English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For August 27/2022
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site

News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006

Bible Quotations For today
Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13/22-30:"Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, "Lord, open to us", then in reply he will say to you, "I do not know where you come from."Then you will begin to say, "We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets."But he will say, "I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!"There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out.Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’"

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on August 26-27/2022
Lebanese submarine finds 10 bodies on sunken migrant ship
UNRWA briefs UN Council on Palestine refugees situation in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza
Top Hezbollah commander sends unprecedented warnings to Israel
Israeli report: War with Lebanon very likely, UNIFIL at Blue Line 'ineffective'
Ibrahim says Lebanon waging 'holy battle' for maritime rights, border control
World Union of Arab Bankers announces formal approval to change name of WUAB’s Women Empowerment group to Gender Diversity Group of Executive Level
Al-Shami: To adjust customs US dollar rate away from sharp political contentions
Ibrahim marking 77th anniversary of Lebanon’s General Security calls for alertness, mobilization facing looming dangers
Army chief meets Union of Arab Producers delegation
Caretaker Culture Minister broaches developments with Hezbollah Media Relations head
MP Kanaan broaches developments with UN's Wronecka

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 26-27/2022
Russia forces in Syria say Israeli jets attacked research facility - agencies
Israeli defense minister in US to discuss Iran nuclear talks
Iran FM Urges UN Chief to End Int’l Probe into Secret Nuclear Sites
US Tries to Ease Israel’s Concerns over Iran Nuclear Negotiations
Mossad chief says US ‘rushing into a deal that is a lie’ with Iran
With Iranian drones, Russia complicates nuclear deal talks
Iran-US Skirmishes Highlight Rivalry in Eastern Syria
Israeli diplomat in Turkey expects ambassador appointment “within weeks“
Erdogan Reaffirms Support for the Palestinian Cause
Israel indicts Islamic Jihad militant al-Saadi whose arrest fueled Gaza tensions
Nuclear treaty conference near end with Ukraine in spotlight
Explosive Detonates in Baghdad, Targets Australian Diplomats
Iraq's Sadrists refile call for judiciary to suspend parliament
French president Macron calls for ‘new pact’ with Algeria in reconciliation visit
France's Macron addresses visa issue during Algeria trip
Syria Kurds hunt militants in sweep of Al-Hol camp
Egypt, South Sudan Discuss GERD Crisis

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 26-27/2022
The Use Of Human Shields Is A War Crime. America Must Hold Terrorists Accountable/Orde Kittrie and Matthew Zweig/www.19fortyfive.com/August 26/2022
Israel may need a paradigm shift on Iran/Jacob Nagel/Israel Hayom/August 26/2022
Letter to President Biden/FDD/August 26/2022
Prevent the Iran Deal by Talking to the American Public/Amnon Lord/Israel Hayom/August 26/2022
The "Great Reset": A Blueprint for Destroying Freedom, Innovation, and Prosperity/J.B. Shurk/Gatestone Institute/August 26/2022
Tehran Debates the Bomb/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 26/2022
Don't Try to Guess Putin's Next Move. Just Listen/Maria Tadeo/Bloomberg/August 26/2022
Zawahiri’s Killing: Will it End al-Qaeda or Revive it?/Charles Lister/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 26/2022
Concessions made to Iran during nuclear negotiations only make the regime bolder/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 26, 2022
No deal with Iran is better than a bad deal/Luke Coffey/Arab News/August 26, 2022

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on August 26-27/2022
Lebanese submarine finds 10 bodies on sunken migrant ship
AP/August 26, 2022
BEIRUT: A Lebanese submarine has found the remains of at least 10 migrants who drowned when their boat sank earlier this year off the coast of Lebanon with about 30 people on board, the navy announced Friday. The boat, carrying dozens of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians trying to migrate by sea to Italy, went down more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the port of Tripoli, following a confrontation with the Lebanese navy. Ten bodies were recovered that night, including one of a child, while 48 survivors were pulled from the Mediterranean Sea. According to navy estimates, 30 people were believed to have gone down with the boat. Since Monday, the small, 3-person underwater craft — a Pisces VI submarine — has been searching for the remains. The wreck was located on Wednesday, at a depth of some 450 meters (about 1,470 feet).
The circumstances of the vessel's sinking are disputed to this day. Survivors say their vessel was rammed by the Lebanese navy, while the military claims the migrants’ boat collided with a navy vessel while trying to get away. Capt. Scott Waters, who operated the craft, told reporters at a press conference in Tripoli Friday that the first body they found was outside the wreck but much of it had decayed since the sinking, with mostly bits of clothing and some bones remaining intact. He said the second body was found coming up from the wreckage. Waters said the crew identified four more bodies inside the wreckage and a substantial amount of debris around the vessel. At least four other bodies were found away from the wreck. Some of the people who tried to escape the boat, he assumed, got “tangled in that debris.” “One of the very last footage and images we took," he added, was of the remains of a person, an arm around another. “They died holding each other.”
Tom Zreika, a Lebanese-Australian and the chairman of Australian charity AusRelief that helped bring the submarine to Lebanon, said the boat was a “fair degree under silt,” making it difficult to retrieve it. Zreika said what’s next is for Lebanon to bring the sunken boat out but that remains a difficult task. Lebanon's navy chief, Col. Haitham Dinnawi, said all the video footage from Waters' crew will be handed over to the judiciary as it investigates the sinking. Tripoli lawmaker Ashraf Rifi helped lease the submarine for cash-strapped Lebanon through Zreika and his own brother, Jamal Rifi, who lives in Sydney. Rifi and Zreika told The Sydney Morning Herald last month that an anonymous donor had given just over $295,000 to lease the submarine. The April sinking was the greatest migrant tragedy for Lebanon in recent years and put the government further on the defensive at a time when the country is in economic free fall and public trust in the state and its institutions is rapidly crumbling. With a population of about 6 million people, including 1 million Syrian refugees, Lebanon has been mired since 2019 in an economic meltdown that has plunged three quarters of the population into poverty. Once a country that received refugees, Lebanon has become a launching pad for dangerous migration by sea to Europe. As the crisis deepened, more Lebanese, as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees have set off to sea, with security agencies reporting foiled migration attempts almost weekly.

UNRWA briefs UN Council on Palestine refugees situation in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza

/Friday, 26 August, 2022
"Over 80 per cent of Palestine refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza live below the poverty line," said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
Lazzarrini told the U.N. Security Council that "in Lebanon, the pressure on the Agency to do more to address the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the Palestine refugee community is becoming unbearable."He added that "protests and acts of violence directed against UNRWA, are, at times, forcing my colleagues to close our installations." "Illegal emigration of Palestine refugees is rising," Lazzarini went on to say. Lazzarini said that UNRWA is facing "an existential threat," as he appealed to Member States who have reduced their funding "to reconsider the impact of their decision on the region’s stability."

Top Hezbollah commander sends unprecedented warnings to Israel
Naharnet/Friday, 26 August, 2022
A senior Hezbollah military commander has noted that Israel is exerting strenuous efforts in order not to engage in another war with his group, because it knows that it will be “destructive” for it and that “it will not be able to confront Hezbollah in all fields.”“The enemy must know that war with Hezbollah this time would mean a destruction of the Israeli entity’s infrastructure, which would turn the lives of settlers into a real hell in which they cannot live under fire and destruction. We are confident that the enemy will work on pulling corpses from the rubble during the war and this is what it and its people have not experienced until the moment,” the Hezbollah commander told al-Akhbar newspaper in an interview published Friday. Speaking with high confidence, the commander added that “the Israeli army cannot protect its sea and it is incapable of protecting its vital infrastructure nor even its land border.”“It cannot protect its domestic front from shelling and it can’t even protect itself.”He added: “The Israeli army knows very well that it cannot protect the ships that are supposed to enter into the Palestinian ports nor to protect the warships.”“It also knows that the moment war erupts, we will not fight a defensive war. For the first time in its history, Israel will have to defend its 1948 territory,” the commander went on to say. He also warned that should an all-out war break out, “the Palestinian resistance factions will be a partner in the battle and the Palestinian people will mobilize, including in the 1948 areas.”Referring to the standoff over the demarcation of the sea border between Lebanon and Israel, the Hezbollah commander said: “The enemy knows that we benefit from any chance, and that if it commits any mistake, we will deal it a major blow that forces it not to think of attacking Lebanon.”“The border demarcation issue might be one of these chances, and if the enemy thinks of any reaction, we will respond directly, and this represent a dilemma for it.”

Israeli report: War with Lebanon very likely, UNIFIL at Blue Line 'ineffective'
Naharnet/Friday, 26 August, 2022
UNIFIL will be Hezbollah's "shield" in the next conflict between Lebanon and Israel, Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post said. "The likelihood of that potential conflict has grown due to the Lebanese Army subservience to Hezbollah, and UNIFIL irrelevance and dereliction of mission to prevent the resumption of hostilities," the daily added. The report warned that the rise in the number of Hezbollah military collection sites on the boundary between Israel and Lebanon, known as the Blue Line is "alarming" and is "a clear and present danger to northern Israel.""This recreates a tactical reality mirroring the Hezbollah disposition prior to July 2006 (the Second Lebanon War) and is a clear and present danger to northern Israel," the report said.

Ibrahim says Lebanon waging 'holy battle' for maritime rights, border control
Naharnet/Friday, 26 August, 2022
General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said Friday that Lebanon is waging "a holy battle" to regain its maritime rights from the Israeli enemy. He added that the battle includes controlling the land border crossings."There is no selectivity and no arbitrariness in implementing regulations and using power," Ibrahim said. Lebanon is waiting for a response from Israel after having relayed its maritime border position to U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein. Lebanon and Israel, who have no diplomatic relations and are separated by a U.N.-patrolled border, had resumed negotiations over their maritime border in 2020 but the process was stalled. In June, Israel moved a production vessel into a disputed gas field, parts of which are claimed by Lebanon. The move forced the Lebanese government to call for the resumption of U.S.-mediated negotiations. In July, the general security agency questioned Maronite archbishop Mussa al-Hajj for 12 hours upon his return from Israel with large quantities of medicines, foodstuffs and canned goods, in addition to $460,000. Al-Hajj was crossing Lebanon's southern border after a visit to Israel as he heads a community of Lebanese Christian Maronites who live there, many of whom are refugees who collaborated with Israel during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. A military court summoned him for further questioning, but he ignored the summons amid a strong support from Christian leaders.

World Union of Arab Bankers announces formal approval to change name of WUAB’s Women Empowerment group to Gender Diversity Group of Executive Level
NNA/Friday, 26 August, 2022
The World Union of Arab Bankers announced its formal approval to change the name of WUAB’s Women Empowerment group to Gender Diversity Group of Executive Level. This change is based on a proposal by Dr. Nahla Khaddage Bou-Diab, Head of the Group, noting that WUAB’s Board ratified the first-of-its-kind Gender Diversity Charter developed and proposed by Dr. Bou-Diab, during a meeting held on April 29, 2018, presided over by Dr. Joseph Torbey. Dr. Bou-Diab’s proposal was based on a logical presentation of evidence showing that the concept of Women Empowerment may be triggering feelings of weaknesses and behavioral reactions that do not serve women, organization and societies.  Based on the above, the World Union of Arab Bankers has officially declared changing the name of its Women Empowerment body to Gender Diversity Group of Executive Level especially that the Union has actively worked on empowering Arab women economically and socially. Additionally the Union believes in the importance of establishing social equality and supporting women in achieving UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and contributing to the economic landscape in the Arab world; a concept deep-rooted in the strategy set by the Union’s President, Dr. Torbey. Dr. Wissam Fatouh, the Secretary General of the World Union of Arab Bankers, has long been a believer in equal opportunity for men and women, demonstrated by adopting the Gender Diversity Charter developed by Dr. Bou-Diab in her capacity as “Head of the Women Empowerment Group” with the WUAB. Dr. Wissam Fattouh is fully aligned with the group’s vision and will continue to provide all the support needed to achieve the group’s objectives. Dr. Bou-Diab believes that releasing the organizational and social biases labeling women as “weak” and needy of empowerment – will serve women, men and organizations more effectively. The objective is to activate human potential and this is the focus of the new “Gender Diversity – at the Executive Level” group. Dr. Bou Diab has invested over 40 years in creating and implementing methodologies to evolve the quality of life for people in the organization, which ultimately optimizes the organization’s performance. Her latest achievement is the implementation of her doctorate research from University of Liverpool, which provided evidence that illustrates a methodology that can be applied to increase sense of belonging at the organizational level.

