Da’esh/Kurds – A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on the 17 Jul 17 he was 99 percent sure that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed. “Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview. “Don’t forget his roots go back to al-Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing.” Iraqi security forces have ended three years of ISIS rule in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the group is under growing pressure in Raqqa. Still, Talabany said ISIS was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group. After defeat, ISIS would wage an insurgency and resemble al-Qaeda on “steroids”, he said. The future leaders of ISIS were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group’s strategy. 361 COMMENT: There have been numerous reports regarding the Da’esh leader in the past claiming that he had been killed, only to resurface somewhere and at some time. With no physical evidence that he has been killed it is hard to say yes or no to his death. There is no body and no DNA to prove one way or the other. Only time will tell after all it took the Americans some time to locate and destroy al-Qaeda’s Bin laden and he had been hiding under the noses of one of the American allies. COMMENT ENDS
Kurds/Da’esh – A suicide car bomber killed four people at a checkpoint in a Kurdish-controlled area of north-eastern Syria on the 18 Jul 17 the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said the attack took place near the village of Tel Tamr, some 30 km from the Syrian-Turkish border. Syrian state TV also reported the deaths of four people in a car bomb attack in the area, but said it had taken place in the nearby town of Ras al-Ayn. 361 COMMENT: This attack will be from Da’esh and is rather pointless as they lose more territory and followers although attacks of this nature will serve as a propaganda tool. The area surrounding areas which are still under the control of Da’esh will encounter more of these types of attacks and against their security. Some of the fighters will not want to be cornered like rats before dying they would rather inflict damage and death on those who oppose them such as the Kurds. COMMENT ENDS
Kuwait/Iran – Kuwait on the 20 Jul 17 ordered the expulsion of about 15 Iranian diplomats after the emirate's top court convicted a "terror" cell of links to the Islamic republic, a government source said. Kuwait also ordered the closure of the Iranian "military, cultural and trade" missions, said the government official. The Gulf state's supreme court last month sentenced the mastermind of the cell to life in jail and condemned 20 others to various prison terms for alleged links with Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah and plotting terror attacks in Kuwait. State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah, who is also acting information minister, confirmed that Kuwait had taken diplomatic action against Iran but declined to specify the measures. "Following the supreme court ruling on the case, the government of Kuwait has decided to take measures, in accordance with diplomatic norms and the Vienna Convention, towards its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran," Sheikh Mohammad said. He provided no further details. The row comes at a time when Kuwait is trying to mediate an end to the Gulf's worst diplomatic crisis in years, after Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and its allies cut ties with Qatar over accusations it is too close to Shiite Iran and funds extremists. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah reported on the 17 Jul 17 that 14 of the cell's 26 members had fled to Iran by sea. They were convicted by a lower court early last year but acquitted on appeals several months later and set free. The Supreme Court, whose rulings are final, overturned their acquittal on June 18 and sentenced them to between five and 15 years in prison. Kuwait's interior ministry confirmed on the 18 Jul 17 that the 14 men were on the run but it said that they had not left the country through official exit points. The cell was busted in Aug 15 and large quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives were seized from them, according to the Kuwaiti authorities. Kuwaiti courts convicted them of working for Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah. They were also convicted of smuggling explosives from Iran.
Iran/Syria/Afghanistan (16 Jul 17) – Iran has sent thousands of Afghan Shi'a to the battlefields of Syria, catapulting them to the front lines of President Bashar al-Assad and his allies' brutal six-year war against armed rebels, some of them foreign-backed, and Islamist extremists. As the first line of attack, the poorly trained proxy force made up of mainly Afghan migrants and refugees known as the Fatemiyoun Division has suffered a high rate of attrition, observers say, with coffins of fallen soldiers paraded and buried in Iranian cities almost every week. To foster morale and lure new recruits to Fatemiyoun, Tehran is seeking to burnish the image of the beleaguered group -- comprising mainly Afghan refugees from the Hazara Shi'ite minority recruited and trained by Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Iranian authorities have renamed streets to honour the Afghan Shi'ite fighters, state media have glorified fallen fighters and highlighted their sacrifices while likening them to martyrs, and the group is frequently visited by General Qassem Soleimani, the influential, media-savvy head of the IRGC's elite Quds Force, which is responsible for operations outside of Iran's own borders. Footage aired by Qatar-based television network Al-Jazeera in June showed footage of Soleimani, who is overseeing Iran's war effort in Syria, praying and addressing the Afghan fighters near the Syria-Iraq border. Iranian state media reported recently that the Lebanese militant group Hizballah was training Afghan "special forces" in sniper skills, "night-vision mounted weapons," and surveillance. Hundreds of trainees were said to have been deployed across Syria. The IRGC published photos of the training in June. "In reality, there is absolutely no hard evidence of [the] existence of such skills among the Fatemiyoun fighters," Ali Alfoneh, a nonresident senior fellow at The Atlantic Council in Washington and a leading IRGC expert, told RFE/RL. "This is a myth carefully nurtured by the IRGC to boost the prestige of the brigade."
Iranian authorities quietly began deploying armed volunteers, including many Afghans, to complement other Iranian forces advising and fighting alongside Assad's troops after civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. Iran has recruited thousands of Afghan migrants and refugees within its own borders. There is also evidence of Tehran covertly recruiting hundreds of Afghan Shi'a inside Afghanistan. Afghanistan is majority Sunni, but 15 percent of its population, mainly Hazaras, are Shi'ite with religious links to Shi'ite-majority Iran. The United Nations estimates the number of Afghan citizens in Iran at just under 1 million, but Tehran puts the figure closer to 3 million. Tehran has expelled many Afghans and periodically threatens those who remain, and Kabul, which is battling Afghanistan's own insurgents, with mass expulsions. Iranian authorities say the fighters travel to Syria and Iraq voluntarily to defend holy Shi'ite sites. Some reports suggest Afghans are offered financial reward and Iranian residency permits to join the fight in Syria. Alfoneh says the IRGC considers the Afghan fighters "cannon fodder," considering the seemingly minor investment made to train them and the exposure they face on the battlefield. In interviews with BBC Persian, defectors from the Fatemiyoun Division who reportedly fled to Turkey and Greece alongside Syrian refugees said they received two or three weeks of IRGC training in Iran prior to their deployment in Syria. Ahmad Shuja, a former Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), says the Fatemiyoun fighters never describe themselves as deployed in urban areas to keep the peace or indeed to safeguard the holy shrines they are ostensibly there to protect. "They are always out in the desert, fighting the tough fight, and taking high casualties," says Shuja, who has been following Fatemiyoun propaganda online and speaking to their fighters since 2016.
