[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] H [/yt_dropcap]umanity scurvies on hopes! With a new regime in place in USA, hopes are indeed very about the feasibility of establishment of much delayed Palestine state whose lands Israel occupies with US baking. Now all eyes are on the progress and process of establishing Palestine state.
Palestinians have, after a great deal of collective suffering under the Zionist military brutality for years, achieved last year their first objective of becoming a defacto member of UN which is indeed the most positive event in life of humanity in recent years. Notwithstanding all strenuous efforts by Israel, Mossad and American Jewish lobbyist lords, including those in Neocons that made the White House stand solid behind Israel brutally targeting the besieged Palestinians, PLO (PA) has managed to win the UN membership, though without any voting power but of course would also be realized sooner than later.
After a somewhat neutralist twist in Obama era without any sincere concern for the plight of people of Palestine, world expects a totally positive approach from the new Trump government that replaces a Zionist regime effectively controlled by Hillary and Neocons, totally committed to the cause of expansionist Israeli genocides inside Palestine.
As it stands, Palestine is a UN member as a state under occupation. President Obama did not make any effort to make Palestine a soverign state mainly because a prominent Zionist American Hillary Clinton, swearing by Zionist expansionist ideology, did not let that happen. Palestinians continued to suffer as Israel began targeting civilians, children and women in Gaza Strip which it wants to reoccupy. Yet neither Obama nor Hillary has any sympathy for the Palestinian children getting killed by Israeli military. All that seemed worrying them is the slow progress in the Zionist expansionist criminal operations inside Palestine. Obama has added more money and terror goods, technology to Israeli system, making it remain the formidable military plus nuclear power of West Asia.
With President-elect Donald Trump seeking peace in Mideast, Netanyahu wants to start out on the right foot during a meeting with President Trump that could take place at the end of March 2017 when this hawk speaks at the annual conference of powerful Jews the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He has instructed his diplomatic right-hand man (lawyer Yitzhak Molcho), the Israeli National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry to prepare policy papers for such a meeting in the Oval Office. In addition, the Israeli Embassy in Washington has been talking to Trump’s advisers and with new senators of both parties in order to prepare the encounter.
Zionist expansionist terrorism
And Israel thrives at the cost of Palestinians, due to foolishness and arrogance of US presidents. The joint US-Israeli arrogance is the cause for the continuous suffering of the besieged Palestinians whose lands are being under brutal control of joint terror blockades of Israel-Egyptian regimes.
In fact, Israel opposes world peace, it does not seek peace with Palestinians, it has no idea about a peace deal with Palestine which would eventually deny and end aggression and genocides, it still wants to continue brutal occupation and crimes against humanity. It however talks about direct bogus talks with Palestinians to impress the western powers in order to get military and technology aid.
Not happy with foreign powers taking interest in Mideast peace, Israel has rejected taking part in an international peace conference advocated by France. On Nov. 7, Jacob Nagel, Israel’s national security adviser, told French peace envoy Pierre Vimont that Israel would not participate in any international conference, considering such a forum an international diktat. It wants only the support for its brutalities in Palestine and Mideast. Israel instead claims it wants only direct but bogus talks with the Palestinians in order to prolong occupational crimes.
One of the reasons Israelis were so involved in this election campaign was undoubtedly is the fear that if Hillary loses that won’t be in its terror interests and also the knowledge that the results would have far-reaching political and diplomatic ramifications for Israel. When most commentators and polls in the United States predicted an almost certain victory for Clinton, the Israeli media focused on the anticipated implications for Netanyahu’s right-wing government. Obviously, Trump’s victory has upset Israeli calculations.
Israel does not distinguish among US presidents in terms of support for Zionist fascism and fanaticism and has taken their support for granted. The climax came when Trump became the “messiah” of the Israeli right based on his election promises — to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem, for instance. No one in Israel has the slightest idea whether the 45th president of the USA will show any interest whatsoever in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, if he will also turn a blind eye to construction in the settlements or decide to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Israel is damns sure it can play the new president as well as it wants.
However, many in Israel and USA think Trump cannot be different towards Israel and he would also let Israel continue with its expansionist and genocide policies. Tel Aviv pins all hopes on US/NATO wars in Arab/Islamic world so that its occupational infrastructure is intact in Palestine and can continue to slaughter the Palestinians at will.