Al-Shami: To adjust customs US dollar rate away from sharp political contentions
NNA/Friday, 26 August, 2022Deputy Prime Minister of the Mikati-led caretaker cabinet, Saade Al-Shami, on Friday stressed the substantial need to adjust the customs US dollar rate away from sharp political contentions. “There is an urgent need to adjust the US dollar exchange rate in order to restore order to public finances, cover public sector expenditures, secure basic services for citizens, and establish the much needed macroeconomic stability to stimulate growth, create job opportunities, and reduce poverty,” Saade said in a statement. “Therefore, it is of paramount importance to approach this matter with utmost impartially and to limit discussions to this particular issue without trying to link it to other complex and deeper issues that need more procedures and time to be addressed,” the statement read. Saade went on to regret that some sides overlooked the negative impact of an increase in wages, and other expenses, without ensuring appropriate sources of budget funding within the medium-term financial framework (2023-2026), warning from an accumulation of public debt if not funded properly. "The policy of financing the budget deficit from the Central Bank via additional printing of LBP currency, as has been the case over several years, is no longer permissible or possible, according to the economic and financial reform program which seeks to avoid further inflation,” Saade explained in his statement. “The fear of the grave impact of raising the customs US dollar rate on the prices of commodities is legitimate; however, and in my opinion, it is exaggerated. Most basic goods and services are exempt from customs duties and value-added tax, but there is no doubt that the rise in the prices of other goods and services may in turn affect all prices, even basic ones. This increase, no matter how much it is, remains relatively low in comparison to the wage hike intended to be adopted, which will lead to an improvement in the purchasing power of workers in the public sector. As for the private sector, it is more flexible and responsive to economic changes, as wages have been adjusted in a relatively acceptable manner,” Saade’s statement added.

Ibrahim marking 77th anniversary of Lebanon’s General Security calls for alertness, mobilization facing looming dangers
NNA/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Lebanon’s General Security Chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, on Friday sounded the alarm on the looming local and external dangers facing Lebanon, stressing the need to remain alert and mobilized in defense of the nation and its people. “We are all aware of the extent of dangers stalking us, whether coming from inside or outside the country,” Ibrahim said in his Order of the Day marking the 77th founding anniversary of Lebanon’s General Security. Touching on the external scene, Ibrahim explained that Lebanon was endeavoring to recover its maritime rights from the Israeli enemy, as well as to control its land crossings. “Internally, we are ahead of major dangers amid the economic and social meltdown, and the deterioration of the state institutions,” Ibrahim said. “This entails full alertness and mobilization in defense of Lebanon and the Lebanese,” he added.

Army chief meets Union of Arab Producers delegation
NNA/Friday, 26 August, 2022
 Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, on Friday met at his Yarze office with a delegation from the Union of Arab Producers, with talks reportedly touching on various issues.

Caretaker Culture Minister broaches developments with Hezbollah Media Relations head

NNA/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Caretaker Minister of Culture, Judge Mohammad Wissam Mortada, on Friday met in his office at the Sanayeh palace, with the head of Hezbollah's Media Relations department, Mohammed Afif, over an array of public affairs and the latest developments on the local and international arenas.

MP Kanaan broaches developments with UN's Wronecka
NNA/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Head of the Finance and Budget House Committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, on Friday received at his Bayyada residence, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Joanna Wronecka, with whom he discussed the current developments, the course of reform legislations and the steps leading to Lebanon's recovery.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 26-27/2022
Russia forces in Syria say Israeli jets attacked research facility - agencies
Reuters/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Russia forces based in Syria on Friday said four Israeli jets had launched a total of four cruise missiles and 16 guided aerial bombs against a research facility in the city of Masyaf on Thursday, Russian agencies reported. Syrian troops using Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons shot down two missiles and seven guided bombs, Tass and RIA said, quoting a senior Russian officer. The attacks damaged equipment at the facility, he said. Russian forces have remained in Syria since 2015 when they helped turn the tide in a civil war in favor of President Bashar al-Assad. For several years, Israel has been mounting attacks on what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, have deployed to help Assad fight anti-government forces.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis)

Israeli defense minister in US to discuss Iran nuclear talks
JERUSALEM (AP)/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Israel's defense minister said Friday it was important to maintain capabilities for “defensive and offensive purposes” as he met with a senior U.S. official to reiterate Israel's opposition to an emerging nuclear deal with Iran. Israel is staunchly opposed to efforts by world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement and says it will not be bound by the accord currently being discussed. Neither Israel nor the United States have ruled out military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, said Israel opposes the emerging agreement, which has not yet been finalized or released to the public. Gantz “emphasized the importance of maintaining and advancing operational capabilities for both defensive and offensive purposes in (the) face of Iran’s nuclear program as well as its regional aggression,” a Defense Ministry statement said. “This is regardless of the discussion surrounding the agreement,” it added. A U.S. statement said the two officials discussed the “U.S. commitment to ensure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon, and the need to counter threats from Iran and Iran-based proxies.”Israel is widely believed to have acquired nuclear weapons decades ago but has never acknowledged having them. Iran insists its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes. Under the 2015 agreement with world powers, it curbed its nuclear activities and allowed expanded monitoring of its facilities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018 and restored crippling sanctions on Iran, which then began ramping up its nuclear activities. Experts say Iran has enriched enough uranium up to 60% purity — a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90% — to make one nuclear weapon should it decide to do so. However, Iran still would need to design a bomb and a delivery system, which would likely take months.

Iran FM Urges UN Chief to End Int’l Probe into Secret Nuclear Sites
London, Tehran - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian held telephone talks with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday over international inspections of its nuclear sites. The FM reportedly urged Guterres to drop inspections of uranium traces at undeclared nuclear sites.
He said meeting the demand was “crucial” to reaching an agreement in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear deal. A foreign ministry statement said Amirabdollahian informed the UN chief that Iran was studying the American response to Iran’s suggestions over the pact. For his part, Guterres said the negotiations were “positive”, hoping that they would lead to a “satisfactory” end, the statement added. On Wednesday, Iran’s nuclear chief said Tehran will not allow inspections beyond what is in a 2015 nuclear deal. “We are committed to inspections in the framework of the nuclear deal that are linked to nuclear restrictions which we have accepted in the past... Not one word more, not one word less,” said Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, according to a video carried by state media. A senior US official told Reuters on Monday that Iran has dropped some of its main demands on resurrecting the deal to rein in Tehran's nuclear program, including its insistence that international inspectors close some probes of its atomic program, bringing the possibility of an agreement closer. But Eslami appeared to contradict that, saying the probes should be closed “before the implementation day” if the 2015 nuclear deal is revived, the state news agency IRNA reported. Iran has insisted the nuclear pact can only be salvaged if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) drops its claims about Tehran's nuclear work. Washington and other Western powers view Tehran's demand as outside the scope of reviving the deal. In June, the UN nuclear watchdog's 35-nation Board of Governors overwhelmingly passed a resolution, drafted by the United States, France, Britain and Germany, which criticized Iran for failing to explain uranium traces found at three undeclared sites. On Wednesday, Eslami repeated Iran's assertion that claims of unexplained uranium traces were perpetrated by exiled Iranian dissidents and Iran's arch-enemy Israel, IRNA reported. In response to the resolution, Iran expanded further its underground uranium enrichment by installing cascades of more efficient advanced centrifuges and also by removing essentially all the IAEA's monitoring equipment installed under the 2015 deal.

US Tries to Ease Israel’s Concerns over Iran Nuclear Negotiations
Washington - Ali Barada/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata held talks in Washington this week to ease Tel Aviv’s concerns over the US offering more concessions to Iran in the nuclear deal negotiations, media reports said. Speculation has been growing that the United States and Iran are close to agreeing a return to the 2015 nuclear pact. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is expected in Washington on Friday to continue Hulata’s discussions. Hulata met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk.
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Sullivan underscored Biden’s steadfast “commitment to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon” during his conversation with Hulata. Sherman and Hulata “discussed the strength of the bilateral relationship and reflected on the success” of President Joe Biden’s recent trip to Israel. “They also discussed shared global security challenges, including Iran,” said a State Department statement, with Sherman reiterating the administration’s “steadfast commitment to Israel’s security.”Axios reported that when Hulata arrived in Washington this week, “his government was highly concerned that the Biden administration was about to make new concessions to reach a nuclear deal with Iran. After the visit, that anxiety has been reduced, three Israeli officials say.”“The US and Iran have moved much closer to a deal to restore the 2015 nuclear accord in recent weeks, but a few key Iranian demands remain unresolved. According to the Israeli officials, the US has toughened its positions on those demands,” it added. “The White House says the reason a deal is now getting closer is that Iran has made significant concessions. But the Israeli side has been concerned the US might soften its own positions to get the deal across the line,” it explained. “One of the biggest concerns for Israel has been that the US would press the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to close its investigations into Iran’s undeclared nuclear activity, as Tehran has requested.
“The senior US officials made clear to Hulata that the US would not put political pressure on the agency,” the Israeli officials said according to Axios.
National security council spokesman John Kirby said publicly the next day that the US would not agree to make the nuclear deal conditional on the closure of the IAEA probe. “We have communicated to Iran, both in public and private, that it must answer the IAEA questions. It's the only way to address those concerns. And our position on that is not going to change,” Kirby briefed reporters. Another Israeli concern was the possible easing of restrictions on conducting business with Iranian companies linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) after the deal. The White House assured Israel it would not soften its position on that due diligence process, according to the Israeli officials, said Axios. A third concern was over the economic guarantees Iran would receive to protect against a scenario in which a future US president withdraws from the deal, as Donald Trump did in 2018. On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid urged President Joe Biden and Western powers to call off an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, saying that negotiators are letting Tehran manipulate the talks and that an agreement would reward Israel's enemies. Lapid called the emerging agreement a “bad deal” and suggested that Biden has failed to honor red lines he had previously promised to set. “The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it, and the red line moves,” Lapid told reporters at a press conference in Jerusalem. An emerging deal, Lapid said, “does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.” Biden has been eager to revive the deal, which offered sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program. The original deal unraveled after Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, with strong encouragement from Israel. It remains unclear whether the United States and Iran will be able to reach a new agreement. But the Biden administration is expected to weigh in on Iran's latest offer in the coming days. With an agreement appearing close, Israel has stepped up its efforts to block it.

Mossad chief says US ‘rushing into a deal that is a lie’ with Iran
Times Of Israel/August 26/2022
Mossad chief David Barnea has said in recent meetings about the Iranian nuclear deal that the US “is rushing into an accord that is a lie,” according to multiple reports in Hebrew media outlets this evening. Barnea is quoted as saying the emerging accord is “very bad for Israel” and “a strategic disaster.”The reports in Channel 12, Ynet, Haaretz and others do not cite a source, but all seem to have received the same information on the Mossad chief’s internal comments. Barnea adds that an accord appears inevitable “in light of the needs of the US and Iran.”He said the deal “gives Iran license to amass the required nuclear material for a bomb.” It will also provide Tehran billions of dollars in currently frozen money, increasing the danger Iran poses through the region via its proxies.He stresses that a deal will not obligate Israel, and the country will act however it sees fit. If it does not do so, it will be in danger, he says.

With Iranian drones, Russia complicates nuclear deal talks
WASHINGTON (AP) /August 26/2022
Russia has obtained hundreds of Iranian drones capable of being used in its war against Ukraine despite U.S. warnings to Tehran not to ship them, according to Western intelligence officials.It’s unclear whether Russia has begun flying the drones against Ukrainian targets, but the drones appear to be operational and ready to use, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. The reported shipment marks the latest sign of what appears to be closer military cooperation between the longtime allies. It also underscores warnings from critics of the ongoing negotiations for Iran to resume its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal that the United States left in 2018. An agreement for Iran and the U.S. to return to the deal, which would grant Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program, is inching forward. Opponents of a deal say lifting sanctions on Tehran could enable Russia to strengthen its war effort in Ukraine and circumvent penalties imposed after the February invasion by funneling oil and other products through Iran. The arrival of the drones in the Ukraine war was first reported by The Washington Post. Ukraine has made great use of drones for surveilling and attacking Russian targets in the six-month war, relying on technology supplied by the U.S. and other partners, including Turkey. An explosive device carried by a drone last month struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean Peninsula, injuring several people. Supporters of Ukraine have also raised money to buy drones for the war effort. Facing economic sanctions and limits on its supply chains due to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has increasingly turned to Iran as a key partner and supplier of weapons. The White House first publicly warned last month that Iran was planning to supply Moscow with “hundreds” of armed drones. Days later, it alleged Russian officials had visited Iran twice to arrange a transfer. Speaking last month, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein-Amir Abdollahian, said Tehran had “various types of collaboration with Russia, including in the defense sector.”
“But we won’t help either of the sides involved in this war because we believe that it (the war) needs to be stopped,” he said. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The signs of increased cooperation between Moscow and Tehran have added to concerns about the nuclear talks. President Joe Biden’s administration this week responded to Iran’s latest offer to resume compliance with the previous agreement. There is now expected to be another exchange of technical details followed by a meeting of the joint commission that oversees the deal. The developments, including stepped-up public messaging campaigns by both Tehran and Washington, as well as Israel, which is opposed to a deal, suggest that an agreement could be near. The Israelis continue to have broad concerns about reviving a deal they had vehemently opposed in 2015, but are also wary of language included in the proposed European text that covers additional items, according to diplomats familiar with Israel’s position. Israel has made its stance clear in public statements this week by Prime Minister Yair Lapid and in private conversations in Washington involving Israel’s national security adviser and its defense minister, Benny Gantz, who will meet Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Friday. Israeli officials worry a return to the deal will boost Iran’s cooperation with Russia, including potentially allowing Moscow to evade Ukraine-related sanctions by exporting energy through Iran if the sanctions are eased, said the diplomats, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. They said Israel is concerned about provisions related to the expiration of restrictions on Iran’s atomic program that will remain the same as in the initial agreement. That means what had been a 10-year or 15-year ban on certain activities would now be only a 3-year or 8-year ban.
Among other concerns:
—Iran’s “breakout time” — the period it would need to produce a nuclear weapon — has been reduced from one year to six months.
—an Iranian demand that the International Atomic Energy Agency close its investigation of alleged safeguard violations. Israel and other skeptics of the deal worry the IAEA may be pressured to drop the inquiry even if Iran continues to stonewall its inspectors. Europe is eager for a deal, given it would mean renewed access to Iranian oil that could replace the loss of Russian energy imports severely curtailed by war-related sanctions. American officials have assured Israel that the U.S. will not pressure the agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, to end the matter before Iran has answered the outstanding questions. The U.S. and others pressed Grossi’s predecessor to drop an investigation into Iran’s previous nuclear work after the original deal was agreed to in 2015.
—Iran’s demand for guarantees that the U.S. would not reimpose sanctions for at least five years if a future administration pulled out of the deal, provided Iran remained in compliance. Diplomats say Iran has signaled a willingness to reduce that period to 2 1/2 years, but there are questions whether the Biden administration could make a promise that would bind a future president or Congress.
—the potential for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to earn money from international contracts even if that group isn’t removed from the U.S. list of “foreign terrorist organizations.” It operates a massive number of companies under U.S. sanctions that can also also penalize foreign businesses from entering contracts with them. Iran is seeking a removal of a requirement that forces companies to ensure any investments they make in Iran are not with entities controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.
*Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Tel Aviv, Israel, contributed to this report.