Thousands Of Fighters
There are no precise figures on the number of Afghans killed in Syria, where Iran is thought to have sent many thousands of volunteers and military advisers to gird Assad's forces. Iranian media regularly report on their funerals while offering few details about the circumstances of their deaths. The head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs said in November that more than 1,000 fighters, including Iranians, Afghans, and Pakistanis, deployed by Iran to Syria have been killed. Alfoneh says, based on the number of funerals held for Afghan fighters in Iran, at least 656 Afghans have been killed in combat in Syria since September 2013, a figure he says is "disproportionately high." The IRGC has also sent its own officers to the division, adding to the toll of Iranian officers killed in Syria. Alfoneh says the Fatemiyoun Division has suffered a "catastrophic attrition rate" far higher than Tehran has acknowledged, at least 20 percent of the total force. A total of 15,000 Fatemiyoun fighters have been deployed in Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, he says. Experts say the bleak numbers should not cloud the importance of the group to the IRGC and its military objectives in Syria and beyond. "Fatemiyoun fighters have been an integral part of the plan to relieve pressure on Assad's forces, says Shuja. Iran has provided military support to Assad's forces since at least 2012 in the form of military advisers and volunteers, but it denies sending its own troops. Even so, Iranian media have reported the death of a handful of Iranian commanders along with hundreds of Iranian fighters. Iran's assistance and Russia's intervention through a sustained bombing campaign have been credited with helping to reverse the tide of the war in favour of Assad, a long-time ally of both countries. Alfoneh says that, by mobilizing Afghans, Tehran has managed to establish an "operational proxy force" that can do Iran's bidding in future wars. Pro-Iranian groups have been established across the region, becoming key players in the political and military scenes in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-syria- afghan-proxiy-force-boost-image- fatemiyoun/28619046.html
Iran/United States – The Trump administration has for the second time declared that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, but threatened more sanctions for breaching the "spirit" of the agreement. The announcement came just hours before the midnight deadline for US President Donald Trump to inform congress whether Iran had met the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal it was reported on the 18 Jul 17. "The conditions have been met, based on information available to the United States," one official said during a briefing with reporters on the 17 Jul 17. In a shift from Trump's campaign promise to "rip up" the "worst deal ever", officials said that the administration was working with US allies to try to fix the agreement's flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more. Officials also said that the United States would slap new sanctions on Tehran, penalising the Islamic Republic for developing ballistic missiles and for contributing to regional tensions. They emphasised several long-standing US concerns about human rights abuses and Iran's alleged support for "terrorism" in the region. Trump and the administration "judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit" of the agreement, one official said. That assessment carries no legal force, while Trump's certification that Iran is complying with the agreement clears the way for sanctions to remain lifted. When Trump made the first certification in April, he paired it with new sanctions for non-nuclear behaviour to show there was no softening in his stance towards Iran. While no details of any additional sanctions have been given, officials said on the 17 Jul 17 they expected more sanctions would eventually be laid out. "We do expect that we will be implementing new sanctions that pertain to Iran's ballistic missile programme and fast boat programme," one official said. Speaking before the administration's announcement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said they had received "contradictory signals". "We don't know which one to interpret in what way," Zarif said. Iran in the past has complained that US administration has failed to lift sanctions in line with the deal. Under the 2015 agreement, Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear programme - long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons - in return for billions of dollars in sanction relief. The deal does not address global concerns about Iran's non-nuclear activities but also does not prevent the US and others from punishing Iran for those activities. The 17 Jul 17 last-minute decision by the president exposed deep and lingering divisions within his administration about how to deal with a top national security issue. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council said that he is not surprised that such divisions exist. "I don't think [Trump] fully understands the consequences of scrapping [the deal]. I think his advisers do and they were tasked with finding a way to scrap it without causing a crisis, without isolating the United States," he said. "Six months into the Trump administration, they still have not managed with find a way." Parsi added that Trump's strategy is "developing into creating as much of a chilling effect as possible in order to deprive Iran of the benefits of being in compliance with the hope that the Iranians will scrap the deal, will walk out of it and by that the Iranians will pay the price of the collapse of the deal, not the Trump administration". Withdrawing from the deal would put further distance between Trump and foreign leaders who have said there is no appetite for renegotiation. The state department must make a decision on Iran's compliance every 90 days.
Iran/United States – Two Iranians were indicted on the 17 Jul 17 in the United States with hacking a defence contractor and stealing sensitive software used to design bullets and warheads, according to the Justice Department. According to the newly unsealed indictment businessman Mohammed Saeed Ajily, 35, recruited Mohammed Reza Rezakhah, 39, to break into companies' computers to steal their software for resale to Iranian universities, the military and the government. The two men, and a third who was arrested in 2013 and handed back to Iran in a prisoner swap last year, allegedly broke into the computers of Vermont-based Arrow Tech Associates. The indictment said they stole in 2012 the company's Prodas ballistics software, which is used to design and test bullets, warheads and other military ordnance projectiles. The material stolen from Arrow Tech was protected by US controls on the export of sensitive technologies, and its distribution to Iran was banned by US sanctions on the country. The two men were charged in the Rutland, Vermont federal district court, which issued arrest warrants for the two, who are believed to be in Iran. In 2013 the US secured the arrest in Turkey of a third Iranian in the case, Nima Golestaneh, 30, who was extradited to the United States. In Dec 15 he pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and computer hacking. One month later he was freed as part of a prisoner exchange with Tehran, which returned four Americans in exchange for seven Iranians who had been arrested in separate schemes to obtain and smuggle to Iran sensitive US technologies.
