Muslims Call for French Goods Boycott to Protest Muhammad Cartoons

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—Muslims in the Middle East and beyond on Monday broadened their calls for boycotts of French products and protests, as a clash over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and the limits of free speech intensified. Pakistan traders hold a banner with a defaced picture of French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest against the publishing of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Oct. 26, 2020. (Muhammad Sajjad/AP Photo) Kuwaiti stores pulled French yogurts and bottles of sparkling water from their shelves, Qatar University canceled a French culture week, and calls to stay away from the Carrefour grocery store chain were trending on social media in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Protests have been held in Turkey and the Gaza Strip and are being planned in Pakistan. The beheading earlier this month of a French teacher who had shown caricatures of the prophet in class has once again ignited a debate over such depictions—which Muslims consider blasphemous. The growing confrontation is raising political tensions between France and some Muslim-majority nations and could put pressure on French companies. A notice calling for a boycott of French products is displayed at a supermarket in Sanaa, Yemen, on Oct. 26, 2020. (Hani Mohammed/AP Photo) The teacher, who was killed by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, has been heralded at home as a national symbol of France’s dearly-held secular ideals and its rejection of any whiff of religious intrusion in public spheres. French President Emmanuel Macron has vigorously defended such depictions as protected under the right to free speech. At a memorial for the teacher last week, Macron said: “We won’t renounce the caricatures.” On Sunday, he appeared to double down. In tweets published in both Arabic and English, he wrote: “We will not give in, ever.” He added, however, that France does not accept hate speech and respects all differences. His government plans a bill aimed at rooting out what Macron calls “Islamist separatism,” which he contends has created a parallel culture in France, one that rejects French laws and norms. While he blamed some of this separatism on France’s colonial past in North Africa, he was quoted as saying Islam is “a religion that is in crisis all over the world” and that Muslim positions are “hardening.” Macron’s stance has drawn anger from the Muslim world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the most vocal on the political front, saying Macron needed his head examined and had lost his way. France responded by recalling its ambassador to Turkey. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the French leader chose to encourage anti-Muslim sentiment and deliberately provoke Muslims by encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam. Pakistan also summoned the French ambassador to lodge a protest over Macron’s condoning of the caricatures. Amid the political barbs, neither Erdogan nor Khan has publicly condemned the killing of the French teacher. Meanwhile, Islamic terrorist groups ranging from the Taliban in Afghanistan to Hezbollah in Lebanon have condemned Macron’s defense of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad. By Aya Batrawy

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TRUMP Helps Broker Deal Between Israel And Sudan

It’s hard to get the real news these days as the Democrats continue to attack the President. It doesn’t matter what President Trump does or say, the left will always see it in a negative light. Here is a bit of news you might not even have heard about, but most recently, President Trump helped negotiate peace ties between Israel

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Afghan Security Forces Kill Senior Al Qaeda Leader Al-Masri

Afghan security forces take part in an ongoing operation against ISIS terrorists in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, on Nov. 5, 2019. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP via Getty Images) KABUL—Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al–Masri (also spelt Abu Muhsen Almisry), a senior al Qaeda leader who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a tweet late on Saturday. Breaking news : as a result of NDS special force unit operation in ghazni province an al-Qaida key member for Indian sub contanint, Abu Muhsen Almisry were killed pic.twitter.com/4fmWzA5T4e — NDS Afghanistan (@NDSAfghanistan) October 24, 2020 Al–Masri has been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation, and conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals. Al–Masri, believed to be al Qaeda‘s second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province, the NDS said. By Hamid Shalizi

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Trump Expects Saudi Arabia and 4 Other Arab States Will Be Next to Normalize Ties With Israel