Iran-US Skirmishes Highlight Rivalry in Eastern Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Deadly skirmishes have been on the rise in recent days between US forces and Iran-aligned militias in Syria's oil-rich east, where both have carved out strategic footholds. Here is a closer look at their rival zones of influence in the desert province of Deir Ezzor, where rocket, mortar and drone attacks have increased - just as negotiations over the revival of a nuclear deal between Iran and the West come to a head.
A province divided
Syria's eastern Deir al-Zor is a 33,000 square kilometer (12, 741.37 square mile) desert province, divided diagonally by the Euphrates River and mostly populated by tribes that share kinship with neighboring Iraq. Syria's government and its backers on one side, and the United States and its Syrian allies on the other, fought separately to oust ISIS fighters from the zone.
Now, the US forces and their allies on the ground - the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces - are based in two large oil and gas fields in the province's eastern half. The fields - locally known as Al Omar and Conoco - host most of the 900 US servicemen deployed in Syria. The provincial capital of Deir Ezzor, the strategic border town of Albu Kamal and the area south and west of the river are held by Syria's government and allied fighters, with the Iranian units among them seen as the most elite. These fighters have also taken up bases on a collection of river islands known as Hweija Sakr, which they use as a launching pad for attacks on US forces across the river.
Five years of tensions
The United States says its presence there aims to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS, but skirmishes with Iran-backed groups have sporadically broken out over the last five years. In the first attack in June 2017, a suspected Iranian drone targeted the outskirts of the Tanf garrison, a US outpost at the intersection of Syria's borders with both Iraq and Jordan. US warplanes responded with strikes against Shiite militias closing in on the base. Since then, Iran-aligned groups have fired mortars, Iranian-manufactured rockets, and small unmanned drones at Tanf and the oil and gas fields. The US-led coalition has responded with air strikes by jets and helicopters, typically targeting weapons depots or other infrastructure. In some cases, the United States has responded to rocket attacks on its troops in neighboring Iraq by bombing positions along the Syrian-Iraqi border hosting Iraqi armed groups tied to Iran.
Expanding Iranian influence
Alongside Russia, Iran and its proxies have been instrumental in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regain most of the territory his forces lost since conflict erupted in 2011. That has allowed them to retain and build up their zones of influence in far-flung parts of the country even after battles have subsided: from the northern city of Aleppo, recaptured by government-aligned forces in late 2016, to the vast desert zones in Homs and Hama and the suburbs of the capital Damascus. In particular, Iran has extended support in energy and mineral exploitation to Syria, helping rehabilitate power plants and extract phosphate.
Its troops and their allies retain effective control of Syria's eastern front with Iraq, where units from Iran's Quds Force are suspected to be based, and its western border with Lebanon. That corridor allows Tehran to transfer people, goods and military equipment across several countries - prompting serious concern in Israel, which has carried out its own air attacks against Iranian forces and their allies in Syria.

Israeli diplomat in Turkey expects ambassador appointment “within weeks“
Reuters/August 26/2022
ANKARA: The Israeli charge d’affaires in Turkey said on Friday the re-appointment of an ambassador to Ankara could happen within weeks, while repeating Israel’s expectation that the Hamas office in Istanbul be closed down. In a roundtable meeting with journalists, Israel’s current top representative in Ankara Irit Lillian said the process of re-appointing an ambassador to Turkey was only a matter of “when and not if.”“It’s only because of elections in Israel that things might be delayed on the Israeli side but I hope it will be on time and it will be just a few more weeks and the process will be over,” Lillian said. Israel will hold a general election on Nov. 1. Earlier this month, Turkey and Israel agreed to re-appoint respective ambassadors more than four years after they were called back, marking another milestone after months of improved relations. The two regional powers had expelled ambassadors in 2018 over the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests on the Gaza border against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. But they have been working to mend long-strained ties with energy emerging as a key area for potential cooperation. Lillian reiterated the challenges to the ties, saying that the biggest obstacle to the “positive tendency seen throughout the year” was the existence of an Hamas office in Istanbul. “There are plenty of challenges, but from our point of view, one of the main obstacles is the Hamas office in Istanbul,” she said. “Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it is no secret that Israel expects Turkey to close this office and send the activists there away from here,” Lillian added. A visit to Turkey by Israeli President Isaac Herzog in March, followed by visits by both foreign ministers, helped warm relations after more than a decade of tensions. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid held a phone call earlier this month, expressing their satisfaction with the progress in ties and congratulated each other on the decision to appoint ambassadors. Erdogan said necessary steps to appoint the ambassador would be taken as soon as possible, while Lapid said the strengthening ties would lead to achievements in commerce and tourism.

Erdogan Reaffirms Support for the Palestinian Cause
August 25, 2022 | Flash Brief
Latest Developments
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed support for the Palestinian cause on Tuesday as he warmly welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Ankara. Erdogan criticized “Israeli attacks and civilian casualties,” an apparent reference to the recent conflict between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Jewish state. Erdogan’s statement comes a week after Turkey and Israel formally announced the normalization of diplomatic ties.
Expert Analysis
“Although normalization of diplomatic ties is infinitely preferable to the previous status quo, it is ultimately a cold peace between the two states that will likely take a long time to thaw — if it ever does.” – Sinan Ciddi, FDD nonresident senior fellow
Erdogan Has Opposed Israel’s Counterterrorism Efforts
For most of the Jewish state’s history, Turkey and Israel have enjoyed warm ties. But Erdogan’s opinion of Israel took a sharp negative turn in 2008 when Israel invaded Gaza to stop Palestinian terrorist and rocket attacks. Erdogan felt the operation was an embarrassment, since then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had visited Ankara only days earlier without telling him of Jerusalem’s plans. At a subsequent World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Erdogan publicly rebuked the Jewish state for its military actions in Gaza.
Erdogan Previously Tried to Breach Israel’s Blockade of Gaza
In 2010, Israel and Turkey formally broke diplomatic ties when Erdogan personally greenlit a flotilla of ships to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Israeli commandos intercepted and boarded the largest vessel, known as the Mavi Marmara, to ensure that the crew carried no weapons or cash for the terrorist group Hamas. However, when crew members attacked them, the Israelis were forced to defend themselves, ultimately killing nine of the assailants. Most of the flotilla’s passengers were Islamists sympathetic to Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction.
Turkey-Israel Conflict Harms Both Countries
The downgrading of ties between Turkey and Israel has been costly for both countries. Erdogan repeatedly hosted the leadership of Hamas, even providing it with office space in Turkey. Meanwhile, Ankara’s collaborative relationship with Israel’s military, which proved instrumental in modernizing Turkey’s F-16 fighter fleet and Challenger tanks, came to an abrupt stop.
Why the Change Now?
The signing of the Abraham Accords constituted a turning point in Turkey-Israel relations. While Ankara already had poor ties with most of the Arab world, the Jewish state’s normalization of ties with four Arab states increasingly isolated Turkey in the region. This reality became even more acute with Israel’s participation in the December 2020 East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which directly challenged Turkey’s spurious claims to natural gas deposits off the coast of Cyprus. Ankara’s normalization with Israel thus reflects not newfound good will, but its unrelated goal of boosting its regional influence. As a consequence, Turkey will likely continue to oppose Israel’s counterterrorism efforts.

Israel indicts Islamic Jihad militant al-Saadi whose arrest fueled Gaza tensions
Associated Press/August 26/2022
The Israeli military said it has filed terror charges against a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group whose arrest in the occupied West Bank helped spark three days of heavy fighting in Gaza earlier this month.
Islamic Jihad had demanded the release of Bassam al-Saadi and another detained Palestinian who is on a prolonged hunger strike as part of the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that ended the fighting. The indictment signals that those demands will not be met.The military said al-Saadi, 62, stands accused of "committing crimes of affiliation with and activity in an illegal association" and receiving funds from Islamic Jihad in Gaza, as well as "impersonation, incitement and aiding contact with enemy elements," the military said.
Islamic Jihad is an Iran-sponsored Palestinian militant group that is opposed to Israel's existence and has carried out scores of deadly attacks over the years targeting Israeli civilians. It operates in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Al-Saadi was arrested earlier this month during a night-time military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. In response to his arrest, Islamic Jihad said it was going "on alert."Israel says the group was planning a revenge attack from Gaza. In response to what it said was an imminent threat, Israel launched a wave of airstrikes in Gaza that killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander. The militants began launching hundreds of rockets at Israel hours later.
The flare-up left 49 Palestinians dead, including the militant group's top two commanders and 10 other fighters, before the cease-fire took effect. Gazan militants fired some 1,100 rockets, but no one on the Israeli side was killed or seriously wounded. It was the deadliest exchange of fire since last year's war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that has ruled Gaza for the last 15 years — and which did not take part in the latest fighting. Despite the lopsided toll, Islamic Jihad has held rallies across Gaza in recent days, including on Thursday, on the main road of Gaza's Shijaiyah neighborhood. At a rally Wednesday in the southern town of Rafah, the militants displayed life-sized replicas of rockets. Al-Saadi has spent a total of 15 years over several stints in Israeli jails for being an Islamic Jihad member. Israel killed two of his sons, who were also Islamic Jihad militants, in separate incidents in 2002, and destroyed his home during a fierce battle in Jenin that year. Israeli forces have carried out regular operations into Jenin in recent months that the military says are aimed at dismantling militant networks in the wake of several deadly attacks inside Israel. The raids often ignite gunbattles with Palestinian militants. Since seizing power in 2007, Hamas has fought four wars with Israel, often with support from Islamic Jihad fighters. In the past, Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza have challenged Hamas by firing rockets, often without claiming responsibility, to raise the group's profile. Israel and Western countries consider both Hamas and Islamic Jihad to be terrorist groups because they have carried out scores of deadly attacks over the years targeting Israeli civilians. Many Palestinians view the militants as freedom fighters resisting Israel's 55-year military occupation of lands the Palestinians want for their future state.

Nuclear treaty conference near end with Ukraine in spotlight

Associated Press/August 26/2022
As 191 countries approach Friday's end to a four-week conference to review the landmark U.N. treaty aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and takeover of Europe's largest nuclear power plant and rivalries between the West and China were posing key obstacles to agreement on a final document. Argentine Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen, president of the conference reviewing the 50-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which is considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament, circulated a 35-page draft final document on Thursday. After listening to objections from countries at a closed-door session, diplomats said he was planning to revise the document for a final closed-door discussion Friday morning, ahead of an open meeting in the afternoon to end the conference. Any document must be approved by all parties to the treaty and it's uncertain whether an agreement will be reached before the conference ends. There is a possibility that only a brief statement reaffirming support for the NPT might get unanimous support. The NPT review conference is supposed to be held every five years but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last one in 2015 ended without an agreement because of serious differences over establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Those differences haven't gone away but are being discussed, and the draft final document obtained by The Associated Press would reaffirm the importance of establishing a nuclear-free Mideast zone. So this is not viewed as a major stumbling block this year.The issue that has changed the dynamics of the conference is Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin's warning that Russia is a "potent" nuclear power and any attempt to interfere would lead to "consequences you have never seen," and his decision soon after to put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert. Putin has since rolled back, saying that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," a message reiterated by a senior Russian official on the opening day of the NPT conference on Aug. 2. In addition, Russia's occupation of Europe's biggest nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine, where Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling, has raised fears of a nuclear disaster. Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Security Council that the Biden administration is seeking a consensus final document that strengthens the treaty and acknowledges "the manner in which Russia's war and irresponsible actions in Ukraine seriously undermine the NPT's main purpose."
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States and its allies at that council meeting of "politicizing the work on the final document, putting their geopolitical interests in punishing Russia above their collective needs in strengthening global security."
"Against the backdrop of the actual sabotage by the collective West of the global security architecture, Russia continues to do everything possible to keep at least its key, vital elements afloat," Nebenzia said.
The 35-page draft document has at least three specific references to the Zaporizhzhia plant, including expressing "grave concern" over its security, the military activities conducted at or near it, and the loss of control over the facility by Ukrainian authorities. The draft expresses support for efforts by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to visit the plant and ensure the non-diversion of nuclear material. Under the NPT's provisions, the five original nuclear powers — the United States, China, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Britain and France — agreed to negotiate toward eliminating their arsenals someday and nations without nuclear weapons promised not to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for a guarantee to be able to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. India and Pakistan, which didn't join the NPT, went on to get the bomb. So did North Korea, which ratified the pact but later announced it was withdrawing. Non-signatory Israel, which is believed to have a nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies it, has been an obstacle in discussions of a Mideast zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, the treaty has been credited with limiting the number of nuclear newcomers (U.S. President John F. Kennedy once foresaw as many as 20 nuclear-armed nations) as a framework for international cooperation on disarmament. The draft final document would express deep concern "that the threat of nuclear weapons use today is higher than at any time since the heights of the Cold War and at the deteriorated international security environment."Diplomats and nuclear experts monitoring the closed-door negotiations have cited other differences that could block agreement on a final document.These include China's demands that it mention the U.S.-UK-Australia deal to provide Australia with a nuclear-powered submarine and nuclear-sharing in Europe, and demands by some countries strongly opposed to nuclear weapons for immediate nuclear disarmament to be included, which some Western countries call unrealistic.