Iran/United States – Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri threatened to target American bases and forces in the region if the United States classifies the Revolutionary Guards on the terrorist list. At the Revolutionary Guards’ ground troop’s festival in the city of Mashhad that took place on the 17 Jul 17 Bagheri said that “putting the Revolutionary Guard in the terrorist lists with terrorist groups can be very costly to the United States and its military bases and forces in the region.” According to the Tasnim news agency, General Bagheri pointed out in his speech that “Iran’s missile capabilities are defensive ones and are non-negotiable under any condition.” Bagheri attacked US statements about the “regime change” in Tehran and undermined the importance of the new sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards. He also warned congressional lawmakers of the consequences of new sanctions on Iran’s controversial missile program. The Iranian government announced in late June that it had allocated a huge budget of $620 million to increase spending on its controversial missile program and the Quds Force, the external wing of the Revolutionary Guard, which has been on the international terrorism list since 2007. The Iranian parliament said that the budget came to counter US sanctions and congressional measures aimed at classifying the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. 361 COMMENT: When countries such as Iran feel as though they have been threatened by a much larger organisation with far more military capabilities than they have, that country will reply with rhetoric it knows that it cannot carry out. This is the case here with Iran. It knows that if they attacked an American military installation it will get hurt. The Americans know what the capabilities are of Iran and although they could launch an attack the repercussions of doing so would be far worse. Its easier to stand on a platform and give a speech to those around you who follow the same ideology where heads will nod in approval and the speaker will get an applause building his own ego. The same with ‘if’ the Americans do put the Revolutionary Guards on the terrorist list, there is nothing they can do about it. The sanctions will hurt the Iranians as well even though they flaunt the various current sanctions by taking everything to the exact word and pushing things to the limit before someone retaliates and the Iranians call “foul”. COMMENT ENDS
Iran/United States/Nuclear Deal – Iran has accused the United States of not living up to its side of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal after Washington slapped fresh sanctions on Tehran over its ballistic missile programme. Abbas Aragchi, Iranian deputy foreign minister, said on the 21 Jul 17 that the sanctions "violate" the terms of the agreement Washington and five other world powers signed with Tehran. The nuclear deal does not cover Iran's ballistic missile programme. The US had imposed sanctions on 18 Iranian individuals and entities on the 18 Jul 17 after accusing Iran of testing ballistic missiles and contributing to regional tensions. "We talked in detail about the sanctions and the instances that the Americans had delayed in fulfilling their commitments, the instances where they violated the deal," Araqchi told reporters in Vienna after a review of the pact by the seven nations that signed it. "We showed one by one the instances where the American side in the last year and a half acted without good will and even acted with ill intention." Araqchi said the US was "trying to sabotage the situation, to threaten or scare off foreign companies to invest in Iran". The regular quarterly meeting to review the deal heard that Iran is sticking to its side of the pact with US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. Under the deal, Tehran agreed to massively scale back production of nuclear-making material in return for sanctions relief. But the pact has not eased tensions between Tehran and Washington, which continue to clash over conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Iran can use the so-called Joint Commission meetings to trigger a formal dispute resolution mechanism set out for cases where one party feels there is a breach of the deal. Araqchi declined to answer whether he had used the meeting to trigger the mechanism. But he said: "We were not satisfied with America's ... broken promises and ... announced that we're not convinced that America has properly carried out its duties." Araqchi added that he had expressed his concerns in bilateral talks with the US after the 21 Jul 17 main meeting. US President Donald Trump has criticised the nuclear accord, which was signed under his predecessor, Barack Obama as "the worst deal ever". Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said on the 19 Jul 17 that new US economic sanctions contravened the nuclear accord and pledged that Tehran would "resist" them while respecting the deal itself. 361 COMMENT: None of the other countries that signed up to the deal have been accused of sabotaging the nuclear deal, just the United States. Iran believed that once the original sanctions were lifted after President Obama signed the deal that Iran could do as it wishes. With the new President in the U.S. Iran has found out that this is no longer the case and is attempting to hit out where it can. It maybe that the United States is attempting to sabotage the deal by placing further sanctions on Iran in the hope that they just walk away. The Iranians are aware of this and also realise that if it did walk away from the deal then the new American administration would ensure that Iran did not have access to material to make a nuclear device and then cause further disturbance around the Region. Iran also knows that at some point they would have to again return to the table and the deal they negotiated a second time around would not be as good. So, Iran uses every method and platform it can to denounce the Trump administration and accuse them of not playing by the rules. On the contrary, Iran now thinks it is a world power now that it has the ability to have nuclear power. The Americans are playing by the rules, but by placing sanctions on the country and certain individuals which has nothing to do with the nuclear deal it is stopping Iran from doing as it wishes, that is supporting the Houthis in Yemen, causing disruption in the Middle East and being one of the main supporters or terrorism in the world. Iran may walk away but it is they who will regret it in the end. Now all it is doing is attempting to place fake news and reports about its hated enemy so if it does walk away it can say, “we told you the Americans were not behaving correctly in accordance with the nuclear treaty.” By doing this they would attempt to remove the blame on themselves. COMMENT ENDS
Iran/Iraq/Mosul (LWJ 22 Jul 17) – The Islamic Republic of Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are running a propaganda campaign to appropriate victory in Mosul and the broader war against the Islamic State as their own, and omit US military support, which has been critical in the campaign. The Guard Corps and the US at times coordinated directly or indirectly during the war, but Iran continues to reject the US’ presence in the Middle East. Addressing the Revolutionary Guard’s Imam Hossein Guardianship Training and Officer University, Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani this week again peddled the conspiracy theory that the US and Israel created the Islamic State and fanned the Iraqi and Syrian wars to “bring Iran to its knees” and “destroy the Islamic revolution.” “With the entrance of Iraq’s ulama and sources [of emulation, referring to senior clerics] and formation of hashd al shabi [Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)], the power of the people’s religious and ideological power, DAESH [Islamic State] was stopped,” he continued, “with the entrance of hashd al shabi into the Iraqi army, the Iraqi army was transformed into a Hezbollahi army, and was able to overcome the false takfiri beliefs and dislodge the unjustly-seated caliph from Mosul.” Last week, Soleimani made a similar claim about the Iraqi military becoming more ideological, though in that speech he said the Iraqi army itself was becoming more ideological. In the latest speech, he said the PMF – a multi-sectarian force whose key leaders Guard-backed formations – it is likely Soleimani is referring to the armed forces as a whole. There is a kernel of truth to Soleimani’s statements: Guard-backed militias have infiltrated Iraqi security services and their formations have been legitimized as Iraqi government forces through the PMF. The US military has also credited the militias’ roles in the campaign. Soleimani is exaggerating the magnitude of the PMF’s contribution to the war against the Islamic State. It has played key roles in the war, though US-trained Iraqi Army and Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) have borne the brunt of fighting. The PMF captured areas west of Mosul and blocked the Islamic State’ escape routes to Syria, while the US-trained Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) did the heavy lifting. Guard-backed forces, however, have fought in Mosul: The Federal Police, which has been infiltrated by the Badr Organization, participated in taking west Mosul. “History has never witnessed such violence, difficulty and savagery during the times of the Berbers, Tatars [and] even the Mongol invasion,” Soleimani told the audience. “Great seditions stood against us, which we have come with our heads held high … we must not say wrong things based on fear, we are leaving [this earth], but history will describe this era for the future.” Embellishments like this are intended to heighten an audience’s feeling of purpose in history. Syria “is a bridge to the resistance front, whether in Lebanon or Palestine,” Soleimani added. “Any rational person must understand that defeat in this war is considered a defeat for us, which thanks to God’s blessing the resistance front has won against the arrogant in these areas.” He credited Tehran’s “ideology and leadership” with leading to “truth of the Islamic revolution’s expansion inside and outside the borders,” which “friend and foe admit.” The Revolutionary Guard Navy chief Ali Fadavi said in a separate address, the enemy faced defeat in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Syria because these countries follow the inspiring model of the Islamic Revolution’s discourse.” The front page of the Revolutionary Guard’s weekly sobh-e sadegh credited Mosul’s liberation to “the intelligent leadership of Imam Khamenei and the role of clergies such as Ayatollah Sistani.” “The end of the American-DAESH project in Iraq,” carried its front page. Akram al Kabi, chief of the Guard-controlled Iraqi Harakat al Nujaba, praised Soleimani “as a soldier for Islam and a great commander” and thanked Iranian advisers’ help in “confronting America’s savage plans in the region.” At a celebration of Mosul’s liberation, the militia’s spokesman said, “Iran’s leadership, government, and nation stood with us when all left us, and we are not afraid of saying this truth.” Other top Iranian government officials including Khamenei’s top foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, have claimed Mosul as a “victory” for Iran. Tehran’s strategy in Iraq post-Mosul campaign is to use the vehicle of the PMF to portray itself and IRGC-backed elements as legitimate partners that can assist the state establish security, thereby increasing leverage and embedding themselves deeper into the state structure.