President Donald Trump said on Friday that he expects Saudi Arabia will be among “at least five” Arab nations soon to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel. Trump made the remarks to reporters in the Oval Office after an announcement that Sudan had agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Israel. “We have at least five that want to come in. And we’ll have many more than that very soon,” Trump said. “I’m sure you’ll see Saudi Arabia there very soon,” Trump said, adding, “I really believe that will happen too, and very good relations with Saudi Arabia and so you’ll see something very special.” Friday’s normalization deal is the third U.S.-brokered agreement between Israel and an Arab state in recent months. Similar agreements have been penned with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. President Donald Trump speaks about a Sudan-Israel peace agreement, in the Oval Office in Washington, on Oct. 23, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) Trump sealed the agreement in a three-way phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. “Today’s peace agreement will enhance Israel’s security and end Sudan’s long isolation from the world because of what was taking place,” Trump said. “It will unlock new opportunities for trade and commerce, education and research, and cooperation and friendship for both peoples.” Asked to detail the implications of a “normalization” deal, Netanyahu called it “mind-boggling” and spoke of container ships carrying consumer goods following newly established trade lines between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. “That’s bringing down the price—the cost of living for the citizens of Israel right away. So it’s—firstly, it’s trade,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israeli tourism agents have been “flocking to Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, and they’re now just loaded with requests from Israelis and, believe it or not, the other way around: Bahrainis and Emiratis who want to come to Israel.” “You have trade, tourism, technology, entrepreneurs, everything,” the Israeli prime minister said. “I mean, the same thing is going to happen with Sudan.” (L) Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Feb. 14, 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters); (R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Aug. 13, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool via Reuters) A reporter asked about the sale of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates, which Abu Dhabi had been seeking for some time, prompting Trump to say, “that process is moving along.” Also on Friday, Israel announced it would not oppose U.S. sales of “specific weapons systems” to the United Arab Emirates, which did not explicitly refer to F-35s. Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz reached agreements in Washington this week with Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he and Netanyahu, in a joint statement, said would significantly upgrade Israel’s military capabilities. “Since the U.S. is upgrading Israel’s military capability and is maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, Israel will not oppose the sale of these systems to the UAE,” the joint statement said. “We’ve never had a dispute with UAE; they’ve always been on our side. And that process is moving along—I think hopefully rapidly,” Trump said, responding to the question about the United Arab Emirate bid to acquire the fighter jets.

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Trump Announces New Middle East Peace Deal, Approval Rating Climbs Above 50%

President Trump announced a new peace deal in the Middle East on Friday that would normalize ties between Israel and Sudan. Sudan joins Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who announced similar historic peace agreements that involve establishing embassies, exchanging ambassadors, and beginning to work together as partners. Sudan, according to the President, has demonstrated a commitment to combating

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Trump Announces New Middle East Peace Deal As His Approval Rating Zooms Past 50%

President Trump announced a new peace deal in the Middle East on Friday that would normalize ties between Israel and Sudan. Sudan joins Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who announced similar historic peace agreements that involve establishing embassies, exchanging ambassadors, and beginning to work together as partners. The third historic peace deal sealed […] The post Trump Announces New Middle East Peace Deal As His Approval Rating Zooms Past 50% appeared first on The Political Insider.

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Israel and Sudan Reach US-Brokered Deal to Normalize Ties

Israel and Sudan agreed on Friday to take steps to normalize relations in a deal brokered with the help of the United States, making Khartoum the third Arab state to set aside hostilities with Israel in the last two months. U.S. President Donald Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. “The leaders agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations,” a joint statement issued by the United States, Sudan, and Israel. (L) Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) address the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 14, 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters), (R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a peace agreement to establish diplomatic ties, between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, during a news conference at the prime minister office in Jerusalem, Aug. 13, 2020. (Abir Sultan /Pool via Reuters) Trump invited reporters into the Oval Office while he was on the phone with the leaders of Israel and Sudan. “This is one of the great days in the history of Sudan,” Trump said, adding that Israel and Sudan have been in a state of war for decades. “It is a new world,” Netanyahu said over the phone. “We are cooperating with everyone. Building a better future for all of us.” The deal also is aimed at unifying Arab countries against their common adversary, Iran. “The United States will take steps to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity and to engage its international partners to reduce Sudan’s debt burdens, including advancing discussions on debt forgiveness consistent with the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative,” the joint statement said. Both the United States and Israel will assist Sudan “in strengthening [its] democracy, improving food security, countering terrorism and extremism, and tapping into [its] economic potential,” the statement said. Sudan and Israel will establish trade and economic relations with “an initial focus on agriculture.” Within the coming weeks, the delegations will meet to negotiate further cooperation in various areas including agriculture technology, aviation, and migration issues. Sudan will become the third country to normalize its ties with Israel under the United States-brokered agreement. On Sept. 15, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed in Washington, their normalization accords with Israel, called Abraham Accords. The deal will normalize the commercial, security, and diplomatic relations of both countries with Israel. Before two Arab countries fully normalized their relations with Israel, Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. The success in brokering the Abraham Accords owes to President Donald Trump’s different approach from the common understanding on how “how to create security for the Middle East,” U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said in an interview in September. “The Trump administration recognized that “that the central challenge in the Middle East wasn’t the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, but rather the challenge that is presented by the Islamic Republic of Iran and their anti-Semitic terrorist campaign all around the world,” Pompeo explained. Revoking Sudan’s Status as State Sponsor of Terrorism Sudanese people carry their national flag and chant slogans as they celebrate the signing of a constitutional declaration between Deputy Head of Sudanese Transitional Military Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Sudan’s opposition alliance coalition’s leader Ahmad al-Rabiah, outside the Friendship Hall, in Khartoum, Sudan Aug. 4, 2019. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters) President Donald Trump has told the U.S. Congress he would rescind Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, the White House said on Friday, after Sudan transferred $335 million into a special escrow account for U.S. victims of terror and their families. “President Donald J. Trump has informed Congress of his intent to formally rescind Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” the White House said in a statement. “This follows on Sudan’s recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families.” Trump achieved “the resolution of longstanding claims of victims of the East Africa embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the murder of USAID employee John Granville,” something that his predecessors were not able to accomplish, the statement said. “It is essential that Congress act now to pass the legislation required to ensure that the American people rapidly realize the full benefits of this policy breakthrough,” the White House said. The removal of the terror designation opens the door for Sudan to get international loans and aid needed to revive its battered economy and rescue the country’s transition to democracy. Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising last year led the military to overthrow the longtime autocrat, Omar al-Bashir. A military-civilian government rules the country, with elections possible in late 2022. Many in Sudan say the designation, imposed in 1993 because Bashir’s government was supporting several international terrorist groups such as Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, and others, has become outdated since Bashir was removed last year. Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump Secures Third Historic Middle East Peace Deal, This Time With Sudan