Explosive Detonates in Baghdad, Targets Australian Diplomats
Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 26 August, 2022
A small homemade explosive detonated on Friday near Baghdad's Green Zone as an Australian diplomatic convoy made its way into the area, two security officials told The Associated Press. No injuries were reported. The blast happened amid Australia's diplomatic mission's efforts to mediate between influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and an Iran-backed faction of rival Shiite parties, according to the security officials, to end one of Iraq's worst political crises in recent years. Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has been unsuccessful in trying to bring the quarreling groups to a settlement. Sadr's party declined to attend a meeting Kadhimi held last week. Despite the explosion, the Australian convoy was able to enter the Green Zone. The followers of Sadr and his political rivals in the Coordination Framework have been at odds since last year’s parliamentary elections. Sadr won the largest share of seats in the October vote but failed to form a majority government, leading to what has become one of the worst political crises in Iraq in recent years. His supporters in late July stormed the parliament and have held frequent protests there. The firebrand cleric’s supporters have regularly protested, demanding the dissolution of parliament and early elections. On Tuesday, Sadr's supporters pitched tents and protested outside the Supreme Judicial Council, accusing them of being politicized in favor of their Iran-backed allies.

Iraq's Sadrists refile call for judiciary to suspend parliament
Agence France Presse/August 26/2022
Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's camp on Friday refiled a petition for Iraq's judiciary to suspend parliament to clear the way for fresh elections amid a months-long political deadlock. A source within the judiciary said it would give its response on Tuesday to the second such motion within a month submitted by the Sadrists. At weekly Friday prayers near parliament attended by thousands of Sadr supporters, an aide to the cleric urged the justice system to pay heed to his calls.
"I will give you some advice," Mohaned al-Mussawi, a Sadr loyalist, said in a sermon on Friday. "We expect the judiciary to confirm the (people's) rights and give hope to the people". "We will not abandon our rights," he added.
The judiciary already said last Sunday that it lacks the authority to dissolve parliament as demanded by Sadr, who is engaged in a standoff with Shiite political rivals. Followers of Sadr, in defiance of the rival pro-Iran Coordination Framework, have for weeks been staging a sit-in outside Iraq's parliament, after initially storming the legislature's interior. On Tuesday, the Sadrists also pitched tents outside the gates of the judicial body's headquarters in Baghdad for several hours. The judiciary, in its ruling on Sunday, said "the Supreme Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to dissolve parliament", citing "the principle of a separation of powers."Under the constitution, parliament can only be dissolved by an absolute majority vote in the house, following a request by one-third of deputies or by the prime minister with the approval of the president. Nearly 10 months on from the last elections, Iraq still has no government, new prime minister or new president, due to disagreement between factions over forming a coalition.

French president Macron calls for ‘new pact’ with Algeria in reconciliation visit
AFP/August 26, 2022
ALGIERS: President Emmanuel Macron called Friday for a “new pact” with Algeria and “truth and recognition” of the past, on day two of a visit to France’s former colony aimed at mending troubled ties. The trip follows months of tensions between Paris and the North African country, which earlier this year marked six decades of independence following 132 years of French rule. The three-day visit also comes as European powers scramble to replace Russian energy imports — including with supplies from Algeria, Africa’s top gas exporter, which in turn is seeking a greater regional role.
Macron had proclaimed a “new page” in relations on Thursday, after meeting President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and announcing the creation of a joint commission of historians to examine the colonial period and the devastating eight-year war that ended it, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.
On Friday, Macron — the first French president to be born after Algerian independence in 1962, told journalists he wanted “the truth, and recognition, otherwise we’ll never move forward.” And on Saturday Macron and Tebboune are to sign “a joint declaration for a renewed, concrete and ambitious partnership,” the French presidency said. Addressing members of the French community in Algeria later Friday, Macron spoke of his love for the North African country. “Many people want to promote the idea that France should hate Algeria, or Algeria should hate France,” he said.
“But we are at a moment where we can build a new pact.”
Macron earlier laid a wreath at a monument to those who “died for France,” in the mixed Christian-Jewish Saint Eugene cemetery which was a major burial ground for Europeans during colonial times. French soldiers sang the Marseillaise as cicadas buzzed in the background. Macron then visited the Jewish part of the cemetery, accompanied by prominent French Jews. Later in the day he was set to meet young Algerian entrepreneurs and discuss creating a French-Algerian incubator for digital start-ups, as part of a visit his office said focuses on the future.
Tebboune on Thursday hailed “promising prospects for improving the special partnership” between the two countries. Ties between Paris and Algiers have seen repeated crises over the years. They had been particularly tense since last year when Macron questioned Algeria’s existence as a nation before the French occupation and accused the government of fomenting “hatred toward France.”Tebboune withdrew his country’s ambassador in response and banned French military aircraft from its airspace. Normal diplomatic relations have since resumed, along with overflights to French army bases in sub-Saharan Africa. Algeria is seeking a bigger role in the region, buoyed by surging energy prices that have filled the coffers of Africa’s top natural gas exporter following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Macron’s office has said gas is not a major feature of the visit — although the head of French energy firm Engie, Catherine MacGregor, is in Macron’s 90-strong delegation. The president said on Friday that Algeria had helped Europe diversify its energy supplies by pumping more gas to Italy, which last month signed a deal to import billions more cubic meters via an undersea pipeline from the North African coast.
Dismissing suggestions that Italy and France were “in competition” for Algerian gas, Macron welcomed the deal. “It’s good for Italy, it’s good for Europe and it improves the diversification of Europe,” he told reporters. He also dismissed suggestions that Italy and France were “in competition,” noting that France only relies on natural gas for a small part of its energy mix. The two leaders discussed how to bring stability to Libya, the Sahel region and the disputed territory of Western Sahara, according to Tebboune. They also spoke at length about the spiky issue of French visas for Algerians, and Macron said Friday they had “very freely” discussed the human rights situation in Algeria. “These issues will be settled in full respect of Algerian sovereignty,” Macron said. He urged young Algerians “not to be taken in” by the “immense manipulation” of social media networks by foreign powers including Russia and China. Macron was due to visit the iconic Grand Mosque of Algiers on Friday before heading to second city Oran for a stop focused on the arts.

France's Macron addresses visa issue during Algeria trip

Associated Press/August 26/2022
French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday he has agreed with his Algerian counterpart to work to combat illegal immigration while ensuring more flexible ways for the North African country's nationals to come to France legally. Macron's comments Friday came during a three-day visit to Algeria meant to reset relations between the two countries, after a major diplomatic crisis last year broke out over the visa issue. Tensions were heightened by a French decision to slash the number of visas issued to people in North Africa, including Algeria, because governments there were refusing to take back migrants expelled from France. Both countries resumed cooperation in December. Speaking to reporters in Algiers, Macron acknowledged the "sensitive" issue was discussed until late the previous night with President Abdelmajid Tebboune, during a meeting and a dinner at the presidential palace. "We share the same will" to implement policies combating illegal immigration and trafficking, Macron said. That includes being "more efficient" in sending back to Algeria people illegally staying in France, he said. France wants to have "a much more flexible approach" on providing visas to families of French-Algerian dual nationals, artists, sportspeople and entrepreneurs, he added. Asked about whether he discussed human rights issues with Tebboune, Macron said that "we discussed very freely about everything," but did not provide details. Human rights activists criticize Algeria's system of governance that views dissidents as criminals and doesn't allow freedom of speech. Macron said France wants to strengthen its economic partnership with Algeria. The country is a key partner in providing gas to the European continent, a status that has been reinforced amid the war in Ukraine. France relies on Algeria for about 8% of its gas imports. No new contract was expected to be signed during the visit. On Friday morning, Macron visited the Christian and Jewish cemetery of Saint-Eugene in Algiers, where he paid tribute to the French who died during Algeria's war of independence. Macron, the first French president born after the end of the war in 1962, has promised a reckoning of colonial-era wrongs. The country was occupied by France for 132 years. On Thursday, Macron and Tebboune agreed to form a joint commission of historians who will examine the past from the beginning of the French colonization in 1830 to Algeria's independence. Macron was to have another meeting with Tebboune Friday to discuss peace and stability in the region. He was also scheduled to go to Algiers' Great Mosque later in the day day, before heading to Oran, the country's second largest city.

Syria Kurds hunt militants in sweep of Al-Hol camp
AFP/August 26, 2022
AL-HOL CAMP, Syria: Kurdish forces said Friday they had arrested dozens of suspects at a camp in Syria housing relatives of Daesh group members as part of a crackdown on the militants. Al-Hol is the largest camp for displaced people who fled after Daesh was dislodged from its last scrap of Syrian territory in 2019 by Kurdish-led forces backed by a US-led coalition. It is still home to more than 56,000 people, mostly Syrians and Iraqis but also including other foreigners linked to the Sunni Muslim extremists. The camp located in northeastern Syria has grown increasingly volatile this year, with at least 26 people murdered, according to the United Nations. The sweep launched on Thursday “aims to arrest Daesh operatives in the camp who are behind terrorist attacks,” said Siyemend Ali of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia. So far at least 27 suspects had been detained, he said from Al-Hol.
“Our forces began to dismantle empty tents used by Daesh during attacks and started registering the names of residents... and collecting their fingerprints,” said Ali. Kurdish security forces were heavily deployed in the camp on Friday, AFP correspondents said. They mounted black armored vehicles and restricted the movement of people to carry out the operation, they added. Women and children were patted down by security forces who ushered them to special rooms to get their fingerprints. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces announced the start of the operation to clear Al-Hol on Thursday.
In a statement, the SDF called Al-Hol a “hot bed” for Daesh militants and their supporters, arguing it was a fertile ground for the group to gain new recruits. The operation followed earlier campaigns launched in Al-Hol to flush militant fighters out of the camp, it added. The Daesh group’s self-declared caliphate, established from 2014, once stretched across vast parts of Syria and Iraq and administered millions of inhabitants. A long and deadly military fightback led by Syrian and Iraqi forces with backing from the United States and other powers eventually defeated the jihadist proto-state in March 2019.