Iran/Iraq – Iran and Iraq on the 23 Jul 17 signed deals aimed at boosting military cooperation during a visit by Baghdad's Defence Minister Irfan al-Hayali to Tehran. In a memorandum of understanding signed by Hayali and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehghan, the neighbours agreed on a "wide range of military and defence cooperation" including the "fight against terrorism and extremism," state news agency IRNA reported. Hayali, who was leading a military delegation, also met separately with parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. Larijani and Shamkhani emphasised the importance of "unity". "Iran supports the unity of all groups and ethnicities in Iraq," the state broadcaster's website quoted Larijani as telling Hayali. Larijani also underlined the importance of preserving Iraqi unity "because if it wasn't for the emergence of political differences, the (Islamic State group) would not have been able to penetrate there". The Iraqi minister acknowledged Iran's help in the fight against IS and also stressed the importance of unity. Iraq's Kurdistan region has announced it will hold an independence referendum in Sep 17. "We will not let any political side disintegrate Iraq," Hayali said. In his talks with Hayali, Shamkhani warned that "secessionist approaches can become a platform... to prepare the ground for insecurity and instability". Tehran has been a key supporter of Baghdad in its fight against IS and has provided Iraq with financial and military help. Iran has its own Kurdish population along its borders with Iraq and Turkey, and does not want to see Iraq's Kurdish region become an independent state.
Iran/United States – Iran's top nuclear negotiator said on the 26 Jul 17 that new sanctions approved by the US House of Representatives were "a hostile measure" that breached Washington's commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal. "The ongoing action in the US Congress... is very clearly a hostile measure against the Islamic republic of Iran," deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said, according to the ISNA news agency. Araghchi led the negotiating team that agreed the deal with world powers in 2015 known as the JCPOA, by which Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions. The new sanctions bill passed by the House on the 25 Jul 17 was merely "a compilation of previous US sanctions in the non-nuclear fields," Araghchi said. "Still, it can influence the successful implementation of the JCPOA and reduce Iran's benefits under the JCPOA. That's why it is incompatible with various sections of the JCPOA which the US has committed to implement with good intention and in a constructive atmosphere," he added. "These are America's commitments. What the Congress is doing is against these commitments and for sure will be met with a reaction from Iran." The Iranian parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee said it would hold an extraordinary session on the 29 Jul 17 to discuss its response. The parliament voted earlier this month to fast-track a bill introduced in Jun 17 that would increase funds for Iran's missile programme and Revolutionary Guards. The UN and other signatories to the nuclear deal have agreed that Iran has stuck to its commitments, which has been reluctantly accepted by the administration of President Donald Trump. "The new US administration has been forced to confirm Iran's loyalty to the deal twice within the past six months and it has had no other option as the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in various reports has clearly expressed Iran's compliance with its commitments," Araghchi said.
Iran/ANALYSIS: Why visiting an isolated Iran can endanger our lives 29 Jul 17 al-Arabia – In November 1979, a few months after Iran's Mullahs assumed power, the world got a bitter taste of what was about to come when Iran's Supreme Leader Khomeini ordered suppressive forces under the guise of students to storm the US Embassy in Tehran to take 52 hostages. It was only after months of negotiations and generous concessions that the hostages were returned to the US in January 1981. Unfortunately, this set a catastrophic example for the following decades, letting Iran's rulers know that taking hostages is a beneficial business. Ever since, Iran's rulers have been continuing to implement these old mafia tactics. They are part of Iran's terrorist arsenal which also includes bombings, the support of numerous global terror organizations like Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and ISIS, the export of its 'revolution“ into other countries through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), mass executions and assassinations of opponents. Hostage taking operations mainly target foreign and dual nationals inside and outside Iran. Though some hostages were killed in the past, mostly the captures lead to negotiations with the involved countries and usually end in the hostages' release in exchange for political and financial concessions. While financial concessions mainly consist in the transfer of money, trade deals and sanctions relief. Political concessions include prisoner swaps with imprisoned Iranian agents and terrorists and measures against Iranian opposition groups such as the PMOI. In 1986, among other concessions to the regime, the majority of the PMOI leadership were forced to leave France to secure the release of French hostages in Lebanon that were captured by Iran's proxy 'Hezbollah'. Similarly, American hostages were captured and only released after Tehran's demands were met. The malice of Iran's procedures was exposed when Sheikh Muhammad-Hussein Fadhlullah, a 'Hezbollah' leader, acknowledged in March 1991: “If it were left to us, we would release them this very day. But [Iranian President] Rafsanjani believes that the Americans are not yet ready to step forward and accept Tehran's demands“. Unfortunately criminals like the late Rafsanjani against whom an arrest warrant was issued in Argentina for his involvement in a Jewish cultural centre bombing in 1994, are often times wrongfully portrayed as reformers in mass media to keep the appeasement policy with Tehran alive. Last year, former US President Barack Obama shipped a $400 million ransom to Iran to free American hostages that had been arrested after visiting Iran. Though the administration claimed that this money was part of a $1.7 billion settlement dispute going back to the time of the Shah, it became pretty obvious that this claim was nothing more than an excuse. As Saeed Abedini, one of the hostages, told Fox News, the Iranians were waiting for the money to arrive, to free the hostages. This procedure was not surprising as it was part of the appeasement policy of the Obama administration to empower Iran's expansionist regime which led to further destabilization of the Middle East. Similarly, the Qatari rulers, among other measures, contributed to destabilize the region when they reportedly facilitated the transfer of $1 billion dollars to Iran- and al-Qaeda–linked groups in 2016 to release members of their royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq. Bloomberg's Eli Lake rightfully pointed out in an article in August 2016 that the Obama administration in 2009, when the people in Iran were rising up to root out the regime, for geopolitical reasons did not support them, as it wanted a nuclear deal, not a regime change. We were therefore not surprised to see that Iranian officials increased their military budget by exactly the same $1.7 billion; the US had sent them to release the hostages at the expense of the US taxpayers. We can assume that at least part of this money has been spent for terror operations. The anti-religious measures of randomly taking hostages are especially disturbing since they contradict the very teachings of the Quran which wants us to even take in and safeguard our counterparts from hunger and fear. Making things even worse, Iran's partners in Turkey and North Korea seem to have learned from Iran's convenient strategy, with Turkey recently having arrested foreign reporters.