Earlier, Israel had not attached importance to US poll for too long after the Zionist state came into being. Until 2012, Israelis showed no exceptional interest in the US election but now the issue of illegal settlements has made Israeli leaders nervous as a new hawk takes power in Washington. Jews realized that the social changes, making political changes, in Israel’s strongest and most important ally USA would impact them directly too. However, a smart US educated Netanyahu did not repeat his 2012 mistake and made a point of staying out of the election — publicly and officially , at least — the “historic” taboo had already been shattered.
Although the Zionist leaders “proudly” say now that the two state solution option is gone with the election of Trump, Israelis do reel from US election as their favorite candidate Hillary Clinton bite the dust at the dustings. On the night the votes were being counted, the heated, emotional debates that erupted between Israelis watching the American drama unfold made it seem as though the election was for the Israeli Knesset, not the White House. Israel’s leading journalists could not hide their shock and disappointment at Democrat Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
Obama continues with Zionist US policy
President Obama inherited entire legacy of previous presidents in policies and practices especially in Mideast. He extended terror wars to Libya and added more troops to Afghanistan. Obama accelerated terror wars of Bushdom, killed thousands of Muslims in Mideast and added more terror goods to Israel.
Israel and Trump’s pro-Israel supporters are already sending signals to Obama to forgo any kind of action at the United Nations. International political observers are worried that the newly elected US president might, on instruction from Israeli regime cum Jewish US lobbyists, abandon the Middle East or alternatively make extremist decisions. Israel has been pushing Washington to h as enacting his campaign promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Palestine.
For the skeptics, Obama making a controversial decision on the Middle East conflict would not be easy even though freed, as he is, from election shackles. There are skeptics who think he will not have the courage to make a bold decision as a lame duck in the White House.
Like India occupies Jammu Kashmir on the falsified strength of a possible fake document, Israel also takes all precautions to see noting obstructs the brutal occupation of neighboring nation Palestine without even fake documents. USA, UNSC and NATO are the strength of the Israeli regime, its fascism
The usual ploy of “anti-Semitism” tricks won’t work any longer
Israel lectures US presidents
Occasionally one gets the feeling if Israel controls US president.
For too long USA has pursued not just pro-Israeli policies but also let itself controlled by Israel in policy matters. Israeli relations received a setback during the Obama era although he also provided sumptuous aid in cash and arms and technology to appease hardcore Zionists in USA and Israel. Israeli leader address the US Congress and deliver advises to Americans.
Israeli hardline PM Benjamin Netanyahu has actively and discretely begun preparing for his first meeting with the next US president. He is counting the days until the end of President Barack Obama’s presidency. Their relationship was in trouble beginning with their first meeting, when Netanyahu tried in vain to convince Obama about the legitimacy of the settlements, to the unprecedented clash between the two leaders when Netanyahu took sides with the Republicans in Congress on the Iran deal.
During his forthcoming meeting with President Trump, Netanyahu would tell Trump that Palestinian cause problems for USA and regional peace cannot be solved by making Palestine an independent nation. He wishes to remove the resolution of the Palestinian issue from the list of elements necessary for regional stability and convince the new president that fundamentalist terror is the root problem of the region (and for world stability for that matter). Netanyahu will argue that the Islamic State, Hezbollah and Hamas are the real enemies of both Israel and pragmatic Arab countries. Thus, the region should align around the battle against Iranian-sponsored terror, not the Palestinian statehood issue.
Hawk Netanyahu as usual is eager to give along lecture to Trump on international politics with special reference to Mideast of which he as Israeli PM claims to be an expert, and intends to persuade the new president to cooperate closely with Israel on Iranian compliance with the agreement. He will encourage American deterrence against Iran’s long-range missile development and the sponsoring of regional and international terrorism. American sanctions against Tehran must therefore remain a realistic option
Netanyahu blames it all on the personality of the outgoing president, and he does not perceive this as a result of a fundamental interest clash between the two countries. Netanyahu, said the official, believes he can get along well with Trump.
In Washington, Netanyahu will not allow President Trump discuss Palestine issue or Israeli genocides. He obviously would make the case for fighting terror first and addressing Palestinians last, office and the Israeli Embassy are preparing for a media blitz to reiterate his view of the Israeli cause. His government and the Israeli Embassy are preparing for a media blitz to reiterate his view of the Israeli cause.