Egypt, South Sudan Discuss GERD Crisis
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 26 August, 2022
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held talks with South Sudan’s presidential advisor on security affairs Tut Gatluak in Cairo on Thursday. Presidential spokesman, Bassam Rady, said Gatluak handed Sisi a letter from his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, that reviewed the latest political developments and bilateral ties, as well as the current stance on the peace process in South Sudan. The meeting was attended by Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s head of General Intelligence, Deng Alor Kuol, South Sudan’s Minister of East African Affairs, Gabriel Changson Chang, South Sudan’s Minister of Higher Education, and Stephen Kowal, South Sudan’s Minister of Peacebuilding. Talks have touched on various issues of common interest, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis. The conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia has been ongoing for 11 years due to Addis Ababa’s intransigence to build the mega-dam without reaching a legally binding agreement with the two downstream countries on the rules of filling and operating the dam. In July, Cairo protested to the United Nations Security Council against Addis Ababa’s plans to unilaterally fill the GERD’s reservoir for a third year without reaching an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum. During the meeting, Sisi affirmed Egypt’s keenness to maintain security and stability in South Sudan, as a “decisive factor and a fundamental pillar that ensures the achievement and sustainability of success and opens up prospects for cooperation to achieve development.”The Egyptian President said that Cairo is determined to bolster bilateral cooperation and transfer its experience in drawing up an integrated development strategy for South Sudan, especially in urban planning, infrastructure, roads, and transportation sectors. He added that his country is willing to develop the existing bilateral cooperation in the fields of training human cadres, education, agriculture, irrigation, water stations, and others. Gatluak, for his part, said his country looks forward to benefiting from Egypt’s expertise in the field of construction to meet the ambitions of the South Sudanese people for a better future. He also praised the continuous development in the course of relations between the two brotherly countries in various fields.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 26-27/2022
The Use Of Human Shields Is A War Crime. America Must Hold Terrorists Accountable
Orde Kittrie and Matthew Zweig/www.19fortyfive.com/August 26/2022
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Gaza-based terrorist organization, repeatedly used civilians to shield its fighters and rockets from Israeli airstrikes during clashes earlier this month. The use of human shields is a war crime. It also triggers a law that Congress passed unanimously in 2018, authorizing the president to name — and impose sanctions on – terrorists who use human shields. Yet neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump has taken this important step to hold terrorists accountable.
PIJ is one of several terrorist groups that heavily uses human shields against Western militaries. Hamas and Hezbollah, which like PIJ are funded and armed by Iran, have regularly used human shields against Israel and are expected to again in future conflicts. Meanwhile, the Islamic State and Taliban have in recent years persistently, and effectively, used human shields against U.S. and other NATO forces.
All of these groups engage in the actual war crime of using human shields to lay the groundwork for false accusations that the U.S., Israeli, and other Western militaries deliberately kill civilians.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, said in 2019 that NATO’s adversaries, especially in the Middle East, “have not hesitated to use the prohibited practice of human shields,” as doing so forces NATO troops “to choose between not taking action against legitimate military targets or seeing their actions, and the overall mission, delegitimized.”
PIJ’s use of human shields in Gaza this month killed numerous Palestinian children and other civilians. That is common. What is unusual is the video evidence demonstrating that PIJ caused these Palestinian deaths, undermining accusations that they were Israel’s fault. For example, during a live broadcast on August 7, Lebanon’s Mayadeen TV caught a PIJ rocket misfiring and coming down in a Gaza neighborhood.
The Associated Press noted that “live TV footage” showed PIJ rockets “falling short in densely packed residential neighborhoods,” and sent its reporters to visit the sites and analyze the death toll. On August 8, AP announced that its reporting was “consistent with” an Israeli military assessment that of the 47 Palestinians killed during the August 5-7 fighting, some 12 of the 15 Palestinian children killed, and 16 of the total 27 Palestinian civilians killed, died as a direct result of those PIJ rockets.
Yet PIJ and its sympathizers, including UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese, attempted to blame Israel for every one of these deaths. For example, Albanese on August 12 claimed the Israeli military “clearly targets people indiscriminately, as the 46 people who lost their lives, 15 of whom are children, testify.”Video footage also showed that Israeli forces were extraordinarily careful to avoid striking Palestinian civilians, several times postponing attacks on legitimate PIJ military targets until there were no children in the area.
PIJ’s use of human shields is clearly deliberate. In an August 5 interview, the top PIJ leader, Ziyad Nakhalah, said that PIJ had no “red lines” as it pursued its objective that “the Zionist entity will be annihilated.”
PIJ has a long history of using human shields. Its preeminent practitioner is Khaled al-Batsh, current head of the PIJ’s politburo, whose threats to bomb Israel helped precipitate the August 5-7 conflict. Al-Batsh had previously founded and led the National Authority for Return Marches, which organized a 2018-2019 campaign that saw thousands of Gazans (including women and children) rioting at the border with Israel. Al-Batsh and his Hamas partners designed the marches to overwhelm Israel’s border defenses and thereby enable armed militants to enter the country. In doing so, they explicitly put children at risk.
After al-Batsh and his fellow organizers labeled a particular march as “Our Child Martyrs” day, a UN official warned that would “push boys and girls to put themselves at risk” and urged that children not be “exposed to the risk of violence.” Separately, al-Batsh inaugurated a children’s park which was located along the border for the explicit purpose of using children in the park as human shields. According to Talal Abu Zarifeh, al-Batsh’s subordinate, “the aim behind establishing the park is encouraging a human presence in border areas… [It is unlikely that Israel is] bold enough to shoot at people in the park.”
The administration and Congress should take several steps to more effectively counter the widespread use of human shields by PIJ and other terrorist organizations.
First, the administration should implement its legal authority to designate terrorists who use human shields. Despite strong evidence of human shields use by PIJ and other terrorists, and the requirements of U.S. law, neither Trump nor Biden has thus far imposed any human shields sanctions on anyone. Imposing sanctions on PIJ leaders for their use of human shields would be an important first step.
Meanwhile, Congress should reauthorize and enhance the existing sanctions law, which is set to expire on December 31, 2023.
In addition, the US, Israel, and other allies should work together, including with NATO, to press the UN and other international organizations to investigate, condemn, and encourage penalties for human shields use by terrorist organizations and their material supporters. For example, the UN human rights high commissioner and council should be encouraged to vigorously investigate, condemn, and encourage accountability for the use of human shields.
Finally, the militaries of Israel, the United States and other NATO members, and other allies must coordinate in sharing best practices for more effectively addressing the use of human shields by terrorist organizations.
A robust U.S. government response to the use of human shields by PIJ and other terrorist groups would concretely advance several American national security and foreign policy objectives. These objectives include protecting U.S. and other NATO troops against terrorist use of human shields; setting the record straight in the face of UN and other efforts to falsely accuse Israel of committing war crimes; and undermining PIJ, Hamas, and other terrorist groups while supporting Palestinians who are prepared to make peace with Israel.
*Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and law professor at Arizona State University, is a former U.S. State Department attorney. Follow him on Twitter @OrdeFK. Matthew Zweig is a senior fellow at FDD. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewZweig1. FDD is a Washington, DC-based nonpartisan research institute focused on national security and foreign policy.

Israel may need a paradigm shift on Iran
Jacob Nagel/Israel Hayom/August 26/2022
Israel could benefit from a new Iran strategy if a nuclear deal is restored, along the lines of the Reagan Doctrine in the 1980s.
During President Joe Biden's visit, the most difficult task was explaining to him the dangers posed by returning to the 2015 nuclear deal. Not surprisingly, Israel failed miserably in this effort – not in the actual explanations to Biden but in the ultimate results. The administration has remained bent on doing every possible mistake on its path to restoring the JCPOA. Biden is being helped in this mission by having a chorus of supporters of irresponsible prominent Israelis – including some who are still in public office – who have been engaged in "background briefings" and various overseas meetings to convey a view that runs contrary to Israel's official position.
The IDF chief of staff, the Mossad director, and the political echelon (including, of course, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) are convinced that re-entering the deal would be a big mistake. Israel's political echelons are mostly working hard to get this message across to the US, using all available platforms, despite some claiming that they are not making themselves heard loud enough. As is customary in a democracy, it is time that their subordinates fall in line.
Both Iran and the US have escalated their rhetoric (in the ayatollahs' case it is also about preparing the public opinion for a return to the deal), with both sides highlighting the benefits they would secure through the deal. Likewise, both sides have been stating that the deal entails almost no concessions on their part, although unfortunately, this is true only on the Iranian side.
Although the recent talks in Vienna were reportedly a big failure because Iran has refused to accept the deal, which was presented as "take it or leave it", the fact of the matter is that intense negotiations have continued since in Brussels, Washington, and Tehran. The Europeans have even tweaked their latest offer by adding major concessions. Iran responded by saying that they may accept the deal only to return it o the US so that they could "make more concessions."
The agreement has yet to be finalized, probably because Iran, true to form, want to extract last-minute concessions. The US media was gearing up for an announcement last weekend, but no deal was announced – because of Iran's demands.
This is a very bad deal. The talks were primarily led by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his envoy to the talks, Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov. Russia has all the while continued its onslaught in Ukraine with the help of Iran, which has been providing arms and sanction-busting advice to the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Iran has continued to plot the assassination of Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and other former Trump administration officials. But despite all this, the US and Europe have played along, pursuing the goal of reaching a deal at all costs. Russia and China could just sit back and enjoy the view as Iran humiliates them. How long will the US and Europe call this spit rain?
The emerging deal is much worse than the original one. It may have been cast as just a tweaked version but it includes many more concessions. What's worse is that it does not take into account the time that has gone by since 2015 and the limited time left before the sunset clauses take effect. The deal does not address the Iranian nuclear archive and the various violations that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been investigating over the possible military dimension to the nuclear program.
The concessions that have already been agreed upon in the new deal include allowing Iran to keep the assets it has gained by breaching the deal, including the use of advanced centrifuges and sophisticated manufacturing capabilities. Iran will also get to keep the uranium it has enriched over the years since its effectively left the deal, although it will be converted to a lower purity level. Starting in 2026, Iran will also be allowed to install advanced IR6 centrifuges instead of the current ones, and in 2029 it will be allowed to manufacture as many sophisticated centrifuges as it sees fit. From 2031 onwards, it will no longer be limited by the amount of enriched uranium, but under the limits set by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its inspection regime, but we all know how toothless this document is.
Iran will also get massive sanction relief, including lifting restrictions on companies that do business with the Revolutionary Guards. This is almost as good as de-listing the IRGC from the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Lifting sanctions will allow Iran to rake in hundreds of billions of dollars almost immediately and about $1 trillion by the time the deal expires. The money will let Iran rebuild its economy, as well as upgrade its nuclear and conventional capabilities and bolster support for terrorism through Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Houthis, and others.
Iran has insisted that under a new deal it would get guarantees that would protect it should a future US president pulls out of the deal. The parties are trying to find a formula that would be in compliance with US law and ensure that companies that continue to do business with Iran will not be adversely affected in such a scenario for the first few years.
On top of all this, Iran has insisted that the deal include a pre-determined mechanism that would ensure the IAEA investigations into its suspicious activity are closed. They have made this a precondition for making the deal come into effect. This devoids the claim of having "unprecedented inspections" under the former deal of any real meaning and severely undermines the IAEA's standing. On the other hand, even if the investigations don't closer, this would let Iran hold off on implementing the deal despite having already been granted most of the sanction relief.
Israel must prepare for the real possibility that a deal is about to be finalized, although the Iranian foot-dragging could ultimately result in the US waiting until after the November midterm elections.
President Ronald Reagan introduced in the 1980s a new doctrine to make the Soviet Union collapse by using a multidisciplinary approach, mainly economic, as described in the book "Victory" and in various articles authored by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in 2017. Although israel is not the US, neither is Iran the USSR. And despite the massive cash flow that would make its way to Iran thanks to a revived deal, its economy will remain fragile.
If a deal is signed, preventing Iran's ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level would no longer be an option, regardless of any new capabilities we develop. One of the most plausible paths that could remain at our disposal is through comprehensive plans to weaken the regime. We don't have to immediately make plans for regime change; it would suffice if we weaken it so that it prevents it from taking provocative action under the auspices of the deal. For example, the recent attacks inside Iran, some of which have been attributed to Israel by foreign media, have led to paranoia, hysteria, and a reassessment of Iran's aggressive conduct. This is just one example of a paradigm shift that could quickly lead to unexpected results.
Those who say that returning to the deal is a very bad option but it is the lesser evil because it would allow Israel to better prepare for action are wrong and misleading. The time Israel "buys" through this deal will cost it dearly because under a deal Iran will greatly enhance its capabilities and nuclear infrastructure, and will become ever closer to a situation where Israel's newly developed capabilities will no longer be affected. Under a deal, even if Iran rapidly advances in its nuclear program, Israel will find it very hard to put the capabilities it had developed in the time it had so-called bought thanks to the deal. Without a deal, Iran will be in an inferior position and without legitimacy, even if decides to break toward a bomb at a rapid pace. Returning to the deal will guarantee it becomes a nuclear threshold state, albeit more slowly, which would trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said this week that "bad deals are better than good wars." This is a strategic error because bad deals usually lead to wars that are much worse than the "good wars" that we sometimes have to wage rather than contain bad deals. The IDF, the Mossad, and the entire national security apparatus have received hefty budgets and get their demands prioritized for this exact purpose: so that they could prepare and fight if needed, while obviously seeking to avoid war as much as possible.
Israel must engage public opinion and make it clear to decision-makers, particularly in the US what the dangers of a nuclear deal with Iran are, while simultaneously building legitimacy for increasing its activity in the "war between wars." It must start thinking of a paradigm shift toward a comprehensive plan to weaken Iran, along the lines of the Reagan Doctrine, including by setting measures of success to gauge its effectiveness.
**Brig. Gen. (Res.) Professor Jacob Nagel is a former national security adviser to the prime minister and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Letter to President Biden
FDD/August 26/2022
Letter on Russia’s illegal seizure and mistreatment of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
August 24, 2022 |
Dear Mr. President,
As a bipartisan group of experts on nuclear nonproliferation, many of whom have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, we urge you to prioritize responding to Russia’s illegal seizure and mistreatment of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and its staff. The most immediate priority should be ensuring the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can visit the plant to ensure its operations are safe and secure.
As you know, the Russian military seized ZNPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, in early March. Russia reportedly has since deployed additional forces there, using the facility as a base from which to shell nearby Ukrainian positions and population centers, knowing the Ukrainian military cannot risk responding in kind.
Moscow’s actions risk causing a transnational radiological disaster. Russian forces occupying ZNPP have reportedly subjected the plant’s workers to torture, interrogation, and other undue stress that could jeopardize vital safety functions. The Russia military’s reported shelling of the facility and damage caused to the complex have further threatened the safety and security of the plant and its surroundings.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has aptly described Russia’s actions as “suicidal” and on August 11 underscored the urgent need for an “agreement … at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area.” Nevertheless, Russia reportedly is planning a long-term occupation of ZNPP and intends to connect the facility to the electric grid in Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.
We, the undersigned, commend the August 10 statement by the G7 foreign ministers, which demanded that Russia “immediately hand back full control” of ZNPP “to its rightful sovereign owner … to ensure [the plant’s] safe and secure operations.” We support the IAEA request to access the plant, and demand that Russia vacate the facility.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi recently emphasized “the urgent need for the IAEA to be able to send an expert mission to carry out essential nuclear safety, security and safeguards work there.” Despite recently pledging to facilitate the visit, Moscow continues to drag its feet, citing alleged security concerns with the IAEA delegation’s traveling through Kyiv, as the Ukrainian government wants.
We urge you to work closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, UN Secretary-General Guterres, and IAEA Director General Grossi to secure an IAEA visit based on the agency’s long record of impartiality and neutrality. We agree with your ambassador to the IAEA, Laura S.H. Holgate, that such a visit should “occur in a manner that fully respects Ukrainian sovereignty and legitimate Ukrainian authorities, and the IAEA must not lend any legitimacy to Russia’s actions or control of the site.”
There is no place in the 21st century for the illegal seizure and use of a nuclear facility to terrorize a population. At this nuclear facility devoted to peaceful purposes, atomic scientists, technicians, and other staff must remain free to focus on their critical work. In addition, the IAEA must be granted immediate access to ensure the plant’s safety and security.
We know you share our serious concern about Russia’s reckless behavior and infringement of its nuclear safety and security obligations and the human rights of ZNPP’s staff. We hope you will take urgent action to help secure the IAEA visit to prevent a potential humanitarian and ecological disaster.
David Albright, Founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security
Michael Allen, former National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for Counterproliferation Strategy
Mariana Budjeryn, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center
Susan Burk, Independent Consultant, and former Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation
Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)
Richard Goldberg, Senior Advisor, FDD
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, former Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security
Robert Einhorn, Brookings, former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation
Christopher Ford, MITRE Fellow and Director of the Center for Strategic Competition, Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation
Olli Heinonen, Distinguished Fellow, Stimson Center, and former Deputy Director General, IAEA
Larry D. Johnson, former Legal Adviser, IAEA
Robert Joseph, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ambassador (ret.)
Laura Kennedy, former acting U.S. representative to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and acting U.S. representative to the IAEA
Orde Kittrie, Senior Fellow, FDD, Law Professor at Arizona State University, and former State Department lead attorney for nuclear affairs (Co-organizer)
Gregory D. Koblentz, Associate Professor and Director, Biodefense Graduate Program, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, and former Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Valerie Lincy, Executive Director, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control
Brent Park, former Deputy Administrator, NNSA and former Associate Laboratory Director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Stephen Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and Nonproliferation
Bennett Ramberg, author of Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy: An Unrecognized Military Peril, University of California Press, and former State Department foreign affairs officer
Laura Rockwood, former Senior Legal Advisor, IAEA
Anthony Ruggiero, Senior Director and Senior Fellow, FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program, and former NSC Senior Director for Counterproliferation and Biodefense (Co-organizer)
Gary Samore, Professor of the Practice of Politics and Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University, and former NSC Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction
Henry Sokolski, Executive Director, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and former Deputy for Nonproliferation Policy, Department of Defense
Sharon Squassoni, Research professor, George Washington University, and former State Department and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency official
Andrea Stricker, Deputy Director and Research Fellow, FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program (Co-organizer)
Jackie Wolcott, Chair, FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program, and former U.S. representative to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and the U.S. representative to the IAEA