Sudan will be removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and will begin a partnership with the United States and Israel, President Donald Trump announced on Friday. “HUGE win today for the United States and for peace in the world. Sudan has agreed to a peace and normalization agreement with Israel! With the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, that’s

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US Blacklists Chinese Entities, Individuals for Dealing With Iran

WASHINGTON—The United States on Monday said it blacklisted two Chinese men and six Chinese entities for having dealt with Iranian shipping company Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and, in some cases, helping it to evade U.S. sanctions. The U.S. State Department named the entities as Reach Holding Group (Shanghai) Company Ltd.; Reach Shipping Lines; Delight Shipping Co., Ltd.; Gracious Shipping Co. Ltd.; Noble Shipping Co. Ltd.; and Supreme Shipping Co. Ltd. In a statement, it also said it had targeted Eric Chen, also known as Chen Guoping, chief executive of Reach Holding Group (Shanghai) Company Ltd., and Daniel Y. He, also known as He Yi, the company’s president. As a result of being put on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals list, the assets of the entities and individuals falling under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and U.S. persons are generally barred from dealing with them. “Today, we reiterate a warning to stakeholders worldwide: If you do business with IRISL, you risk U.S. sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the statement. Among other things, the State Department accused the six entities of providing “significant goods or services” used in connection with Iran’s shipping sector. It also accused Reach Holding Group and its Reach Shipping Lines unit helping IRISL and its subsidiaries evade U.S. sanctions. The sanctions are the latest imposed by the United States following President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Iran struck with six big powers. Under that agreement, which aimed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Tehran committed to limit its nuclear activities in return for relief from economic sanctions. Trump argues the 2015 deal did not limit Iran’s regional and ballistic missile activities and economic pressure instead will force Tehran into a broader deal. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

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How the ‘Peace Industry’ Got It Wrong on the Middle East