In short, Netanyahu would like the next president to embrace and adopt Israel’s “no” on the Palestinian issue. In parallel, Netanyahu is, as Israeli policy, preparing to galvanize the organized American Jewish community to his policy aims vis-a-vis the next regime. The Israeli Embassy in Washington is in contact with US Jewish organizations that are able to influence the administration and Congress, primarily the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and AIPAC. The new US Congress will be the main focus of these organizations in order to spread Netanyahu’s gospel.
Netanyahu’s third issue would be preventing American and international pressure on Israel on the following points: 1, Illegal colonies construction and USA must express its opposition to any Israeli settlement expansion more privately than under Obama: 1. Public assurances that the United States will veto any UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel or setting terms of reference for a two-state solution process. USA must as before veto any UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel or setting terms of reference for a two-state solution process.2. USA has to foil any EU member state initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the French initiative on a two-state solution.
One has no idea as to what would President Trump tell Netanyahu.
Task before Trump presidency
President elects Donald Trump’s statement that he would end war between Israel and Palestinians is the first ever such intension for peace in Mideast but has been despised and not welcomed in Israel. Israel wants every president to carry forward the policy of genocides in Palestine. Even the Zionist left is shocked and terrified. Never before has Israeli media coverage of an American election been so intense and so involved.
The media globally described the victory of Trump against the powerful Hillary Clinton as establishment candidate as “shock win” because every step was ensured for the victory of Hillary as the first ever woman president to prolong the terror occupation of Muslim countries, invade more Muslim countries, support the expansionist drive of Zionist criminal regime, etc.
Of course, the Trump win was remarkable, though unexpected by majority of corporate regimes and their media outlets across the world. That means Trump needs his act together and launch anti-state terror and anti-occupation moves systematically and honestly. There was also a clear sense from their reports that most reporters and analysts preferred the Democratic candidate.
President Trump should realize that he has arrived on international scene at a critical juncture as state terrorism has turned ugly and as fascist gang capitalist nations has become arrogant.
Israel opposes peaceful resolution of Mideast crisis with regard to Palestine state. Pursuing capitalist-imperialist path, Obama has long supported a two-state solution, but right-wing Israeli fanatic nuts believe that Trump’s election has buried the idea of a Palestinian state. Allowing a vote for Palestinian statehood — whether by withholding a veto or abstaining — would be a small step in helping translate thus far unimplemented US policy and guarantee that the new president will not be forced to bury the two-state solution whereby Palestine state comes into existence.
Instead of undertaking punitive measures against Israeli crimes against humanity, the Obama government has promised a supply of 10-year, $38 billion military aid package with a huge, up-to-date military arsenal to the essentially fascist Israel could only complicate the tension in Mideast. Obama has done this favor in spite of the fact that and Benjamin Netanyahu have not seen eye to eye on the Middle East conflict and the Iranian nuclear deal. President Trump could cancel the aid altogether to coerce Israel to abandon its terror techniques in Palestine and give up expansionist idea altogether.
While Israel continues to be in denial, Palestinian officials appear, however, to be accepting of the new reality, with President Mahmoud Abbas welcoming Trump’s election in a Nov. 9 message, also saying that he hopes a comprehensive peace will be achieved during his term. PLO Secretary Saeb Erekat reiterated the need for the new US leader to stay committed to the two-state solution. “We hope from the new US administration to translate talk about the two-state solution into a reality, because security, peace and stability in this region can only happen if the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 is defeated,” he said.
Hamas government in Gaza called on the president-elect to reconsider US policy toward the Palestinian cause. “The suffering of the Palestinian people is continuing because of biased, successive American administrations in favor of Israel,” the movement said in a statement released Nov. 11.
Humanity believes that US President Barack Obama should still use his remaining months in the White House to ensure that a UN Security Council resolution recommending the recognition of Palestine be permitted to pass. Obama could accomplish a number of goals with such a decision. It could be Obama’s gift to Middle East peace before leaving office on Jan. 20 when new incumbent Donald Trump takes power from him. Obama has the ability to instruct single-handedly his UN representative to support or abstain from a resolution that will become irrevocable once the UN Security Council passes it.