Prevent the Iran Deal by Talking to the American Public
Amnon Lord/Israel Hayom/August 26/2022
The Iranians assess that Biden will not dare attack them, particularly in light of the Afghanistan fiasco.
(JNS) A US source told Reuters this week that Iran has dropped some of the demands that had prevented the closing of a new nuclear deal, including that IAEA probes into suspicious activity be stopped.
Former US Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams told the Jerusalem Post that “if we sign an agreement without insisting on answers, Iran will have won this negotiation and we will have abandoned the IAEA.”
It seems unlikely, however, that after all the haggling, Iran has dropped its demand to be allowed to keep the highly-enriched uranium it has accumulated since breaching the original 2015 deal. The current amounts make Iran something like a de facto threshold state. The Iranians insist that allowing them to keep the uranium would serve as a guarantee against the US pulling out of the deal.
Israeli experts believe that Iran has reached the point at which a deal would no longer be effective because it will continue with its secret nuclear program. Just a few months ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Iran was several weeks away from having enough material to break out to a bomb. But now the conventional wisdom is that it already has enough material, meaning a deal would just be a gift in the form of sanctions relief.
According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, by the first year after sanctions are lifted, Iran will have raked in $274 billion and by 2030 this figure will stand at $1 trillion. By that point, Iran will also have the necessary industrial apparatus to produce a large number of nuclear bombs unencumbered by the deal, whose main provisions will have expired.
This means that a state with regional and global imperialistic ambitions, which has publicly stated that it wants to destroy Israel, would have a nuclear weapon to achieve its malign goals. Iran’s nuclear program picked up after US President Joe Biden took office and a government was installed in Israel. The Iranians assess that Biden will not dare attack them, particularly in light of the Afghanistan fiasco. This is their strategy, and they believe Israel will not act without US approval, which will not be granted. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has announced that he will follow a policy of “no surprises” with the Americans.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has recently said that the US appears to have shifted to a policy of containment regarding Iran. This means that Washington has abandoned its goal of preventing Iran’s nuclearization. Israel must not agree to this lack of US resolve and should go over the heads of US policymakers to win over the American public.
This goes beyond military or technical aspects of the problem. Israel must have the right leaders who know how to deal with Iran in the new chapter that is about to begin.
*Amnon Lord is a veteran journalist, film critic, writer and editor.