Commentary In 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump fulfilled a long-standing promise to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and move the American embassy to Jerusalem, the news was received with horror on the left. Politicians and pundits warned that the Arab “street” would rise in violent protest. As it happened, most Palestinians didn’t care where the American embassy situates itself; the move took place without incident. The left holds fixed views about the Middle East. They are convinced there can never be peace in the region until the Palestinians achieve their promise of statehood, among other claims. In 2016, when the idea of a separate peace between Israel and its other Arab neighbours was mooted, then-Secretary of State John Kerry emphatically declared to the Brooking Institute: “There will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world.” Until Palestinians were satisfied, it was “no, no, no, and no,” he said. And when Trump recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Kerry predicted “an absolute explosion in the region.” Is he embarrassed today? He should be. Who ever thought to hear an Arab foreign minister, in this case Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, saying: “Israel is a part of this heritage of this whole region historically, so the Jewish people have a place amongst us.” Note the word “people,” not “state,” a deliberate repudiation of the anti-Semitism that has coloured Arab rejectionism of Israel up to now. The Abraham Accords, normalizing relations without preconditions between Israel and the Gulf states of United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with many other states lining up to follow suit, were a slap in the face to the “peace industry,” a community of hard-left academics, NGO operatives, media allies, and institutes like the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution, all imbued with Kerry’s mindset. If these alleged peace experts were actually invested in resolving conflicts with neutrality, they would be deserving of respect. But when you look closely at the sprawling domain of “peace studies” in academia—ground zero for the industry—you find a far from disinterested agenda. Peace studies began in an idealistic spirit as a response to the threat of nuclear Armageddon during the Cold War. They experienced a growth spurt following the harrowing 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Anguish over Vietnam prompted donations from foundations such as the (ominously titled) Institute for World Order (in its grant-giving phase), conferring academic security and political respectability on the burgeoning movement. But as in so many other “studies” programs—gender, whiteness, indigenous—ideology rules, and the “scholarship” is rhetorical window dressing for the core message of Western self-loathing. Students pore over examples of western “imperialism,” but about, say, communism or triumphalist political Islam, not so much. Peace studies does not approve of “just wars” or even wars of self-defence—that is, if the country defending itself is Israel or the United States. It isn’t violence they condemn, just violence perpetrated by the powerful. Violence as a strategy employed by the “disempowered” is permissible. In 2009 the “father of modern peace research,” Norwegian academic Johann Galtung, predicted the fall of the American empire in 2020. In the present moment of high tension roiling the United States, many people likely believe he is spot on, although I think it would be a mistake to conflate internal political division coupled with current distaste for wars on foreign soil with the erosion of America’s power in the world. Galtung affects objectivity, but based on his previous writings and statements, it is more likely his prediction was based on hope than evidence. For Galtung has said he despises the “structural fascism” of wealthy Christian democracies. He admires tyrannies like Cuba under Fidel Castro. In 1974 he mocked the West’s reverence for “persecuted elite personages” like Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. Galtung has compared the United States to Nazi Germany for bombing Kosovo, reserving his highest praise for the works of China’s Chairman Mao and his “endlessly liberating” successes. In the 1980s, and again in the 1990s, human rights activist Caroline Cox and philosopher Roger Scruton analyzed peace studies curricula. They found them intellectually incoherent: bereft of information about the USSR, even at the height of the Cold War, and riddled with bias. Their graduates went on to staff left-wing NGOs and to enthusiastically support the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, a disgraceful event almost entirely consumed by shockingly naked hatred for Israel. As witty cultural observer Clay Shirky so rightly perceived, “Institutions will seek to preserve the problem for which they are the solution.” When the Palestinians finally decide it is in their interest to make the necessary concessions in order to normalize relations with Israel—that won’t happen until the present leaders are gone, but it could happen very soon after that—it won’t be because of the peace industry, but in spite of it. Barbara Kay has been a weekly columnist for the National Post since 2003. Publications she currently writes for include thepostmillennial.com, Canadian Jewish News, Quillette, and The Dorchester Review. She is the author of three books. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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Trump Envoy Hopes Israeli-Arab Peace Deals Will Continue No Matter Who Wins US Election

Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and U.S. Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, deliver statements before boarding Israeli flag carrier El Al plane to Bahrain, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 18, 2020. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool/Reuters) MANAMA—President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy said on Sunday that Trump’s push for an Israeli-Arab rapprochement was gaining momentum and he hoped more accords would follow no matter which presidential nominee wins next month’s election. Avi Berkowitz, who accompanied an Israeli delegation that visited Bahrain on Sunday, said the Abraham Accords had bipartisan support in the United States and were designed to bear long-term fruit by encouraging grassroots engagement between Israel and its new Arab partners. “Peace is something everybody should celebrate and see as a positive thing for the world,” Berkowitz said in an interview. “It’s our sincere hope that, no matter who wins the election, the Abraham Accords will continue to grow.” Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in agreeing last month to normalise ties with Israel, angering the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) who had conditioned any such regional rapprochement on statehood, and Iran and Turkey. The flight carrying the Israeli delegation flew over Saudi Arabia, an accommodation by the Gulf’s powerhouse, which has so far resisted U.S. appeals to normalize ties with Israel. “The talks we have with them have been positive on several fronts. Ultimately it is a decision they must make,” Berkowitz said when asked about any Saudi plans to follow suit. “We look to them for an understanding in the region of the temperature of how things are going on numerous fronts, we’ve had very good discussions with them but time will tell,” he added. Berkowitz, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and other officials will travel on Monday to the UAE, where the accord with Israel has opened up bilateral commerce. By Dan Williams