The rulers in Iran know that with each act of hostage taking, mass media puts pressure on Western politicians to bring the hostages back home, making them look weak. Nevertheless, a few politicians are willing to withstand that pressure. Most prefer to reward the criminals to get public recognition, while knowing that the vicious cycle is about to repeated itself soon after. We therefore have to be prepared to not find ourselves being entangled in Iran's spiderweb. With Iran being more and more isolated, it is quite likely that terror attacks and hostage taking operations will even increase soon. Our citizens need to be informed to no longer visit Iran and areas controlled by pro-Iranian forces, regardless of economical and geopolitical considerations. This is the only way to ensure their security without having to enable terrorism. While most of us know that visiting ISIS territory can endanger our lives, few of us have the same view regarding Iranian controlled territory. Besides, spending money in Iran generally has to be avoided for security reasons as at least 40 percent of the economy is in the hands of the IRGC, the very source of terrorism in the world. Ultimately the only language terrorists understand, is the language of force. Instead of playing into the criminals' hands and letting them dictate the terms, our leaders have to set a red line by putting political and economic pressure on them. While Obama used to react to the terrorists' demands and endangered the world by giving money to them, President Donald Trump has found the right words this week when he urged Iran's rulers to release the imprisoned US hostages, warning them to impose new and serious consequences if they refuse to do so. In this regard, the difference between the Obama administration and the Trump administration seems to be like the alteration of night and day. It is in our interest that other world leaders follow Trump's example and tackle the elephant in the room that has been ignored for too long. We, the peace loving people of the world, will benefit greatly from it.
Iraq/Iran/Analysis: How to protect Iraq from Iranian influence (17 Jul 17) – With the recapturing of Mosul, the rein of ISIS in northern Iraq is coming to an end. This, however, can lead to the re-emergence of a far more dangerous threat for the future of this fledgling democracy. Iran and its destructive meddling Mesopotamia has devastated this entire nation, leaving at least tens of thousands killed, scores more wounded, injured and displaced. Tehran has continuously targeted the Sunni community in Iraq and taken advantage of the war against ISIS to change the very fabric of this minority. Sunni provinces have been the target of this wrath especially after Nouri al-Maliki, described by many as Iran’s puppet in Iraq, reached the premiership in 2006.
Ever since 2003, with a surge beginning under al-Maliki’s watch, Iran has flooded its western border neighbour with financial, logistical and manpower resources, spearheaded by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The track record of Iran-backed proxy groups and death squads in Iraq is nothing short of deadly and atrocious. One group alone, Asai’b Ahl al-Haq, claims to have launched over 6,000 attacks targeting US soldiers from 2006 onward. Amnesty International has also filed a disturbing report over Iran-backed militias being supplied US arms by the Iraqi government, only to carry out war crimes targeting the Sunni community.
War against ISIS
The defeat of ISIS must not be considered the end of the nightmare. Far from it. General Stephen Townsend, commander of the coalition forces against ISIS, recently emphasized the importance of all Iraqi parties reaching a political consensus in the post-ISIS stage. To emphasize his point, Townsend touched on the sensitive topic of Iraqi Sunnis feeling unrepresented in Baghdad. Former US defence secretary Ashton Carter, who supervised the anti-ISIS effort from early 2015 to January of this year, underscored “chaos and extremism” will follow if the “political and economic campaigns that must follow” fail to render the results needed for Iraq future’s.
The hidden occupation
On a side-note, the internal sectarian drives in Iraq are not being considered the result of an especially bloody history. Iraq’s conglomerate of communities experienced peaceful coexistence for over a millennium. As Iran began its hidden occupation from 2003 onward, one campaign pillar focused on instigating sectarian strife with the objective of expanding its influence through Shiite communities in strategic areas across the country. Such policies have been carried out vividly in all Sunni provinces recaptured from ISIS control. There is no need to divide Iraq into federalized states, as this would deepen the rifts amongst a nation that needs to begin rebuilding the bridges and bonds destroyed.
Despite all the flaws in the campaign against ISIS, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has the potential to be pulled out of Iran’s influence and act as an independent figure. This is especially true as he has stood in the face of Iran’s pressures, while there remains far more necessary cleansing of the mullahs’ influence in Iraq. Following the historic Riyadh summit earlier this year, it is time for the Trump administration, allied with the Arab World, to take serious action curbing Iran’s influence in Iraq. All al-Abadi government officials must prove their allegiance to the Iraqi people and not the Iranian regime. The Iraqi judiciary is also heavily under Tehran’s influence, seen specifically when the country’s supreme court last October blocking al-Abadi’s reform package aiming to “decrease the political space — and platform — for sectarian saboteurs and political spoilers like Maliki,” as explained in The Hill.
Iraq now lays in devastation and the road ahead will be difficult. This country needs the correct support from its well-meaning neighbours – not the regime in Iran – and the international community to once again stand on its own and play its expected part in today’s world.
This is a breakdown of the utmost necessary measures:
1) Stanching Iran’s influence, especially at senior levels in Baghdad and the security apparatus, and supporting al-Abadi distance from Iran
2) Confront Iran’s meddling by preventing al-Maliki from regaining the premier seat, and dismantling the Popular Mobilization Units and all death squads, parallel to blacklisting Iran’s IRGC
3) Supporting the Sunni community in all Iraqi hierarchy and security forces, and establishing an equal method of governance across the country.
In a recent speech, Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi highlighted how Iran has for 38 years been at war with Iraq and other nations in the region and beyond. She underscored, “…the ultimate solution to the crisis in the region and to confronting groups like ISIS lies in the overthrow of the Iranian regime by the Iranian people and it's Resistance.” That seems to be the only way to protect Iraq from Iran.
Iraq/Da’esh – Islamic State militants began reinventing themselves months before U.S.-backed Iraqi forces ended their three-year reign of terror in Mosul, putting aside the dream of a modern-day caliphate and preparing the ground for a different fight it was reported on the 20 Jul 17. Intelligence and local officials said that, a few months ago, they noticed a growing stream of commanders and fighters flowing out of the city to the Hamrin mountains in northeast Iraq which offer hideouts and access to four Iraqi provinces. Some were intercepted but many evaded security forces and began setting up bases for their new operations. What comes next may be a more complex and daunting challenge for Iraqi security forces once they finish celebrating a hard-won victory in Mosul, the militants' biggest stronghold. Intelligence and security officials are bracing for the kind of devastating insurgency al Qaeda waged following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, pushing Iraq into a sectarian civil war which peaked in 2006-2007. "They are digging in. They have easy access to the capital," Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said. As part of the U.S.-led coalition, he is at the forefront of efforts to eliminate Islamic State. "I believe we have tougher days coming.” Some Iraqi Islamic State fighters have roots dating back to al Qaeda's campaign of car and suicide bombs that exploded by the dozens each day and succeeded in fuelling a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq, a major oil producer and key U.S. ally. When a U.S.-funded tribal initiative crushed al-Qaeda, the hardcore regrouped in the desert between Iraq and Syria. They reappeared with a new jihadist brand that took the world by surprise: Islamic State. Shortly after its lighting sweep through Mosul, the group outdid al Qaeda's brutality, carrying out mass beheadings and executions as it imposed its ultra-hard-line ideology. Unlike al-Qaeda, it seized a third of Iraqi territory, gaining knowledge of land that could come in handy as it hits back at Iraqi security forces.