The "Great Reset": A Blueprint for Destroying Freedom, Innovation, and Prosperity
J.B. Shurk/Gatestone Institute/August 26/2022
Notice that no nation has managed merely to print money and tax its citizens on the path to prosperity. Real wealth cannot simply be conjured from thin air. There must be recognized value in what a nation and its citizens possess.
More than any other source for national wealth, however, one towers above the rest: innovation. The ability of the human mind to create something new and valuable provides society with endless wealth creation.... Innovation is the magic sauce for generating wealth.
Humans struggling merely to survive in the world do not waste time, labor, or resources on projects that offer no prospect for future reward. Humans working as servants to the state under centrally controlled economies have no incentive to innovate. Only when private ownership and personal liberty combine can human innovation flourish. Freedom is the secret ingredient to innovation's magic sauce for increasing wealth.
A country whose institutions do not respect property rights or whose customs do not value freedom will remain a barren desert for human innovation. In this way, nations have a great incentive to liberalize over time. Should they not, they quickly become financially and militarily vulnerable to more innovative and wealthier nations. Observing this simple truth, classical liberals have always understood free markets as the gateway to human emancipation. Economic self-interest, in other words, ultimately leads to expansive human rights and liberties across the planet.
Nothing about Western politicians' embrace of the World Economic Forum's "Great Reset" or "Build Back Better" paradigms protects property rights or liberty in the slightest. The WEF's agenda promotes radically anti-liberal programs... [that] will smother human innovation by first depriving Westerners of their freedoms.
Wealthy free nations are a threat to the WEF's New World Order. If censorship must be embraced to control the "narrative," then so be it. If citizens must be denied freedom of movement under the guise of a "health emergency," no big deal. If private bank accounts must be seized to intimidate protesters, then such threats are the price for ensuring compliance. In this way, the WEF's plans for a controlled economy intentionally reverse centuries of liberal progress. Political leaders today are dragging the West into the past.
First, individual liberties will continue disappearing. Then, the greatest economic engine of all, innovation, will dry up. Finally, wealth will return solely to the hands of a small "ruling class" minority. This is the future the World Economic Forum hails as "progress." It is not. It is a recipe for human bondage.
Notice that no nation has managed merely to print money and tax its citizens on the path to prosperity. Real wealth cannot simply be conjured from thin air. A country whose institutions do not respect property rights or whose customs do not value freedom will remain a barren desert for human innovation. The World Economic Forum's agenda promotes radically anti-liberal programs that will smother human innovation by first depriving Westerners of their freedoms. Pictured: WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab in Davos on May 23, 2022.
How do nations become wealthy? Many are blessed with abundant natural resources. Others conquer foreign lands. Some specialize in unique trade skills and crafts. Timber, mining, fishing, sugar, rum, narcotics, cotton, silk, agriculture, conquest, human slavery, manufacturing, oil, industry, banking, and so on — depending on the century and the region, nations have attained tremendous wealth in myriad ways. Notice that no nation has managed merely to print money and tax its citizens on the path to prosperity. Real wealth cannot simply be conjured from thin air. There must be recognized value in what a nation and its citizens possess.
More than any other source for national wealth, however, one towers above the rest: innovation. The ability of the human mind to create something new and valuable provides society with endless wealth creation. Unlike central bank quantitative easing and other monetary tools (or tricks?), the brain really is a money-printing machine. Whether an innovator alters existing farming, mining, or manufacturing techniques to make production cheaper and more efficient, or an inventor designs something entirely unique, value that did not exist yesterday materializes the next. Innovation is the magic sauce for generating wealth.
If innovation produces wealth, why aren't all nations wealthy? Because too many nations fail to value innovators or encourage innovation. Without fundamental property rights, strong social institutions, and a dependable legal system, potential inventors have few incentives to build anything new. Humans struggling merely to survive in the world do not waste time, labor, or resources on projects that offer no prospect for future reward. Humans working as servants to the state under centrally controlled economies have no incentive to innovate. Only when private ownership and personal liberty combine can human innovation flourish. Freedom is the secret ingredient to innovation's magic sauce for increasing wealth.
When economists crunch gross domestic product numbers to see whether a nation's economy is rising or sinking, a measure of innovation becomes quantifiable. Embedded within that number is something that encapsulates human ingenuity, personal freedom, and property ownership. In this way, economic innovation directly reflects the human condition at any point in time. It provides a measurement of a nation's freedom.
Now "liberalism" as it is classically understood — as a political philosophy embracing natural rights, limited government, free markets, political and religious freedoms, and freedom of speech, all promoted and protected by an impartial and just rule of law — has always grasped this fundamental truth. Liberty and property rights spawn creativity. Where both are soundly valued, great writers, artists, and inventors produce novelties that would not otherwise exist. It is why medieval Florence birthed at once both modern-day banking and the European Renaissance. The personal freedom to create, build, invest, and own property generates tremendous innovation and national wealth.
Conversely, when today's central planners argue for socialized control over markets and the substitution of "collective rights" in place of "individual rights" while calling their agenda "progressive liberalism," they co-opt and subvert liberalism's historic meaning.
From this recognition that a nation's freedom directly affects a nation's wealth arises an even more remarkable truth: any nation that fails to embrace and protect human liberty will be the poorer for it. A country whose institutions do not respect property rights or whose customs do not value freedom will remain a barren desert for human innovation. In this way, nations have a great incentive to liberalize over time. Should they not, they quickly become financially and militarily vulnerable to more innovative and wealthier nations. Observing this simple truth, classical liberals have always understood free markets as the gateway to human emancipation. Economic self-interest, in other words, ultimately leads to expansive human rights and liberties across the planet.
Now with all that as a bit of rudimentary background, how is it that today we have entities such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) pushing for a radical "Great Reset" of Western society that promises to handcuff free markets with economic regulation while concentrating power into the hands of a small international coalition of central economic planners — most notably their own? How could promising a future where people will "own nothing and be happy" possibly be conducive to a free and productive society — or even a happy one? How can a future in which all energy is controlled by international governing bodies and multinational corporations possibly provide individuals with the institutional building blocks for endless innovation? How can farmers sustain larger and more prosperous populations when Western governments continue to stifle agricultural production through regulation and eminent domain?
The questions answer themselves. The WEF's agenda promotes radically anti-liberal programs such as the use of artificial intelligence to censor dissent, regulate free speech, and even erase ideas from the Internet. Its repressive efforts to control all hydrocarbon energy and cattle and crop farm production will smother human innovation by first depriving Westerners of their ability to create, invent, and grow food. Its policies betray millennia of Western civilizational advancement by replacing respect for individual choice and free will with top-down management of human activity through the blunt instruments of force and coercion. Its motivations are indisputably anti-human at their core because each individual human life is treated as nothing more than a cog or input that can be manipulated as part of a centrally-controlled social machine. When Westerners are reduced to ones and zeroes that are sorted and shifted by the WEF's social programming codes for a "better future," builders obey but no longer create.
Whereas personal liberty has unleashed the human mind and generated tremendous Western prosperity, the World Economic Forum's push for a centrally controlled economic system will crush rights, stifle creativity, and mass-produce poverty and servitude. Its proponents, in fact, seem mostly committed to using a combination of pandemic, famine, and fear to centralize dominance for themselves.
In order to persuade Westerners to give up more and make do with less, the WEF and its globalist allies promise Westerners a future Utopia. As with every similar lie ever told to justify the extraordinary acquisition of power, though, they will fail to deliver. No society, after all, was ever promised more than in Stalin's 1936 Constitution of the USSR — or subsequently treated more abysmally. Despite its claims to the contrary, the WEF's mission directives intentionally reverse Western trends toward greater human freedom, social mobility, and more broadly obtainable wealth — or what, in another era, would have been rightly regarded as true, liberal progress.
Although the WEF and its sister organizations claim to be "saving the planet," their efforts seem primarily an ignoble design to control the planet. "Clean" energy, after all, is controlled energy; and the more that energy is controlled by centralized governments, the more completely once-free markets become centrally controlled. If every potential entrepreneur must first receive permission to use electricity before producing anything new, then no entrepreneur can thrive without the central authorities' blessing. If all manufacturing is viewed as a "threat to the planet," then no independent upstart can innovate or build wealth without first seeking and obtaining government approval. If consumers are forbidden from buying anything unless it is first pre-approved, then free markets are transformed into controlled markets.
Taking this trend to its logical yet communist conclusion, private property becomes antithetical to the state's goals. We already see the ominous subversion of private ownership today with so-called ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) standards used to strong-arm industry goals and manipulate free markets. Because control over information makes control over markets more manageable, the more economic uncertainty that results from market manipulation, the more censorship we'll continue to see. Recently, even a senior economist who correctly stated that the American economy had entered into a recession found his research "fact checked" and "corrected" by the U.S. government's friends at Facebook. Where free markets are under attack, free speech is inevitably under attack, too. The individual blessings of liberalism are not easily dissected from the body politic without inevitably rendering liberalism's death, as a whole.
The issue today may be "climate change" or COVID-19 or "sustainable food supplies," but the stated issue never seems anything more than a public relations campaign for fooling the masses. It always appears to be merely a disposable excuse designed to seduce Westerners into handing a small cabal of "elites" power and control over everyone else. Convincing mankind to believe that free markets will inevitably lead to some kind of apocalypse increasingly looks like the only policy goal that matters. It may well be the most diabolical trick those with power have ever played against those with no power at all. Fear is used expertly as a torturer's tool to convince Westerners to forsake willingly their own freedom. The innocent mantra whispered into their ears is simple: Trust us, humanity, we will save you. The implication, however, is far more sinister: For your own good, you must be made to enjoy your new chains.
Notice that for the World Economic Forum to succeed in its mission to control all human activity, it must first destroy the sovereignty of nation states. Why? Because, as noted above, liberal nations that embrace freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and free market entrepreneurship foster innovation and great wealth. Any nation not encumbered by the WEF's market proscriptions will most likely continue to prosper, while those shackled to the "Great Reset" will most likely languish. This is why Western politicians have worked so hard together to push their "Build Back Better" proposals irrespective of the wishes of any one nation's voting citizens.
Wealthy free nations are a threat to the WEF's New World Order. If censorship must be embraced to control the "narrative," then so be it. If citizens must be denied freedom of movement under the guise of a "health emergency," no big deal. If private bank accounts must be seized to intimidate protesters, then such threats are the price for ensuring compliance. In this way, the WEF's plans for a controlled economy intentionally reverse centuries of liberal progress. Political leaders today are dragging the West into the past.
First, individual liberties will continue disappearing. Then, the greatest economic engine of all, innovation, will dry up. Finally, wealth will return solely to the hands of a small "ruling class" minority. This is the future the World Economic Forum hails as "progress." It is not. It is a recipe for human bondage.
*JB Shurk writes about politics and society.
© 2022 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Tehran Debates the Bomb
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 26/2022
After more than three decades a debate that started during the Iran-Iraq war seems to be making a comeback in Tehran: Should the Islamic Republic take the final steps towards building a nuclear arsenal? The original debate that took behind the scenes was prompted by the revelation that, with French help, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had been trying to build a nuclear capacity around Osirak, a nuclear power station and research center which was wiped out in a surprise attack by the Israeli air force using jets with Iranian colors. Those urging a quick revival of the Shah’s nuclear program included Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a junior mullah but a senior adviser to Ayatollah Khomeini, and Mohsen Reza’i-Mirqaed a drop-out student who became commander of Khomeini’s newly created parallel arm: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Khomeini, however, was loath to admit, even implicitly, that the Shah might have been right on any issue.
The Shah, of course, didn’t want to build a bomb but was determined to provide Iran with the scientific, industrial and technological means to do so. Khomeini, however, wasn’t interested in complex geostrategic issues and believed that reviving another of the Shah’s ambitious projects would undermine his legitimacy. After more than a year of indecisions, Khomeini finally agreed that his newly-minted Islamic Republic ought to have a nuclear capacity. But unlike the Shah he was not interested in a broad-based nuclear industry; he wanted a shortcut to the final stage before making a bomb, something that Pakistan had done with success. After almost 30 years of zigzags Iran is now in a position to build nuclear warheads; It has also developed a rudimentary capacity for delivering the bomb to a range of 2,000 kilometers.
In the current debate; those who advocate a jump to the “threshold” or the final stage of bomb making, argue that the Biden administration in Washington provides a chance for Iran to seize the opportunity initially provided by President Barrack Obama but rejected by “hardliners” in Tehran.
The advocates of a full Monty policy claim that only the possession of nuclear weapons would guarantee the regime’s safety as it has supposedly done in North Korea. There are many problems with that argument.
To start with, all the nine nations that developed a nuclear arsenal did so against clearly defined foes and in specific circumstances.
The US built and used the bomb to supposedly shorten the war against Japan and avoid “casualties in millions”. The carnage in Okinawa had shown the high cost of capturing the Japanese archipelago island by island. Today, however, we know that even without Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies Japan could not have prolonged the war. The USSR under Stalin built its own bomb in response to the US emerging as the sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the context of the Cold War. Next, China built a bomb in competition with the USSR when Mao Zedong denounced the new leader of Kremlin as revisionists and traitors to Socialism.
More importantly perhaps, Mao was shaken by China’s military inferiority when the Soviets invaded and annexed large chunks of Chinese territory across the two nation’s long borders. The next nation to go nuclear was India which did so in the wake of a border war with China in which Mao’s army seized large chunks of Kashmir and Ladakh. India could not sit back and wait for what a nuclear-armed aggressive neighbor might do next. Once India had the bomb, Pakistan began to feel even more insecure. After the loss of East Pakistan (Bangladesh), Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Pakistani generals believed that they could curb India’s irredentist ambitions in any conventional war. But dealing with a nuclear-armed India was another story. Finally, Israel developed a nuclear arsenal, which it denies having, presumably to counterbalance its demographic and territorial disadvantage compared to hostile Arb nations. Whether or not any of the calculations mentioned above were correct is a matter for debate.
The US increased its nuclear arsenal a hundredfold but couldn’t use it either in Korea or Vietnam to secure clear victories. Possession of the bomb didn’t save the Soviet Union from collapse.
Mao built the bomb but Maoism had to die in order for the new China to be born warts and all.
Nuclear-armed India has not been able to regain territory lost to China or to snatch another inch of land from Pakistan.
Israel has won all its wars with Arab neighbors without nuclear weapons. In fact, Israel’s successes in normalization with several Arab nations and others beyond are fruits of diplomacy backed by conventional military capabilities.
In all that, North Korea is the exception as it is in almost every other walk of life.
Those who advocate building the bomb in Iran should tell us which nation is the supposed foe against whom it is to be targeted. None of Iran’s 15 or 16 neighbors are likely to attack it, including the only two, Russia and Pakistan, with nuclear arsenals.
Some mullahs designate Israel as “foe” to justify building the bomb.
Rafsanjani once said that in a nuclear war with the “Zionist entity”, a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic could wipe out Israel by losing only 10 million of its own people. (He forgot his supposedly beloved Palestinians living alongside Israelis who would also die if the mullahs dropped their bomb.)
Interestingly, none of the problems that nation-states might have with one another, problems such as border disputes, competition for sources of raw materials and markets, water-sharing disputes, irredentism, maltreatment of kith-and-kin, and bitter historic memories exist between Iran and Israel.
No Iranian leader, even under the present regime, could rationally explain why Israel should be regarded as Iran’s enemy.
Unable to designate Israel as the foe some mullahs see the US as the enemy against whom Iran needs a nuclear deterrent.
Here we are back to the North Korean model. But Iran isn’t North Korea, a backyard swamp that needs to attract attention, and get some aid, by supposedly challenging the “Great Satan.”
In any case, Iran is safer without a nuclear bomb.
For in a conventional war its territorial size and current military capabilities could save it the day.
Nuclear-armed nations cannot attack non-nuclear ones. So, neither the US nor anyone else can drop the bomb on our heads. But if Iran has the bomb others who also have it can use it against us.
The danger is that the mullahs might regard the bomb as a status symbol, using Biden’s weakness as an opportunity to humiliate the “Great Satan.”
That could lead, or mislead Iran into an even more dangerous historic labyrinth.

Don't Try to Guess Putin's Next Move. Just Listen
Maria Tadeo/Bloomberg/August 26/2022
All indicators are flashing red for Europe.
Warnings about a winter recession are growing louder, the single currency is slipping and the energy market is already in crisis mode. But European governments are still running three steps behind — in large part because they spend too much time second-guessing Russia’s next moves. Instead, they should be paying closer attention to what Moscow is pushing for: social unrest.
Last week, Dmitry Medvedev, once a liberal hope for Russia who’s turned into one of the most hawkish voices against Ukraine, wrote a lengthy post on his Telegram channel in which he urged European citizens to protest the “stupid” actions of their governments (i.e., sanctions) and punish them for it (i.e., vote them out). He suggested Europeans want closer ties with Russia but are misguided by silly politics, while Russia wants cooperation with the people of Europe. “Don’t stay silent … Russia can hear it,” he wrote. Medvedev finished by suggesting it’s warm in Russia — a cheap jab at Europe as it enters a winter of energy scarcity caused precisely by the lack of Russian supplies.
The post went viral in Italy, even ending up on the front pages of La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, the two flagship national newspapers. Both publications accused Medvedev of interfering in the election campaign that’s underway ahead of next month’s vote. The Italian left went further, suggesting Russia wants to stir social tension. The right, which is currently leading polls and is often accused of being soft on the Kremlin, said the election will be decided by Italians, not Russians. However, Matteo Salvini, the head of the far-right League party, has linked sanctions to the cost-of-living crisis, suggesting a diplomatic solution is needed to protect Italian households and moving away from Mario Draghi’s hawkish stance against Russia.
By now it is no secret that Russia wants to force a volte face on sanctions by weaponizing energy. The Kremlin believes that Europeans will eventually throw in the towel, and it’s mounting a two-pronged strategy to achieve this. On one hand, it’s maintaining uncertainty over gas supplies. Russia doesn’t have to cut flows entirely to cause damage — the mere thought of a winter without Russian gas is enough to wreak havoc. Many indicators suggest Putin is winning in energy markets. Meanwhile, the other hand is busy stoking social unrest. That’s what Medvedev’s rant was about. President Vladimir Putin has also talked about the West’s “economic suicide,” and Russian bots have amplified the message through misinformation on social media.
Europe isn’t paying enough attention to Russia’s wartime messaging. Russian-affiliated accounts flood the web with the Kremlin’s narrative on everything from reopening the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to sanctions. Since the start of the war, Russian diplomats and state media have tweeted far more about Europe’s reliance on Russian gas than about their belief that Ukraine sympathizes with Nazis (Russia’s original pretext for invading), according to research by the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund which tracks Russian disinformation.
The goal, argues Joseph Bodnar, who conducted the research, is to undermine European sanctions and cool public support for Ukraine by presenting it as a drag on living standards. Replicating France’s yellow vest protests but across Europe would be “the dream scenario for the Kremlin,” he said.
The European Union took steps in February to mute Russian misinformation by shutting down media outlets such as RT — the former Russia Today — and Sputnik. But officials concede it is hard to counter every propaganda effort on the web. Social unrest is a real possibility this winter — one that European governments should be preparing for instead of sugar-coating.
The numbers speak for themselves: Germany estimates average household bills could rise by between 500 to 1,000 euros this winter — and this could be conservative. The German Federal Network Agency has already warned consumers to set money aside to face extra charges. For lower-income families, that would force an impossible choice between buying food or fuel. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has downplayed the risks, hinting that Germany has big pockets to cushion any blow. But while that may be true for the euro area’s largest economy, the fiscal picture varies greatly across the rest of Europe.
For example, the French have opted to cap prices and channel losses through Électricité de France SA, the utility company on its way to becoming fully nationalized. The International Monetary Fund has warned against such broad-based measures, calling instead for targeted relief for lower-income households. But there’s an important political calculus here: Macron wants to avoid the tumult from 2018 that was triggered by a diesel tax, and he wants to neutralize Marine Le Pen as the candidate of the working class. In that sense, he’s buying social peace. The IMF predicts the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary face recession if Russia cuts gas supplies. Countries such as Bulgaria, one of the first to be shut off by Gazprom back in April after it refused to pay in rubles, says it will have to reinitiate talks with Russia. The concern is Russian gas will come with political influence — and that would undo much of the work the EU has done since the war started.
As previous crises have shown, a multi-speed Europe is a union that doesn’t work. The EU is at its best when it acts jointly and coordinates action. While the European Central Bank focuses on fighting inflation, European leaders must be thinking about political stabilizers. The bloc needs a discussion about short-term burden-sharing to reduce the pain on household bills and long-term funding to gain energy independence. The Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency for the rest of the year, has already said it will put this issue on the table. Everyone else should waste no more time. Winter is about to hit like a cold shower. If Europe fails to deliver a comprehensive solution for its citizens facing financial stress, the impact on the continent’s social fabric will be enormous. And it will feed right into the hands of Russian propagandists. Last week, Emmanuel Macron, while paying homage to the liberation of the Bormes-les-Mimosas from Nazi occupation, suggested freedom has a price — and it is a price worth paying. But it must be fair too.

