abating, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of his security cabinet to discuss what police said would be new operational plans.

Officials said Israel was considering whether to seal off Palestinian districts in East Jerusalem – home of many of the assailants.

In Jerusalem, two Palestinians shot and stabbed passengers on a bus, killing two and injuring four, police said. One of the assailants was killed and the other captured.

Minutes later, a Palestinian rammed his car into a bus stop in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in the city, police said. A surveillance video showed him then hacking pedestrians with a cleaver until he was shot dead by a passer-by. One of the Israelis he attacked died and six others were hurt, police said.

In clashes near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the Israeli army shot dead a Palestinian, medics said. The army said its troops fired on a man who tried to throw a petrol bomb at them.

1929headline_montage

News Montage on Jerusalem  and Hebron Arab Riots,  Palestine 1929. Source: CAMERA

Arab terrorism connects one Israeli family

As Israeli blogger, Yisrael Medad , posted in  My Right Word , “One Family’s Story of Arab Terror.” The current outburst of Arab Muslim violence has intergenerational connections with history from the pre-state Yishuv period:

On Friday, August 17, 1929, Yisrael Lev, a student at the Slobodka Yeshiva in Hebron did not feel well and left for Jerusalem to seek medical assistance. That day, one of his fellow students was hacked to death and the following day, many more including dozens of Hebron’s Jewish community were similarly slaughtered. He remained Haredi but an Israeli flag flew on his balcony every Independence Day. His two daughters served in the IDF. One, Tzippora, married Zev Roich. The new couple had four children. Tzipora’s granddaughter, Naama nee Armoni, was murdered by Arab terrorists during the [2015] Succoth holiday as was her husband, Rabbi Eitam Henkin.

Naama and Rabbi Eitam Henkin(1)

Naama and Rabbi Eitam Henkin z”l

U.S. and International Concerns

The Israeli  Security Cabinet launched  new security arrangements that include IDF troops guarding buses, destruction of attackers’ homes and cordoning off sections of Arab East Jerusalem. The mainstream media like The New York Times attributes the violence in Israel to unemployed desperate “leaderless Palestinian youths  driven by  social media.” Secretary of State Kerry, speaking at a Harvard’s Belfer Center news conference, condemned the Palestinian violence saying, “the situation in Israel is too volatile.” He stressed the importance for all people to avoid what he called provocative statements that can inflame tensions further. “This violence and any incitement to violence have got to stop.” However, he suggested  that the “tit for tat” violence was driven by continuing Israeli ‘settlement building’ and Israeli “excessive force.” The fact is that settlement activity has been contained near zero. Kerry subsequently ‘clarified’ saying there was no connection between Arab violence and settlements. The Mideast Quartet led by EU Foreign Relations Commissioner Mogherini of Italy cancelled a trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah because of security concerns.

Israeli Arab Sheikh Raed Salah of the Islamic Movement    Released from Ramla Jail, 2010.

The Palestinian and Israel Arabs inciting the violence

The reality is that PA President Abbas, other members of the PA government and the Israeli Arab radical Islamist leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement ,Sheik Saed Salah, have incited and recruited Arabs  They  have fomented what Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, has called the Jerusalem or al Quds, Intifada, a reference to the 100 year old blood libel that “the Al Aksa Mosque is in danger” from Jews.. Add to that the evident disloyalty of Arab Joint list Knesset Members who held massive rallies of Israeli Arab Muslims urging them to rise up along with their Palestinian brothers. Note this Jerusalem Post report on the disruption of an Israeli Channel 2 interview by Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh by Nazareth Mayor, Ali Salam:

Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam shouted at Joint List head Ayman Odeh [of Hadash] to leave his city as the MK was about to be interviewed live on Channel 2 there on October 11th.

“Ayman, you need to go elsewhere, you’ve destroyed our city!” yelled Salam at Odeh from his car, which pulled up next to [ to him while he was} standing on the sidewalk in front of the television camera.

“Get out of here. Enough with the interviews!” shouted Salam. “You all have destroyed everything! Go back to Haifa!…What are you being interviewed about? What are you doing to us? You are doing nothing!” shouted Salam.

Odeh, for his part, remained quiet, but appeared to be greatly irritated.

The sharp confrontation followed accusations by Salam earlier in the day in an interview on Army Radio in which he said Joint List MKs were “ruining coexistence.”

Joint List MKs have been organizing and leading protests  riling up the Arab public to violence, which Salam said has led to a sharp drop in Jewish customers and complaints from local business owners.

Stabbing victim Liat Naor  Source Channel 2

Stabbing victim Liat Naor, Source: Israeli Channel 2

Evidence of Israeli  Concerns over Arab attacks across the country

My colleague Lisa Benson of the eponymous National Security Radio Show reminded me of an interview she did with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat  just after an another incident involving the death of a baby at a light rail station in Jerusalem. That  was prior to the onset of last summer’s Operation Defensive Edge, the 51 day Gaza rocket war. At the time, Mayor Barkat suggested that the matter of the violent East Jerusalem Arab incident not be mentioned during the interview. Barkat subsequently foiled an Arab knifing attack on an Orthodox Jew during an episode in February 2015. Now, during the current upsurge in jihadist attacks against Israeli Jews in Jerusalem, he is urging the Netanyahu government to combat it. This is reflected in a Jerusalem Post report:

In the wake of the {October 12th attacks in Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to heighten the state’s response against terror and to act more firmly against those who incite and encourage it.  “To our regret there is no limit to the cruelty of these  murderers who choose to the attack children and innocent citizens who return from their studies to encounter the satanic evil that is shocking us all.”

The plague of auto ramming and knifing incidents was exemplified by what occurred in northern Israel reflected in this Israel Hayom report:

“I didn’t do anything, what do they want from me?” Alaa Raed Ahmad Ziwad, 20, says in court after ramming his car into a soldier and then stabbing bystanders.  Ramming victim, 19-year-old Orel Azuri, remains in critical condition.

Liat Naor, 15, was still wearing a wreath of flowers in her hair and holding her own birthday cake when she was attacked by a terrorist with a knife outside a shopping center in Gan Shmuel in northern Israel on Sunday.

She was saved when a bystander, Adi Eshet, helped subdue the terrorist, who had begun the attack by ramming his car into a female soldier, 19-year-old Orel Azuri, before jumping out and stabbing people nearby.

“I was sure I was going to die,” Naor said, speaking in the hospital room where she is recovering from her stab wounds. She thanked Eshet “for the amazing birthday present.”

The shock of the new normal in Central Israel was reflected in the aftermath of two knifing incidents October 13th in Ra’anana, a community of 80,000 near Tel Aviv that has a large of community of Anglo American residents who made aliyah to Israel. During  Operation Defense Edge in the summer of 2014, Ra’anana was spared the rocket on-slaught. The Algemeiner reported:

“Due to the security situation, the shop will be closed today,” was among the signs that could be seen this afternoon in Ra’anana, the Israeli news site Walla reported.

Ra’anana, a city of 80,000 in Israel’s central Sharon region known for its clean streets, quality education system and large English-speaking community, experienced two Palestinian terrorist attacks on the  morning of October 13th. And its citizens are responding with trepidation.

The closing of some stores on the city’s main street, Ahuza, was one reaction to the stabbing attacks, one of which occurred at around 8:50 a.m., and the other at 10:30. Parents of pre-schoolers, too, became concerned and ran to kindergartens to take their children home.

“We are aware of the reality [in the country],” a shop-owner who witnessed the first attack, at a nearby bus stop told Walla. “But when it comes close to you, it’s unpleasant and scary. We always thought that this would only happen in Jerusalem; we didn’t believe Ra’anana would become a terror-struck city.”

[…]

A restaurant owner in the area of the second attack in Ra’anana, which took place across from the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital, said it’s the first time his establishment has been so empty. He also claimed his fellow restaurateurs are experiencing the same phenomenon, because “people are afraid to leave their houses.”

“Even during Operation Protective Edge [last summer’s war in Gaza, when Hamas rockets were launched into the center of Israel on a daily basis] it wasn’t this deserted,” he said.

Evidence of Palestinian and Israeli Arab Incitement

The violence by Palestinians in East Jerusalem  and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria  was stoked by PA President Abbas, whose UN  General Assembly  address abandoned the Oslo Accords. It is pure Jew hatred with episodes of knife attacks, shootings, car rammings and attempted suicide bombings against Israeli Jews. Standwith U.S. developed an interactive map spotlighting where  instances of attacks have occurred: Interactive Map Shows the Where, When, and What of Terror Attacks.

This uprising is different because Israeli Arabs has also been encouraged to engage in these attacks by Joint Arab list Knesset members and the radical Islamist Sheik Saed Salah from his bastion of the um al-Fahm, an Arab town in the triangle area of Israel in the Galilee. Salah is head of the northern branch of the Islamic movement affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the equivalent of Hamas inside Israel. The Netanyahu government has often sought to ban the group. In a November 2014 NER/Iconoclast blog  post on “Israel Plagued by Spreading Islamikaze Violence,“ we noted:

Then there is  the fiery Salafist preacher, Sheik Raed Salah  from the Arab town of Umm al Fahm. Just released from prison for serving another term for incitement, Salah boasts that Jerusalem will become a “global Caliphate.”

As Israeli commentator Barry Shaw observed on the Lisa Benson Show of October 11, 2015, Sheik Raed Salah may have supplied the foot soldiers who barricaded the al Aksa Mosque and kick started the Jerusalem violence at the start of the Jewish New Years. He contends that Salah, whose objective is the establishment of a Caliphate to rule Israel from the Temple Mount, had planned this wave of violence. Shaw suspects that the Jordanian–appointed religious leaders of the Waqf may have been complicit in fomenting the Temple Mount violence. They allowed truck loads to enter the Mosque complex through the underground excavations supplying the rocks, cinder blocks, and materials for making Molotov cocktails. Avi Ischaroff in a Times of Israel report on often jailed Sheik Salah observed:

Salah has tried to utilize the Temple Mount to inflame the Arab Palestinian street. Now he’s finally managed to do so. “The defender of Al-Aqsa,” as Salah is known, continues to warn against the ostensible plans of the Jews to harm the mosque, vowing that he is prepared to do anything to “protect it.” His activists are everywhere in Arab towns and villages, successfully fomenting friction against Israel.