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UN Arms Embargoes on Iran Expire, US Upholds Snapback of Prior UN Sanctions

A decade-long U.N. arms embargo on Iran that barred it from purchasing foreign weapons such as tanks and fighter jets expired Sunday as planned under its nuclear deal with world powers, despite objections from the United States. In August, the United States formally demanded the snapback of all UN sanctions on Iran that were in effect before the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that was signed in 2015. The restoration of all sanctions including re-imposition of the UN arms embargo took effect on Sept.19, U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said in a statement. As a result, the export of certain conventional arms to Iran, as well as the procurement of any arms or related materiel from Iran will violate UN Security Council resolutions, Pompeo added. Any individual or entity that engages in trading conventional arms with Iran, as well as provides training or financial support related to these arms, can be sanctioned by the United States, Pompeo said. “Every nation that seeks peace and stability in the Middle East and supports the fight against terrorism should refrain from any arms transactions with Iran. Providing arms to Iran will only aggravate tensions in the region, put more dangerous weapons into the hands of terrorist groups and proxies, and risk increasing threats to the security of Israel and other peaceful nations,” Pompeo said in the statement. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference in Washington, on Sept. 21, 2020. (Patrick Semansk/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) Pompeo said that Iran’s Islamic regime diverts funds from the Iranian people toward fulfilling its military ambitions thus impoverishing Iranians. “Today, Iranians are suffering because the regime continues to withhold nearly $1 billion from the Iranian Health Ministry for its COVID-19 response, despite calls from Iranian health officials to provide needed funding,” Pompeo said. “The regime has a choice,” Pompeo said, if Iranian leaders “abandon their dreams of exporting revolution, they will find a welcoming and generous partner in Washington.” While insisting it planned no “buying spree,” Iran in theory can purchase weapons to upgrade military armament dating back to before its 1979 Islamic Revolution and sell its own locally produced military gear abroad. In practice, however, Iran’s economy remains crippled by broad-reaching U.S. sanctions, and other nations may avoid arms deals with Tehran for fear of American financial retaliation. The Islamic Republic heralded the end of the arms embargo as “a momentous day for the international community… in defiance of the U.S. regime’s effort.” Efforts to Prevent Arms Embargo from Expiring The Trump administration has insisted it has re-invoked all U.N. sanctions on Iran via a clause in the JCPOA it withdrew from in 2018. After the United States initiated the snapback, the three European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the E3)—said they could not support the U.S. action because the United States withdrew from Iran nuclear deal. However, they said they were also very concerned by Iran’s continued violation of its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA. In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the United States unilaterally from the Iran nuclear deal saying that the deal had failed to prevent Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons and allowed the Islamic regime to support terrorist activities internationally. The United States “has made every diplomatic effort” for almost two years to try to renew the arms embargo, Pompeo told the press in August. Before requesting the sanction snapback, the United States initiated a resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran indefinitely. The U.N. Security Council failed to pass it as China and Russia voted against it while 11 of 15 members of the Security Council abstained, including France, Germany, and Britain. The United Nations banned Iran from buying major foreign weapon systems in 2010 amid tensions over its nuclear program. An earlier embargo targeted Iranian arms exports. An Iranian locally made cruise missile is fired during war games in the northern Indian Ocean and near the entrance to the Gulf, Iran, on June 17, 2020. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters) The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency predicted in 2019 that if the embargo ended, Iran likely would try to purchase Russian Su-30 fighter jets, Yak-130 trainer aircraft, and T-90 tanks. Tehran also may try to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system, the Defense Intelligence Agency said. China also could sell Iran arms. Iran long has been outmatched by U.S.-backed Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have purchased billions of dollars of advanced American weaponry. In response, Tehran turned toward developing locally made ballistic missiles. The U.N. arms embargoes, however, did not stop Iran from sending weapons ranging from assault rifles to ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. While Tehran denies arming the Houthis, Western governments and weapons experts repeatedly have linked Iranian arms to the rebels. Six Gulf Arab nations that backed the extension of the arms embargoes noted arms shipments to Yemen in their objection to the resumption of any weapon sales to Iran. They also mentioned in a letter to the U.N. Security Council that Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January and its navy accidentally killed 19 sailors in a missile strike during an exercise. The U.N. also linked Iran to a 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia’s main crude oil refinery, though Tehran denies any links and Yemen’s rebel Houthis claimed responsibility. Iran also provides financial aid and supplies advanced weapons to Hezbollah–a Lebanese Shia terrorist group –which has significantly contributed to Lebanon’s economic crisis and poses threats to Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, according to a U.S. State Department report. (pdf) Sunday also marked the end of U.N. travel bans on a number of Iranian military and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard members. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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US, Israeli Envoys Fly to Bahrain to Advance Nascent Ties