It is certain that President Trump would be able to make Palestine a soverign nation in a year or so and would not let the criminal regime in Israel attack Palestinians. It can’t be otherwise. However, if Trump also plays into the dirty Zionist hands, Trump would feel sorry later for his wrong decision to support the criminal and high fanatic Israeli regime.
Even Obama’s successor, Donald Trump under pressure from Israel and its agents in USA like Hillary Clinton, will not be able to reverse it mainly because he wants to establish Palestine and peaceful region in West Asia. Also, the Palestine state would have received international legitimacy. That would ensure transfer of power of sovereignty to Palestine government and withdrawal of Israeli forces and offices from Palestine territories. The borders of Palestine would be finally earmarked legally so that the Zionist military would end aggressor and expansionist wars in Palestine, its children won’t be killed by Israeli military any more.
Unless Palestinians obtain full membership of UN, Israel can resort to intermittent aggression, targeting children to quench its blood thirst. All mediatory efforts by USA and international community have filed because the top powers are not sincere. Fascist UNSC is not committed to world peace.
Passage of a Security Council resolution recommending a Palestinian state would seal a progressive legacy for Obama and help make up for his inability to reach a breakthrough in the Middle East conflict during his eight years in office.
The new US Congress under the Republican control could choose to punish Israel by withholding financial and military-technological support to the Jewish government. Censure of the settlements, however, would probably not elicit a strong reaction after Trump takes over. USA could increase the aid to Palestine to help rebuild the nation, destroyed by regular aggressions and terror attacks by Israel. .
Many in Israel think Netanyahu and Trump are ideological twins and so Netanyahu’s “peace process hands-off” message might probably meet a fertile ideological ground with the new regime.
First, recognition of Palestine by Trump’s USA and a condemnation of illegal Jewish settlements as international shame on the part of White House are the need of the time and a statement to the effect showcasing its genuine interest in peace would make the Mideast problem to get resolved soon.
Israel, however, does not believe trump would play to the Zionist fiddle.
UNSC, USA and EU should not let Israel decide the fate and destiny of Mideast by adding more terror goods into Israeli military. . It is important that before passing the baton to Trump, Obama round out his legacy by responding to the will of the Palestinian people by permitting a vote for the State of Palestine.
Both USA and its terror ally Israel must realize that Palestinians have the right to statehood and USA should help them obtain that right.
Establishment of Palestine state would make the region tension free, war free and world safe. Hopefully President Trump would realize it and work towards that objective.
Enough of blood bath in Palestine and Mideast! Entire globe is looking for a change in US polices towards neutrality, peace and prosperity in Palestine. Trump without any hesitation fulfill the dreams of Palestinians and humanity at large!
Papal visit to Iraq: Breaking historic ground pockmarked by religious and political minefields
When Pope Francis sets foot in Iraq on Friday, he will be breaking historic ground while manoeuvring religious and political minefields. So will his foremost religious counterpart, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, one of the Shia Muslim world’s foremost scholars and leaders.
The three-day visit contrasts starkly with past papal trips to the Middle East that included Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan, states that, unlike neighbouring Iran, are more accustomed to inter-faith interactions because of their Sunni Muslim history and colonial experience or in the case of Shia-majority Azerbaijan a modern history of secular and communist rule.
Unlike in Azerbaijan, Pope Francis is venturing in Iraq into a Shia-majority country that has been wracked by sectarian violence in which neighbouring Iran wields significant religious and political influence and that is home to religious scholars that compete with their counterparts in the Islamic republic. As a result, Iraqi Shiite clerics often walk a tightrope.
Scheduled to last 40 minutes, Ayatollah Al-Sistani’s meeting with the pope, a high point of the visit, constitutes a double-edged sword for a 90-year-old religious leader born in Iran who has a complex relationship with the Islamic republic.
Ayatollah Al-Sistani has long opposed Iran’s system of direct rule by clerics. As a result, he has eschewed executive and political authority while playing a key role in reconciling Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, promoting inter-tribal and ethnic peace, and facilitating the drafting and ratification of a post-US invasion constitution.
Ayatollah Al-Sistani’s influence, however, has been evident at key junctures in recent Iraqi history. Responding to an edict by the ayatollah, Iraqis flocked to the polls in 2005 despite the risk of jihadist attacks. Large numbers enlisted in 2017 to fight the Islamic State after Ayatollah Al-Sistani rallied the country. The government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned in 2019, four days after Ayatollah Al-Sistani expressed support for protesters demanding sweeping reforms.