The incitement to Jew hatred and murder are reflected in the provocative statements of PA President Abbas. Jews have observed restraint while on the Temple mount. They are even been barred from saying prayers there. Abbas cited in Bret Stephens’ Wall Street Journal Global View column, “Palestinians: the Psychotic Stage,” wrote:

“Al Aqsa Mosque is ours. They [Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet.” And: “We bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah.”

Then there was the Imam in Gaza invoking the Qur’anic imperative to kill Jews:

“Brothers, this is why we recall today what Allah did to the Jews,” one Gaza imam said [October 9]  in a recorded address, translated by the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri. “Today, we realize why the Jews build walls. They do not do this to stop missiles but to prevent the slitting of their throats.”

Josh Hasten Israeli American Journalists 10-7-15

Joshua Hasten, Israel American Journalist, October 7, 2015. Screen Shot, You Tube video.

The shahids perpetrating the days of rage in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel are being ‘honored’ for their murderous jihad sacrifices of their Jewish victims according to translations by Palestinian Media Watch:

Fatah brought soil from Al-Aqsa to grave of murderer who stabbed 2 to death in Jerusalem “so that the dead body…can hug the soil for which he died a Martyr”. PA Ministry of Education plants trees in honor of terrorists- the “Martyrs” of “the ongoing popular uprising”. Ministry: “Event meant to illustrate the devotion of the ministry… to honoring the Martyrs…[It] instills national and humanitarian values in the minds of the young”.

Then, brandishing a six-inch knife, he added: “My brothers in the West Bank: Stab!”

The story of one Israeli’s encounter with Palestinian terror

How do Jews in Israel feel confronting this murderous wave of Palestinian and Israeli Arab terrorism? Josh Hasten, a Jerusalem Post contributor was interviewed on the October 11, 2015  Lisa Benson Show.  He spoke of taking a shortcut only to be confronted on the Tekoa Road by a mob of 40 to 50 masked men from the Arab village of Beit Sahour .They were armed with rocks and cinder blocks blocking his way. He alighted from his car, showed them his licensed hand gun and when that didn’t stop them fired off a round that scattered them. Clearly, as you will see in this YouTube video, Hasten thought that spared him. However, that didn’t spare a Jewish woman he encountered who had been brutally set upon and beaten presumably by the same group. Frightening, but rarely reported in the mainstream media that tends to concentrate on Palestinians being killed, perpetrating murder and mayhem against Israeli Jews.

Watch this You Tube video of Josh Hasten’s encounter with Palestinians out to kill “their Jew.” The media may call this “violence.” Sorry, it is jihad.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Democrat Senators provide final votes on the Iran Nuclear Pact

Maryland  Democrat Senator Barbara Mikulski clinched President Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal  today by announcing  her support making it  a virtual fait accompli. The President can now veto Congressional Resolutions rejecting the pact.  The Washington Post headline  today  tells the story, “Chris Coons and Bob Casey back Iran deal, putting Obama one vote from major diplomatic victory.”  The Iran nuclear pact comes up for a vote  15 days from now at the latest could be mooted by a possible filibuster or may be ended by a likely Presidential veto of a majority vote  rejecting it in both Chambers of Congress.  It begs the questions of whether there is any means of stopping this dangerous and misguided deal from being implemented. Depending on whether a successor overturns the multilateral agreement that according to the Administration would be a major diplomatic faux pas.

As we have written in a September 2015, NER article there may be more options than simply voiding it as an executive political agreement by a new President in January 2017. Republicans and a few Democrats are seeking to target sanctions against Iranian Revolutionary Guard Leaders and the Ayatollah who own companies that would benefit economically from the release of $100 billion in sequestered funds in U.S. financial institutions resulting from implementing the JCPOA.  There is also increasing interest in several legislative alternatives. That is reflected in a FrontPage Magazine article published today by Robert B, Sklaroff and Lee S. Bender, Esq., “The Only Way to Block the Iran TREATY: Sue Obama.”  Their bottom line:

Emergency Prescription for Senate:  [1]—Pass rule that abolishes the filibuster; [2]—Pass resolution declaring the Iran nuke deal to be a “treaty”; [3]—Defeat the deal; and [4]—Sue President Obama to enjoin him from implementing the deal.

Opinion polls taken of Americans indicate that by a margin of 2 to 1 they urge members of both Congressional Chambers to vote against it.  Trusting that approval of this deal will cut off Iran from all pathways from achieving industrialization of nuclear weapons- whether in a few weeks, months or a decade or more- amount to sleepwalking towards oblivion.   Many analysts and military nuclear experts think that Iran may already have nuclear weapons and shortly the means of delivering them. Further, believing that $100 billion plus of sequestered Iranian funds will be devoted to rebuilding a beleaguered Iranian economy and raising the living standards of Iranians is myopic. It will go to lining the pockets of the Ayatollah Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard leaders. Furthermore, it will fund proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Houthi rebels in Yemen to destabilize the Middle East and conduct low intensity warfare against America, Israel other Middle East allies. The Saudis, Egyptians, Emirates say that if the pact is approved they will develop their own nuclear weapons capabilities. War might likely loom.   President Obama has allegedly  called opponents “crazies,” criticized those who say he’s  anti-Semitic by replying  he doesn’t have a  smidgen of that, while  inveighing the infamous Juden frage- Jewish question , an innuendo  of dual loyalty.  We have witnessed Congress straying from the pathway suggested by Senators Cotton (R-AR), Cruz (R-TX), Johnson (R-WI), Rubio (R-FL) and others that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action should have been treated as a treaty under Article III of the Constitution requiring the advice and consent of the Senate. The result was the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act  of 2015 enacted into law with a stroke of the President’s pen on May 22, 2015.

Following the announcement of the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and the unanimous endorsement by the UN Security Council on July 22, 2015, testimony provided by Administration negotiators, led by Secretary of State Kerry, Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz, and Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman has, if anything, raised concerns about the enforceability of the Iran nuclear pact.  Most appalling they exhibited in their responses to Senate and House Committee Members less than curiosity about the provisions of confidential agreements between the UN nuclear watchdog agency, IAEA and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  They suggested that to do so would interfere with the confidential nature of such activities between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic under UN protocols.  The IAEA in turn requested an estimated $10.5 million annually as the required contribution from the US, a board member of the IAEA, to support their activities inspecting and monitoring Iran’s progress towards an alleged ‘peaceful’ nuclear energy program.

Watch this Yahoo News video of Secretary Kerry at the National Convention Center in Philadelphia, today making the final sales pitch for approval of the Iran Nuclear Pact:

Based on the hearing record, the expert witness testimony presenting contradictory views, Americans now realize that there will likely be less than a robust, intrusive inspection scheme. A scheme that would rely on the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. Instead, Iranian inspection of known military development sites will be used to produce a Road Map of prior military developments enabling release of $100 billion of sequestered funds. Moreover, there already have been breaches of conventional weapons and missile technology purchases, despite the 5 and 8 year sunset provisions under UN Security Council Resolution 1929. There have also been breaches of lifting restrictions on travel bans and assets of more than 800 individuals and entities largely controlled by the Ayatollah, mullahs and Revolutionary Guard elite like Quds Firce Commander Qasem Soliemani.  Paul Alster in his Fox News criticism of the Iran deal  pointed out  that Iran has already launched attacks against Israel via proxies in the country’s North . He also suggest s the diversion of $1 billion of released funds that would go annually to underwrite the support of Iran’s terrorist proxies attacking U.S. ally Israel and others in the Middle East Region. Then there is the delivery of new precision rockets and missiles to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

We could go on, but it is moot given the President is likely before Labor Day to line up all of the votes required for him to veto the rejection resolutions voted by the Republican majorities of both houses with a sprinkling of Democrats with moral compasses.  There may never be a vote in the Senate, as Minority Leader Reid has offered up the alternative of killing the vote via a filibuster and resort to the so-called “nuclear option” used for approving Judicial appointment in 2013. That is unless the suggestion by Sklaroff and Bender about the Senate passing a rule banishing the so-called “nuclear option” is adopted.

This brings us to Plan B – a suit by the Senate against the President’s actions brought before the US Supreme Court that might result in a ruling granting the senior Chamber an up or down vote treating the Iran nuclear pact as a treaty.  We believe its time for serious consideration of the Sklaroff Bender proposal as the Senate would have standing whereas individuals may not. That is evidenced by Federal Judge Kenneth A. Marra’s ex cathedra remarks in the Palm Beach Federal District Court in response to a declaratory judgment motion filed by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch on August 4, 2015. We commend Freedom Watch for bringing that action.

Listen to this 1330amWEBY segment that aired on September 1, 2015 with Mike Bates, Host of Your Turn and Senior editor, Jerry Gordon discussing the Iran nuclear pact and options to overturn it.

Now we have to see whether Senate Majority Republican Leaders have the courage of their convictions to bring such an important landmark case before the Supreme Court to protect Americans from the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack. Presidential hopefuls and Congressional leaders who will speak before a huge crowd of concerned Americans gathered on the back lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on September 9th at the March to Save America  might echo their resolve to sue the President.  That is contingent on whether he carries out his threat to veto the majority vote in both Chambers of Congress rejecting the Iran nuclear pact backed by the opinions of a majority of Americans.