JERUSALEM—A high-level delegation of American and Israeli officials landed in Bahrain on Sunday on a mission to cement an agreement to establish formal diplomatic relations between Israel and the Gulf Arab state. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Israel’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, led the delegations. The sides were expected to issue a joint statement later Sunday that would make Bahrain just the fourth Arab country to have full diplomatic relations with Israel. “My hope is that this visit marks another step forward on the road to a truly peaceful, secure, stable and thriving Middle East,” Bahrain’s foreign minister, Abdullatif al-Zayani, said at a welcoming ceremony at the airport. Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at a festive White House ceremony last month marking the “Abraham Accords,” a pair of U.S.-brokered diplomatic pacts with Israel. While the UAE’s deal with Israel formally established ties, the agreement with Bahrain was less detailed and included a mutual pledge to follow suit. Sunday’s one-day visit by the Israeli delegation aimed to complete that task. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani delivers a statement upon the arrival of an Israeli delegation accompanied by the U.S. treasury secretary, in Muharraq, Bahrain, on Oct. 18, 2020. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters, Pool) The El Al flight landed at Bahrain International Airport on Sunday afternoon. The kingdom’s state-owned television channels did not carry the arrival live, nor did the state-run news agency announce the Israelis’ presence. Bahrain’s state-run news agency later published pictures of the arrival, acknowledging the Israeli officials were there to sign documents “establishing diplomatic relations between the kingdom of Bahrain and the state of Israel, in addition to a number of memoranda of understanding in the areas of joint cooperation.” Mnuchin said it was “incredible” to be on what was believed to be the first flight by Israel’s national carrier El Al to Bahrain. “The opportunities here are quite enormous, both economic, trade, investment, cultural and security between the three countries,” he said. Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin arrive in Muharraq, Bahrain, on Oct. 18, 2020. (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters) “Today is a great day.” Ben-Shabbat told the airport ceremony. “Another chapter in the vision of peace becomes a reality.” Israel’s commercial El Al flight 973—a nod to the international dialing code for Bahrain—flew through Saudi Arabia’s airspace en route to Manama. Although Saudi Arabia has not normalized ties with Israel, it has signaled tacit support for the moves by its Gulf neighbors, which reflect shared concerns about Iran. At Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport, U.S., Israeli, and Bahraini flags festooned the tarmac before take-off. Ben-Shabbat, one of the key Israeli officials involved in negotiations with Bahrain, said the visit could “translate plans to actions and concrete agreements” with the signing of a range of deals involving finance, investment, trade, tourism, communications, technology and agriculture. Another Israeli official said the visit would include a joint statement late Sunday formally establishing diplomatic relations, including the opening of embassies and exchanges of ambassadors in the coming months. Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, head of an Israeli delegation, delivers a statement upon arrival in Muharraq, Bahrain, on Oct. 18, 2020. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters, Pool) The decision to establish ties with Israel was rejected by the Palestinians, whose leadership has scathingly criticized both the Emirati and Bahrain moves as a betrayal and an undermining of the Arab stance that recognition of Israel should come only after Palestinians achieve an independent state of their own. The Palestinians have severed ties with the White House, accusing it of being unfairly biased toward Israel. U.S. officials have in turn cultivated ties between Israel and Arab states, hoping to increase pressure on the Palestinians to reduce past demands in peace talks. Bahraini civil society groups and opposition figures, already targeted in a yearslong crackdown on dissent, have also spoken out against normalization with Israel. Bahraini and Israeli officials have held numerous conversations since announcing their intention to establish full ties. Sunday’s face-to-face meetings, however, are seen as another step toward normalization. Meanwhile, Israel and the UAE have already signed a number of business, banking and intergovernmental agreements. Bahrain and the UAE signed the agreement to normalize relations with Israel in a ceremony at the White House on Sept. 15. Egypt and Jordan are the only other two Arab states to sign diplomatic treaties with Israel, in 1979 and 1994, respectively. (L-R) Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony of the White House after the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Sept. 15, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) The accords made public what had been a gradual strengthening of quiet ties between Israel and several Gulf states —forged in recent years over a shared concern over regional rival Iran. Other Arab countries could follow suit, with analysts and insiders pointing to Sudan, Oman, and Morocco as possibilities. The trip to Bahrain on Sunday also came as U.N. arms embargoes on Iran expired despite American objections. Bahrain, like several other Gulf Arab nations, views Iran as the most serious threat to its security in the Persian Gulf. The Israeli delegation was slated to fly back to Tel Aviv later Sunday, while the Americans will head to the UAE before flying to Israel on Tuesday. Last month, the first known commercial flight between the two countries brought a delegation of Israeli officials to Manama to discuss cooperation between Israel and Bahrain following the signing of an agreement to normalize ties. By Ilan Ben Zion