Zawahiri’s Killing: Will it End al-Qaeda or Revive it?
Charles Lister/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 26/2022
It is now almost four weeks since al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in an American drone strike on the balcony of a residence in the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital Kabul. The strike represented the end of a decades-long search for Zawahiri, a veteran figure of al-Qaeda’s terrorist campaign across the Middle East and further afield.
That his death came at the hands of a US missile brought a sense of justice, but his discovery in the heart of Taliban-controlled Kabul, in a house linked to Sirajuddin Haqqani, raised acute concerns about Afghanistan’s newfound status as a terrorist safe-haven.
The near silence from al-Qaeda since Zawahiri’s death is clear evidence of the crisis that his death will have sparked within the terrorist organization’s senior leadership.
Next in line for succession lies Sayf al-Adel, a veteran member of al-Qaeda’s command and a former Egyptian special forces commander. Yet Sayf al-Adel remains a controversial figure within al-Qaeda’s network of affiliates, accused of divisiveness, paranoia and a lack of strategic foresight and balance.
His location in Iran is another problem, as several al-Qaeda affiliates have made clear in private communications in recent years. Moreover, he has purportedly been missing for over a year, feared arrested in full by Iranian authorities.
Another possible candidate is Abdulrahman al-Maghrebi, Zawahiri’s son-in-law who runs al-Qaeda’s central media operation, as-Sahab.
Choosing a Moroccan to take the help of al-Qaeda would be a logical step in acknowledging the central role of Africa in al-Qaeda’s future prospects, but as with Sayf al-Adel, Maghrebi is also based in Iran and his ability to exert meaningful leadership from there would be highly uncertain.
The prospect of a crisis of succession for al-Qaeda has been the subject of analyst debate inside and outside of government for years, so surely al-Qaeda will have had a plan.
Nonetheless, the month of silence that has followed would seem to indicate a level of uncertainty at the heart of a terrorist organization in transition.
Over the past decade, al-Qaeda has changed significantly. Due in large part to intensive and sustained counterterrorism pressure, al-Qaeda’s central leadership has become an increasingly distant component of al-Qaeda’s real-world campaigns.
Whereas Osama bin Laden represented a charismatic operational leader, Zawahiri emerged as a rather uninspiring caretaker scholar.
Al-Qaeda decentralized to such an extent that it is best now described as a movement rather than an organization – a movement of loosely linked affiliates each conducting their own locally unique extremist insurgencies over which Zawahiri has minimal, if any influence.
Zawahiri’s death therefore, is unlikely to have much of an impact on any of al-Qaeda’s affiliates and their capabilities to sustain potent insurgencies across the Maghreb, the Sahel, in Somalia, Yemen and across South Asia.
Moreover, while those affiliates are now almost entirely focused on their respective local or regional theaters – rather than global attacks – the death of Zawahiri could catalyze a short-term reorientation towards attacking Western targets as a form of retaliation.
In Afghanistan meanwhile, Zawahiri’s death in Kabul will have forced al-Qaeda’s operatives there to go immediately “to ground,” but they will remain, biding their time thanks to their decades-old ties with the Haqqani Network and other sympathetic wings of the Taliban. While the Biden administration has sold the killing of Zawahiri as evidence that an “over the horizon” counterterrorism strategy works, the strike was the result of more than 10 years of intelligence work, focused on the most wanted terrorist on the planet.
Will the United States be equally capable of detecting, intercepting and neutralizing covert cells of mid-level operatives plotting attacks against Western targets in the immediate region with the same precision? It seems unlikely.
The key point here is that whoever al-Qaeda chooses as its new leader, the threats and security challenges posed by al-Qaeda across the world will at best remain the same, and at worst, escalate.
Should Zawahiri’s successor fail to revitalize al-Qaeda’s organization, then its affiliates will continue to do what they have been doing for over a decade – challenging and undermining local governments in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. If Zawahiri’s successor turns out to be a marked improvement, then those localized extremist campaigns will continue and be complemented by a newfound emphasis on global terrorism. There are no “good” scenarios to be seen.
For the international community however, Zawahiri’s death represents a great counterterrorism achievement and a further step on the path towards al-Qaeda’s defeat. This interpretation fundamentally misunderstands what al-Qaeda represents today, and risks inculcating a dangerous complacency.
The decentralized and locally focused al-Qaeda movement of today poses threats that much of the world is failing to challenge and to which we are mostly refusing to turn our attention towards.
With time, al-Qaeda will eventually reveal Zawahiri’s replacement, but to a large extent, that revelation will be a sideshow. The real challenge remains as it has done for many years: with the affiliates themselves.

د.ماجد رفي زاده : التنازلات التي قُدمت لإيران خلال المفاوضات النووية تجعل نظام الملالي أكثر وقاحتاً
Concessions made to Iran during nuclear negotiations only make the regime bolder
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 26, 2022

Making concessions to a rogue state only emboldens it to pursue its destructive behavior and policies. This has been the case with the Iranian regime since it was established four decades ago.
Unfortunately, the administration of US President Joe Biden does not appear to have learned this important history lesson. Since Biden assumed office, his administration has made several concessions to the Islamic Republic with the hope that the theocratic establishment will alter its behavior and agree to a revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018.
But with every concession made so far, the Iranian regime has become more intransigent. For instance, after the Biden administration suspended some of the anti-terrorism sanctions on the Houthis in Yemen and revoked the designation of the group as a terrorist organization, the regime in Tehran responded by increasing its illegal deliveries of weapons to the Houthis.
This was yet another violation by Iran of UN Security Council Resolution 2140: “Obligation to freeze all funds, other financial assets and economic resources that are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities designated by the Committee, or by individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, or by entities owned or controlled by them; no funds, financial assets or economic resources to be made available to or for the benefit of such individuals or entities.”
In addition, after the Biden administration lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and several energy companies, the Islamic Republic ramped up oil sales to China, and shipped oil to Syria and Hezbollah in direct violation of US sanctions. The regime also took more hostages and further activated its terror cells in other countries.
In addition, the Biden administration appears to look the other way when Tehran cracks down on protesters in its own country. The regime also hand-picked a purported mass murderer, Ebrahim Raisi, to be its next president.
Now information leaked from Iran, obtained by the news outlet Iran International, reveals that the Biden administration has made even more concessions in an an attempt to revive the nuclear deal. According to the report, “the US guarantees that its sanctions against IRGC (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) would not affect other sectors and firms: e.g. a petrochemical company shouldn’t be sanctioned by US because of doing business with IRGC.”
With every concession made so far, the Iranian regime has become more intransigent.
The Biden administration seems to be claiming victory, since Iran’s leaders have dropped a key demand that involved the removal of the IRGC from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations. But if other sectors that are linked to the corps can freely do business with it under the terms of the nuclear deal, then its designation as a terrorist organization, as well as the sanctions against it, are merely cosmetic.
The IRGC has a large stake in almost every industrial sector in Iran, including oil, mining, telecommunications, gold, shipping and construction. Competition and the private sector are not permitted because the more closed the economy, the easier it is for the IRGC to monopolize it. As a result, any financial growth in these sectors will directly benefit Iran’s military, the IRGC and its elite branch, the Quds Force, and Iran’s militias and terror groups operating across the Middle East.
Since Iran’s economy is predominantly IRGC-controlled or state-generated, additional revenues will likely be funneled into the treasury of the IRGC and the office of the supreme leader.
Another major concession that has reportedly been made includes a provision that only a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency can trigger a snap-back clause for the restoration of sanctions. This would mean the US or the EU3 (France, the UK and Germany) cannot unilaterally call for sanctions on Iran to be reinstated, even if they believe Tehran is violating the nuclear deal. This would be a more favorable deal for the Iranian regime than the previous version, due to the fact that under the 2015 agreement any single state that is a party to the agreement could unilaterally snap back sanctions.
Furthermore, an important issue about Iran’s nuclear program is linked to past nuclear activities that reportedly had military dimensions. The IAEA opened an investigation into this issue but the Iranian regime has refused to provide answers to questions about several clandestine nuclear sites. Another concession to Iran that is reportedly being made is that the IAEA is expected to halt its investigation into those previous nuclear activities.
To make things worse, even if the nuclear deal falls apart again, for any reason, the regime will be exempt from US sanctions for two-and-a-half years. In other words, even if the regime is found to be breaching the deal and the US withdraws from the agreement, Tehran seemingly can continue to enjoy sanctions relief for several years.
In conclusion, the Iranian regime seems to have obtained many concessions from the West. This will only make the theocratic establishment more intransigent and belligerent, as history has shown.
* Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

لوك كوفي: لا صفقة مع إيران أفضل من صفقة سيئة
No deal with Iran is better than a bad deal
Luke Coffey/Arab News/August 26, 2022

A new nuclear deal with Iran appears close to being reached in Vienna. For the past 18 months, talks have achieved barely anything. Iranian negotiators were leading on their American counterparts by pretending that an agreement was just around the corner — but it never really was.
Iranian negotiators were using US President Joe Biden’s desperation for a deal to squeeze out every last possible concession, and it looks as if they have accomplished their goal. Iran stands to benefit handsomely from this revived agreement. At the beginning of his administration, Biden claimed that any new agreement would lead to a “longer and stronger” nuclear deal. For the most part US officials have given up on this aspiration. Sadly, it is likely that a new deal will be even weaker than the original 2015 agreement.
Considering the state of geopolitics, signing a new agreement with Iran right now would be a terrible idea. It would also mark a new low in the Biden administration’s inept statecraft. There are two reasons.
First, any deal agreed with Iran is turning a blind eye to Tehran’s nefarious activities and rewarding its malign behavior around the region. Since Biden entered the Oval Office in January 2021, Iran’s behavior has become increasingly cavalier. There have been more than a dozen maritime incidents in the Gulf attributable to Iran, and Iranian proxies fired rockets and launched drone attacks across the region. The targets of these attacks included Irbil airport, a base used by US forces at Al-Tanf in Syria, and numerous civilian and military locations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. As recently as last week Iran-backed militias attacked US forces again in Syria.
The US response to these provocations has been weak. Not until the attacks in Syria last week did the Biden administration finally respond with military force, because the White House is so desperate to chalk up a perceived foreign policy victory it is willing to turn a blind eye to obtain an agreement with Iran.
Second, there is the Ukraine angle to consider. The issues of Ukraine, Russia and Iran are connected. Russian-Iranian military cooperation is no secret. Iran will provide armed drones to Russia for use in Ukraine after Moscow’s stockpiles were depleted by a surprisingly effective Ukrainian air defense.
Any deal agreed with Iran is turning a blind eye to Tehran’s nefarious activities and rewarding its malign behavior around the region
If Iran received sanctions relief as part of any new deal and was allowed to become a player in the global economy, Tehran could help Russia evade Western sanctions. Indirectly, it is quite possible that a new deal with Iran could, indirectly and in part, finance Russia’s war in Ukraine.
However, there is one silver lining when it comes to the Biden administration’s Iran policy. Israel and the Gulf states share similar threats from Iranian aggression and expansionism. Any new agreement with Iran will probably push Israeli and Arab cooperation to an even higher level. After all, although it was Donald Trump’s leadership in the region that really got the Abraham Accords started, the seed of Israeli-Arab normalization was planted by Barack Obama and his willingness to cut the original Iran deal in 2015. With such great progress being made on Israeli-Arab relations since the Abraham Accords in 2020, it is only logical to assume even deeper level cooperation will result from a new Iran deal.
From a US domestic political point of view, the timing of this deal with Iran is curious. Hotly contested midterm elections will take place in November, and the Democrats will probably lose control of the House of Representatives. There’s even a chance that the Republicans can regain control of the Senate.
In Congress, both Democrats and Republicans have been critical of the White House’s approach to the negotiations in Vienna. After seeing what happened in Afghanistan last year, the American public is not sure if it can trust the Biden administration on the big foreign policy issues. So it’s not clear why the Biden administration would be willing to sign such a controversial deal with Iran in the run up to the midterm elections.
During the 2020 presidential campaign Biden had one major foreign policy pledge: to rejoin the Iran deal that Trump had left. He seems determined to do this at any cost. Now is the time for Arab and Israeli leaders and policymakers to put pressure on the US government to step back from the talks before it is too late. The message to Biden should be crystal clear: No deal with Iran is far better than a bad deal.
*Luke Coffey is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Twitter: @LukeDCoffey