Now it is time for concerted action by those bi-partisan Members of Congress who reject the Iran nuclear pact. Tens of millions of Americans are disturbed by the President’s appeasement of a keystone member of the Evil Axis, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Donald Trump: Nuclear deal calls for U.S. to defend Iran against Israeli attack

Supporters of the Iran Nuclear Deal Should and Will Be Called Traitors

Thousands Take to New York Streets to Protest Iran Deal

South Korea Looks To China for Help With Aggressive North Korea

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Iran Violates Sanctions

Fox News reported that Quds Force Commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani visited Putin shortly following UN Security Council unanimous approval of the Iran nuclear pact, Exclusive: Quds Force commander Soleimani visited Moscow, met Russian leaders in defiance of sanctions:”

The shadowy Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani recently visited Moscow to meet with senior Russian leaders, according to two Western intelligence sources, despite a travel ban and U.N. Security Council resolutions barring him from leaving Iran.

On July 24, one week before Secretary of State John Kerry testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee and faced questions about the newly struck nuclear deal, Soleimani arrived in Moscow for meetings with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin. It was not immediately clear what the Iranian leader discussed, but the revelation comes as the United Nations and European Union arms embargo against Iran is slated to be lifted in five years as part of the comprehensive nuclear agreement announced July 14 from Vienna.

Soleimani was first designated a terrorist and sanctioned by the U.S. in 2005 for his role as a supporter of terrorism. In October 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department tied Soleimani to the failed Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States at a popular restaurant in Washington, D.C. The Quds Force is the Special Forces external wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, responsible for supporting terrorist proxies across the Middle East. It reports directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Watch this FoxNews video report:

You remember Secretary Kerry telling Senator Cotton at a Senate Iran deal Hearing that Quds Force commander Gen. Soleimani would never be taken off travel bans and asset restrictions? It was when it was confirmed that Soleimani was among the list of 800 individuals and institutions to have their sanctions lifted included in an annex to the JCPOA. Now it is revealed that following the unanimous endorsement of the Iran nuclear pact by the UNSC Soleimani traveled to Moscow to meet Putin and senior Defense Ministry officials. This demonstrates contempt for Obama and Kerry illustrative of how incompetent they were in negotiating the Iran nuclear pact. As our colleague Omri Ceren of The Israel Project pointed out in our August NER interview Soleimani has the blood on his hands of 500 Americans killed in Iraq. Ceren referenced a Weekly Standard article by Lee Smith about Obama and Soleimani:

Smith’s argument in The Weekly Standard article is that Obama likes Soleimani and admires his work. Smith goes on to cite the President telling Arab officials that they really need to get their business together and “learn from Iran’s example.” Qasem Soleimani stands in for the idea that Iran is taking over the region. The fact that we’re lifting his travel ban and unfreezing his assets is being read by a lot of people as evidence that this deal is explicitly designed to reintegrate Iran into the regional structure of the Middle East and into the community of nations. The President sees the Islamic Republic as a stabilizing force. Lifting the travel ban and asset restrictions on Qasem Soleimani more than anyone else, stands in for Iran’s regional expansionism and its efforts to take over the Levant, to take over the Gulf and bring the entire Middle East under Iran’s thumb.”

We’re waiting for Sen. Cotton’s response, as he originally confronted Kerry. The JCPOA deal has been effectively shredded by Iran before Congress even votes to accept or reject it in September.

Is the ball game over for President Obama on this misadventure of his foreign policy legacy?  Stay tuned for developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Stormy U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iran Nuke Deal

The Administration rolled out its “A Team” of witnesses at the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on July 29th, chaired by Chairman Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. The Hearing addressed national security issues arising from the Iran nuclear pact scheduled by a Congressional vote on or before September 17th under the term of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Yesterday’s hearing was the last in a series of House and Senate sessions prior to the summer recess  adjournment starting Thursday, July 31st. Congress reconvenes following the Labor Day holiday giving less than 10 days for additional hearings before the vote to either accept or reject the Iran nuclear pact. Public opinion poll taken during the current series of Congressional shows a majority of Americans tilting towards asking Congress to reject the pact. The issue is how many of the undecided 13 Democratic Senators and over 30 Democratic Representatives will decide if a negative vote will be veto proof, given a threat by President Obama.

The panel of witnesses included, Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. While questions naturally arose about the credibility of maintaining a military option, there was a tough grilling of Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton on the secret side deals between the UN nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Islamic Republic of Iran over prior military developments.

DefenseNews reported  the comments of Secretary Carter and Gen. Dempsey on military capabilities:

“It’s important that we have an agreement and it be verifiable, and that we keep doing what we need to do: Defend our friends and allies, remain strong in the Gulf — frequent navigation, ballistic missile defense, all the things that we’re doing, and the agreement doesn’t limit us in any way,” Carter said.

Indeed, “military options remain,” Dempsey said, though a negotiated settlement provides a more “durable” solution, as well as time to work with local partner nations to address Iran’s activities. Dempsey said there are a series of initiatives with Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council to that effect.

Exercising airstrikes to take out Iran’s nuclear capability would disrupt its program by several years, Dempsey said. However analysis suggests it would also provoke Iran to “counter our presence in the region at every opportunity and use these other malign activities they have.”

That led to exchanges with Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Joni Ernst (R-NE). Ernst like Senate panel colleague Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) is a former combat veteran who served in Iraq:

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., characterized Dempsey’s brief opening statement, as a “tepid endorsement” of the accord and “damning disagreement with faint praise,” which Dempsey disputed, saying he agreed with the deal.

His statement was neither “tepid nor enthusiastic, but pragmatic,” Dempsey said. His input in the deal was sought “episodically,” his final recommendation given weeks before negotiations concluded. At least in part, his recommendation was to keep pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missiles and arms trafficking for as long as possible.

Challenged by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, over the president’s assertion that the US faces a choice between an Iran deal or a resolution by force — which Ernst characterized as “war” — Dempsey said he had not said anything to that effect to the president.

“We have a range of options, and I hope to present them,” Dempsey said. “As long as we agree, military strikes on a sovereign nation are an act of war, but there are things between here and there.”

Sen. Cotton was on top of his game engaging in the most withering  Q&A  with  Secretary Kerry and  Energy Secretary Moniz  about their knowledge or the lack thereof  concerning the so-called secret IAEA side deals on prior  military nuclear developments (PMD).  Late he engaged Gen. Dempsey during a discussion of exhibits to corroborate the lethality of Iranian IEDS used to kill American service personnel in Iraq. Dempsey lent the impression he was less inclined to be a booster of the Iran nuke deal. Cotton is both a veteran of combat in Iraq as a former U.S. Army officer and a Harvard Law School graduate and admitted lawyer

Cotton, like any good prosecutor, secured the facts that bolstered his line of questioning to elicit a response he was seeking for the Committee record. Prior to this Armed Services Hearing, Cotton and Kansas Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo had flown to Vienna to confer with IAEA officials uncovering the alleged secret side deals on investigation of Iranian compliance with prior military developments in their nuclear program (PMD).

schultz i know nothingKerry and Moniz, when queried about whether they had either knowledge of or read the IAEA secret side deals on PMD, adopted what in TV land is the fabled Sergeant Schultz defense from the 1960’s TV WWII Nazi prison camp comedy series, “Hogan’s Heroes” – “I know nothing” They simply fobbed it off saying that someone like Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman may have glanced through these documents. Just indicates that the Administration either elected not to conduct due diligence or used the ploy that those agreements were confidential between the IAEA and Iran, that as Cotton pointed out “the Ayatollah read”.

Former IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen, who is now a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, provided the answers in a report by Armin Rosen of Business Insider.  Heinonen in an email said:

“According to the IAEA rules and practices such documents could be made available to the members of the IAEA Board”. Heinonen said the IAEA secretariat could not divulge these side agreements to other member states on its own initiative. But there are two ways US diplomats could access them. In one scenario, Iran would agree to divulge the documents: “Iran can make it available by asking to distribute it as an [Information Circular] document to all IAEA member states as they did with the 2007 Work Plan,” Heinonen said, referring to a publicly available agreement between the IAEA and Iran on nuclear safeguards.

US diplomats could also view these side agreements if a member state of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors requests their distribution.

Such a move would stand a decent chance of success: “If a board member asks it and others resist the distribution … this can be overcome by a vote,” Heinonen said. “Simple majority is enough, and no vetoes exist in the IAEA system. The board can also request the whole document to be made public. Such a request could be best done by a country which is not part of the JCPOA process; my favorite is Canada.”

Cotton showed   the witness panel two exhibits graphically portraying the effects of an Iranian developed shaped charge IED that were used to kill 500 American service personnel in Iraq. Gen. Dempsey acknowledged what they were and the devastating effects on Humvees, their occupants and other vehicles. Cotton then asks Kerry for his reaction. While, expressing appropriate sorrow for the loss of American lives, Kerry   told the Senate panel that Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani who developed the shaped charge IEDs would not have sanctions removed.  Reports by both ABC news and the Iranian FARS news agency  have confirmed  that Gen.Soleimani has been confirmed among a list   of Iranian persons and institutions included in an annex to the JCPOA who will have both travel bans and asset restrictions lifted.

Watch this YouTube video of Senator Cotton’s Q&A at the Senate Armed Services Committee:

Senator Tom Cotton’s grilling of Kerry and Moniz revealed their lax conduct of due diligence on the IAEA side deals. They spent too much time being hounded with repeated demands for concessions by Javad Zarif in negotiations in Vienna. Instead, they should have sent aides over to the IAEA headquarters to ask about the side deals to provide a road map on prior military developments of Iran nuclear program. Senator Cotton and Rep. Pompeo did just that. Instead Kerry and the negotiating tea m basically said in so many words, we already know what Iran did, let’s move on and get with the program by approving the Iran nuclear pact. The video of Senator Cotton  Senate  Armed Services Committee Q&A should be widely shared  on social media  to inform  undecided  Congressional Democrats about why the Iran nuclear pact  should be rejected.