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Iranian, Iraqi Foreign Ministers Discuss Bilateral Relations

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had a phone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein on Saturday, October 17, 2020. In the phone call, the two top diplomats discussed various issues related to Tehran-Baghdad relations, particularly the visit of an Iraqi delegation to follow up on the agreements earlier achieved in the Iraqi foreign minister’s trip to Tehran. Subscribe Facebook Twitter ReddIt Pinterest WhatsApp Viber VK Email Telegram Print LINE The IFP Editorial Staff is composed of dozens of skilled journalists, news-writers, and analysts whose works are edited and published by experienced editors specialized in Iran News. The editor of each IFP Service is responsible for the report published by the Iran Front Page (IFP) news website, and can be contacted through the ways mentioned in the "IFP Editorial Staff" section.

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‘Truckloads of Medicines Seized in Iraq Not of Iranian Origin’

The Food and Drug Administration of Iran says the 19 truckloads of medicines seized in Iraq were not Iranian, and had only been transferred via Iran. The government body underlined that all profiteers who seek to cash in on the current situation to make huge profits, especially amid US sanctions on Iran’s medical sector, will be dealt with. The food and drug authority reiterated that Iranians are under tough and unfair sanctions imposed by Washington, which claims to be an advocate of human rights, but is ironically targeting Iranian people’s health. The Food and Drug Administration said the US chants demagogic slogans that it has not imposed sanctions on food and drugs, but has, in fact, blocked the supply of some medicines and medical equipment. “All domestic potential has been utilized to ally patients’ slightest concerns about the procurement of the medicines they need,” added the administration. The food and drug authority added part of the financing for medicines comes foreign currency provided by the government at an exchange rate much lower that its market value. “So, there is a possibility that some profiteers smuggle medicines,” said the administration.It said measures have been adopted to identify and deal with all offenders in the pharmaceutical sector. Subscribe

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Obama Hits Campaign Trail – Attacks Trump Over COVID And Foreign Policy

Barack Obama recently announced he was hitting the campaign trail for Joe Biden, and he launched his first attacks on Preisdent Trump over the COVID pandemic and foreign policy. On the “Pod Save America” podcast, Obama said that while he wasn’t a perfect president, “…When we had a pandemic or the threat of pandemic, we had competent people in place

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Saudi Former Intel Chief Slams Palestinians

The Jerusalem Post reports that Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz had some unfavorable comments regarding the Palestinians choices over the years. This type of pressure could go a long way into a Peace Treaty that kicks off the Final 7 Years. Saudi Arabia‘s former intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, slammed the Palestinian leadership for criticizing the decision of some Gulf states to normalize ties with Israel. In an interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television aired on Monday, the prince labeled the Palestinian authorities’ criticism a “transgression” and “reprehensible discourse.”

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Alleged Islamic State ‘Beatles’ Arrive in US To Face Charges of Hostage Deaths

Two alleged Islamic State militants known as the ‘Beatles’ arrived in the United States on Wednesday to face trial on U.S. criminal charges for their alleged involvement in beheadings of American hostages in Syria, U.S. officials said. The alleged militants, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, had been under U.S. military guard in Iraq for the last year and are

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How Did Trump Jump-Start the Peace Process in the Middle East?