To avoid controversy, Ayatollah Al-Sistani is likely to downplay the very aspects of a meeting with the pope that political and religious interlocutors of the head of the Catholic church usually bask in: the ability to leverage the encounter to enhance their legitimacy and position themselves as moderate and tolerant peacemakers.
With state-controlled media in Iran largely refraining from mentioning the visit and Iranian Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claiming the mantle of leadership of the Muslim world, Ayatollah Al-Sisi is likely to avoid projecting the encounter as a recognition by the pope that he is Shiite Islam’s chief interlocutor or that the holy Iraqi city of Najaf, rather than Iran’s Qom, is the unrivalled capital of Shiite learning.
Sources close to Ayatollah Al-Sistani, who rarely receives foreign dignitaries, have described his encounter on Saturday with the pope as a “private meeting.”
“Khamenei will not like it,” said Mehdi Khalaji, an Islamic scholar who studied in Qom and is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Critics are likely to note that Ayatollah Al-Sistani was meeting the pope but had failed to receive in December Iranian Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, who is touted as a potential presidential candidate in elections scheduled for June and/or successor to Ayatollah Khamenei.
Mr. Khalaji noted that Iran has long downplayed Ayatollah Al-Sistani’s significance that is boosted by the fact that he maintains a major presence not only in Najaf but also in Qom where he has a seminary, a library, and a clerical staff.
Shiite scholars suggest that is one reason why Pope Francis and Ayatollah Al-Sistani are unlikely to issue a Shiite-Christian equivalent of the Declaration of Human Fraternity that was signed in Abu Dhabi two years ago by the pontiff and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the Cairo-based historic cathedral of Islamic learning.
“Al-Sistani does not want to provoke Khamenei. There is no theological basis to do so. Muslims cannot be brothers of Christians. Mainstream Islamic theological schools see modern Christianity as inauthentic. They view Jesus as the divine prophet, not as the incarnation of God and his son. In short, for official Islam, today’s Christianity is nothing short of heresy,” Mr. Khalaji said, referring to schools of thought predominant in Iran. “Sunnis are a little bit more flexible,” he added.
Mr. Khalaji noted further that Shiite religious seminaries have no intellectual tradition of debate about inter-faith dialogue nor do any of the offices of religious leaders have departments concerned with interacting with other faith groups. “The whole discourse is absent in Shia Islam,” Mr. Khalaji said.
That has not stopped Ayatollah Al-Sistani from maintaining discreet contacts with the Vatican over the years.
In a bid to popularize the concept of inter-faith dialogue, Pope Francis is scheduled to hold a multi-religious prayer meeting in Ur, the presumed birthplace of Abraham, revered as the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
By the same token, Pope Francis, concerned about the plight of Christians in the Middle East and particularly Iraq that has seen the diverse minority shrink from 1.2 million before the 2003 US invasion to at most 300,000 today, will want to build on the Shiite leader’s past calls for protection of the minority faith group from attacks by militants and condemnation of “heinous crimes” committed against them.
The pope hopes that a reiteration by Ayatollah Al-Sistani of his empathy for the plight of Christians would go a long way in reducing pressure on the community from Iranian-backed militias that has stopped many from returning to homes they abandoned as they fled areas conquered by the Islamic State.
The pope’s visit, little more than a month after a bomb blast in Baghdad killed 32 people and days after rockets hit an airbase housing US troops, has sparked hope among some Iraqis that it will steer the country away from further violence.
That hope was boosted by a pledge by Saraya Awliyat Al-Dam (Custodians of the Blood), the pro-Iranian group believed to have attacked the airbase, to suspend its operations during the pope’ visit “as a sign of respect for Imam Al-Sistani.”
Said Middle East scholar Hayder al-Khoei: “There will be no signing of a document, but both (Pope Francis and Ayatollah Al-Sistani) are advocates of interfaith dialogue and condemn violence committed in the name of religion. The meeting will undoubtedly strengthen the voices and organizations who still believe in dialogue.”