Hearing by hearing testimony by the Administration “A Team” on the Iranian nuclear pact demonstrates how bad a deal Kerry and the Obama negotiating team crafted with the experts in playing multi-dimensional chess, the Islamic Regime in Tehran.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Kerry: Israel and American Jews to Blame if Congress Rejects Iran Nuke Deal

Secretary of State Kerry speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan on Friday, July 24th, ‘blamed Israel” and by inference “American Jews” if Congress rejects the Iran nuclear pact. He said:

So, folks, I got to tell you, if this continues, what I’m witnessing, where there’s this fear that is governing the—and emotion that is governing people’s thinking about this program, I fear that what could happen is if Congress were to overturn it, our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated and more blamed.

Watch Kerry’s presentation on the Iran nuclear pact at the CFR on this YouTube video:

His remarks indicated  that he didn’t read the L.A. Jewish Journal Survey on the Iran nuclear pact issued on July 23rd, a day prior to his CFR presentation. In our Iconoclast post this past weekend about the Journal survey suggesting that half of American Jews polled 49% approved the Iran nuclear deal versus less than 28% of all Americans. If you add in his performance Thursday at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warning Israel not to sabotage Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program under the JCPOA then he has some reality problems. Kerry appears to have supped from the poisoned chalice of the Internationalist Jewish conspiracy the notorious Anti-Semitic Czarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of ZionWe hope that is not the case.

Rafael Medoff posted a response on The Weekly Standard blog yesterday, “Kerry Warns: Jews Will Be Blamed If Congress Sinks Iran Deal.”

Secretary Kerry made his remark in an address to the Council of Foreign Relations on July 24. He appeared to be not merely predicting that Israel might be blamed, but hinting that the Obama administration itself might do the blaming. And since the administration has repeatedly claimed that rejection of the agreement will lead to war with Iran, the implication of Kerry’s statement seems to be that Israel, the Jewish state, would be to blame for such a war. The possibility that the blame would be extended to Israel’s supporters in the United States has already been raised by President Obama himself, in his warning that unnamed “lobbyists” and “money” were trying to block the Iran deal.

The possibility that the blame would be extended to Israel’s supporters in the United States has already been raised by President Obama himself, in his warning that unnamed “lobbyists” and “money” were trying to block the Iran deal.

One unfortunate comparison brought to mind by this kind of talk is an episode involving the pundit and unsuccessful presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. In the months preceding the first Persian Gulf war, Buchanan charged that “there are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East—the Israeli defense ministry and its ‘amen corner’ in the United States.”

In another broadside, Buchanan named four prominent supporters of war with Jewish-sounding names as being part of “the Israeli Defense Ministry’s amen corner in the United States.” He accused them of planning to send “kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales and Leroy Brown” to the Persian Gulf to do the fighting.

New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal described that remark as a “blood libel,” and Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman called Buchanan’s statements “an appeal to anti-Semitic bigotry.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Sharansky Calls on U.S. Jews to Stand Up to White House Over Iran Nuclear Deal

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Secretary of State John Kerry speaking on the Iran nuclear deal at the Council on Foreign Relations on July 24, 2015. Photo by AP.

What’s behind The American Jewish Divide on the Iran Nuclear Deal?

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Council of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations (CPMAJO) Pres. Stephen M. Greenblatt, Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein with Secretary of State John Kerry , Manhattan, July 24, 2015. Source: CPMAJO and Times of Israel

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry flew up to New York to brief  skeptical leaders of major American Jewish organizations on the Administration-backed Iran Nuclear Agreement announced on July 14th. This followed Thursday’s presentation before a truculent Senate Foreign Relations Committee Iran nuclear  review with Kerry, Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. A provocative question by Senate panel member, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, prompted Kerry to issue a warning to Israel not to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. Kerry was also caught touting J Street propaganda suggesting that former Israeli security officials from Shin Bet and Mossad considered it a good deal. As reflected in a Times of Israel (TOI) report on Kerry’s briefings, American Jewish leaders expressed concerns about his inability to answer their questions.

However, a poll released Thursday by the Los-Angeles based Jewish Journal  suggested that virtually half of American Jews backed Obama on the Iran nuclear deal in contrast to less than 28 percent of  all Americans. Thus, confirming the deepening American Jewish divide over support for Israel discussed at length in Ambassador Michael Oren’s memoir, Ally. The TOI article on the Manhattan briefings by Kerry to American Jewish leaders noted the results of the Jewish Journal– sponsored survey:

According to the [Jewish Journal] survey, 49 percent of American Jews support the deal and 31 percent oppose it. Among all Americans, 28 percent support the deal and 24 percent oppose it.

Jewish Journal survey of American Jews on Iran nuclear deal

L.A. Jewish Journal survey of American Jews on Iran nuclear deal, July 23, 2015.

The Times of Israel reported comments from participants in the briefings by Kerry:

Among the issues raised were reports of provisions to shorten the embargoes on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles and secret accords dealing with inspections at Iran’s Parchin military base and the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s past nuclear activities.

“It was a very interesting exchange,” one attendee told the Times of Israel. “We spoke rather frankly and he gave his assessment. Some of the things we agree with and some of the things people disagreed with, but that is the nature of this debate.”

“People remained concerned. He filled in some blanks and on some issues people still feel quite differently,” the attendee added. “Whether you agree with his answers or not, it was an important exchange.”

The meeting with Conference of Presidents involved more than 100 participants from a wide range of Jewish groups including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), incoming Anti-Defamation League Executive Director Jonathan Greenblatt, Yeshiva University President Richard Joel, and representatives of the Jewish Federations of North America. AIPAC is vehemently opposed to the agreement. It has launched a massive lobbying campaign in a bid to see it stonewalled by Congress, which is currently reviewing the terms of the deal.

Let’s look at the nuances of the Jewish Journal Iranian nuclear deal survey findings:

The LA Jewish Journal Survey asked respondents’ views on “an agreement … reached in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons.” Almost half – 49 percent of American Jews – voiced support, and 31 percent opposed. Jews differ from the national population. Of all respondents in our national survey, only 28 percent support the deal, 24 percent oppose and the rest (48 percent) “don’t know enough to say.”

[…]

As a group, Jews hold these supportive views of the agreement, notwithstanding their mixed views regarding its outcomes. Asked whether “this agreement would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons over the next 10 years or so,” only 42 percent are somewhat confident or very confident, while 54 percent are not so confident or not confident at all. A slim plurality believes the agreement will lead to more rather than less stability in the Middle East (46 percent versus 41 percent), but a wider margin believes the deal will make Israel more endangered (49 percent) rather than safer (33 percent), almost the same as in the U.S. survey (48 percent versus 32 percent respectively).

But even with their misgivings, Jews overwhelmingly think that, in retrospect, the idea of the U.S. conducting negotiations with Iran was a good one (59 percent) rather than a bad one (19 percent).

Shoshana Bryen jpg (3)

Shoshana Bryen, The Jewish Policy Center

Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center in our 1330amWEBY interview in a forthcoming August 2015 New English Review article commented about the American Jewish divide:

In the Jewish community there is an element that believes any deal is better than no deal. The President said, “Please think of the alternative to this deal.  Think of it,” he said. Clearly, he was leaning in the direction that without the deal, there is war.  There is a group of people in the Jewish community that thinks you must do anything you can, to prevent war.  Anything, everything.  If you give up sanctions and accept demands its okay, because you’re not having war. There’s another group of people in the Jewish community, that says, if you give up everything, you’re going to end up with war anyway, but from a less advantageous position.

Ted Belman of the Jerusalem based blog Israpundit was “shocked” by the L.A. Jewish Journal survey findings pointing to the Shmuel Rosner Journal article, The growing divide between Jewish Americans and Jewish Israelis

Rosner opined:

The Jews of Israel oppose the agreement with Iran. The Jews of America support it. The just-released LA Jewish Journal survey turns an assumption into a fact: The two largest Jewish communities cannot agree on a major world development that could significantly change the state of the Jewish state.

Israel will discover today — much to many Israelis’ surprise (because they don’t much understand American Jews) — that it cannot count on the majority of American Jewry to fight the battle against the agreement alongside it. A majority of American Jews will discover today that amid all the noise made by opponents of the deal, not much has changed for them as a group: They support President Barack Obama; they vote Democratic; they approve of the agreement. American Jews are just like Americans, as sociologist Steven Cohen, who oversaw the survey, writes: They are all skeptical about the deal, but their politics dictate the way they ultimately see it.

My response to Belman was The Jewish Journal publishers hew to a reform movement precept-to repair the world. Shmuel Rosner is a left-wing Israeli journalist who made career of viewing American Jews through that lens including opposition to Bibi and the settler movement. If you look at who consulted on this survey – the West Coast Reform seminary of UAHC- there are likely two biases in both framing questions and population sampling. The first is support for J Street among the reform movement leadership and seminary academics. There are 600 members of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet largely drawn from the Reform movement pulpits in the U.S.  The second is the liberal reform readership of theJewish Journal editions across the U.S.  Increasingly, it seems liberal Jews view Israel as alien to their assimilationist values. That meme comes through in Michael Oren’s memoir.Ally.

Essentially, the Reform movement in the U.S. has returned to its traditional pre WWII anti- Zionist roots.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Best Arguments for an Iran Deal? No, not really!

Bret Stephens in his Global View column in today’s Wall Street Journal presents prolepsis arguments as to why the P5+1 deal with a nuclear Iran is a dangerous folly perpetrated by Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama on America, Israel and the World. It is a preview of the arguments that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry and their spokespersons will use to seal this deal in Press Conferences in Vienna and on Capitol Hill in Washington later this morning when the President meets with Democratic members of Congress.