Iraq/Shia Militias (LWJ 26 Jul 17) – Two Iraqi Shia militias have recently promoted training camps inside Syria. The two militias, Kata’ib Imam Ali (Imam Ali Battalions) and Kata’ib al Sabriun (Those Who Endure Battalions), have ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The first, Kata’ib Imam Ali, released a photo from one of its training camps somewhere in Syria. The photo also featured its deputy secretary general, Muhammad al Bawi, who is one of its key leaders for operations inside Syria and is often featured in propaganda emanating from there. Although it is not clear where the training camp is, however, the Battalions have historically had a large presence in Aleppo province and recently in the country’s south. The second is from Kata’ib al Sabriun, an Iraqi militia that claims to operate in both Iraq and Syria. The video, which was released late last month, features its fighters running obstacle courses inside a compound. Much of the group’s propaganda is focused on Syrian operations. It is likely that this training camp is somewhere in the Aleppo countryside, as Sabriun is largely focused in the Northern Province. The group has claimed operations in battles with other IRGC proxies, such as Harakat al Nujaba. Kata’ib Imam Ali and Kata’ib Sabriun join other Iraqi Shiite militias to have promoted training camps inside Syria. This includes Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada, which is led by Abu Mustafa al Sheibani, the former leader of the infamous Iranian-backed Sheibani network in Iraq. Asa’ib Ahl al Haq, led by Qais al Khazali, the former head of Iraq’s Special Groups, has also advertised training in Syria. Sabriun is part of the “Islamic Resistance” brand predominately featured with many Iranian-backed groups. In addition, its social media on Facebook and Twitter regularly features photos and quotes from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the IRGC’s Quds Force. It also promotes velayat-e faqih, or “Guardianship of the Jurist,” the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology. Kata’ib Imam Ali is led by Shibl al Zaydi, a former commander in the Mahdi Army. It is also connected to Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, an IRGC adviser and deputy leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs). Muhandis, who is a US-designated terrorist, is also tied to Kata’ib Hezbollah, a US-designated terrorist organization, and has long participated in Iranian-sponsored terror.
Israel/West Bank – Israeli forces killed a suspected Palestinian militant they were seeking to arrest after he shot at them in the occupied West Bank, police and the military said. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man was suspected of carrying out two shooting attacks in the West Bank on the 16 Jul 17 and opened fire at soldiers and policemen who had tracked him down. "The terrorist was found and surrounded, he pulled out his weapons at them, and in response, the terrorist was killed," Rosenfeld said. There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials. The incident took place before dawn in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near the city of Ramallah, and no Israeli casualties were reported. One man was lightly wounded in the Saturday shooting, the Israeli military said. A wave of Palestinian street attacks that began in 2015 has slowed but has not stopped. At least 260 Palestinians and one Jordanian citizen have been killed since the violence began. Israel says at least 175 of those killed were carrying out attacks while others died in clashes and protests. Forty Israelis, two U.S. tourists and a British student have been killed in Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car-rammings. A few of the attacks had been carried out by Arab Israeli citizens. On the 14 Jul 17 two Israeli policemen were shot dead by three Arab Israeli gunmen on the outskirts of one of Jerusalem's most sacred sites, known as Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews. The gunmen were all shot dead by police. Israel blames the violence on incitement by the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, says desperation over the 50-year occupation of land sought by Palestinians for a state is the cause. Palestinians want to establish an independent state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Follow-on Report Gatestone Institute (22 Jul 17): The controversy surrounding the Israeli authorities' decision to place metal detectors at the gates of the Temple Mount calls to mind the famous Arab saying, "he beat me and cried then came to me to complain." This inversion of reality is a common among perpetrators who pretend to be victims. The decision to install the metal detectors came after Arab terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers at the Temple Mount on the 14 Jul 17. The three terrorists, Israeli Arab citizens from the city of Umm al-Fahm, used a submachine gun and knives to carry out their attack. The weapons were easily smuggled into the Temple Mount thanks to Muslim worshippers not having been required to pass through metal detectors or undergo body searches by policemen stationed at the gates. Incredibly, the Palestinians have since been waging daily protests against the new Israeli security measures, demanding that the metal detectors be removed from the entrances to the Temple Mount. As part of the protests, Palestinian leaders have urged Muslim worshippers not to enter the Temple Mount through the metal detectors and instead to pray at the entrances to the holy site. The Palestinian Authority (PA), Jordan and other Arab and Islamic countries are accusing Israel of violating the status quo at the Temple Mount by installing the metal detectors. One listens in vain for a denouncement of the terrorists who murdered the two Israeli police officers, these are the people responsible for defiling the sanctity of the holy site. We also hear no condemnation of the murder of the officers, who belong to the Druze community in Israel and who were entrusted with preserving law and order at the Temple Mount. The slain officers were stationed there to ensure the safety of Muslim worshippers. On the contrary, many Palestinians and Arabs have applauded the terror attack as a "heroic operation" against the "Zionist enemy." The three terrorists, who were killed by Israeli policemen during the attack, are being hailed as "martyrs" and "heroes" who sacrificed their lives in defence of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Sadly, many Israeli Arab leaders have refused to condemn the terror attack carried out by three of their fellow citizens. The metal detectors have one goal: to prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount. That is the act that should be viewed as a desecration of a holy site. Yet, rather than supporting the Israelis' attempt to thwart bloodshed on this sacred soil, the Palestinians and other Arabs blame Israel for seeking to safeguard the well-being of all people, not least of all Muslim worshipers, through basic security measures. The Palestinian spin doctors are attempting to divert attention from the terror attack by making it look as if the crisis began when Israel installed the metal detectors and not when two police officers were murdered. The Palestinians and other Arabs are now crying to the international community that Israel is seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount through a series of security measures. They are also trying to make it look as if Israel is preventing Muslim worshippers from entering and praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The facts, however, tell a rather different story.