Iraq Opens Hands to the Pope Francis’ Historic Visit
The world looks forward to Pope Francis’ historic visit to Iraq which is considered the first papal trip represented by the Roman Catholic Church to the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia, despite spreading the second wave of COVID-19 and the security situation in Iraq. This expected visit has an important impact on highlighting the challenges and disasters of humiliation, the sectarian war and displacing people, Yazidis persecution, and fleeing the Christian minorities that faced Iraq during all these past years after the US invasion occurred in 2003.
The three-day-visit is considered as the message of peace after years of war and violence, referring that the Pope’s visit is as a pilgrim to the cradle of civilization. The papal visit includes Baghdad, Erbil, Mosul- Qaraqosh, and Ur city. The trip comes after 18 months as the pandemic restricts his movement, and it is the first visit to the Middle East when he visited the U.A.E in February 2019 where he met and celebrated in front of 180,000 people at the Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The papal visit was intended to occur twenty years ago when St. John Paul II tried to visit Mesopotamia during Saddam’s regime, but the endeavors failed to complete that proposed trip. “The people of Iraq are waiting for us. The people waited for St. John Paul II who was not permitted to go. We cannot disappoint them twice”, said the Pope.
In a video message addressed by the Pope to the people of Iraq, he expressed his happiness and longing to meet the people who suffered from war, scourges, and death during all these years. “I long to meet you, to look at your faces and to visit your blessed ancient land and the cradle of civilization,” the Pope said.
It is expected that the purpose of the Pope’s visit is to preserve the rest of the Christians in Iraq. According to the estimation of the charity aid of the Church in Need, the numbers of Christians have decreased from 1.4 million to under 250,000 since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, especially in the cities of northern Iraq. Many Christians were killed and fled from 2014 to 2017 due to the Islamic State occupation and due to their atrocities, persecution, and violence against the Christian areas. The Pope yearns for meeting the dwindling Christian communities in Mosul, Qaraqosh, and Nineveh plains where these regions had suffered from the atrocities of ISIS in 2014 and people had been compelled to flee.
The world is waiting for the most significant historic meeting between the 90-year-old Shia Muslim cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and the 84-year-old Pope Francis in the Shiite shrine city of Najaf. The expected meeting is seen as a real chance to enhance the bonds of fraternity between the Muslims and Christians and to lighten the impact of the islamophobia concept that swept Europe and America due to the terrorism actions that happened in Europe. This expected meeting that will be by Saturday signifies a historic moment when the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani meets Pope Francis, illustrating the fraternal bonds to make people live in peace and tranquility.
Back in February 2019, the Pontiff Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque and the most prestigious leader in Sunni Islam, agreed and signed the declaration of fraternity, affirming peace among all nations. The two parties in this document adhere to fight extremism in every place in the world. If the Pontiff and the Grand Ayatollah sign a document like the declaration of fraternity, this will give Najaf’s Marjiya a very great impact, and this move will be seen as the first step to decrease the religious tensions and fill the gap of the clash of civilization. This document, if it is enacted, will have a great impact to make peace prevailing and encouraging Muslims and Christians to live in peaceful coexistence.
Ur, which is the oldest city in the world, is to be visited by the pontiff. It is considered the biblical birthplace of Ibraham, the common prophet to the Christians, Muslims, and Judaism and the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is expected that there will be prayers in Ziggurat where this place is one of UNESCO world heritage sites. This visit to this historic site will help the landmark to polarize people from Iraq and outside to visit it after years of negligence and ignorance attention to its importance and the vital role that can help Iraq to increase the public income.
The papal visit has many different messages to the people of Iraq. Firstly, the expected meeting with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani reflects the fraternal and human stances, and this meeting underlines the important role played by the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani after the US-led-invasion in 2003. Secondly, his visit to Ur to pray there is a message of the peaceful coexistence between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, trying to point out that all these three religions emerged from one source. Thirdly, the Pope endeavors to be with the Christians who suffer from the past events of persecution, humiliation, and atrocities. His presence among them is a message of tranquility, serenity, peace, and contentment to live in Iraq with the Muslims and to abandon fighting against others. Finally, the Pope’s visit to Iraq pays the world’s attention to the religious importance of Iraq and the significant role that can be played by Iraq.