Congress, under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, will now have  the daunting task of reviewing the 100 page agreement that emerged from feckless deliberations in Vienna.  That  despite the blandishments to be offered by President Obama to fellow Democrats on Capital Hill today  will likely be a very bad deal with the apocalyptic Mahdist regime in Tehran.  An Islamo fascist regime and state sponsor of terrorism  seeking the destruction of Israel , America and faltering Middle East allies.

Read Stephens’ cogent rebuttal of the misguided hopes and  faulty logic of what passed for diplomatic appeasement of Iran successfully retaining the capability to be come a nuclear threshold state under the terms of this final Joint Plan of Action.

The Wall Street Journal

The Best Arguments for an Iran Deal

The heroic assumptions, and false premises, of our diplomacy.

By BRET STEPHENS

In formal rhetoric, prolepsis means the anticipation of possible objections to an argument for the sake of answering them. So let’s be proleptic about the Iranian nuclear deal, whose apologists are already trotting out excuses for this historic diplomatic debacle.

The heroic case.Sure, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is an irascible and violent revolutionary bent on imposing a dark ideology on his people and his neighborhood. Much the same could be said of Mao Zedong when Henry Kissinger paid him a visit in 1971—a diplomatic gamble that paid spectacular dividends as China became a de facto U.S. ally in the Cold War and opened up to the world under Deng Xiaoping.

But the hope that Iran is the new China fails a few tests. Mao faced an overwhelming external threat from the Soviet Union. Iran faces no such threat and is winning most of its foreign proxy wars. Beijing ratcheted down tensions with Washington with friendly table-tennis matches. Tehran ratchets them up by locking up American citizens and seizing cargo ships in the Strait of Hormuz. Deng Xiaoping believed that to get rich is glorious. Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, a supposed reformer, spent last Friday marching prominently in the regime’s yearly “Death to America, Death to Israel” parade.

If there is evidence of an Iranian trend toward moderation it behooves proponents of a deal to show it.

The transactional case. OK, so Iran hasn’t really moderated its belligerent behavior, much less its antediluvian worldview. And a deal won’t mean we won’t still have to oppose Iran on other battlefields, whether it’s Yemen or Syria or Gaza. But that doesn’t matter, because a nuclear deal is nothing more than a calculated swap. Iran puts its nuclear ambitions into cold storage for a decade. In exchange, it comes in from the cold economically and diplomatically. Within circumscribed parameters, everyone can be a winner.

But a transaction requires some degree of trust. Since we can’t trust Iran we need an airtight system of monitoring and verification. Will the nuclear deal provide that? John Kerry will swear that it will, but as recently as January Czech officials blocked a covert $61 million purchase by Iran of “dual-use” nuclear technologies. A month before that, the U.S. found evidence that Iran had gone on an illicit “shopping spree” for its plutonium plant in Arak. That’s what we know. What do we not know?

Also, how does a nuclear deal not wind up being Iran’s ultimate hostage in dictating terms for America’s broader Mideast policy? Will the administration risk its precious nuclear deal if Iran threatens to break it every time the two countries are at loggerheads over regional crises in Yemen or Syria? The North Koreans already mastered the art of selling their nuclear compliance for one concession after another—and they still got the bomb.

The defeatist case. All right: So the Iran deal is full of holes. Maybe it won’t work. Got any better ideas? Sanctions weren’t about to stop a determined regime, and we couldn’t have enforced them for much longer. Nobody wants to go to war to stop an Iranian bomb, not the American public and not even the Israelis. And conservatives, of all people, should know that foreign policy often amounts to a choice between evils. The best case for a nuclear deal is that it is the lesser evil.

Then again, serious sanctions were only imposed on Iran in November 2011. They cut the country’s oil exports by half, shut off its banking system from the rest of the world, sent the rial into free fall and caused the inflation rate to soar to 60%. By October 2013 Iran was six months away from a severe balance-of-payments crisis, according to estimates by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. And that was only the first turn of the economic screw: Iran’s permitted oil exports could have been cut further; additional sanctions could have been imposed on the “charitable” foundations controlled by Iran’s political, military and clerical elite. Instead of turning the screw, Mr. Obama relieved the pressure the next month by signing on to the interim agreement now in force.

It’s true that nobody wants war. But a deal that gives Iran the right to enrich unlimited quantities of uranium after a decade or so would leave a future president no option other than war to stop Iran from building dozens of bombs. And a deal that does nothing to stop Iran’s development of ballistic missiles would allow them to put one of those bombs atop one of those missiles.

Good luck. Americans are a lucky people—lucky in our geography, our founders and the immigrants we attract to our shores. So lucky that Bismarck supposedly once said “there is a special providence for drunkards, fools, and the United States of America.”

Maybe we’ll get lucky again. Maybe Iran will change for the better after Mr. Khamenei passes from the scene. Maybe international monitors will succeed with Iran where they failed with North Korea. Maybe John Kerry is the world’s best negotiator, and this deal was the best we could do.

Or maybe we won’t be lucky. Maybe there’s no special providence for nations drunk on hope, led by fools.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Bi-Partisan Policy Group Blasts Obama Iran Nuclear Deal and Middle East Strategy

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) released a major policy statement signed by a bi-partisan group of former nationally prominent legislators, Bush and Obama Administration national security, diplomatic officials and the former deputy of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency blasting the emerging P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, perhaps just days away from  possibly being concluded on June 30th. The statement also condemned the Administration appeasement of Iran’s state-sponsored regional hegemony and the failure to develop a coherent strategy to combat the rise of Daesh, the Islamic State. The WINEP statement encompassed policy recommendations on these important national security issues. Among the signatories are former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), former California U.S. Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), former CIA Director Gen. David Petreaus, former special negotiator Ambassador Dennis Ross, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cavanaugh, Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director of the IAEA, Stephen Hadley, former Bush Administration National Security Director, WINEP own experts and its executive director, Robert Satloff.

Among the key points in the WINEP-sponsored statement addressing the problems with the emerging P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran is the following:

  1. Monitoring and Verification: The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (the “IAEA”) charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement must have timely and effective access to any sites in Iran they need to visit in order to verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. This must include military (including IRGC) and other sensitive facilities. Iran must not be able to deny or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities.
  2. Possible Military Dimensions: The IAEA inspectors must be able, in a timely and effective manner, to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents as required for their investigation of Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities (“Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD”). This work needs to be accomplished before any significant sanctions relief.
  3. Advanced Centrifuges: The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid technical upgrade and expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after the initial ten-year period. The goal is to push back Iran’s deployment of advanced centrifuges as long as possible, and ensure that any such deployment occurs at a measured, incremental pace consonant with a peaceful nuclear program.
  4. Sanctions Relief: Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations. Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.
  5. Consequences of Violations: The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the agreement, including by denying or delaying IAEA access. In addition, the United States must itself articulate the serious consequences Iran will face in that event.

The group also addressed the inchoate Middle East strategy addressing Iran’s regional support for state terrorism and the failed strategy to combat the Islamic State:

  1. In Iraq: Expand training and arming not only of Iraqi Security Forces but also Kurdish Peshmerga in the north and vetted Sunni forces in the West. Allow U.S. Special Forces to leave their bases and help coordinate air strikes and stiffen Iraqi units. Sideline Iranian-backed militia and separate them from Shiite units (“popular mobilization units”) that are not under Iranian control.
  2. In Syria: Expand and accelerate the U.S. train and equip programs. Work with Turkey to create a safe haven in northern Syria where refugees can obtain humanitarian aid and vetted non-extremist opposition fighters can be trained and equipped. Capitalize on Bashar al-Assad’s increasing weakness to split off regime elements and seek to join them with U.S. trained opposition elements. Interdict the transshipment of Iranian weapons into Syria in coordination with the Kurds and Turkey, and consider designating as terrorist organizations Iranian-backed Shiite militias responsible for egregious atrocities.
  3. In Yemen: Expand support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE in pressuring the warring parties to the negotiating table while seeking to split the Houthi elements away from Iran.
  4. Regionally: Interdict Iranian arms bound for extremist groups and continue to counter its efforts to harass commercial shipping and our naval forces. Reaffirm U.S. policy to oppose Iran’s efforts to subvert local governments and project its power at the expense of our friends and allies.

The WINEP statement concludes:

Collectively, these steps also strengthen U.S. capability against Daesh (the misnamed “Islamic State”). Acting against both Iranian hegemony and Daesh’s caliphate will help reassure friends and allies of America’s continued commitment. And it will help address Israel’s legitimate concerns that a nuclear agreement will validate Iran’s nuclear program, further facilitate its destabilizing behavior, and encourage further proliferation at a time when Israel faces the possible erosion of its “qualitative military edge.” We urge the U.S. administration to create a discreet, high-level mechanism with the Israeli government to identify and implement responses to each of these concerns.

Taking the actions we propose while the nuclear negotiations continue will reinforce the message that Iran must comply with any agreement and will not be allowed to pursue a nuclear weapon. This will increase, not decrease, the chance that Iran will comply with the agreement and may ultimately adopt a more constructive role in the region. For the U.S. administration’s hopes in this respect have little chance so long as Iran’s current policy seems to be succeeding in expanding its influence.

The President’s ideological  mindset regarding a rapprochement with an untrustworthy Islamic Regime in Tehran coupled with  Secretary of State Kerry’s appeasement of the red-lines diktats issued  by Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei portend a disastrous emerging agreement, should one be concluded in its current form.  We fully anticipate the Administration will issue its own statements rejecting these compelling and cogent recommendations contained in the WINEP statement signed off by a broad array of bi-partisan national security experts, diplomatic negotiators, former national legislators and international nuclear weapons inspectors.  With the clock winding down on a final Joint Plan of Action,  Americans of all political stripes and Members of Congress  should heed the WINEP-sponsored recommendations concerning the emerging P5+1 agreement under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act  (INARA) of 2015.  The Congress will have a daunting task to respond in less than 30 days under INARA with the President poised to veto any negative vote, not easily overridden.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

“Manufactured Crisis:” Obama Administration’s Response to Iran’s Increase in Low Enriched Uranium

Following the release of the latest IAEA report on May 29th disclosing a 20% increase in low enriched uranium (LEU), the Washington, D.C. based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) analyzed the findings and in its report questioned why scrap was used to spike production. The IAEA report principal findings cited in an Algemeiner report were:

Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities in the declared facilities.

The agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.

The New York Times published an article in response that reflected concerns over why Iran had continued LEU production, despite Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) agreements to the contrary.   The implication was that perhaps Iran had effectively been  ‘cheating’  using  it as a bargaining chip should no agreement be reached .  This would be a possible violation of the original November 2013 JPOA.  An Israeli diplomat commented in the Algemeiner report:

That’s exactly the problem with dropping the sanctions before Iran has proved any goodwill. The Americans are going to be doing business with Iran, and the Austrians, the Germans ,  the French and the whole world are going to do business with Iran.

That possibility was raised in a reporter’s question to Josh Earnest at yesterday’s White House Daily Press Briefing.  Ms. Marie Harf at the later State Department Daily Press Briefing expressed the view that the U.S. negotiating team “was perplexed” by the NYTimes report suggesting that nothing was awry and questioning whether it was a “manufactured crisis”. She alleged , the IAEA  had verified the LEU production under the JPOA, suggesting that Iran was in compliance.

Note these excerpted C-SPAN videos of exchanges with  journalists’ questions about  the Iran IAEA and NYTimes reports on LEU production at yesterday’s State Department and White House Daily Press Briefings.

Watch Marie Harf, State Department Spokesperson on “A Manufactured Crisis” over the NYTimes report on Iran LEU:

Watch Josh Earnest, White House Press Spokesman response to reporter’s question about Iran’s “Cheating” on LEU production:

The Daily TIP Report of The Israel Project summarized these latest concerning developments:

Iran has increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by one-fifth during the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), according to a Monday report in The New York Times, despite repeated claims by the Obama administration that Iran has halted progress on its nuclear programThis raises concerns about the uranium stockpile in any future deal. In late March, during negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, said that the uranium would not be shipped abroad.  If Iran maintains a stockpile of low-enriched uranium or oxidized uranium (the latter can be reversed in the matter of a few weeks), it would have permanent access to multiple nuclear bombs’ worth of enriched uranium. A White House fact sheet released upon the signing of the JPOA in November 2013 stipulated that Iran would “[n]ot increase its stockpile of 3.5% low-enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of [the agreement] than it is at the beginning.” According to the most recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency cited by the Times, not only has Iran increased its stockpile, but it has sped up the pace of enrichment.

Furthermore, in a May analysis, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) concluded that most of Iran’s near-20% enriched uranium is in the form of scrap rather than fuel assemblies. Moreover, Iran is currently conducting R&D on how to recover this highly-enriched uranium from scrap. ISIS wrote previously that the administration has failed to take into account the fact that both the near-20% enriched fuel and near-20% enriched scrap can be reconverted back into enriched uranium for use in a bomb, which would drastically reduce breakout time. In its most recent report, ISIS wrote, the use of near-20% enriched uranium “can significantly speed up breakout timelines to well below 12 months.”

The understandings announced in Lausanne on April 2 call for the reduction of Iran’s uranium stockpile, but do not specify the mechanism by which that would be done.

As we noted the IAEA report also expressed unease that its findings did not include any inspection of military sites, a matter of increasing concern given comments by French Foreign Minister Fabius in a WSJ interview. Fabius contended that without inspection of military sites like Parchin ,and unknown others that Iran’s Supreme Ruler has blocked, the P5+1 final agreement targeted for the end of this month would be “useless.” With Secretary of State Kerry flown back to Boston for  repair and treatment of a broken leg  sustained in a bike accident in Switzerland, whether the U.S. negotiating team can produce a  “tough verifiable” agreement with Iran. One  capable of surviving a 30 day review by Congress under INARA.

President Obama in his interview on Israel’s Channel 2 suggested that a tough verifiable inspection with snap back sanctions approved by Iran would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear device in 10, 15 or even twenty years.  Moreover, he suggested  there was no military option that would completely deter Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.  The Israeli body polity and many Americans including the national ‘paper of record’, the New York Times, are increasingly skeptical of the President’s blandishments about achieving a tough verifiable deal.  A Capitol Hill panel  was composed of former US Senators Evan Bayh, Joseph Lieberman, former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, John Hannah and Ray Takeyh of the Iran Task Force of he Foundation for Defense of Democracies   discussed this on June 1st. They confirmed what Israeli Prime  Minister  Netanyahu and 47 GOP Senators had said in an address to Congress and a letter to Iran’s Supreme Ruler that the P5+1 process could result in  a “very bad deal”.  These latest revelations by the IAEA, NYTimes, ISIS and the  FDD Iran task Force suggest  that  a possible P5+1 agreement with Iran  may be slipping away from Obama’s grasp.

Watch the FDD Iran Task Force panel C-Span Video:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Rising Concerns over Muslim Refugee Resettlement in U.S. [Video]

Ann Corcoran’s brief video on Muslim Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. has gone viral since being put up on YouTube on April 20, 2015 by the Center for Security Policy. It has had over 200,735 hits to date climbing every day. Clearly, Corcoran’s message has resonated among concerned Americans. Watch it on YouTube:

Refugee Resettlement and Hijra jpgThe CSP YouTube video is a complement to her recently published book on the problems confronting America over the threat of mass Muslim migration that has transformed Europe and now troubles grass roots America, “Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America .

Corcoran and her team chronicle news and developments about this issue on the blog where she is editor, Refugee Resettlement Watch. You may have read our interview with Erick Stakelbeck, ISIS Threat to America  in the current edition of the NER where he drew attention to the Somali refugee communities in the American heartland sending jihadi terrorists in Somali and Syria.  He spoke of young Somali émigré men who have joined up with, first Al Shabaab in Somalia, and now increasingly, join the Islamic State to fight for the self-declared Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.   We have drawn attention to the problems of Somali refugee resettlement in NER articles and Iconoclast posts over the past eight years.  They have  covered  severe cultural and integration problems in the American heartland  in places like Shelbyville, TennesseeEmporia, KansasGreeley , ColoradoMinneapolis, Minnesota,  Columbus, Ohio, and Lewiston, Maine.

The Somali émigré jihadis aren’t the only terrorists among admitted refugees. Think of the brothers Tsarneav who perpetrated the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. See our NER article, “Refugee Jihad Terror in Boston.”  An ABC investigation reported that dozens of terrorists have been admitted fraudulently under the U.S. Refugee Admission Program.

 One example was two Iraqi refugees, al Qaeda operatives, arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2011 convicted in 2013. They were charged with sending weapons and cash to Al Qaeda. They lied on their Federal Refugee Admission forms about their prior terrorist involvements in Iraq. One had constructed IEDs, involved in killing four members of a Pennsylvania National guard unit in 2006 in Iraq. A check of fingerprints on the shards of the IED caught the perpetrator. Watch this 2013 ABC Report. Recently, one of those convicted, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, filed a motion seeking to overturn his conviction because his counsel said he wouldn’t get life.  That episode briefly raised the criticism of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

In excess of 250,000 Somali and Iraqis have been admitted to the U.S. as refugees.  An estimated one million have immigrated to the U.S. from Muslim lands. Through births and admittance of relatives under the problematic P-3 Family Reunification Visa program the impact could mean millions of additional Muslim émigrés in the U.S.  Virtually all of the Somali and Iraqi refugees were Muslim.  Endangered Christians and other minority religion accounted for less than 8 percent of Syrian Refugees admitted under the State Department administered U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Eleven Christian, Jewish and special interest NGOs or voluntary agencies (VOLAGS) are paid by the billion dollar State Department refugee program to process and place refugees in American communities. VOLAGS like Catholic Charities, Lutheran World Services, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the International Rescue Committee. The total annual federal and state program costs of refugee resettlement are estimated to range in excess of $12 to $20 billion annually.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees  establishes priorities for U.S. Admissions under the Refugee Act of 1980. An Act co-sponsored by the late Edward Kennedy and then Senator, now Vice President in the Obama Administration, Joe Biden. The U.S. may be poised to accept another wave of over 75,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.   Doubtless they and growing number of  Muslim refugees from  elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia will be “seeded”  in American cities under the Fostering Community Engagement  and Welcoming Communities Project of  the Office of Refugee  Resettlement with the Soros-backed  NGO, “Welcoming America“.

 But now there is pushback by American cities, as witnessed by concerns expressed in letters to Secretary of State Kerry by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Judiciary Sub Committee on Immigration and Border Security. Both The House Subcommittee and the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) hold annual hearings over refugee allotments. Gowdy’s letter of April 13, 2015 was prompted by constituent complaints in Spartanburg, South Carolina of the establishment of a VOLAG office to processing Muslim refugees. He wrote Secretary Kerry seeking answers as to why the office was being established and had not been reviewed with state and local agencies. He ended his letter:

I request that any plans to resettle refugees in the Spartanburg, South Carolina, area be placed on hold until my constituents and I receive your substantive responses to the questions and information requested in this letter. Additionally, before moving forward, both the Spartanburg community and I should have time to substantively review the information and be comfortable with the information provided.

As previously stated, I am troubled by the lack of notice and coordination with my office and the Spartanburg community, particularly local officials, regarding the plans to resettle refugees in the area. In that vein, I request at least one month’s notice prior to the arrival of the first refugee[s] in the Spartanburg area.