First, the security measures, including the placement of the metal detectors, was not an Israeli initiative but came as a direct and necessary response to a specific terror attack. The Israeli government did not convene and take a decision to install the metal detectors in order to alter the status quo or stop Muslims from praying. Second, it was the Palestinians who took the decision not to enter into the Temple Mount unless the metal detectors are removed. alestinian leaders and officials the Waqf (a religious trust that manages the Temple Mount compound) were the ones who urged Muslim worshippers to stay away from the Temple Mount and hold prayers in the streets and public squares in protest against the metal detectors. The Muslim worshippers prefer to pray in the streets and public squares rather than enter the Temple Mount through metal detectors. But now the Palestinians and the Waqf are lying to the world by telling it that Israel is denying Muslims access to their holy sites. The Palestinian propaganda machine is working overtime to market the false impression that the metal detectors are part of an Israeli scheme to spark a religious war with Muslims and destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It appears, however, that quite the opposite is true. The incitement of Palestinian and Waqf officials suggests that it is they who are hell-bent on triggering a religious war with Israel and Jews. This incitement began more than two years ago, when Palestinian and Waqf leaders started telling their people and the rest of the world that Israel was planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and that Jews visiting the Temple Mount were "defiling with their filthy feet" an Islamic holy site. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was the first to pronounce this blood libel, which triggered a wave of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis that continues to this day. The three terrorists who carried out the 14 Jul 17 attack were acting precisely in accordance with the instructions of Abbas and other Palestinian and Muslim leaders: that it is the duty of Muslims to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Jews. In that sense, this attack should be seen in the context of the ongoing wave of terror attacks against Israel that began in late 2015 and which is known as the "Knife Intifada." Since then, the Palestinians have been using visits by Jews to the Temple Mount as an excuse to launch terror attacks against Israel. Palestinian officials and media outlets continue to depict these peaceful visits as "violent raids by Jewish settler gangs into the Al-Aqsa Mosque." The truth, however, is that no Jew has set foot inside the mosque. The visits are restricted to tours of the Temple Mount compound, something that non-Muslim tourists have been doing since 1968. In reality, it is the Palestinians themselves who are desecrating the sanctity of the Temple Mount, using the site to launch violent attacks against Jews by hurling stones at Jews praying at the nearby Western Wall. They have also been smuggling various types of weapons into the Temple Mount in order to throw firebombs and stones at Jewish visitors and policemen. The Palestinian leadership and Waqf officials have also encouraged Muslims to harass Jewish visitors and police officers by hurling insults at them. Last year, the Palestinians thwarted a plan by Jordan to install dozens of security cameras at the Temple Mount. The cameras were supposed to refute or confirm Palestinian allegations that Israel was plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanians backed off from their plan after Palestinian intimidation, including the threat to destroy the cameras. Why protest the plan? The Palestinians were afraid that their violence, harassment and amassing of weapons to attack Jewish visitors and police officers would be captured on camera. Redux: Palestinian are twisting reality again, only this time with metal detectors. They are worried that the metal detectors will stop them from smuggling knives and firearms into the Temple Mount. One wonders, if the draw of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is prayer, why worry about metal detectors? Thousands of Palestinians pass every day through metal detectors on their way into Israel, and all that happens is that they get to work. Similarly, Palestinians and Israelis alike pass every day through metal detectors at shopping malls and state institutions, such as the Post Office, the National Insurance Institute, hospitals and medical centres. Where is the outcry? The Palestinian opposition to the metal detectors at the Temple Mount means one thing only: that the Palestinians are determined to turn the holy site into a weapons cache and use it as a launching pad to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. If the mosque were then actually destroyed in the process, guess who would be blamed? Possibly that is even the real agenda. Who among the international community would like to sign off on that?
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.
Israel/West/Bank/Al-Aqsa – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the Palestinian leadership will freeze all contact with Israel, as mass protests over new Israeli security measures at the al-Aqsa compound turned deadly. In a brief televised speech on the 21 Jul 17 Abbas said all official contact would be suspended until Israel removed metal detectors installed there last week. "I declare the suspension of all contacts with the Israeli side on all levels until it cancels its measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque and preserves the status quo," Abbas said. The announcement follows the killing of at least three Palestinians in clashes in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank on the 21 Jul 17 after Israeli police fired live ammunition, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse protesters. Hundreds more were wounded. Three Israelis have also been killed in a knife attack in the occupied West Bank settlement of Neve Tsuf. "It's a major move by Mahmoud Abbas," Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcet, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said. "It means ending security cooperation, that is something a vast majority of Palestinians have been calling for." "It's a way of trying to increase the pressure on Israel to remove the metal detectors that have sparked the protests," he said (361 – See Israel/West Bank Follow-on Report regarding this comment). Muslim leaders allege the metal detectors are part of a purported Israeli attempt to expand control over the site. Israel has denied such allegations. The ancient marble-and-stone compound is revered by both Muslims and Jews. It houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest site, and the western wall of the compound, also known as the Wailing Wall, is considered the holiest site in Judaism. Israel installed the metal detectors after Palestinian gunmen launched a deadly attack from there last week. Israel said the devices were needed to prevent more attacks. But Palestinians view the measures as collective punishment and an infringement on the status quo, which gives Muslims religious control over the compound and Jews the right to visit, but not pray there. The United Nations has called for de-escalation of violence and tensions in Jerusalem. Farhan Haq, the UN spokesman, told reporters on the 21 Jul 17 that "ultimately, what is important is for all of the people at the holy sites, including all the worshippers at the holy sites, to feel that their religious liberties are being respected." He said the issue was complex and that "we do understand legitimate security concerns, but on the other hand it is important that the status quo at the site by retained."
Israel/West bank – Israeli security forces on the 22 Jul 17 raided the home of the Palestinian attacker who stabbed to death three Israelis and restricted movement for Palestinians from his West Bank village, the military said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said security forces “surveyed the house of the assailant in the village of Khobar, searched for weapons and confiscated money used for terror purposes. The brother of the assailant was also apprehended.” “Movement out of the village will be limited to humanitarian cases only,” she said. Six people died on the 21 Jul 17 in the bloodiest spate of Israeli-Palestinian violence for years. Three Israelis were stabbed to death in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, hours after three Palestinians were killed in violence prompted by Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City. Alabed posted a note on Facebook prior to the attack, writing: “I am going there and I know I am not going to come back here, I will go to heaven. How sweet death is for the sake of God, his prophet and for Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Israel/Al-Aqsa Mosque/Follow-on Report – Israel has decided to remove metal detectors it had placed at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and replace them with more advanced surveillance cameras. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet voted to remove the metal detector gates after a meeting lasting several hours convening for a second time on the 24 Jul 17. Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, director of al-Aqsa Mosque, said on the 25 Jul 17 that the move does not fulfil the demands of the Muslim worshippers as the security cameras remain. Sheikh Raed Saleh, an al-Aqsa official, said that the Palestinians would "never accept the current status, unless everything that was added after 14 Jul 17 was removed". "The picture until this moment is not clear, they are doing it in the middle of night, in the cover of darkness, like bats. God knows what we are going to wake up the next morning," Saleh said. Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras after gunmen shot dead two Israeli guards near the al-Aqsa compound, Islam's third holiest site, on 14 Jul 17. On the 25 Jul 17 the Palestinian Authority said the Israeli government bears full responsibility for attacking al-Aqsa and changing the religious landmarks of Jerusalem. "We affirm the historical and religious right to the al-Aqsa Mosque and warn that the Israeli occupation attempts to evade the benefits of peace," Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said. "We condemn all Israeli measures that deprive the Palestinian people of their right to perform acts of worship and reject all obstacles that prevent worship, which is the right of all international conventions.