Restart Iran Policy by Stopping Tehran’s Influence Operations
Another US administration is trying to figure out its Iran policy. And, as always, the very regime at the core of the riddle is influencing the policy outcome. Through the years, the clerical rulers of Iran have honed the art of exploiting America’s democratic public sphere to mislead, deceive, confuse, and influence the public and government.
Yet Washington still does not have a proper taxonomy of policy antidotes when it comes to Tehran’s influence operations.
Arguments dictated by Iranian intelligence services echo in think tanks and many government agencies. These include the extremely misguided supposition that the murderous regime can be reformed or is a reliable negotiating partner for the West; or that there is no other alternative but to deal with the status quo.
How has Tehran been able to deceive some in the US into believing such nonsense? First, by relying on the policy of appeasement pursued by Western governments. And second, through its sophisticated influence operations facilitated by that policy.
Consider three recent instances.
First. Just last month, an Iranian “political scientist” was charged by the Justice Department for acting as an unregistered agent of Iran and secretly receiving money from its mission in New York. “For over a decade, Kaveh Afrasiabi pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public … for the benefit of his employer, the Iranian government, by disguising propaganda as objective polic1y analysis and expertise,” the Justice Department noted.
Afrasiabi has an extensive body of published work and television appearances. In July 2020, according to the Justice Department, he linked many of his books and hundreds of articles in an email written to Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, saying: “Without [Zarif’s] support none of this would have been possible!”
Second. Across the Atlantic, one of Zarif’s official diplomats in Europe, Assadollah Assadi, was convicted and given a 20-year prison sentence by a Belgian court on February 4 for trying to bomb an opposition rally in the outskirts of Paris in June 2018.
Court documents revealed that Assadi crisscrossed Europe as Tehran’s intelligence station chief, paying and directing many agents in at least 11 European countries.
Assadi’s terrorist plot in 2018 was foiled at the last minute. The main target was Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Hundreds of Western lawmakers and former officials were also in attendance.
Third. Unable to harm its opposition through terrorism, the regime has expanded its influence operations against NCRI’s main constituent organization the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which Tehran considers its arch nemesis.
For decades, the mullahs have misled, deceived, and confused America’s Iran policy by disseminating considerable disinformation about the democratic opposition. This has in turn resulted in bungled American responses to Tehran’s threats.
In a breaking revelation this month, a former Iranian intelligence operative wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General, outlining in glaring detail how the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) recruits, pays, and controls dozens of agents across Europe to influence policy.
Forty-one-year-old Hadi Sani-Khani wrote that he was approached by intelligence agents who lured him into the Iranian embassy in Tirana, Albania (MEK’s headquarters). He said he wants to go back to Iran. On one condition, the embassy responded: Cooperate with the regime’s intelligence against the MEK. He subsequently met with the regime’s intelligence chief, Fereidoun Zandi, who coordinated a network of paid agents in Albania since 2014. The intelligence chief was later expelled by Albanian authorities along with the regime’s ambassador.
Khani was paid 500 euros per month to write and publish anti-MEK articles and also send copious amounts of similar propaganda to members of the European parliament. Dozens of websites are operated by Tehran’s intelligence, some of which are, astonishingly, undeclared sources for unsuspecting Western journalists, think tanks and government agencies when it comes to the MEK.
In many cases, reporters have met directly with the regime’s intelligence agents for their stories. In September 2018, for example, according to Khani, a reporter from German newspaper Der Spiegel traveled to Albania. Khani recalls: “We met the Der Spiegel reporter in a Café in Ramsa district in Zagozi square. Each of us then told her lies about the MEK which we had been given in preparation of the meeting. … [Later on,] she occasionally asked me questions about the MEK which I then raised with the embassy and provided her the response I received.”
Der Spiegel published the story on February 16, 2019, parts of which were copied from websites affiliated with Iran’s intelligence service. Following a lawsuit, a court in Hamburg ordered Der Spiegel to remove the defamatory segments of its article.
These same agents also met with a New York Times correspondent at the same Café, who subsequently wrote a piece against the MEK, regurgitating the very same allegations.
The mullahs’ influence operations are a serious obstacle to formulating an effective US policy toward Tehran. As long as the regime’s agents are allowed to exploit America’s public sphere, cultivate important relationships, infiltrate the media and think tanks, and influence serious policy deliberations in Washington through a flood of falsehoods, America will be at a substantial disadvantage.
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