To find out more about what could become an important issue for evaluation of 2016 Presidential candidates, be sure to listen to an interview with Ann Corcoran of RRW by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates on 1330am WEBY “Your Turn.” The program will air at 5:30 PM CDT (6:30 PM EDT), Tuesday, May 12th.  You may Listen Live here. The recorded program will be archived and posted following the broadcast.  A transcript of the interview may appear in the June edition of the NER.

RELATED ARTICLES:

U.S. Welcomes Millions of Aliens ‘Sight Unseen’

“A Growing Threat”: You’ll be Amazed at the Number of Immigrants Who Have Come to America From Muslim Countries Since 9/11

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

How Fateful are Israel’s Knesset Elections on March 17th?

Sunday, March 15th, the Voice of Israel (VOI) Global Radio System aired a “National Security” program with Executive Producer and host Dan Diker and guests Dr. Harold Rhode former Pentagon Islamic Affairs expert, Distinguished Gatestone Institute Senior Fellow and Bassem Eid Arab correspondent for VOI. Eid is founder of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. The thought provoking title was “Whom Do Radical Islamists Want as Israel’s Next Prime Minister?

This is a must listen program for all those concerned about Israel’s future in the run up to Tuesday’s March 17th Israeli Knesset elections.  Those elections have more than 20 parties competing for 120 seats. It will pit the current ruling coalition Likud government led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu against the Zionist Union headed by MK Yitzhak Herzog and former Justice Minister of Hatnuah, Tzipi Livni. There is also a new emerging factor. A coalition negotiated following the Knesset elections. It could include a Joint Arab List that might secure upwards of 13 to 15 seats. The Joint Arab List electoral results might possibly bolster the Zionist Union led opposition, including the leftist Meretz party, seeking to be given the nod to form a ruling coalition if selected by Israel President Reuven Rivlin. The VOI will have extensive live and extended coverage of these important Israeli Knesset elections on March 17th.

You may register and listen live to the VOI here.

Overarching this Knesset elections were disclosures this weekend of the U.S. Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee addressing complaints by PM Netanyahu of “foreign country involvement.” This is a reference to reports that the U.S. Administration has funded NGOs engaged in possible anti-Netanyahu “anyone but Bibi” vote campaigns among the country’s Arab and urban Jewish voters. The effort involves former Obama Presidential campaign field operations staff headed by Jeremy Bird of 270 Strategies.   Support has come from major Obama Jewish Democratic contributors and possibly State Department funding of NGOs.  Whether the Administration would prefer a new Israeli government whose policies might materially affect the national security and sovereignty of Jewish nation is at question?

This  Ides of March VOI “National Security” program, is a fascinating and elucidating commentary about the  dynamics of the contending forces in the regional  Muslim communities,  both Shia and Sunni, and  views of the US Administration as an unreliable ally. That is reflected in the views of Saudi -backed Al Arabiya  that gave  high marks to PM Netanyahu for standing up to the threat posed by  the Islamic State,  Iran  and proxies Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad  and Hezbollah. As pointed out by Dr. Rhode, Al Arabiya, strongly endorsed Netanyahu’s address before the Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd seeking to obtain a better deal to deter Iran from achieving nuclear hegemony in the region. There is also discussion of Egypt’s President Al-Sisi’s emerging role of importance trying to fashion a Sunni regional coalition of forces, the equivalent of a NATO – type organization to confront IS.  Al-Sisi’s New Year’s speech in  Cairo, before Al Azhar and the Awqfar  Ministry,  espoused reform of underlying Qur’anic doctrine  that has returned to the takfir purist form of Islam emblematic of the apocalyptic IS, a self styled Caliphate. A Caliphate that as Dr. Rhode pointed out may have been fostered originally by Shia Mahdist Iran now ironically engaged in combating IS in Iraq.

Rhode and Diker suggested that if a more compliant Israel government was elected on Tuesday that IS and Hamas cells in the West Bank and Hezbollah with Iran on the Golan might foment possible trouble.  Iran, as noted by Diker and Rhode, is rapidly spreading its hegemony threatening the region from Yemen on the Red Sea, across the Arabian Peninsula to the shores of the Persian Gulf and through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. An Iran whose nuclear quest may have already triggered nuclear proliferation with Saudi Arabia’s disclosure of a recent nuclear development deal with South Korea.  We found fascinating the discussion among Diker, Rhode and Bassem Eid, astute VOI Arab correspondent, on the internal Israel Arab Muslim divide over the question of whether they would support the United Arab List.

Bassem disclosed the previously not well known fact that 60 percent of Israeli Arab Muslims are more likely to vote for Jewish parties as loyal citizens rather than for the Arab list. The Party’s leaders are more concerned about Israel as an ‘apartheid state’.  They have fashioned seditious relations with Ramallah, Gaza, Damascus and even Tehran and all   enemies of Israel. Bassem also noted that the Palestinians view the Likud government and Netanyahu as more reliable with honoring commitments than prior experiences with both Labor and Kadima governments.  Rhode explained that regional Arabs view favorably the Israeli democratic traditions that Arab Muslim citizens enjoy. He told of the impact of that on the Egyptian body guards of the late President Anwar Sadat when he came to Jerusalem in 1977 to give a speech before the Knesset. They noted, he said, the sharp contrast between the quiet respect paid to President Sadat when he spoke and the vigorous debates in the Knesset chamber that followed his address.  The VOI program offers insights into what might occur Tuesday when Israel votes for the 33rd Knesset.  The comments of these American and Israeli experts raise serious questions about the objectives of the US Administration Vis a vis a P5+1 non-binding deal to facilitate Iran’s nuclear hegemony.

Monday, March 16th, this writer and Mike Bates, co-host of Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio 1330 am WEBY will be interviewed by VOI National Security host Dan Diker. That recorded program will address Obama Administration funding via State Department AID and US Jewish moguls involved with OneVoice, V-15 and the Abraham Fund to get out the anti-Bibi vote in Israel. The program will also delve into controversy surrounding Sen. Cotton’s ‘Iran letter’. That controversy has led to revelations suggesting that  the Administration is striving to establish a  rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran  avoiding Congressional review instead  seeking a  nuclear agreement  by the P5+1 at the UN  via a Security Council resolution.  That could result in lifting more than an estimated $70 billion in UN financial sanctions against Iran held in US banks controlled by the US Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control.  Sunday talk show criticism of the Cotton letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Secretary of State Kerry and former Secretary Madeleine Albright on CBS’ Face the Nation were contested by Sen. Cotton who drew attention to the precedent of a non verifiable deal made during the Clinton Administration with North Korea that eventuated in the latter’s creating a nuclear stockpile of weapons 12 years later.

Tuesday, VOI host Diker will join Northwest Florida’s talk radio 1330 am WEBY periodic Middle East Round Table co-hosts Bates and Gordon to report first returns from what many consider the fateful 2015 Knesset elections during 4:00 PM CST (5:00 PM EST) segment of “Your Turn”.

Listen Live here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Senator Cotton Defends Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran

We posted several times this week on the controversy that erupted following  publication of letter on Monday, March 9th, 2014, authored by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) and signed by 46 other Republican colleagues that was tweeted to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Seven Republican Senators for various reasons declined to do so.  It drew the ire of the President, Secretary of State Kerry and most Democratic Senators.  It triggered several White House website “We the People” website petition campaigns. One requested charges of “treason” be filed while the other accused Sen. Cotton and the 46 Republican signatories of violating the 1799 Logan Act suggesting they could be sued for illegally conducting foreign relations when Members of Congress are exempt from the hoary law. Further, both sides of the aisle have done so historically, including then Senators Kerry and Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. That didn’t stop some media like the New York Daily News and others from suggesting Republican signatories of the Cotton Letter were acting in a traitorous manner in an editorial  and front page headline, “GOPers Sabotage Bam Nuke Deal”.

The letter  has been called “mutinous” by a former Army General cited by the Washington PostPolitico blamed Sen. Cotton for “getting us a hard-line Supreme Ruler.” President Obama found it “somewhat ironic” that the Cotton letter may have aligned them with so-called hardliner opposition in Iran to the nuclear deal. Others contended that the letter was “ misguided”  and ”disrespectful” of the Presidential perogatives under our Constitution for negotiations of treaties and executive agreements. In our most recent post on the controversy on Friday, we wrote:

Two independent legal experts confirmed the Constitutional requirements for review of foreign treaties and Congressional executive agreements. Sen. Cotton’s letter also pointed out that any executive order signed by the President may not survive past the end of his term in 22 months and might be modified or terminated for cause by any successor. That raised a question of why the Memorandum of Understanding was non-binding. That provoked responses from both Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei.  While the latter railed in rhetoric about how the GOP initiative reflected “the disintegration of the US” and why our representations can’t be trusted and laughing at the State Department citing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. It was left to Foreign Minister Zarif, to reveal that Congress wouldn’t have to approve anything saying: “The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu wrote in a Jewish Press article published today, “U.N. Security Council’s lifting of sanctions and endorsement of a deal might make Congress irrelevant.” He then cites the observation of Omri Ceren, Communications Director for the Washington, DC-based The Israel Project:

The letter forced the Administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm. The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight.

Ken Timmerman, whose FrontPageMagazine article, we cited noted the reason for Zarif’s and presumably the Administration position:

The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.

That prompted Sen. Coker (R-TN) and Foreign Relations Senate Committee chair co-sponsor of The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 to write President Obama Thursday:

There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote.

Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role.

bill bennetSen. Cotton was interviewed on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America program on Wednesday, March 11th, 2014 in the midst of the continuing controversy. He presented the salient background and rationale for the letter.  Among points regarding his letter he made during the interview were:

He indicated that the letter took shape following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to a Joint Meeting of Congress that, in his opinion, raised questions about what sort of deal the Administration was entering into among both his Republican and many Democratic colleagues, as it did not preclude Iran from achieving a nuclear capability.