Israel/Al-Aqsa Mosque/Follow-on Report – Israel during the night of the 26/27 Jul 17 removed all security infrastructure it had put in place this month at Muslim entrances to the Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, stepping up its efforts to diffuse political and religious tension. The government had already dismantled metal detectors it installed in the area after the killing of two Israeli policemen on the 14 Jul 17 hoping the move would calm 10 days of often-violent protests that have put the city on edge. But separate security measures, including closed-circuit cameras and low metal gates, were left in place, angering Palestinian leaders and the population, who have threatened a “day of rage” on the 28 Jul 17. Most Muslims have avoided entering the compound in the past two weeks, praying instead in the streets. Amateur video shot overnight showed Israeli contractors dismantling gantries put up to hold security cameras and using forklift trucks to take away metal barriers from the marbled Lion's Gate entrance to the mosque compound. Witnesses said all the security devices had been removed and crowds of Palestinians gathered in the early hours to celebrate. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri confirmed the removal. “Everything that was installed after the attack (the killing of the two police officers) was taken down overnight,” she said. Muslim and political leaders were meeting to discuss the situation and determine whether they are satisfied.
Saudi Arabia/UAE/Bahrain/Egypt/Qatar – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt declare that in their firm and solid commitment to fight terrorism, cut off sources of funding, prosecute those who are involved in it, combat extremist ideologies and hate speech incubators; and in continuous assessment, the four countries have announced the designation of 9 entities and 9 individuals on the lists of terrorist groups:
1-AL- Balagh Charitable Foundation - Yemen
2-Al-Ihsan Charitable Society – Yemen
3-Rahma Charitable Organization – Yemen
4-Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council– Libya
5-Al-Saraya Media Center– Libya
6-Boshra News Agency – Libya
7-Rafallah Sahati Brigade – Libya
8-Nabaa TV – Libya
9-Tanasuh Foundation for Dawa, Culture and Media – Libya
1-Khalid Saeed al-Bounein (Qatari Citizen)
2-Shaqer Jummah al-Shahwani (Qatari Citizen)
3-Saleh bin Ahmed al-Ghanim (Qatari Citizen)
4-Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali (Kuwaiti Citizen)
5-Abdullah Mohammed al-Yazidi (Yemeni Citizen)
6-Ahmed Ali Ahmed Baraoud (Yemeni Citizen)
7-Mohammed Bakr al-Dabaa (Yemeni Citizen)
8-Al-Saadi Abdullah Ibrahim Bukhazem (Libyan Citizen)
9-Ahmed Abd al-Jaleel al-Hasnawi (Libyan Citizen)
The terrorist activities of the aforementioned entities and individuals have direct and indirect ties with the Qatari authorities. The three Qatari individuals on the list, along with a Kuwaiti individual, have engaged in fund-raising campaigns to support Al- Nusra Front and other terrorist militias in Syria. The three Yemeni individuals and the three organizations in Yemen, have provided support to al-Qaeda, and have conducted actions on its behalf, mainly by using significant funding from Qatari charities, which are designated by the four states as terrorist entities. The two Libyan individuals and the six terrorist entities, affiliated with terrorist groups in Libya, have received substantial financial support from the Qatari authorities and played an active role in spreading chaos and devastation in Libya, despite serious international concern over the destructive impact of such practices. While noting that the Qatari authorities had previously signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States to stop terror financing and then announced that it was amending its terror combating laws, the four states consider this step, even if it is a submission to the tough demands to combat terrorism and one of many awaited steps to achieve the Qatari authorities' return to the right track, not enough. Qatar's 2004 law neither led to combating extremism, terrorism, hate speech, nor did it end its financing and harboring of extremist individuals and groups. To the contrary, these individuals and groups have expanded their presence and activity in and through Doha. The Qatari authorities have a long history in breaking all signed and binding agreements and legal obligations, the latest of which was the 2013 Riyadh Agreement and the 2014 Supplemental Agreement. Moreover, it continued harbouring terrorists, financing attacks and promoting hate speech and extremism. The next long awaited practical step is taking an urgent action by the Qatari authorities to make legal and practical actions to prosecute terrorist and extremist individuals and entities, especially those on this current list and the previous one, which was announced on the 8 Jun 17 so as to confirm the credibility of its seriousness in renouncing terrorism and extremism, and its engagement in the international community fighting terrorism. To that end, the four states, along with their international partners, will monitor the Qatari authorities' commitment in not harbouring terrorist, supporting and financing terrorism, ending promoting of extremist and hate speech, and financing of extremists inside and outside Qatar. The four countries also affirm the continuation of their current measures, and possible future measures that might be taken, until the Qatari authorities are committed to fulfilling all the just demands, which ensure countering terrorism and maintaining security and stability in the region.
Yemen/al-Qaeda – Khaled Abdelnabi, a prominent leader of Ansar al-Sharia, the local branch of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, voluntarily turned himself in to security forces in the Yafa’a district of the Lahij governorate. According to local Yemeni news reports, Abdelnabi turned himself in on the night of the 29/30 Jul 17. Jalal al-Rabihi, the commander of the emergency unit in Yafa’a, said Abdelnabi is now in their custody and he will be handed over to the relevant authorities. Al-Arabiya.net contacted Yemeni officials in the legitimate government but they refused to comment on the matter and said they would once Abdelnabi is transferred to relevant authorities in Aden and interrogated. Abdelnabi, also known as Abu Basir al-Yazidi, is wanted by the American intelligence. He ruled “the emirate of Jaar” in Abyan, south of Yemen, when al-Qaeda seized it between 2011 and 2012. After al-Qaeda was expelled from the city, his whereabouts became unknown but Yemeni security forces continued to pursue him for years. Abdelnabi fought side by side with Osama bin Laden, the late al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, and he was close to him. According to some reports, he had close ties with ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh who used him in 2011 – when he was ousted – to thwart the transitional phase and helped him control Abyan by supporting Ansar al-Sharia. In 2004, Abdelnabi commended Saleh for his openness and tolerance reflected in the release of Islamists from Yemeni prisons.