Please respect our republishing guidelines - Click Here In 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry said “No. No, no and no … There will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace.” Now, after a flurry of peace treaties in the Middle East, it appears that Kerry’s prediction didn’t age well. How was President Donald Trump able to do what all the so-called experts said was impossible? The Open-Wound Strategy In a brief few years after World War II, Jews garnered a burst of sympathy, even from the left, because of the Holocaust atrocities. During this period, the causes of Middle East conflict were well-understood and widely reported in an accurate way in the media. When the state of Israel was created on May 14, 1948, seven Arab nations invaded the country to exterminate what they called “the Zionist entity.” These were Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, and Yemen. Against all the odds, Israel won. Rather than accepting defeat, the Arab nations pursued what was called an “open-wound strategy,” which consisted of keeping Palestinian Arabs in a perpetual state of captivity in “refugee camps” in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq to use them as weapons against Israel. The Arab neighbors didn’t give the refugees citizenship in Arab countries and refused to integrate them, not allowing them to work or get an education. Whenever they asked for citizenship, the Palestinians always got the same answer: You can have citizenship in your own land when the Zionist entity is destroyed. However, as the newly created state of Israel began to thrive, the left’s natural antagonism toward the successful and affinity for the weak led them in an ever more anti-Israeli direction. The Palestinians’ plight rose to the top of their list of concerns. Their suffering’s original causes were forgotten and suppressed in favor of a new narrative: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Arab nations faded into the background, although they remained the moral, political, and financial engine behind the war. The Right Timing Enter Trump. Like most well-educated Jews, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner likely knows the above history well. The odds are that he has thoroughly informed the president about the conflict. If so, Trump understands Kerry got it precisely backward: There will be no Palestinian peace without a broader Arab-Israeli peace. Only if the Palestinians lose their moral, political, and financial support for warfare from the Arab nations will they be sufficiently motivated to seek a peaceable agreement. Trump came to power at a time when many favorable factors for peace aligned. With his weak response to ISIS and the Iran deal, President Barack Obama shifted the regional power dramatically away from the Arab League nations. Suddenly, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf nations faced ISIS in Syria and Iraq, as well as Iran-sponsored war in Yemen. Simultaneously, by removing Obama’s ban on fracking, Trump made the U.S. energy independent for the first time in 75 years. America no longer needed the Gulf nations. This radically shifted the negotiation cards in Trump’s favor. Saudi Arabia now knows that its oil hegemony is sunsetting and that it will have to survive by other means in the near future. The Gulf nations need stability in the Middle East to create the economic environment necessary for prosperity after the oil era. Creating Peace From Strength Qassem Suleimani Trump proved to the Arab nations that he was everything that Obama was not: decisive and ruthlessly effective while willing to negotiate. By wiping out ISIS and killing Iran’s top military leader Qassem Suleimani, Trump showed that he had the moral courage to risk a war with Iran. He also moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. By doing so, he gained the trust of Israel and proved to the Arab nations that he was a pillar of strength, which is the coin of the realm in the Middle East. Trump then did what he usually does: make an asset out of thin air. In this case, he used it to create peace in the Middle East. Equipped with the knowledge of the region’s power dynamics, he knew that peace with Palestinians was not necessary to make progress. Testing the Waters Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, and it is almost unthinkable that it would sign the Abraham Accord without the consent of its large next-door neighbor. The normalization between Israel and Bahrain also involves flights between the two countries that cross Saudi air space. All of this indicates that a regionwide peace treaty, normalization of relations, and recognition of Israel are in the pipeline. If that happens, the Palestinians will suddenly be interested in joining the party. As unbelievable as it sounds, peace might suddenly break out in the Middle East, and it is hard to think of any other president under which this would have been possible. ~ Read more from Onar Åm.

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New Security Structures for the Middle East?

Could the Abraham Accords herald new security structures for the Middle East? Israel Hayom reported: The Abraham Accords are a turning point in the Middle East. The UAE has become an important power not just in the Persian Gulf, but around the Horn of Africa. Israel touches on the same geographic region, creating many areas for cooperation. Both countries can use their alliance with the United States to shape responses to the Iranian threat. The Emiratis are very enthusiastic about the breakthrough, which Israel can surely appreciate as previous peace partners did not feel the same way. In turn, Israel will advocate for their peace partners in Washington, as they did with the Jordanians. MORE: https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/09/17/the-abraham-accords-may-herald-new-security-structures-for-the-middle-east/

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