His letter was directed at informing Iran’s leaders of the Constitutional authorities for Senate review of foreign treaties and executive agreements and that they may be terminated by end of President Obama’s term or modified by succeeding Presidents or Congress under existing related sanctions legislation.  He thought that the response from Iran’s foreign minister reflected his lack of understanding of Congressional review and ratification  requirements as regarding any Memorandum of Understanding on Iran’s nuclear program that the US P5+1 might enter into.

He illustrated the ability of President to rescind executive agreements of predecessors with reference to the 2004 letter of former President Bush to the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reaffirming Israel’s rights under UN Resolution 242 to “secure and defensible” borders and that Jerusalem was Israel’s undivided capital. President Obama, according to Sen. Cotton, rescinded that executive agreement by suggesting that Israel might divide Jerusalem along the lines of the pre-1967 1949 Armistice Line.

The President’s objective, endeavoring to conclude so-called verifiable agreements on Iran’s nuclear agreements in their current form, would be a bad deal as reflecting in Israeli Prime Minister’s address comments before a Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd as it could allow Iran to continue developing a nuclear capability, not preclude it.

He suggested that President Obama’s motivation for pushing for the Iran nuclear deal was to achieve a strategic rapprochement with Iran. This despite the Islamic Republic cited by our State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. Among specific examples cite by Cotton during the interview  were the 1979 US Embassy hostage taking and terrorist attacks by proxies  over several decades that resulted in deaths and injuries to hundreds of American diplomats and service personnel in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

On the Matter of the Administration’s new Authorization for the Use of Military Power submitted to the Senate, he called it seriously restrictive. He pointed to the collapse of Iraq and rise of the Islamic State following the Administration’s failure to conclude a status of forces agreement with Iraq on the termination of the Iraq War in 2011.

When asked about Iran’s involvement in the current battle for Tikrit with Iraq national security forces and Iranian controlled Shia Militia, Cotton noted the role of the Quds Force, a combination of Special Forces and its CIA and its ubiquitous commander Qassem Suleymani. He accused Suleymani’s Quds Force of involvement in American casualties in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It also reflected Iran’s rapidly expanding sphere of influence over four Arab countries in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and more recently, Yemen.

Sen. Cotton’s Bennett program interview came just before revelations about the implications of Foreign Minister Zarif’s remarks suggesting the non-binding Memo of Understanding reflected resort to UN approval of any appraisal arising from the multilateral negotiations with the P5+1. You may listen to the Bennett interview with Sen. Cotton, here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is courtesy of CNN.

If you want to know what’s in the Nuclear Deal with Iran — Ask Tehran

Yesterday, we wrote how 47 Republican Senators, led by Arkansas U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, did us a real favor when they sent an open letter to the “Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. By published the open letter to Iran’s leaders, responses from Tehran revealed that the Congress may be by-passed and its approval might not be required to ratify a nuclear deal with Iran. Secretary of State Kerry indicated during his Senate Armed Services Hearing Wednesday that the Memorandum of Understanding was “non-binding” and thus no approval was required. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki affirmed that position. The White House “We the People” website petition campaign created by  “C.H.” of Bogota, New Jersey accused the 47 signatories of ‘traitorous’ actions violating the 1799 Logan Act which  bars private persons, but not members of Congress, from conducting  foreign relations was simply a smokescreen. Ditto for the New York Daily News front page and editorial declaration published Tuesday. 

Two independent legal experts confirmed the Constitutional requirements for review of foreign treaties and Congressional executive agreements. Sen. Cotton’s letter also pointed out that any executive order signed by the President may not survive past the end of his term in 22 months and might be modified or terminated for cause by any successor. That raised a question of why the Memorandum of Understanding was non-binding. That provoked responses from both Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei.  While the latter railed in rhetoric about how the GOP initiative reflected “the disintegration of the U.S.” and why our representations can’t be trusted and laughing at the State Department citing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. It was left to Foreign Minister Zarif, to reveal that Congress wouldn’t have to approve anything saying: “The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu wrote in a Jewish Press article published today, “U.N. Security Council’s lifting of sanctions and endorsement of a deal might make Congress irrelevant.” He then cites the observation of Omri Ceren, Communications Director for the Washington, DC-based The Israel Project:

The letter forced the Administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm. The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight

After we published our clarification of Sen. Cotton’s letter, our colleague Ken Timmerman wrote and thanked us for our piece. He said more would be revealed in his FrontPage Magazine, article published today, “Iran Deal Secrets Revealed – by Iran.”

Here are some excerpts from the Timmerman article.

On why Zarif said Congressional approval wasn’t required:

 That if the current negotiation with P5+1 result[s] in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Timmerman’s observation:

The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.

That prompted Sen. Coker (R-TN) and Foreign Relations Senate Committee chair co-sponsor of The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 to write President Obama Thursday:

There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote.

Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role.

Timmerman then recounts the repeated Iranian violations of the interim Joint Plan of Action adopted in November 2013 and how the Administration has caved to Iran’s demands:

When the negotiations began, the U.S. was insisting that Iran comply with five United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all uranium enrichment. Now the discussion is on how many centrifuges Iran can spin, and more importantly, how many new generation (and more efficient) centrifuges Iran can install.

On issue after issue, it’s the United States – not Iran – that has given way. When Iran got caught violating the terms of the November 2013 agreement within the first two months, by enriching fresh batches of uranium to 20%, the United States pretended not to notice.

When the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had produced fresh batches of 20% uranium on Jan. 20, 2014, no one called it a violation, highlighting instead Iranian steps to convert a portion of the 20% uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor.

Anyone who was been observing Iran’s nuclear cheat and retreat over the past twenty years recognizes the pattern: Iran is constantly pushing the limits, and when they get called out, they take a step backwards until they think we are no longer watching, when they do it again.

And we never punish them. Not ever.

Timmerman asked a rhetorical question and gave the obvious answer:

Can Obama legally circumvent Congress and go directly to the United Nations?

Undoubtedly, just as he could ignore multiple U.S. laws – and his own statements – that prevented him for granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens by Executive Order.

But if the Iranians really believe they can find sanctuary from Congress in Turtle Bay, former White House speech writer Marc Thiessen suggests they should think again.

“The US constitution trumps international law. The U.S. constitutional trumps the United Nations,” he told FoxNews anchor Megyn Kelly on Thursday. “The Supreme Court has actually ruled on this.”

It should be crystal clear to anyone observing the U.S.-Iran charade what Tehran wants from these talks: absolute victory over the United States.

Iran’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator himself, said it the day the November 2013 agreement was announced: “In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iran’s national will,” he tweeted victoriously.

So why is Iran engaging in this subterfuge?  It is all about achieving victory, meaning continuing the inevitable development of nuclear weapons, and having their financial sanctions lifted:

This is the deal-maker for the Iranian regime, the one thing they want so bad they actually will make concessions to achieve it.

But wait: even though the Iranians claim the sanctions are unjust, and that all the sanctions imposed over the past two decades must be removed instantaneously for a deal to be signed, that does not mean they will walk away if some sanctions stay in place.

“What they really care about are the financial sanctions,” an Iranian businessman familiar with the way the Tehran regime moves money told me. “As long as they can use and move dollars, the rest they don’t care about.”

Iran has lived so long with sanctions on dual use technology and weapons procurement that they have learned how to get around them. “They can get anything they want,” the businessman told me. “It may cost them 5 percent or 10 percent more, but they consider that the cost of doing business.”

So be prepared for a last minute, Hail Mary deal that will lift financial sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian promises not to build the bomb.

If such a deal will prevent or even delay a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East is anyone’s guess.

Remember, Sen. Cotton’s observation in a Tweet, after hearing Secretary Kerry’s testimony on Capitol Hill, Wednesday:

cotton tweet on iranEDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, second from right. Source: CNN September 2014.

Schaden Freude Alert! Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Rushed to Hospital in Critical Condition

Schaden Freude Alert! This is NOT Purim Shpiel.  Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei rushed to hospital in critical condition. This may be evidence that sometimes Ha Shem does work in less than mysterious ways. The report of Ayatollah Khamenei’s ‘critical condition gives heft to the magnificent address by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before a joint meeting of Congress.

Purim-groggerIf confirmed it should bolster support for the real deal that Bibi spoke of – regime change in Tehran. That message should not be lost on President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the rest of the P5+1 intent on cutting a deal with this malevolent apocalyptic Mahdist regime fomenting chaos to awaken the moribund Twelth Imam in the holy well in the holy city of Qom, Iran. We trust that my cioreligiionists last night shook that grogger  (Purim noisemaker) (during the reading of Esther’s Megillah, but substituted Khamenei for Haman. Chag Purim Sameach.

Note  this Israel National News report on this ‘revoltin’ development, Report: Iran’s Supreme Leader Hospitalized in Critical Condition:

Just in time for Purim, the Jewish holiday celebrating the redemption of the Jewish people from plots of genocide in ancient Persia, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition on Wednesday.

According to Arab media reports cited by Israel Hayom, Khamenei was urgently brought to a hospital in Tehran after several of his bodily systems had already failed.

The reports add that the 76-year-old supreme leader of the Islamic regime has undergone surgery and remains in critical condition.

Recently it has been reported that he was suffering from prostate cancer which had spread to additional parts of his body, and due to his poor health condition he had largely ceased taking part in public events.

The hospitalization comes just days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed Congress on Tuesday to warn of the existential threat to Israel and the world that Iran poses, urging America to avoid the deal being formed on Iran’s nuclear deal ahead of a March 31 deadline for talks.

Lending some credence to the reports is the fact that Khamenei’s official Twitter account hasn’t been updated since Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday, when he wrote the “US is now facing a #dilemma. It should either stop unlimited services to #Israel or they’ll lose more face in the world.”

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.